After Sundown edited by Mark Morris
Flame Tree Press, pb, £9.95
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Reading is a subjective thing. There will be stories and genres I love that you hate, and vice versa and our difference in opinions allows for conversation. Whenever I begin a short story collection, I always bear that in mind. The editor might love a story, but that doesn’t mean I will, so if I enjoy more than 50% of the stories included, then it was a successful read. So, for me to say that I enjoyed every story is extremely impressive.
The quality is set from the beginning and maintained with each successive story. Each one also felt fresh, so rather than me starting a short story and comparing it to one in the collection I had already read, they were different and keeping me engaged.
This is because none of them was the same. There were stories from the point of view of ghosts as well as people being haunted. First-person perspectives are used as well as omniscient and close third person. We have sinister fairy tales, stories from other culture set all over the world, found-diaries and interviews.
While the quality of each story was high, there are some that really stood out for me. Tim Lebbon’s Research explores what happens to a horror writer when they are incapable of writing. Michael Marshall Smith’s It Doesn’t Feel Right takes the age-old battle parents face everywhere of getting their kids dressed in the morning and gives it a very sinister twist. Laura Purcell’s Creeping Ivy is a familiar story told in a found-diary format, yet it is fresh and creepy.
This is a short story collection that does exactly what it sets out to, delight and scare. With stories from well-known authors in the genre as well as a few from emerging voices, After Sundown has something for everyone. Highly recommended.