Lost In the Dark: A Collection of Short Stories by Joe Mynhardt
Crystal Lake Publishing (2012)
200 pages; $6.99 paperback/$0.99 ebook
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington
Joe Mynhardt is a South African writer of horror with more than 50 published short stories to his credit. He is also the owner and operator of Crystal Lake Publishing, publishers of horror and dark fantasy.
Lost In the Dark: A Collection of Short Stories contains a dozen examples of Joe’s writing covering a wide variety of horror tropes.
“The Great Wall of Rubin” – Rubin, a recovering alcoholic goes to a meeting four months sober. His evening doesn’t exactly go as planned.
“Beyond the Ornate Tree” – The protagonist is a grown man scared of Christmas. When he has a breakthrough with his therapist and we learn why, hell – I’d be scared of Christmas, too.
“Portico” – A group of friends become trapped in an abandoned observatory with a bloody past.
“The Way Back” – A fairly entertaining story of a paranormal investigator. Inspired by watching too many episodes of Ghost Adventures.
“Always Come Back” – A twisted little tale which started as an exercise on mywriterscircle.com.
“Fashionable Undead” – I think this story may feature the most unusual use of zombies, EVER. A fun read.
“Come All To the River of Death” – Joe dreamt this story in it’s entirety. The result is a mostly entertaining haunted mansion tale with a number of little twists. I loved the subtlety of the line where the Doctor says, “I managed to save your eyes.”
“Forgive Me Now” – Another story that came out of a writing challenge at mywriterscircle.com about a marital spat gone awry.
“Lost In the Dark” – A young girl becomes trapped with others in a strange man’s basement somewhere in a shadow-infested forest where no one would dare to look for them.
“Rise, Dead Man” – A so-so story featuring grave robbing as a career choice.
“Zombie Mischief” – Pranking with zombie parts.
“The Nature of the Beast” – The collection closes with Joe’s take on the werewolf tale.
Joe has a very simple writing style; I’d have to say it’s capable, but not very challenging. As a result, so are his stories. Although not marketed as such, Lost In the Dark: A Collection of Short Stories is more suited to the YA audience and can serve as an introduction to horror for a younger audience.