Since I am familiar with the anthologies that have been edited by Shane Ryan Staley in the past, I was happy to hear that DarkFuse will be publishing an anthology series edited by Staley starting with “DarkFuse #1” in March.
“DarkFuse #1” is a novella length anthology series that features six new short stories. This is not a themed anthology so the stories are not linked by any central theme. In fact, the only thing that connects the stories is that they are all very well written.
The anthology kicks off with “She Sleeps in the Depths” by William Meikle. This is a Lovecraftian tale about a man’s journey to find the source of a strange song he hears in his head that takes him to the middle of the ocean in search of the source. “Carrion Fowl” by William R. Eakin is a bizarre story about people turning into giant birdlike predators and the adjustment that they have to make as they transform. “Jaws of Life” by E.G. Smith is the tale of a light bulb salesman who is trapped in his car after an accident but who is destined to find out that there are worse things than being trapped in a wrecked vehicles with your legs pinned by the dashboard. “Netherview” by Gary McMahon is the story of a couple who look at homes in a new housing development only to find themselves trapped within the fenced community. The anthology wraps up with “Children of the Horned God” by Christopher Fulbright. This is a tale of a man whose wife is captured and killed by strange creatures but the man finds that there is more to the disappearance as he takes action to get his revenge.
I left out the second story of the anthology in the above synopsis, “Better Heard and Not Seen” by Michael Penkas, as this was the standout story of the anthology for me. While this is a very short story, I found this story about ghosts and the monster that lives in the closet was very creepy and well written. I found it to be an original take on a the tried and true themes of the boogieman and things that go bump in the night that literally gave me goose bumps.
I think that it is a shame that there are not more anthologies published so I am very happy to see DarkFuse jump in to help fill the void. One thing about anthologies is that it is common for there to be some stories that are just not up to par or that seem inferior simply due to the fact that they are surrounded by superior stories. There is none of that here in “DarkFuse #1.” Even though the stories are very dissimilar not only in plot and theme but also in writing style, they are all very strong. “DarkFuse #1” is a very good read from the first page to the last. “DarkFuse #1” is a superior anthology that already has me anticipating the release of the second installment of the series.
I would like to give a special thank you to DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advanced review copy. “DarkFuse #1” is scheduled to be released by DarkFuse in March, 2014, and is available for preorder now.