Epeolatry Book Review: Darkness Beckons, ed. Mark Morris

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Title: Darkness Beckons
Author: Various, ed. Mark Morris
Genre: Horror Anthology
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Publication Date: 10th October, 2024

Synopsis: Darkness Beckons is the fourth volume in the non-themed horror series of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer, and edited by Mark Morris. This new anthology contains 20 original horror stories, 16 of which have been commissioned from some of the top names in the genre, and 4 of which have been selected from the 100s of stories sent to Flame Tree during a 2-week open submissions window. A terrifying cocktail of the familiar and the new, the established and the emerging.

I’m not sure why so many horror anthologies are appearing in print nowadays.

Mostly they are a medley of good stuff and very poor material, usually including, when possible, a few big names mixed with unknowns in order to attract potential readers and to give a chance to a scarcely known new author. “ Mixed bags” is what these anthologies are called and that’s what they actually are.

On the one hand, discovering new talent is always fun, both for readers and reviewers (but, in my experience new doesn’t always mean talented). On the other hand we can’t take it for granted that the presence of experienced and well known authors can guarantee the high quality we expect.

Unfortunately, with this present book, many of the “famous “ horror writers failed to provide stories that live up to their fame. This disappointment is fortunately counterbalanced by the inclusion in the anthology of outstanding contributions that I’m happy to mention.

“Under Cover of Darkness” by Stephen Volk is a truly excellent cautionary tale describing how the mausoleum of a famous man, a man discovered to have been a cheat and a molester, is destroyed during a tense night by his own fellow-townsmen.

“Facts Concerning the Disappearance of the Orloff Six ” by Alyssa C Creene is an offbeat and deeply unsettling story. A weird series of unexplicable events take place during a long walk in an ever changing valley. 

Ally Wilkes provides “The Service” is a very unusual but quite enjoyable revisitation of the vampire theme.

My favorite story in the book is by far “From the Man-Seat” by Reggie Oliver. The author displays his extraordinary ability as a storyteller. I do wish he would be more prolific in order to enjoy more of his outstanding fiction.

This book is the fourth installment in an ongoing series. Volume 5 is on the way.

/5

Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

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