Unburied: A Collection Of Queer Dark Fiction
Reviewed By Ben Walker
Unburied isn’t the kind of anthology that explains its theme directly when you leaf through its pages. Instead, it relies on the back cover blurb and its title to give the “bury your gays” trope the collective middle finger. After a brief quote from The Cask of Amontillado, then you’re into the contents page. Instead of page numbers, the copy I received gave a brief note about the subgenre each story falls into. This was a bit jarring, and I’m not sure if it’s going to be in the final version, but move past that and you’ll find a lot to like about what’s on offer.
Amongst these 16 short stories you’ll find monsters under the bed, strange entities, dangerous cults, haunted mirrors, robotics gone wrong, and more. Through all the weirdness, wonder and well-realised worlds there are themes of determination, doubt, self-realisation, shame, and the power of transformation. There’s some deep stuff to go with the creepiness in other words, from the way that issues quietly intrude on characters attempting to live their lives in peace, to more explicit threats coming from intolerant members of society, cold-hearted corporations and so on. There are AIDS allegories, explorations of guilt brought about by burgeoning sexuality, and more than a few family issues.
Each story grounds its characters in realistic situations; whether dealing with everyday concerns or battles both physical and mental as the paranormal works its way in. Most importantly, they’re delivered with enough pathos to make you hope you never have to go through the same things yourself. Sometimes this means frights, other times it means heartbreak; Laura DeHaan’s Open Up and Let Me In for example has moments of lurching Ringu-style terror mixed with grief so heartbreakingly real that I had to take a break more than once to dry my eyes. And if you’ve ever had to hide a part of your identity away for fear of persecution, misunderstanding or worse, then there are a few scenarios in these stories that you’ll identify with, which can make for a difficult read at times.
You’re also likely to be haunted with imagery that refuses to leave your mind, from the persistent scratching of a hand in Sarah Lyn Eaton’s When the Dust Settles, to a spell’s results in Louis Stephenson’s The Red Candle, the worrying suggestion/threat stemming from the first line of Daniel M Jaffe’s The Procedure, and the equally worrying promise borne from the title of Veronica Zora Kirin’s 1,000 Tiny Cuts.
With every story either tugging at your heartstrings or spilling ice down your spine (sometimes both), this is a fantastic addition to the collection of both short story lovers and fans of queer fiction.
In a bloody twist on the antiquated trope of “burying the gays,” the newest anthology from Dark Ink Books boasts brand new short stories spotlighting LGBTQ+ characters.
Presenting the darkest of themes as explored by sixteen established and award-winning genre fiction scribes from around the globe, Unburied contains creature features and paranormal hauntings, shadow fables and dreadful delusions.
This twisted box of curiosities serves the readers a cornucopia of chilling horror, sci-fi terror, and dark fantasy.
Prepare to unearth your deepest nightmares.
Ben got a taste for terror after sneaking downstairs to watch The Thing from behind the sofa at age 9. He’s a big fan of extreme & bizarre horror and well as more psychological frights, and most things in between. When he’s not reading, he’s writing, and when he’s not writing he’s on Twitter @BensNotWriting or reviewing books on his YouTube channel, BLURB.