Various works of quiet horror from Beverley Lee, Lynn Love, Catherine McCarthy and T.C. Parker.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Stephanie Ellis for giving me the opportunity.
Beverley Lee starts off the anthology by reimagining some familiar tales and tropes, each of the four stories steeped in atmosphere – Lee is well-known for her moody, gothic works, often leading the reader with a subtle promise toward a shocking conclusion, and it’s easy to get lost in the words. The most notable for me were “A Whiteness of Swans” that took the beauty of the swan and injected a disturbing twist, while the second, “Tender is the Heart“, told of a boy and his lost love during a terrible plague.
It took only a moment. A moment where the boy in me died and the light swirled away into the hands of the night.
Lynn Love follows with introducing the character of Patricia in a three-part account of her life, touching on historical and supernatural elements. It featured a creepy nursery rhyme character as Patricia discovered some unexpected things about herself, and I could’ve read an entire novel about her and her encounters with the occult. As far as I’m concerned, Love created a compelling protagonist that jumped off the page.
“There’s too much death around you.”
Catherine McCarthy comes in with “The Spider and the Stag“, where a grieving widow sets out to find answers about the death of her husband. A longer story, I can’t help but admit my attention wandered a little in the beginning, but as McCarthy continued to weave a mystery, I became well and truly captivated, especially with a certain character. The ending also had me sit back in awe for a minute; it was beautiful, in a grim way.
She had failed the stag, just like she had failed Cameron.
Last but not least, T.C. Parker ends with two stories, “The Body Tree” and “Underserving“, centred around a school named Hummingbird Academy. It wasn’t about the school per se, but the parents of the children and their differences. These were my favourite, because not only were the stories connected loosely through the same people, which I liked, but the general themes piqued my interest – topical and dark as hell. If anything, I wish I could read more about the strange goings on because it felt like I wasn’t getting the whole picture.
Thereafter came the eyes, bulging and then bursting through the wallpaper like pustules through pox-afflicted skin.
In conclusion: With horrors that were emotional, unsettling and magical, Daughters of Darkness II directed a spotlight on a quartet of women, three of which were new to me. There was a decent amount of variety, and I enjoyed the overall subtlety that, in turn, made the gruesome scenes even more effective when they came around. There’s no question that it was worth the time.
© Red Lace 2021