08 October, 2012

Review - Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous, edited by Tim Marquitz

I picked up this anthology not only because it was an ARC given to me by a favorite author of mine, Tim Marquitz, but also because I felt like it would be some fun to read ... and the story by Mark Lawrence may have helped as well. 

Anthologies, for me, are going way out of my comfort zone. I'm typically a lazy person and can only take so much "new" at a time and anthologies are always filled with "new," each and every story in fact. But, I love a good monster story, be it zombies, vampires (maybe not as much), or other ghoulies, but I had no idea what I was in for.

Fading Light [US] [UK] blew my mind in terms of monsters. This anthology covers them from small ones to large ones and even sometimes asks the question about who the real monsters are, is it us? Humans can easily fall in the category all too easily. 

I don't think I can really describe how good this anthology is. It kept me up at night and not only because I was shaking under my blanket, it had me constantly thinking, and it was oh so easy to come back to. I can't praise this anthology enough, just go read it, you won't regret it.

Short reviews:

“Parasitic Embrace” by Adam Millard - What a great start to the anthology. It had me from the very beginning as a mysterious volcanic cloud sweeps the world. What could it be bringing? (4.5/5)

“The Equivalence Principle” by Nick Cato - This was a very interesting story with a great protagonist who seems to be a paranoid schizophrenic who things that gravity is about to give out any second. He races from his home to his car with an actual rope tied between just to get to and from work. Great story, but I didn't quite "get" the monster all that well. (4/5)

“A Withering of Sorts” by Stephen McQuiggan - So far, this was the most atmospheric and scary of the bunch. A guy walks into a bar (this is not a joke) with his wife and kid outside in the car. He's then told why strangers aren't welcome in these parts, especially children. (4.5/5)

“Goldilocks Zone” by Gary W. Olson - This was an all-out, everyone's a monster story. It quickly jumps into the premise that everyone starts becoming a monster from a mysterious such-n-such. While good, I don't know if I got this one all that well either. (3/5)

“They Wait Below” by Tom Olbert - This was a creepy story of an ancient monster slowly taking over the crew of a deep sea oil rig. I thought the monster was great although the story seemed to take a few leaps and bounds in logic that I wasn't willing to go to. Still a great story. (3.5/5)

“Blessed Be the Shadowchildren” by Malon Edwards - This story was both impressive and entertaining. There's a TON of world-building about how this particular being left his home on/in the sun and became a god. In the end it all works. (4/5)

“The Beastly Ninth” by Carl Barker - Barker takes us back to the 19th century where Napoleon is a sorcerer for the French and wages war against the English. The entire story is one battle with all kinds of undead monsters. It was enjoyable but not quite my favorite. (3.5/5)

“Late Night Customer” by David Dalglish - This was my first taste of Dalglish although I own a couple of his other books. I have to say I'm impressed and looking forward to the rest. I was sufficiently creeped out in this story about a waitress at a diner who serves a customer who's at his wit's end. All I can say is, "Don't look!!!!" (4.5/5)

“Rurik’s Frozen Bones” by Jake Elliot - You had me at Vikings, sailing, and Kraken. This was really a story within a story. Rurik, a Viking who looks exceptionally haggard is asked his story. The story itself was great and the main bulk, but it was dimmed a bit by the outer story, which ending didn't seem to fit these rough and tumble Vikings. (3.5/5)

“Wrath” by Lee Mather - I'm pretty sure I should suffer some type of damnation for liking this story, but it was really good. A priest starts going crazy, Biblical stuff goes down, nobody's safe. (4/5)

“Friends of a Forgotten Man” by Gord Rollo - Leaning more toward the gross-out horror for me, a man is unjustly imprisoned and conditions are just barely enough to keep him alive. He makes some...friends while contemplating his revenge. (3/5)

“Altus” by Georgina Kamsika - A woman attempts to dive the deepest any human has dived, doing so aboard the Altus. Maybe there's a reason we're not meant to dive so deep. (4/5)

“Angela’s Garden” by Dorian Dawes - This story definitely has a place among my favorites in the anthology. A woman in a retirement home sees things that others can't, dark things that only bode poorly for anyone in the vicinity. (4.5/5)

“The Long Death of Day” by Timothy Baker - Another story that tops my list of favorites, a comet comes close to Earth only to miss it...and completely destroy Venus. I thought the cover of this anthology was just some random monster, but turns out that's from this story. (4.5/5)

“Out of the Black” by William Meikle - The world's gone cold, only a few survivors live underneath the frozen surface. But the ore's running out and must be replenished. "Out of the Black" is another favorite in this anthology that's full of favorites. What great setting and atmosphere in such a small package. Loved it. (4.5/5)

“Degenerates” by DL Seymour - Set in the 60's amidst racial segregation, the town of Dunwich is looking to come back to its former glory. I really didn't expect this story in this collection, it's quite the deviation, but still good. It almost doesn't belong, until we find out about Dunwich's disturbing secret. (3.5/5)

“Dust” by Wayne Ligon - There's kind of a theme of dust or particles being the cause of some type of apocalypse for the earth. It provides a good setting for some monsters to come out of the closet and each one of these types of stories takes the concept in a different way. "Dust" really takes the concept in a whole new direction and inserts some really interesting ideas about space and aliens. I'm a big fan of this one. (4.5/5)

“Der Teufel Sie Wissen” by TSP Sweeney - I was really looking forward to this one - you had me at the German. Set during WWII, some Hitler Youth are assigned the simple task of taking out an enemy. Just one guy, it's almost too easy...right? The monster in this was great the story entertaining. Great work. (4/5)

“Born of Darkness” by Stacey Turner - Another of the "Dust" variety, a man is able to prepare his family for the ending of the world in a dream. They're doing okay until they take on a mute girl and suddenly they have another visitor at the door. A preacher who the mute girl obviously dislikes. Who can you trust at the end of the world? I enjoyed this one and it seemed like it could become a bigger project, at least from the setup at the end. (4/5)

“Lottery” by Gene O’Neill - I know Stephen King tells me it's juvenile to want things wrapped up nicely, but I really wanted a lot more information in this story. It was good, but then I had no idea why things happened how they did. (3/5)

“Where Coyotes Fear to Tread” by Gef Fox - I didn't know what to expect from his one at first, but I really liked it in the end. The Moon and the Sun are gone and monsters have taken over. The Moon has a plan to destroy them and a dangerous mission for Coyote and Eagle. (4/5)

“The Theophany of Nyx” by Edward M. Erdelac - I had to look up the title to see how it actually fit the story. Yes, it does. In this one, the moon is being colonized by earth, but the colonists may have gone too far and put the earth in big trouble. (4/5)

“Double Walker” by Henry P. Gravelle - If your shadow is killing people how do you make someone believe? It's not easy. Another good one. (4/5)

“Light Save Us” by Ryan Lawler - I was not expecting this ending. Great story, I'll say no more. (4/5)

“Dark Tide” by Mark Lawrence - This story, by the author of the excellent Prince of Thorns, did not suffer for my lack of anticipation (since I jumped ahead to read it). Wow, what a powerful story. I was up late and could not put it down, talk about creepy. I will say no more for fear of ruining it. (5/5)

The following are bonus stories, available only for NOOK and Kindle:

“Torrential” by Regan Campbell - Wow, I'm so glad I have the Kindle version because this story blew my mind. Great stuff. An obviously exhausted mother and son enter a diner with an unusual request. (4.5/5)

“Roadkill” by CM Saunders - Taking place with a couple of amateur ambulance drivers in Brazil, they find a motorcycle accident that no one could survive...or could they? Another solid entry. (4/5)

“Night Terrors” by Jonathan Pine - Not one to read in the wee hours of the night, this took me back to my childhood frights and that's a good thing. "Night Terrors" also reminded me a bit of Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, but way scarier. (4.5/5)

“Final Rights” by Peter Welmerink - In a future earth, giant wolves and bears roam the earth and civilization is barely keeping it together. Lots of action and lots of bloody monsters. (4/5)

“Evensong” by Alex Marshall - I would be very interested to read a full novel based on this world where civilization has moved under the earth and is solely governed by The Seers. Great read and great ending. (4.5/5)

If you're looking for a great Halloween read, it would be hard to find better. If you're looking for an excellent anthology in general, you've found it. Fading Light is easily one of the best anthologies I've ever read, second only to Songs of the Dying Earth.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (Very Highly Recommended!)

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher


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