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The Dark at the End of the Tunnel Paperback – 9 Nov 2015
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"Once in a while new work gets through that is so full of talent and commitment, the two qualities I admire most, that it is an inspiration. And it's good to be inspired. The author of this book isn't kidding around. The stories are smart, filled with talent, and deserve to be read. So turn off the TV and start reading them. Now. Taylor Grant is keeping the faith." - Dennis Etchison, Two-time World Fantasy Award Winner, The Dark Country "Taylor Grant is a bold, unsettling new voice in suspense and horror." - Scott Nicholson, Bestselling Thriller Author, The Red Church "The finest single author collection I've read this year. And one of the best to come out in the last ten years. In fact, I consider The Dark at the End of the Tunnel to be a masterclass in storytelling. Taylor Grant is a rare talent, and this collection is a great demonstration of the voices he has at his command. Highly recommended!" - Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Dead City and The Dead Won't Die "These stories strike hard as steel and silent as a shadow's whisper-a cornucopia of horror from a master of the genre!" - Tim Waggoner, author of Eat the Night and The Way of All Flesh "As classic, elegant and as deadly effective and efficient as a switchblade, the stories here echo the timeless storytelling of The Twilight Zone, E.C. Horror comics, and 1980s paperback kings, while carving up their own new brand. Grant's collection will leave you with plenty of scars to show off around the next late night campfire." - John Palisano, Bram Stoker Award Finalist, Dust of the Dead, Nerves
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Highlights for me include...heck, all of them, with Show And Tell being not only my favorite story in the collection, but quite possibly my favorite short story of all time. That’s saying a lot considering how long I’ve been reading horror fiction. I’m glad I got a paper copy of the book, because I found myself actually gripping the pages on more than one occasion. I don’t think my Kindle would have appreciated that.
Buy it. The book is that good.
The book starts out strong with “Masks,” which deals with a man who doesn’t quite feel like himself anymore. This is immediately followed by what is likely my favorite piece in the collection: “The Silent Ones.” Such a depressing story that addresses the topic of loneliness in a way I’ve not seen done before, and it gets pretty damned weird along the way. “Dead Pull” is a fun and satisfying story, especially for someone such as myself who loves animals dearly and abhors those who mistreat them. “The Infected” takes a clever approach to tackling the drudgery of being a working stiff versus following your creative dreams, which intersects with a peculiar “fiction” manuscript passed down from grandfather to father to son that begs to be completed. There are no stinkers in the bunch. It comes as no surprise that this book was a finalist for a Bram Stoker Award.
Grant has an enviable command of language, his stories and the ideas that spawn them are unique, and he doesn’t stick to one type of horror. Some of these stories could be referred to as “quiet horror,” while others are far more brutal. Some have a sci-fi edge, and there are occasional hints of the black humor you might find in a classic E.C. Comics story. Being able to hop genres while maintaining quality and style is a commendable feat, so pick up this book and see how it’s done.
If I could give this book another 5 stars, I wouldn't hesitate to do so. Yes, it's THAT good.
As I said in a previous "half-review" of this book (another first), if you haven't heard of Taylor Grant, and you are a horror fan, you have a severe hole in your library. I said it before, and I'll say it again - there is a reason this man is a Bram Stoker nominee. Brilliant doesn't even begin to describe this anthology.
I became "friends" with Taylor on Facebook some time ago (hence the quotes - I haven't had the pleasure to meet the man, but we do converse online) and bought this anthology shortly after. But, as my faithful readers know, I loathe e-books - so it took me a while to get to his as part of my TBR pile. I am sorry I waited so long - I enjoyed it so much that I bought a physical copy as well since it deserves a spot on my shelves among the likes of King, Barker, Koontz, and Hill.
So, lets begin with the breakdown of stories:
1) Masks - What a way to start the book. A frightening look at what truly lies beneath our outward facade. What is hidden behind that which we show to others? And when it's finally revealed, is it real or imaginary? Beware the mask others wear, there may be a beast within.
2) The Silent Ones - When this story started, I wasn't sure where it was going. It's a first person perspective - where the author is going through life and mysteriously seems to become invisible. But not in the way you think. People can see him when he creates a ruckus, they just seem to ignore him otherwise. He starts to cease to exist as the story progresses, and you start to think that maybe he IS actually a ghost, and that his existence is in his imagination. But it turns out to be much worse. Much worse.
3) The Vood - Guaranteed to make you turn on every light in the house, right up until the end. This was certainly one of the more gruesome stories in the whole book. I did find that it started out slow, but the ending will hit you like a piano falling from the third story window. Stick with it, and be sure to check the shadows.
4) Gods and Devils - Nice sci-fi meets Dracula story, with a little 2001 thrown in for fun. Vega is a captain aboard a ship that left an Earth void of humanity. An alien race infected everyone, turning them into blood sucking monsters. What's that? You've heard this story before. No, you haven't. Trust me when I say that you will not see where this story is going - no matter how many times you've see Alien, or Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Taylor's twist on what you may think is an overdone story is genius. It has all the makings for a great, and terrifying, film.
5) Dead Pull - In every anthology of short stories, you have the one you absolutely love, a bunch that are great, one that was OK, and one you didn't like at all. That's the nature of the beast. While there isn't a story in this that I didn't like, this one would fall into the OK category for me - not enough to take away from the 10 star review I give this, but one that I would put at the end of the list in ranking. Brennan is a sadistic bastard who works in a pet shop. He likes to work alone, and the animals (even the fish) are terrified of him. The owner tells Brennan that he will be having a new intern - the son of their best customer - shadow him. Of course, Brennan doesn't like that and mentally tortures the poor kid. Revenge is a nasty thing - especially when you don't see it coming.
6) Show and Tell - I have no idea how to describe this story without giving anything away. Truly. But I will try. Jacob is a sixth grader who has been brought to the school councilor to discuss the horrific pictures he was caught drawing. The truth behind the drawings is found to be more terrifying that the drawings themselves. The story is a nice analogy for how adults tend to disbelieve, or dismiss, what a child may say - attributing it to an overactive imagination, rather than the truth.
7) Infected - The BEST short story I have read in my 45+ years of reading. Hands down. I consider myself very well read - especially in the horror genre. And if I was to pick a king of the short story, it would be Clive Barker, without a doubt. That being said, not one of his stories ever had the effect that Infected had on me. I had to stop reading at the end of the story, just to process what I had just read. If you are stuck in a corporate 9-5 soul sucking corporate job, you must read this. Although, I can't be held responsible for how you will feel afterwards. Bravo, Taylor. You've bumped Barker out of the top spot in my list of short-story kings. Not an easy feat.
8) Whispers in the Trees, Screams in the Dark - How far would you go to have friends? What are you willing to give up in order to at least have someone to talk to? Blake is an unpopular, overweight, kid who's father has remarried and basically forgotten about him. His only two potential friends is a gimp and a stutterer. They tell him about this house in the middle of the woods where the most beautiful girl they've ever seen performs strip teases for them. Not believing, Blake bets the only thing he values - his entire comic collection - that they are lying. They aren't. But what Blake discovers is that somethings are better off believed, rather than seen.
9) Intruders - Here's another story that I don't know what to say about it. What if those homeless people you see on the streets and subway - the ones that seemingly talk to themselves - are actually not crazy and they are talking to someone? Just someone we can't see? What if David Berkowitz DID actually hear voices coming from that dog? And what if those voices are from an alien race conducting experiments on us? What if just by typing this review of the story I start to hear those voices?
10) The Dark at the End of the Tunnel - Another of my favorite stories. Matt Jackson is bought back from 10 years in suspended animation - at his own request. One of the side effects is that he has no memory of who he is or why he had himself frozen for 10 years. Without revealing anything, just remember, if you make a deal with the devil, he always collects. There are no loopholes, regardless of what Faust may tell you.
All in all, this was a fantastic journey. This anthology has something for everyone - the bizarre, grotesque, psychotic, alien, vampiric, and demonic. Taylor's writing style is smooth, descriptive, and very easy to read; with his characters being relatable and believable. He puts a unique twist on time-worn themes that makes them seem new.
Many times we buy books, read them once, and then they sit on our shelves - to be forgotten about. Not this one. I will most certainly be rereading this book - more than once. Pick it up, you won't be sorry. And if you start hearing voices, or seeing movement in the shadows, don't say I didn't warn you.