Monday 22 April 2013

For the Night is Dark.

For the Night is Dark is a collection of twenty stories published by Crystal Lake Publishing, a new small press operating out of South Africa and masterminded by author Joe Mynhardt. It's edited by Ross Warren who provides an entertaining introduction to the book which is a chunky little fella, running to over 400 pages.
As the title suggests, the stories are themed around fear of the dark - or at least the majority of them are. It has to be said that in a number of cases the link is a tenuous one (in the sense of tenuous to the point of non-existent) but this shouldn't be held against the book, indeed one of the stories that fall into this category is one of the most enjoyable, A Snitch in Time by Robert W Walker, a tale of hitmen that twists and turns throughout its short length.
The opening story, His Own Personal Golgotha by G N Braun also has tenuous links to the overarching theme and perhaps relies a little too much on imagery for its impact, a case of style over substance. There's a definite change in tone with the next story, Carole Johnston's 21 Brooklands: Next to Old Western, Opposite the Burnt Out Red Lion, which, as well as having the best title of all the stories, firmly establishes the theme of nasty things that happen in the dark.
The horror in these stories comes in many forms, most overtly in Gary McMahon's In the Darkest Room in the Darkest House on the Darkest Part of the Street (the second best title in the book) and Stephen Bacon's Room to Thrive - the latter a story that will definitely grow on you. The dark itself becomes a monster in Jasper Bark's How the Dark Bleeds, a potent blend of arcane rituals and gore. The creepiest story in the collection, and the one that best evokes those childhood fears of the dark as depicted in Ben Baldwin's cover art, is Mr Stix by the ever-consistent Mark West.
Benedict Jones provides another example of his own brand of crime/horror fusion with Hungry is the Dark, a story that transforms the darkness within us all into something a lot more tangible and the collection is rounded off with another cleverly constructed story from the extremely talented Ray Cluley.
For the Night is Dark is a strong collection of stories and bodes well for future publications from Crystal Lake. Joe's enthusiasm for the genre is second to none and I wish him every success in establishing a new outlet for horror writing.