After reading nothing but horror for over a year now, is it possible for me to still be scared? I’ve been asked that question quite a bit lately and the answer is: Absolutely. If horror fans are honest with themselves, we are showing up for horror because there is always the potential for something to crawl up under our skin and linger there. We like it.
I’m thrilled to report that Tim McWhorter’s collection of short stories did the trick! This would be perfect for your October reading list because the scares are there. For someone that loves scary stories as much as I do, it’s weird that I am also such a scaredy cat and have a variety of phobias. Tim managed to touch on a few of them throughout his range of tales he gathered together in Let There Be Dark.
One story in particular titled “The Dark Side” managed to insidiously exploit two fears: My deep seated aversion to haunted houses (like carnival-style attractions) and my profound claustrophobia. By the end of this one, I was a wreck and I loved it.
A particularly interesting story was “No Saints Here.” As a woman, it goes without saying that we are used to having certain fears that men don’t have to struggle with. Tim plays out a woman’s worst fear inside the mind of a sexual predator and it was highly effective at making me squirm. I was amazed with all the plot twists Tim managed in such a short amount of time — really, really impressive storytelling.
Just to further pique your interest, I’ll mention that the other story that freaked me out was “Pigs.” It is a very well-crafted, classic horror story. The set up was so unnerving, I was sweating what was coming next the entire time. Then the ending came with this huge gore-fest and it was perfect. I wanted to sit up in my bed and clap for an imaginary audience of fellow gore connoisseurs.
At the end of every story, Tim does the reader this fantastic courtesy of giving a brief explanation of what inspired him. It’s such a treat, and I would encourage all authors to include something like that in their short story or novella collections. Trust me, it gets major kudos from horror fans. I haven’t met one that didn’t enjoy those personal insights.
If you love reading author collections as much as I do, this is a must have and Tim McWhorter should go on your list of “ones to watch.” I’m certainly watching!