- Paperback: 285 pages
- Publisher: Books & Boos Press; 1 edition (February 28, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0692609571
- ISBN-13: 978-0692609576
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,732,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Echoes of Darkness Paperback – February 28, 2016
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About the Author
Rob Smales is the author of DEAD OF WINTER, which won the Superior Achievement in Dark Fiction Award from Firbolg Publishing’s Gothic Library in 2014. His short stories have been published in two dozen anthologies and magazines. His story “Photo Finish” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won the Preditors & Editors’ Readers Choice Award for Best Horror Short Story of 2012. Most recently, his story “A Night at the Show” received an honorable mention on Ellen Datlow’s list of the Best Horror of 2014, and was also nominated as best short story by the eFestival of Words in 2015. More about his work can be found at RobSmales.com, thestoryside.com, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Robert.T.Smales.
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Echoes of Darkness is a baker's dozen of high caliber horror shorts; some have been published elsewhere and several are new to this collection.
I can't say I've read a lot of Rob Smales writing, but this collection has propelled him to the top of my list of writers to keep an eye on. His stories are compelling, entertaining, and on occasion, horrific.
Death of the Boy - Nothing like a solid zombie story, with a western flair, right from the get go.
A Night At the Show - A night out at the movies is full of surprises. A nasty little tale with multiple twists and turns.
In Full Measure - Another great little story featuring a plague of biblical proportions, described in enough detail to make your skin crawl. Followed by a chilling author's note.
Those Little Bastards - A fun little Halloween tale. "That's the bad thing about holidays - Halloween in particular. The holidays bring people together. but Halloween brings the children together, and that's when things get bad, in my opinion."
Maxwell's Silver Hammer - A story brimming with delightful twists. An untested drug yields miraculous results, but then...
Photo Finish - An old Polaroid camera purchased at a pawn shop, some long expired film, yield a story straight out of The Twilight Zone.
A Man Does What's Right - A werewolf story chock full of surprises.
One Sock, Two Socks - If you've ever lost a sock in the process of doing your laundry, you'll certainly relate to this one.
Mutes - An imaginative tale of an EMT who has a touch of the "sight."
On Cats and Crazy Ladies - Clever story of the time Billy and Dagner Rob set out to rob a wealthy cat lady. The story behind how Dagner Rob got his name is a gem.
Ma Liang's Crayons - A modern-day incarnation of an ancient Chinese legend.
Wendigo - Probably the grittiest story in the collection, about the sole survivor of the crash of a small plane. The author did a wonderful job of showing the deterioration of the survivor's senses, over time.
Playmate Wanted - What happens when a serial killer chooses the wrong victim.
Echoes of Darkness is available in both paperback and e-book formats from Books & Boos Press. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read this one at no additional charge and if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE through the Kindle Owners Lending Library.
Rob Smales is the author of Dead of Winter, which won the Superior Achievement in Dark Fiction Award from Firbolg Publishing's Gothic Library in 2014. Echoes of Darkness is his first collection
I don’t read a lot of horror, but I found Echoes of Darkness deeply enjoyable. Rob Smales takes conventional monsters and renders them into chilling tales just twisted enough to keep you guessing, or he presents brand-new monsters awful enough to turn your stomach. But with every story, he makes his reader small and vulnerable. He has the ability to make you weak enough to remember what it feels like to fear the monster under the bed. These stories are almost primal. They speak to the hair on the nape of your neck. You might devour this book, but you won’t realize how frightening the stories were until they’re keeping you up at night.
Rob is an award-winning horror writer, so besides making terrifying little stories, he also makes well-crafted prose so easy to digest you won’t realize how quickly you’re reading this book. I got through it in a couple of hours, but I wish I’d spent more time with it. Each story is different enough from the others that you might need to take some time to digest them.
Thankfully I was wrong, and I now entirely take back that judgmental groan.
I do get a burnt out on the zombie genre’s tropes and when I started reading this book, it opens with a tale from a zombie apocalypse. It very quickly barrels past the tropey traps through the use of interesting characters. By the time I reached the end of the “chapter” I was invested in the journey of the leading young man, who had just survived a very shocking fishing trip. It was then that I discovered “It’s a short story collection? Sweeeeet.”
At one point in time I knew this, but the beautiful/weird thing about my book review queue is that it’s so long that I forget a book’s description by the time I get to it. I know the author and title, but otherwise, it’s kind of a mystery whenever I get into a new book. In this instance, I was somewhat familiar with today’s author as I’d read a few of his stories in Insanity Tales II and interviewed him at Rock and Shock.
As a whole, once I got past my own zombie-issues, this book was fantastic. When a book does a good job of capturing my attention it will be riddled with bookmarks. This one was by the end as well. Sections jumped out at me asking to be drawn, others I just wanted to quote directly from the book because the language was so beautiful or the moment so deliciously terrifying. There were tons of vivid stand-out moments throughout.
Reading Horror outside of your usual environment
I was traveling this past week and it really change my experience of the book to be reading it while out of my usual haunts. There’s always a certain level of discomfort when you travel. Is the roach-coach motel really safe? Are we actually the only ones with keys to the house we’re renting? Is that noise in the engine normal for planes? (The answer to that one was NO.)
Those kind of basic questions always float through my head while traveling and they colored my experience of the book, in a good way.
What is that in the picture behind you?
The best example of this was when I was reading the story, “Photo Finish.” In this story two kids pick up an old instant Polaroid Camera and start taking pictures with it. When the pictures reveal something moving in on them something that they couldn’t see in real life is when I got entirely freaked out. I was reading in bed, in the dead of night, hearing the occasional noises of tourists outside my window. I was getting so freaked out I could hardly breathe.
The most powerful story in the collection
The one story that is guaranteed to stick with me the longest, is “Mutes.” I don’t want to get too into the details, but here’s a picture I drew of the story. What I will say is that this story was gruesome, masterfully paced to build the tension, and touched upon existential questions of life, death and pain. It was in imaginative concept that felt a little bit like Welcome to Nightvale, without being as playful with the horror.
Plane crashes and planes
I only wish that I had been able to read the entire story of, “Wendigo” while in the air. I started reading it while flying, and reading about a horrific plane crash while flying is guaranteed to make you nervous. On one of my flights I actually did notice one of our engines sounded louder and a bit weird, but figured I was getting jumpy because of the book, until I was exiting the plane and overheard the stewardesses saying, “Yeah, that sounded off. We need to get that checked before we get back in the air.” *Gulp.* Thank goodness you don’t have to read about my actual experience in a plane crash today.
In the fictional one, it starts off as a very realistic story of a survivor. the main character is badly wounded, and the soul survivor of the 3 people who were on board. His reactions to the death of the people around him feel so real and seeing how his mind works as he succumbs to starvation and sub-zero temperatures was powerful. This story was so realistically written that I was wondering when the Samles twist was going to come in. It eventually did, but the route that twist took- surprised me.
If you enjoy reading a tight collection of short stories that will make you question where the echoes of darkness linger in the world around you, then you will love this book as much as I did. Fans of “Everything Here is a Nightmare” by Nelson W. Plyes will feel right at home in these stories.