In the book’s Foreword, Faye and Ellis write that Daughters of Darkness was born of “difficulty in finding suitable outlets for our style of quiet, psychological horror and also the fact that many outstanding female writers just couldn’t seem to break through.” The Daughters of Darkness anthologies are designed specifically to showcase horror written by female authors. Daughters of Darkness II is the second installment, and it did not disappoint.
The publisher broke down each author into sections. Authors had a certain wordcount, and their contribution varied. This collection included short stories, connected shorts, and novellas.
First author up—Beverley Lee. I’ve read Lee’s work in the past, and she creeped me out with her sinister and atmospheric piece. Lee has presented us with a collection of four stories. Her lead story, “A Whiteness of Swans” opens her section, and the collection as a whole. By far, one of my favorites in the entire book.
I had not read anything by Lynn Love prior, so I appreciated the chance to read a new (to me) author. Phenomenal, describes Love’s entry into this book. Each “part” of the story read different enough to feel fresh and interesting, but the connecting thread kept the reader grounded in the story world. Using Jack Sprat and life at home in a large house with an absent family gave the opening section both a fairy tale and gothic feel. By the end, I wondered how the sections would come together, and Love pulled it off with a finale demonstrating her mastery by seamlessly tying up the ending.
Next up—Catherine McCarthy’s “The Spider and the Stag.” This novella-length tale combined elements of mystery and folk horror. McCarthy masterfully crafted her characters, and they felt like real people. She depicted a grieving widow in such a beautiful and poignant way, and yet somehow still managed to balance the fear, which made the story terrifying.
T.C. Parker is another new (to me) author in this collection. Parker’s entry comes in the form of two connected stories. I liked this approach, and the stories pleasantly surprised me. I preferred the tint of weirdness in the horror of the second tale, but the first did a great job at showing off Parker’s characterization skills. I felt an immediate connection with Jodie that sustained me until the story’s end.
This was an outstanding collection. Very rarely do I love all of the stories in an anthology, but for this one, I can wholeheartedly recommend every tale and author included.