btd2cvrBeware the Dark Issue #2
Paul Frye, Editor
Short, Scary Tales Publications
ISBN 978-1-909640-18-4
May, 2014, £7.95 PB
Reviewed by Alex Scully

 

Paul Fry’s UK-based magazine Beware the Dark is in its second edition, and like issue #1, this one is packed with dark and sinister horror. From short stories to full-color artwork, Fry spares nothing in the quality of his publication.

Issue #2 is dedicated to writer Tom Piccirilli. In Fry’s editorial, he discusses his introduction to Piccirilli’s work. For those who do not know, Tom Piccirilli is battling cancer. Support has been tremendous, and Fry decided to explore Piccirilli’s work as the support grew.  He was “mesmerized,” and when issue #2 went into planning, there was little question as to the direction of the content. There are three new stories from Tom Piccirilli, as well as tributes from Ed Gorman, Norman Partridge, Jack Ketchum, Nancy Kilpatrick, and many others. The fully illustrated issue is rounded out with a number of other stories, as well.

Issue #2 is an eclectic mix of tales. Themes of redemption, guilt, and revenge feature heavily in this edition. While every story is an excellent read, a few stand-outs include Tom Piccirilli’s “At the Mercy of Angry Angels,” a dark, Gothic-tinged story with a sinister twist on the traditional religious perspectives of angels as merciful creatures. Soulless entities, they rage against God’s chosen ones–humanity. The ending presents a disturbing choice, either hope or destruction, and leaves the reader pondering the possibilities. “The Black Dress,” by T.T. Zuma, is a ghost story, noir tale, and revenge story all wrapped into one. Hints of fedoras and pin-stripe suits lurk in the shadows of this supernatural crime thriller. The plot is the straightforward husband-sick-of-wife murder narrative, but the ghost-revenge aspect breathes new life into a well-used storyline and keeps the reader on edge until the bizarre and chilling ending. Eric Red’s “Pack Rat” is a frightening examination of hoarders of the most evil sort. Blending a real-life crime scenario with the supernatural, Red keeps readers on a tightrope of suspense until the final paragraph’s horrifying conclusion.

The non-fiction pieces are as engaging and effective as the short stories. The tributes to Tom Piccirilli are moving. Piccirilli’s “Meeting the Black” is raw, intense, and powerful. Ray Garton’s essay on writing and reading is critical for any author, new or established. Garton argues that, “You can’t write if you don’t read.” You learn the art through reading; not only your own genre, but “even stuff you don’t particularly want to read.” The issue is rounded out with interviews, editorials, reviews, and plenty of fine artwork.

Magazines are a challenge in today’s market. Paul Fry’s Beware the Dark is a bold move, and he makes it work. The writing is superb and the layout is outstanding. The diverse selections, from short stories to essays, give the magazine a unique pacing, and I look forward to future issues of Beware the Dark.

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