December 22, 2014

The First Volley in a New Horror Anthology: a review of "Dark Screams: Vol. 1" edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar

Dark Screams Volume 1
edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar
Hydra (2014) an imprint of Random House
98 pages

Find it on

Pre-order it on

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

I think that saying sums up this little anthology of horror stories fairly well. It's not a big book, weighing in under a hundred pages, but it's ten pounds of darkness in a five pound bag. Okay, okay, I'm getting a little too crazy with the metaphors too early.

Kicking off the fun is Stephen King, probably a guy who is as good at writing a short story as he is famous for writing his novels. "Weeds" may not be at the tippy-top of King's best short works, but if you enjoy the more monstrously weird tales he's come out with over the years, like "Battleground" for instance, then this tale of a fella freaking out over a pernicious fungus in his yard should be right up your alley.

One of the more viscerally charged stories was Kelley Armstrong's "The Price You Pay." While the narration is somewhat cut-and-dry, the wallop at the end delivered and psycho thrillers seem to me like a hard thing to pull off in short fiction a lot of the time. This one does a real good job of it.

A couple notable stories from Bill Pronzini and Simon Clark, whose novels I keep meaning to read, appear as well. And then things are capped off with the legendary Ramsey Campbell. This one just harkens back to one of the most tried-and-true setups in horror, that being the child and the elderly guardian and the thing that goes bump in the night. From that, there's a million ways to spin the tale, and Mr. Campbell does a heckuva job doing it here.

Folks who go in for short stories may be looking for something more expansive than five stories, but bear in mind this is but the first volume and a top notch one at that. I believe the second volume is slated for a spring release, which gives enough time to read one story every couple of weeks and salivate over reading the next batch. I know I will.

Pre-order Volume 2 on

No comments:

Post a Comment