Length: 279 Pages
There is something that awaits you on the road ahead.
It’s there, lurking in the darkness at the intersection between the here and the hereafter.
Whether we choose to admit it or not, just ahead of each and every one of us on the road of life is a place we will all arrive. It’s here, at the intersection of this existence and the next, where the forces of the Living and the Dead converge in a terrifying place known as Death’s Realm. And it’s here that those from either side of the veil meet to wage their everlasting battle in the struggle for control over the other. Both sides have their agenda. And both want to win.
DEATH’S REALM: Where the Here and the Hereafter Collide is the next volume of terror from Grey Matter Press. It features sixteen tales of dark, speculative horror fiction from modern masters of the genre. Contributors to DEATH’S REALM include the two-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author and World Fantasy Award nominee Hank Schwaeble; the award-winning, Bram Stoker Award-nominated and Shirley Jackson Award-finalist Stephen Graham Jones; the Bram Stoker Award and Thriller nominated JG Faherty; editor-in-chief of the highly respected Jamais Vu magazine Paul Michael Anderson; critically acclaimed authors Jay Caselberg and John F.D. Taff; emerging masters of modern horror Aaron Polson, Gregory L. Norris and Martin Rose; co-authors known for their extremely disturbing horror fiction, Simon Dewar and Karen Runge; critic favorites Brian Fatah Steele, John C. Foster and Jane Brooks; the twisted, Lovecraft-influenced Rhoads Brazos; and recognized authors of literary fiction Jay O’Shea and Matthew Pegg.
Praise for Death’s Realm:
“DEATH’S REALM is a triumph, pressing a universal experience through a refracting prism and revealing to us bold colors and nuanced hues of form and experience we had not hitherto dreamed existed. It is provocative and challenging without ever succumbing to the temptation to deliver a narrative kick to the head.” – FANGORIA
“In less than two years, Grey Matter Press has managed to establish itself as one of the premiere purveyors of horror fiction currently in existence via both a series of killer anthologies–SPLATTERLANDS (2013), OMINOUS REALITIES (2013), EQUILIBRIUM OVERTURNED (2014)–and John F.D. Taff’s harrowing novella collection THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS (2014).” – FANGORIA
I’m a huge fan of Grey Matter Press and have read each and every book they have published. Each book has an amazing group of writers that are collected to make up the particular theme. From the first book Dark Visions I to this latest release Death’s Realm the quality of writing and diversity of authors is amazing. Many of the authors have stories in the different books and I definitely have many favorites and always find a few more to add to that list. When Death’s Realm was first announced I thought what better subject could ever be collected. It felt like Grey Matter Press had hit the nail on its head, while the Horror genre is their main focus I was excited to see a set of Horror stories dealing with death as a theme. There are so many great stories here to read and I have mentioned a few that really stood out and stuck with me.
“Omniscopic” by Rhoads Brazos leads off this anthology of fantastic stories. Omniscopic is a dark and very frightening science fiction story and what a great way to start this collection. This is the kind of science fiction that scares me and gives me goose bumps. A scientist looks to discover what lies in the beyond, the unknown, and if life exists just beyond our ability to see or feel it. The technology created by the author is wonderfully imaginative and well versed. As our main character Boas shows off his new discovery and demonstrates his creation we find that sometimes it’s best to leave the unknown alone. Knowing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in the pages of Omniscopic.
“Some Other Day” by John F.D Taff is an emotional slap in the face, the author tells a horror story with such strong ties woven with emotion that you’ll remember this story for some time to come. A young boys mother dies, leaving a grieving son and father. With only one parent left the son wants to spend more and more time with his Dad, but he is too devastated to be the father his son needs. All the son wants to do is spend time playing catch in the yard, but the weather is always bad and rain always seems to ruin his plans. The son asks everyday if they can play and the father says “some other day”, after hearing this too many the son decides to take care of the weather himself by singing “rain, rain go away…” With everything he has he wants nothing but a sunny summer day. This story really hits you where it counts, especially for a parent who has had to tell a child “some other day”.
“Haunted” by Hank Schweable presents and interesting and tense story about a man who is haunted by his late wife. This is an excellent story told from two views, first the reporter looking back at the events and the internal dialog by the man being haunted. As the story unfolds the perspective flips back and forth until we learn just how haunted this man is. Hank tells a frightening and disturbing tale, he makes you think everything isn’t always what it seems or that things aren’t as black and white as we assume they are. I was really swept up in this story right from the start and felt like I was looking through the eyes of our haunted character. In the end our poor character is driven to madness from his haunting dead wife.
“Prenumbra” by Jay Caselberg is an excellent ghost story with a great twist ending. He had me believing his story and then I get to the twist and POW! I had to rewind the whole story in my mind and see it for what it really was. It was very Sixth Sense, all is not what you think it is. A man is so in love with a women that doesn’t even know he exists. The lengths he goes to to get her to notice him are crazy, and when she does this is where I said “wow I didn’t see that coming”. This is great story telling that sucked me in from the beginning. After reading his story “Collage” in Dark Visions I and this story I’m now a fan of Jay Caselberg.
“Foxhole” by JG Faherty is about two men in the middle of war in a foxhole who escape the immediate danger only to see how far the human body can go. Two men will do whatever it takes to make it to safety after leaving their foxhole. As the days wear on they become increasing weaker and weaker. I was so wrapped up in the storytelling and desire for these two men to make it to safety I didn’t see the ending coming. That is how a great story should be and in this case was written. JG Faherty tells a ghostly tale that left me wondering if it was a nightmare or the twisted reality of war.
“Drowning” by Gregory L. Norris is a chilling tale about a man haunted by the fear of drowning and his narrow escape from a sinking ship. The man is so distraught and paranoid he seeks the help of a psychic to help him, she gives him a firm warning about water. To his chagrin he does his best but this is a story from Death’s Realm. Sometimes you can escape fate and sometimes you can’t, no need to guess in this case. Gregory paints the scenes with vivid clarity and fills the story with an overwhelming sense of dread that had me gripped to the final sentence.
“The Weight” by Jane Brooks is another story that stands out to me in this anthology. She tells a chilling tale that hits you where it hurts, a place most of would rather not be taken. I was really looking forward to a story by the author who tags herself as Horrible Jane, and with good reason. A daughter and mother have a most unfortunate relationship and the weight is more that the loving daughter can take. I could feel the character’s heaviness and hope to escape the weight she has felt her entire life. Life isn’t easy and sometimes death is the only escape, unfortunately for her, or maybe it wasn’t, I’ll let you decide.
“Mirrorworld” by Martin Rose is excellent, and a really original premise, being trapped in a mirror isn’t all it seems. The story is cleverly written and I thoroughly enjoyed how Martin Rose lays out the story and he writes great dialogue between the protagonist and antagonist. One man in a mirror and the other thinking he is in control because he is on the outside looking in. The storytelling is dark and our character is written with a desperation that you can feel and I was taken from one reality in to another. It really makes you think about the magic within mirrors and what is looking at you as you look at yourself.
“High Art” by Karen Runge and Simon Dewar is one hell of a well written story. The protagonist Ray an amazingly well written character, he is the kind of person who thinks his sh*t doesn’t stink and I loved road he traveled in the pages of High Art. He decides that having his wife taken out of the picture and having his new hottie is better than a divorce. Well Ray thought wrong as everything slowly unravels and well you can imagine how the rest turns out. You can’t escape death, karma will make sure of that and as they say “karma is a bitch”.
There are many other great stories that fill the pages of Death’s Realm and these were just a few to give you a feel of what is waiting. Death of course is awaiting us all here, some more brutal that others, some more twisted and still some that are far beyond what I could have imagined. Each of the authors has a very unique view and style to their storytelling and with death as the common denominator it’s a win for everyone. This is a fine, fine anthology and a must read for the Horror lover in all of us, or if death is your love then you’ve found yourself one hell of a book.