Dark Ends Review
Updated: Jul 30
I haven’t read an anthology in years. Like dozens of years. I used to read those Dragon Lance short story collections, including some that I could never remember purchasing but somehow owned. Did I steal them from somewhere? Regardless, my desire is typically to dive deep and want more, meaning that shorter stories aren‘t usually enough for me.
But I decided to give Dark Ends a shot. I’d bought it months ago, mostly because some cool/nice people I know on Twiiter were involved and because proceeds went to fight world hunger. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and the quality.
In an anthology, you don’t expect every story to be for every person, and that was true of me and Dark Ends. My review of the stor ies are below in no particular order:
Dragon Meat by Angela Board (5 stars)
This was my favorite story of the anthology. A story about a poor girl, living in poor times, who made a study of thieving to support her sick father. It was emotional and dark, but also a damned cool world. I felt immersed in moments, and I cared about the characters. There were mysteries, enough to keep you reading, and a couple of small twists that used the short runtime (page time?) to excellent effect. I am certainly adding Fate’s Fool—the start of the main series—to my TBR.
Vultures by Luke TarzIan (4.25 stars)
Beautiful and haunting is how I would describe this story. The writing is near poetic but not purple, and I was amazed by it. Granted, I had no idea what the fuck was going on in this strange world of humans, demons, angels, and resurrection, but I kept reading anyway. The short of it is some dude is seeking revenge on a demon for killing his husband. I ended up buying Vultures and am currently reading it, if that’s any sort of recommendation.
Savages by Clayton Snyder (3 stars)
I’ve never been a big urban fantasy fan, and so I was pretty sure the setting was a miss for me right out of the gate. The story, following a dude possessed by demons, was certainly action-packed. The dude should have been ripped to shreds plenty of times, but he generally pulls through ok and punches his way through problems. I’m sure that urban fantasy fans will like this; I felt a mismatch here, since it’s not my preference. I’ll also note, since some will notice, this was the least polished story, with plenty of typos, extra letters, and weird sentences (e.g., I spent two hundred dollars on the coat that I scraped two hundred dollars together to buy”). I’m usually unbothered by such stuff, but it was pretty noticeable. (EDIT: Apparently, since I was a day-1 purchase, I got the lucky 'wrong version' file. Sounds like these issues should be cleaned up for anyone buying this moving forward).
Tainted by Krystle Matar (3.5 stars)
Movie voice guy: “in a world where magic users are enslaved by The Authority, and two dare to find love...”. This was a bit more of a modern setting, at least with trains that were powered by near-enslaved mages, forced to register their identities and powers (felt a little Nazi Germany-ish). The world was interesting, probably moreso than the characters. (e.g. Why does she love that guy? He’s so bland!”). While this wasn’t a page turner fire me, I appreciate the neat world and Matar is definitely in my periphery now.
Strays by DP Wooliscraft (3.5 stars)
A cyclical heist leveraging characters from other books, Strays was a fun and quick read. There was some great comedic timing between the characters, and though not much happened (I turned the page, expecting there to be more, but the story was over), I still did enjoy it. I have to wonder if the story would have been more enriching has I already known the characters from the other books.
There you have it. Are there authors you’ve found through anthologies?