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Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror

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Dark Stars, edited by John F.D. Taff, is a tribute to horror’s longstanding short fiction legacy, featuring 12 terrifying original stories from today’s most noteworthy authors. Within these pages you’ll find tales of dead men walking, an insidious secret summer fling, an island harboring unspeakable power, and a dark hallway that beckons. You’ll encounter terrible monsters Dark Stars, edited by John F.D. Taff, is a tribute to horror’s longstanding short fiction legacy, featuring 12 terrifying original stories from today’s most noteworthy authors. Within these pages you’ll find tales of dead men walking, an insidious secret summer fling, an island harboring unspeakable power, and a dark hallway that beckons. You’ll encounter terrible monsters―both human and supernatural―and be forever changed. The stories in Dark Stars run the gamut from traditional to modern, from dark fantasy to neo-noir, from explorations of beloved horror tropes to the unknown―possibly unknowable―threats. It’s all in here because it’s all out there, now, in horror. Dark Stars features all-new stories from the following award-winning authors and up-and-coming voices: Chesya Burke, Ramsey Campbell, Gemma Files, Stephen Graham Jones, Alma Katsu, Caroline Kepnes, John Langan, Livia Llewellyn, Josh Malerman, Usman T. Malik, Priya Sharma, and John F.D. Taff. Created as an homage to the 1980 classic horror anthology Dark Forces, edited by Kirby McCauley, Dark Stars also features an introduction by Josh Malerman and an afterword from original contributor Ramsey Campbell―a poignant finale to this bone-chilling collection. Cover art by Jeffrey Alan Love Cover design by Jamie Stafford-Hill


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Dark Stars, edited by John F.D. Taff, is a tribute to horror’s longstanding short fiction legacy, featuring 12 terrifying original stories from today’s most noteworthy authors. Within these pages you’ll find tales of dead men walking, an insidious secret summer fling, an island harboring unspeakable power, and a dark hallway that beckons. You’ll encounter terrible monsters Dark Stars, edited by John F.D. Taff, is a tribute to horror’s longstanding short fiction legacy, featuring 12 terrifying original stories from today’s most noteworthy authors. Within these pages you’ll find tales of dead men walking, an insidious secret summer fling, an island harboring unspeakable power, and a dark hallway that beckons. You’ll encounter terrible monsters―both human and supernatural―and be forever changed. The stories in Dark Stars run the gamut from traditional to modern, from dark fantasy to neo-noir, from explorations of beloved horror tropes to the unknown―possibly unknowable―threats. It’s all in here because it’s all out there, now, in horror. Dark Stars features all-new stories from the following award-winning authors and up-and-coming voices: Chesya Burke, Ramsey Campbell, Gemma Files, Stephen Graham Jones, Alma Katsu, Caroline Kepnes, John Langan, Livia Llewellyn, Josh Malerman, Usman T. Malik, Priya Sharma, and John F.D. Taff. Created as an homage to the 1980 classic horror anthology Dark Forces, edited by Kirby McCauley, Dark Stars also features an introduction by Josh Malerman and an afterword from original contributor Ramsey Campbell―a poignant finale to this bone-chilling collection. Cover art by Jeffrey Alan Love Cover design by Jamie Stafford-Hill

30 review for Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror

  1. 5 out of 5

    karen

    NOW AVAILABLE!!! before i dig into the review, a quick reminder that three stars means I LIKED IT, OKAY?? the only reason i didn't LOVE IT is because of my own personal preferences when it comes to the various subgenres of horror. i like psychological and visceral horror. i do not like folk or cosmic horror. having said that, i didn't dislike any of these. the collection features a strong stable of authors, and the stories themselves are pretty long, so even when an individual story belonged to o NOW AVAILABLE!!! before i dig into the review, a quick reminder that three stars means I LIKED IT, OKAY?? the only reason i didn't LOVE IT is because of my own personal preferences when it comes to the various subgenres of horror. i like psychological and visceral horror. i do not like folk or cosmic horror. having said that, i didn't dislike any of these. the collection features a strong stable of authors, and the stories themselves are pretty long, so even when an individual story belonged to one of those categories of horror i dislike and the tropes went a-troping into hypnotic black holes and human sacrifices because tradition, the authors had enough space to give me something more than the sum of its tropes, and i enjoyed the parts i could enjoy. The Attentionist—Caroline Kepnes ★★★☆☆ creepy, slow-burning psychological horror. it has a bit of a megan abbott feel to it—her brand of dark coming-of-age exploration into the dangers young girls can stumble into whilst navigating the newly discovered terrain of their sexual opportunities. it's an uncomfortable and tense story, but it lacks the finesse, the fineness and subtlety that abbott brings to these themes. this one is like an urban legend version of a megan abbott scenario, where the female characters are more broadly depicted as cautionary tale victims without any of the dark, delicious adolescent power abbott bestows. i do not know why i'm so hell-bent on doing a compare-and-contrast piece on these two authors, but at least i committed to the exercise. the only other thought i have about this one is that the ending was weak and tacked on and it really deflated the narrative for me. A Life in Nightmares—Ramsey Campbell ★★★★☆ this one goes on down to cosmic town at the end, but before that, i was really enjoying the slippery dream-within-a-dream shape of the story; the author's skillful manipulation sending me into a succession of tightly controlled spirals and echoes, the very familiar and palpable sensation of waking up in that blurred state of not knowing what's real and what's a dream—he replicated the sharp tang of dreamfear disorientation perfectly. and then he had to go and get all lovecrafty on me and i said "no thank you, sir!" Papa Eye—Priya Sharma ★★★☆☆ i guess this is technically folk horror, but it's truly the gentlest horror story i've ever read. i was really looking forward to this one, because Rag and Bone and Fabulous Beasts were extremely good stories (and judging by my four-star rating, i also liked The Anatomist’s Mnemonic, but since i never reviewed it, i do not remember what that was even about—whoops). the writing is good, i just wasn't very excited by the story. which is a me-problem. Volcano—Livia Llewellyn ★★★☆☆ people who dig cosmic horror will probably gush all over this one because even though iiiii don't enjoy it, i can still identify an objectively good version of a thing i don't subjectively like and this one is objectively good. it's got a cryptic antiheroine at its center—a ragey social con-artist with...some kinda magical/supernatural capabilities i didn't fully understand, and the way the story builds is great, until it got the the part i really didn't understand because cosmic horror is a tease that never wants to tell you what it is you're supposed to be afraid of. All the Things He Called Memories—Stephen Graham Jones ★★★★☆ this is the first covid horror story i have ever read (i mean, besides the news). it's about what happens when you're forced to quarantine with a mad-scientist spouse and what her experiments might unleash. it is legitimately creepy and now i'm afraid of pockets. Trinity River Blues—Chesya Burke ★★★☆☆ this one is closer to urban fantasy than horror, although the heavy bird content pushes it into my own personal horrorverse. it involves horror nouns, like ghosts and demons and possession, but they aren't used in a horror way if that makes sense. it's more metaphorical than spooky, about loss and ambition and sacrifice, and it's another story that's written well, but just not my personal cuppa. The Familiar's Assistant—Alma Katsu ★★★☆☆ like the two full-length books of hers i have read (The Deep and The Hunger), her writing is smooth and measured and she knows how to pace a story, but honestly? it's not the most envelope-pushing horror story of all time. but it's also that i feel like i've reached my saturation point w/r/t vampire stories, and i'm not sure what it would take to impress or surprise me in that vein (hardy har), but this isn't it. Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream—John F.D. Taff ★★★☆☆ this could probably be a four, my ratings are fluid. it's an interesting premise, and the prose is so cinematic that it feels like a pitch for an episode of some horror anthology-type show i would binge-watch the hell out of. The Sanguintalist—Gemma Files ★★★★★ this was the most delightful surprise of the bunch. years ago i read this author's A Book of Tongues and i hated it, so i was kinda dreading this one. but i ADORED this story, and it was my favorite in the whole collection. it, too, is more urban fantasy than horror, which is a genre i do not often read, but i would happily read more—many, many more—stories, novels, whatever about this character and this world because i freaking loved it. it's bloody wonderful (hardy har reprise). Mrs. Addison’s Nest—Josh Malerman ★★★☆☆ this was very similar to the ramsey campbell one in both its cosmic horror leanings and its inception-y* line-blurring between dream and vision and reality and yadda, but this one had more characters to keep track of and, coupled with its aggressive vagueness and the author pushing and pulling the reader into different half-detailed scenarios was a wicked confusing experience and i admit i lost the thread of it pretty early on, and then i realized i didn't care enough to go back and finetooth-comb it for meaning so i just let it carry me to its dissociatively vague ending, shrugged, and moved on. *although the tattoos-as-notes-to-self are a nod to a different christopher nolan movie. Challawa—Usman T. Malik ★★★☆☆ more folk horror, but i preferred this one to Papa Eye, because it's more much layered—even though the ending is inevitable given the genre, the stories branching off the trunk of the main plot are both their own things and thematic contributions to the main story, making it a richer reading experience all around. fuck, i'm a pompous douche sometimes. Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate—John Langan ★★★☆☆ a very classic feeling horror story, putting a coat of supernatural frosting on the story of a murderer. langan takes his time to tell this one, but that is in no way meant as a criticism. i definitely appreciated the care he took with his storytelling —the slow creep of the horror felt purposeful and inexorable. but, like vampires, (view spoiler)[i might be all wendigo'd out. (hide spoiler)] for some reason i have encountered them a lot lately IN MY READING and the novelty has worn off. ********************************* i'm not in love with the cover, but the guest list is OUTSTANDING! i'm gonna chip away at this for a while to get those 'spooktober in springtime' feelings. The Attentionist—Caroline Kepnes A Life in Nightmares—Ramsey Campbell Papa Eye—Priya Sharma Volcano—Livia Llewellyn All the Things He Called Memories—Stephen Graham Jones Trinity River Blues—Chesya Burke The Familiar's Assistant—Alma Katsu Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream—John F.D. Taff The Sanguintalist—Gemma Files Mrs. Addison’s Nest—Josh Malerman Challawa—Usman T. Malik Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate—John Langan come to my blog!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    This anthology features stories that generally have a slow rollout but usually end with a horrific payoff. You may like some better than others as is the case with short story anthologies for me - or maybe not. Who am I to say what you’re going to like? Anyhow here are some thoughts. Yours will likely be different but that’s the joy of reading experiences, right? The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes This is a little coming-of-age story set during a time when no one had a cell phone or the internet t This anthology features stories that generally have a slow rollout but usually end with a horrific payoff. You may like some better than others as is the case with short story anthologies for me - or maybe not. Who am I to say what you’re going to like? Anyhow here are some thoughts. Yours will likely be different but that’s the joy of reading experiences, right? The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes This is a little coming-of-age story set during a time when no one had a cell phone or the internet to check out possible creepers. It’s about two boy-crazy teens who are living for any sort of attention from the males of the species. Attention finds them but it’s of the creepy variety. This story was uncomfortable and I loved that. It’s about sisterly dysfunction and the ugly side of growing up and wanting things with a wee bit too much desperation. I wasn’t super fond of the end but that’s just me. I always want more evil so I guess I’d give this one a 3 1/2 out of 5 A life in Nightmares by Ramsey Campbell I admit I’ve always struggled with Campbell’s writing and believe me I have tried. My sister loved his writing when we were younger but I always found it hard to stay focused. This story wasn’t an exception. It was purposely disorienting and not worth it in the end for me. 2/5 Papa Eye by Priya Sharma A recently divorced doctor visits a mysterious island on the advice of his new therapist. The island and its residents keep secrets they hold close. This story was quiet, haunting, and a bit sad. 3 1/2 out of 5 Volcano by Livia Llewelyn This is another that wasn’t meant for me. It was about a self-destructive young woman who lands a job in a strange basement reupholstering furniture in a strange room with a door that leads to something cosmic that makes her finally feel something good. I felt too distant from everything in this one but I think that was the point. 2.5/5 All the Things He Called Memories by Stephen Graham Jones A man and his scientist wife are cooped up together during Covid and out of boredom and/or lack of subjects she involves him in a fear study. That turns out to be a terrible idea 😳 This one ratchets up the dread scene by scene and is intense. 4/5 Trinity River’s Blues by Chesya Burke An evil entity attaches itself to a young woman. This is not the fault of the author but the pages for this story (and part of the next one) were all of out order. I ended up reading quite a few pages like this and nearly ended up tossing it aside in confusion before I figured it out. Thought I was losing my final brain cell. 3/5 The Familiar’s Assistant by Alma Katsu The first few pages are out of order here too. I really enjoyed this tale of an addict wishing for death and an end to a messy existence who finds something better (or possibly worse!) at the door of a monster’s home. Fun stuff and the setting was lovely. 4.5/5 Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream by John F.D. Taft This one is filled to the brim with grief and puke 🤢 Make sure you’re ready! It was an odd nightmare of a story about a man who has lost his wife to cancer. He takes his son on a road trip to start a new life and things go very sideways. 3/5 The Sanguintalist by Gemma Files Lala can see the dead’s final moments through their blood. This is a complete story but it feels like a world that could potentially fill an entire series. 4/5 Mrs. Addison’s Nest by Josh Malerman Four troublemakers meet their nemesis while in detention and she is terrifying. This story is a bit disorientating but I enjoyed reading it. 3.5/5 Challawa by Usman T. Malik A tale of the mythical Challawa that smoothly blends past legends with a modern-day threat. This is folk horror that is timely and quiet and beautifully done. 4.5/5 Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate by John Langan A woman has plans to avenge her (most likely dead) brother by confronting the man she believes murdered him. Instead, she is treated to a lengthy life story about a troubled marriage. At first, I was all like wth is this?! And then it all made sense. It’s gruesome and tense and a real nail-biter (do people still say that? Who knows but I’m saying it anyway) as the truth is ever so slowly and horrifyingly revealed. 4/5 I think it’s most definitely worth a read if you’re a fan of horror short stories.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    This series of horror short stories from different authors of the genre has a little bit of something for everyone. I’m slowly diving deeper into horror as a genre and getting to know the subgenres and such that I might need to avoid or the ones I want to be totally signed up for. All of the stories fit well and none of them dragged so that even the ones I wasn’t a fan of felt like were quick and could be moved onto the next in a bit. I managed to scare myself with my own keys when listening to This series of horror short stories from different authors of the genre has a little bit of something for everyone. I’m slowly diving deeper into horror as a genre and getting to know the subgenres and such that I might need to avoid or the ones I want to be totally signed up for. All of the stories fit well and none of them dragged so that even the ones I wasn’t a fan of felt like were quick and could be moved onto the next in a bit. I managed to scare myself with my own keys when listening to this so its definitely effective. I had genuine chills during at least one story. I’m going to try and give quick thoughts on each story with as little spoilers as possible but since they are so short, know that anything is basically a spoiler and that I always encourage going into horror as blind as possible (unless you are looking for TW! In which case do that if you need!). The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes 4.5 Stars I really loved this one and thought it was a great start. There was something so ominous about the threat of a man to a young girl throughout the story that had me nervous as to where it was going. But also, it was really funny at parts? I genuinely laughed out loud at some of the quotes. I know these characters are extremist versions of teenage girls but something about it felt real with the horror through the lens of low self confidence and desperation in teenage girls. I was not a huge fan of the ending though and thought it could have used an extra umph. (Oh crap! She wrote You! Will definitely be checking out that book as it is on my shelf of shame) A Life of Nightmares by Ramsey Campbell 3.5 Stars A man wakes up from a nightmare, into another real nightmare. Or does he? This definitely went down a path I wasn’t that interested in but! It was effectively creepy while doing it. The first part especially was super unnerving, especially on audiobook. Papa Eye by Priya Sharma 3 Stars A doctor moves to a small island to take care of its inhabitants and discovers signs of an odd religion. This was not what I expected and I don’t feel I can review it properly without revealing too much. Well written and establishes itself and its world quickly. But yeah, don’t want to say too much. Volcano by Livia Llewellyn 2.5 stars A mess of a college student discovers a black hole? I don’t know what happened here. I did learn that this could be considered cosmic horror and I’m not a fan cause I don’t understand what happened here. Still well written though. All the Things He Called Memories - Stephen Graham Jones 5 Stars Pandemic quarantine horror! Ah this creeped me out so bad! A man stuck in quarantine with his scientist wife suspects she may be experimenting with him. After this and The Last Good Indians, he is quickly becoming a must read. Trinity River Blues - Chesya Burke 3 Stars A woman who can see ghosts is cursed by one. I think I would have enjoyed this as a whole novel but as it was it felt like a very short glimpse into a whole world that wasn’t particularly scary. Very crossroads deal vibes. The Familiar’s Assistant - Alma Katsu 3 Stars A man decides on suicide by vampire I felt like we didn’t explore the more interesting aspects of this story like the guy’s background enough. While creepy in a messed up way I didn’t really feel that scared at any point. Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream - John F.D. Taft 4 Stars A man takes his son a trip after the recent death of his wife I didn’t know what was going on through most of this story again but it was VERY creepy. I mean rest stop bathrooms are a nightmare enough. I wish I could have gotten more of it, especially past the open ending. The Sanguinstalist - Gemma Files 4.5 Stars A blood mage (?) investigates the murder of a woman This one does not fuck around with explaining ANYTHING to you. But I want this to be a whole novel in this world of magic. I don’t think it was really horror? But I was there for it. Mrs. Addison’s Nest - Josh Malerman 4 stars Four childhood friends face their biggest fear This one reminded me of King probably the most. The repetitive and mind bending prose actually worked for me here even if it made the ending all blurry. There were way too many characters though that I could not in any way tell apart. Challawa - Usman T. Mallik 3 Stars A woman visits a small town in her home of Pakistan with her husband I never saw Midsommar but I think this is Midsommar? With way less white people. But the part about the phosphorus is a real life nightmare for me personally so I was terrified. I think folk horror (a new term I learned!) is also not for me. Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate - John Langan 5 stars A woman confronts a man about her brother’s possible death Loved this one. A great suspense build. The justification of abuse and all the way to murder from a killer was interesting without even the extra added bonus at the end. Ok there you go! All my thanks to reviewer Karen (why is hyperlinking so freaking hard?!) for also reviewing these piece by piece and providing names, authors, and quick descriptions because I didn’t take notes while reading this and realized after that the titles were almost completely meaningless to me. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. I think all the many narrators did an amazing job and I would completely recommend this as an audiobook.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ghoul Von Horror

    TW: Stalking, bullying, family drama, slut shaming, mental abuse, loss of baby, loss of parents, abortion, rape, *****SPOILERS***** About the book: Dark Stars is a tribute to horror’s long-standing short fiction legacy, featuring 11 terrifying novelettes from today’s most noteworthy authors, edited by Bram Stoker Award-nominee John F.D. Taff, with an introduction by bestselling author Josh Malerman (Bird Box).Created in the tradition of the 1980 horror classic anthology Dark Forces edited by TW: Stalking, bullying, family drama, slut shaming, mental abuse, loss of baby, loss of parents, abortion, rape, *****SPOILERS***** About the book: Dark Stars is a tribute to horror’s long-standing short fiction legacy, featuring 11 terrifying novelettes from today’s most noteworthy authors, edited by Bram Stoker Award-nominee John F.D. Taff, with an introduction by bestselling author Josh Malerman (Bird Box).Created in the tradition of the 1980 horror classic anthology Dark Forces edited by Kirby McCauley, this collection features all original novelettes showcasing the top talent in the horror field today, with a committed line-up of stories from both established names and up-and-coming voices. Dark Stars is not themed, allowing each author to write their very best horror story, unhampered by the need to conform to any unifying tropes.The committed contributors to Dark Stars are:John F.D. Taff (Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of The End in All Beginnings and The Fearing).Josh Malerman (Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Bird Box).Priya Sharma (World Fantasy Award-winning author of All the Fabulous Beasts).Stephen Graham Jones (Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Mapping the Interior and The Only Good Indians).Alma Katsu (Bram Stoker Award finalist and Locus Award-winning author of The Hunger).Usman T. Malik (Bram Stoker Award-winning and Nebula Award-nominated author).Caroline Kepnes (New York Times bestselling author of You and Hidden Bodies).Chesya Burke (over 100+ published short stories in horror & dark fantasy).Livia Llewellyn (multi-Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author).Gemma Files (Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of Experimental Film).John Langan (Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Fisherman).Ramsey Campbell (Multiple World Fantasy and Bram Stoker Award-winning author). Release Date: March 22nd, 2022 Genre: Horror Pages: 368 Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 3.5 What I Liked: • I love horror anthologies • Some of the great writers of this generation • Love that they can write any kind of horror story without a theme What I Didn't Like: • Some stories the points were lost • Lot of rambling on Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed the foreword from Josh Malerman. I thought it was a great start to the short stories in front of us. The Attentionist (Caroline Kepnes - I found this interesting 1/4th of the way into it and then it switched gears and became so over the top confusing and weird. I'd say there were pages in which I was truly confused. We meet Reg and Maeve; two sisters that are completely different. Reg resigns that her whole world is sitting by the phone answering every call that comes come, hoping for a boy crush to sweep her away. Maeve on the other hand is fine to just exist and if her crush, Tony from work calls or doesn't call she is fine with that. One day "Tony" calls and Reg answers the phone flirting with him and tells him where Maeve is swimming at. Maeve returns home and much to her chagrin Reg starts to yell at her because she's upset that she didn't being home Tony and his friends. Soon after Maeve is being tormented with daily phone calls from some one pretending to be Tony. He calls and tells her he is going to eat her thighs and she's a fat gross pig. This goes on and on until one day Reg calls her downstairs and tells her that they caught the man that has been harassing her. His name is Carl and he's been doing this to girls all over town. One day we find out that Reg knew that Maeve was lying about who was calling and was listening in on the phone calls. Overall Reg is a horrible sister who chose to encourage the abuse her sister was going through while getting revenge on her for not bringing home Tony that one time. The ending fell flat for me. Maeve waits twenty years to get back at Reg by cooking a pig instead of a turkey for Thanksgiving. That's it? Well okay then! ⭐⭐2.0 A Life in Nightmares (Ramsey Campbell) - Talk about gibberish! I honestly was lost in so many moments that the author leads you off course with a short story dealing with a man whom dreams while awake. Whenever life is serious he slips into a dream like state replacing bad things with odd moments. You never know what's real or fake and a lie or truth. ⭐⭐⭐ 2.5 Papa Eye (Priya Sharma) - We meet Ravi a doctor. He comes to an island named Papa Eye. There's a part in the beginning where he comes to Little Isle and is met by Hector. Ravi makes a comment about the place being beautiful but then says he means it more as a comment than a question. Why would that format of a sentence ever be a question? We bounce around between timelines of when he was arriving to the island and when he is coming to terms with no emotions during his divorce. He is the new doctor on the island is in charge of taking care of Kate. Kate is dying of cancer and losing her mind a little every day. I liked this story a lot. We find out the town doesn't age at a normal rate. Ravi has been offered the opportunity to stay on the island. ⭐⭐⭐⭐4.5 Valcano (Livia Llewellyn) - A story about a woman kicked out of her sewing job on campus for making her own dress on the clock. She's an alcoholic and very self destructive. After being fired she goes in search of a job and manages to stumble upon one sewing curtains with another student. This story was creepy. There's a room where the sewing machines are and the atmosphere here is off the charts. Something lives in the darkness beyond the fan, into a dark dark room. They're warned not to enter but as was pointed out by her being rebellious, she never listens. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐5.0 All the Things Called Memories (Stephen Graham Jones) - I haven't been a fan of Stephen Graham Jones books at all but this one... Wow. Creepy. This story about is about a husband and wife who are in quarantine together during covid. The wife Macey is doing a study on her husband for fear when she unlocks something supernatural from him that's he's buried since elementary school. I seriously had to turn the lights on to read this one. So creepy! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐5.0 Final Thoughts: This collection of stories is a serious time commitment. I felt like I've been reading for months and haven't gotten anywhere, so just be prepared to put some time into these stories. Each book is around an hour to 45 minutes to finish. I'm not a person that can sit down and read story after story as though they are a story, so trying to get through these stories took some effort on my part. I'm DNFing this book. It just feels like it's never going to end. I found it so long winded. Some of the stories are good but it's like an hour between each story and its putting me in such a reading slump. I found myself dreading this book, which sucks for the stories I didn't get too. I was just bored. IG | Blog

  5. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    What do horror writers do during lockdown? They write! This bewitchingly dark collection of 12 stories is the product of an idea in the mind of Editor John Taff mixed with the weird situation in 2020. Who expected the entire world to basically shut down for an extended period? So bizarre....but the perfect backdrop for horror. Perfect timing for Taff to turn his idea into an actual project! 12 stories. Vastly different stories. Everything from slow burn to AHHHHHHHH!!!!! As with any story collect What do horror writers do during lockdown? They write! This bewitchingly dark collection of 12 stories is the product of an idea in the mind of Editor John Taff mixed with the weird situation in 2020. Who expected the entire world to basically shut down for an extended period? So bizarre....but the perfect backdrop for horror. Perfect timing for Taff to turn his idea into an actual project! 12 stories. Vastly different stories. Everything from slow burn to AHHHHHHHH!!!!! As with any story collection, there were some that I loved and some that just didn't resonate with me at all. But that's perfect -- it means this is a varied and diverse anthology. These stories are imaginative, different and chilling. Some of the writers are new to me -- I love books and stories from "new to me'' writers to my TBR pile. And some of these stories were by writers that I've read before. It was awesome to read a bit of short fiction by familiar storycrafters to see what creepiness they could impart in the brevity of short story. I'm happy to say that although some of the stories weren't scary for me or didn't pull me in like some others did, I did enjoy each one. I loved the fact that these tales are not merely variations on a single theme or style....but each is unique and completely different. I read one story per day for 12 days. And after reading each tale, I did my usual clicking around on the internet to find out some info on each author and their collection of writing. My TBR is a bit bigger and my enjoyment of horror a bit more varied since reading this collection. That's the gift of short stories....you get a taste of the writer's style that leaves you wanting more! My favorite story? Mrs. Addison's Nest by Josh Malerman. Followed closely by The Familiar's Assistant by Alma Katsu. Malerman's story is different and creepy-strange. I liked it because it's weird and the ending is vague. It leaves much to the imagination. Who really trusts a high school librarian? I kept thinking of one school librarian I had growing up that had creepy vibes....sucked me right into the story because I kept seeing her as Mrs. Addison in my mind. Alma Katsu's vampire tale is short, but develops into a coldly undead nightmare. Loved it! **I voluntarily read a review copy of this anthology from Macmillin/Tor-Forge. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michela

    Dark Stars is a great collection of 12 original stories written by today's top horror authors, edited by John F.D. Taff. As a fan of the genre, I was really excited to read this anthology: imagine my surprise when I was granted the audiobook ARC and found out these are actually almost as long as novellas! As with most collections, I enjoyed most of the stories, but some fell a bit flat for me and others definitely worked better and left a mark (yes, I scared myself a few times). This is my top 3 Dark Stars is a great collection of 12 original stories written by today's top horror authors, edited by John F.D. Taff. As a fan of the genre, I was really excited to read this anthology: imagine my surprise when I was granted the audiobook ARC and found out these are actually almost as long as novellas! As with most collections, I enjoyed most of the stories, but some fell a bit flat for me and others definitely worked better and left a mark (yes, I scared myself a few times). This is my top 3: The Familiar's Assistant—Alma Katsu (Always love a vampire story) Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate—John Langan (Perfect ending of the anthology) The Attentionist—Caroline Kepnes (The creepiest story in the collection, for me) In this anthology, there's no fil rouge besides its genre but the stories have all different voices, situations and tropes! Not only these novelettes are well written, but they are also greatly interpreted by the different narrators of the audiobook version! Overall I really enjoyed this, solid 4 stars from me. * I'd like to thank the Publisher and NetGalley for providing this audiobook ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Baker

    AMAZING!! Definitely my new favorite short story collection I’ve read recently. This was a very diverse and interesting collection of stories, one that you will not want to miss!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christina Pilkington

    Actual rating: 3.5 stars In the introduction to Dark Stars, editor John F.D. Taff said his goal with this anthology was to show how expansive horror can be. That it can be literary, or as bloody and gory as it can get. Well, I have to say that he succeeded! The range of types of horror stories is quite impressive. The downside of that is that it will be a tough sell for most readers to enjoy all the stories equally. While many of the stories in this anthology were ok for me, a few stuck out as f Actual rating: 3.5 stars In the introduction to Dark Stars, editor John F.D. Taff said his goal with this anthology was to show how expansive horror can be. That it can be literary, or as bloody and gory as it can get. Well, I have to say that he succeeded! The range of types of horror stories is quite impressive. The downside of that is that it will be a tough sell for most readers to enjoy all the stories equally. While many of the stories in this anthology were ok for me, a few stuck out as favorites. To my surprise they were by authors I haven’t read from before. That’s what I love about reading anthologies; meeting new authors that I can get excited about digging into their longer works. Here’s a 1-2 sentence critique of each short story and the star rating I gave it. 4.5 stars The Attentionist- Written by the author of You, this story also featured a stalker, only this time the victim was a younger girl. It’s dark and creepy and I could absolutely see this happening in real life which made it even more terrifying. 3 stars A Life in Nightmares- Super disorienting and confusing, it really does leave the reader feeling like they are experiencing a random string of nightmares. But too many threads were left dangling and it needed a stronger narrative. 4.5 stars Papa Eye- This was so close to being 5 stars! I loved the island setting, the eerie vibes and the plot. I felt it ended just a little too abruptly. Still, it’s a great story. 4.5 Volcano- This was a 5 star story for me up until the very end. I loved the writing style, the characterization and the plot. However, I wished the author would have gone a little bit deeper into certain parts of the plot instead of leaving it so vague. 4 All the Things He Called Memories - I really enjoyed the premise and themes of this story. The execution could have focused a little less on the dialogue and amped up the horror of the plot. 2.5 Trinity River’s Blues- Some readers might find the plot of this story more enjoyable than I did, but I was bored by a large part of the middle. If it would have been more tightly edited, it would have worked much better for me. 3.5 The Familiar’s Assistant- The premise of this story was great! It was much darker than I was expecting, and I liked the way the author wrote about the themes of co-dependency, insecurity and manipulation. I think this would have worked better, though, at a novella length. 4 Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream- The premise of this story was unique and interesting. I liked some of the characterization, but there were some logical problems I had as well as certain story threads not being explained. 2 The Sanguintalist- I really didn’t get on well with the writing style of this story. And I could have cared less about the characters because they were so underdeveloped. 3 Mrs. Addison’s Nest- Really interesting premise and structure, but it needed to be fleshed out more. This would have worked out better as a novella. 5 Challawa- This was my favorite story of the collection. I loved everything from the plot, the wiring style, and the characters. It had the creepiest ending. I had shivers up my arms! 2 Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate -This was so hard for me to get through! There was so much telling instead of showing. I was bored for much of the story. *Thank you so much to MacMillian Tor/Forge - Tor Nightfire for the digital arc copy in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Irene Well Worth A Read

    Dark Stars is an eclectic mix of slower paced thrills with quick bursts of chills. There's more meat on it's bones than I expected, as the tales are more fully fleshed out than typical short stories. I was hooked from the opening lines of Caroline Kepnes The Attentionist, a chilling psychological thriller about two sisters, that pulled me in with it's leisurely start before hitting like a freight train at the end. Another of my favorites was A Life In Nightmares by Ramsey Campbell in which it's h Dark Stars is an eclectic mix of slower paced thrills with quick bursts of chills. There's more meat on it's bones than I expected, as the tales are more fully fleshed out than typical short stories. I was hooked from the opening lines of Caroline Kepnes The Attentionist, a chilling psychological thriller about two sisters, that pulled me in with it's leisurely start before hitting like a freight train at the end. Another of my favorites was A Life In Nightmares by Ramsey Campbell in which it's hard to tell where reality begins and dreams end with one young man's fear of not being able to understand others, or of not being understood. Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream by John F.D. Taff encompasses so many things that I love in a good story. Grief, a road trip, weird weather, supernatural events. I won't say more so as not to spoil it for you I will only say...WOW! Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate by John Langan was another favorite even though I could not quite figure out at first why a woman would have such a strange way of approaching someone she believes has murdered her brother. But oh my goodness the beginning makes perfect sense at the end. I enjoyed all of the stories but these were my favorites. Recommended for all who love dark fiction whether you are looking for anything from vampires to ghosts to psychological thrillers there is something in here for you. 4 out of 5 stars I received an advance copy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lou Jacobs

    DARK STARS …. Edited by: John F.D. Taff Publication: 5/ 10/ 22 by Macmillan - Tor / Forge ( Tor Nighfire ) An eclectic melange of 12 brilliant novellas demonstrating the true diversity of modern day horror from not only the giants of the genre, but also rising stars. Destined to be a seminal work in the genre .. and certainly not defined by the worn tropes of horror. This is not extreme horror or splatter and relies upon the more cerebral aspects of fiction. These beautifully crafted gems each oc DARK STARS …. Edited by: John F.D. Taff Publication: 5/ 10/ 22 by Macmillan - Tor / Forge ( Tor Nighfire ) An eclectic melange of 12 brilliant novellas demonstrating the true diversity of modern day horror from not only the giants of the genre, but also rising stars. Destined to be a seminal work in the genre .. and certainly not defined by the worn tropes of horror. This is not extreme horror or splatter and relies upon the more cerebral aspects of fiction. These beautifully crafted gems each occupy at least one hour on the audio version, and provide time for wonderful world building and characterization. Although elements of chilling gore and cannibalism can be encountered… most rely on “quiet” horror, with elements of the supernatural, Lovecraftian horror, dark fantasy, neo-noir and even humor. There are no clunkers here in this heady mix of stories … but my personal favorite 5 Star stories are: “The Familiar’s Assistant” by Alma Katsu… elements of terror , excitement , thrill and even humor are accompanied with the purposeful meeting of a Vampire, and it’s consequences; “All The Things He Called Memories” by Stephen Graham Jones …. quiet horror oozes from the pandemic inducing horror of lockdowns. … with nothing to keep the hands busy, the mind starts feeding on itself with the house acting like a sensory deprivation tank; “Trinity River’s Blues” by Chesya Burke …explores the awesome power of possession; and “The Sanguintalist” by Gemma Files …a forensic non-binary (“they”) neuromancer uses the ability to access thought and memories from the blood of the recently deceased to help solve murders … These gems showcase not only the giants of the genre, but also the bright voices of rising stars driving the diversity and vibrance of the modern day emerging horror genre. Although constructed as a homage to the landmark 1980 original anthology of “Dark Forces” … edited by Kirby McCauley…. It will easily stand on its own merit. At the end of the book, each author briefly discusses their inspiration for their stories. List of the Contributors include; Caroline Kepnes; Ramsey Campbell; Priya Sharma; Livia Llewellyn; Stephen Graham Jones; Chesya Burke; Alma Katsu; John Taff; Gemma Files; Josh Malerman; Usma T Malik; and John Langan. Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Nightfire for supplying an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review. Thankfully, I now have many new authors to follow … especially the writers of my personal favorite stories.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lou Jacobs

    DARK STARS …. Edited by: John F.D. Taff Publication: 5/ 10/ 22 by Macmillan - Tor / Forge ( Tor Nighfire ) An eclectic melange of 12 brilliant novellas demonstrating the true diversity of modern day horror from not only the giants of the genre, but also rising stars. Destined to be a seminal work in the genre .. and certainly not defined by the worn tropes of horror. This is not extreme horror or splatter and relies upon the more cerebral aspects of fiction. These beautifully crafted gems each oc DARK STARS …. Edited by: John F.D. Taff Publication: 5/ 10/ 22 by Macmillan - Tor / Forge ( Tor Nighfire ) An eclectic melange of 12 brilliant novellas demonstrating the true diversity of modern day horror from not only the giants of the genre, but also rising stars. Destined to be a seminal work in the genre .. and certainly not defined by the worn tropes of horror. This is not extreme horror or splatter and relies upon the more cerebral aspects of fiction. These beautifully crafted gems each occupy at least one hour on the audio version, and provide time for wonderful world building and characterization. Although elements of chilling gore and cannibalism can be encountered… most rely on “quiet” horror, with elements of the supernatural, Lovecraftian horror, dark fantasy, neo-noir and even humor. There are no clunkers here in this heady mix of stories … but my personal favorite 5 Star stories are: “The Familiar’s Assistant” by Alma Katsu… elements of terror , excitement , thrill and even humor are accompanied with the purposeful meeting of a Vampire, and it’s consequences; “All The Things He Called Memories” by Stephen Graham Jones …. quiet horror oozes from the pandemic inducing horror of lockdowns. … with nothing to keep the hands busy, the mind starts feeding on itself with the house acting like a sensory deprivation tank; “Trinity River’s Blues” by Chesya Burke …explores the awesome power of possession; and “The Sanguintalist” by Gemma Files …a forensic non-binary (“they”) neuromancer uses the ability to access thought and memories from the blood of the recently deceased to help solve murders … These gems showcase not only the giants of the genre, but also the bright voices of rising stars driving the diversity and vibrance of the modern day emerging horror genre. Although constructed as a homage to the landmark 1980 original anthology of “Dark Forces” … edited by Kirby McCauley…. It will easily stand on its own merit. At the end of the book, each author briefly discusses their inspiration for their stories. List of the Contributors include; Caroline Kepnes; Ramsey Campbell; Priya Sharma; Livia Llewellyn; Stephen Graham Jones; Chesya Burke; Alma Katsu; John Taff; Gemma Files; Josh Malerman; Usma T Malik; and John Langan. Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Nightfire for supplying an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review. Thankfully, I now have many new authors to follow … especially the writers of my personal favorite stories.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lindy Ryan

    WOW. Phenomenal collection with stories that stick with you long after you turn the page. I'm particularly haunted by Stephen Graham Jones's contribution--a gross, unsettling, completely wonderful feeling. WOW. Phenomenal collection with stories that stick with you long after you turn the page. I'm particularly haunted by Stephen Graham Jones's contribution--a gross, unsettling, completely wonderful feeling.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelsea

    This was my last read of 2021 and a great one to end the year with! I've been looking forward to this collection since it was first teased (back around when Nightfire announced their initial line-up). I do have to admit that I didn't fully understand all of the stories. However, I'm eight months pregnant and struggling with some serious brain fog + exhaustion, so it's entirely possible that sans those factors, more of the stories would have made sense to my brain. (Experimental styles, in particu This was my last read of 2021 and a great one to end the year with! I've been looking forward to this collection since it was first teased (back around when Nightfire announced their initial line-up). I do have to admit that I didn't fully understand all of the stories. However, I'm eight months pregnant and struggling with some serious brain fog + exhaustion, so it's entirely possible that sans those factors, more of the stories would have made sense to my brain. (Experimental styles, in particular, aren't processing particularly well for me at the moment.) The ones I did wrap my head around, though, lived up to the "new tales of darkest horror" tagline and really lingered! I will be thinking about them for a long time. They were the kind of fascinating, grotesque, horrifying stories that you almost want to turn away from but can't. Makes me want to reread this collection once the baby brain fog has lifted! Overall, this anthology had an unsettling vibe and wasn't afraid to take risks. I found, in particular, lingering power in the stories by John F.D. Taff (who is also the editor) and Alma Katsu. Thank you Tor Nightfire for the chance to read an early copy of Dark Stars via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Schizanthus Nerd

    Horror is something like black taffy these days, enough elasticity to stretch across any room (even the word “room” feels a little confining while discussing the modern state of horror: Is it a room actually? Could be something else), and you’ll find that elasticity here in the pages of this book. The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes Reg and Maeve really want Tony to call. Naturally, he’ll have a friend so the sisters will be able to go on a double date. The phrase you learn in school is fight Horror is something like black taffy these days, enough elasticity to stretch across any room (even the word “room” feels a little confining while discussing the modern state of horror: Is it a room actually? Could be something else), and you’ll find that elasticity here in the pages of this book. The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes Reg and Maeve really want Tony to call. Naturally, he’ll have a friend so the sisters will be able to go on a double date. The phrase you learn in school is fight or flight. As if those are the only choices. As if we’re all so quick to throw a punch or make a run for it. Some of us are slow. We just need a minute to think. A Life in Nightmares by Ramsey Campbell When past and present, reality and nightmares collide. “I don’t know why I should dream about the past” Papa Eye by Priya Sharma When Ravi goes to the island, they see life and death in a whole new light. “We’ve been struggling with how to explain it. Now you can see for yourself.” Volcano by Livia Llewellyn A new job, a new colleague, a pervasive darkness. It still bothers me that I can’t remember last night. All the Things He Called Memories by Stephen Graham Jones When you’re quarantining with your partner, a research scientist, who wants to discuss your greatest fear. You know, besides the pandemic. “Because our minds are puzzle boxes,” Marcy said, obviously. “You can twist them this way, that way, and, if you’re really lucky, maybe once in a while you unlock one of them.” Trinity River’s Blues by Chesya Burke Jazz, a murder of crows and a woman who sees dead people. “This here … this is longing. Its power manifested. You don’t understand who you are and so you let your fears and insecurities control you.” The Familiar’s Assistant by Alma Katsu Eric has spent weeks tracking him down. Now he’s standing at the vampire’s door. You can’t accept a monster in your life and think that you’re safe. That you’ll be able to control him. Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream by John F.D. Taff Peter just wants to drive his son to their new home. The weather has other ideas. So does Peter’s dead wife. Because, as I’ve learned, separation doesn’t diminish the love a child has for their parent. Nor does death. The Sanguintalist by Gemma Files The blood speaks to Lala. Tell me now. Show me, if you can’t form the words. Let me see it. Let me see it all. Mrs. Addison’s Nest by Josh Malerman This all started in detention fifteen years ago. It ends now. REMEMBER WHERE YOU ARE Challawa by Usman T. Malik Karisma returns to Pakistan with her husband. While she’s there, she plans to do some research. “Challawa. A mercurial creature that shimmers and is gone. A mirage that evaporates when you get close to it.” Enough For Hunger and Enough For Hate by John Langan Michelle is trying to track down her brother’s killer. And his body. “There was nothing I wanted more than to spend every waking second with her.” Usually when I pick up an anthology, it’s because there’s one particular author’s story I need to read. This time around, that author was Stephen Graham Jones. With anthologies, I always find the stories are a bit of a mixed bag. I love this because there’s usually something for everyone. I also dread this because I know it’s just as likely I’ll encounter stories that I’m not so keen on. My horror preference is the “would you like more blood with that?” variety. I actively seek out reads where I have the overwhelming urge to look over my shoulder and question whether it’s safe to turn out the lights, as well as my decision to eat before reading. I’m not as comfy with ambiguity so some reads here didn’t work as well for me. I enjoyed many of the stories but they didn’t elicit fear in me. The most horrified I felt was when I realised I’d finished more than one story with no way of explaining what it was about because I had no idea. One of my favourite things about anthologies is the opportunity to find authors whose books have somehow flown under my radar. While I loved the story I came here for, I was also introduced to two authors whose books I definitely need to investigate in the near future: Priya Sharma and Usman T. Malik. Content warnings include (view spoiler)[addiction, death by suicide, domestic abuse, miscarriage and sexual assault. Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with some scenes (hide spoiler)] . Thank you so much to NetGalley and Titan Books for the opportunity to read this anthology. I’m rounding up from 3.5 stars. Blog - https://schizanthusnerd.com

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kat Dietrich

    Dark Stars, edited by John F.D. Taff, is a collection of short horror stories. First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire (and in particular Jordan Hanley),  and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.   My Synopsis and Opinions: As always, I will review each story individually.  Note that there is a forward by Josh Malerman which was quite interesting (if a little long).  Then the Dark Stars, edited by John F.D. Taff, is a collection of short horror stories. First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire (and in particular Jordan Hanley),  and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.   My Synopsis and Opinions: As always, I will review each story individually.  Note that there is a forward by Josh Malerman which was quite interesting (if a little long).  Then there is an introduction from John Taff, who brought all these stories together.  An afterword is written by Ramsey Campbell, and some notes on each story from the point of view of each author.  There were actual stories in between all of that.... Here we go.... ... The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes  .... Sisters, one needing constant attention from boys, and one with a stalker.  The sister aspect was rather funny at times.  I loved it.   5 stars. A Life in Nightmares by Ramsey Campbell  ... A childhood nightmare follows a young boy throughout his life, and his nightmares.  I think that was what it was about -- hated it, but it could be because I just didn't get it.  1 star Papa Eye by Priya Sharma  A physician re-locates to a remote island, where some of the traditions from long ago prevail. Loved it!  5 stars Volcano by Livia Llewellyn  Not even sure I understood this one (maybe a black hole?)....but it was creepy as hell, and I enjoyed it.  4 stars All the Things He Called Memories by Stephen Graham Jones  ... A couple, stuck inside during a pandemic, decide to amuse themselves by telling the other of their worst fear.  The wife, a scientist may be conducting an experiment. Her upholsterer husband seems to be the target.  This was wonderfully spooky.  I loved it!  5 stars Trinity River’s Blues by Chesya Burke (American) A young woman who can see and talk to ghosts, invites one too many into here life.  I loved the fact that her best friend was a dead country and western star.  Great story!  5 stars The Familiar’s Assistant by Alma Katsu (American) A young man who has had a rather rough life goes looking for a vampire.  Great premise and story!  5 stars Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream by Joh F.D. Taff ... A man and his 5 year old son are heading to Illinois after the death of his wife.  But she still wants to share custody.  WOW...that was good... 5 stars The Sanguintalist by Gemma Files ... A magician takes in and talks to the blood of the recently deceased to discover what killed the victim...and tries to vindicate them.  Interesting (if a liittle long)... 4 stars Mrs. Addison’s Nest by Josh ...  Four friends relive the day they served detention in high school, where they meet Mrs. Addison.  Interesting, but missing something.... 3 stars by Usman T.  Malik  A journalist and her husband are invited to India to see his brother's new project.  A  visit to the old cremation grounds has both the guide and the journalist sharing ghost stories.  This was just okay.  3 stars Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate by John Langan (American) A sister wants to avenge her brother's death.  A tale of the Wendigo.  The story was good, just too long, and paragraphs that went on forever... 3 stars ... As I read each story, I continued to be amazed that there were so many that I was giving 5 stars.  Definitely more hits than duds.  Seldom in a collection do I find that many outstanding tales.  Yes, I had heard of some of the authors, but not all, so that was great -- I now have a few more authors to follow. Here's hoping your next read is 5 stars !!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gwendolyn Wood

    Dark Stars is a horror anthology with 12 stories told by modern day masters in horror the likes of Josh Malerman and Stephen Graham Jones so safe to say I was very excited about this book. It starts with a lovely introduction from Josh Malerman and then immediately swan dives into concrete. The first story The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes is quite possibly the worst story I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. A story told primarily about two teen sisters that possess loathsome personality’s to Dark Stars is a horror anthology with 12 stories told by modern day masters in horror the likes of Josh Malerman and Stephen Graham Jones so safe to say I was very excited about this book. It starts with a lovely introduction from Josh Malerman and then immediately swan dives into concrete. The first story The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes is quite possibly the worst story I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. A story told primarily about two teen sisters that possess loathsome personality’s to the point that I thought they were the villains for the bulk of the story in which very little actually ever happens. I nearly DNF’d. The next few stories were ok , not particularly horror in my mind but ok. Then we get to the story Volcano By Livia Llewellyn. This is when things improve, This story was different and eerie. A collage girl gets a job as an upholsterer and finds her way into places she should not be , along with a co worker. That’s all I’ll say so as to not ruin it for you. The few stories after this are quite good though many long winded and tedious. Thats my biggest gripe with this collection, To many of the stories are very long winded and then wind up going nowhere. There are a few decent stories among them but overall very light on the horror and rather forgettable. With the names attached Im surprised to say It’s only a 3 star read for me. But there’s definitely something here for everyone even if they aren’t all hits.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    Dark Stars is meant to be a definitive collection of what horror is now, at least as according to its esteemed editor. So the idea if noble. To that end, Taff assembled a lineup of some well recognizable names (and a few newer ones) who write literary horror. So, the method is solid. The execution though, despite best intentions, turned out to be peculiarly disappointing. Story after story that was overwritten and overstylized (as in style over substance, heavily) into heavy dense soporific night Dark Stars is meant to be a definitive collection of what horror is now, at least as according to its esteemed editor. So the idea if noble. To that end, Taff assembled a lineup of some well recognizable names (and a few newer ones) who write literary horror. So, the method is solid. The execution though, despite best intentions, turned out to be peculiarly disappointing. Story after story that was overwritten and overstylized (as in style over substance, heavily) into heavy dense soporific nightmares that tried as I might just mostly really didn’t work for me. A dozen authors featured here provide longer stories, some are practically novelettes, a length I normally enjoy, though with these stories I mostly wanted them to end. I’m sorry to say they dragged. It may be down to the pure reader/author incompatibility – the way I normally don’t care for Ramsey Campbell, whom these stories are stylistically strongly reminiscent of. He is featured here along with the editor himself, who oddly enough has one of the more dynamic stories in the collection. In fact, Taff is one of the main reasons I selected this anthology, having just read a terrific tale of his in Orphans of Bliss. It seems, at least in theory, he and I have very different ideas of what horror is today. If this collection was an accurate representation of the state of the genre, I’d probably steer stronger toward other genres. I seem to enjoy Taff as a writer more than I do him as an editor. The other standouts were a vampire tale from Alma Katsu and the closing Wendigo one from John Langan. Love me a Wendigo story. But overall, this was way too slow, ponderously slow, ponderous in general in that look how literary we’re being collection of stories. Mind you, my preference in genre is toward the quieter darker psychological nightmares than gore and guts and noise, but this was too overdone on that side, well intended as it was. User mileage may vary. Thanks Netgalley.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Manda Raye

    ARC acquired! Thank you so much to Net Galley and Tor Nightfire! Here's hoping I have time to get through it before publication in a few days. ARC acquired! Thank you so much to Net Galley and Tor Nightfire! Here's hoping I have time to get through it before publication in a few days.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patrick R. McDonough

    This book is a MUST-READ. Review coming soon!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Becky Spratford

    Review in October 2021 Library Journal: https://www.libraryjournal.com/?revie... Three Words That Describe This Book: Epic, Genre Expanding, Imaginative In this genre expanding anthology, featuring a forward by Horror superstar Josh Malerman and a thoughtful afterword by legend Ramsey Campbell, Taff features 12 of the most imaginative authors in Horror today, giving them a long leash to dive into terror. The result, each story is like a mini novel, while taken as a whole, the anthology will be hel Review in October 2021 Library Journal: https://www.libraryjournal.com/?revie... Three Words That Describe This Book: Epic, Genre Expanding, Imaginative In this genre expanding anthology, featuring a forward by Horror superstar Josh Malerman and a thoughtful afterword by legend Ramsey Campbell, Taff features 12 of the most imaginative authors in Horror today, giving them a long leash to dive into terror. The result, each story is like a mini novel, while taken as a whole, the anthology will be held up as a “snapshot” of this moment in Horror for years to come. A clear choice for fans of the bigger names like Katsu, Kepnes, and Jones, but don’t sleep on the stellar tales by Chesya Burke, Priya Sharma, and Usman Malik. This volume is a beast, the stories take brilliant chances that will be worth the time investment; expect many to be up for major genre awards. Verdict: While most of your readers will focus on the epic table of contents, ardent Horror fans will appreciate its ode to the seminal (and out of print) Dark Forces anthology, edited by Kirby McCauley which similarly strove to bring Horror to a wider audience in the 1980s and featured both a story by a young Campbell and what many consider Stephen King’s best novella, The Mist.

  21. 4 out of 5

    IvyInThePages

    Average Rating: 2.82 leaves out of 13 Genre: Horror/Anthologies Type: Audiobook Worth?: Eh First want to thank Netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this in exchange for an honest review! Next this is going to be a LONG review since I will be reviewing each story. This won't be like my normal rating since there are more than one story/authors/etc. The very beginning took up way too much time talking nonsense about why they came together and and what horror was or is. We don't need that. I c Average Rating: 2.82 leaves out of 13 Genre: Horror/Anthologies Type: Audiobook Worth?: Eh First want to thank Netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this in exchange for an honest review! Next this is going to be a LONG review since I will be reviewing each story. This won't be like my normal rating since there are more than one story/authors/etc. The very beginning took up way too much time talking nonsense about why they came together and and what horror was or is. We don't need that. I could understand if each author had a snippet at the end explaining their story and how they felt about being in this group project. Then the very end made literally no sense as to why it was even in the dang book as well. It was just a mess and a bit sloppy. So for the beginning and end I give it a 0/5. Now for each story's review. There may or may not be spoilers in them so read at your own risk. The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes I don't know if I would call it scary or not? Sure the situation is scary but it wasn't too bad. Nothing very extreme happened. Maybe they are starting off light and will progress into the darker stuff? Also I hate the older sis. She is crap. I guess I can say I get where the main gal was coming from with finally have the attention she thought she needed. I kind of even liked the ending. So with some thinking, because I had been going back and forth on this the whole time, I will be upping it to a 3 instead of a 2.5. Rating: 3/5 The Life in Nightmares by Ramsey Campbell This was a god awful bore. Did I keep skipping 30 secs through this? Yes. Nothing about this was horror. A smidge creepy maybe. 2% at most. I believe I even said, "Giving me off brand Harry Potter with no magic." If this is how the books downfalls I should call it quits now. (Note: I didn't quit.) Rate: .5/5 Papa Eye by Priya Sharmal This was a lovely story. I adored it but it wasn't horror. It was sad & beautiful. If I could put colors to it I'd have to say a dark night blue with gold. There might have been a detail or two that could've been gore-ish? But it wasn't scary. I think this short should be on its own or in an entirely different book. It's a 4 because it's so good but not horror. (Edit: I will be going down a bit because this book is about horror and it wasn't giving it to me. I still love the story though!) Rate: 3.75/5 Volcano by Livia Llewellyn It was... okay. It wasn't so much scary but it was creepy. I just wish I knew what the hell was going. For a second, when making the final review, I forgot what the story was even about. Uhm... gosh what do I even say about this? It seemed like the girl was a vampire but then it wasn't? I don't know why I rated it so high because I don't know what the monster/creature is or what it actually does. Aliens? Who the hell knows. The atmosphere is creepy but that is about it. Rate: 2/5 All the Things He Called Memories by Stephen Graham Jones Wow... so this was a slow burn but towards the end it hit you in the gut. Probably by far my favorite so far. My mouth had hung open towards the end in shock. I think I would even like to she this as a short horror film. It is about this couple during quarantine and the wife starts a science experiment that was proven correct, for both in a way I guess. Rate: 4.5/5 Trinity River’s Blues by Chesya Burke This story wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. Coming from someone who lives in Louisiana I expect more from the subject in this story. They did a good job writing it but it lacked the seasonings. (Edit: I am lowering the score to 3 since when I think about it now there wasn't anything standing out about it.) Rate: 3/5 The Familiar’s Assistant by Alma Katsu This was very gothic but like... a sleepy gothic, something that would fit well on a foggy/rainy day. This is supposed to be more for horror stories, though a good chunk of these stories don't really hit horror. Rate: 3/5 Swim In The Blood of a Curious Dream by John FD Taff What to say to this? It wasn't scary. Mostly it was just sad except towards the end then it was just creepy. I think of it as the movie MaMa... but without the jumpscares and like MaMa wasn't so much as haunting but like... having visitation rights. Weird as hell. Rate: 2.75/5 The Sanguintalist by Gemma Files This would be an AMAZING fantasy story. I would rather read it under that genre and it be longer. It wasn't scary or spooky, a little creepy but that is about it. Rate: 2.5/5 Mrs. Addison’s Nest by Josh Malerman This story was pretty good compared to some of the ones before it. It had horror and creepiness to it. If I could sum it up with a comparison I would say a mix between IT and Caroline. I liked it. Rate: 3/5 Challawa by Usman T Malik Ahh this was magical and horrific. My favorite so far. The husband of the female lead had me feeling some kind of ANGRY. Hate him. Just HATE him and his whole existence. The narrator and writing of this story was impactful. Rate: 5/5 Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate by John Langan This one seemed longer than the others but it was pretty creepy and disturbing. I think my jaw dropped once. This one dealt with a Native American creature. I love the details the author gave it. The gore in it was just right as well. Rate: 3.75/5

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    3.75 stars Dark Stars is a collection of horror stories that branch out in to many different horror subgenres. Taff set out to create an anthology that was reminiscent of older horror anthologies. I believe he did well here. There are a lot of different subgenres represented in Dark Stars. There are twelve different stories by some authors I've read before, and some I've never heard of before, and some in between. There's psychological horror in the case of Caroline Kepnes's The Attentionist, ghos 3.75 stars Dark Stars is a collection of horror stories that branch out in to many different horror subgenres. Taff set out to create an anthology that was reminiscent of older horror anthologies. I believe he did well here. There are a lot of different subgenres represented in Dark Stars. There are twelve different stories by some authors I've read before, and some I've never heard of before, and some in between. There's psychological horror in the case of Caroline Kepnes's The Attentionist, ghost stories with Chesya Burke's Trinity River's Blues, and monster stories including Alma Katsu's The Familiar's Assistant. With all anthologies, I didn't love every story. There were some stories that seemed like they needed to be expanded upon, and some that were just boring. Overall, the ratings of this collection came out to 3.8, which I'm rounding around to 4 for Goodreads, and 3.75 for Storygraph. Some of my favorites out of this collection include: -Papa Eye by Priya Sharma -All the Things He Called Memories by Stephen Graham Jones -Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream by John F.D. Taff -The Sanguinalist by Gemma Files A few authors in this collection I've never read before, but now I'm going to seek out more of their work: Priya Sharma, Livia Llewellyn, Chesya Burke, John F.D. Taff, and Gemma Files. Some authors I have read before and was glad to read again are Caroline Kepnes, Stephen Graham Jones, and John Langan. I definitely recommend this collection to both those new to horror and those who have been reading horror for decades. There's something in this collection for everyone. Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Nightfire for the chance to read this advanced review copy. CW: animal death/cruelty, miscarriage, sexual assault, eating disorders, self-harm, and fatphobia

  23. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    There is nothing I enjoy more than discovering an anthology that has authors I know and love, along with some who are new to me. Dark Star is a collection of twelve stories written during that trying year,a/k/a 2020. I like to read short stories between books as sort of a palate cleanser. While it took me a while to finish, these were all unique tales. The thing that impressed me the most was how each author grabbed my attention on the first page. That is not an easy skill to master and I have gi There is nothing I enjoy more than discovering an anthology that has authors I know and love, along with some who are new to me. Dark Star is a collection of twelve stories written during that trying year,a/k/a 2020. I like to read short stories between books as sort of a palate cleanser. While it took me a while to finish, these were all unique tales. The thing that impressed me the most was how each author grabbed my attention on the first page. That is not an easy skill to master and I have given really good reviews to books that have taken me 50-100 pages to hook me. But this is all about the stories and I thought I would highlight my three favorites. All These Things He Called Memories by Stephen Graham Jones had me convinced the story was headed in one specific direction. Then, holy sewing machines, it turned into something I did not see coming. A couple alone at home during the pandemic and their memories. Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream by the editor F.D. Taff. A widower and his young son are trying to move on after cancer took Hildy(their wife and mother). But on their way to a fresh start, they find out that she isn't quite done yet. Creepy, so creepy! Volcano by Livia Llewellyn was new to me author. A perpetual and aimless college student gets a summer job on campus, sewing curtains and cushions. Deep in the bowels of the university, she finds what she has always been looking for. I have read this one three times and I am still not sure I get its meaning and each time I have picked up on something else. Kudos to the author for really making me think. I will be glad when I start seeing other people posting about this collection on bookstagram because it is definitely worth having someone to talk them over with.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jody Blanchette

    In the foreword, Josh Malerman states that “horror is having a moment”. I think this statement is very true. Horror is making a come back, in so many new ways with so many new writers. Horror has grown branches of sub genre, stretching its reach to readers who wouldn’t normally read it. It’s been so much fun to read and discover these new dark thoughts, and even more fun when they’re all together in one book. Dark Stars is a horror anthology that contains short stories written by some of todays In the foreword, Josh Malerman states that “horror is having a moment”. I think this statement is very true. Horror is making a come back, in so many new ways with so many new writers. Horror has grown branches of sub genre, stretching its reach to readers who wouldn’t normally read it. It’s been so much fun to read and discover these new dark thoughts, and even more fun when they’re all together in one book. Dark Stars is a horror anthology that contains short stories written by some of todays greatest writers. Stephen Graham Jones, Josh Malerman, and even Caroline Kepnes, contributed to the book. Each writer brings a different approach at horror, touching those sub genres. Cannibalism, Vampires, stalkers, and unstable reality are a few of the horrors we encounter. Some are gory, some are scary, some just mess with your head. All of them are great. The one thing I hate about anthologies, is that the stories are too short. By the time I’m invested and wanting more, it’s over. A few of these should definitely be made into longer books.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

    "Dark Stars" is a diverse collection of stories that run the gamut between quiet, creeping dread and heart-in-mouth terror; a wonderful assortment of authors are represented here and not a single story feels same-samey against the others. We have vampires, we have ghosts, we have cosmic horror, we have pandemic mental instability! As with all anthologies, I enjoyed some stories more than others, and this is one of those titles that seems to stack all its best work in the second half rather than "Dark Stars" is a diverse collection of stories that run the gamut between quiet, creeping dread and heart-in-mouth terror; a wonderful assortment of authors are represented here and not a single story feels same-samey against the others. We have vampires, we have ghosts, we have cosmic horror, we have pandemic mental instability! As with all anthologies, I enjoyed some stories more than others, and this is one of those titles that seems to stack all its best work in the second half rather than the first. My favorite tale in this is absolutely Stephen Graham Jones's take on how the COVID pandemic erodes the work/play boundaries; it was creepy, the characters were both charming and frightening, and it utterly hooked me. I also enjoyed Alma Katsu's desperate and frightening vampire story, and Gemma Files is always an amazing writer.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aina

    4.5 stars! Dark Stars is an excellent anthology featuring 12 amazing horror stories. Seriously, there’s not a single dud in here. It’s hard for me to choose a favourite because I enjoyed them all. Some of them I still think about because they’re so creepy. I’ve selected a few stories to highlight but really, read them all! • “All The Things He Called Memories” (Stephen Graham Jones) - A couple deals with being stuck at home during the pandemic by reliving their scariest memories. • “A Life In Nig 4.5 stars! Dark Stars is an excellent anthology featuring 12 amazing horror stories. Seriously, there’s not a single dud in here. It’s hard for me to choose a favourite because I enjoyed them all. Some of them I still think about because they’re so creepy. I’ve selected a few stories to highlight but really, read them all! • “All The Things He Called Memories” (Stephen Graham Jones) - A couple deals with being stuck at home during the pandemic by reliving their scariest memories. • “A Life In Nightmares” (Ramsey Campbell) - A mind-bending trip through nightmarish scenes and a man struggling to keep his sanity. • “The Attentionist” (Caroline Kepnes) - A teenage girl receives creepy phone calls at home, leading to horrifying consequences. • “Mrs. Addison’s Nest” (Josh Malerman) - Four friends saw their teacher’s true self and years later they have to face her… if only they can remember. • “Challawa” (Usman T. Malik) - A woman returns to her home country and gets more than she bargained for. Read this book and say hello to your new nightmares! Thank you to the publisher for a review copy. book blog | twitter | instagram

  27. 4 out of 5

    Allison Glasgow

    It was an unexpected surprise to be sent an e-ARC of Dark Stars, and for that I am so grateful and send many thanks to Jordan Hanley @ Tor Nightfire & Netgalley, (Can we all agree that Tor Nightfire is the BEST!?) Dark Stars is a tribute to horror’s long-standing short fiction legacy. This anthology features 11 terrifying novelettes from today’s most noteworthy authors, edited by John F.D. Taff, with an introduction by Josh Malerman. The introduction, alone, was a masterpiece! TBH, it was probabl It was an unexpected surprise to be sent an e-ARC of Dark Stars, and for that I am so grateful and send many thanks to Jordan Hanley @ Tor Nightfire & Netgalley, (Can we all agree that Tor Nightfire is the BEST!?) Dark Stars is a tribute to horror’s long-standing short fiction legacy. This anthology features 11 terrifying novelettes from today’s most noteworthy authors, edited by John F.D. Taff, with an introduction by Josh Malerman. The introduction, alone, was a masterpiece! TBH, it was probably my favorite part of this anthology! SO well done and well said! As with any anthology, I loved some stories more than others. Overall I thought they all had something unique to offer! Whether it was a slow burn psychological terror or trippy cosmic horror, there is truly something for everyone.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    I'm spending my days tracking down every Stephen Graham Jones story now, so obviously I'm all over this Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review. I'm spending my days tracking down every Stephen Graham Jones story now, so obviously I'm all over this Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dirty Dayna

    This is going to be a book i review many times so each book can have its rating The Attentionist—Caroline Kepnes 5* I loved this cruel bully story. It was very jeepers creepers someone in your house kind of story. And it was crazy beliveable talk about heebiee jeebie... yup now bookmarking this author i must read her Also excellent narrator to this A Life in Nightmares—Ramsey Campbell 3* I liked the creepy vibes of seeing the evil of the world before it happens I just don't think I connected enough to This is going to be a book i review many times so each book can have its rating The Attentionist—Caroline Kepnes 5* I loved this cruel bully story. It was very jeepers creepers someone in your house kind of story. And it was crazy beliveable talk about heebiee jeebie... yup now bookmarking this author i must read her Also excellent narrator to this A Life in Nightmares—Ramsey Campbell 3* I liked the creepy vibes of seeing the evil of the world before it happens I just don't think I connected enough to the characters to get invested. They felt a bit flat Papa Eye—Priya Sharma 3.5* This was mysterious and world building. I felt it was enhanced by many cultures, beliefs and walks of life. I loved the diversity. It took a bit to get to the story but when it developed it was really good and enjoyable. I was actually sad when it was over. Volcano—Livia Llewellyn 5* Love how realistic the main character is. She cusses and keeps it real that sometimes it's all kinda of sh*t. Love how creative and riveting it stayed throughout! All the Things He Called Memories—Stephen Graham Jones 3* This one seems to be a huge fan favorite but for me it just wasn't enough. It's a covid meets trapped meets mad scientist but I love the idea better than the story Trinity River Blues—Chesya Burke 3.5* Love the way it starts narrator pulls you into a believable story. Who doesn't like another story of the dead right ?? This book is more spooky than scary and its written well. The Familiar's Assistant—Alma Katsu 3* Ooh a vampire story and a unique one at that. Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream—John F.D. Taff 4* This needs to be a full book end of.. this was great ! The Sanguintalist—Gemma Files 3* Okay this series brought me a mage I love me some magic but it’s a strange story about travels and restroom horror.. for me it was okay Mrs. Addison’s Nest—Josh Malerman 3* This could be a full blown novel and the amount of description, world building and character development was too much for how short this was which led to confusion and misdevelopment. Challawa—Usman T. Malik 4* I really like that this series is not just based in America because this one is in Pakistan and really talks folk horror which is very scary and very believed. Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate—John Langan 5* Why was the best saved for last here sad face this had all the elements needed in horro and even story building. It’s a yes for me!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    The stories in Dark Stars are great examples of how vast the range of horror can really be. Every story gave me something to sit and think about, and even had me going back to re-read a few. This is a brand-new anthology featuring some of the biggest names in horror right now. The featured authors in Dark Stars are: Caroline Kepnes, Ramsey Campbell, Priya Sharma, Livia Llewellyn, Stephen Graham Jones, Chesya Burke, Alma Katsu, John F.D. Taff, Gemma Files, Josh Malerman, Usman T. Malik, and John The stories in Dark Stars are great examples of how vast the range of horror can really be. Every story gave me something to sit and think about, and even had me going back to re-read a few. This is a brand-new anthology featuring some of the biggest names in horror right now. The featured authors in Dark Stars are: Caroline Kepnes, Ramsey Campbell, Priya Sharma, Livia Llewellyn, Stephen Graham Jones, Chesya Burke, Alma Katsu, John F.D. Taff, Gemma Files, Josh Malerman, Usman T. Malik, and John Langan. All who provide horror stories that go beyond the scares. I usually pick up an anthology when I see that an author I like is being included and the bonus is getting to read from other authors I might not be familiar with. With this anthology, though, all of the authors are big names in horror or dark fantasy. I usually keep horror anthologies to read a short story between books. This is an anthology I could sit and read the stories back to back without it getting repetitive because it isn’t a themed anthology. Each story is completely its own. My personal favorite stories from this anthology include: Chesya Burke’s “Trinity River Blues”, Gemma Files’s “The Sanguintalist”, John Langan’s “Enough for Hunger and Enough for hate”, Josh Malerman’s “Mrs. Addison’s Nest”, and Usman T. Malik’s “Challawa”. All of these authors continue to push the boundaries of what is considered horror and also how it can be every bit as literary and academic as other genres. I would recommend this anthology to people who love horror, of course, but also anyone who enjoys deep short stories that pack a lot to mull over.

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