Monday, January 07, 2008

Book Review: The Dark: New Ghost Stories edited by Ellen Datlow

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free book reviews.

It's only recently that I'm getting acquainted with horror fiction and The Dark: New Ghost Stories seems a good place to start as any. The anthology includes an introduction by renowned editor Ellen Datlow as well as 16 short stories from various authors, some of which I usually associate with the fantasy or speculative fiction genre more than the horror genre but they prove adept at telling, at the very least, interesting stories. The format of each story is that there is a short bio of the author followed by the story itself and then ends with an afterword from the author about their favorite ghost story. I actually find this format helpful as I remember more details about the author while the afterword are "special features" that gives us insight into the minds of our favorite writers. As for the stories, they are all competently written and without a doubt deserve a place in this collection. Having said that, here are my top three short stories in the anthology: "Limbo" by Lucius Shepard for me is the strongest piece that has the most resonance for me for it is an intricate horror story that works on many levels and is layered with much characterization. "One Thing About the Night" by Terry Dowling uses an interesting and original concept to convey the kind of horror he plans to unleash upon the reader and was an enjoyable read. "An Amicable Divorce" by Daniel Abraham uses various techniques to draw the reader in and the end is proof that just because your short story has ghosts doesn't necessarily mean they're the source of something horrifying. Overall, The Dark is a decent horror-themed anthology that has depth and sophistication. It's not easy reading by any means and while there are some stories that are short, for the most part there is lots of time and emotional investment required to appreciate this book.

Rating: 4/5.

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