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Book Review: "A Walk in a Darker Wood" ed. by Duane Pesice et al.

4/5 - a near-perfect folk horror anthology...

By Annie KapurPublished 3 months ago • 4 min read
From: Amazon

Do I have to explain myself? It's a folk horror anthology filled with stories that for some reason, I have never even heard of. Some of these stories are seriously good and, to top it all off, there are also poems that sound like chants and incantations in the midst of these narratives. Folk horror is my favourite sub-genre of all time and to find that there are litters and litters of anthologies featuring the most wickedly written stories all over the place, I can honestly say that I really hope I don't run out of things to read because you best be sure I will be reading them all. I am going to however, ignore the fact that there's some weird art within this book because apart from Damnable Tales, I don't think any other book can really hypnotise me with its artwork and I won't criticise it in comparison to something as god-tier as Damnable Tales. It just isn't fair.

The opening story is entitled Who Maketh Fertile the Fields and is one of those stories that you really just expect me to love. It's about two Brothers of the church, Philip and Thomas. Brother Thomas tells Brother Philip of a story concerning the nunnery in the woods where a young nun once had a child, ran off and was dragged back to the nunnery in a state of distress after her child died of exposure. She then murdered the Reverend Mother and after that, it became a thing of legend and haunting with other things happening that I will not mention here. Turning over in Brother Philip's mind, he wants to find out more and so, asks the bakery's own Brother Michael who tells him a little bit more about a ritual but remains tight-lipped about all of it. This ritual is done by monks at the site of the nunnery and, they pray for good crops (because it's folk horror). Brother Philip seeks out this ritual on the coming Saturday only to see the greatest horror his eyes have ever seen.

There's another story, one that is very short, called The Silhouette and has all the haunting quality of a reality of shadows where you can definitely see an overactive imagination at work from the narrator. As the narrator stands on the beach and looks over and out at the water, they see the looming shadow of darkness that seems to engulf them and the ocean coming from a source which is believed to be the lighthouse or the nearby source of light that throws shadows around in the evening time. It is a haunting atmosphere with barely anything happening and yet, it gives you all the chills of a horror story. I love these slow and atmospheric stories where barely anything happens and you just feel the whole scene wash over you. Even though its barely two pages, I still love that it found itself included in the anthology.

From: Jackanapes Press

One thing that was a little bit of a let-down in this anthology was the fact that some of the stories had this overtly wordy nature about them. There is something to be said for simplicity especially when writing folk horror. The rustic nature of the language, the discordance in the wording can work really well and give things to the atmosphere that just word choice can't do alone. However, in some of the stories (not all of them) the author seems to pride themselves on using the most convoluted language possible without much consideration for how the sentences actually sound. This can make them sound over the top and the author therefore makes themselves look a little silly. There is such thing as too much crafting to the point that it is no longer helping the text but instead, tends to make it seem like an ego trip for the author to show off all the cool words they know.

All in all, most of this anthology was actually really good, bar a couple of stories for the fact I have already mentioned. The folk horror atmospheres were a joy to read and if you think I will stop now then I am so sorry, but you're wrong.


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

200K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

đź“ŤBirmingham, UK

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  • Andrea Corwin 3 months ago

    Hmmm, I will add to my reading list, thanks and see if it pulls me in!

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