Beware the Dark Issue 1. Magazine review

bewareBEWARE THE DARK NO. 1, SST, magazine, £7.95,,

Reviewed by Stewart Horn

I’m always both excited and slightly apprehensive when given a brand new horror magazine.  This one is a whopper, 161 big pages, and with its professional layout and lots of high quality colour illustrations it looks good.  The cover features an appealing list of some of the contents, and after reading the introduction I liked the editor already – his enthusiasm and affection for the genre shine from his words.

The bulk of the book is the ten fiction pieces, three of which are novelette length.  It starts with ‘Potential’, by Ramsey Campbell.  Campbell these days fulfils the function that M. R. James or Ambrose Bierce once did, making us feel at home and demonstrating that the editor knows his stuff, even if it’s a story we’ve read before.  This one is lesser-known, but a fine example of the Brichester series.

James B. Carter’s ‘The Dying Season’ is fun and fast-paced in a 1950s horror-comic style.  It could do with some trimming in the prose but is still an enjoyable read.  ‘Si or No’ by Timothy McGivney is a nice contrast – a short and nasty piece about sex and zombies.

Jeremy Terry’s ‘To Turn a blind Eye’ is more firmly rooted in real life, then Jack Ketchum, with all the restraint and taste we’d expect from him, gives us ‘Twins’, largely about childhood sibling incest, but with some unexpected warmth.

The next four tales (Aaron J French’s ‘Asleep With the Black Goat’, Sheri White’sCross My Heart, Hope to Die’,  Russell C. Connor’s ‘Pool Days’ and Terri “Horns” Erwin’s ‘Company at the Lavoisier’ ) all plough the sex/ death theme in a way that would make Herbert Van Thal proud.  Trashy and graphic but lots of fun and well written.

The last story is a return to a more subtle and literary horror style – ‘Empathy’ by Kealan Patrick Burke does that magic trick of exploring psychological disorders and gradually introducing a supernatural monster in a quite shocking way.

The last part of the magazine is a set of non-fiction pieces, starting with an interview with award-winning artist Vincent Chong, along with a splendid gallery of his work.  There are more interviews, reviews, comment and personal columns which work a bit like a warm down at the gym, letting you get your breath back before returning to the real world.

Overall, a satisfying magazine.  Not every story was to my taste, but it’s great to see such variety in one publication, from classy literary fiction to the kind of exploitative trash only a true aficionado will appreciate.  It’s a promising start, and I hope it manages to keep going in an era when so much is available free online.

1 Comment on Beware the Dark Issue 1. Magazine review

  1. stewartguitar // January 9, 2014 at 10:30 am //

    It doesn’t say, but there’s a much cheaper ebook option currently on special offer for £0.99.

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