Saturday, 14 February 2015

Dark Book Review – Death’s Realm

Dark Book Review – Death’s Realm

Written By Casey Douglass


Death’s Realm Cover

Death’s Realm is the latest horror anthology from Grey Matter Press. It features sixteen tales that investigate what might happen when we expire and where we might end up after the event, many looking on the darker side of the available possibilities.

Whether we choose to think about it or not, somewhere ahead of each of us on this road of life is a dark intersection where everyone will certainly arrive,” said Anthony Rivera, Grey Matter Press publisher and DEATH’S REALM editor. “It’s this much-dreaded and deeply mysterious convergence between life and death where the exceptional horror stories in DEATH’S REALM take place.”

I’ve read a fair number of Grey Matter Press’ anthologies and have come to know a little of what to expect, the twisted vistas, the warped characters and The Outer Limits style unhappy endings. Does Death’s Realm deliver another dose of what ails you? Read on to find out.

First, a brief summary of the stories:

Omniscopic by Rhoads Brazos – A lovely dark science tale that made my skin scrawl. Sometimes, scientific techniques reveal things better left unseen and unknown.

Some Other Day by John F.D. Taff – A unique way of showing that loss can cause all manner of problems if it isn't expressed properly.

Haunter by Hank Schwaeble – What happens while you sleep? Normal things I would imagine, but imagine if ghastly things happened! This story paints that picture.

Burial Suit by John C. Foster – An ex-con decides that his dead father mustn’t go to the next life alone; with bloody consequences for a number of people.

Nine by Aaron Polson – Two children and their anthropologist mother struggle to come to terms with loss, especially when it seems to entwine with her studies of a lost tribe.

Penumbra by Jay Caselberg – A tale following the efforts of a dead man to contact the ‘loved one’ he left behind. Flights of fancy and things not being all they seem make this a great read.

Foxhole by JG Faherty – Futuristic jungle warfare and companionship as two friends cross more than physical borders in their journey home.

Drowning by Gregory L. Norris – Water and the fear of drowning haunt a Titanic survivor to such a degree that his whole life is tainted by the fear of them and the ghosts they contain.

The Weight by Jane Brooks – Emotional and psychic baggage is given sinister form in this tale of one woman’s struggle for life.

Harder You Fall by Brian Fatah Steele – Necromancy and an uneasy association with your mentor all merge in this story of deceit and corruption.

Mirrorworld by Martin Rose – A Satanist tricks a man into becoming another item of curiosity in his apartment.

March Hays by Matthew Pegg – Convalescing after WWII, a man discovers that a place he knew as child has become the domicile of strange beings.

High Art by Karen Runge and Simon Dewar – A man who loses his wife is enjoying life now that she’s gone. He soon comes to regret his part in things however.

A Pirate’s Ransom by Jay O’Shea – Pirates get far more than they bargained for on an old abandoned freighter.

To Touch The Dead by Paul Michael Anderson – A psychic reader examines objects from the lives of the deceased and gets far more than he expected.

You Only Die Once by Stephen Graham Jones – A strange tale of death and waiting complete with bizarre creatures and dark rules.

Thoughts

As was stated at the start, each tale in this collection deals with the afterlife and issues that could arise if certain states and beliefs were true. As a consequence, the tone is unremittingly bleak, as would be expected. Stand-out tales for me were Omniscopic, Penumbra, Foxhole and March Hays.

Ominscopic has the air of ‘mad scientist’ about it, all crackling energies and forces best not tampered with. The descriptive passages that cover the bleak discovery paint a very detailed picture of something truly hideous. I liked it very much.

Penumbra takes place mainly in the wishy-washy fluid-like realm of the dead and is a love story unlike any other I’ve read. The language used and the shifting reality of what is happening make it a riveting read.

I enjoyed Foxhole for its mixture of seemingly traditional jungle warfare with super-advanced weaponry. I enjoyed the narrative as well but the setting won my heart.

Finally, March Hays was another favourite as it’s set in a seemingly normal world before little bits of ‘sinister’ start to creep in. I like it because it anchors the strange to the normal, rather than being disconnected and fluttering free. It’s also a story in which the reader doesn’t see all that is going on until the end.

The other tales are all likeable for varying reasons and I didn't actively dislike any of them. Death’s Realm paints a bleak picture of the afterlife and life in general. This I cannot applaud more. I give Death’s Realm 4/5, an enjoyable trip into realities not really meant to be known, written by authors who have visited them, in mind at least, many times over.

Visit the Grey Matter Press page here for more info.

I was given a free copy of this book for review.

Book Title: Death’s Realm
Book Author: Anthology
Publisher: Grey Matter Press
Released: 3rd December 2014

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