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Dark Forces: New Stories of Suspense and Supernatural Horror

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Contents The Late Shift by Dennis Etchison The Enemy by Isaac Bashevis Singer Dark Angel by Edward Bryant The Crest of Thirty-six by Davis Grubb Mark Ingestre: The Customer’s Tale by Robert Aickman Where the Summer Ends by Karl Edward Wagner The Bingo Master by Joyce Carol Oates Children of the Kingdom by T. E. D. Klein Th Contents The Late Shift by Dennis Etchison The Enemy by Isaac Bashevis Singer Dark Angel by Edward Bryant The Crest of Thirty-six by Davis Grubb Mark Ingestre: The Customer’s Tale by Robert Aickman Where the Summer Ends by Karl Edward Wagner The Bingo Master by Joyce Carol Oates Children of the Kingdom by T. E. D. Klein The Detective of Dreams by Gene Wolfe Vengeance Is. By Theodore Sturgeon The Brood by Ramsey Campbell The Whistling Well by Clifford D. Simak The Peculiar Demesne by Russell Kirk Where the Stones Grow by Lisa Tuttle The Night Before Christmas by Robert Bloch The Stupid Joke by Edward Gorey A Touch of Petulance by Ray Bradbury Lindsay and the Red City Blues by Joe Haldeman A Garden of Blackred Roses by Charles L. Grant Owls Hoot in the Daytime by Manly Wade Wellman Where There’s a Will by Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson Traps by Gahan Wilson The Mist by Stephen King


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Contents The Late Shift by Dennis Etchison The Enemy by Isaac Bashevis Singer Dark Angel by Edward Bryant The Crest of Thirty-six by Davis Grubb Mark Ingestre: The Customer’s Tale by Robert Aickman Where the Summer Ends by Karl Edward Wagner The Bingo Master by Joyce Carol Oates Children of the Kingdom by T. E. D. Klein Th Contents The Late Shift by Dennis Etchison The Enemy by Isaac Bashevis Singer Dark Angel by Edward Bryant The Crest of Thirty-six by Davis Grubb Mark Ingestre: The Customer’s Tale by Robert Aickman Where the Summer Ends by Karl Edward Wagner The Bingo Master by Joyce Carol Oates Children of the Kingdom by T. E. D. Klein The Detective of Dreams by Gene Wolfe Vengeance Is. By Theodore Sturgeon The Brood by Ramsey Campbell The Whistling Well by Clifford D. Simak The Peculiar Demesne by Russell Kirk Where the Stones Grow by Lisa Tuttle The Night Before Christmas by Robert Bloch The Stupid Joke by Edward Gorey A Touch of Petulance by Ray Bradbury Lindsay and the Red City Blues by Joe Haldeman A Garden of Blackred Roses by Charles L. Grant Owls Hoot in the Daytime by Manly Wade Wellman Where There’s a Will by Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson Traps by Gahan Wilson The Mist by Stephen King

30 review for Dark Forces: New Stories of Suspense and Supernatural Horror

  1. 5 out of 5

    Graham

    I adore horror anthologies, especially the ones that were released between the 1960s and 1980s - so when I saw this massive volume from Kirby McCauley, I had to have it. I'm glad I did. McCauley uses pretty much all the talent from the 1980 horror scene to deliver a rousing, frightening anthology that rarely disappoints. First off, the not-so-good efforts. THE BINGO MASTER by Joyce Carol Oates is a distinctly non-horror effort that tries to be different and succeeds in being boring. I I adore horror anthologies, especially the ones that were released between the 1960s and 1980s - so when I saw this massive volume from Kirby McCauley, I had to have it. I'm glad I did. McCauley uses pretty much all the talent from the 1980 horror scene to deliver a rousing, frightening anthology that rarely disappoints. First off, the not-so-good efforts. THE BINGO MASTER by Joyce Carol Oates is a distinctly non-horror effort that tries to be different and succeeds in being boring. It has no place here. A GARDEN OF BLACKRED ROSES, by Charles L. Grant, is too obtuse and abstract for my tastes, although some may like it. Edward Gorey's THE STUPID JOKE is a mildly amusing short comic strip, included in the interests of variety, while Gahan Wilson's TRAPS is a silly story about rats taking on human characteristics. Next, we have the good stories. THE LATE SHIFT and THE BROOD are both fine examples of the work of Dennis Etchison and Ramsey Campbell, respectively. THE ENEMY by Isaac Bashevis Singer is an old-fashioned psychological thriller that reminded me of Guy de Maupassant and Edward Bryant's DARK ANGEL is a sickening little witchcraft story. Davis Grubb's THE CREST OF THIRTY-SIX is a nice piece of southern Gothic, reminding me of William Faulkner, while Theodore Sturgeon offers up a racy little morality tale in VENGEANCE IS. Onto the really good stories. MARK INGESTRE: THE CUSTOMER'S TALE is an erotic retelling of the Sweeney Todd legend by ghost story master Robert Aickman. It's surreal and disturbing and well worth your time. THE DETECTIVE OF DREAMS by Gene Wolfe involves supernatural sleuthery as a period-era France is home to a man who haunts people through their dreams. THE PECULIAR DEMESNE, by Russell Kirk, is a good old-fashioned campfire ghost story, with the author's own unique spin, while A TOUCH OF PETULANCE marks Ray Bradbury at his most blackly comic. LINDSAY AND THE RED CITY BLUES, by Joe Haldeman, is efficient enough to put would-be tourists off visiting Morocco for life, and similar to Bryant's DARK ANGEL in tone. That leaves us the excellent stories, and there are a few. WHERE THE SUMMER ENDS is another frightening, imaginative effort from Karl Edward Wagner, who rarely puts a foot wrong when it comes to his horror yarns. CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM by T. E. D. Klein is a lengthy, ponderous story about an underground race revenging itself on mankind, and Klein is worthy of the 'modern-day Lovecraft' monikor on the strength of this absolutely brilliant piece. WHERE THE STONES GROW is the best I've read yet by Lisa Tuttle, intelligent and well written, while THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS marks Robert Bloch at his darkest and has the best punchline I've ever come across. OWLS HOOT IN THE DAYTIME is another great story, this time by Manly Wade Wellman, and part of his 'John the Balladeer' series, although it also works as a stand-alone tale of demonic horror with plenty of authenticity. WHERE THERE'S A WILL marks a pairing of father/son writers Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson in a fine retelling of the eternally popular 'buried alive' story. The best story in the volume is saved until last - Stephen King's THE MIST. This novella is essentially a survivors-under-siege scenario involving the kind of massive, mutated beasties you'd find in a '50s B-movie, yet King's focus on the human element makes this affecting, moving and oh-so-frightening. It's a truly fantastic climax to an excellent volume of stories.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marvin

    Published in the 80s, Dark Forces is occasionally referred to as the "Dangerous Visions" of the horror genre. While that may be stretching it, this is one of the definitive anthologies in horror. There are 23 contributors from Stephen King to Theodore Sturgeon to an illustrated story by Edward Gorey to Isaac Bashevis Singer. There is a story by Gahan Wilson proving he is just as good a writer as a cartoonist. Some of the standouts include "The Late Shift" by Denneis Etchison, "Where the Summer Ends" b Published in the 80s, Dark Forces is occasionally referred to as the "Dangerous Visions" of the horror genre. While that may be stretching it, this is one of the definitive anthologies in horror. There are 23 contributors from Stephen King to Theodore Sturgeon to an illustrated story by Edward Gorey to Isaac Bashevis Singer. There is a story by Gahan Wilson proving he is just as good a writer as a cartoonist. Some of the standouts include "The Late Shift" by Denneis Etchison, "Where the Summer Ends" by Karl Edward Wagner, "The Detective of Dreams' by Gene Wolfe, and "The Peculiar Demense" by Russell Kirk. This book also includes the first appearance of Stephen King's "The Mist" and T.E.D. Klein's "Children of the Kingdom", both excellent novellas.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    OK, the details here are a bit fuzzy, but bear with me ... Sherman: Set the Wayback Machine to, um, sometime in the very early 1980s. I'm in either junior high or early high school; a friend of mine has given me a copy of Stephen King's The Dead Zone and I like it very, very much -- so much so that I go out and read every other King book I can lay hands on (which, at that point, is pretty much the classic run: Carrie, 'Salem's Lot, The Stand, The Shining and Night Shift). Shortly thereafter, as I'm perusing the shelves at th OK, the details here are a bit fuzzy, but bear with me ... Sherman: Set the Wayback Machine to, um, sometime in the very early 1980s. I'm in either junior high or early high school; a friend of mine has given me a copy of Stephen King's The Dead Zone and I like it very, very much -- so much so that I go out and read every other King book I can lay hands on (which, at that point, is pretty much the classic run: Carrie, 'Salem's Lot, The Stand, The Shining and Night Shift). Shortly thereafter, as I'm perusing the shelves at the Austin Public Library, I see this big, fat book called Dark Forces: New Stories of Suspense and Supernatural Horror, which right there on the cover promises to contain a BRAND! NEW! STEPHEN! KING! STORY! So, needless to say, it comes home with me. And in addition to the King story, I find myself read a whole bunch of other excellent late 1970s horror ... Now, about 30 years after the last time I read it, I picked up my copy of Dark Forces on a whim, and was very, very happy with what I found waiting for me. The King story is "The Mist", and it remains possibly my favorite of his to this day -- kind of in the vein of 1950s monster movies, but with a whole lot more blood & dismemberment (on-screen, rather than implied) and a bit of sex (ditto). Other highlights in the collection include Davis Grubb's "The Crest of Thirty-Six", about a truly remarkable flood; Karl Edward Wagner's "Where the Summer Ends", my first encounter with his work; Joyce Carol Oates' "The Bingo Master", T.E.D. Klein's "Children of the Kingdom", a modern (well, late 1970s) updating of Lovecraft; Gene Wolfe's "The Detective of Dreams" (a story whose point I only just today realized); Robert Bloch's "The Night Before Christmas", a story whose ending was so subtle it went right past me the first time or two I read it, but once I actually figured it out, hoo boy; and possibly my second favorite story in the collection, Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson's "Where There's a Will". Plus others by Ray Bradbury, Edward Gorey, Ramsey Campbell and many others. Short version: If you want a really good overview of the state of horror fiction circa 1980 (after King had broken big, but before the big boom 'n' bust), or if you just want to read about 500 pages of excellently creepy and/or horrific fiction, this is the collection for you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    Simply one of the best overall anthologies of horror fiction out there. Contains great stories by Bradbury, Karl Wagner, Etchison, and others, and the novella "The Mist" by King, which is one of the best things he ever wrote.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    This anthology offers some truly frightening tales from masters of the genre like Stephen King and Robert Bloch to some unexpected contributors such as Isaac Bashevis Singer and Theodore Sturgeon. One of my favorite stories is Children of the Kingdom by T.E.D. Klein. It offers up a view of NYC and the 1977 blackout that provides chills.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    From time to time my hubby and I read a story together. Last night I was in the mood for a horror story and Graham is sharing STEPHEN KING's The Mist with me. I have to say that so far I'm loving it... The Mist was everything a horror story should be - I LOVED it! Here's snippet from Graham's review of The Mist the last story in the anthology. ...The best story in the volume is saved until last - Stephen King's THE MIST. This novella is essentially a survivors-under-siege scenario involving the kind/>The From time to time my hubby and I read a story together. Last night I was in the mood for a horror story and Graham is sharing STEPHEN KING's The Mist with me. I have to say that so far I'm loving it... The Mist was everything a horror story should be - I LOVED it! Here's snippet from Graham's review of The Mist the last story in the anthology. ...The best story in the volume is saved until last - Stephen King's THE MIST. This novella is essentially a survivors-under-siege scenario involving the kind of massive, mutated beasties you'd find in a '50s B-movie, yet King's focus on the human element makes this affecting, moving and oh-so-frightening...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Yes, Stephen King's "The Mist" drew me in but every story kept me longer. From Dennis Etchison's "The Late Shift" (the first time I'd read his work) to "Children Of The Kingdom" by T.E.D. Klein - and touching on everyone from Bloch to Campbell to Matheson in between - this is simply a terrific collection.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    '80s horror. Unbeatable. Really - maybe it's the teeth cutting or something, but many of these stories are literary, well paced, and complex. I peruse horror and slip-stream anthologies on a regular basis, and I have to say that this collection is one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of reading. An equivalent: McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alissa

    There were a couple stories in this book that I didn't care for but I enjoyed most of them. Stephen King's The Mist was my favorite and actually one of my favorites of anything he's written so far. Recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    Original stories commissioned by the editor, the all-star horror agent of the 1970s and 1980s, this was a historically important representation of the horror field around 1979. Nothing too groundbreaking takes place here, but the stories are good-to-great for the most part, and several have gone on to become modern classics. As always, not enough women, and no non-white authors. The Mist • (1980) • novella by Stephen King After an incredible storm, the titular mist rolls across a small New England Original stories commissioned by the editor, the all-star horror agent of the 1970s and 1980s, this was a historically important representation of the horror field around 1979. Nothing too groundbreaking takes place here, but the stories are good-to-great for the most part, and several have gone on to become modern classics. As always, not enough women, and no non-white authors. The Mist • (1980) • novella by Stephen King After an incredible storm, the titular mist rolls across a small New England town, bringing with it a variety of ferocious monsters and trapping a number of townsfolk in a small grocery store. Maybe the first time I’ve read something of King’s that at no point made me feel embarrassed on his behalf? The women are rote stereotypes (the harridan, the whore, etc), but that at least sets them apart from the men, who were indistinguishable. 4/5 The Late Shift • (1980) • shortstory by Dennis Etchison A pair of losers in California stumble onto the existence of a company renting out the bodies of the newly dead for low wage night shift work. The reach of the company proves unavoidable. 5/5 The Enemy • (1980) • shortstory by Isaac Bashevis Singer Two Jewish men, refugees from Naziism, reunite years later in New York. One tells the story of his journey from Argentina by cruiseship, on which one of the waiters (an Argentine) inexplicably became his enemy, ridiculing him and refusing to serve him. Probably the most well-written of the stories collected here. The Holocaust seems too obvious an interpretation - this one deserves some more thought. 4/5 Dark Angel • (1980) • shortstory by Edward Bryant Another story set off by a reunion - this time a witch running into an ex-boyfriend who abandoned her after knocking her up many years ago (to make sure we understand just how evil he is, it also turns out he later murdered his wife). As payback, she magically infects him with an unbirthable pregnancy. Agency! 4/5 The Crest of Thirty-six • (1980) • shortstory by Davis Grubb A kind of magical realist Southern folktale relying heavily on the Weird Woman trope - I should hate this, but, despite myself, I really loved this one. Darly Pogue, the town wharfmaster, is married to Loll, some sort of water witch whose beauty waxes and wanes with the moon. After he thinks one of her predictions was a lie, he hits her and flees to a local hotel, where his fear of water proves well-founded. 5/5 Mark Ingestre: The Customer's Tale • (1980) • shortstory by Robert Aickman Even for an Aickman story, this was kind of impenetrable. A reimagining of the Sweeney Todd story as a sexual awakening, on researching it a bit I found that the Chaucer allusions were supposed to make one disbelieve the frame narrator and roll one’s eyes a bit at the claims within. That still didn’t really make it much fun to read, though. Beautifully written and hazy, although that probably goes without saying. 3/5 Where the Summer Ends • (1980) • novelette by Karl Edward Wagner Standard monster story: intimations of a threat slowly become more and more pronounced, things end poorly for the protagonist, but it’s well-done, and using the rampant kudzu infestation of the South as the cover for more nefarious happenings was a stroke of genius. 4/5 The Bingo Master • (1980) • shortstory by Joyce Carol Oates JCO does Flannery O’Connor. An eccentric spinster lives with her eccentric family and writes eccentric letters to her eccentrics friends before deciding to lose her virginity to the eccentric titular character. Things go awry. 3/5 Children of the Kingdom • (1980) • novella by T. E. D. Klein Klein does Lovecraft, but rightfully subverts the latter’s racial anxiety - our narrator and his wife are much more worried about black New Yorkers than they are with the (white) half-human monsters living under the city. The narrator’s grandfather, a much less assimilated Jewish man, does not share their anxieties. It’s longer than it needed to be, though, and I never care for stories like this hinging on sexual abuse. 3/5 The Detective of Dreams • (1980) • novelette by Gene Wolfe Perhaps the least subtle Wolfe story I’ve read, a pastiche of the psychic detective genre where a Frenchman is hired to figure out who is behind a series of nightmares afflicting a variety of people. No one familiar with Wolfe will be surprised to learn that it’s Christ. 2/5 Vengeance Is. • (1980) • shortstory by Theodore Sturgeon A very short piece about two rapists being killed by some sort of mutant STD. 1/5 The Brood • (1980) • shortstory by Ramsey Campbell Like the Wagner, a very well-done monster story, nothing more, nothing less. In a nice twist, our protagonist is a veterinarian, and it’s concern about animals that leads him into the next-door house that is being occupied by squatters. Even more so than the Wagner, this is a downtrodden meditation on urban alienation. 5/5 The Whistling Well • (1980) • novelette by Clifford D. Simak An author’s aunt hires him to investigate the family past, which leads him to an old homestead on haunted land. Very poorly written in an oddly repetitious way (also narratively - the aunt continues to intrude but ends up not having much to do with anything), although the creepy scenes creeped effectively for the most part. The images of dinosaurs worshipping Lovecraftian horrors was a little bit difficult to take seriously. 2/5 The Peculiar Demesne • (1980) • novelette by Russell Kirk Some Americans listen to a ghost story told by a potentate in a fictitious African country. Pretty good aside from the fact that Kirk kept reminding us how black all of the characters except for the Americans were. Said potentate once had a run-in with a criminal who turned out to be a body-hopping psychic vampire, who transported the two of them (physically or not the potentate was unsure) to an effectively-described deserted town. 4/5 Where the Stones Grow • (1980) • shortstory by Lisa Tuttle A young man who once saw his father killed by standing stones in England waits for them to do the same to him. Bad dialogue, otherwise well-written enough, but I can’t get over the idea of moving stones as a threat. 2/5 The Night Before Christmas • (1980) • novelette by Robert Bloch Bloch’s work never speaks to me. This one, the story of an artist painting the portrait of oilman’s beautiful young wife, seems to be written only in order to use the final punchline. Misogynistic and uninteresting. 1/5 The Stupid Joke • (1980) • shortfiction by Edward Gorey Gorey drawings with a brief story to go with them. The monster under the bed without the “under.” 2/5 A Touch of Petulance • (1980) • shortstory by Ray Bradbury The older version of a man travels back in time after murdering his wife to warn his younger self not to let his relationship sour to that degree. The younger man is sure that will never happen, until he notices the titular attitude of his wife. The wife is a non-character. Bradbury tends to be very hit or miss for me, and this is firmly in the latter camp. 1/5 Lindsay and the Red City Blues • (1980) • shortstory by Joe Haldeman Despicable American tourist realizes Europe is full of other tourists and goes to Morocco instead, where he’s duped by the locals, assaults an underage prostitute, and is cursed by a magician (using the girl as a kind of living voodoo doll). Like the Bryant, ends with an unpassable male pregnancy, but the woman has no agency at all this time. Orientalist, although the “pre-modern” attitude toward magic does end up being the correct understanding. 1/5 A Garden of Blackred Roses • (1980) • novelette by Charles L. Grant A series of vignettes set in Grant’s fictitious Oxrun, Connecticut, revolving around nefarious ends coming to people who have stolen the titular roses from a local hermit who is (or is modeled after?) Dimmesdale from the Scarlet Letter. Beautifully written, subtle, creepy. 5/5 Owls Hoot in the Daytime • [John the Balladeer] • (1980) • shortstory by Manly Wade Wellman Another folksy Southern tale, although this one did much less for me. John the Balladeer, a recurring character of Wellman’s, encounters a dwarf on a wooded mountain, who is guarding an entrance to Hell. John saves the day. 3/5 Where There's a Will • (1980) • shortstory by Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson A man wakes up in a coffin and digs his way out, desperate to get revenge on the men he’s sure did this to him in order to steal his company. Of course, since the narrative hammered home over and over again that he was so sure about that, it turns out to be a misunderstanding. An updating, in many ways, of HPL’s “The Outsider,” but not a worthwhile one. 2/5 Traps • (1980) • shortstory by Gahan Wilson An exterminator faces down a house infested by rats who have learned to organize! An individual, of course, cannot stand against a community. 5/5

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gef

    When I was on a real tear a couple years ago, reading as much short fiction in a summer as I could, this anthology was recommended to me more than a couple of times. Had I not already been swamped with a line-up of collections and anthologies to read at the time, I would have added this one to the pile sooner. Now, having read it, I see that I should have made it a priority. Dark Forces is not only a truly entertaining book from front to back, but serves as a valuable time capsule for When I was on a real tear a couple years ago, reading as much short fiction in a summer as I could, this anthology was recommended to me more than a couple of times. Had I not already been swamped with a line-up of collections and anthologies to read at the time, I would have added this one to the pile sooner. Now, having read it, I see that I should have made it a priority. Dark Forces is not only a truly entertaining book from front to back, but serves as a valuable time capsule for its time, having been published in the very early 80s it manages to show how some of the then up-and-comers fared alongside some true legends in the horror genre. Right off the bat, the book gave me the chance to revisit Stephen King's The Mist, which is the very last story and the one I immediately jumped to. I don't often re-read books, but for this gem of a tale I'd make an exception. Honestly, if you haven't read The Mist yet, then do yourself a favor and just go buy this anthology. It'll be worth the pricetag for that one novella alone. Ramsey Campbell's "The Brood" reminded me that I need to pick up one of the novels I have of his sitting on my bookshelf and get to reading his work again. The guy is a wee bit amazing with the tales of terror. Robert Bloch's "The Night Before Christmas" on the other hand was a bit of a letdown, though not because it was poorly written--quite the opposite--but the author of Psycho felt a bit too clever in this one. Then Charles L. Grant's "A Garden of Black Red Roses" offered a really great glimpse of a guy whose work I need to get to know, as he deftly spins a quiet, smalltown horror story here. Joyce Carol Oates is another writer with a skilled hand at disquieting stories, and "The Bingo Master" manages to do just that, though it's one of the few tales I felt took a good long while in getting warmed up. It's been nearly thirty-five years since Dark Forces originally came out--nearly ten since Cemetery Dance republished it for an anniversary edition here--and there are times while reading that it does feel dated. Not out-dated, mind you, but there is a kind of nostalgic kick that comes with reading some of these stories. Or mayne it's just the brand of new horror that I've been reading with a harder, slightly meaner tone, which has me seeing this book with a rose-colored hue. In any case, I wholly recommend it to horror readers who have yet to give it a try, especially those who maybe have only read recent works lately. It might serve you well to dip into the past for this one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chip Howard

    In my first go-round with this anthology back in the '80s, I did something that probably a lot of others did too--I bypassed the roughly 20 stories it offered at the front and made a beeline for the back of the book to gobble up the Stephen King story. What can I say--back then, the guy's fiction was like candy to me. Jump forward roughly 30 years to my second go-round, and I've had a different, and more enriching, experience this time. Published in 1980, before the horror genre's big boom (and In my first go-round with this anthology back in the '80s, I did something that probably a lot of others did too--I bypassed the roughly 20 stories it offered at the front and made a beeline for the back of the book to gobble up the Stephen King story. What can I say--back then, the guy's fiction was like candy to me. Jump forward roughly 30 years to my second go-round, and I've had a different, and more enriching, experience this time. Published in 1980, before the horror genre's big boom (and subsequent glut), Dark Forces offers a wide range of authors and styles that feel surprisingly cohesive (guided by the authoritative hand of editor Kirby McCauley). Some of the stories have a more modern (and slightly '80s) feel to them, while others harken back to an early-20th-century style of horror known as the weird tale. A few feel like they've come right from the desk of iconic weird-tale publishing company Arkham House itself. (And it's no surprise, really, that McCauley acknowledges Arkham House publisher August Derleth as an inspiration for this anthology in his intro.) McCauley has a keen eye for showcasing the macabre. The focus here tends to lean toward mood and mystery rather than outright violence, which might make this collection feel a bit dated to some (horror being what it is, these days). These types of stories happen to be my favorite, but if you're looking for something more aggressive, you might be disappointed. Are all of the authors at their best in this collection? Maybe not. Probably not. But I found something to like about nearly all the stories. Most importantly, Dark Forces--even 30 years later-- has allowed me to discover some "new" names (some of whom have already passed away, unfortunately) that I look forward to reading more from. Among my favorites were stories from Ramsey Campbell, T.E.D Klein, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Joe Halderman, Robert Aickman, Russell Kirk, Ray Bradbury, and Joyce Carol Oates.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elegant Elbow

    I read this book in the heat of the summer, waiting for the bus. I had checked it out from the public library. Some of the stories stayed with me for so long that I eventually had to go out and find a copy of it. I love the horror collections from the '80s -- not splatter punk, and still very much influenced by the original Rod Serling Twilight Zone series.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Lucia

    An excellent, diverse cross-section of horror and dark fantasy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    France-Andrée

    This book really deserved to be celebrated in a 25th anniversary edition. The quality of the stories included in this anthology is remarkable. I would not give less than 3 stars to any stories and there's a couple in there that are 5 stars for sure. I'm not gonna comment on every short-story, but here is a little words on each of my favorites : The anthology starts with a bang with a little gem called : Late Shift by Dennis Etchison. A little intriguing and the twist at the end This book really deserved to be celebrated in a 25th anniversary edition. The quality of the stories included in this anthology is remarkable. I would not give less than 3 stars to any stories and there's a couple in there that are 5 stars for sure. I'm not gonna comment on every short-story, but here is a little words on each of my favorites : The anthology starts with a bang with a little gem called : Late Shift by Dennis Etchison. A little intriguing and the twist at the end was worth the read; I wasn't far, but I hadn't guessed exactly and that is probably why I liked this short-story so much. Next on my list of favorites is Children of the Kingdom by T.E.D. Klein about what goes on in New York's underground. The characters here are really interesting and it is the major force of this story. Detective of Dreams by Gene Wolf has a nice twist... The Whistling Well by Clifford D. Simak about a young man learning about his ancestors and the evil that drove them from their homestead had a very good atmosphere. In not sure, I got everything in The Peculiar Demesne by Russell Kirk, but I really enjoyed trying to guess the ending... I was wrong! I got some chills reading Where the Stones Grow by Lisa Tuttle (one of the rare female writers in this anthology) it reminded me of a Doctor Who episode. Rocks can be so scary when given organic form, one poor guy that saw them move once will pay for it dearly. The Stupid Joke by Edward Gorey was a little different since it is a cartoon. Made me feel guilty about spending lazy days in my bed... Now, why would someone want to make me feel bad about that? I really liked Ray Bradbury's A Touch of Petulance. I'm always partial to a time traveling story... I liked the fact that the protagonist meets his future self and that things do not turn the way the older version wanted; shows us that given the same set of circumstances all of us would make the same mistakes all over again. Now, a long time favorite of mine is The Mist by Stephen King, I didn't know it was originally published in this anthology. I read it so many years ago that I was a little confused with the movie which I saw more recently. I used to be a fan of the author, but I haven't read him in years and this novella reminded me about why I used to love him... it's not for the scariness (though this was very creepy), it is the characters that hooks you. (view spoiler)[I really did not remember the book ending and so I was surprised. I have to say though that I love both the written ending and the filmed ending... The movie was so very sad, killing his son for absolutely nothing in the end; the novella ending was chilling in the way it is an open ending and you have no idea what will happen to the characters at all. (hide spoiler)] . All in all, I was blown away with the anthology and I recommend it warmly to fans of the genre, but also to other people - like me - who only dabbles in it once in a while (like me and October).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    This was a nice read in 80's horror. Most of the stories are 2.5-3 star types, but "The Mist" and "Traps" really stood out as 5 star plus stories. It shows once again just how good Mr. King is a writing quality horror back in the day, as "The Mist" might be one of his best stories period. This is a perfect collection to read to fill short windows of reading time, as the stories are compact and satisfying. Overall, I give this a 4 star rating on the pair of exceptional stories above which would h This was a nice read in 80's horror. Most of the stories are 2.5-3 star types, but "The Mist" and "Traps" really stood out as 5 star plus stories. It shows once again just how good Mr. King is a writing quality horror back in the day, as "The Mist" might be one of his best stories period. This is a perfect collection to read to fill short windows of reading time, as the stories are compact and satisfying. Overall, I give this a 4 star rating on the pair of exceptional stories above which would have made the book worthwhile even if all the others were terrible... which thankfully most are not. Enjoy!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kwirebaugh

    What I remember most about this book is King's "The Mist". It was when I was in college that I read this and thought it was good enough to be a movie and they made it into one this year!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Fishface

    A decent collection of horror stories. Some were terrific, so only so-so.

  19. 5 out of 5

    David Agranoff

    One of the single greatest horror collections ever released. Classic must read stuff right here.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    The definitive horror anthology from the 80's, and let's face it, horror has been on the decline since then, so let's just say it's a definitive horror anthology.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brian O'daniel

    An excellent horror anthology. This is one of my favorite collections. I've probably read it at least five times over the years.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Mansfield

    I am currently (re)reading Stephen King's works in chronological order and noticed "The Mist" was the next official title on the list. It first appeared in this collection, then later went on to be slightly edited and included in King's own collection "Skeleton Crew". So I was quite pleased to find this 1980 collection of horror stories by some well-known authors now available on ebook and eagerly purchased a copy for the opportunity to read King's original version of this masterpiece.

  23. 4 out of 5

    blake

    This is a collection of solid, if not spectacular, horror stories put out in 1980. I had only read two of them before: "Where the Summer Ends" by Karl Edward Wagner and "A Touch of Petulance" by Ray Bradbury. The former, I only remembered because of the kudzu, and because I read it in a much better anthology (which collection I hope to remember and find again some day). The latter was probably my favorite in this book, though the horror is rather oblique. I was sick on a few days of r This is a collection of solid, if not spectacular, horror stories put out in 1980. I had only read two of them before: "Where the Summer Ends" by Karl Edward Wagner and "A Touch of Petulance" by Ray Bradbury. The former, I only remembered because of the kudzu, and because I read it in a much better anthology (which collection I hope to remember and find again some day). The latter was probably my favorite in this book, though the horror is rather oblique. I was sick on a few days of reading this which might have dampened my enthusiasm for it, too. Although I think I still wouldn't get the Joyce Carol Oates story. And the Ramsey Campbell story—I couldn't put the pieces together somehow to connect the phenomena the narrator describes at the front of the story with the boogens he describes at the end. I liked both stories, especially the latter, but I can't say I got them. I had a ridiculous amount of trouble with the Wolfe story and he spells it out as clearly as possible, really. (I was particularly cotton-headed at that point, but I did get that one.) The Matheson and son story is well written, of course, but I both saw it coming and was disappointed that it was basically a cheat. (I mean, it's only a few pages, so it's not like you wanna overthink it, but the story describes a whole bunch of things to make you think one way that really couldn't be given the story's inevitable end.) Sturgeon's story...yeah, okay. It all worked. The elephant in the room is, of course, "The Mist," a Stephen King story from his prime that just had me scratching my head wondering what people see in him and whether or not I would like any of the former work of his I had read and enjoyed. It's about 118 pages, with 25 pages of set up, which seemed inordinate. I mean, if you're editing an anthology in 1980 and Stephen King tells you his story is running long you say, "Sure thing, Steve, however long is fine" and your eyes turn to little dollar-signs but, man, that first 20% of the story felt like a slog that doesn't really pay off. What struck me most, though, was King's misanthropy. He just doesn't like people much. The editor draws a parallel between him and Bradbury, which I can see, but the difference seems to be that Bradbury likes people. The horror that comes from "A Touch of Petulance" is that horror that comes from realizing what two people madly in love at one point in their lives can turn into over time. He makes you root for them. In King's grocery store, virtually every one is an enemy or a potential enemy. Probably my main issue is that I don't believe it. I don't find the reactions of the people to be plausible without some other voodoo explanation ("The mist is affecting their minds!") which King doesn't give us because he believes this is how people (who are not him) are. There's no empathy outside of a very small window. Meanwhile, a two page digression on artistic impulses and a "sure, let's have sex, even though you're worried to death about your wife who you're going to try to save but who might be dead", and every stupid little conventional-wisdom aside on topics as diverse as Pearl Harbor ending the depression and hairspray destroying the ozone. The one gets irritated with the details of the monsters, which are so loosely described that the author could get away with just about anything—but then he throws in spider webs which not only eat through whatever they touch so cleanly as to perfectly amputate limps and heads but also can somehow be used to stick and grab those very objects they're eating through. What? You'd think, given the length, we'd at least get some good characters but, nah, brah. There's one character in this book, and it's King. King and his virtue signal (his son), King and his sexual fantasy (busty green-eyed sex-with-the-artist chick), King and his bete noir (a religious figure). Everyone else has less significance than a camp counsellor at Crystal Lake. Heh. I guess, what I'm saying, is that I didn't care for it much. I let it drag the rating down from 4- to 3-stars, so if you're a fan, this might be a 5-star book for you, though you've probably read this somewhere else. Overall, it's a good variety of stories, as noted: Solid, not spectacular.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This anthology has been called the horror answer to Dangerous Visions, which had me intrigued, as I generally enjoy horror more than straight science fiction. However, I don’t think as a whole it rose quite to the same level. Fewer of the stories here have stuck with me like many from Dangerous Visions. That other anthology series had an explicit goal of being boundary-pushing, shocking, and memorable. I think it would be fairer to call this a horror primer. This seemed to provide a broad approa This anthology has been called the horror answer to Dangerous Visions, which had me intrigued, as I generally enjoy horror more than straight science fiction. However, I don’t think as a whole it rose quite to the same level. Fewer of the stories here have stuck with me like many from Dangerous Visions. That other anthology series had an explicit goal of being boundary-pushing, shocking, and memorable. I think it would be fairer to call this a horror primer. This seemed to provide a broad approach to the genre, having everything from pulp to splatter to quiet horror. On average, they skewed more towards the quiet, and occasionally had a nebulous connection to the genre (and I have a pretty liberal Big Tent view of horror). “Where the Summer Ends” is a delightful little monster story, with a number of excellent layers just underneath the kudzu creepers. “Where the Stones Grow” by Lisa Tuttle had some excellent tension with the inexorable stalking of childhood trauma. “Children of the Kingdom” by T. E. D. Klein seems more about the relentless anxiety of NYC in the 80’s than about monsters. The pacing is odd in this novella with a lot of slice of life with the occasional monster peeking around the corner. “The Stupid Joke” was a pleasant surprise to see an illustrated short by Edward Gorey in the middle of this anthology. A wonderful model that more publishers should emulate. “Traps” by Gahan Wilson was short and mean, as I would expect from his single panel cartoons, by which I know him best. “Vengeance Is” was a much nastier story than I was expecting from Theodore Sturgeon, with the rural poor as the monstrous other. I should have expected it--having read “The Professor’s Teddy Bear”--but it was a pleasant shock. The Twilight Zone twist helped to make up for the revenge plot. “The Bingo Master” by Joyce Carol Oates should be sought out by fans of Flannery O’Connor. “Dark Angel” is a nasty little revenge story from the era of Roe vs Wade. “The Night Before Christmas” shows off more of Robert Bloch’s later year mystery/thriller chops, rather than his earlier horror short fiction roots. I had a hard time figuring out why “The Detective of Dreams” was included in a horror anthology, as this didn’t even really activate my “quiet horror” or “urban fantasy” buttons. However, it reinforced my opinion of Gene Wolfe as being More Clever Than You and Making Sure You Know It. There’s also King’s “The Mist” which I first read in Skeleton Crew and takes up a quarter of this tome. Overall, Dark Forces is a worthwhile read, but not really an essential. I’d recommend Skeleton Crew instead if you want an essential collection of short horror.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jim Cunningham

    This is a decent collection of short stories. Better than most. I’m a bit biased against it from the start because I generally don’t care for short stories because they tend to, largely, be unfinished work, the seeds for something the author thought might become a novel or miscellaneous doodads they couldn’t get published. And I feel that’s partially true of these (though, there are some real gems in here). I only read about 2/3rds of these and, some of those, I skipped to the end or This is a decent collection of short stories. Better than most. I’m a bit biased against it from the start because I generally don’t care for short stories because they tend to, largely, be unfinished work, the seeds for something the author thought might become a novel or miscellaneous doodads they couldn’t get published. And I feel that’s partially true of these (though, there are some real gems in here). I only read about 2/3rds of these and, some of those, I skipped to the end or stopped halfway through because I was bored. I read enough that I know when to give up on something. It’s odd that many of these had very vague endings. The editors of this collection seemed to prefer it. This is often, necessarily, true of horror, and I’m a big believer that some things should be left to the imagination, but a happy medium seems in order. It’s amazing that someone can artfully describe for me how someone’s shadow looks as they walk around a light pole, yet I only get about five words to tell me what some creatures look like in the same story? But, like I said, there were gems: Richard Matheson and son show everyone how it’s properly done, but then, you can always sort of count on Matheson short stories. Ray Bradbury is always worth reading. Traps by Gahan Wilson was fun, even though I’d never heard of him. And The Night Before Christmas, I’m embarrassed to say, was my first experience with Robert Bloch. But I will now have buy a bunch of things by him and read-up because that one story made suffering through much of the rest of the stories worth it. The Mist by Stephen King, I did not read. I’d seen the movie years ago and I recall it having a disappointingly religious ending.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    That was a rollercoaster and a half with good stories, bad stories and horror stories that take horror to another level. My favourites were Dark Angel (the ending is fabulous), Mark Ingestre: The customer's tale (interesting take on a well told tale), The Brood (creeped the hell out of me), Where the Stones Grow (interesting and weird); The night before Christmas (classical tale with a grisly and gothic feel), The stupid Joke (so different; illustrated but very poignant), Where there' That was a rollercoaster and a half with good stories, bad stories and horror stories that take horror to another level. My favourites were Dark Angel (the ending is fabulous), Mark Ingestre: The customer's tale (interesting take on a well told tale), The Brood (creeped the hell out of me), Where the Stones Grow (interesting and weird); The night before Christmas (classical tale with a grisly and gothic feel), The stupid Joke (so different; illustrated but very poignant), Where there's a will (another one that scared me and had me holding my breath throughout. I loved the ending to this it was expected but still good to read) and The mist (not so much a short story and I know king can do them but this is not one and I am glad it isn't. The plot and the characters are perfectly king and the eerie atmosphere is spectacular. I felt like I was trapped alongside them for most of it). My favourite of favourites was The Brood; it had me turning all the lights on and checking the walls for creatures. The descriptions were amazing and the sheer terror was stunning. It had my heart pounding like no story has done in a while. I really enjoyed this book and the beautiful thing about story story collections are that I can discover new authors who I have never heard of but want to read more and more.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Meh. An OK collection of shorts at best. King's "The Mist" by far the stand-out in this collection. Overall rating of 2/5. My rating for each entry: 1. The Late Shift - 2/5 2. The Enemy - 1/5 3. Dark Angel - 3.5/5 4. The Crest of Thirty-six - 1/5 5. Mark Ingestre: The Customer's Tale - 2/5 6. Where the Summer Ends - 3.5/5 7. The Bingo Master - 3/5 8. Children of the Kingdom - 2.5/5 9. The Detective of Dreams - 1/5 10. Vengeance Is. - 2/5 11. Meh. An OK collection of shorts at best. King's "The Mist" by far the stand-out in this collection. Overall rating of 2/5. My rating for each entry: 1. The Late Shift - 2/5 2. The Enemy - 1/5 3. Dark Angel - 3.5/5 4. The Crest of Thirty-six - 1/5 5. Mark Ingestre: The Customer's Tale - 2/5 6. Where the Summer Ends - 3.5/5 7. The Bingo Master - 3/5 8. Children of the Kingdom - 2.5/5 9. The Detective of Dreams - 1/5 10. Vengeance Is. - 2/5 11. The Brood - 3/5 12. The Whistling Well - 3/5 13. The Peculiar Demesne - 3/5 14. Where the Stone Grow - 3.5/5 15. The Night Before Christmas - 2.5/5 16. The Stupid Joke - 0/5 (Title pretty much sums it up - a complete waste of pages) 17. A Touch of Petulance - 2.5/5 18. Lindsay and the Red City Blues - 3/5 19. A Garden of Blackred Roses - 2.5/5 20. Owls Hoot in the Daytime - 1/5 21. Where There's a Will - 2/5 22. Traps - 2/5 23. The Mist - 5/5 (Awesome - what a true horror short story encompasses)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Donna Minyard

    I loved this collection. I don't want to give out any spoilers, but I was truly glad to read The Mist. For those who have seen the movie, you'll know why I prefer, at least the ending of The Mist , in written form. I would highly recommend this collection. I liked all of the stories included.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lora Kempka

    In the air about this anthology. Some stories were really good; others, not so much. It's worth a read and worth more than the two dollars I paid for it at the Harnett Co. library sale--especially since it's signed by Ray Bradbury! But a few of the stories ended in ways that made me wonder what the hell just happened. Is that It? Really? Pfft.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Average short horror stories, of course the King is engrossing to me, but this got an extra star because it included Edward Gorey

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