Cover Image: After Sundown

After Sundown

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Member Reviews

Solid anthology of 20 horror stories. All kinds of subgenres are represented, so there's something for everyone. The average of all my individual ratings is 3.05 stars, but I'm adding half a bonus star because some of the stories in this collection will really stick with me. I love discovering new authors through anthologies. Catriona Ward and Elana Gomel are now high on my list of authors to try out.

My individual ratings and scribblings:

Butterfly Island by C.J. Tudor

3.5 stars. Good atmosphere/suspense. Curious about the rest of the story. Abrupt ending, but fitting. Genuine horror elements. 

Research by Tim Lebbon 

3 stars
Psychological horror. Weird and creepy people. Never fully trust your neighbours/aquantainces.

Swanskin by Alison Littlewood 

3 stars. Like a creepy fairytale. Trigger warning: animal cruelty. 

That's The Spirit by Sarah Lotz

2 stars. Wtf is up with the open ending? Could've just been a regular and boring story. Makes you guess but i don't like having to guess. 

Gave by Michael Bailey

2 stars. An idea and something with counting things like an autistic rapstar. The concept of depopulation was interesting but not enough to make this one shine for me

Wherever you look by Ramsey Campbell

2 stars. Thought this was going to be a 1 Star rating. I couldn't get into the story due to the writing style of which the use of present tense was my main annoyance.. One bonus star for the ending.

Same Time Next Year by Angela Slatter

2.5 stars. Ghost story. Ended too quick to really leave an impression.

Mine Seven by Elana Gomel

4 stars. Nordic darkness combined with supernatural gore. Reminded me of 30 days Of Night, a movie I thoroughly enjoyed back in the day. This story makes me want to watch it again.

It Doesn't Feel Right by Michael Marshall Smith

3 stars. Kids from hell. Being a mother of a 3-year old with regular temper tantrums, I GET the horror of this story.

Creeping Ivy by Laura Purcell

3.5 stars. Madman or haunted? Loving the gothic atmosphere the manor brings. The first couple of pages were hard for me to get into, but it paid off nicely in the end.

Last Rights For The Fourth World by Rick Cross

1 star. I really could not connect with this story. The writing style, with all its technical and military terms, was a chore to get through. The use of 'foreign' language overdone. I didn't even understand the plot due to this white noise. 

We All Come Home by Simon Bestwick

4 stars. Even though it's nothing new/lacks originality, I enjoyed this one. Creeptastic. 

The Importance Of Oral Hygene by Robert Shearman

4 stars. The first 2 pages started out crappy with me thinking where the hell the editor had been at that point. After that, shit got awesome and wtf just happened?! 

Bokeh by Thana Niveau

3 stars. Creepy girl story. Entertaining enough and will definitely make me look differently at Bokeh filters from now on.

Murder Board by Grady Hendrix

4 stars. At first, I got distracted by some typos. But this is an ARC, so I shouldn't complain too much. The story unfolded from a sigh to a whirlwind. Awesome. 

Alice's Rebellion by John Langan

1.5/2 stars. The umpteenth reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. There's 'inspired by' and just copying shit and calling it your own. This was too much copying for me. Not a nice and fresh story. 0.5 bonus stars for the bloody parts.

The Mirror House by Jonathan Robbins Leon

3.5 stars. In the beginning, it gave me flashbacks to the first season of Stranger things and the Silent Hill movie. Rich storytelling that could've gone anywhere. But I meh-ed at how the ending turned out.

The Naughty Step by Stephen Volk

2.5 stars. Im not even entirely sure what happened here. The end made me feel like shit. 

A Hotel In Germany by Catriona Ward

5 stars. I want more of this world. Totally unexpected pleasure treasure.

Branch Line by Paul Finch

3 stars. Good suspense. Open mystery which isnt bad but doesn't work well for me personally. There's already too much in life we dont know shit about. I like it when my stories are clean cut, leaving no guessing around. Still enjoyed it, though.
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After Sundown is an entertaining collection of short stories that frighten and entertain. There are familiar elements of horror, throughout, but the originality is what makes most of these stories entertaining. There are many standouts.

My favorite stories In After Sundown are: Swanskin, Mine Seven, Last Rites for the Fourth World, Murder Board, and Branch Line. The most beautiful story is Swanskin. Alison Littlewood’s story about witchcraft is very melodic and haunting.  Murder Board is Grady Hendrix’s offering, and as with most of his novels, it has the perfect blend of hilarity and gore. Of all the stories, the one that scared me the most is Branch Line. It is a ghost story with a twist.

There were two stories that felt uninspired. The most disappointing story is Butterfly Island. It is by CJ Tudor, and being a fan of her novels, I was expecting to enjoy this story. It ended up being too open ended. The other story that fell flat is Gave. Michael Bailey crafts an interesting tale about Earth’s population dying off, but it is clouded by all the science of genetics and donating blood. 

After Sundown is an anthology that covers a spectrum ranging from horror, sci fi, and fantasy. As with most anthologies, there are some lackluster stories, but for the most part, these stories are unique and entertaining.
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This is a really nice little anthology with a good variety of stories. As with all collections, there were some stories that I preferred over others (the C.J. Tudor one being my personal favourite) but I can honestly say there aren't any 'bad' ones here and I enjoyed reading all of them for one reason or another. This would be perfect Halloween reading!
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October is the perfect time to publish an anthology of horror stories! I decided to read this one for review for several reasons: I have enjoyed many horror novels published by Flame Tree Press; I love horror short story collections; and, 16 of these stories are by published authors I am familiar with and four of them were chosen from submissions sent to FTP. I'm always up for reading something by new-to-me authors!

Any time a reader delves into a collection of 20 stories there will be tales they love and ones that just missed the mark. That's the joy of a short story anthology -- what one reader doesn't like, another one will. So there is something for everyone! There weren't any stories in this collection that I didn't finish or that I completely disliked. Some were awesome....others were just ok....and there were a couple that just didn't hit the mark for me. But, not every story is for every reader. For the most part, I enjoyed the offerings in this demented little horror collection!

This book definitely primed my desire to start reading horror stories. I get into Halloween mode once September starts every year. I love autumn....and I love horror stories! So I enjoy making the season last as long as possible!

I believe this horror anthology is going to be an annual thing for FTP. I'm definitely in line to buy a copy each year! The stories in this first anthology are varied, interesting and definitely creepy fun to read!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Flame Tree Press. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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3.475 out of 5 stars

This anthology definitely offers a wide variety of stories, something that I always appreciate.  There were some strong showings, including my personal favorites Butterfly Island by C.J. Tudor and Swanskin by Alison Littlewood.  But many of the stories fell in the 3 star range for me, good but not something that stayed with me after I finished.  I'd still recommend this though, it's a great introduction to a wide variety of authors and styles.

Thanks to Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for the ecopy for review (unedited first proof).
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Firstly, I'd like to thank the publishers and NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

Anthologies and I get along usually, however there are always some stories that I just don't vibe with. What I love most about anthologies is that you get a taste for multiple authors (and in this collection I have read none of the authors previous works, but have heard of a few of them). It is a good way to give you a taste of what their writing style is like and how they tell stories before you pick up a full-length novel by them. 

This anthology, like all I've read from has hits and misses for me. I particularly enjoyed 'The Naughty Step' by Stephen Volk, 'Bokeh' by Thana Niveau, 'The Importance of Oral Hygiene' by Robert Shearman, and 'It Doesn't Feel Right' by Michael Marshall Smith. There were a few more I enjoyed, and a few I hated. I did also find that a few of the stories hit too close to home during the current pandemic, and one story in particular wasn't great for my fear of butterflies, so I was definitely uncomfortable reading some of these stories, but that is what I expect from horror stories.

For full disclosure I did read this anthology during a reading slump and so my review might not be as robust as usual.

I would recommend this to anyone who wants a little taste of different horror writers and different kinds of horror sub-genres. It has something for everyone I feel.
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Flame Tree Press has raised their game with an anthology that hits all its points and more with this interesting and haunting collection of short stories.  Flame Tree is proven to be one of the best dark fiction publishing companies around.

The book starts out with an introduction from Mark Morris and states how he has put the collection together and the planning that took place which he has set the stage of what to come.  Before the reader knows it, BAM!; they are in the midst of it with some excellent stories collected together.  As this is an anthology, some stories may suffer due to their placement in the book but I think Morris has done an excellent job placing the stories together in the right order.

When it comes to anthologies, they always take me a little longer as I personally like to space them out.  Read a short, read a novel, read another short and carry on so it gives me a chance to look at each story as its own entity than find myself comparing the previous story that I have read.  I could not find a weak story in this collection as each one stands on its own and haunts the mind long after the initial read of the short.  Of course, there will always be the marginally stronger story that may resonate with each reader than the other but when looking at the merit of each one, you find there is not a lesser story to be found.

There may be some problems with some of the endings which may make some readers a bit cold to the reaction.  Some of the stories do end abruptly and although this works well within the story frame complex, one would like to read more and you can see how some of these would make great novels in the future.  Some of these do not tie things up in a lovely little bow and there is some horrendous endings that come at you unexpected.  Horrendous in this context is more about the down beat ending and not horrendously written; more with the emotional impact.  

Overall, this is a must read and although I do have my favourites which I will not mention here because I think each story is strong and every reader will have their own favourite.  It is very rare when you will get an anthology that is as strong as this and Flame Tree proves that it can deliver time and time again.  This is a must read and the strongest anthology that has been put together in a long time.  Highly recommended.
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Reading is a subjective thing. There will be stories and genres I love that you don't, and vice versa and our difference in opinions allows for conversation. Whenever I begin a short story collection, I always bear that in mind. The editor might love a story, but that doesn’t mean I will, if I enjoy more than 50% of the stories included, then it was a successful read. So, for me to say that I enjoyed every story is a big thing and speaks to the high standard needed for a work to be included.
The quality of story-telling is set from the beginning and maintained with each successive one. Each story also felt fresh, so rather than me starting a short story and comparing it to one in the collection I had already read, they were different and keeping me engaged.
This is because none of them was the same. There were stories from the point of view of ghosts as well as people being haunted. First-person perspectives are used as well as omniscient and close third person. We have sinister fairy tales, stories from other culture set all over the world, found-diaries and interviews.
While the quality of each story was high, some really stood out for me. Tim Lebbon’s Research explores what happens to a horror writer when they are incapable of writing. Michael Marshall Smith’s It Doesn’t Feel Right takes the age-old battle parents face everywhere of getting their kids dressed in the morning and gives it a very sinister twist. Laura Purcell’s Creeping Ivy is a familiar story told in a found-diary format, yet it is fresh and creepy.
This is a short story collection that does exactly what it sets out to, delight and scare. With stories from well-known authors in the genre as well as a few from emerging voices, After Sundown has something for everyone. Highly recommended.
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I always like picking up an anthology knowing all the stories will be new to me. There are some great authors in here, with a very nice variety of stories. There is something in here for every horror lover. As always, I enjoyed some more than others, but this is a solid collection of tales.
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Excellent short stories. This will be a good book for the upcoming Spooky Season. I hope there's a second book.
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I want to preface this review by saying I love Flame Tree and the way they do things. I have a large stack of their books on my shelf, and I don’t see my love for those red spines fading any time soon. This opinion is my own and has not been influenced by the publisher doing anything for me. 
 
My love in Flame Tree being noted, I was very disappointed with After Sundown, the first volume in a new (hopeful) annual anthology of horror. Featuring twenty stories, sixteen of the featured authors are said to be some of the top in the genre; the other four were chosen during an extensive open submissions period. Despite there being sixteen supposedly big name authors included, I only recognized four of the names: CJ Tudor, Tim Lebbon, Grady Hendrix, and Ramsey Campbell. Everybody else was new to me.
 
These were also the writers that actually impressed me - their stories were the most enjoyable (with the exception of Lebbon’s “Research,” which felt underwhelming) of the collection. “Butterfly Island” (by CJ Tudor) was probably my favorite, right up there with Hendrix’s “Murder Board” (which was a story that stood on crime/drama above horror). Both of these entries were exciting and well-written. “Butterfly Island” felt like the explosive opening to an awesomely horrific novel, and “Murder Board” proposed an idea that surely deserves a prequel. Campbell’s “Wherever You Look” also featured some wonderful prose that flowed with ease, while holding my attention throughout. 
 
Sadly, beyond these stories, I felt bored with this collection more often than I’d like to admit. There were entries that were fine, but lacking; and then there were stories that I actually daydreamed throughout. Unfortunately, that makes this collection more of a fail than anything for me. Hopefully, the next time they will get some more exciting stories in the mix.
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Within these pages are stories so good you’d want them to become full-length novels, and an odd few that leave you wondering why the authors even bothered to write a story with no impact or shock value at all.

This is After Sundown.

My favorite of the twenty stories are Research by Tim Lebbon and Butterfly Island by C.J. Tudor. Morris, the editor and an author himself, made sure to give us the best stories first before easing us off with stories of myriad penmanship and creativity.

Butterfly Island, as you’d expect, is a story about an island of butterflies told with an apocalyptic setting. The characters in this short story are written with quick and easy realism that fits the profile of anyone trying to survive in a world where anarchy reigns supreme and it’s every person for himself.

Including graphic detail and bursting with mystery, Butterfly Island is a really good and quick read that makes you want to read more about it and perhaps even try picking up a novel from C.J. Tudor to see if his full-length storytelling is as captivating as his short stories.

I’d like to think Research is Tim Lebbon’s attempt at a self-examination if the author himself was ever locked away in isolation against his will.

Drawing upon his expertise as a horror writer and his experience in dealing with the writing process and the various aspects of the publishing industry (it’s only brief, so don’t worry about Lebbon delving into copious amounts of detail that derails the story in any way), Research is a story that, in hindsight, might be something plenty of amateur and professional writers often toy around with.

If you look at a horror writer’s browser history, you’d be surprised how on the nose Research has been written and how accurately it reflects the protagonist’s thoughts.

Unfortunately, there are two other short stories which I can’t give any decent amount of praise mainly due to the fact that, although original, they just aren’t worth the time to spend reading. I won’t name them, but there is a particular story about a dead girl spending her days in a graveyard reminiscing about days past who struggles to recall the cause of her death, her name, or anything else. She ambles about scaring the piss off teenagers while watching others drink themselves to the excitement of the place, to fool around, or just fail at suicide – in which the dead girl is happy to oblige.

Nothing worth note happens, but then again, I assume this was the author’s intention from the beginning. This is just a story about a dead girl doing nothing with no lasting impact that makes her unique, memorable, or special in any way.

The other story centers around a psychic who admits to the reader that he’s a fraud, keeps this fact from his gullible and desperate clientele, only to finally dismiss the handful of rare interactions his ‘spirit’ has to no concrete resolve. Straight through to the end this protagonist dismisses the spiritual voice as a trick of his assistant and continues with this approach, with maybe a slight glimmer of recognition, to the last page.

It’s quite the anti-climatic and dull story.

Now that I’ve spoiled two stories you would thank me for, there are loads of other short stories by notable and new authors that you would probably want to keep reading over and over.
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I really enjoyed this horror anthology! I haven't heard of most of the authors and I love that I found some new ones!

There were some points in a couple stories where the pace slowed down and the book wasn't scary, but they definitely have the horror aspect to them. 

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the eARC. All opinions are my own.
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Review Copy

Likle all anthologies, AFTER SUNDOWN is a mix of short stories by a wide variety of authors that may or may not appeal to any particular person. You've got to start each story and give it a chance before tossing it aside. You never know what gem you will find.

And there are some gems in this anthology. They may not be where you expect. Most editors have a method to how they place a story. Apparantly this editor isn't privy to that method. That, or his tastes are vastly different from the norm. I opt for the latter.

But, like I said, I found a few stories that I really liked - by authors both known and unknown to me. So all in all I think this was a pretty ok read. It's a mixed bag sure, but if you find a new auther? Well worth it!
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Thanks to Flame Tree Press, Mark Morris "editor" and Netgalley .
There were quite a few storytellers here. That's why I chose this anthology. 
The truth is that sometimes people who write stories need to be checked. That is what an editor does.? I'm honestly not sure. I just believe that there should be checks and balances. 
Morris chose some fine author's. What he didn't choose was any single one of their fine stories! 
Sorry, dude. You suck.
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What a great anthology! The lack of categorization was great in that I had no clue what the next story would hold for me, as I kept reading. I loved: Butterfly Island by CJ Tudor, Swanskin by Alison Littlewood, That's the Spirit by Sarah Lotz, The Importance of Oral Hygiene and Alice's Rebellion by John Langan. There's something in here for every reader
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This is a great collection of horror stories. I can't say I didn't like any story, because I actually liked them all.
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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. 

I absolutely adored each and every story in this collection. I really hope this does become a yearly event as I will definitely purchase more. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Flame Tree for a copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
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Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. This is a nice collection of some very creepy tales. Enjoyed all of them. Very talented authors. Highly recommend.
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trigger warning
 domestic abuse, corporeal punishment, child abuse, rape, gang rape, homophobia, torture, gore, drug abuse, alcohol abuse 

I haven't been doing well with short story anthologies in the recent past. I guess it is because I have no plot to motivate me to pick up the book again, as I tend to try to finish a story before laying it aside for whatever reason.
But I think that horror is the genre I like short stories best at the moment.
There just is no long waiting span to see what for this particular horror will take, which I like.

Most authors you can find I didn't know beforehand. I've read previous books by Grady Hendrix and heard about C.J. Tudor, but those are the two writers I can think of, so this was a cool way of dipping in the styles and ideas of different people.

Of course, some stories I've liked better than others, but there was no disappointment in this collection for me. Some I would like to see explored in more detail, especially the one in which mythological creatures from all cultures suddenly appear dead or drawing their last breath.

Please be aware that I am not confident about the thoroughness of the warning list as I neglected to make notes while reading, which I really should have done as it took me so long to get through this.

I'd recommend this if you're either bored by how long some authors take to get to the supernatural part - looking at you, Stephen King - or if you want to try out the works of different authors - even if you want to take a look at this genre in general.

I recieved a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.
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