Five Stars!

Reviewed by Lee Ashford for Readers’ Favorite

“The Speed of Dark” is a horror anthology of short stories written by an assortment of authors, and published by Chase Enterprises Publishing. Editor Clayton Clifford Bye states in his Introduction that “horror” means many things to different people. It can mean an intense feeling of fear or shock or disgust. It can mean terror, dread and fright. He quotes Lovecraft as defining horror as a profound sense of dread. He quotes Stephen King as identifying three levels of “scary”: terror, horror, and revulsion. In “The Speed of Dark” the editors were going for a different level of horror: they hand-picked 27 authors to craft “disturbing” horror stories. They succeeded admirably. Don’t expect to sleep well after reading this book. Some of these stories will stay with you for a long, long time, continuing to disturb you long after you have read them.

Many of the tales in this collection are superbly written. They also happen to be very disturbing. One can be forgiven for wondering about the mental state of some of these authors. But for a fan of horror, there is much to revel in within the pages of this compilation. I believe that every word used above to describe “horror” represents an emotion you will feel during the course of reading this book. Some of the stories have unexpected endings, which create the horror you will feel. Others start out with disturbing circumstances, and maintain that sensation of uncomfortable dread throughout. The editors at Chase Enterprises Publishing have tapped some brilliantly twisted minds to contribute to their anthology. In their effort to produce “disturbing” horror stories they have succeeded far beyond what I expected, even in spite of the introductory warning. Horror fans take note: “The Speed of Dark” is a book you must add to your library. Now.

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The Speed of Dark

5.0 out of 5 stars INCREDIBLE!!

By DJ Weaver

Format: Paperback

An anthology unlike any I have ever read, The Speed Of Dark is NOT to be missed!!! A must for ALL horror fans.

The Speed of Dark

This is an anthology of 27 stories “designed to disturb” and they accomplish their goal. I was pleased to see many writers I know, such as Tony Richards, John B. Rosenman, and Kenneth Weene featured within these pages, as well as quite a few unknown and new to me.

The first story “What About Mom?” will tug at your heartstrings. Others may horrify, some will be unforgettable, and a few may raise a feeling of disgust, but all succeed in their purpose…to plant that little seed of unease within the reader’s brain so it can flourish with a genuine frisson of dread.  In other words, to disturb.  Some stories offer a new angle on an old theme. All are beautifully written and easily readable.

I’d suggest indulging in only a few at a time so as not to overwhelm the senses. This may seem an easy task but a warning: Once started, you may find yourself reading “just one more story” and then another, and another…

What’s the Speed of Dark?  The length of time it takes to make that shiver run down the spine and the words “What if…” form inside the reader’s brain.

RATING: 5 Stars

The Speed of Dark

5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing is sweeter than revenge

By CK Webb

As a panelist for this anthology I can tell you EMPHATICALLY that this is one heck of an amazing collection!!! You have to be on your game to get me to fall in love with an anthology… these authors are!! The most original concept for an anthology I have seen in a while.

The Speed of Dark

Royal Street Horror

The Speed of Dark is an anthology of short tales of horror by Cynthia Ainworthe, Kenneth Weene, Clayton Bye, Micki Peluso, Mary Firman and more than a dozen other great writers.  It’s one of those hard-to-put-down books that keeps you up all night reading…and trembling.  From the computer generated green terror in Retrovirus, to the dreadful secrets in the cellar in Taking Care of Mother and the unexpected fate of the man in room 600 in Hansom Dove, readers are sure to find that each of these macabre stories will keeping them wanting to read one more before, if they dare, turning off the lights. – T.R. Heinan, author of L’immotalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen

The Speed of Dark

by Jess Scott

This was a horror anthology I was mightily pleased to have read. I’ve read some horror stories that are of the “gore” variety, which can honestly bore me sometimes. While everyone has their own tastes and preferences, it is “psychological horror” that gets to me, that I find a lot more dark and disturbing than explicit violence (i.e. the motivations and psyche behind brutal and/or cruel acts).

Perhaps the greatest thing about anthologies is that they feature a wide variety of authors–different voices, different styles, though the stories in this case are linked together based on that psychological horror dimension. The anthology is very aptly titled after one of the stories (“The Speed of Dark”, by Clayton Clifford Bye)–in terms of concept and pacing. That story in particular is a great short story, in the sense that the writing flows in an effortless, succinct kind of way where all the pieces (the story has something to do with “food” *ahem*) come together really neatly.

There is a lot of scope and dimension in these short stories, all of which are accompanied by a short summary at the beginning of the story (I always like that with anthologies, so that I have a rough idea of what each story is about before I get into it further). I enjoyed stories like “Jesse’s Hair” (by John B. Rosenman) and “Little Girl Lost” (by Lyn McConchie) for that same reason (the handling of macabre themes in a very stylish, understated way–actually this goes for the entire anthology; I’m just naming those two right now because I especially enjoyed the themes in those two stories!).

Do consider adding “The Speed of Dark” to your digital and/or paperback library,  if you’re looking for a good dose/exploration of original–and relatable–psychological horror.

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Short But Sweet Collection

By Lisa Lane

This collection is short, making it a quick read. The stories are well written, and being a fan of American Indian lit, I enjoyed the Mike Money shorts threaded throughout, although I do wish some of those stories had a bit more structure. I’m glad the introduction warned that there was no theme or specific genre, as I would have gone in with expectations that might have led to an altogether different review.

“The Speed of Dark” is creepy and surreal, a great choice with which to start the collection. 5 stars

“The Disappearing Frying Pan” is serious and witty at the same time, a nice introduction to the rez at Big Trout Lake. 4 stars

“Stiletto” is a classic tale of revenge, offering some great details and a good amount of characterization in such a short space. 5 stars

“Retrovirus” is a lovely take on evolution and a nice commentary on our technophile society. 5 stars

“Big Trout Lake Blues” is a sad slice-of-life tale with a lot going on but no real climax. Still it has a satisfying, fitting end and is a very good read overall. 4 stars

“Regarding Love” is my least favorite of the stories. It has a good premise but not quite enough follow-through. I really wish this one had been fleshed out a little more. 3 stars

“Wrong Number” is my favorite story in the collection, a great piece on the dark influences that push people into committing terrible acts—but also a nice glimpse into human redemption. A beautiful read. 5 stars

“The Maniac” first comes across as a supernatural thriller, but the twist is anything but. I liked the witty yet simple ending. 5 stars

“Return of the Dwarves” adds a hint of bizarro to an otherwise strictly sci-fi/fantasy story, but it’s the embedded social commentary that makes it so great. 5 stars

“The Last Unicorn” completely threw me, taking my expectations and tossing them out the window in a unique and interesting way. It feels like it could have been connected to “Retrovirus,” although the source to the unusual character is explicitly different. I love the ending, which adds an interesting depth to the title. 5 stars

Overall, I rate BEHIND THE RED DOOR 5 stars, and I recommend it to eclectic readers who enjoy a bit of literary flair to their fiction.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this collection in exchange for my honest review.

The Nettle Tree

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

The Nettle Tree is an anthology of Western-inspired short stories edited by Kenneth Weene and Clayton Clifford Bye. The authors were presented with a challenge: create an original and different Western-themed story in 3,000 words of less. Thirteen writers’ efforts are showcased in this volume, including the work of the two editors. After each story, a brief biography of, and links for, the author are given. What is it with the Wild West that conjures up so many daydreams and imaginative rides into the sunset, even for those who never really cared that much for the genre? For some, it’s the endless vistas and open spaces; for others, the thrill and danger of measuring oneself up against a tall stranger who’s new in town and reputed to be the fastest gun out there. The Nettle Tree’s authors share Western visions that are not the stuff of your everyday frontier mentality. Zombies, mages, the trickster, and all manner of odd and unexpected treats await the reader.

The authors of The Nettle Tree had a challenging assignment indeed, to breathe new and strange life into a genre that all but the enthusiast may consider a bit overrated, trivialized or overdone, and they did so brilliantly. While my taste in Western fiction runs more in the lines of prospectors trudging through deserts looking for mythical gold caches and scouts surveying new lands, I found a number of stories in this collection that had me re-evaluating the Western and its possibilities. Phil Richardson’s The Sheriff of Hog Waller is clever and convincing as outlaws, the townspeople, and the law conspire to make a killing off the bounty system. Christopher Wolf’s zombie story, Tears on the Prairie, is poignant and intense. But I would have to say the title story, The Nettle Tree, with its transporting energy fields, captured my imagination and kept it close at hand throughout the story, and Leigh M. Lane’s trickster in Valley of the Shadow deftly ramped up the suspense and atmosphere. There’s bound to be something for just about any reader in this collection of original short stories. The Nettle Tree is most highly recommended.