Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous is a collection of short stories in which I found some of the stories eerily similar to each other and others extremely varied. But they all had at least one major thing in common; behind every corner and dark shadow lurks something unknown and terrifying and there is no escaping its touch. Monsters and unimaginable horrors rear their ghastly faces and more likely than not that last glimmer of hope fades quietly into the blackness.
I started reading through this and had to make a decision, either lump together the entire book and toss out a few favorite or least favorite mentions in a top/bottom three or do a brief review of each piece in this anthology. I decided to go with my gut and review each short. It is what I would have wanted if I took the time and effort to write and submit something to the anthology and finally get it published. So here we go….
Parasitic Embrace – Adam Millard
Parasitic Embrace opens our anthology with a bang, literally, as a giant volcano has erupted and a massive ash cloud is coming to cover the entire United Kingdom. The cloud is carrying something with it, something that is making the world go crazy and Amanda can only watch and pray that she is safe inside her house. Fitting title, creepy story, and great start to the Anthology (4 out of 5 stars).
The Equivalence Principle – Nick Cato
Steve Burke is a twenty-six year old with a disorder, a very problematic disorder. He thinks that if his imaginary ropes are not fastened probably or that he isn’t near a structure to grasp onto, that the laws of gravity will fail and he shall fly away. An unknown entity might just make this fear come to fruition.
I’m not completely sold on this one and can’t make up my mind if I love it or hate it. (3 out of 5 stars) I think the vagueness of what is happening eats at me here.
A Withering of Sorts – Stephen McQuiggan
A chilling tale told by a bartender in a remote town to a stranger passing through with his family, about another stranger’s arrival in the town not so long ago. First the livestock dies, then the pets go missing, and finally the worst occurs. (4 out of 5 stars) Solid story, I felt like I was sitting on a barstool listening to this tale being told.
The Goldilocks Zone – Gary W. Olson
This entire short is a disturbing mass of cringe worthiness and confusion, so the author definitely succeeded in raising my eyebrows with this one. If anything like this even remotely happened in our reality, I’d consider taking a gun to my head. An alternative reality breaks through soft places in another reality to take over. (3 out of 5 stars)
They Wait Below – Tom Olbert
Love the setting of an off shore oil rig. Colby, the oil rig’s inspector is on board to monitor and ensure its policy and regulations are maintained but the inspector might just realize they have found more than oil where they are digging. (3 out of 5 stars) Not astounding, but not bad either. I just don’t think this one sticks out vividly in my memory when I think of this anthology as a whole.
Blessed be the Shadowchildren – Malon Edwards
I guess the old adage of ‘hell has no fury like a women scorned’ fits into this one nicely, except its usage would be for supreme beings, and the games they play with their pawns. This short has an interesting Mayan / Aztec cultural feel to it. (3 out of 5 stars)
The Beastly Ninth – Carl Barker
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, because I think the title sucks. In fact, I almost skipped it entirely. Damn sure glad I didn’t because this is one of my favorites. Actually it might be my favorite overall. (5 out of 5) Great writing, badass setting and plot, wonderful characters. When the French and the English go to war, nobody plays fair. Absolutely loved this one.
I’m going to group two shorts together here, Late Night Customer – David Dalglish and Torrential – Regan Campbell. Diners seem to play a big part in writers’ minds in this anthology, and these two have a very similar premise and feel to them. They both reminded me of the movie Legion, except Legion’s storyline is better. Torrential edges out Late Night Customer by a slim margin in this monster, diner, cafe, destructoid battle short story thingy. (3.5 stars out of 5 for both and if I worked in a diner and this crap happened I’d quit).
Man, there are a ton of shorts in this anthology.
Rurik’s Frozen Bones – Jake Elliot
Elliot? Any relation to Kate Elliot, author of the Crown of Star Series? I love those books! Sorry, my ADD kicked in.
Vikings, a mead hall, and a tale of a terrible sea monster? What could be better? (4 out of 5 stars)
Wrath – Lee Mather
Wow, another awesome one with a stunning story, gripping characters, and writing with such feeling and emotion you truly felt connected with what’s happening in the story. I’m not going into any detail with this one, just read it and thank me later. You are welcome, I know it’s great.
(5 out of 5 stars. Simply fantastic.)
Friends of a Forgotten Man – Gord Rollo
Unique monster in this one, a series of unfortunate events lead to a man’s imprisonment. Barely fed and completely alone, can he free himself and exact his revenge? (3 out of 5 stars)
Altus – Georgina Kamsika
I was hoping there would be a giant deep sea turtle in this. Sadly it was something much more sinister. I’m slightly troubled with the ending. I’m guessing I understood what happened, but also the author leaves a lot of room for personal interpretation. An extreme deep sea exploration goes completely wrong in this short. (3.5 stars out of 5)
Angela’s Garden – Dorian Dawes
Surprisingly, I enjoyed this one even with its couple of oddities that make me curse with repulsion as to why the author would even consider writing some of the disgusting scenes. An elderly lady sees the shadow creatures around everyone and occasionally she has the power to fight them off, but her strength is waning. I like Angela as the main character, a fresh face as compared to your normal youthful hero or heroine. (4 out of 5 stars)
The Long Death of Day – Timothy Baker
Decent piece, not my favorite either, reminds me of Skyline and The Day the Earth Stood Still. I might have liked this one a bunch more but I couldn’t connect with Selena very much. Loved the main character, John, though. He reminded me of myself. (3 out of 5 stars)
Out of the Black – William Meikle
Out of the Black is one of my least favorites. It has potential but just doesn’t do it for me. The discovery of a cave and possible other survivors ramps up the excitement but the rest is vague and a tad baffling. (2 out of 5 stars)
Degenerates – D L Seymour
Starts off slow, but I love where it ends up and the writing gets progressively better. A small town is on the rise and a new teacher is excited about her posting. But when students go missing, is something deadly lurking behind their disappearances? (4 out of 5 stars).
Dust – Wayne Ligon
This is another one I’m not super wild about. It may be because it isn’t my cup of tea or maybe I can’t imagine giving up without a fight even against impossible odds. (2 out of 5 stars)
The Devil You Know – TSP Sweeney
A group of young men are eager to prove themselves as soldiers and serve their Fuhrer. When they discover a Russian officer isolated from his comrades, Andreas and his squad mates deem him as easy pickings. Excellent, exhilarating short that’s fast paced, brutal and filled with violence. (4.5 out of 5 stars)
Lottery – Gene O’Neill
I understand following tradition but there isn’t enough of this short to give us any reason for doing so. This one could do with about five hundred or a thousand more words added to it. (3 out of 5 stars).
Where Coyotes Fear to Tread – Gef Fox
There is so much diversity within the Fading Light Anthology and Where Coyotes Fear to Tread is no exception. Eagle, Coyote, spirit guide, and a dragon? Who knows what’s going to happen in this one? A compact short, I think the author could actually take these characters into a longer series. (3.5 out of 5 stars)
The Theophany of Nyx – Edward M. Erdelac
I struggled to come up with something for The Theophany of Nyx. It is a good story but near the end it takes a weird twist. I didn’t like the reasoning behind why the world was ending. I do think others will probably enjoy this more than I did; just a feeling I have. (3 out of 5 stars)
Double Walker – Henry P. Gravelle
An insane man blames his shadow on the very murders he is accused of committing. Nuts, right? I guess we will see who is really crazy after you read this. I found the psychiatrist examining him to be an extremely off-putting character. (3.5 out of 5 stars)
Light Save Us – Ryan Lawler
This is the most intriguing story for me by far because you never really understand what happens. Also, two homosexual lead characters in a society under attack is very different from anything I’ve ever read before. (4.5 out of 4 stars)
Dark Tide – Mark Lawrence
To me Dark Tide is one of the most memorable stories. I constantly find myself giving friends and family small excerpts from the Fading Light Anthology and this story always seems to pop up first in my telling. This is also one of the few shorts that has a small chance of light still attainable through self sacrifice. When the Dark Tide washes up on the shores nearest you, will you find enough hope to sail away unscathed? (5 out of 5 stars)
Roadkill – CM Saunders
By this point in the Anthology I’m so immune to death, bloodshed, and brutality that a lot of the punishment dealt in this story is somewhat humorous. The fascinating aspect of this piece is definitely the information we’ve been given that the “dead gang-member” picked up by this freelance ambulance crew in Brazil is a devil-worshipper whose tattoo means ‘live forever’. I wish we went deeper into the gangs. (3 out of 5 stars)
Night Terrors – Jonathan Pine
When a little girl comes into the ER complaining of monsters coming after her in the night, Dr. Mark Jacobs instantly categorizes her with night terrors and pretends to lock the monsters in his office. When boasting of the easy-fix to his colleagues he is given a cryptic warning before going on leave. Could something have possibly followed him home from the hospital?(3.5 out of 5 stars) Don’t turn off the lights.
The final two stories are in the companion edition and are both quite spectacular.
Final Rights – Peter Welmerink and Evensong – Alex Marshall close out the anthology with two shorts I would rank among the top tier. Final Rights is about a young sniper’s self-sacrifice to save his family and their city. The writing kept me on the edge and the creatures, because they were more well-defined than in the other short stories, were far more frightening. Evensong is a deceitful tale with a cast of humans ran underground to survive the planet’s domination by demons. After years of tyranny underground by the ruling powers, Morya has discovered that perhaps they aren’t as cut off from the surface as they had believed. (4.5 out of 5 stars)
Whew! Finally got through them all! The Fading Light Anthology certainly had a mind-boggling amount of shorts and whether or not I enjoyed one or the other, they all played their parts within this monstrous anthology. Suffice to say that I was very pleased with the overall quality and the perfect way each story meshed into the dark theme of the book. 7.5 Liams out of 10.