INK STAINS Volume 3
Edited by N. Apythia Morges
February 16, 2017
Dark Alley Press
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis
Wow! This anthology of Dark Fiction really packs a punch! Ten strong stories without a dud in the bunch. This is my first brush with Dark Alley Press and I sure hope it won’t be the last because they are bringing some serious talent to the table. All the stories are told in a definite different style, so you come upon each story feeling fresh. That doesn’t mean there aren’t common themes, though. Quite a few of the stories feature women who have lost children in one way or another. This may be a trademark of Ink Stains or Dark Alley Press and it works well. Especially because women are usually better sensitives of the spiritual than men and suffering a physical loss sharpens that even more.
The closest thing to classic horror in this anthology is “Theater Number Four” by Clint Orr. In this story a couple goes to see a horror flick, which is the one thing they both share an enthusiasm for. They’re kind of expecting the ordinary for the type of movie they have come to see, but being completely alone in the movie theater ratchets up the level of excitement. First it’s kind of fun, until Gary realizes that they might NOT be alone after all. Whatever the thing is sharing the theater with them is, it definitely isn’t friendly.
“Misplaced” by Diane Arrelle is really well done. Annamarie is an older woman who has spent a lot of time in mental institutions and being kept away from society by her mother. According to her mother, this was all done for Annamarie’s “protection.” As the story progresses, we learn different. Oh yeah! Like really, really different. This story has more twists and turns than a corn maze and is twice as creepy. Each time the reader thinks they understand the story – “Just another messed up old geezer with a bad memory, right?” Wrong! I love that Annamarie is addressed as “Miss Place” by the desk clerk of the hotel that the story takes place in because of the dual meaning. Is she the wrong person in the right place? Or is she the right person in the wrong place? You’ve got to read this one!
“Blowing Smoke” by Terry Sanville is a novella that is complex and subtle. The way it just starts with no preamble makes a strong impression of the landscape in your head. It’s interesting because while you are reading the main story in the forefront, there are a lot of funky back stories going on that we get glimpses of floating around in the background. It’s hard to do a lot of description on this one without spoiling things for the reader, so I won’t. This is truly an enjoyable and chilly read. Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction!
I highly recommend this fine collection of stories. Just one word of warning: Make sure to watch the clock. Otherwise you’ll find yourself happy, but sleep deprived! Get it!