“Robert McCammon, James Renner, Kaaron Warren, Brian Hodge, Bill Schweigart, and Mick Garris reveal sinister secrets and unsavory pasts in a haunting anthology of short stories collected by acclaimed horror editors Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar.
“LIZARD MAN” by Robert McCammon
The lizardman thinks he knows about all the mysterious dangers of the Florida swamps, but there are things lurking in the bayou that are older and deadlier than his wildest dreams.
“A MONSTER COMES TO ASHDOWN FOREST (IN WHICH CHRISTOPHER ROBIN SAYS GOODBYE)” by James Renner
Although every child dreams of visiting Hundred Acre Wood, only one has ever actually frolicked in that fabled forest—and survived.
“FURTHEREST” by Kaaron Warren
She’s been going to the beach since she was a child, daring the other kids to go out past the dunes where those boys died all those years ago. Now she realizes that the farther out you go, the harder it is to come back.
“WEST OF MATAMOROS, NORTH OF HELL” by Brian Hodge
After the success of their latest album, Sebastián, Sofia, and Enrique head to Mexico for a shoot under the statue of Santa Muerte. But they have fans south of the border who’d kill to know where they get their inspiration.
“THE EXPEDITION” by Bill Schweigart
On a quest to bring glory to the Führer, Lieutenant Dietrich Drexler leads his team into the ruins of the Carpathian Mountains. But the wolf that’s stalking them is no ordinary predator.
“SNOW SHADOWS” by Mick Garris
A schoolteacher’s impulsive tryst with a colleague becomes a haunting lesson in tragedy and terror when he’s targeted for revenge by an unlikely, unhinged rival.” (Source: Goodreads)
Rather than delve into every story that gives birth to Volume 7 of the horror anthology, Dark Screams, I am choosing a more general approach. For the most part, these stories do not strike me as horror. Nonetheless, they are exceptionally well written and they each leave behind a haunting echo in their wake – of vastly varying sorts. For instance, “West of Matamoros, North of Hell” is probably the closest of these stories to true horror. It has the stereotypical death-obsessed cult and, if I had to name a favorite in this collection, it has to be Brian Hodge’s short tale.
“Snow Shadows” is easily my least favorite, as it is little more than an obsession fueled suicide-fest that, in some ways, feels like it makes light of depression and loneliness. Whether or not such feellings are the author’s intention is beyond me. The other tales fall somewhere in between.
As expected for an anthology edited by Freeman and Chizmar, the craft shown by the writers that produced pieces for this book is exceptional. It is only for the lack of heavy horror elements that I take away one star, leaving this one at a four. In the future, I hope to read more of these anthologies.
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my unbiased opinion.