"We Feed the Dark: Tales of Terror, Loss & the Supernatural" Book Review
Written by Sean M. Sanford
Published by Shadow House Publishing
Written by William P. Simmons
2021, 148 pages, Fiction
Released on August 15th, 2021
If you’ve ever been submerged in hungry darkness, you know that shit likes to feed. And the more it eats, the hungrier it seems. I’ve been there. Times when my mind felt like a potluck of a stranger version of myself dining beside just that: a stranger. I’ve looked back at what I’ve written during these times and found that, although the stories themselves might suggest the opposite, they were actually the only thing that shined in a dimension of weary murk. Darkness.
William P. Simmons, introducing his collection of stories We Feed the Dark: Tales of Terror, Loss & the Supernatural, speaks of such a darkness. A time when the lines between fact and fiction have overlapped, often growing so clouded that most distinctions had vanished altogether. His characters had begun crossing the boundaries between imagination and reality, and oh what characters they were. I mean, he’s a horror writer, so one can surely imagine their demeanor.
But, as is often the case with those born with the needy desire to put a pen to the page, he one day realized that the only way to face them head-on was to explore their pathways via the written word. And here he brings us We Feed the Dark…
This collection introduces us to a cache of characters from a burg back east called Harper’s Mill; where misery, terror, and darkness thrive, amongst a population who, as is sometimes the case in a small town, feel tethered and unable to escape the clutches.
Like Ralph and Elizabeth in "The Costumers", an unhappy couple whose one commonality is a perplexity as to why in the hell they married one other. Elizabeth hires someone to come fit them for Halloween costumes and ends up costuming a whole lot more than their wardrobe.
Or Jim and Sarah, who are in the throes of an enveloping suspense. “We could stop being afraid. Stop being angry…We could leave!” “Where? Where could we go? Make sense…” (30%). Sadly, the only sense to be made is draped in the madness surrounding their home.
Or Paul from "Echoes", another Harper’s Mill resident who sees his town like a predator crouched in his every periphery, just waiting for him to let down his guard before springing to malevolent action.
There’s an underlying constant in these stories that makes it read more like a single story with many faces. The town of Harper’s Mill acts almost like a character itself, who works to render everyone who lives there powerless and aching in horror.
Subtle themes arise between stories, like in "Daddy’s Little Pretty One" and "The Cleaning", which together contain a dichotomy of a deadly love of youth wreaking havoc on both the young and the old.
There’s one overarching theme that is piece by piece revealed by the end, when Simmons had me smacking my forehead and thinking, Of course! How could I be so blind?! Which I’ll let you explore and interpret for yourself when you read this wonderful collection.
Despite all the woeful intentions, these stories are a real joy to read. They’re so belligerently sad that it’s borderline comical. Okay, it’s totally comical. Which makes it all the more creepy. And all the more fun to read…at least during the moments in which you’re not questioning the very existence of your own heart and soul.
This well-written collection of characters who all wear a comparable stamp of woe-is-me makes them feel so real and enjoyable to join on their journeys. Traffic jams often result after a car accident because everyone who’s driving by can’t help but slow down so they can assess how close they are to death and sorrow. Well, We Feed the Dark: Tales of Terror, Loss & the Supernatural is like an elongated slow-motion traffic jam, quite enjoyable for anyone who refuses to close their eyes at the scary parts.
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