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Silent Screams: An Anthology of Socially Conscious Dark Fiction Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
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Admittedly, I am not a typical fan of dark fiction, but I was intrigued by what might be meant be "socially conscious dark fiction". I found, as I was reading many of these stories, a sense of horror and disgust arising (something I am not typically accustomed to with my standard literary diet), and there were times I had to put the book down to digest this new fare. As I thought about what I had read, I came to the realization that this is a great medium for helping the reader to have a visceral reaction to real-life horrors that we often turn a blind eye to. I SHOULD should be supremely disgusted by human trafficking, the epidemic of eating disorders, and the exploitation of impoverished people (among the many other issues highlighted by this book).
I found the selection in Silent Screams to be a well-crafted anthology of stories that are designed to make readers think deeply about the world they live in. Although many of the selections are dark and horror-inducing, there are a few delightful pieces that make good use of humor and levity as well.
I highly recommend this book for both those who love dark and speculative fiction, as well as those who, like me, want to add a little variety to their bookshelf.
One thing I would like to make perfectly clear about this anthology: it’s rough. Not as in it’s a solid first attempt by a new editor. It’s rough in the sense that a lot of its stories carry that specific kind of cruelty in what I like to call ‘clinging’ horror stories. Stories that tend to leave you feeling sad, alienated or just make you cringe in horror long after you’ve put down the book.
From stories about casual child-on-child abuse to tales from perpetual African civil wars to a short tale of a creature that was never meant to be, Silent Screams boasts a lot of horrific variety without resorting to any of the usual cliches in horror fiction. Yes, a few of the stories lean toward some good old tropes, but the authors have done a great job with turning them on their heads.
There might be readers that could be turned away by the byline however: “socially-concious dark fiction” did sound preachy when I got my hands on the copy but I was pleasantly surprised. The editor did a good job of picking smart, subtle stories that hammer their point home without bashing you over the head with it. Emory Watts has also done a stellar job with the interior art and the anthology’s haunting cover.
Some of the stories were a bit on the nose, however. It makes sense, since subtlety is something that takes skill, but even those stories did have a solid narrative and a good plot with a lot of creepy scenes thrown in.
So if you’ve had your fill of conventional Lovecraftian terror and want to try something other than regular old horror, give Silent Screams a try. It will be worth your time.
** DOWN BUT NOT OUT AT THE END OF THE WORLD by LISA MORTON
** THE HEATED DOOR by JAMES VAN PELT
** MRS. LEARY'S HOME FOR THE LIVING IMPAIRED by SEAN M. DAVIS
** HAND by CHANTAL BOUDREAU
** FRANKS by GARTH UPSHAW
** A PRESENTATION TO THE IMPERIAL SOCIETY OF MANCERS by STEPHEN S. POWER
** THE UNTELEPATHIC MAN by IGOR TEPER
Overall: Four-and-a-half out of Five stars
Therefore, I was expecting a bunch of psychological horror, real-world plausible stuff, human monsters, killers, abuse, cruelty, the could-happens ... and found myself surprised by the number of them featuring more fantastical elements. Not necessarily a bad thing, just, also not necessarily matching that initial set-up. Anyway, fantastical elements aside, the emotions and experiences are what counts, and those were satisfyingly effective.
This time, I ended up with two tied-for-top fave picks. One is Igor Teper's "The Untelepathic Man," an unusual exploration of disability and difference, understanding. empathy, and society. Imagine being the only person in your community lacking a vital skill or major sense; what would that be like for you? What would it be like for everyone around you?
The other tied-for-fave is "The Words That Bite" by Frederick Obermeyer, an unusual apocalypse for everyone who ever got tired of the old 'sticks and stones' adage, in which the full destructive potential of words get unleashed, and what you say really can come back to bite you.
Other standouts include Helen Catan-Prugl's "The Lady in the Billboard," "Tyrant's Fall" by Andrew M. Seddon, "Moretta" by Aurora Torchia, "My Secret Thorns" by Rebecca Birch, and Chantal Boudreau's "Hand."
I also really liked Garth Upshaw's clever twist on some tropes in "Franks," though it ended much too soon; I'd definitely want to read more or longer works set in that world.
All in all, a nice variety, many more hits than misses as far as I'm concerned. Some new names to watch out for, too. Definitely worth a look.