Darkness Calls: Tales From The Shadows
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Alyson Faye has quickly become one of my favorite short fiction writers. When I reviewed her collection of Christmas dark fiction, I mentioned how blown away I was. I also mentioned how I worried that she was being overlooked because of the Amazon pre-made cover.
Well, put those fears aside, because Alyson decided to scrap that collection, and re-release it with a fantastically eerie cover. ‘Darkness Calls: Tales From the Shadows‘ gathers the six stories from the Christmas Collection (omitting the bonus story ‘When Dead Eyes Weep,’ which is a shame, as that story is stellar!) tacks on two previously released stories from anthologies as well as two brand new stories!
What I liked: This collection showcases just how amazing Faye’s mind is for the fictional worlds she creates. I’m going to be a bit cheeky here and share the parts of my original review for the stories from the original release, as nothing has changed there!
We start off with “A Gift for Krampus.” This is a very dark tale sharing how a father creates a doll to fool Krampus. The imagery in this one is outstanding.
Next up is “All the Lost Children,” a ghost story about a lady not wanting the local church to be sold. Emotionally haunting, I really enjoyed this one.
“Night Skating” may be the shortest story of the collection, but don’t let that fool you. It packs a wallop. We are introduced to two young boys. Best friends. They love winter and spending time on the frozen river. Then one night one boy can’t go and Alyson makes sure to crush the reader. Phenomenal.
“It Came Upon a Midnight clear – One Christmas Eve” keeps the emotional roller coaster going. We meet Luce, a young lady struggling with loss as Christmas approaches. So, as horror tales tell us is the norm – she buys an ouija board. Things go horribly wrong and we benefit because of it.
“Jacob and the Angel” was a completely unexpected dose of horror. A young boy meets an angel. Two days later his father and his father’s helper find him wrapped in the angel’s wings. The rest is completely amazing and bonkers. Like a cross between Neil Gaiman and Adam Nevill.
The two previously released stories were great. ‘The Ghoul’s Train‘ was a creepy, nightmarish burst of flash fiction. The ending left me wondering a bit, but it worked well to really make me question what had been real and not. ‘Fallen Angel‘ easily was the best of the four “new” additions to this collection. A soldier is tasked to guard a woman in a cage, given explicit instructions on not speaking or touching her and by all means, not to let her out. You can see where this is going. I would absolutely devour a novel based around this story. Stunning.
The last two stories are the brand new stories. ‘Plague Rider‘ and ‘In the Frame‘ rounded it out and were worthy pieces, showing that Faye has no signs of slowing down. Heck, you couple that with her stunning story she contributed to the ‘Diabolica Britannica‘ anthology recently and it’s obvious she’s firing on all cylinders.
What I didn’t like: I mentioned it earlier, but I was a bit sad to see the exclusion of ‘When Dead Eyes Weep.’ For me, that story was so strong, that in the re-release, it would have been a worthy addition. Oh well, we can only hope it sees the light of day again soon!
Why you should buy it: Faye has hit the ground running recently. From her Demain Publishing ‘Night of the Rider‘ release, through her short story appearances and now her own collections, she is prolific and always delivers. I love reading her fiction and seriously, from story one until the very end, each one of these will have you engrossed and thoroughly freaked out.
Darkness Calls: Tales From The Shadows
In Darkness Calls there are ten tales of the supernatural, the macabre and the weird for you to enjoy.
They are set in Yorkshire – in a museum on Christmas Eve night where an ancient evil stalks, in a derelict church in Halifax where ghost children roam, in a Gothic cemetery where a boy finds himself stone-struck, and in other stories, women transform into magical powerful beings, and Krampus visits a Victorian family.
In two new stories, never before published, Plague visits a village riding a dragon and a little girl takes a trip on a ghost train at the funfair, which is a once in a lifetime experience.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
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