Four Dark Nights (Horror Anthology)

(No Series)

An anthology featuring four short stories from four popular horror authors.

Four Dark Night consists of four novellas from four established authors. Bentley Little (who wrote the chilling and “no, he didn’t go there’ house), Douglas Clegg (who penned the brilliant Nightmare House and Naomi), Christopher Golden (soul survivor), and Tom Piccirilli (A Choir of Ill Children). The novellas don’t tie together for any one theme, just as four stand alone works. Each has a redeeming quality in its own right, and each also has its share of faults.

The first installment is Little’s ‘The Circle’, involving the strangest situations (as is usual with the man’s work.) An entire neighborhood is cursed, and the most bizarre things occur. The story plays with your mind a bit, with an ironic, dark sort of humor embedded in the words. The plot is strong and original, as is expected when riding on the dark side with Little. While it kept me reading, toward the end my eyes started flickering to the sides, losing concentration.

Christopher Golden’s 'Pyre' was a better effort, telling the story of a young girl who loses her father. The man was absent in her life when alive, and now that he’s dead she wishes to raise him up again so she can tell him off and move on. In tow as support and muscle, is an old time friend visiting in the town for the funeral. The legend behind how the father could be raised is interesting; in fact, I would have liked it sketched out more and possibly made into a detailed novel.

Tom Piccirilli's Jonah Arose is the weakest of the bunch. The style, while good, was ill-suited for a short story. Words were painted artistically on the page, but too many of them muddied up the plot. The world he wrote about is a bit too out there.

Douglas Clegg’s ‘The Words’ ties in with Goldens as the winner. A group of teenage friends, on the way to a party one night, break down by a church. To avoid clich├ęs here, two of the teenage boys in the group have shared a private, taboo interest since grade school ­ an interest that will come to a head on this night (although only one is aware of it.) The ending isn’t your traditional Hollywood Ending, like Golden’s, and works out to how I wanted it to.

Little doesn’t focus on one character all that much, jumping around to follow where the story leads. His characters read convincingly, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care about many of them, except perhaps the father of the young boys and wife toward the end.

Pyre - The protagonist held a unique ‘bad’ trait, and her old friend/love interest was so sweet I was cheering for him over her. Picirrili’s characters were convincing and strange.
Clegg’s characters were real and interesting at the same time.

Little, as always, relies heavily on shock and gore effects. His writing is twisted and well-done; he has a true talents for giving me the heebie jeebies. Golden’s style, although I wasn’t familiar with it previously, impressed me. His words seemed to flow together like golden butter, almost without effort, keeping me reading with glee.Picirrili writes beautiful prose and has an impressive style, it just didn’t suit the story and the time.Clegg, as always, writes with impact and writes hard.

All authors did well in this area.

For Little, the pace was up to par, just the content wasn’t. Characters seemed real but none were focused on. For Golden, he took a slower side to things, but kept the story interesting from the get-go.

Piccirillis was pretty out there, confusing me from the start, taking a bit too long to take off. Clegg’s began with action, the telling-the-story backwards trick.

Overall Fark Dark Nights delivers all it promised. Four tales from some of horrors hottest authors, all taking unique ideas and stringing us along for the fun time. There are minor flaws in some of them, sure, but this beats most of the anthologies out there. Do yourself a favor and dig it up if you have the chance ­ it’s worth it.

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