Book Review: DarkFuse #1 by Shane Staley (Editor)

20513038Title: DarkFuse #1
Author: Shane Staley (Editor)
Genre: Dark Fiction, Novella, Anthology
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 3,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Anthology including the following short stories:
“She Sleeps in the Depths” by William Meikle
“Better Heard and Not Seen” by Michael Penkas
“Carrion Fowl” by William R. Eakin
“Jaws of Life” by E. G. Smith
“Netherview” by Gary McMahon
“Children of the Horned God” by Christopher Fulbright

This anthology of short stories by DarkFuse, the first in what I suppose is an anthology series that’ll reflect the quality DarkFuse has embraced in its novels and novellas, is a good start to an anthology series, although some of the stories suffered from a lack of originality.

Let’s start with “She Sleeps in the Depths”. This was one of the more original stories. A man starts hearing a weird noise. He’s unable to escape from it, and chases the noise out to the open sea, where he and a woman he meets along the way, discover a Lovecraftian type of monster slumbering in the depths. Strong writing, solid characters, and a brush of originality make this an outstanding story.

“Better Heard and Not Seen” tells a familiar story. A boy believes there’s a monster living in his closet. He tries not to wake up his Mom though, afraid she’ll get upset again, but when something crawls out of the closet, and gets in bed with him, and that something turns out not to be the monster…That’s spine-chilling. I loved how the author picked a familiar trope here, then added in this original elements, and left me scared to go to sleep. This was, hands down, the best short story in the book, and definitely the creepiest.

“Carrion Fowl” was…disturbing. For some unexplained reason, people start turning into cannibalistic flying monsters. The main character is turning into one of these terrifying beats as well. He’s already lost his wife to this strange illness that turns people into some type of dinosaur. The story is strange and surreal. The writing was okay, but didn’t really stand out. There was no real plot either, just the main character as we follow him during his descent into madness. It was an okay story, but not more than tht.

“Jaws of Life” is a traditional, yet horrifying story. A salesman’s car gets stuck upside down on an abandoned stretch of road. He’s found by gauntly-looking children. The oldest of them, who seems the nicest of the bunch, refuses to tell the grown ups that the salesman is there. While the salesman keeps begging, he’ll soon find out why the kid didn’t want anyone else to know. I found this story predictable, and it also lacked originality. Without trying to spoil things, I saw the ending coming from miles away, and it reminded me of those “lost in the woods” horror stories we see reworked in B-rated horror movies every now and then.

“Netherview” was simply confusing. A couple goes to look at a home showing at the site of an old asylum, and then get locked up. But why, to what purpose, and how, are all questions left unanswered. I’m okay with having some questions left at the end of a story, but if I’m still wondering about the most basic of things, that bothers me. However, it’s clear that the set up here, and the character’s fears and worries, and the choice they make at the end, is far more important than the setting and the reasons why. A nice try, and I certainly felt appalled by the end.

“Children of the Horned God” was meh. Some horned creature grabs a man’s wife, he starts to hunt for the creature, and finds out a bunch of secrets about his community he’d rather have left buried. Nothing too special, a tad predictable, not too scary.

All in all, the anthology had some definite top-notch stories, and some mediocre ones. None that were particularly bad though. I hope the next anthologies do a bit more thinking outside the box, and embrace new concepts in horror. I missed originality in some of the stories here.


  1. With so many books around to read, it’s great to have reviews like yours that indicate for me whether or not the book is on my radar. Thanks.

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