Common themes throughout this anthology include death, murder, violence, trauma, and psychological horror. There are also some scenes of abuse, child abuse, animal death, racism, xenophobia, and sociopathy.
I picked the ARC for When Things Get Dark up because I had heard the name Shirley Jackson multiple times this year. I’m not familiar with her work, which might come as a shock to some of you, especially if you’re a big horror fan. I tend to dip in and out of the horror genre, I flirt with it on occasion and read very specific horror subgenres. My main one is urban fantasy, my more specific ones are horror short stories, ghost stories and Victorian horror. In all that mix, I missed Shirley Jackson completely. As a British reader it’s not unusual for me to find that what’s popular or well known to American readers is completely unknown to me.
Either way, you may be wondering why on earth I wanted to read this anthology, since I have never read anything by Shirley Jackson. Well, that’s because this isn’t by Jackson, it’s inspired by her. It’s also an anthology edited by the amazing Ellen Datlow who’s anthologies I’ve read to date have always been brilliant. There are also several authors in this anthology whose work I’m already familiar with. On top of that, horror anthologies are something I love. Inspired by a famous horror author or not, I was going to enjoy something in this anthology, no matter what. Adding all of those up, and it seemed like a good idea to me.
So, how did I get on? I found out that while I may not have had a name for Jackson’s particular brand of horror, I was already well familiar with it. It’s the type of horror that slithers into your mind and under your skin, that makes you ask things because the story doesn’t actually supple the answers. Was that house really haunted? Or was it cursed? How many people had died there? Do you want to know….? Are you sure?
The stories in When Things Get Dark range in contents, some are typical ghostly hauntings or pure horror, while others focus on the psychological nature of human nature and how horrific people can be. Some of the stories are a mixture of the two. The common theme running throughout them all is the urban setting. These are about everyday people living their lives. There’s nothing supernatural about them, nothing extraordinary about them or their lives until these events happen. It emphasises the terrifying thought that this could happen to anyone, that these people could be anyone. Mrs Jones across the road could be harbouring a deep dark secret, and you’d never know… this is definitely not the type of anthology for people who suffer from paranoia.
Over to you
Thanks for reading my review for When Things Get Dark!
Are you familar with Shirley Jackson’s work? Does an anthology inspired by her work interest you? Let me know in the comments <3
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