Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror edited by John F.D. Taff is an anthology of twelve tales. The blurb explains that this anthology was created as an homage to the 1980 classic horror anthology Dark Forces which was edited by Kirby McCauley. The tales within this collection certainly have a certain vibe to them!
Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating in any way.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror edited by John F.D. Taff
My favorite tale from this collection was Trinity River’s Blues by Chesya Burke. I definitely need to read more of their work very soon!
Per usual, here are my notes on each tale-
Foreword by Josh Malerman
What a beautiful foreword! Josh really paints a great picture here that brings light into the darkness, especially deep into the pandemic. This is a true time-capsule and a wonderful tribute to kick off this collection.
Introduction by John F.D. Taff
I’m so in love with this intro! John explains what his goals were in creating this collection, but to sum it all up, he wanted to, “flaunt the range of this genre to readers.” This made me even more pumped to dive into the tales!
The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes
When a phone call comes in from a boy asking for Maeve, Maeve’s sister Gretchen answers. As she delights in the attention she has from this boy on the call, she makes an assumption and overshares. This oversharing she thinks will help them, but it does quite the opposite.
My goodness Caroline Kepnes is amazing at creating absolutely wild characters. These two girls reminded me of the boy-obsessed girls I went to middle school with, and I can definitely see something like this actually playing out. Phew…
A Life in Nightmares by Ramsey Campbell
A man is haunted by nightmares filled with creatures. As he lives life in and out of these nightmares, the years pass by in a blink.
This one reminded me of a horror version of the movie Click. I had a hard time telling what was a nightmare and what was real!
Papa Eye by Priya Sharma
When a man is sent to work as a doctor on an island, he feels that things are a little off. But the locals are about to open his eyes and show him their secrets.
The organization of this tale was so fun! I loved that we got scenes from what happened before the doctor moved to the island mixed in with the scenes of what happened when he arrived.
Volcano by Livia Llewellyn
Following two young adults as they work to transform an area of their campus, they are both drawn to go past a point that they have been warned not to pass.
I honestly have no idea what was really going on in this tale, but I loved it anyway! It was so unsettling.
All the Things He called Memories by Stephen Graham Jones
Deep in the pandemic lockdown, this couple struggles with the isolation. The wife starts a conversation one day to learn her husbands biggest fear. After that, strange things begin to occur. But is this just his wife experimenting, or is something more sinister happening?
My goodness, this one was so unnerving. Just the elements of the pandemic itself, but then add in the paranoia? That ending had me squirming in my seat.
Trinity River’s Blues by Chesya Burke
Seeing ghosts since she was a child, Trini learns that she has more power than just to see spirits. She can actually call upon them. But when she calls upon the wrong spirit, she finds herself in danger.
This one was so much fun to read but it’s also filled with darkness. There’s a wonderful underlying message of learning from past generations.
The Familiar’s Assistant by Alma Katsu
When a person who is sick of their current life sets a goal of meeting a vampire, their patience is tested. But will their patience be rewarded?
This was a dark and twisted tale that had a wonderful full circle format!
Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream by John F.D. Taff
When a man and his son are still reeling from the grief of losing their wife and mother, they move to the middle of rural Illinois to change the scenery. But then a snow storm hits out of no where and odd things occur.
This was such a sad tale. I felt so bad for these two, but especially the father as he coped with everything.
The Sanguintalist by Gemma Files
Sent to read the blood of an unidentifiable victim, this character is sent on a path to chase down those that harmed the victim. But they uncover much more than that.
What a neat premise this was!
Mrs. Addison’s Nest by Josh Malerman
Each of these men know something odd is going on, but they can’t remember what. They just know that they have tattoos that are trying to remind them of something…
This tale was so twisted! It reads a bit like a fever dream, and I was just as confused as the characters! What fun!
Challawa by Usman T. Malik
On a trip for a change of scenery, this woman is determined to gather as much research as she can. But then on a tour she hears a local monster myth and finds that it’s related to her main research goal.
This one was heartbreaking! Two big CW’s here that hit me really hard: cheating, miscarriage.
Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate by John Langan
On a quest for revenge, our main character, Michelle, approaches a man she thinks murdered her brother and his girlfriend, and they talk.
Phew, the dialogue in this one was chunky! We learn first what happened before the tale tells us in detail, how things led up to where they were now before the big ending.
My Final Thoughts on Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror
I would recommend this one to fans of slower horror; Horror you can kick back and relax and read, without feeling like you need to read as quickly as possible to see what will happen next.
This read was more like floating on a lazy river in the middle of the night. While you can’t see what’s coming around the next turn, you know that you will get there just as quickly as you were meant to.
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