Darker Tales from the Den – Dona Fox – Book review
Dona Fox has a certain style to her stories that can catch you by surprise. There comes a point when you realize what is going on, but it’s too late to brace yourself or to look away. These are dark, macabre stories about people in bad situations that only seem to get worse as the night goes on. The top tales in the collection leave a lasting sting or dull thud of heartache, either way a welcome experience for the horror reader. I picked a few of my favorite tales here to say a few words about.
Something bad crawls out of the dark attic in The Chill and Willey Snake dragging long forgotten family secrets in tow.
Bruised Cardamom begins with a poignant description on the death watch of a woman, Mrs. Macy, true in its words and gut wrenching to anyone that has watched a loved one die. The description of the woman shredding tissues and curling them into little balls as she’s waiting in fear for death is unsettling. A line that struck me… “How many boxes of tissue does it take to die? How meaningless are paper tears?” The volunteer stays with her into the night learning a deep dark secret in this outstanding tale.
In One Historic Night, one friend invites another into his twisted Nazi fanatic world and drags him down to the depths of madness.
Shypoke’s Tears, which I had read before in the anthology, Ghosts Revenge, (JWK Fiction) is a short piece with a big punch. From the first paragraph a transgression is taking place in the characters and it’s a thrill to see the outcome.
In The Calais Curse, we visit the French Resistance of the German occupancy. This tale is a haunting centerpiece of the collection as a young woman begins a process too free her grandmother from her nightmares. The story started out a little loose and all over the place but stick with it and it settles into streamline tale where a tragic, moving ending is revealed.
Li Gran Toy Zombi is a creepy tale I first read in the Toys in the Attic anthology and was happy to revisit here. It takes place in New Orleans, 1977, and if you’re thinking Voodoo Curses you are correct and in for a devilish treat.
Crystal Bones on Gossamer Wings is a fitting finale for the collection as the tale is written in deep first-person as were the earlier stories in the book. Dona’ s greatest storytelling aspect is when she immerses the reader in that strong character voice. Those stories are distinctly superior to the more standard narrated tales. There are shades of Joe R. Lansdale in those stories where the reader shares each thought, vision, and reaction as it happens in the character’s head. When she combines that voice with her astute perception of life, death, and human suffering, she delivers haunting horror fiction.