Dark Stars

New Tales of Darkest Horror

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Pub Date 10 May 2022 | Archive Date 31 May 2022

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Dark Stars, edited by John F.D. Taff, is a tribute to horror’s longstanding short fiction legacy, featuring 12 terrifying original stories from today's most noteworthy authors.

Within these pages you’ll find tales of dead men walking, an insidious secret summer fling, an island harboring unspeakable power, and a dark hallway that beckons. You’ll encounter terrible monsters—both human and supernatural—and be forever changed. The stories in Dark Stars run the gamut from traditional to modern, from dark fantasy to neo-noir, from explorations of beloved horror tropes to the unknown—possibly unknowable—threats.

It’s all in here because it’s all out there, now, in horror.

Dark Stars features all-new stories from the following award-winning authors and up-and-coming voices: Chesya Burke, Ramsey Campbell, Gemma Files, Stephen Graham Jones, Alma Katsu, Caroline Kepnes, John Langan, Livia Llewellyn, Josh Malerman, Usman T. Malik, Priya Sharma, and John F.D. Taff. Created as an homage to the 1980 classic horror anthology Dark Forces, edited by Kirby McCauley, Dark Stars features an afterword from original contributor Ramsey Campbell—a poignant finale to this bone-chilling collection.

Dark Stars, edited by John F.D. Taff, is a tribute to horror’s longstanding short fiction legacy, featuring 12 terrifying original stories from today's most noteworthy authors.

Within these pages...

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Featured Reviews

The book is called Dark Stars and they mean it, because these are some of the brightest stars writing in the horror genre today. Although there can be some chilling gore, like a man running himself through a sewing machine and another who happened to be a cannibal. (Is cannibalism a thing? The last book I read had a cannibal. Or is it my taste in books?) And, there are upholsterers in two different stories who come to bad ends. Moral: Do not take up upholstery as a hobby or occupation. It doesn't end well.

My favorite was Alma Katsu's story, The Vampire's Familiar, because I like a little humor in my horror. Although there is violence and gore in all the stories, after all it is horror, these stories longer than "kill them fast and weep" horror and more literary than most horror. But, this is a good thing because the genre doesn't get much respect but with people like Stephen Graham Jones writing literary horror, the academics are starting to notice.

All are different, all have unexpected elements, one called Calwalla by Usman T. Malik is so atmospheric that I felt like I was smelling the incense and seeing the sites at a festival in Pakistan. Since the festival turns out to have a grisly end, the feelings that I was there were intense. I felt like a had to rinse the ashes off me when I was finished.

If you want a quick slash and burn, these are not quickies, but if you enjoy a slow burn with beautiful writing between the blood, you'll like Dark Stars.

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I'll admit it. I am a horror movie fanatic (sorry, Mom!). Like, Scream is one of my comfort movies. Despite what I like now, growing up, I wasn't allowed to watch the movies that give you the creeps, so I made up for it by reading the stories that had the same effect.

When I saw the description for Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror, I couldn't wait to read through the stories within. Folks, I was not disappointed. Each author creates a completely engrossing world, so realistic that you feel like you're trapped with the potential victims. I feel like this book isn't especially fast-paced, but what part of the horror genre really falls in that category? I loved that this collection features both big-name and lesser-known authors, as it allowed me to discover new writers to devote all my time and energy to reading. This anthology is not for the faint of heart, but you don't walk into a scary movie expecting it to be family-friendly. John Taff did a fantastic job of editing this collection, and Josh Malerman's introduction is not to be missed. There are so many different plots that any fan will find a story to choose as a favorite.

Trigger Warnings for Dark Stars: gore, cannibalism, stalking, and more.

Overall rating: 4.75/5 (rounded to 5)

Dark Stars will be available for purchase on November 2nd. Be sure to add it to your Goodreads shelf and see where it's available to buy. Also, be sure to check out John F.D. Taff’s website!
I was lucky enough to be able to read this Advanced Reader's Copy through my partnership with NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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I loved this anthology. It was full of such a diverse group of authors across a wide array of horror sub genres. It was a quick read and incredibly enjoyable.

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"Dark Stars" is the perfect book for horror movie junkies or readers who can't get enough of terrifying stories. This anthology is dark, literary, intelligent, and full of gems. It is also incredibly easy to read, in part due to the adrenaline that rushes through you as you turn each page. I believe newcomers to the genre will also enjoy this collection because it offers a wide array of stories from the best up-and-coming horror authors! This was an incredibly diverse read and I loved every second of it. Highly recommend.

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This is an outstanding collection of horror stories, ranging from body horror to psychological horror. With stories from Stephen Graham Jones, Priya Sharma, Usman T. Malik, Caroline Kepnes, and Alma Katsu, the collection has tales reminiscent of M. R. James and James Hynes as well as new takes on old lore, including vampires and wendigo. I loved the brilliance with which these stories have been crafted, never showing the reader too much until just the right moment, letting the reader understand what's going on before a protagonist does, or making breakneck--almost literally--twists that surprise, delight, and horrify.

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The stories in Dark Stars are great examples of how vast the range of horror can really be. Every story gave me something to sit and think about, and even had me going back to re-read a few.

This is a brand-new anthology featuring some of the biggest names in horror right now. The featured authors in Dark Stars are: Caroline Kepnes, Ramsey Campbell, Priya Sharma, Livia Llewellyn, Stephen Graham Jones, Chesya Burke, Alma Katsu, John F.D. Taff, Gemma Files, Josh Malerman, Usman T. Malik, and John Langan. All who provide horror stories that go beyond the scares.

I usually pick up an anthology when I see that an author I like is being included and the bonus is getting to read from other authors I might not be familiar with. With this anthology, though, all of the authors are big names in horror or dark fantasy. I usually keep horror anthologies to read a short story between books. This is an anthology I could sit and read the stories back to back without it getting repetitive because it isn’t a themed anthology. Each story is completely its own.

My personal favorite stories from this anthology include: Chesya Burke’s “Trinity River Blues”, Gemma Files’s “The Sanguintalist”, John Langan’s “Enough for Hunger and Enough for hate”, Josh Malerman’s “Mrs. Addison’s Nest”, and Usman T. Malik’s “Challawa”.

All of these authors continue to push the boundaries of what is considered horror and also how it can be every bit as literary and academic as other genres. I would recommend this anthology to people who love horror, of course, but also anyone who enjoys deep short stories that pack a lot to mull over.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an e-book ARC for me to read. This review is my honest opinion.

This collection of stories was great. I was surprised by many of the stories because they didn't read as horror, necessarily, until I was deep into the story. I liked a lot of the characters and strange situations in them. My favorite story was probably "Papa Eye," which was about a doctor moving to a strange island. The subtle horror elements in this one, like many of the stories, built up to a really interesting climax and reveal.

I recommend this collection to readers who enjoy stories that start out with every day situations that build up to something strange and/or horrific.

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Horror author John F.D. Taff has curated some of the most dynamic horror fiction anthology projects in recent years. His newest addition to this list is Dark Stars, which features a foreword from bestselling author Josh Malerman, as well as his story, “Mrs. Addison’s Nest.”
Dark Stars is a healthy mix of established horror legends with newcomers. It includes horror heavyweight Ramsey Campbell as well as Priya Sharma, who will be familiar to readers of Ellen Datlow’s horror anthologies. Livia Llwellyn’s work is exquisite and her piece herein, “Volcano,” is no exception. Horror rock star Stephen Graham Jones offers up a story called “All the Things He Called Memories,” which fans of his recent books, including My Heart is a Chainsaw, will want to devour. One of the most memorable and haunting pieces is by Chesya Burke with “Trinity River’s Blues,” about a character who can see dead people, particularly a musician, T-Bone Walker, who was a favorite of the protagonist’s grandmother. The dead here are different than what readers will expect. Musical tie-ins and allusions in horror are done very well here, which fans of John Hornor Jacobs’s Southern Gods will enjoy.

Alma Katsu presents “The Familiar’s Assistant,” which starts with someone standing on the doorstep to a vampire’s house and becomes an entertaining romp thereafter. Vampire fans will want to take a bite out of her story. Finally, Taff himself has a piece, “Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream,” which was also among the best of this well put together collection. While it is a natural pick for Halloween displays, it also fits with Women in Horror month as well as for local author displays in public libraries.

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Thank you to Tor Nightfire for giving me a copy of this book!
I really enjoyed this book of short stories. I didn't know what I was getting into when I started reading the stories, but each was very different. There are some very dark stories in here. If you don't like that kind of horror, I'd be careful with a few of the stories. Here are my favorites of the collection:
Papa Eye
All the Things He Called Memories
Trinity River's Blues (honestly could enjoy a whole book series about this)
The Familiar's Assistant
Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream
The Sanguintalist (Also would like a whole book series)
Mrs. Addison's Nest
Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate (warning this does have the creature that Indigenous people will not say. If don't know what that is, it's the name of the second episode of Supernatural.

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I received a copy of this anthology from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Kirby McCauley’s 1980 anthology Dark Forces was a landmark in the horror fiction landscape, featuring the original publication of Stephen King’s “The Mist,” as well as stories by Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Manly Wade Wellman. John F.D. Taff put together Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror as a conscious tribute to Dark Forces, including pieces by prominent authors from all across the horror genre.

I’ve been a fan of Gemma Files’s writing for some time, so it was no surprise to me that her story, “The Sanguintalist,” was my favorite of the anthology. It’s a stellar entry in the “occult detective” subgenre. Main character Lala Mirwani’s ability to access thoughts and memories from samples of a person’s blood proves invaluable in solving a murder. But the murderer isn’t the only threat she faces: her life has been made more difficult by the fact that she’s a trans, non-white immigrant. Recent years have seen a number of books that use horror to examine various kinds of structural inequity, and “The Sanguintalist” is a shorter but still worthy addition to the trend.

Ramsey Campbell contributed a story to Dark Forces, so it’s great to see him in this successor anthology as well. His story, “A Life in Nightmares,” is full of creepy imagery supporting a truly inventive concept.
John Langan’s “Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate” is a wonderful take on a classic monster. He pays tribute to two masters of the horror genre in this story while still making it his own. Readers who grew impatient with the “story within a story” aspect of his novel The Fisherman may find this piece off-putting for the same reason, but as someone who loves that kind of nested tale, I really enjoyed this.

Priya Sharma’s “Papa Eye” was one of the stories in this anthology I was most looking forward to reading, because of how much I loved her story “The Crow Palace” in Ellen Datlow’s Black Feathers. It turned out to be a gripping tale, although perhaps less frightening than I was expecting.

Stephen Graham Jones has been getting a lot of attention for his novels, but my favorite piece of his is the short story “The Night Cyclist,” so I was really happy to see that he’d written a short story for Dark Stars. That story, “All These Things He Called Memories,” was another one of my favorites. It has a wonderful atmosphere of creeping unease. There are no jump-scares or gore, but it made me side-eye the shadowy corners of the room.

There were a couple of stories that didn’t work for me. In Caroline Kepnes’s “The Attentionist,” it makes sense that some time needs to be spent building the relationship between the two main characters, as this is a very important part of the story. But this “establishing the relationship” section of the story dragged on too long. Nevertheless, this is a great anthology. Hopefully, it will do what the anthology that inspired it did: showcasing some of the brightest voices in horror and introducing readers to writers whose work they’ll love.

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A fabulous mix of tales and a juicy volume. Perhaps the greatest, most powerful story is by the editor himself, John FD Taff, with standouts by Stephen Graham Jones, Priya Sharma, and Caroline Kepnes who leads off the anthology with her unique style.

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WOW. Phenomenal collection with stories that stick with you long after you turn the page. I'm particularly haunted by Stephen Graham Jones's contribution--a gross, unsettling, completely wonderful feeling.

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Some of the reviews for this book said it was too long. Yes it is long. But I think that is GOOD when the stories are excellent, shocking, thrilling, and horrifying and incredibly fresh. My favorites were as follows:

John Taff's "Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream" -- A father and his 5year old son are on their way to their new house, months after the mother has succumbed to cancer. A blizzard from out of nowhere traps them in a travel stop in the middle of the night, along with a big fat man who can't stop vomiting and a sketchy woman wearing a hoodie who proclaims that "Death is a kind of a divorce." Is it? If so, how to divvy up the custody? In this unlikely pergatory situation, Mom reappears...and she wants her son back.

Livia Llewellyn's "Volcano" -- This was the scariest book in the collection, the scariest thing I've read in years.. Never will you look at industrial sewing machines the same way again.

Stephen Graham Jones's "All the Things He Called memories" -- Addresses the loneliness and isolation within a couple, during the COVID pandemic. You can never really know someone. Also involves industrial sewing machines. No kidding!

Usman Malik's "Challawah" -- American husband gets his comeuppance while on a business trip to Pakistan with his wife, who is Pakistani herself. His intention to build a crematory on holy ground does not go over well with the locals. A colonialism revenge myth comes to life.

Mrs. Addison's Next by Josh Malerman -- what a creeper! A witch lives in a hole in the woods, and keeps four boys/men captive psychologically for over thirty years. Even as they go about their lives, they are stuck in the woods in a different "frequency" -- knowing the witch will return and waiting for their confrontation with evil.

Those were my favorites. But this was a wholly fresh take on horror with so much originality bursting from the seams. I adored all the stories and have a couple new authors I can't wait to look for more work by. Another very cool thing about this anthology is that it ends with each author discussing briefly their inspiration for their story.

Thank you VERY much, this will be a hit with my horror readers!

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How could I not adore this book? Short stories written by some of the heavy hitters in the horror world, my favorite being Stephen Graham Jones. I could not put this anthology down and felt there was not a bad story in the bunch. 5 horrifically wonderful stars!

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WoW! This was a phenomenal anthology. These authors did a wonderful job crafting tales such a these stories here in DARK STARS!
I am just stunned right now. Don't have the word's honestly. This is one of the best I've ever read.
And if I'm being truthful this is my first horror/scfi-fantasy SS read. And let me say.... This book rocked my world. Dark Stars was full and complete with some of the best, most satisfying horror stories I've ever laid eyes on. I was intrigued by the description and premise, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this good!
There were a lot of elements that seemed to draw me deeper into the world.

“I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

Tor Nightfire,
Thank You for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!
I will post my review closer to pub date. Yhg

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Dark Stars is a fantastic horror anthology for any fan of fear. I guarantee you that anybody who reads this will find at least one story that is knock-your-socks-off horrifying, and one that you think is borderline heartwarming. I think that's what makes a good anthology. Every story fits into the horror genre, but all together they form such a wonderful sampling of all different sorts of horror. You've got body horror, psychological horror, slashers, the unknown and the //unknown//, and more.

Although I loved it, my partner absolutely hated that while I was reading this book I was jumpy as hell. One night after the lights were out, he accidentally brushed against my foot and I screamed and threw my kindle at him.

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I loved this! There are so many wonderfully written short stories packed in this novel. Trinity River’s Blues was definitely one of my favorites. The characters, the atmosphere, and the writing. I was hooked all the way through the book. If you read horror/thrillers, you need to read this.

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Thank you Netgalley for this incredible arc!

Dark Stars edited by John F.D. Taff is a great anthology of horror short stories which is perfect for this time period bc horror is in.

The main thing that stuck with me about all these stories was not only how unique they each are but how easily they each slide into strange and horrific ideals. So many different types of disgusting to terrifying scenarios that really made me think of not just that specific story and it's characters but the big picture as well. Looking at life through a haunting lens which brought out many different feelings for me.

I definitely recommend this as an entrancing horror read. I personally love short stories of the horror genre. It seems to make the point of each story even more powerful.

Lots of trigger warnings here. Sexual, emotional and physical harm. Prepare yourself.

Out on March 22nd!

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