13: Tales of Dark Fiction is without a doubt the most important book of the year. Not only does it feature my story “Desperate Measures”, a solid little post-apocalyptic tale, although I do say so myself, it also features my story alongside some of my heroes.
13: Tales of Dark Fiction is a marvellous book, and I’ll tell you why…
It starts off with a Bigfoot story set during the American Civil War by Zombie/Bigfoot master Eric S. Brown. Bigfoot plus war equals great fun, the story packs a punch and a half.
The second story, entitled “Dirty Story”, is by Gary McMahon. Do I need say more? McMahon is a genius. His stories are brutally honest, heart-wrenching, and hurt like no one else’s. His stories are darker, more disturbing, more menacing than anyone’s except may be Stephen King on his best day, and deeply wounding to the reader. McMahon is my hero, and always will be for the masterpiece of horror fiction that Pretty Little Dead Things.
Alan Spencer has been a regular contributor to Morpheus Tales since the beginning and he always produces good solid fiction. With his story in 13 he has outdone himself. “If You Lay Here Quiet Next to Me” is a masterly tale, subtle and spooky, with an underlying menace that lingers long after you finish reading.
Next comes my story. I can’t say much, just read it for yourselves.
“The Tax Collector” by Tommy B. Smith reminds me of Jonah Hex and Joe R. Lansdale’s stories, which is high praise indeed. This ghostly western is tense and atmospheric. Tommy edited both the Dark Sorcery Special and the Urban Horror Special (in which he published my story “Shoot Out”) and like Alan has been published in Morpheus Tales magazine several times.
William R.D. Wood’s “Organ Grinder” is a fun tale of death and brutality. There’s a level of intelligent nastiness here which is creepy. You’ve gotta love it! I will never see to the circus/fun fair in the same light again.
I was massively impressed with Fred Venturini’s novel The Samaritan. It is an incredible story which tugs at the heart-strings, and makes you read on to find out what disturbing and twisted thing is going to happen next. His story “The Machine” returns to a classic theme of dangerous science. Clever ideas and a good amount of tension make this story difficult to put-down.
Matt Leyshon is working on a collection for Morpheus Tales. His stories are thick with atmosphere, and his writing is heavily stylised, his world drips with filth and decay. “To Hear a New World” wraps you up in the music, twists and spins you into insanity.
“Whatever It Takes” By Joseph D’Lacey is a story every writer can understand. The author of MEAT and The Garbage Man offers a unique and insightful perspective on the horrors of writing, and what writers are prepared to do to get where they want to be. Another tales that lingers.
I first became aware of Andrew Hook from his exceptional small-press imprint Elastic Press, which published some great collections, including the amazingly memorable Gareth L. Powell’s The Last Reef. Sadly Andrew closed down Elastic Press, fortunately it was to concentrate on his writing. “Wounder” is a very smooth and subtle addition to the book, a twisted urban fantasy that creeps under your skin.
“Mongrel Days” by the powerhouse that is Andy Remic is a twisted SF story. As you would expect, there is full-on (FULL-ON!!!) action and adventure, with a dark underlying menace just beneath the surface. Remic is a demented genius, seemingly at home writing thrillers, horror, SF or fantasy. It is for his fantasy trilogy the Clockwork Vampire Chronicles, and particularly Kell The Legend, that I will always love him (in a manly non-sexual way!), for making me feel as excited as a four year old again.
Shaun Jeffrey’s novel The Kult is a cracking crime/thriller/horror novel. For his contribution to 13 he provides a nasty story of greed and revenge.
The final story that makes up 13 is Gary Fry’s “The Watchers at Work”. I first read Fry’s Spectral Press chapbook Abolisher of Roses, a subtle and engaging story. “The Watchers at Work” is the longest story in the book, but Fry knows how to make every word count. He builds the tension and atmosphere like a conductor with an orchestra. Expertly written, it makes you feel exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. A great story to end an impressive collection.
13 has been a labour of love for its editor, and the passion shines through. 13: Tales of Dark Fiction is a remarkable anthology, and I am ever so grateful to be a part of it alongside some great names and amazing stories.
13: Tales of Dark Fiction
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