Book Review: Darkness Calls: Volume One

Darkness Calls by Andy Hill is an interesting and macabre little jewel box of stories. The small volume contains six horror stories, widely varied in theme and tone. These tales do not contain the creepies and crawlies typical of horror, except perhaps for the fourth story “Face Value,” but they are all well-written and delightfully atmospheric.

The first story is “Dark Rain,” and this story was the best in the book, in my opinion. Divided into sections that feel satisfyingly like chapters despite its short length, “Dark Rain” describes the terrifying effect of a mysterious rain on a country village.

“The Patio” follows “Dark Rain.” Surreal and dream-like, this very short story is light on plot but heavy in mood and mystery, making it nicely eerie.

Next is “An Open Letter…” This is a lovely piece of prose, less a story than what Oscar Wilde liked to call ‘a prose poem.’ It’s evocative: both beautiful and sad.

“Face Value” feels as though it was intended to be the powerhouse of the collection, a story of death, revenge and the unnatural. Here again is the episodic style that worked so well in “Dark Rain.” I think, however, it did not work as well in “Face Value.” Rather than giving the story a sense of progressive chapters, I found “Face Value” a bit confusing at first. The story would have been served by clearer transitions made between sections. Hill writes that this is the oldest story in the book, and it feels that way, as if it is so familiar that the progression between sections seem obvious to him. Still the tale is gruesome and gory and fulfills its horror promises.

The fifth story is “Fallen Angel,” the only story in the book that did not work at all for me. It is an allegory so big, so broad, I had nowhere to hold on, no place to hang my hat and become involved. While I believe I saw where it was going, and felt I could support its social commentary, I was never engaged in any way beyond the intellectual. I did not care. Still in “Fallen Angel,” as is true in every story in this volume, Hill’s prose is admirable.

Finally is “Trapped,” a gem of a story, both claustrophobic and sinister. My favorite second to “Dark Rain,” this story recounts the horrible time between accident and rescue of a mother and daughter imprisoned in an overturned car.

In sum, then, I would recommend this book without hesitation. The stories are elegantly written and suitably creepy. And—hey—only 99 cents from right here.

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