Edited by Mark Morris
Published by Flame Tree Press
I want to preface this review by saying I love Flame Tree and the way they do things. I have a large stack of their books on my shelf, and I don’t see my love for those red spines fading any time soon. This opinion is my own and has not been influenced by the publisher doing anything for me.
My love in Flame Tree being noted, I was very disappointed with After Sundown, the first volume in a new (hopeful) annual anthology of horror. Featuring twenty stories, sixteen of the featured authors are said to be some of the top in the genre; the other four were chosen during an extensive open submissions period. Despite there being sixteen supposedly big name authors included, I only recognized four of the names: CJ Tudor, Tim Lebbon, Grady Hendrix, and Ramsey Campbell. Everybody else was new to me.
These were also the writers that actually impressed me – their stories were the most enjoyable (with the exception of Lebbon’s “Research,” which felt underwhelming) of the collection. “Butterfly Island” (by CJ Tudor) was probably my favorite, right up there with Hendrix’s “Murder Board” (which was a story that stood on crime/drama above horror). Both of these entries were exciting and well-written. “Butterfly Island” felt like the explosive opening to an awesomely horrific novel, and “Murder Board” proposed an idea that surely deserves a prequel. Campbell’s “Wherever You Look” also featured some wonderful prose that flowed with ease, while holding my attention throughout.
Sadly, beyond these stories, I felt bored with this collection more often than I’d like to admit. There were entries that were fine, but lacking; and then there were stories that I actually daydreamed throughout. Unfortunately, that makes this collection more of a fail than anything for me. Hopefully, the next time they will get some more exciting stories in the mix.
Purchase from Amazon here.
Review by Aiden Merchant – This book was provided as an e-ARC by the publisher for review consideration.
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