Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Review - Suspended in Dusk ed. by Simon Dewar

I first stumbled upon Suspended in Dusk when I was browsing Facebook one rainy day a few months back. I can't recall which one of my friends was raving about it, but her words about it ('an emotional gut punch') piqued my interest. An emotional gut punch... sounds like something I'd like.

So I went online and had a poke around, searching for some reviews to read before I purchased it. I didn't get much further. As soon as I saw that Jack Ketchum had written an introduction to it I decided to just take the plunge and give it a go.

Best decision I've ever made.

Suspended in Dusk is, to put it simply, stunning. In both its vision, and its execution.

As soon as I started reading it I knew it was going to be good. Ketchum's introduction set the tone. Words like 'fresh' and 'auspicious debut' ramped up my excitement, and then the first story (Shadows of the Lonely Dead by Alan Baxter) brought tears to my eyes and knocked it out of the park. 

I was hooked from that moment on.

As I ripped through this anthology I was taken on an extraordinary and confronting journey that explored that fascinating grey area between day and night... the dusk of our world, and of our minds.  Whether it was Dullemond's harrowing tale of a human mission to Mars, or Campbell's creepy story about a man buried alive, this collection brilliantly mined that rich vein between day and night and good and evil. Like psychological horror? This anthology has it in spades. Splatterpunk? You will find enough to satisfy your thirst within its pages. Cannibals? Vampires? Monsters both human and inhuman? This anthology has you covered in every possible way.  

And as I read, I was struck by just how many of the authors I'd never heard of before. Names like Karen Runge, S. G. Larner, Ben Knox and Sarah Read. All new to me as a reader, but all with absolutely remarkable stories in this book.

And therein lies the secret behind the success of this wonderful anthology. Whilst it does include household names like Ramsay Campbell, Jack Ketchum, and Angela Slatter, it also includes a good amount of unknown writers from across the world who are allowed to shine within its pages with their stories. I can't think of another anthology offhand that has replicated this, and I have a deep respect for Dewar for doing it. Every single tale stands on its own two feet, and rightfully deserves its place within the anthology. Every single story is also unique and enthralling in its own individual way. Whether it's taking a vampire story and turning it on it's head (Reasons to Kill by J. C. Michael), or fat campers donating their blubber to an evil entity (Fit Camp by Shane McKenzie), Suspended in Dusk utterly absorbs your attention and simply refuses to let you go.

The editing is also superb. Most anthologies usually have a low point or two as you work your way through them, but Suspended in Dusk starts high and never falls. It is relentless, wonderfully balanced, and terrifyingly good. This is a credit to Dewar and publisher Books of the Dead, who have brought this collection together with masterful hands. I would never have known Dewar was relatively new to the industry either if it hadn't been pointed out at the start of the book.

I literally cannot fault this anthology. It was a delight to read from start to finish. Riveting, emotionally thrilling, and darkly addictive, this is the sort of book that I live for. Suspended in Dusk is THE horror anthology that we all must have on our shelves... period. 

My friend was right. Emotional gut punch indeed. 

5 out of 5 stars. 

You can find out more about Suspended in Dusk here. I implore you all to go and purchase yourself a copy. It is one of the finest horror anthologies on the market today. 

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