Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
Darker tales from the den is filled with themes of a lost love, or snakes that come in many forms. Religious uncertainty, unsettling attics, and stormy nights. Darkness held at bay by the smallest of lights, or a well placed twist in the story that you won’t see coming. Dona Fox revisits these themes many times in these short stories. Are these the subjects of her fears or are the things we all fear. Are they the common thoughts that haunt us all and make us shrink in fear? I think so. In addition to these dark themes Dona Fox has the ability to move the story from reality to the blurry edges of where reality tries to exist. It happens so subtlety it’s hard to notice. It’s one of the finer points of her style I always enjoy.
One of the first short stories that I noticed this shift was The Calais Curse. An aging women takes a ride on a train in an attempt to change history. By the time I realized what happened on this train ride the shift had already happened. As with the previous collection Dona Fox often uses children as her main characters. Some are the victim in the story, others are the ones inflicting the horror. Medusae in Bloom was one of many favorites of mine in this collection where children bring the horror. In this story a young girl’s sister died by accident and another young girl killed her sister on purpose. This is a crazy story of two evil girls that feel like they come from the same mold.
Dona Fox also uses metaphors with grace as I found in her story The Ever Present Conclusion. A women misses her husband to the point of no longer having a solid grasp on reality. Dona describes it this way, “she had lost her horizon”, as a way to describe the woman’s grief. If that doesn’t say it all nothing does. Other favorites included: The Cyclic Dead, Last Chance in Lafayette, and A Perfect Memory. This last short story is about a secret project at a hospital involving memories that will twist your mind in circles. All Rides Final, No return, rounds out my favorites. A man has a dream or a vision of a strange parallel world. This parallel world is like our own but with odd and fantastic inventions, and his attempts to travel there could be deadly. It was really great to read Dona Fox’s writing again. I had the pleasure of reading her previous collection, dark tales from the den, earlier this year. Both collections are a trip into the darkness and were a pure joy to read.
Length: 214 Pages
Publisher: James Ward Kirk Publishing
Release date: June 27, 2016
Seventeen darker tales. Stories of death, ghosts, and wicked delusions. Poisons, secrets, and lovers from the past. Murders by curse, serpents’ fangs, herbs, and flowers. The discovery of crystal bones, the smell of singed gossamer wings, the sound of a wooden puppet dancing in the dark and the touch of a cold hand beneath the grave. Includes the novella “CHRYSTAL BONES AND GOSSAMER WINGS.”
Dona Fox, biography
Dona Fox writes short stories and poetry – horror and dark fantasy infused with bits of science fiction. Coming from the Pacific Northwest, specters from the Northwest’s forests, Portland’s bridges and Seattle’s streets may creep into her dark tales.