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Darkness Beckons Anthology

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Member Reviews

Received as an ARC from Netgalley:

A really interesting and eclectic short story collection that harkens back to the era of Shadows. The tones all vary pretty dramatically but are consistently intriguing.

There was only one story in the collection that I was a bit iffy on, but overall I had a great time with a few new authors to explore in the future.

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An eerily, disgustingly decadent smorgasbord of horrors of varying flavors and degrees. From maddening psychological terrors to downright hellish tales of pure evil and every creeping, crawling thing in-between.This collection of dark tales is the cornucopia of terror we horror conniseur's weren't aware we needed. A few of my favorites from these dread inducing pages are Saint Barbara by Nina Allan, Good Bones by Sarah Read, If your Soul Were A Pitchfork, I'd Despise You by Eric LaRocca, Il Crepuscolo by Helen Marshall, and Camp Never by J.S. Breukelaar.

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Unfortunately, this was a DNF for me. I was not a fan of the writing styles.
I do think that there will be readers out there that will adore this.

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It was an interesting anthology. The authors I have read from did their stories well. Major of the short stories were okay. There were a few stories that just didn't hit the mark.

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Highlighting standout stories from "Darkness Beckons," this anthology delivers a diverse array of horror tales that cater to a broad spectrum of tastes. Nina Allan's 'Saint Barbara' emerges as a standout, showcasing her storytelling prowess in a tale of unlikely friendship and shared dreams of revenge. The interplay of details, such as Deb's admiration for writer Olena Pohorska and the imagined stories within the narrative, adds layers to the story, creating a world in miniature that lingers in the reader's mind.

Stephen Volk's 'Under Cover of Darkness' skillfully fictionalizes real events, infusing the narrative with a twist that rivals the horror of the true story. Alyssa C. Greene's 'Facts Concerning the Disappearance of the Orloff Six' crafts a plausible urban legend, expertly told and filled with foreboding, contributing to the anthology's atmospheric richness.

Ally Wilkes' 'The Service' takes readers to a run-down English seaside town with a Spanish waitress, a shabby 1970s hotel, and a missing girl, showcasing Wilkes' ability to capture atmosphere and mood succinctly. Lucie McKnight Hardy's 'The Fig Tree' masterfully combines family drama and folk horror, exemplifying the author's signature style.

Ronald Malfi's 'Remember Me' successfully captures the Halloween atmosphere, a rarity in horror literature, while Carly Holmes' 'Dodger' stands out for its uncomfortable and deeply terrifying narrative. These stories, among others, contribute to the anthology's strength in showcasing a variety of horror sub-genres.

However, with 20 stories in the collection, some readers may find it a bit overwhelming, as personal preferences and tastes play a significant role in the overall enjoyment. The anthology leans toward the supernatural, animate, and gory, deviating from ghostly, strange, and ambiguous themes. For readers who prefer tightly edited and more selective anthologies or have specific subgenre preferences, "Darkness Beckons" might not align perfectly.

In conclusion, "Darkness Beckons" offers a mix of horror tales curated by Mark Morris, featuring both established names and emerging talents. The anthology succeeds in providing a diverse reading experience, even though the sheer number of stories may not be everyone's preference. It is a commendable addition to Flame Tree Press's horror series, showcasing the richness and variety within the horror genre.

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My thank you to the publishers for the arc of this book. I will recommend this to my friends who love this genre like me

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As with any anthology, there are stories that become your favorite and others that leave a lot to be desired. The best thing about anthologies is that you can't really go wrong with them. I am certain that every reader will find at least one story they fall in love with. Great collection!

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This was a nice selection of horror stories. I hadn't heard of many of the authors but there were quite a few pieces that I enjoyed.

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Any short story anthology is going to be a mixed bag, and I'm afraid most of these were misses for me. The reasons are varied, but ultimately horror (like comedy or erotica) seeks to provoke an embodied reaction and any analysis is going to be an effort to retroactively explain that. Ultimately, I just wasn't scared. Sorry.

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This was great! All of the stories were great but my favorites are Good Bones by Sarah Read, Facts Concerning The Disappearance of The Orloff Six by Alyssa C. Greene, and Remember Me by Ronald Malfi. I would recommend this! Special Thank You to Mark Morris, Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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So many excellent short stories in one anthology! I appreciate the diversity of voices and the range of tropes and storytelling approaches. Each piece stood on its own merits, and I enjoyed them all except for one or two entries. From ghost stories and chilling mysteries to hauntings, cults, and body horror - this collection touches all corners of the genre.

Of particular note was ‘The Service’ by Ally Wilkes. A lonely waitress in a spooky tourist town must attend to a creepy family at private dinners. As she learns about the missing girls and co-workers who have come before her, she decides to take action, leading to ghoulish consequences.

Other breakout names in new horror include Lucie McKnight Hardy, Eric LaRocca, Stephen Volk, and Alyssa C. Greene.

I recommend this anthology to horror readers looking to break out of a slump or try some new writers.

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This anthology is a mixed bag. The stories rated from 0 to 5. Many of the stories were 3 and 4 stars for me. There are a couple of first-rate authors but I had only heard of a few of them. Nothing stands out that I will remember in the long run. A mediocre anthology.

1. Saint Barbara by Nina Allan - A woman meets another woman named Barbara at a poet's reading. She becomes enamoured of her. An interesting story of female rage with a fun outcome. (3/5)

2. Hare Moon by HV Patterson - It is the Hare Moon and a hare has been nailed to Jana's family's home. A church ritual has begun. I like this type of story and this one was a winner. Tension kept mounting which kept me interested. (4/5)

3. Under Cover of Darkness by Stephen Volk - A man tells of how he and others destroy a statue of a fallen paedophile entertainer. I don't get the ending. (2/5)

4. Dusk by Angela Slatter - A woman starts nursing an elderly patient for nefarious reasons. Pretty straightforward story which didn't do anything for me. (2/5)

5. A Face Leaving No Traces by Brian Evenson - A man wakes up in the night with tingling on his neck as if he'd been bitten but nothing was there. This was ok but actually quite boring. (2/5)

6. Good Bones by Sarah Read - A man goes to an older woman's house to do handiwork. He finds cobwebs all over and pretty soon finds out why the house has good bones. I liked this. Very squirmy imagery. Fun. (4/5)

7. Facts Concerning the Disappearance of the Orloff Six by Alyssa C Greene - Six hikers once vanished while out on a 3-week hike. The narrator, a cousin to one of them, describes her group's retracing their footsteps. This was so unique. You just know something weird is going to happen but will never guess what. (4/5)

8. He Wasn't There Again Today by Peter Atkins - A man asks his occult detective friend to help his niece who is being haunted. This was a fun entertaining story but it felt like the end was missing. (3/5)

9. Dodger by Carly Holmes - A woman has no recollection of her three-year-old son. She goes through the motions hating his presence. This was awful, in a good way. As a mother it made me feel dreadful and tense the whole time. I'll remember this story. (5/5)

10. From the Man-Seat by Reggie Oliver - A man goes with his wife clothes shopping and has a harrowing experience. A fun tale with a spooky ending. Felt a little cosmic. Enjoyed this. (4/5)

11. The Service by Ally Wilkes - A woman works as a waitress at an old hotel and is given the job of waiting on the strange ancient owners in a private room. A little bit longer than the others this story goes deeper into details for a well-rounded tale. Enjoyable and entertaining. (4/5)

12. The Late Mrs Applegarth by Mark Gatiss - This is just a couple of pages long. It was hardly worth reading. (0/5)

13. The Fig Tree by Lucy McKnight Hardy - A story of a spooky cultish small village. This was excellent. Some foreshadowing but an unexpected ending. (5/5)

14. If Your Soul Were A Pitchfork, I'd Despise You by Eric LaRocca - I can't give a description as it would be a spoiler but basically, a man writes in a journal about something that is happening to him. I mostly love LaRocca but this was just ok. The story gripped me mostly because of the writing but I didn't particularly like the story. (3/5)

15. Heebie Jeebies by Amanda Cecelia Lang - A woman and her son go to her mother's big house to escape their abusive husband/father. The grandmother teaches Charlie how to get rid of the Heebie Jeebies which make him nervous and scared. A fun story. Well well-written and a feel-good ending. (4/5)

16. Killing Bones by Simon Clark - A woman throws herself in front of a speeding car and then demands the occupants help her save her boyfriend from a monster. A fun read with a doomed ending. Characterization was sufficient for a short story and the characters were each unique. (3/5)

17. Il Crepuscolo by Helen Marshall - An engineer leaves for a Mars space station where he will work on terraforming the planet. I think this is the first sci-fi story. Well written and reflective. A dark gloomy tale. (4/5)

18. Remember Me by Ronald Malfi - A favourite author for me who doesn't disappoint. A ghost follows a group of teenagers who are telling a couple of stories about deaths on the street on Halloween night. Creepy and lets information be known at just the right moments. (5/5)

19. Witch's Clutch by Simon Strantzas - A researcher takes off for a small village where a Witch's Clutch has been sighted. He's been looking for one all his life. A slowly ominous folk tale which was mildly entertaining. (3/5)

20. Camp Never by JS Breukelaar - The last story is quite a bit longer than the others. It"s a tale of the Queen of the Dead who kills bad men and how a 16-year-old girl is influenced by her. This is a frightening story when you try to understand what is happening to the girl. Characters are real and the ending is bittersweet. (5/5)

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I enjoyed this anthology, but thought it was too wide-ranging. Loved the stories by Ally Wilkes, Alyssa C. Greene, and Nina Allan, but I would have preferred the book if it had been a bit shorter and had a clearer theme.

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Really enjoyed the book from start to finish. Author wrote this with great pace. This book is now one of my top books of the year for sure. Loved every second of this book.

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Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to preview this! I asked to see it because I love horror and I love short stories. Not everyone loves short stories, and I didn't love everything here. But what I loved I really loved, and this is a great collection. There are some real greats here, like Ronald Malfi, Simon Clark, and Brian Evenson. I hope I can track down the other books in this collection. It was just the right size, and great, creepy stories.

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Darkness Beckons has a little bit of everything I enjoy in a horror anthology. The dark, the mysterious, the unsettling, and the short and sweet. You will find it all here.

It’s hard to pick favorites because the quality and diversity of the selection was so good. For holiday vibes Hare Moon a folk horror Ostara cult tale and Remember Me which is a perfect Halloween night read will really set the mood. Facts Concerning the Disappearance of the Orloff Six had true crime horror elements and was giving Junji Ito vibes. Il Crespuscolo was beautiful, dark and haunting. Killing Bones was serving eldritch horror and was such a fun read.

A must read for horror fans looking for a good variety of horror genres. I’m really looking forward the the next anthology!

I received an advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book.

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I'm an absolute SUCKER for a horror anthology and I am so thankful to Flame Tree Press, Mark Morris, and Netgalley for granting me advanced access to this behemoth before it came out on October 10, 2023.

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This is one of the best horror anthologies I have read in a long time. Despite not knowing many of these authors I was still very impressed with the quality of stories within this book.

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When I read short story collections or anthologies, I tend to pick stories I like the sound of to read first rather than starting at the beginning and working my way through. To choose where to start with Darkness Beckons I read through the biographies of each of the authors and there was one that jumped out at me. Stephen Volk created the paranormal drama series Afterlife and wrote the screenplay for The Awakening, both of which I loved, so I started with his story Under Cover of Darkness.

This story really took my breath away. To begin with I was really surprised with the subject matter - it wasn't what I had been expecting at all, but despite that it was a timely topic and an effective focus on the dark side of human nature. Then out of nowhere came the gut punch - so brilliant, so clever and unexpected. I highly recommend sticking with this one to the end!

The next story I want to highlight is from a favourite horror author of mine - Ronald Malfi with the story Remember Me. It was everything I have grown to love and expect from the author. It was so atmospheric, the perfect ghost story to read on a dark autumn night, and the added bonus of a Halloween theme too.

I am a huge fan of fictionalised true crime so I really loved the story Facts Concerning The Disappearance Of The Orloff Six by Alyssa C. Greene. The story follows the cousin of one of six missing students in their late teens/early 20s. She begins work on a documentary in an attempt to address the facts of the incident, as most people had made their minds up about her cousin's guilt in the matter. A really interesting idea with so much scope - I think this would make a brilliant full-length novel or series.

Coming from Wales I have to mention the Welsh author Carly Holmes and her story Dodger. Not an author I had heard of before reading this but I will definitely be following from now on. This story was so dark and could be interpreted in so many different ways, it was claustrophobic and almost uncomfortable to read. The intent was there all the way through, the tension of just waiting for something to happen and not knowing what the outcome would be - absolutely brilliant.

Overall, this was a fantastic and varied selection of horror short stories with some really unusual entries. I love the fact that there were some well-known authors in the mix which is what brought the book to my attention, but then there were some surprises from authors I don't know but I will now be looking into their backlist titles or future releases and most definitely adding several to my TBR.

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I really liked the book but could not finish as NetGalley kept loading and loading. It's been like this for several days.. Very frustrating.

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