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Dark Tides

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Virginia Beach has long been a place that people associate with beaches, nightlife, and a retreat from the stressors of the world; where the sun can shine down on you and your cares are washed away briefly by the ocean waves.

On May 31, 2019 those waves went dark with the tragic shooting of 16 innocent people - 12 fatality; the latest in a long line of senseless shootings in the world. Turning a place known for relaxation - Dark.

This book is to honor those who lost their lives in this tragedy.

Terror from the briny depths / Elizabeth Massie
Pockets full of rocks / Justin M. Woodward
Old bastards / Tony Bertauski
Flange Turner / Gene O'Neill
Nightswimming : a creepy little bedtime story / William F. Aicher
By the seaside / Kevin J. Kennedy
The burdens of the father / Mark Matthews
Black Mill Cove / Lisa Morton
Down to a sunless sea / Neil Gaiman
Devourer / Andrew Lennon
A quickee / John Skipp
Dark skies / Jason Stokes
Cycles / Chad Lutzke
They came from the sea. They went to the stars / Hanson Oak
Night surf / Stephen King
Anniversary / John R. Little
Beneath the tides / Kelli Owen
Eternal valley / John Palisano
Widow's point / Richard Chizmar & Billy Chizmar
Messages / Mark Allan Gunnells
Show me where the waters fill your grave / Todd Keisling
Come tomorrow / John Boden
A night at the lake with the weird girl / Ray Garton
Alone / Taylor Grant
The cerulean tide / Somer Canon
Night dive / F. Paul Wilson
The abalone thief / Matthew V. Brockmeyer
In the shadow of the equine / Kenneth W. Cain
Thicker than water / Paul Kane
Walking with the ghosts of Pier 13 / Brian James Freeman

496 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2019

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John J. Questore

2 books24 followers

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Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for Debbi Smith.
405 reviews5 followers
September 29, 2019
I was honored to be given an ebook copy of this book to read.
Dark Tides is a fabulous anthology of tales, all with a similar watery theme, written by some of the very best authors of the horror/ fantasy genre. All of the stories will give you a shiver, and make you wonder if you really want to get to close to that lovely body of water you've always played in before.
Whoever buys this book will not only be supporting a good cause but will be buying themselves hours of enjoyment.
Profile Image for BookNerdsBrainDump.
291 reviews14 followers
September 28, 2019
Short Take: You should absolutely immerse yourself in this.

(*Note: I received an advance copy of this book for review..*)

Good morning, my lovely nerdlings! I’m bringing you something a little extra-special today. You all know that I have a deep affinity for the twisty, the bump-in-the-night-y, the creepy and the kooky, the mysterious and spooky (ok, ok, I’ll stop), but this time, I’m reading my favorite stuff for a wonderful cause. In the Dark Tides anthology, a whole lot of my long-time favorite authors and a few marvelous up & comers contributed stories, with all proceeds going to the families and victims of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach (which happens to be one of my favorite places), with all of the stories having a watery-depths theme.

And oh my darlings, what an eclectic treasure chest this book is! There truly is something for everyone - Cthulu-ish cosmic horror, ghosts and zombies, serial killers and witches, mob hits, makeout sessions, the past, the future, children, the elderly, and of course, everything aquatic.

If you want a quick overview, as a whole, I can tell you that Dark Tides is one of the most solid anthologies I’ve ever read. I’m a salty (heh) old nerd, so generally, when I read a collection, about a quarter of the stories are fantastic, half are enjoyable enough, and the final 25% is a firm meh-to-bad. I’m thrilled to report that this one has no clunkers. I’m also concerned that I might be losing my famously impeccable taste.

That said, there were a few stand-outs, and those ones have stars next to them in the list below. If I had a gun to my head & were forced to choose a favorite, I’d have to go with Hanson Oak’s “They Came From the Sea. They Went To the Stars.” because even though it didn’t feature water or the beach as much as the others, it was a mind-bending blend of horror, love story, mythology, and a lot of Alice In Wonderland hallucinogenic weirdness.

Although it’s probably a tie between that one and Widow’s Point, because my heart is always in haunted houses, and that one is so freakin’ innovative. And legit creepy.

Because Dark Tides is a leviathan-sized collection of 30 gems, I can only devote a few words to each of them. Let’s dive in (heh), shall we?

Terror From the Briny Depths, by Elizabeth Massie - Say you’re a young bride-to-be in the 1950’s, on a beachfront vacation with your somewhat-overbearing fiance, when you happen to notice an enormous monster beneath the waves. And it knows your name. Wait, what??

Pockets Full of Rocks, by Justin M. Woodward - On the worst day of a young man’s life, he meets an old man on the beach who has some very strange things to say to him.

Old Bastards, by Tony Bertauski - Thomas wakes up on a deserted island with no memory of how he got there. Fortunately, there’s someone else in his head who can give him all kinds of helpful information - how to treat his wounds, what to eat, where to hide, and most importantly, how to sabotage what needs to be sabotaged.

** Flange Turner, by Gene O’Neill - Ian’s been let go from the waterfront factory where he worked for 20-odd years. But his job isn’t the only thing in his life that’s fading away. A creepy story that’s a brilliant portrayal of a dying rust belt town.

** NIGHTSWIMMING: A Creepy Little Bedtime Story, by William F. Aicher - A rebellious teenage girl convinces her boyfriend to go skinny-dipping in the pool of a closed-up mansion. Surely nothing terrible could happen.

By the Seaside, by Kevin J. Kennedy - When it rains on their beachside vacation, little Sarah and her parents decide to spend an evening inside, telling scary stories. But no matter how creepy the story is, it’s just pretend, right?

The Burdens of the Father, by Mark Matthews - In a not-too-distant future America, air is rationed, and any citizens deemed not worthy of their share are eliminated. Everything is carefully controlled by the government, but Janis’s wife is secretly pregnant, and a strident street preacher seems to be openly flouting all the rules, with no consequences. And that’s just the start of the strangeness of the day.

Black Mill Cove, by Lisa Morton - When Jim kisses Maren and leaves their camper to hunt for abalone in the pre-dawn dark tidal pools, he finds something completely unexpected. And horrifying. And then things get REALLY bad.

** Down to a Sunless Sea, by Neil Gaiman - A mother’s heartbreaking lament, lyrical and haunting, a shocking amount of story in very few words.

** Devourer, by Andrew Lennon - When Pete persuades his cousin’s grown-up boyfriend to take him on a jet-ski ride, he thinks it’s the coolest thing ever. Until it isn’t. Sidenote: I am never again swimming where I can’t see the bottom. No way.

A Quickee, by John Skipp - A moonlight tryst is not what it seems.

Dark Skies, by Jason Stokes - Trying to walk home in a hurricane is a bad idea. Getting lost in a hurricane is bad luck. Or maybe it’s something worse.

** Cycles, by Chad Lutzke - A young man decides to face his (well-deserved) fear of the ocean while on his date with the girl of his dreams. What could go wrong?

** They Came from the Sea. They Went to the Stars. By Hanson Oak - Oliver, nearly destroyed by the loss of his wife and sons, goes into the graveyard to mourn them and ends up somewhere entirely different. Beautiful and strange.

Night Surf, by Stephen King - A classic, moody piece in which the world ends not with a bang, but a sniffle.

** Anniversary, by John R. Little - Jimmy and Gail really love the ocean, and each other. My heart can’t take this one, y’all.

Beneath the Tides, by Kelli Owen - After a painful breakup, Trevor rents a beach house for a quiet weekend of reading & relaxing. And then the screaming starts.

Eternal Valley, by John Palisano - In 19th century Missouri, there’s no Medexpress. So when little Jesse becomes deathly ill, his father has to look elsewhere for a cure.

** Widow’s Point, by Richard Chizmar & Billy Chizmar - found footage (yes, I know it’s a book, just go with it) piece in which an author spends a weekend in a haunted lighthouse. I’m a sucker for haunted houses, and this one is superb

Messages, by Mark Allan Gunnells - A grief-stricken man who doesn’t really believe in anything finds and replies to a message in a bottle. Probably not the best idea.

Show Me Where the Waters Fill Your Grave, by Todd Keisling - It’s been four years since Glenda died, and something amazing and terrifying happened during the first big rainstorm afterward. Now, another massive rainstorm is due to hit and Jonathan is ready for it.

Come Tomorrow, by John Boden - A man mourning the loss of his wife and daughter decides that a quiet afternoon of fishing might help, but he’s not prepared for what he catches.

** A Night at the Lake with the Weird Girl, by Ray Garton - Tom’s new in town, and Mina is, well, weird. But Deepshadow Lake takes strange to new levels. Also, weird girls are the best and everyone should appreciate them more.

Alone, by Taylor Grant - Jess has lost everyone and everything she loved, and really just wants to be alone with her thoughts. But then she hears the voice from the water.

The Cerulean Tide, by Somer Canon - Ok, but hear me out: toilet bowl cleaner on a planetary scale.

Night Dive, by F. Paul Wilson - Safety, schmafety. Sometimes a wealthy man just wants to go diving alone, is that so wrong?

The Abalone Thief, by Matthew V. Brockmeyer - Theodore is a marine biologist studying abalone populations off the coast of California. But when a large number of the shellfish disappear, his investigation turns up something much crazier than he expected.

In the Shadow of the Equine, by Kenneth W. Cain - A father & son duo, along with a couple of dozen others go camping on an island famous for its wild horse population. But instead of beautiful manes and shaggy coats, they get an old man ranting a bunch of religious-ish gibberish. It couldn’t get much worse than that, right?

Thicker Than Water, by Paul Kane - Naomi’s life has been sad and solitary, until she meets Gerry, The Perfect Guy. She just has to meet and win over his family.

Walking With the Ghosts of Pier 13, by Brian James Freeman - Visiting the place his brother always loved, Jeremy is haunted by more than memories.

So you see, this is one must-have collection. And if you’re on the fence about buying it just for the stories, (what kind of fan are you???), then you should absolutely consider picking up a copy to support the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund. And if your shelves are as overstuffed as my Thanksgiving pants, you can donate to the victims directly here:


The Nerd’s Rating: FIVE HAPPY NEURONS (and some abalone, because I’ve never tried it, but apparently, it’s really really good.)
Profile Image for Will Blosser.
49 reviews16 followers
October 13, 2019
Dark Tides is a charity anthology edited by John J. Questore in honor of those who lost their lives in the tragic Virginia Beach shooting earlier this year (May 31, 2019). All proceeds from the anthology will be donated to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund.

This ocean- themed anthology brings together some heavy-hitting big names with some lesser known rising stars in the horror world. The selection and editing of stories was excellent, certainly making this one of the better anthologies I’ve ever read. I loved the vast majority of the included stories, and liked most of the rest. There were only a few that I just couldn’t get into, and none that I could say are objectively bad. Honestly, in an anthology, that’s pretty rare. Not only is this a cool concept for a great cause, the execution is top notch. These stories were heartbreaking, immersive, mind-boggling and downright terrifying.

My Top Three Favorite Stories
Anniversary- John R. Little: An elderly couple take a stroll to the beach that they met on, sixty years ago. All I’ll say about this one is that I was not prepared to feel these things while reading a horror anthology.

Night Dive- F. Paul Wilson: A wealthy scuba diver’s penchant for ditching his dive buddy in favor of solitude gets him blacklisted from all the reputable dive shops. When a stranger comes calling with an offer to take him to a legendary hidden dive spot to dive alone, of course he can’t refuse. That may have been the last mistake he’ll ever make. This story inspires awe, wonder, thalassophobia, and sheer terror. An absolutely riveting, gripping read.

The Abalone Thief- Matthew V. Brockmeyer: A marine biologist studying abalone off the California coast stumbles upon something much bigger than he ever imagined. A great cosmic horror tale that left me desperately wanting more.

Full review at Home Grown Horror (www.hghorror.wordpress.com)
Profile Image for L.T..
Author 11 books27 followers
March 23, 2020
I ordered this book, because it was a charity-driven piece that included a short story by Neil Gaiman. Yes, this is a ridiculous reason to buy a book, but so is picking one based on the cover. However, I more than lucked out with these stories. I don't usually read horror. Gore and fantastical creatures are truly meh in my literary choices, but I wanted to read Dark Tides and to get a taste of what horror stories can be.

Totally worth it.

While not every story was a tale that I loved, each was written in a style that kept me hooked and reading. The variety of stories and styles were a complete win to this new-to-horror reader. A well-organized sampler platter for the genre. The stories were engaging and enjoyable to the point that I have already downloaded several horror novels to my Kindle. To me, this says a lot about Dark Tides. When a reader doesn't usually enjoy the genre, but they still don't want to put the book down, it's a great book. That's what Dark Tides was for me. I truly enjoyed every short story and I'm already annoying friends with suggesting they read it.
Profile Image for Tina.
878 reviews6 followers
October 15, 2019

Loved every story in this collection. Some more than others but there isn't a single bad story in this book. I had more obvious faves, Stephen King, Richard & Billy Chizmar and Neil Gaiman but the rest were equally as good. Big 👏.
Profile Image for Alan.
950 reviews51 followers
November 19, 2019
It's great that so many authors, including big names like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, F. Paul Wilson, Ray Garton and John Skipp all contributed to this anthology to raise money for the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund. Of all the tales in the book, I think the star was Richard and Billy Chizmar's "Widow's Point".
Profile Image for Steve Rufle.
96 reviews2 followers
June 1, 2020
Great short stories. You can't predict how they are going to end.
Profile Image for Matthew Lanham.
28 reviews
June 1, 2020
I struggled with collections. Mostly because their is no hook to keep me wanting to read on. That being said I do love my horror. This is a great collection for fans of horror and otherworldly oddities. Would highly recommend a read.
Profile Image for D.M. Shepard.
Author 1 book11 followers
November 24, 2019
My Review of Hanson Oak's, They came from the Sea, They went to the Stars. A Contributor to the Dark Tides Anthology.





-Inscription on the plaque in memory of the crew of Apollo I (Gus Grisham, Ed White, Roger B Chaffee)

“Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul
And sings the tune without words
And never stops at all.”

-Emily Dickenson

As I read They Came From the Sea, They Went to the Stars, Hanson Oak’s contribution to Gestalt Media’s Dark Tides Anthology, I could see some parallels between his novelette, the Black Hen Witch and this story. The method of approaching the quest for answers between his two stories is philosophically different. I will try to explain (without spoilers). Overall, this story’s haunting themes of love, loss, family and soul mates reminded me of the movie What Dreams May Come (1998) with Robin Williams.

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”
The first gates of the Inferno- Dante’s Divine Comedy

Hanson draws the reader in immediately with the description of Oliver’s suffering at the loss of his wife and children. Five years after the terrible accident that took their lives, he still haunts the graveyard where they were laid to rest—or so he thought.

One night he encounters a beautiful gypsy (she reminds me a lot of his character Corta, from the Black Hen Witch). She tells him she traded them for a second life and convinces him to dig up his wife’s coffin. He does—and realizes the coffin is empty with a door leading out the back. Hanson’s description of the scene as he opens the door into this unknown world to follow his loved ones brought to mind the quote above from Dante’s Divine Comedy.

“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”
― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Oliver enters a bizarre world reminiscent of a cross between Oz and Wonderland. He has no idea where he needs to go, other than to The Collector of Odd Things, who has his family. The gypsy assured him this was where he needs to be.

One of the interesting aspects of Oliver’s quest to find his family is his need to remove his shoes made of leather. The everchanging path is riddled with thorns “like kitten teeth.” Yet the creatures of the strange land he has entered will not tell him how to get to the Collector of Odd things “carried on death.” The thorns shred his feet to an agonizing, bloody mess, but it is worth it to get to his family.

While it is blood and pain instead of water, his feet, and his soul, are undergoing a cleansing of sorts. The cleansing of the feet goes back to ancient times and referenced multiple times in the Bible and the Quran. It is still practiced today in many eastern religions before important events and holidays. It makes sense in regions where people walk in sandals and bare feet amongst livestock. It is a means to prevent the tracking of dirt and disease into the home.

In Oliver’s situation, he cannot reach the home of the Collector of Odd Things in his old state. He must undergo a cleansing not only of the body, but mind and spirit as well. The physical pain is only one part. Once he removes his shoes and buries them, the creatures tell him the secret to keeping on the path to the home of the Collector of Odd Things. But once more, it is a riddle that Oliver must puzzle for himself.

“To stay on course you must be mindful of the now, but focused on the then.”

Oliver’s quest is introspective. To find the answers he seeks he must look inward. He can’t count on an external savior to just come along and tell him the answer. Every step of the quest will be met with a question or riddle which he must come up with the answer himself.

It is fascinating how much religion comes to play in myths, legends and storytelling of a culture. The style of quest and philosophy portrayed in Hanson’s story is found more often in Greek or Eastern religions where it is common to meet a question with another question. Salvation is never found externally, but through meditation, fasting and guided questioning.

In Western storytelling, often a wiseman (or woman), magical being (God) comes along and reveals the answer to the hero after enough suffering has occurred in the quest. This hearkens back to the differences in the religions themselves. Western Christianity tells you to just believe what is written in the Bible, ask for salvation, and it is given. Islam is more of a hybrid, demanding more fasting and supplication before the answer and salvation is granted. Eastern Christianity (Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Coptic Christian are some examples) are unique hybrids that draw more on Greek Philosophy and demand introspection for salvation.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
-For Whom the Bell Tolls, John Donne

Okay, I had to put this poem in here, because of the scene with the bell outside the door of the house. I really enjoyed the Oliver’s quandary as he debated ringing the bell, and then what happens once it is rung. The reader can feel every moment of this scene. Oliver imagines himself trapped, but he needs only to change his perspective to find his way out.

“We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming - well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.”
― Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses

In order to be with his family once more, The Collector of Odd things gives him yet another riddle, tell him what the bottle he values contains. The contents are what “drove mankind from the water and took them to the stars.”

Once again, the answer cannot be just given, it has to be found. Oliver must set out into the strange world of changing paths to find the answer within himself.

“If she is always changing the path,” Oliver asked. “How can I trust it will lead the right way?”

“The answer is always obscured by questions and not all of them will be your own. If the answer is not in here, then it is out there, and if you don’t know where to look, it doesn’t matter where the trail will lead. You must simply trust it will lead you to right where you need to be, exactly when you need to be there.”

The paths lead him to the very girl who continually changes the paths, The Seeded Girl.

Forever waiting for her parents, she alters the paths hoping they will lead her parents back to her. As he exchanges both questions and answers in her garden, he works his way to his own answer of what lies in the bottle.

“It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
-Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl

I will leave it to the reader to follow through to the end and discover what Oliver decides is in the bottle. As to the answer he gave the Collector of Odd Things, I have given clues with the quotes I have included with my review.

In the end, I feel that the answer is actually ambiguous and changes based on each person the Collector of Odd Things gathers to him. To me, there is no right or wrong answer, and the Collector will never complete his collection. I get this impression based on the conversation between Oliver and the Seeded Girl. Just as she will wait forever for parents who aren’t looking, The Collector of Odd things will continue to gather things, creatures and answers until the end of time.
Profile Image for Trey Stone.
Author 4 books165 followers
November 20, 2019
Dark Tides is a horror anthology, and a special on at that. Put together and edited by John J. Questore, it's a charity anthology, dedicated to those affected by the Virginia Beach shooting, 31 May, 2019. It's a work to be admired.

I was excited about the book as soon as I heard about the theme and saw the cover, but when I found about the cause it's supporting, well... You don't have to ask me twice.

The theme is—as you might have gauged from the title—water. Dark, disturbing water. The kind that pulls you in and doesn't let go, forcing the air out of your lungs. It's beautiful, cold, and terrifying.

There are lots of stories in here, and it's a long book. With authors like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Richard Chizmar, Billy Chizmar, Jason Stokes, Hanson Oak, and Bill Aicher (plus many, many more), it's a hefty read. Most of them I enjoyed. Most of them were good. But at the same time, there some that just didn't home. Maybe it was me, but I felt like there was a wide range of (for the lack of a better word) quality. Some came across as perhaps a little cliche, and a little bit lacking. (But again, maybe it's just me.)

A more serious issue however was the editing and production. I had the ebook version of this book, and I came across several instances of misspelled words, missing words, and formatting issues. There were also some cases of the fonts in certain story, or in parts of stories changing to be almost completely faded so it was difficult to read.

But that's not to say I didn't enjoy the book, and the issues affect a relatively small portion of the book.

I love reading short stories. It's nice to have them as a palate cleanser between novels. Something light, and easy. I realized while reading this however, that I'm not used to reading anthologies. When everything's about the same theme, about the same concept (pretty much always), it's easy to get bored. You get one horror story about the dark depths, and it's pretty cool. Then you get another with a similar but different concept, and you're still excited. Then you get another and another and another.

They blend into each other after a while, and I noticed it exhausted me a bit. (Not that this has anything to do with the quality of the book, of course!

Recommended if you like horror and want to support a great cause!
Profile Image for C.D. Storiz.
Author 8 books15 followers
April 21, 2020
The short stories included in the anthology, Dark Tides, were some of the most interesting, endearing, and sometimes scary stories I've read. I'm not usually a fan of horror but this was more than a few horror stories. These were stories that touched me deeply, gave me goosebumps, and made me ponder. I enjoyed nearly all of them and a few exceptions really stood out as exceptional pieces of work that I'm still thinking about even days after I've read them.

That's what I love about anthologies - I've found new authors to follow and read their work. And I like collections of short stories as I get more of a sense of accomplishment reading them! Also, the editing on this anthology was superb. I've been disappointed in the past with other publishers who allowed careless mistakes pass them which takes away from the pleasure of reading but this was well written, well edited, and included some masterful work.
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