Supernatural creeps and bizarre creatures lurk behind the pages in “This Way Darkness” written by indie horror author, Latashia Figueroa. I was hunting for a well-rounded horror anthology to read this summer–y’know something spooky, well-written but short. Like waiting-for-your-pedicure-to-dry short. (Doesn’t everybody read axe murderer stories at the salon? No? Just me? ‘Kay) These three spine-tingling stories were just the little perk I needed.
Wrapped in Small Flesh and Bone | Figueroa opens the anthology with a tale reminiscent of The Omen; a familiar and predictable storyline, however entertaining. Unable to conceive, a desperate husband and his wife visit a mysterious witch. The husband realizes their mistake when the witch refuses to touch his crucifix necklace. Predictably, the wife becomes pregnant a short time after meeting the witch and then their child, Jenny, is born. Jenny is a lot like Damien. She talks to “imaginary friends” and always seems to be near or at the scene of a crime. I won’t spoil the ending. Ha, if you’re familiar with The Omen I don’t have to. Although I knew how the story would end, it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. I think creepy kids are adorable.
The Alternative | The second story has more gore and violence. I thought the rape scene was the predominant horror element…but no. Hell no. This story took a direction I didn’t expect at all! If there’s such a thing as a fate worse than rape, Figueroa presents it here. There’s a religious thread throughout all of her stories, but this one was the most interesting and dare I say philosophical? “The Alternative” explores the Christian perspective of death and the afterlife. Traumatized by the death of her mother, the main character develops an intense fear of old age and dying. She does not think death is her ticket to salvation and so she turns her back on God. Literally. The plot rambles in places. Not my favorite in the collection but I’d say it was worth the read.
The Retreat | Everyone is familiar with the secret cult trope, right? Well here it is again. Like all of the stories in this anthology, the plot is very straightforward. A dude goes off on a religious retreat for self-empowerment only to be tortured and terrorized by his fellow campers. Their camp leader convinces his flock that everyone is their own god and therefore are above human laws. First the campers kill a deer. Then a priest. There’s even a homicidal vegetarian who goes apeshit. What an entertaining romp! I knew where the story would go, but I enjoyed the author’s route.
All in all I’d give this anthology a solid 4/5 stars. No, the book wasn’t inventive…and yes, it relied heavily on well-worn horror tropes. But still I found the anthology to be funny in some places and easy to read. I would recommend this delightful anthology for horror lovers who are looking for a light summer snack. It’ll fly by quickly–but you won’t be bored while reading it!