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The Dark Country

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  272 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
It's a real place. It lies beyond the limits of literature, past the borders of what is expected, what is allowed. All the great artists of horror have been there. Poe. Lovecraft. King. They went as tourists, as exiles, as adventurers, and they brought back terrifying pieces of the dark. Dennis Etchison is the newest citizen of The Dark Country.
Paperback, 216 pages
Published March 1st 2002 by Babbage Press (first published 1982)
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Night Shift by Stephen KingThe Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan PoeSkeleton Crew by Stephen KingDifferent Seasons by Stephen KingBreakfast is Severed by TyCobbsTeeth
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62nd out of 67 books — 23 voters
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97th out of 105 books — 17 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,014)
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Bill  Kerwin
Oct 19, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it

After reading a handful of The Dark Country stories, I began to think of the paintings of Edward Hopper. At first my reaction was a puzzle. I wonderer why.

After all, Etchison writes vividly of Southern California in the late 70’s and early ‘80’s, of LA airports, highways and rest stops, of laundromats and convenience stores. Hopper, on the other hand, paints the East Coast in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, depicting New York railway compartments, gas stations and chop suey joints, movie palaces, furnishe
Jack Tripper
Dennis Etchison had three excellent collections released in the 1980s, but this, his first, is the most consistently unnerving from beginning to end. His unique brand of horror is quiet, yet can shift to disturbingly visceral and violent all of a sudden. This isn't Charles L. Grant we're talking about here. Etchison knows how to suggest, but he is also not afraid to go for the throat.

Deserted highways and rest stops in the middle of nowhere, 7-11's and diners in the middle of the night -- these
Aug 07, 2011 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autographed, horror
Etchison should be better known. He wrote some of the most harrowing horror tales of the 70s and 80s and I hear he is still going strong. He is sort of the god-father to splatter-punk and even if his story are sometimes psychologically introverted, he excels at the brutal ending. There is rarely any supernatural themes in his fiction but he is one of the best at psychological horror. His stories can be as straight forward as a sledgehammer yet still maintain the subtlety of a traitor's kiss.

Aug 19, 2011 Sandy rated it really liked it
"The Dark Country" was Dennis Etchison's first collection of short stories, and originally appeared back in 1982. This reader picked up an out-of-print copy recently, after seeing that it had been included in Jones and Newman's excellent overview volume, "Horror: 100 Best Books." Well, I don't know if I would place it on MY personal top 100 list, but this book certainly is a unique collection of shuddery, gruesome little tales. Readers looking for horror stories depicting monsters, ghosts, demon ...more
Apr 10, 2015 Andy rated it liked it
This collection was a weird experience, I either loved or hated the stories, with little in-between. These stories can be simultaneously brilliantly and frustratingly disorientating. In a few cases Etchison has very round-about ways of telling what I thought were rather run-of-the-mill stories when you get down to it. In the final equation though, there's more good than bad here.

There's some very good stories here. "It Only Comes Out At Night" and "Daughter Of The Golden West" are both full-fled
Mark Fuller Dillon
At last, we have an e-book edition of one of the major American horror collections, and the stories are as troubling and as powerful as they were when I bought my copy from Scream/Press in 1982.

Long before then, Dennis Etchison had been writing and making a name for himself. In the 1960s and '70s, his work had appeared in everything from the MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION and WHISPERS to NEW WRITINGS IN SF, and he was a regular in THE YEAR'S BEST HORROR STORIES from DAW. We all knew t
Jul 02, 2015 Justin rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, horror
Etchison’s writing has intrigued me whenever I’ve the odd Etchison story from various anthologies I’ve stumbled upon. Considered psychological, quiet, subtle, and introverted, Etchison writes his own unique brand of horror. His debut short story collection features sixteen stories.

“It Only Comes Out at Night”
A husband and wife travel at night to a roadside rest stop in the middle of a desert. I loved the creepy atmosphere, and the buildup to the chilling climax. 4/5

“Sitting in the Corner, Whimpe
Trent Zelazny
Nov 26, 2014 Trent Zelazny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply put, collected here are some of the very best horror short stories ever written. Etchison is a master, and sadly underappreciated. His imagination is amazing, his style beautiful. If you want to study the craft of writing excellent horror short stories, this one should definitely be on your reading list.
Shirley Moore
Jun 05, 2014 Shirley Moore rated it it was amazing
Take a walk on the dark side…An unbelievably pithy and traumatic collection of dark, stark tales, The Dark Country travels on byways the reader might not otherwise ever want to explore – into the deepest recesses of the most obscure corners of the human psyche and experience. This being the second Etchison book in which I have indulged, I thought I knew somewhat what to expect, but he caught me shockingly off-guard again and again. This man’s work is a revelation; every word, every sentence, eve ...more
Dec 20, 2009 joey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
Most of these stories were published in the late seventies, very early eighties, when there was still a burgeoning fiction market in "men's magazines." (Instead of listing the actual magazine titles in which the stories first appeared, the book cites the names of the publishing houses ("Dungent Publishing Corporation," etc., which published Gallery Magazine, Gent--porn, basically.) I'm lucky enough to own a first edition, which features J.K. Potter's genuinely creepy photo art; these are photogr ...more
Rena Mason
Sep 12, 2014 Rena Mason rated it really liked it
The DARK COUNTRY is a great collection of stories that range from the eerily subtle to the memorably disturbing without little-to-no intense gore or excessive violence. The most haunting story for me was the first one, "It Only Comes Out at Night", because I think it sets the tone for the rest of the collection. If you prefer creepy tales of unease, this is collection is a perfect choice.
Robin Edman
Aug 03, 2014 Robin Edman rated it liked it
Those stories are creepy in atmosphere and extremely well drafted in every other way as well. However, they often seem to be one point short of a plot. So, you'll be bopping along, creeped out as hell, and then all of a sudden the story just ends, and you don't know for sure why. I had to do too much speculation to finish the story. That's really the author's job.
Jul 28, 2008 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Etchison is one of our finest short story writers. This is a very strong collection of his work. Etchison often was able to open his stories with dynamite lines that dragged you intensely into the story.

The title, The Dark Country," comes from Etchison's respect for Bradbury, but Etchison's horror stories are much more brutal and graphic.
Jun 02, 2009 Melissa rated it it was ok
These stories are just so close, just so tantalizingly close to being truly horrifying but in each one, there's something missing, something that makes it not-scary. I haven't finished all of them yet & I'm not sure I will. His writing style is kind of irritating & the payoff is just not worth it.
Feb 24, 2014 Marcus rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
A fairly inconsistent set of stories as far as I'm concerned...some were pretty good but it got a little repetitive in the middle and so so at the end. Not the best collection of short horror I've read.
Forgettable, oddly and unfortunately. As in I just finished it and don't even remember most of the story lines. Not really deserving of the classic reputation it seems to have, apparently from a mention by Stephen King in Danse Macabre (I came to it through Will Errickson at TooMuchHorrorFiction). A number of the stories are quite good and worth reading, but the big problem with this collection is that too many of the stories are experimental to the point of incoherency. He drops you into the mi ...more
Dr. Awesome
Feb 18, 2016 Dr. Awesome rated it it was amazing
wow what a book. a collection of short stories and every one of them is a good one. All sorts of spooky and surreal tales which deliver on the chills.
Oct 17, 2012 Manny rated it really liked it
I read this anthology when it was first published, and enjoyed most of the stories; however, some of them started off rather slow in their narrative pacing and (as is rarely my case), the few that did, I altogether skipped reading. One story I especially liked was "It Only Comes Out At Night," about an unseen monster (?) that hangs around a particular California desert rest-area...very creepy and scary. Another story, "The Dead Line," will change your mind about donating your body to science...y ...more
Sep 14, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it
classic thriller style, with the cards played close to the chest and the reader left to imagine the specifics.
Jul 27, 2014 Joyce rated it really liked it
Great old school horror tales! Loved Today's Special, a gleefully horrible story.
Franklin Arbour
Feb 11, 2014 Franklin Arbour rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best horror anthology ever written?
Kat Dietrich
Aug 14, 2016 Kat Dietrich rated it liked it
The Dark Country by Dennis Etchison is a collection of his short stories.

As much as I enjoyed some, others were strangely deep, and a bit confusing. But Etchison is a master horror/scifi writer, and most told the tale in an interesting way.
Stephen King recommended book and author per "Forenote to the Paperback Edition" of King's Berkley 1983 paperback edition of Danse Macabre.

I didn't find any of the stories particularly horrifying, but they were interesting and well-written.
Nov 30, 2015 Malcolm rated it it was ok
I heard a lot of great things about this collection of short stories. I just didn't find it very interesting.
M.P. Johnson
Mar 07, 2013 M.P. Johnson rated it really liked it
Unusual And Well-Crafted Horror

Etchison's earliest short stories are collected here. Some will creep you out in ways you never before thought you'd be creeped out. Others are surprisingly subtle and quiet.
Michael Brown
Oct 31, 2011 Michael Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Strikes me as an unofficial textbook of excellence in genre short-story writing. "The Dead Line" is particularly startling, once you get past that first sentence.
Kurt Newton
May 21, 2012 Kurt Newton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With Bradbury's The October Country and King's Night Shift at the top, this one ranks a very close second as one of the best horror short story collections around.
Betsy Boo
Jul 06, 2014 Betsy Boo rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
This guy is really, really creepy. It's difficult to say I "liked" his stories. They were well written, but they creeped me out too much.
Sep 05, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
An excellent novel, showcasing Etchison's immense talent, this is a great book and highly recommended.
Paul Jr.
Oct 02, 2011 Paul Jr. rated it it was amazing
Etchison is a master. That's all I can say after reading this collection.
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aka Jack Martin.

Dennis Etchison's short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies since 1961, and in his collections The Dark Country, Red Dreams, The Blood Kiss and The Death Artist. He is also an editor (Cutting Edge, MetaHorror, Masters of Darkness, The Museum of Horrors), novelist (Darkside, California Gothic, Double Edge), screenwriter and the winner of five British Fantasy
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