One of the more common pieces of writing advice is the notion that new writers shouldn’t try and write a novel straight away, but rather practice their art through writing short fiction. It’s good advice, but also means that there are loads of people out in the world vying for your attention, by writing quick to read tales. As most of these are new authors, it’s often tricky to work out if it’s worth your time.
Fortunately, award-winning small press publisher Fox Spirit knows all about this problem and produces the Fox Pockets series to help you find something new. Things in the Dark is one of their more recent short story anthologies and, as the title suggests, it’s all about scary things.
As you may expect, the quality and tone is pretty variable. This is a sampler of sorts, a look into exciting talent that you may miss, so not everything is going to be to your taste. The theme is a fun one though, and the stories run the full spectrum from the hilarious to the deeply disturbing.
The collection begins with Chloe Yates wonderfully wacky tale, The Devil’s Haemorrhoids. It’s a totally crazy tale of why you should always listen to professionals when it comes to strange cuisine. Another strong story is the arachnophobia causing Shelob Headlines the Ox, which show’s off W.P. Johnson’s skills at classic gothic punk horror. Other highlights include Andrew Reid’s Rise of the Huntress, which feels like the prelude to a larger fantasy novel and Stephen Poore’s Junior Twilight Stock Replacer, a rather creepy tale about mundane matters and grim omens combining to make one person’s life much more focused than they ever hoped. James Fadeley’s tale of a vengeful marine biologist is also unique thing that marks him out as a writer worth watching out for. Jennifer L Barnes tale of The Evil Dead and even nastier vampires, A Boomstick and Some Popcorn Seasoning, is truly geektastic and Danie Ware’s Smile reminds us just how skilled the Ecko Rising author is.
In total, this small yet sweet collection is well worth your time and you never know who you might find between the pages of an anthology like this.
THINGS IN THE DARK (FOX POCKETS: VOLUME 6) / AUTHORS: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: FOX SPIRIT BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW