Friday, August 24, 2018
Review: Suspended In Dusk II - edited by Simon Dewar
Before we review the anthology, Suspended In Dusk II, I just have to comment on the cover art from the amazing Dean Samed, without a doubt, the best I've seen in 2018. Absolutely stunning. And, for the most part, the stories beneath the cover are just as good.
In Simon Dewar's foreword, he talks about dusk—"the time between light and dark. This grey area that we all find ourselves in from time to time is the fulcrum, the tipping point. This tipping point is the penultimate moment of change—where things either come good, or go badly, badly wrong. This is a fantastic place for great stories to be found, written and collected. "
Now on to the stories, featuring a truly diverse mix of writers...
Angeline by Karen Runge (author and visual artist based in South Africa) - A believable tale of a woman of the night and her varied clients. "I loved all the men who came to see me. Their frailty, their fragility. I loved them for their need, and the ways they tried to hide it."
The Sundowners by Damien Angelica Walters (twice nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two rescued pit bulls) - Alzheimer's is such a terrible tragedy, as evidenced by this story from the patient's POV.
Crying Demon by Alan Baxter (multi-award winning British-Australian author who also teaches Kung Fu) - A gripping tale of The Dark Web. Nothing frighten's me more. "'It’s a game on the Dark Web, but you have to finish it.' 'What do you mean?' Claude leaned closer to the screen, half-turning his face away even as he did so, trying to decide how authentic the image was. 'If you don’t finish, you become part of the game. Like this kid.'”
Still Life with Natalie by Sarah Read (a dark fiction writer and freelance editor now living in Wisconsin) - a surprising tale of art in still life.
Love is a Cavity I Can’t Stop Touching by Stephen Graham Jones (author of sixteen novels living in Boulder Colorado with his family and too many old trucks) - Wow. Unusual and gruesomely wonderful. How's this for an opening line? "When I was fourteen, I ate a cooked piece of thigh meat off my girlfriend Sherry Wilkes."
There’s No Light Between Floors by Paul Tremblay (his most recent novel is the critically acclaimed Cabin at the End of the World. He currently resides outside of Boston) - You can't go wrong with a story of the old gods.
That Damned Cat by Nerine Dorman (a South African author and editor of SFF) - "It’s not every day that a coven attempts to bring through a Duke of the Ninth Infernal Circle—especially not in a city where consorting with demons was an offense punishable by death."
Riptide by Dan Rabarts (Dan's writing and editing work have earned him both New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award and the Australian Shadows Award multiple times) - A more literary approach to horror and a sad story filled with beautiful prose.
The Immortal Dead by J.C. Michael (horror author from North Yorkshire England) - My favorite story so far and one with an excellent twist. Just great storytelling. I felt as if I was actually on a ghost tour of merry old England.
Dealing in Shadows by Annie Neugebauer (novelist, short story author, and poet, living in Texas with two crazy cute cats and a husband who is exceptionally well prepared for the zombie apocalypse) - Quite an imaginative tale of bereavement and the shadow people. Another high note in a strong anthology.
Another World by Ramsey Campbell (Britain's most respected living horror writer) - Upon his father's death, a young lad searches for the Kingdom of God.
The Hopeless in the Uninhabitable Places by Letitia Trent (Letitia lives in a haunted Ozark mountain town with her son, husband, and three black cats) - Anthologies are a wonderful way to discover authors you might not be familiar with as was the case with this terrific powerful and original story.
Mother of Shadows by Benjamin Knox (best known for his Dead of Winter novellas) - A quiet and creepy tale of a search for a girl who goes missing at her grandmother's funeral.
The Mournful Cry of Owls by Christopher Golden (New York Time bestselling author born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family) - When is an owl not an owl? A somewhat joyous, yet sad, and totally original tale filled with rich characters. Pretty damn good for a short story.
Wants and Needs by Paul Michael Anderson (lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter) - Alone after the death of her son. A snow storm. An intruder. It all comes together in this intense short story filled with beautiful imagery.
An Elegy for Childhood Monsters by Gwendolyn Kiste (a speculative fiction writer living in Western Pennsylvania with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts) - Do we ever really outgrow our childhood monsters?
Lying in the Sun on a Fairy Tale Day by Bracken MacLeod (author of Mountain Home, Stranded, and Come to Dust. He lives outside of Boston with his wife and son) - Starts much like the descriptive title and then BAM! A cleverly constructed tale. My favorite in an exceptional anthology.
Suspended In Dusk II is a superior anthology with most of its tales appearing here for the first time. It's well worth your time and money. Totally recommended.
Available now in both paperback and e-book formats from Grey Matter Press.