“Not another zombie book,” I groaned while flipping from the first page of Echoes of Darkness after buckling up on the Plane, “I just finished one!”
Thankfully I was wrong, and I now entirely take back that judgmental groan.
I do get a burnt out on the zombie genre’s tropes and when I started reading this book, it opens with a tale from a zombie apocalypse. It very quickly barrels past the tropey traps through the use of interesting characters. By the time I reached the end of the “chapter” I was invested in the journey of the leading young man, who had just survived a very shocking fishing trip. It was then that I discovered “It’s a short story collection? Sweeeeet.”
At one point in time I knew this, but the beautiful/weird thing about my book review queue is that it’s so long that I forget a book’s description by the time I get to it. I know the author and title, but otherwise, it’s kind of a mystery whenever I get into a new book. In this instance, I was somewhat familiar with today’s author as I’d read a few of his stories in Insanity Tales II and interviewed him at Rock and Shock.
Echoes of Darkness
Written by: Rob Smales
Genre: Horror, Short Stories, Collection, Supernatural
Publishing Info: Books and Boos Press
Book Description: From the dark corners of award-winning horror writer Rob Smales’s twisted mind come thirteen tales of murder, terror, ghosts, and ghouls. A boy learns how to be a man in a post-apocalyptic world . . . An old man teaches his grandson to do the right thing, with terrifying results . . . A plane crash leaves a damaged man doing whatever he must to survive . . . This collection of the scary and sublime will burrow into the most disturbed part of your soul, leaving you wondering: what was that noise in the other room? Perhaps it was nothing. Or perhaps it was an echo of darkness.
As a whole, once I got past my own zombie-issues, this book was fantastic. When a book does a good job of capturing my attention it will be riddled with bookmarks. This one was by the end as well. Sections jumped out at me asking to be drawn, others I just wanted to quote directly from the book because the language was so beautiful or the moment so deliciously terrifying. There were tons of vivid stand-out moments throughout.
Reading Horror outside of your usual environment
I was traveling this past week and it really change my experience of the book to be reading it while out of my usual haunts. There’s always a certain level of discomfort when you travel. Is the roach-coach motel really safe? Are we actually the only ones with keys to the house we’re renting? Is that noise in the engine normal for planes? (The answer to that one was NO.)
Those kind of basic questions always float through my head while traveling and they colored my experience of the book, in a good way.
What is that in the picture behind you?
The best example of this was when I was reading the story, “Photo Finish.” In this story two kids pick up an old instant Polaroid Camera and start taking pictures with it. When the pictures reveal something moving in on them something that they couldn’t see in real life is when I got entirely freaked out. I was reading in bed, in the dead of night, hearing the occasional noises of tourists outside my window. I was getting so freaked out I could hardly breathe.
The most powerful story in the collection
The one story that is guaranteed to stick with me the longest, is “Mutes.” I don’t want to get too into the details, but here’s a picture I drew of the story. What I will say is that this story was gruesome, masterfully paced to build the tension, and touched upon existential questions of life, death and pain. It was in imaginative concept that felt a little bit like Welcome to Nightvale, without being as playful with the horror.
Plane crashes and planes
I only wish that I had been able to read the entire story of, “Wendigo” while in the air. I started reading it while flying, and reading about a horrific plane crash while flying is guaranteed to make you nervous. On one of my flights I actually did notice one of our engines sounded louder and a bit weird, but figured I was getting jumpy because of the book, until I was exiting the plane and overheard the stewardesses saying, “Yeah, that sounded off. We need to get that checked before we get back in the air.” *Gulp.* Thank goodness you don’t have to read about my actual experience in a plane crash today.
In the fictional one, it starts off as a very realistic story of a survivor. the main character is badly wounded, and the soul survivor of the 3 people who were on board. His reactions to the death of the people around him feel so real and seeing how his mind works as he succumbs to starvation and sub-zero temperatures was powerful. This story was so realistically written that I was wondering when the Samles twist was going to come in. It eventually did, but the route that twist took- surprised me.
5 out of 5 blood spattered stars. If you enjoy reading a tight collection of short stories that will make you question where the echoes of darkness linger in the world around you, then you will love this book as much as I did. Fans of “Everything Here is a Nightmare” by Nelson W. Plyes will feel right at home in these stories.
Find a Copy
[BTW if you use this link, any purchases you make during that session help support the blog. Amazon will send a little bit of what you spend to me without any extra cost to you. Thanks for the support!]
Connect with the Author
ps. sorry for the weirdness happening in formatting. I’m out of time to fix that this morning, but I’ll return to it once I get the chance.