The Nameless Dark: T.E. Grau
Reviewed By Steve Stred
When I first began to truly interact with the horror community, being a burgeoning writer and review back in 2016, one of the books that was frequently recommended back then was ‘The Nameless Dark.’ I’d not heard of Grau before, but the cover was (and still is) one of the most intriguing representations of darkness and despair I’ve ever seen, and I knew I needed to buy it.
Shamefully, it’s taken far too long for me to get to reading it, but wow, now that I have, I hope a few folks discover this collection who’ve maybe missed it over the years.
What I liked: From the introduction by Nathan Ballingrud, to the very last sentence of the final story, ‘The Mission,’ this is filled with darkness, brutality and ultimately horrific moments captured and shared.
Grau has delivered such an amazing group of stories. I found myself raising my eyebrows frequently in each story, as new and fascinating ways to bludgeon the reader arrived.
Highlights for me were:
Tubby’s Big Swim – this followed Alden, an only child, who lives with his mom and a revolving cast of abusive ‘uncles.’ He is fascinated with nature and on one such walk, he comes across an odd pet store where he finds a strange octopus for sale. This story had so many layers and with what ultimately happens, I was overjoyed with how they were revealed.
Clean – a story about a young boy, a drifter through towns, who entices people back to his hotel room to ‘have fun’ with his sister. Cosmic horror, dark themes and ultimately the love of siblings made this story a classic.
Return of the Prodigy – what a ride this one was. Gary and Gladys have been married for many, many years. Finally, cheapskate and bigotted Gary takes Gladys on the honeymoon they never took, flying off to Walakea. An odd island where things bump into him in the ocean and odd structures are built into the hills. This was just a stunning piece of fiction and one of the best stories I’ve ever read. (You were right B.P., this was so very, very good!)
Twinkle, Twinkle – a story that starts out sweet and sorrow filled. A mother has passed away. A father buys his daughter, Emily, a telescope so she can search the stars looking for where her mom went. All is well, until Emily spots something. This one hit me in the chest a few times. Grau has a way of doing that.
What I didn’t like: As with all collections, each story will hit with the readers individually. I personally really enjoyed them all, but always like to mention that my experience is mine, you may find it different.
Why you should buy this: Grau has created a truly dark collection, with hints of cosmic chaos, creatures lurking and ultimately the reality of significant darkness and despair. This was excellent and I highly recommend it.
The Nameless Dark
The Nameless Dark debuts a major new voice in contemporary Weird fiction.
Within these pages, you’ll find whispers of the familiar ghosts of the classic pulps – Lovecraft, Bradbury, Smith – blended with Grau’s uniquely macabre, witty storytelling, securing his place at the table amid this current Renaissance of literary horror.
A finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award for Single-Author Collection!
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak fiction.
Steve is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve has appeared alongside some of Horror’s heaviest hitters (Tim Lebbon, Gemma Amor, Adrian J. Walker, Ramsey Campbell) in some fantastic anthologies.
He is an active member of the HWA.
He is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife and son.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
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