When The Night Comes Down
Edited by Bill Breedlove
Published by Dark Arts Books, 2010
When the Night Comes Down brings together four varied writers in a collection which examines “the endless variations of what truly constitutes a horror story”. So we have traditional monsters alongside modern parables all aiming to demonstrate the wide variety of themes which exist in horror literature through four, stylistically, very different authors.
We start with four stories from Joseph D’Lacey. The Unwrapping Of Alastair Perry starts as a bit of a gorefest but grows into an intimate examination of the human psyche it’s a clever and engaging piece. Etoile’s Tale is a gentler tale with an almost fairytale feel examining the symbiotic relationships between humans and nature. Despite being overall a much “quieter” tale it still engages the reader with powerful ideas.
Introscopy sees JDL use his prescient powers to examine a country brought to chaos by a dodgy coalition government (ring any bells). After a new government takes over things improve until the invention of a machine which can see deep into the human soul. It’s another thought provoking piece which, without being pompous, raises some big questions. Morag’s Fungus is part fairytale part tragic tale as we see a young girl’s ascent to womanhood. Full of rich symbolism and deep undercurrents it’s an excellent and moving piece of writing. The Quiet Ones maintains the high standard and is another strangely compelling tale where a lone gunman pursues a group of people who have escaped society into the snowy wastelands. All of Joseph D’Lacey’s tales presented here are more than simple shock horror stories, they all dig deeper into the layers of human psychology with a refreshing, unique quality.
Unfortunately, Bev Vincent’s first two tales Silvery Moon and Knock Em Dead are a bit pedestrian in comparison. The first is a teenage werewolf tale which only just redeems itself with a twist at the end. The second delves into the cynical publishing world but fails to really ignite. Something In Store is a much more successful story in which a bookshop owner sees some surprising changes to his shop. Ultimately it’s a story about relationship and ambition and despite the ending being rather weak, the atmosphere throughout is engaging. Purgatory Noir, Vincent’s final piece in this collection, is a twist on an old fashioned crime Noir which works reasonably well.
Robert E. Weinberg takes us back into the publishing world with Elevator Girls as we meet tired authors and their groupies (no really). It’s a satirical and enjoyable look at the genre publishing world with a few well known names hidden away inside. The One Answer That Truly Matters has a plot which could have come straight from an episode of The Twilight Zone which is a compliment in my book. Finally Maze which, whether by accident or design, appears to be a fragment of a much larger tale and as such fails to deliver as a satisfying short story and simply leaves this reader puzzled.
The baton is passed to Nate Kenyon who gets off to a suitably gory start with Breeding The Demons which examines the artist/client relationship in bloody detail. Gravedigger is, at last, a new take on the zombie story and a very enjoyable one. One With The Music takes an old plot, the haunted instrument and the musician who finds it, but manages to remain fresh. Finally The Buzz Of A Thousand Wings is dark, brooding tale of despair. A personal tragedy and the blackness of a policeman’s world come together to uncover a deep horror. It’s an intelligent and powerful story.
So this collection does achieve it’s aim to demonstrate the wide variety of possibilities and styles in the horror genre. The stories by Nate Kenyon and Joseph D’Lacey are worth the price of admission alone and despite a couple of weaker efforts the whole collection was an enjoyable read and is recommended.
Rating 3.5 out of 5