As with movie anthologies, written anthologies can be a mixed bag and can often succeed depending on when they are released.
Here John F.D. Taff has joined forces with some well-known voices in horror literature for Dark Stars, including Josh Malerman (Birdbox), Stephen Graham Jones (My Heart is a Chainsaw) and Alma Katsu to name a few.
Seen as a throwback to the 80s anthologies by writers such as the late Dennis Etchison, Dark Stars is a mixed bag with some stories lighting up the page and others feeling a bit too pedestrian to really engage the reader.
Having said this, when its good, its really good.
Katsu’s The Familiar’s Assistant is simply stunning will certainly gain the writer plenty of new fans.
Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate from John Langan, the closing story is written as one continuous chapter, and despite being 50 pages plus it is constantly engaging and evolving with plenty of tricksup its sleeve to keep the reader turning the pages.
The Attentionist from Caroline Kepnes, is one of the scariest short stories this reader has read in a while, with its plot centred around harassing phone calls. This story just drips with dread and leaves a cold chill as its concludes.
Another highlight is Papa Eye from Priya Sharma, which tells the tale of a townsfolk with a dark secret, which becomes more complex as it progresses. Sharma’s confident storytelling makes this an unforgettable edition.
Dark Stars won’t please every reader, but there is plenty to love here and barely a mention of the pandemic, which it seems could have been an easy target to drive terror into people’s hearts.
Dark Stars edited by John F.D Taff is available now from Titan Books.