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Book Review: Other People’s Darkness

With a background in Nightbreed and the first twoHellraiser films, you would imagine that Nicholas Vince at least appreciates horror. Judging by the ferocity, twisted charm, and inventiveness of Other People’s Darkness, it’s obvious that Vince’s interest in the genre goes far beyond mere appreciation. The stories in this collection show off Vince’s eye for grim details and the psychology of the terrified and the demonic alike. He devotes a perfect amount of space to each.

Good horror fiction injects hyperactive fuel into the anxiety we all feel while reading and getting closer and closer to story’s conclusion. We react intensely to every manipulation of our attention, as the author raises the stakes higher and higher. The ending should be something we can barely believe. It should be the kind of thing that makes us wonder how in the hell the writer pulled it off. Exceptional horror fiction naturally has to do this with fewer pages than a full-length novel. That makes achieving all of those things even more impressive. Vince offers five stories that are guaranteed to score high across every category a true horror aficionado has for a personal criterion. They are going to feel like their time has been well spent.

One of the great things about Other People’s Darkness is the fact that no two stories are alike. With a collection this diverse, there are two possibilities. The first is that five unique writers contributed a story built on their influences and ideas about things that are truly scary. The second is that one writer has talent enough to assume five different shapes to take us into five different worlds. Obviously, we’re dealing with the second scenario. This is Vince’s second book. His first, What Monsters Do,took the traditional monster archetypes and created something both modern and classically chilling. This collection focuses on other themes, but the kind of darkness that marks truly effective horror, that which breathes softly and feeds on your growing concern that something unseen is watching you, is once again found throughout the pieces in this new offering. “Other People’s Darkness” is one of the most ingenious twists on the end of the world narrative to be written in quite some time. “Having Once Turned Round” goes from forlorn love to the degree of strange that laughs at sanity like a maniac. “This Too Solid Flesh” is indeed a ghost story, but it is going to be one of the most innovative ghost stories you’ve ever come across.

A noticeable thread throughout all of these stories is emotion. These are emotional horror stories. “Why Won’t They Tell Me” (which is my personal favorite) and “Spoilers” are both very much in the same spirit (no pun intended) of the other three. These emotions are explored through not only the complicated, varied characters of each tale, but also in how we the reader respond to them. These stories draw their appeal from more than just the fact that they are small macabre masterpieces in every regard. They also have that quality of being able to display things that we can look at and find very personal reasons to be very afraid. Other People’s Darkness secures a place for Nicholas Vince as a contemporary horror writer of flair and intelligence.

Other People’s Darkness is now available. Click here to purchase.