It is a well-documented fact that I have studied horror serials on television (and the results of the study are also well-known). So, it was but natural that I wanted to get my hands on Dark Tales volume 11 (edited by Sean Jeffery).
Horror genre fans would find themselves familiar with the underlying concepts in this book. The topics are mostly conventional, from unnatural botanical experiments to medical experiments gone wrong. People find themselves going from casual interest to obsession with fatal results, and terrible fetishes surface. Ancient artefacts and places are also present in the stories, reminiscent of environs and artefacts of Cthulhu (in a good way).
And sitting amid these horror tales is an almost romantic tale of a boy who sees faces. And as you can imagine for horror genre, some of the stories can easily be turned into comedy or romantic or some other kind of tale, if you take out the horror component out.
But it is not the subjects chosen for the stories that leave you disturbed.
From what I have read and seen, in horror stories, the perpetrators are either victims of the conditions around them, or want to commit horrible acts. So, while Mr. Hyde cannot help doing what he does, Count Dracula would go to any limits to get more “food”. Leaving “wanting to survive” as motive aside, these villains either couldn’t help themselves, or gloated and were happy in their acts.
And this is where the characters in the stories in this volume differ from others I have read about. For most part (apart from a conventional horror tale or two), the heinous acts in these horror stories are not committed because somebody has to survive or because somebody would gain twisted pleasure out of it.
The perpetrators go around doing those things, because it is just as natural to them as breathing. They don’t think they are doing anything wrong, or unnatural, and for most part are as logical and “normal” sounding as the next person you would cross in the street. They can easily mingle with the average crowd, and you wouldn’t know that the person sitting next to you has bodies in his backyard.
And that is what makes the tales truly “horror” in my book. e.g. start reading the tale of a would-be vampire, and his chronicle is almost as cool and logical as somebody talking about his cooking experiments or his college days. And that level-headed telling of the story is what really causes the goose-bumps.
All in all, if you like to read while goosebumps roam free, if you like to read just to be spooked, and if you cannot keep your eyes away from the book even when you are scared/disgusted/horrified, this collection is for you.
Quote of The Day:
We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.
– Johann von Goethe
Received for review via and Cross-posted on Blogcritics.