This was one of the easiest, yet most unsatisfying 1-star ratings I’ve ever given a book. I love horror anthologies. I own a million (okay, more like thirty) of them in assorted formats and they’re just such a fun way to spend an evening for me. When I really want to enjoy one, I do what I did with this book, and I wait to read it until it’s late at night and everyone else is asleep and the house is quiet, just for maximum impact.
I’m gonna break this one down by story, because… well, why not?
THE OLD DUDE’S TICKER by Stephen King ➳➳ ★★★★☆
A horror anthology starting with King? Should be a good sign, right? King prefaced the story by explaining this one was an old, unpublished short of his from the 70s. It’s a slightly humorous retelling of The Telltale Heart, which is one of my favorite Poe pieces, so I had fun with this one.
THE RICH ARE DIFFERENT by Lisa Morton ➳➳ ★★★☆☆
This one was… okay? It tells the story of an author who meets this bizarre rich family she wrote a book about, and ends up falling in deep with one of the men of the house, and shit gets kind of weird. I wasn’t wild about it, but I liked the writing.
THE MANICURE by Nell Quinn-Gibney ➳➳ ★★☆☆☆
I read this one twice because I was so freaking confused by the ending. It starts off with serious potential and this weird sense of dread that makes you simultaneously eager to learn the ending, and dreading what is to come… and then, what? Nothing happens. I’m not kidding. I literally read it again just to see if I had missed an important detail – I hadn’t.
THE COMFORTING VOICE by Norman Prentiss ➳➳ ★★☆☆☆
Another one with a decent style, but subpar plot. A baby can only be soothed by her mean old grandpa, and after he dies, her dad has to mock his words to get her to stop crying. This one was honestly just a bit traumatic and sad, but I certainly didn’t understand how it got into a horror anthology.
THE SITUATIONS by Joyce Carol Oates ➳➳ ★☆☆☆☆
To be fair, I knew going into this story that I wouldn’t like it, because I am not much of a JCO fan. It was horribly sad, kittens were murdered, and none of it made any sense. It felt pointless and I, again, found myself wondering how it “belonged” in the collection.
THE CORPSE KING by Tim Curran ➳➳ ★☆☆☆☆
YOU GUYS. THIS. STORY. This story ruined any chance the book had of a 2-star rating. You know how, typically, every story in an anthology is of a similar length? That makes sense, right? RIGHT? Well, not to this editor, apparently. I felt like the other stories were only even included to give the editor an excuse to get this tale out to the world without it being in a book of its own. It literally takes up the last 55-60% of the book by itself and it was so incredibly slow and boring that I ended up skimming the majority of it. I would have just DNFd, but… you know… I kept expecting there to be more stories after it. Nah.
I’m sorry, but I can safely say I will never pick up another Dark Screams collection. I honestly wouldn’t recommend these to anyone.
Thank you to NetGalley and Hydra for granting me an ARC of this book! All opinions expressed here are my own.