Edited by Shawna L. Bernard, Matt Edginton, Alandice A. Anderson, Michael Parker
May 26, 2014; $19.19 PB, $6.19 eBook
Reviewed by Josh Black
Consisting of fifteen stories, four poems, and a bounty of darkly evocative illustrations (full color in the eBook version), Darkness Ad Infinitum is the first horror anthology from Villipede Publications.
Founded in 2011, Villipede is a publisher for which written art and visual art have always been strongly intertwined. On a purely physical level, DAI is a pleasure to behold. With its dark and tattered aesthetic accentuated by a splash of crimson, the cover by Wednesday Wolf sets the tone. After more wonderfully grotesque artwork (most notably on the title page), the anthology begins with a brief introduction in the form of a story that explains the infinite darkness referred to in the title. Then come the stories proper, each one accompanied by an original illustration by one of ten artists. The well-suited pictures accompanying each story are impressive in their detail.
The horror between these pages is predominantly of the insidious, creeping variety, its encroachment gradual but eventually all-encompassing. As modern as it may be, it’s horror in the old-fashioned vein, perfect for reading by a crackling fire on a windswept night. Lovecraftian strains pair well with surrealistic nightmares. Madness looms, whether it be religious, familial, or chemical in nature. Places people were never meant to set foot in beckon with dark temptation.
A considerable number of stories involve weird houses or uncanny occurrences in seemingly ordinary ones. Fans of this particular trope will be duly satisfied, and there’s enough variation that it doesn’t come across as redundant. Other stories run the gamut of subjects, from deadly subterranean creatures to a modern take on Pinocchio, to ruthless skinwalkers and cannibals hiding in plain sight.
The poems interspersed between the longer pieces are best absorbed with logic set aside. Their imagery and word choice serve to unsettle, and they’re a welcome addition to (though certainly not a break from) the dread to be found in the stories.
It’s obvious just picking the book up and flipping through its pages that a lot of time, energy and care went into it. From the typesetting to the illustrations to the stories themselves, and even the author bios, Darkness Ad Infinitum is a true work of art. As far as anthologies go, it’s a fair bet that most horror fans will be pleased with this one. Recommended.