May 26, 2014; $19.19 PB, $6.19 eBook
Reviewed by Matthew Scott Baker
I can finally state with utmost certainty that I have officially read the best horror anthology of 2014 thus far: DARKNESS AD INFINITUM, the first horror anthology from Villipede Publications. This collection of masterfully crafted tales will keep you up at night, trembling under your covers as you pray for daylight. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed every single story this much in a single anthology; I even reread a couple of them just for fun after I had finished the book! That is a true testament to the abundance of talent contained within this collection.
If you are not familiar with DARKNESS AD INFINITUM, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Villipede Publications:
Villipede Publications’ first horror and dark speculative fiction anthology will tenderly caress your amygdalae and viciously twist your imagination. With fifteen short stories and four poems from both established and upcoming authors, this haunting collection will force readers to reevaluate their thoughts on what darkness really is: something we’re all born of yet perpetually trying to flee; a malevolent force that desires our servitude or destruction–or something that simply wishes to lock us in its cold, scaly, fathomless grip. Or perhaps, even, it’s an asylum for our jittery minds and confused hearts–a place of solace where humans may patiently inspect their primal natures and desires…a place where the barriers between monster and man begin to shift and break down. The authors’ origins span the breadth of the globe: the UK, Greece, Australia, Sweden, the US–and their stories are just as diverse. While the styles and subject matter of the stories may differ greatly, what is consistent is the dedication each author has harnessed to create unique fiction and scenarios of bewitching caliber. Holding Darkness Ad Infinitum in your trembling hands, you may find yourself faced with a simple ultimatum: Do you turn around and embrace the darkness of your own free will…or will it embrace you first?
Just writing this review gets me juiced to read this anthology again. Even now, two days after I finished it, a couple of the stories are still resonating with me. Talk about residual effects!
Every story in DARKNESS AD INFINITUM is woven together by a master artist who has taken great care in the construction of his or her masterpiece. These tales are written very well and are intertwined in a sense, thanks to an overarching storyline that is set up at the beginning of the book. I love this concept, as it reminds me of horror film anthologies such as V/H/S.
The book itself looks amazing as well; the cover art is courtesy of Wednesday Wolf, and it is nothing short of terrifying. While simplistic in design, it strikes a primal nerve within the brain that has the same power as a punch to the throat. The interior design is elegant and unnerving, a true compliment to the stories themselves. You will enjoy looking at and inside this book as much as you will enjoy reading it.
I have a hard time trying to figure out a favorite story in this collection; they are all that good. One I have to mention is the first story, “Longboat” by Becky Regalado. In this tale, a sailor who has been set adrift on a line in the longboat thanks to his drunken ways, watches in horror as strange creatures overtake the main ship. But the creatures are more than they seem…and the horror of the truth will force him into a drastic decision. The dark atmosphere Regalado sets within the story is simply stunning; it is pitched and lonely, exactly the way I would assume being alone in a vast ocean must be like. Regalado is definitely a writer to watch out for.
As is every author in this collection, for that matter. DARKNESS AD INFINITUM is one hell of an anthology, and I recommend everyone get a copy immediately. You won’t be disappointed. And if you are, then you simply must hate good horror fiction.