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edited by Shane Jiraiya Cummings and Angela Challis

Shadowed Realms (2005)

Reviewed by Mark Deniz (this review was first published in March 2006)

I haven’t been this excited by a project for quite some time now; as a writer and reader of dark fiction for twenty nine years, the prospect of seventy tales from sixty six authors is what makes a job like this so enjoyable. The ‘box’ is exquisitely packaged, with excellent graphics and sound effects (including a delightful ‘X-ray gallery’) to complement the works of fiction within, and the Box, and its hundred and twenty four pages made clearer for me what it is that I love (and loathe) regarding horror fiction.

After reading the snippets of darkness and braving the Box, I can easily say that there was more that I would categorise as quality dark fiction here than not. Of course there were some stories that were extremely disappointing but, in truth, I never expected all seventy examples of flash fiction to hit the spot. After all we are all different horror readers, who expect and crave different nuances of the genre. I like the gruesome, love the hair-raising, and the story that lingers on, long after the reading, like a ghost itself, haunting the senses. It is comedy within horror writing that I have difficulties with, for if done well it is awesome but when it fails, it seems to fall twice as hard because good humorous horror is so hard to achieve. Read the rest of this entry »

Angela Challis (ed.)

Brimstone Press (2006)


Reviewed by Tim Kroenert (this review was first published in March 2007)

Lovers of dark flash fiction (this reviewer included) may rejoice: this anthology from Brimstone Press, which collects stories previously published in the very fine Australian flash fiction journal Shadowed Realms, is one hell of a delightfully dark read.

Flash fiction (ultra-short stories, in the case of Shadowed Realms, less than 1,000 words) tends to be a somewhat underrated medium, and a craft quite distinct from longer short story writing. At its very best, flash fiction goes some way to bridge the wide gap between short story and poem, requiring by its very nature a strict economy of language and rapid, visceral approach to storytelling.

At its worst, flash fiction can resemble incomplete or truncated stories, or isolated scenes that lack impact without proper context. Luckily there are very few examples of this to be found in Book of Shadows. More often than not these stories successfully achieve a concise beginning-middle-end approach, giving them a completeness that belies their diminutive word count. Read the rest of this entry »

Angela Challis and Shane Jiraiya Cummings (eds.)

Brimstone Press (2006)

ISBN: 9780980281705

Reviewed by Tim Kroenert (this review was first published in March 2007)

In their introduction to Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror 2006, editors Angela Challis and Shane Jiraiya Cummings contend that Australian “dark fiction is hot property right now”. If you have any cause to doubt them, then the evidence they present, in the form of twelve short stories and five essays included in the anthology, should persuade you — if this is the best Australian dark fiction authors had to offer during 2005 then all signs point to a very ripe field indeed.

There is, in short, hardly a weak moment in the anthology. From the first story to the last, each is highly original, superbly crafted and extremely entertaining. Authors and editors alike should be commended.

One of the most striking aspects of the anthology is the sheer diversity of subjects and styles it includes. The stories range from merely unsettling to truly frightening, and from the laugh-out-loud funny to the achingly sad. As you read you’ll encounter everything from zombies to sentient killer glaciers; from tortured inventors to samurai heroes. Read the rest of this entry »

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