Review: Screams from the Dark Anthology

Screams from the Dark: 29 Tales of Monsters and the Monstrous
Authors: Ian Rogers, Fran Wilde, Gemma Files, Daryl Gregory, Priya Sharma, Brian Hodge, Joyce Carol Oats, Indrapramit Das, Siobhan Carroll, Richard Kadry, Norman Partridge, Garry Kilworth, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Chikodili Emelumadu, Glen Hirshberg, A.C. Wise, Stephen Graham Jones, Kaaron Warren, Livia Llewellyn, Carole Johnstone, Nathan Ballingrud, Margo Lanagan, Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Evenson, Cassandra Khaw, Laird Barron, Kristi DeMeester, Jeffrey Ford, and John Lanagan
Editor: Ellen Datlow
Publisher: Tor Nightfire
Released: June 7, 2022
Received: Arc

4 kitties

Screams from the Dark is a horror anthology consisting of twenty-nine terrifying and thrilling short stories. This is one of the better anthologies I’ve read this year, though perhaps I only feel this way because it is precisely what I’ve been craving. Either way, I was delighted to find this book in my mailbox.

One of the many things I love about anthologies is that they introduce me to new authors. Sure, there were half a dozen (if not more) authors I know and love in Screams from the Dark. But there are just as many new (to me) authors in this collection, and that’s pretty exciting. Having already read the anthology, I can tell you that there are a few authors I’ll be looking up and checking out their backlog. So I’d call that a success.

Included in this anthology, you’ll find works by Ian Rogers, Fran Wilde, Gemma Files, Daryl Gregory, Priya Sharma, Brian Hodge, Joyce Carol Oats, Indrapramit Das, Siobhan Carroll, Richard Kadry, Norman Partridge, Garry Kilworth, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Chikodili Emelumadu, Glen Hirshberg, A.C. Wise, Stephen Graham Jones, Kaaron Warren, Livia Llewellyn, Carole Johnstone, Nathan Ballingrud, Margo Lanagan, Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Evenson, Cassandra Khaw, Laird Barron, Kristi DeMeester, Jeffrey Ford, and John Lanagan. Sorry, I know that’s a lot, but I want to give everybody credit! Ellen Datlow edits the anthology itself (as well as the forward).

Some of my favorites in this anthology include You Have What I Need  (seriously, this one got stuck in my head for DAYS), The MidwayWet Red Grin, and The Smell of Waiting.

You Have What I Need by Ian Rogers

Rating: ★★★★★

In my experience, the first short story in an anthology usually hits the hardest. Boy, is that accurate for You Have What I Need. Seriously, this is the story that got stuck in my head for days. It portrays a character working in an ER when a vampire attack occurs. I made it sound too simple, but it was delightfully complex and compelling.

The Midway by Fran Wilde

Rating: ★★★★★

The Midway is haunting because in many ways, it felt so real. The horrible acts created by a monster are only possible when supported (and covered up by) a human monster. At least, that is the case in Fran Wilde’s tale.

Wet Red Grin by Gemma Files

Rating: ★★★★★

Ohhh. I really enjoyed Wet Red Grin by Gemma Files. I didn’t think anything could top You Have What I Need, but I may be wrong. Admittedly this one gets a bit graphic, as it centers around a monster utilizing an old ritual to live forever (or at least a little bit longer).

The Virgin Jimmy Peck by Daryl Gregory

Rating: ★★★★

Aha, wow. I did not know what to expect from The Virgin Jimmy Peck. Dare I say that this horror tale had a sense of humor about itself? It asks the question – what would happen if a quiet guy found himself acting as an incubator for a cult?

The Ghost of a Flea by Priya Sharma

Rating: ★★★

If you love classic demon-hunting and horror tales, then I think you’ll really enjoy The Ghost of a Flea. However, for some reason, I struggled to get into this one.

The Atrocity Exhibitions by Brian Hodge

Rating: ★★★★

This story hit hard – mostly because of its relevant point. In a world where technology runs supreme, it’s easy to see how The Atrocity Exhibitions may occur. Trigger warnings include drug abuse, self-harm (of a sort?), and graphic depictions.

The Father of Modern Gynecology: J. Marion Syms, M.D. By Joyce Carol Oats

Rating: ★★★★

The Father of Modern Gynecology: J. Marion Syms, M.D. It is going to hit close to home for many readers. Perhaps a little too close to home? I don’t know if I was more relieved or worried when this one came to an end.

Here Comes Your Man by Indrapramit Das

Rating: ★★★★

There is something so quietly disturbing about Here Comes Your Man. Perhaps because so much of it is rooted in reality? We’ve all traveled and feared home invaders, so why not take it a step (or ten) further.

Siolaigh by Siobhan Carroll

Rating: ★★★★

I absolutely adore the vibes and aesthetic that Siolaigh gives off. It has water monsters and sacrificial tones, which actually work quite well together, especially here. I wouldn’t have said no to more of this one.

What Is Love But the Quiet Moments After Dinner? By Richard Kadry

Rating: ★★★

So I actually think that What Is Love But the Quiet Moments After Dinner? Had A LOT of potential. However, there were points that failed to keep me invested. Maybe we needed to get to know the characters more? I’m not certain.

The Island by Norman Partridge

Rating: ★★★★

The Island is not what I expected. I thought I was getting into a vampire tale, but it quickly got…more expansive. I won’t spoil the twist for you! But let’s just say that there are more than vampires in this world.

Flaming Teeth by Garry Kilworth

Rating: ★★★★★

Okay, Flaming Teeth was in the running for one of my favorites from this anthology. There’s something so evocative about the title and the creature (trying not to spoil it here) that the author created. That combined with an uncharted island, and you’ve got me hooked.

Strandling by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Rating: ★★★★

There is something so beautiful and sad about Strandling, while exploring the darker horrors of this world. It makes for an eerie experience that lingers.

The Special One by Chikodili Emelumadu

Rating: ★★★

The Special One started one way and quickly surprised me due to its different paths. In fact, there were several surprises in this tale, which I very much appreciated! Oh, and did I mention there’s a Snake Goddess? Enjoy!

Devil by Glen Hirshberg

Rating: ★★★★

Devil felt familiar, but not. What would happen if a certain part of the world became famous for monsters? Would people steer clear, or would it just become another tourist attraction?

Crick Crack Rattle Tap by A.C. Wise

Rating: ★★★★

Crick Crack Rattle Tap will give you the chills. Even the title is enough to make me shiver, and that’s before delving into what occurs here. It reminded me a lot of changeling lore, with infants being replaced in the night.

Children of the Night by Stephen Graham Jones

Rating: ★★★★

I love Stephen Graham Jones – heck, he’s half the reason why I wanted to read Screams from the Dark in the first place! So naturally, I’ve been looking forward to Children of the Night. It sort of felt like an adult version of Scooby Doo, but much more complex (and interesting – sorry to say! I love Scooby Doo, but it does not compare).

The Smell of Waiting by Kaaron Warren

Rating: ★★★★★

The Smell of Waiting is another intense addition to this anthology. I adored this one, despite the gross implications that pop up. It’s a different take on consequences that may arise from the chemicals we put into the world.

Now Voyager by Livia Llewellyn

Rating: ★★

I’m not sure what it was, but I really struggled to get into Now Voyager. I wanted to like it – the setting sounded fascinating, as did many other story elements. Yet I kept finding my mind wandering.

The Last Drop by Carole Johnstone

Rating: ★★★

The Last Drop should have been one of my favorites. It’s based (lightly) on real events – witch trials and hangings. But it starts in the middle and actually feels like it ends in the middle as well. Perhaps because it’s more like a vignette into these events?

Three Mothers Mountain by Nathan Ballingrud

Rating: ★★★★

Three Mothers Mountain immediately reminded me of the Mother, the Crone, and the Maiden. Which was probably intentional. However, the story doesn’t follow a path that readers may expect. It takes a different turn, focusing on pain and sacrifice (of others).

Widow-Light by Margo Lanagan

Rating: ★★★★★

I love a good revenge story! Only, that phrase doesn’t capture all that Widow-Light is. It is a whole different spin on the virgin sacrifice (or a maiden handed off into a marriage with a monster), and I adore it.

Sweet Potato by Joe R. Lansdale

Rating: ★★★★

Oh wow. Don’t read Sweet Potato if you’re easily grossed out. This one is dark and fascinating but also a little bit…disturbing. In a good way, for the most part.

Knock, Knock by Brian Evenson

Rating: ★★★★

Knock, Knock is a subtle tale of horror that quietly ramps up, causing readers to anxiously wait and see what the next twist is. I really enjoyed how carefully Evenson built up this story.

What Is Meat with No God? By Cassandra Khaw

Rating: ★★★★

Cassandra Khaw is another one of my favorite horror authors, so I was looking for her addition. However, that title had me SO concerned! It was mostly because I was worried it would dive into animal death or something – but I needn’t have worried. Khaw stuck to humans, exploring a unique cycle of life and death. But mostly death.

Bitten by Himself by Laird Barron

Rating: ★★★★

Interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen horror blended with time travel (of a sort?). At least not like this. Bitten by Himself is unlike anything else I’ve ever read, and I really do mean that.

Burial by Kristi DeMeester

Rating: ★★★

Burial is another tale that had a lot of potential, but I feel like it fell short. That being said, I couldn’t quite say why. Maybe because the end is almost predictable?

Beautiful Dreamer by Jeffrey Ford

Rating: ★★

Beautiful Dreamer is an odd tale of monsters and stubborn neighbors, not to mention a secret government agency? There’s a lot going on in this one, though that didn’t manage to keep my attention for long.

Blodsuger by John Lanagan

Rating: ★★★★

Blodsuger is another strong contender in this anthology, so it makes sense that it closes out the collection. This one is SO descriptive. It should have felt longer because of it; instead, it transported me to a different world.

Thanks to Tor Nightfire and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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