Cover Image: When Things Get Dark

When Things Get Dark

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When Things Get Dark is a psychologically complex and deliciously horrifying collection of horror short stories each in the vein of the inimitable Shirley Jackson. Drawing on inspiration from Jackson's oeuvre, the superb multi-award-winning author Datlow, as editor, brings together eighteen fantastic, atmospheric horror shorts from some of the most prominent names in the genre including Carmen Maria Machado, Stephen Graham Jones and Joyce Carol Oates. Surprisingly for an anthology, I found not a single dud amongst them and discovered that all of them had inexplicably managed to master that underlying feeling of dread creeping through the pages as you turn them, just like Jackson's original works. The eighteen featured shorts are as follows:

Funeral Birds – M Rickert
For Sale by Owner – Elizabeth Hand
In the Deep Woods; The Light is Different There - Seanan McGuire
A Hundred Miles and a Mile – Carmen Maria Machado
Quiet Dead things – Cassandra Khan
Something Like Living Creatures – John Langan
Money of the Dead – Karen Heuler
Hag – Benjamin Percy
Take Me, I am Free – Joyce Carol Oates
A Trip to Paris – Richard Kadrey
The Party – Paul Trembley
Refinery Road – Stephen Graham Jones
The Door in the Fence – Jeffrey Ford
Pear of Anguish – Gemma Files
Special Meal – Josh Malerman
Sooner or Later, Your Wife Will Drive You Home – Genevieve Valentine
Tiptoe – Laird Barron
Skindler’s Veil – Kelly Link

Evoking such feelings as horror, terror, dread and claustrophobic oppressiveness, these tales of differing lengths invite you to immerse yourself in their sinister, creepy and disturbing narratives. What I love the most is that most are subtle and full of nuance, instead of the usual cheap thrills with which the genre is often pervaded, meaning the feeling of sheer panic creeps up on you when you least expect, and you come to the sudden realisation that the story has managed to get under your skin, into your psyche and even, in some instances, into your dreams (or should that be nightmares?) Published at a time when the nights are closing in and the light diminishes ever more rapidly, not to mention with Halloween around the corner, this is the perfect autumnal read for the spooky season full of both supernatural and real-world horrors. Some begin on a bleak and frightening note while others seem innocuous enough at the beginning lulling you into a false sense of security before descending into dreadful, nightmare-inducing territory.

In For Sale by Owner, a trio of older women in their sixties explore and sleep over in an abandoned haunted house situated in dense woodland which hides a strange secret. Quiet Dead Things invites us to visit the small community of Cedarville, a sleepy township in which the sins of the community rise to the fore culminating in a spate of unexplainable deaths. In Money of the Dead, four grief-stricken neighbours discover a way to bring back their loved ones from the dead. But little do they realise, the spirit they are buying back from the afterlife will be wholly unrecognisable to them. And Special Meal, one of my favourites, is set against the backdrop of a dystopian world in which maths is strictly forbidden. It is a tale of oppression and vengeance with a fascinating folkloric sting in the tale.

So take a leaf out of Shirley Jackson’s book and pick up this chilling and unsettling selection in order to delight in what you fear.
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Publisher's blurb:
A collection of new and exclusive short stories inspired by, and in tribute to, Shirley Jackson. 
Shirley Jackson is a seminal writer of horror and mystery fiction, whose legacy resonates globally today. Chilling, human, poignant, and strange, her stories have inspired a generation of writers and readers. 
This anthology, edited by legendary horror editor Ellen Datlow, will bring together today’s leading horror writers to offer their own personal tribute to the work of Shirley Jackson. 
Featuring Joyce Carol Oates, Josh Malerman, Carmen Maria Machado, Paul Tremblay, Richard Kadrey, Stephen Graham Jones, Elizabeth Hand, Kelly Link, Cassandra Khaw, Karen Heuler, Benjamin Percy, John Langan, Laird Barron, Jeffrey Ford, M. Rickert, Seanan McGuire, Gemma Files, and Genevieve Valentine.

I love Shirley Jackson! Let's just get that out of the way right now. I think she may have been one of my first "favorite authors". I found her works long before that fateful day I was bought Salem's Lot. The Lottery and The Haunting of Hell House still rank as one of the very best horror stories written.
What made Jackson unique, in my humble opinion, is the fact that she didn't just reach the guaranteed scares. Not a lot of blood and gore, no flashing knives, no splatterpunk full of blood thrown in your face for her! She used words, descriptions so complete you could see whatever she was describing as if in front of you. And once those words were strung together in an unforgettable tale, you were scared witless. A talent very few then, and now, can achieve.
I wanted this simply because it was high time Shirley Jackson was properly hailed for her genius.
I was also afraid I would end up angry and disappointed in other author's attempts to capture the spirit of Jackson.
There were one or two that did disappoint, but oh...oh the rest were dead on! Josh Malerman, Carmen Mria Machado, even Stephen Graham Jones, who I have often given mediocre reviews to, shined like stars in the dark velvet sky!
Hats off to Ellen Datlow for compiling these 18 stories in the perfect spooky collection.
I think Ms. Jackson would have been proud of the stories they produced. Now I want to go back and read my collection of Shirley Jackson books all over again, and maybe a few from the authors whose tributes were done so well.
Thanks to @Netgalley, Titan Books, and Ellen Datlow for this arc in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.
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Start reading "When Things Get Dark" and the air chills with the same unsettling feeling a seance might evoke.  This anthology is challenged with conjuring the spirit of Shirley Jackson's work and the best of these stories dissolve the security of what you rely on. Fear quickens your pulse as the atmosphere shifts away from the safety of "normal". 

Horror can easily resort to the gross-out, the blatant scare, the knife-in-the-eyeball shocker. Shirley Jackson was better than that. For the most part, the stories in this collection dip into a dark pool of growing uneasiness. A few fall short, more sketches than fleshed out pieces, but even those hold true to the tone set.  

My favorite is "For Sale by Owner" by Elizabeth Hand. A trio of women decide to camp out in a beautiful deserted house. It turns out much more complex than just the obligatory haunted house tale. Stephen Graham Jones, the author of "My Heart is a Chainsaw" and "The Only Good Indians," is also well represented here with "Refinery Road," a night ride where reality seems to bend.  "Quiet Dead Things" by Cassandra Khan touches on the theme of the evil possible by a community consciousness that Ms. Jackson illustrated. "In the Deep Woods; The Light is Different There" by Seanan McGuire tapped into the eeriness felt as terror approaches someone placed out of their element. The closing knockout in this book is "Skindler’s Veil" by Kelly Link, also about a character trying to get his bearings in an environment demanding blind faith despite some unbelievable twists.

I had planned on mentioning a few more pieces--suffice it to say this deserves 5 stars. Ellen Datlow has put together a potent collection of pieces that will usher you into the world Shirley Jackson defined.

Thank you to Ellen Datlow, Titan Books, and NetGalley for providing the Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. #WhenThingsGetDark #NetGalley

“Am I walking toward something I should be running away from?”  ― Shirley Jackson

"When Things Get Dark" will be published on September 21, 2021 and this review will be posted on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookBub, Facebook and Twitter on that day.
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It's an unpopular opinion, but I didn't really enjoy this book and I am so disappointed. I requested this mainly because it's a collection of spooky tales inspired by Shirley Jackson stories but I couldn't spot the glimpse of Jackson. The writing is neat and the language is fine but I couldn't connect with the storytelling. I didn't find it spooky. Sometimes I didn't know what was going on. 

It was not for me.
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This is such a perfect book for the spooky season! I loved the variety & authors in this, as it’s a compilation of scary stories, it was very fun to read, I definitely recommend it.
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Thank you to the author, Titan Books and NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

This anthology paying tribute to Shirley Jackson is a great collection of short stories by Ellen Datlow. I liked her idea of featuring works inspired by the essence of Jackson's work: looking at the dark and evil hidden below the surface of placid small-town life.  As in all collections, there were some stories that really resonated with me and others that did not. I enjoyed discovering some new voices, and would recommend this book for those that enjoy a feeling of unease and dread, rather than full-out horror.
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This is absolutely, without a doubt, a must read for spooky season, not just for horror/thriller fans, but for all readers. 

All 18 stories are inspired by the inimitable Shirley Jackson, and the contributing authors do a great job of creating atmospheric and unsettling stories. 

I’m not always a fan of short story anthologies, but this is sheer perfection. 

Five star read, and thank you SO much to NetGalley and the publishers for a digital ARC. My gushing opinions are my own. 

#spookyseason #horror #unsettling #mustread #fivestarread
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I’m a big fan of Ellen Datlow’s anthologies and Shirley Jackson’s writing, so I was very excited for this anthology of literary horror stories inspired by Jackson.  I loved When Things Get Dark.  Absolutely one of the best anthology of horror shorts I’ve read in a long time.

There’s a wonderful variety of writing styles, topics, and themes, and the quality of the writing is some of the best I’ve seen in an anthology.  The wide ranging protagonists stood out for me, and I was particularly charmed by the stories involving older women, who I don’t see as horror story protagonists often enough. 

My favourite stories were:

For Sale by Owner by Elizabeth Hand.  This was a favourite, a quiet, creepy, warm story about a house in the middle of nowhere, and three female friends in their 60s.

A Hundred Miles and a Mile by Carmen Maria Machado. I hadn’t encountered Machado before — wow, this was a mesmerizing story, short and sharp and gorgeous.

The Party by Paul Trembley.  Tremblay writes tension so well.  This story of an end of the world themed party creeped me out in a wonderful way.

Pear of Anguish by Gemma Files. This is one I thought I hated in the first few pages, but by the end it had utterly won me over.  Love Files’ way with language and her full embrace of the depth and darkness of preteen girls.

Special Meal by Josh Malerman. I love math and this story was unexpected and terrifying 

Tiptoe by Laird Barron.  The creepiest story in the bunch for me.  Many of the stories in this anthology had wonderful dread, but Tiptoe is the one that I wish I hadn’t read in the dark at midnight.

Other favourites were tales by Stephen Graham Jones, Joyce Carol Oates, Karen Heuler, and Benjamin Percy.   And even the stories that didn't resonate as much with me thematically were a pleasure to read.  I'll be thinking about this anthology for a long time.
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Perfect for the upcoming holidays when people dont always have time for a full read. Discovered a few new authors that I'll be looking for.
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This is, hands-down, my favorite anthology I've ever read.  Stories inspired by Shirley Jackson? How could it not be good?

The collection features some big names in the horror community - think Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, and more.  Eighteen stories are packed full of Jackson's trademark psychological horror.  People held down by societal rules, horrors only half glimpsed in the corner of your vision, and characters pushed to their limits of grief, despair, and panic fill the pages of this book.

There were a couple of stories which fell completely flat for me, but the others were all excellent.  Notable entries include:

Absolutely the most beautiful prose in the whole collection is written by Seanan McGuire's 'In the Deep Woods: The Light is Different There.

Richard Kadrey's 'A Trip to Paris' takes Jackson's poison out of the sugar bowl and puts it in a shaker of garlic salt.

'Special Meal' by Josh Malerman perfectly captures the feeling of surreal horror that Jackson displayed in The Lottery.

'Skinder's Veil' by Kelly Link is a weird fun little tale of mythical proportions.

My favorite story, though, the one I thought most brilliantly clever, is Carmen Maria Machado's 'A Hundred Miles and a Mile', which reaches in to 'The Haunting of Hill House', picks up the little girl who wanted her cup of stars, grows her into an adult woman, and centers a story around her.  

All Hail Shirley Jackson.  No one will ever write quite like her... but these writers gave it an amazingly good try, and the result is an excellent, excellent book.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me a free e-book ARC of When Things Get Dark, in exchange for an honest review.

For me, this short story collection was a 5-star read. I greatly enjoyed reading these stories inspired by Shirley Jackson. I appreciated how many of the authors took from the ordinary in our everyday lives to build up to something horrific. Many of them captured the idea of psychological suspense really well. I found myself caught up in the reality of the character experiences and, to me, that’s a wonderful sign for horror and suspense. There are some big names here and they did not disappoint!

While the book would be great at any time of year, I think it’s a timely release for the Halloween “spooky season” right now.
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I adore Shirley Jackson. I adore Ellen Datlow. So for me, this anthology was a match made in heaven.
Talk about high expectations. . . But When Things Get Dark delivered. Oh, boy, I'll definitely revisit a few of these stories in the near future, and I've already reread a few of them.
All of these stories capture the spirit of Jackson perfectly—without mimicking her style. 
My favorites:
Elizabeth Hand: For Sale by Owner
Benjamin Percy: Hag (definitely the creepiest story in the collection!) 
Richard Kadrey: A Trip to Paris
Stephen Graham Jones: Refinery Road (creepy, nostalgic, sad and wholesome at the same time—though I'm maybe a bit biased, SGJ is one of my favorite writers)
Laird Barron: Tiptoe (okay, maybe this is the creepiest one?)
Kelly Link: Skinder's Veil (wow, man. just wow. Link is amazing)

But honestly, I liked every story. 
I'll definitely get the hardcover.
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This book is an anthology of horror stories inspired by Shirley Jackson's writing and written by the best horror writers of the day.
It includes many greats like Joyce Carol Oates, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Richard Kadrey, Stephen Graham Jones, Elizabeth Hand, and more.
Shirley Jackson's stories were always out of the ordinary, chilling, and yet touching in so many ways. These writers here try to emulate or evoke these themes.  
I'll be honest I enjoyed some of them immensely, but sadly they were only a couple or so. Hag and A Trip to Paris were some of the ones I enjoyed.
Stories that leave readers to do a lot of thinking and guessing are not to my particular liking. I better relate to clinical writing and stories that leave no questions unanswered. So I did not enjoy this collection as much as I expected to.  
But a short story collection always refreshes me and pumps me up to read more, and this book did that for me. I rate it 3 out of 5 stars.
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Shirley Jackson is famous for her unique style of horror. Subverting the every day with unusual and creepy elements, Jackson’s work keeps the reader off-balance throughout; the only certainty was that nothing was as it truly seemed. We Have Always Lived in a Castle is one of my all-time favourite stories. When I heard about this new collection of stories by prominent horror authors written in tribute to Shirley Jackson, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. 
The first story, Funeral Birds by M. Rickert, about the secrets we keep haunting us, was a great start. Lenore, the central character’s attention to detail in preparing for a funeral and her attitude towards the event are sinister, hinting at what is to come without giving anything away. However, the following story, For Sale By Owner, does not add to the set-up. Instead, we have what felt like quite a long short story about a woman who enjoys looking around empty houses. When the weirdness happens, it is too quick and too late in the story to have any real impact.
Quiet Dead Things by Cassandra Khaw explores small-town prejudices and the impact of isolated communities on mental health and relationships. What elevated this story above the others for me is that Khaw starts with a sinister event and keeps up a creepy pace throughout, and she never explains what happens. We’re left to wonder whether everything was caused by the residents’ prejudices or something supernatural.
Money for the Dead by Karen Heuler doesn’t hide the otherworldly element of this story but instead explores the difference between our memory and reality. Are things ever as wonderful as we remember them to be? Are our memories of our children sugar-coated with age? If we could have them back, should we? The use of older characters to move this story forward was an excellent choice as the decisions they make are so much more poignant with the experience of age on their side.
From the whole collection, the two stand out stories that really invoked the atmosphere and experience of reading Shirley Jackson for me are Take Me, I Am Free by Joyce Carol Oats and Tiptoe by Laird Barron.
Take Me, I Am Free is possibly the shortest story in the collection. Told from a child’s point of view, it is immediately sinister as their home is not the same environment it should be. The fear is real as the blame faced at home is undeserved, and the child does not have the vocabulary to explain what is happening to a trustworthy adult. Her survival is genuinely uncertain.
Tiptoe is a similar story, exploring childhood and its impact on our adult life. What makes Tiptoe so chilling is Barron’s consistent description of the father in the story. It grows steadily; the signs are there but revealed so subtly that the ending is a shock. In In the Deep Woods; The Light is Different There by Seanan McGuire, we were given so many possible options for the threat element that the story doesn’t feel cohesive when we reach the ending; however, Barron ties everything together and taps into a fear most of us can relate to.
As with any short story collection, even ones with editors as renowned as Ellen Datlow, there were bound to be stories that didn’t work for me as well as others. But those that I did enjoy really delivered in creepiness and quality. But then, maybe the fault is with me. This is not a collection of stories based on Shirley Jackson’s style but a tribute to her legacy in the horror genre.
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When Things Get Dark is a wonderful collection of short stories and tribute to Shirley Jackson. I was very intrigued by this since Jackson is one of my all-time fave horror writers,I have enjoyed collections edited by Ellen Datlow in the past, and it features an all-star cast of the best horror writers around right now. I found these stories to all be pretty eerie and strange. While some were a miss for me, I think my favorite stories to be the ones by Seanan McGuire and Carmen Maria Machado.

These short stories are the perfect read for fall and I definitely recommend them for lovers of Shirley Jackson's work. I think they all did a great job.
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This is the perfect story collection for around Halloween time! (Or any time you want a dose of horror). 

I loved that this 18 story collection has a diverse group of horror writers and the stories are inspired by the QUEEN Shirley Jackson! 

I loved the stories The Party, For Sale by Owner, Special Meal, and Money of the Dead. 

All the stories have something fun to offer and I loved the eerie and unsettling vibes this collection provided. 

I believe Shirley Jackson would be happy to see such talent inspired by her work!
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This anthology of short stories inspired by Shirley Jackson is for all fans of horror, especially because many of the biggest names of the genre can be found within it's pages. Personal favorites Seanan McGuire, Paul Tremblay, Josh Malerman and Stephen Graham Jones among them. 

Overall this was a pretty solid anthology, and I rated most of the stories between 3 and 4 stars, but there were some standouts- 

The Door in The Fence by Jeffrey Ford : A widow drinks from a well and transforms. A lot of these short stories left me wanting more, but this story wrapped up really nicely and felt like it all came together. 

The Party by Paul Tremblay : A party for the end of the world (or is it?). Such a great premise, I just wished I could know whether it really was the end of the world or not! 

Special Meal by Josh Malerman : Knowing math is strictly forbidden, so when the authorities come knocking, will Amy's family tell them her secret? Another great idea for a story that I would definitely read if it became a full length novel. This one felt a little more dystopian than horror to me. 

Money of the Dead by Karen Heuler: Four neighbors discover a way to bring loved ones back from the dead. But the dead aren't quite who they used to be. This was a perfectly chilling story, creepy kid and all. 

I really enjoyed this anthology. I was able to read some short fiction by authors I already love, and was introduced to authors of the genre that I had never read before. I would definitely recommend this to fans of Shirley Jackson or any contemporary horror fans.
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When Things Get Dark is an excellent collection of stories inspired by, and in tribute to, the genius of Shirley Jackson. Edited by Ellen Datlow, this anthology evokes the same atmospheres of Jackson's works, offering the chance to a modern reader to discover not only the queen of classic horror, but also eighteen new horror writers.

When I saw this book available on Netgalley, I knew I had to have it. I love Shirley Jackson because her novels often take place inside large estates or outskirts of towns (which already seem haunted), within dysfunctional families, inside the minds of unhappy and tormented women. Heartbreaking sometimes, often terrifying, always beautifully written, her novels are a must-read for all horror lovers. 

And this anthology is a must-read too! These are the authors featured: Joyce Carol Oates, Josh Malerman, Carmen Maria Machado, Paul Tremblay, Richard Kadrey, Stephen Graham Jones, Elizabeth Hand, Kelly Link, Cassandra Khaw, Karen Heuler, Benjamin Percy, John Langan, Laird Barron, Jeffrey Ford, M. Rickert, Seanan McGuire, Gemma Files, and Genevieve Valentine.

Like any other collection of stories, I didn't connect with all of them (some were just too short, others didn't deliver that "something" and were easily forgettable), but there were some I absolutely loved. My favorites were:
- In the Deep Woods; The Light is Different There, by Seanan McGuire
- Quiet Dead things, by Cassandra Khan
- Money of the Dead, by Karen Heuler
- A Trip to Paris, by Richard Kadrey
- Pear of Anguish, by Gemma Files
- Special Meal, by Josh Malerman
- Skindler’s Veil, by Kelly Link

If you love Shirley Jackson, or you enjoy a good horror story, I'd definitely recommend to pick up When Things Get Dark.
5 stars.

* I'd like to thank Ellen Datlow, Titan Books and NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review. 
#WhenThingsGetDark #NetGalley
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It's hard to imagine a more certain success than an Ellen Datlow horror anthology. That might be a high expectation, but When Things Get Dark fully lives up to it. 

There isn't a single filler story in this book. While I think some are more successful than others at conveying a sense of tribute to and inspiration by Shirley Jackson, all of them are killer stories in their own right. Particular highlights for me included Richard Kadrey's gleefully nasty little domestic murder, Cassandra Khaw's gruesome remote village revenge, Laird Barron's horrifyingly murky collage of memory and family mystery, and Kelly Link's majestically eerie fable of graduate school, housesitting, and the beyond. That isn't to say that any of the others left me cold, though; this might be the most consistently excellent anthology I've read in years.

I'd recommend this book to anyone and everyone interested in a trying a sampler of many of the finest, most interesting writers in contemporary horror (I mean, on top of the authors whose stories were personal favourites, a book that also contains Carmen Maria Machado, Stephen Graham Jones, Paul Tremblay, Gemma Files, and all the rest is just an amazing snapshot of a phenomenal era for terrifying and truly excellent horror writing), as well as to those who are already fans of any of the authors in the book (or of Datlow herself). 

I received a free e-ARC of this title from Titan Books via NetGalley in exchange for my review.
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I'm sure I've written this before, but it's still true. I'll check out any anthology edited by Ellen Datlow that ends with a new story by Laird Barron or Brian Hodge. And considering the Shirley Jackson Awards are what started me down the road to discovering new spooky authors like Barron in the first place, picking up this anthology of original fiction inspired by Jackson was a no-brainer.

Barron actually contributes the penultimate story and the concluding tale is from Kelly Link, but that one-two punch is worth the price of admission alone. The book starts out creepy too, although after finishing Elizabeth Hand's contribution, "For Sale By Owner," several of the subsequent inclusions feel slight. Things pick up again midway through with two authors who were new to me. "Money Of The Dead" by Karen Heuler made me need to turn a light on, followed Benjamin Percy's "Hag," which is like a fun folk horror movie in itself.

In When Things Get Dark, Datlow has collected an excellent, accessible primer of modern horror and dark fantasy with many jumping off points for newbies and experienced readers alike. I can't think of another anthology that is this universally recommendable, nor can I wait to start recommending it.
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