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Dark Forces: New Stories of Suspense and Supernatural Horror

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The Late Shift by Dennis Etchison
The Enemy by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Dark Angel by Edward Bryant
The Crest of Thirty-six by Davis Grubb
Mark Ingestre: The Customer’s Tale by Robert Aickman
Where the Summer Ends by Karl Edward Wagner
The Bingo Master by Joyce Carol Oates
Children of the Kingdom by T. E. D. Klein
The Detective of Dreams by Gene Wolfe
Vengeance Is. By Theodore Sturgeon
The Brood by Ramsey Campbell
The Whistling Well by Clifford D. Simak
The Peculiar Demesne by Russell Kirk
Where the Stones Grow by Lisa Tuttle
The Night Before Christmas by Robert Bloch
The Stupid Joke by Edward Gorey
A Touch of Petulance by Ray Bradbury
Lindsay and the Red City Blues by Joe Haldeman
A Garden of Blackred Roses by Charles L. Grant
Owls Hoot in the Daytime by Manly Wade Wellman
Where There’s a Will by Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson
Traps by Gahan Wilson
The Mist by Stephen King

551 pages, Hardcover

First published August 1, 1980

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About the author

Kirby McCauley

13 books8 followers
Kirby McCauley (1941-2014) was a New York City literary agent and editor.

He attended the University of Minnesota and became a literary agent in the 1970s, soon building a successful agency and representing authors such as Stephen King, Roger Zelazny, and George R.R. Martin, who credits him with helping to launch his writing career. In 1975, McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention.

He died of of renal failure associated with diabetes in 2014.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 89 reviews
Profile Image for Graham.
1,148 reviews67 followers
December 28, 2008
I adore horror anthologies, especially the ones that were released between the 1960s and 1980s - so when I saw this massive volume from Kirby McCauley, I had to have it. I'm glad I did. McCauley uses pretty much all the talent from the 1980 horror scene to deliver a rousing, frightening anthology that rarely disappoints.

First off, the not-so-good efforts. THE BINGO MASTER by Joyce Carol Oates is a distinctly non-horror effort that tries to be different and succeeds in being boring. It has no place here. A GARDEN OF BLACKRED ROSES, by Charles L. Grant, is too obtuse and abstract for my tastes, although some may like it. Edward Gorey's THE STUPID JOKE is a mildly amusing short comic strip, included in the interests of variety, while Gahan Wilson's TRAPS is a silly story about rats taking on human characteristics.

Next, we have the good stories. THE LATE SHIFT and THE BROOD are both fine examples of the work of Dennis Etchison and Ramsey Campbell, respectively. THE ENEMY by Isaac Bashevis Singer is an old-fashioned psychological thriller that reminded me of Guy de Maupassant and Edward Bryant's DARK ANGEL is a sickening little witchcraft story. Davis Grubb's THE CREST OF THIRTY-SIX is a nice piece of southern Gothic, reminding me of William Faulkner, while Theodore Sturgeon offers up a racy little morality tale in VENGEANCE IS.

Onto the really good stories. MARK INGESTRE: THE CUSTOMER'S TALE is an erotic retelling of the Sweeney Todd legend by ghost story master Robert Aickman. It's surreal and disturbing and well worth your time. THE DETECTIVE OF DREAMS by Gene Wolfe involves supernatural sleuthery as a period-era France is home to a man who haunts people through their dreams. THE PECULIAR DEMESNE, by Russell Kirk, is a good old-fashioned campfire ghost story, with the author's own unique spin, while A TOUCH OF PETULANCE marks Ray Bradbury at his most blackly comic. LINDSAY AND THE RED CITY BLUES, by Joe Haldeman, is efficient enough to put would-be tourists off visiting Morocco for life, and similar to Bryant's DARK ANGEL in tone.

That leaves us the excellent stories, and there are a few. WHERE THE SUMMER ENDS is another frightening, imaginative effort from Karl Edward Wagner, who rarely puts a foot wrong when it comes to his horror yarns. CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM by T. E. D. Klein is a lengthy, ponderous story about an underground race revenging itself on mankind, and Klein is worthy of the 'modern-day Lovecraft' monikor on the strength of this absolutely brilliant piece. WHERE THE STONES GROW is the best I've read yet by Lisa Tuttle, intelligent and well written, while THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS marks Robert Bloch at his darkest and has the best punchline I've ever come across. OWLS HOOT IN THE DAYTIME is another great story, this time by Manly Wade Wellman, and part of his 'John the Balladeer' series, although it also works as a stand-alone tale of demonic horror with plenty of authenticity. WHERE THERE'S A WILL marks a pairing of father/son writers Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson in a fine retelling of the eternally popular 'buried alive' story.

The best story in the volume is saved until last - Stephen King's THE MIST. This novella is essentially a survivors-under-siege scenario involving the kind of massive, mutated beasties you'd find in a '50s B-movie, yet King's focus on the human element makes this affecting, moving and oh-so-frightening. It's a truly fantastic climax to an excellent volume of stories.
Profile Image for Marvin.
1,414 reviews5,315 followers
December 22, 2012
Published in the 80s, Dark Forces is occasionally referred to as the "Dangerous Visions" of the horror genre. While that may be stretching it, this is one of the definitive anthologies in horror. There are 23 contributors from Stephen King to Theodore Sturgeon to an illustrated story by Edward Gorey to Isaac Bashevis Singer. There is a story by Gahan Wilson proving he is just as good a writer as a cartoonist. Some of the standouts include "The Late Shift" by Denneis Etchison, "Where the Summer Ends" by Karl Edward Wagner, "The Detective of Dreams' by Gene Wolfe, and "The Peculiar Demense" by Russell Kirk. This book also includes the first appearance of Stephen King's "The Mist" and T.E.D. Klein's "Children of the Kingdom", both excellent novellas.
Profile Image for Zach.
285 reviews264 followers
October 8, 2019
Original stories commissioned by the editor, the all-star horror agent of the 1970s and 1980s, this was a historically important representation of the horror field around 1979. Nothing too groundbreaking takes place here, but the stories are good-to-great for the most part, and several have gone on to become modern classics. As always, not enough women, and no non-white authors.

The Mist • (1980) • novella by Stephen King
After an incredible storm, the titular mist rolls across a small New England town, bringing with it a variety of ferocious monsters and trapping a number of townsfolk in a small grocery store. Maybe the first time I’ve read something of King’s that at no point made me feel embarrassed on his behalf? The women are rote stereotypes (the harridan, the whore, etc), but that at least sets them apart from the men, who were indistinguishable. 4/5

The Late Shift • (1980) • shortstory by Dennis Etchison
A pair of losers in California stumble onto the existence of a company renting out the bodies of the newly dead for low wage night shift work. The reach of the company proves unavoidable. 5/5

The Enemy • (1980) • shortstory by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Two Jewish men, refugees from Naziism, reunite years later in New York. One tells the story of his journey from Argentina by cruiseship, on which one of the waiters (an Argentine) inexplicably became his enemy, ridiculing him and refusing to serve him. Probably the most well-written of the stories collected here. The Holocaust seems too obvious an interpretation - this one deserves some more thought. 4/5

Dark Angel • (1980) • shortstory by Edward Bryant
Another story set off by a reunion - this time a witch running into an ex-boyfriend who abandoned her after knocking her up many years ago (to make sure we understand just how evil he is, it also turns out he later murdered his wife). As payback, she magically infects him with an unbirthable pregnancy. Agency! 4/5

The Crest of Thirty-six • (1980) • shortstory by Davis Grubb
A kind of magical realist Southern folktale relying heavily on the Weird Woman trope - I should hate this, but, despite myself, I really loved this one. Darly Pogue, the town wharfmaster, is married to Loll, some sort of water witch whose beauty waxes and wanes with the moon. After he thinks one of her predictions was a lie, he hits her and flees to a local hotel, where his fear of water proves well-founded. 5/5

Mark Ingestre: The Customer's Tale • (1980) • shortstory by Robert Aickman
Even for an Aickman story, this was kind of impenetrable. A reimagining of the Sweeney Todd story as a sexual awakening, on researching it a bit I found that the Chaucer allusions were supposed to make one disbelieve the frame narrator and roll one’s eyes a bit at the claims within. That still didn’t really make it much fun to read, though. Beautifully written and hazy, although that probably goes without saying. 3/5

Where the Summer Ends • (1980) • novelette by Karl Edward Wagner
Standard monster story: intimations of a threat slowly become more and more pronounced, things end poorly for the protagonist, but it’s well-done, and using the rampant kudzu infestation of the South as the cover for more nefarious happenings was a stroke of genius. 4/5

The Bingo Master • (1980) • shortstory by Joyce Carol Oates
JCO does Flannery O’Connor. An eccentric spinster lives with her eccentric family and writes eccentric letters to her eccentrics friends before deciding to lose her virginity to the eccentric titular character. Things go awry. 3/5

Children of the Kingdom • (1980) • novella by T. E. D. Klein
Klein does Lovecraft, but rightfully subverts the latter’s racial anxiety - our narrator and his wife are much more worried about black New Yorkers than they are with the (white) half-human monsters living under the city. The narrator’s grandfather, a much less assimilated Jewish man, does not share their anxieties. It’s longer than it needed to be, though, and I never care for stories like this hinging on sexual abuse. 3/5

The Detective of Dreams • (1980) • novelette by Gene Wolfe
Perhaps the least subtle Wolfe story I’ve read, a pastiche of the psychic detective genre where a Frenchman is hired to figure out who is behind a series of nightmares afflicting a variety of people. No one familiar with Wolfe will be surprised to learn that it’s Christ. 2/5

Vengeance Is. • (1980) • shortstory by Theodore Sturgeon
A very short piece about two rapists being killed by some sort of mutant STD. 1/5

The Brood • (1980) • shortstory by Ramsey Campbell
Like the Wagner, a very well-done monster story, nothing more, nothing less. In a nice twist, our protagonist is a veterinarian, and it’s concern about animals that leads him into the next-door house that is being occupied by squatters. Even more so than the Wagner, this is a downtrodden meditation on urban alienation. 5/5

The Whistling Well • (1980) • novelette by Clifford D. Simak
An author’s aunt hires him to investigate the family past, which leads him to an old homestead on haunted land. Very poorly written in an oddly repetitious way (also narratively - the aunt continues to intrude but ends up not having much to do with anything), although the creepy scenes creeped effectively for the most part. The images of dinosaurs worshipping Lovecraftian horrors was a little bit difficult to take seriously. 2/5

The Peculiar Demesne • (1980) • novelette by Russell Kirk
Some Americans listen to a ghost story told by a potentate in a fictitious African country. Pretty good aside from the fact that Kirk kept reminding us how black all of the characters except for the Americans were. Said potentate once had a run-in with a criminal who turned out to be a body-hopping psychic vampire, who transported the two of them (physically or not the potentate was unsure) to an effectively-described deserted town. 4/5

Where the Stones Grow • (1980) • shortstory by Lisa Tuttle
A young man who once saw his father killed by standing stones in England waits for them to do the same to him. Bad dialogue, otherwise well-written enough, but I can’t get over the idea of moving stones as a threat. 2/5

The Night Before Christmas • (1980) • novelette by Robert Bloch
Bloch’s work never speaks to me. This one, the story of an artist painting the portrait of oilman’s beautiful young wife, seems to be written only in order to use the final punchline. Misogynistic and uninteresting. 1/5

The Stupid Joke • (1980) • shortfiction by Edward Gorey
Gorey drawings with a brief story to go with them. The monster under the bed without the “under.” 2/5

A Touch of Petulance • (1980) • shortstory by Ray Bradbury
The older version of a man travels back in time after murdering his wife to warn his younger self not to let his relationship sour to that degree. The younger man is sure that will never happen, until he notices the titular attitude of his wife. The wife is a non-character. Bradbury tends to be very hit or miss for me, and this is firmly in the latter camp. 1/5

Lindsay and the Red City Blues • (1980) • shortstory by Joe Haldeman
Despicable American tourist realizes Europe is full of other tourists and goes to Morocco instead, where he’s duped by the locals, assaults an underage prostitute, and is cursed by a magician (using the girl as a kind of living voodoo doll). Like the Bryant, ends with an unpassable male pregnancy, but the woman has no agency at all this time. Orientalist, although the “pre-modern” attitude toward magic does end up being the correct understanding. 1/5

A Garden of Blackred Roses • (1980) • novelette by Charles L. Grant
A series of vignettes set in Grant’s fictitious Oxrun, Connecticut, revolving around nefarious ends coming to people who have stolen the titular roses from a local hermit who is (or is modeled after?) Dimmesdale from the Scarlet Letter. Beautifully written, subtle, creepy. 5/5

Owls Hoot in the Daytime • [John the Balladeer] • (1980) • shortstory by Manly Wade Wellman
Another folksy Southern tale, although this one did much less for me. John the Balladeer, a recurring character of Wellman’s, encounters a dwarf on a wooded mountain, who is guarding an entrance to Hell. John saves the day. 3/5

Where There's a Will • (1980) • shortstory by Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson
A man wakes up in a coffin and digs his way out, desperate to get revenge on the men he’s sure did this to him in order to steal his company. Of course, since the narrative hammered home over and over again that he was so sure about that, it turns out to be a misunderstanding. An updating, in many ways, of HPL’s “The Outsider,” but not a worthwhile one. 2/5

Traps • (1980) • shortstory by Gahan Wilson
An exterminator faces down a house infested by rats who have learned to organize! An individual, of course, cannot stand against a community. 5/5
Profile Image for Debbie.
205 reviews5 followers
December 10, 2007
This anthology offers some truly frightening tales from masters of the genre like Stephen King and Robert Bloch to some unexpected contributors such as Isaac Bashevis Singer and Theodore Sturgeon. One of my favorite stories is Children of the Kingdom by T.E.D. Klein. It offers up a view of NYC and the 1977 blackout that provides chills.
Profile Image for Charles.
Author 37 books250 followers
June 6, 2009
Simply one of the best overall anthologies of horror fiction out there. Contains great stories by Bradbury, Karl Wagner, Etchison, and others, and the novella "The Mist" by King, which is one of the best things he ever wrote.
Profile Image for Joseph.
671 reviews84 followers
October 16, 2018
OK, the details here are a bit fuzzy, but bear with me ...

Sherman: Set the Wayback Machine to, um, sometime in the very early 1980s. I'm in either junior high or early high school; a friend of mine has given me a copy of Stephen King's The Dead Zone and I like it very, very much -- so much so that I go out and read every other King book I can lay hands on (which, at that point, is pretty much the classic run: Carrie, 'Salem's Lot, The Stand, The Shining and Night Shift). Shortly thereafter, as I'm perusing the shelves at the Austin Public Library, I see this big, fat book called Dark Forces: New Stories of Suspense and Supernatural Horror, which right there on the cover promises to contain a BRAND! NEW! STEPHEN! KING! STORY! So, needless to say, it comes home with me. And in addition to the King story, I find myself read a whole bunch of other excellent late 1970s horror ...

Now, about 30 years after the last time I read it, I picked up my copy of Dark Forces on a whim, and was very, very happy with what I found waiting for me.

The King story is "The Mist", and it remains possibly my favorite of his to this day -- kind of in the vein of 1950s monster movies, but with a whole lot more blood & dismemberment (on-screen, rather than implied) and a bit of sex (ditto). Other highlights in the collection include Davis Grubb's "The Crest of Thirty-Six", about a truly remarkable flood; Karl Edward Wagner's "Where the Summer Ends", my first encounter with his work; Joyce Carol Oates' "The Bingo Master", T.E.D. Klein's "Children of the Kingdom", a modern (well, late 1970s) updating of Lovecraft; Gene Wolfe's "The Detective of Dreams" (a story whose point I only just today realized); Robert Bloch's "The Night Before Christmas", a story whose ending was so subtle it went right past me the first time or two I read it, but once I actually figured it out, hoo boy; and possibly my second favorite story in the collection, Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson's "Where There's a Will". Plus others by Ray Bradbury, Edward Gorey, Ramsey Campbell and many others.

Short version: If you want a really good overview of the state of horror fiction circa 1980 (after King had broken big, but before the big boom 'n' bust), or if you just want to read about 500 pages of excellently creepy and/or horrific fiction, this is the collection for you.
Profile Image for Susan.
110 reviews19 followers
July 30, 2009
From time to time my hubby and I read a story together. Last night I was in the mood for a horror story and Graham is sharing STEPHEN KING's The Mist with me. I have to say that so far I'm loving it...

The Mist was everything a horror story should be - I LOVED it!

Here's snippet from Graham's review of The Mist the last story in the anthology.
...The best story in the volume is saved until last - Stephen King's THE MIST. This novella is essentially a survivors-under-siege scenario involving the kind of massive, mutated beasties you'd find in a '50s B-movie, yet King's focus on the human element makes this affecting, moving and oh-so-frightening...
Profile Image for Mark.
Author 65 books146 followers
September 5, 2011
Yes, Stephen King's "The Mist" drew me in but every story kept me longer. From Dennis Etchison's "The Late Shift" (the first time I'd read his work) to "Children Of The Kingdom" by T.E.D. Klein - and touching on everyone from Bloch to Campbell to Matheson in between - this is simply a terrific collection.
Profile Image for Jack.
Author 4 books18 followers
January 8, 2012
'80s horror. Unbeatable.

Really - maybe it's the teeth cutting or something, but many of these stories are literary, well paced, and complex. I peruse horror and slip-stream anthologies on a regular basis, and I have to say that this collection is one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of reading. An equivalent: McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories.
Profile Image for Olethros.
2,602 reviews415 followers
November 14, 2014
-Otra muestra de diferentes gustos y tendencias en el asunto hace más de treinta años.-

Género. Relatos.

Lo que nos cuenta. Recopilación de relatos que trabajan distintas categorías de horror, irregulares en alcance y con pocas gemas, por lo que podríamos decir que ofrece un grado de satisfacción general por debajo del que ofreció “El gran libro del terror” (aunque en su defensa hay que decir que fueron las ediciones en español las que los relacionaron de cierta manera cuando en realidad, en las ediciones originales, nada tenían que ver ambos libros y este volumen, concretamente, se publicó siete años antes) seleccionados por Kirby McCauley, todos escritos para esta antología (aunque alguno fue publicado después en otros libros) y que tocan temas tan diferentes como ancestros increíbles, criaturas entre la maleza, la venganza de una bruja contemporánea, una raza extraña que vive en el subsuelo de Nueva York, un tipo muy especial de trabajador, un camarero muy molesto, inundaciones, una niebla que esconde la muerte y paradojas temporales domesticas, entre otros temas.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Profile Image for Alissa.
63 reviews57 followers
April 20, 2014
There were a couple stories in this book that I didn't care for but I enjoyed most of them. Stephen King's The Mist was my favorite and actually one of my favorites of anything he's written so far. Recommended.
Profile Image for Gef.
Author 7 books63 followers
March 3, 2014
When I was on a real tear a couple years ago, reading as much short fiction in a summer as I could, this anthology was recommended to me more than a couple of times. Had I not already been swamped with a line-up of collections and anthologies to read at the time, I would have added this one to the pile sooner. Now, having read it, I see that I should have made it a priority.

Dark Forces is not only a truly entertaining book from front to back, but serves as a valuable time capsule for its time, having been published in the very early 80s it manages to show how some of the then up-and-comers fared alongside some true legends in the horror genre.

Right off the bat, the book gave me the chance to revisit Stephen King's The Mist, which is the very last story and the one I immediately jumped to. I don't often re-read books, but for this gem of a tale I'd make an exception. Honestly, if you haven't read The Mist yet, then do yourself a favor and just go buy this anthology. It'll be worth the pricetag for that one novella alone.

Ramsey Campbell's "The Brood" reminded me that I need to pick up one of the novels I have of his sitting on my bookshelf and get to reading his work again. The guy is a wee bit amazing with the tales of terror. Robert Bloch's "The Night Before Christmas" on the other hand was a bit of a letdown, though not because it was poorly written--quite the opposite--but the author of Psycho felt a bit too clever in this one. Then Charles L. Grant's "A Garden of Black Red Roses" offered a really great glimpse of a guy whose work I need to get to know, as he deftly spins a quiet, smalltown horror story here. Joyce Carol Oates is another writer with a skilled hand at disquieting stories, and "The Bingo Master" manages to do just that, though it's one of the few tales I felt took a good long while in getting warmed up.

It's been nearly thirty-five years since Dark Forces originally came out--nearly ten since Cemetery Dance republished it for an anniversary edition here--and there are times while reading that it does feel dated. Not out-dated, mind you, but there is a kind of nostalgic kick that comes with reading some of these stories. Or mayne it's just the brand of new horror that I've been reading with a harder, slightly meaner tone, which has me seeing this book with a rose-colored hue. In any case, I wholly recommend it to horror readers who have yet to give it a try, especially those who maybe have only read recent works lately. It might serve you well to dip into the past for this one.
Profile Image for Chip Howard.
12 reviews7 followers
January 4, 2013
In my first go-round with this anthology back in the '80s, I did something that probably a lot of others did too--I bypassed the roughly 20 stories it offered at the front and made a beeline for the back of the book to gobble up the Stephen King story. What can I say--back then, the guy's fiction was like candy to me.

Jump forward roughly 30 years to my second go-round, and I've had a different, and more enriching, experience this time. Published in 1980, before the horror genre's big boom (and subsequent glut), Dark Forces offers a wide range of authors and styles that feel surprisingly cohesive (guided by the authoritative hand of editor Kirby McCauley). Some of the stories have a more modern (and slightly '80s) feel to them, while others harken back to an early-20th-century style of horror known as the weird tale. A few feel like they've come right from the desk of iconic weird-tale publishing company Arkham House itself. (And it's no surprise, really, that McCauley acknowledges Arkham House publisher August Derleth as an inspiration for this anthology in his intro.)

McCauley has a keen eye for showcasing the macabre. The focus here tends to lean toward mood and mystery rather than outright violence, which might make this collection feel a bit dated to some (horror being what it is, these days). These types of stories happen to be my favorite, but if you're looking for something more aggressive, you might be disappointed.

Are all of the authors at their best in this collection? Maybe not. Probably not. But I found something to like about nearly all the stories. Most importantly, Dark Forces--even 30 years later-- has allowed me to discover some "new" names (some of whom have already passed away, unfortunately) that I look forward to reading more from.

Among my favorites were stories from Ramsey Campbell, T.E.D Klein, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Joe Halderman, Robert Aickman, Russell Kirk, Ray Bradbury, and Joyce Carol Oates.
Profile Image for Olethros.
2,602 reviews415 followers
August 28, 2014
-Otra muestra de diferentes gustos y tendencias en el asunto hace más de treinta años.-

Género. Relatos.

Lo que nos cuenta. Recopilación de relatos que trabajan distintas categorías de horror, irregulares en alcance y con pocas gemas, por lo que podríamos decir que ofrece un grado de satisfacción general por debajo del que ofreció “El gran libro del terror” (aunque en su defensa hay que decir que fueron las ediciones en español las que los relacionaron de cierta manera cuando en realidad, en las ediciones originales, nada tenían que ver ambos libros y este volumen, concretamente, se publicó siete años antes) seleccionados por Kirby McCauley, todos escritos para esta antología (aunque alguno fue publicado después en otros libros) y que tocan temas tan diferentes como ancestros increíbles, criaturas entre la maleza, la venganza de una bruja contemporánea, una raza extraña que vive en el subsuelo de Nueva York, un tipo muy especial de trabajador, un camarero muy molesto, inundaciones, una niebla que esconde la muerte y paradojas temporales domesticas, entre otros temas.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

127 reviews1 follower
April 21, 2020
More like 3.5 stars.

A good collection of original horror stories commissioned just for this book. Lots of talent in here and there’s an added nostalgia bent - it was published in 1980. However, I found that similarities between stories made the collection a bit repetitive. And some of the stories weren’t really even of the horror genre.

Also, I think it was smart to put King’s “The Mist” last. It’s the best story of the bunch and really just solidifies, in my mind, his expertise. He’s great and it kinda makes the other stories feel lacking in retrospect.

Anyway, a fine collection. Would only recommend for horror fans looking for that 80’s nostalgia.
Profile Image for Craig.
4,802 reviews103 followers
March 19, 2015
Dark Forces remains one of the best horror anthologies ever published; quite arguably the best of all original works. It contains The Mist, so I'd give it five stars even if the rest of the book was filled with blank pages, but there are many other really stand-out stories included. My other favorites were by Klein, Wilson, Wagner, Bryant, and Wellman. It's worth noting that several writers not much known for dark fantasy works have entries, such as Sturgeon, Simak, and Haldeman. It's a real classic of the genre.
Profile Image for Elegant Elbow.
22 reviews1 follower
July 22, 2009
I read this book in the heat of the summer, waiting for the bus. I had checked it out from the public library. Some of the stories stayed with me for so long that I eventually had to go out and find a copy of it. I love the horror collections from the '80s -- not splatter punk, and still very much influenced by the original Rod Serling Twilight Zone series.
Profile Image for Kevin Lucia.
Author 84 books287 followers
June 17, 2015
An excellent, diverse cross-section of horror and dark fantasy.
26 reviews
August 10, 2020
Great book of short stories albeit older. Great authors and stories. Bought mainly for Karl Edward Wagner story but really surprised at the quality and variety of tales.
Profile Image for Nihal Vrana.
Author 5 books9 followers
March 20, 2022
A superstar line-up full of interesting stories, I particularly liked the occasional stories by writers known mostly for other genres, such as Oates and Simak. re-reading the Mist after all this time was also rewarding, I appreciated it more than a 16 year old teenager.
8 reviews1 follower
January 14, 2023
I found this book in a box by the side of the road, and saved it from the rain. All of which is maybe fitting--it sounds like the start of one of the stories here.

This is a really fun collection of stories. The quality is somewhat inconsistent, but that's to be expected of any short story collection with multiple authors. There's something I find just adorable about the book. It starts with a short introduction about the editor, Kirby McCauley, his childhood fascination with the output of a local horror press, and his eventual opportunity to assemble something similar himself. Each short story has a glowing preface written by McCauley. His enthusiasm and love of the genre shines through here, making the book difficult not to enjoy.

I'll say something brief about each story

The Late Shift by Dennis Etchison: ***/*****

A serviceable start to the collection. Nothing too surprising, but it oozes atmosphere and is attuned to the grimy setting of convenience stores and porn theatres in '80s Southern California.

The Enemy by Isaac Bashevis Singer: *****/*****

Already the first really memorable story in the collection. Brief and quaint little horror story with a mystery that's difficult to pull apart, but threaded with social and political anxieties. What does it mean that emigrating, for the protagonist, requires wrestling with the ghost of an enemy?

Dark Angel by : Edward Bryant ***/*****

A little hokey, but fun and sharply written. A dark fable about sex, revenge with some slightly clumsy feminist themes.

The Crest of Thirty-six by : Davis Grubb **/*****

The writing is more work to get through than the story really deserves. There are one or two interesting ideas here, but it's mostly tedious to get through. Two deeply strange characters have a deeply strange fight; consequences ensue.

Mark Ingestre: The Customer's Tale by : *****/*****

This is an absolutely bizarre story that reworks Sweeney Todd into a murky, surreal journey beneath the streets of London. The characters act with a kind of dream logic, one that makes no sense really, but seems to resonate with deeper psychological force. There is also a sort of metafictional element twisting the story towards the end. The cumulative effect is destabilizing, almost hallucinatory, giving you a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach without a clear reason why. This is one of the stories from the collection that really stuck with me.

Where the Summer Ends by : Karl Edward Wagner ****/*****

A more conventional followup to the last story, but one that is quite effective. Two college students go on an adventure in a college town that is being swallowed up by an invasive species of creeping vine. There are two or three characters here that are really well-realized, and the author is effective in building a suffocating kind of tension that only breaks towards the end. The ending is a little ridiculous, but doesn't ruin the story for me at all.

The Bingo Master by : Joyce Carol Oates *****/*****

I see some reviews here which question whether this should even be included in the collection. I think Oates's idea here is to take an interesting perspective on horror: the ghosts in the story do not inhabit places or times but experiences and interpersonal interactions. The main character has an experience with Joe Pye, the Bingo Master, which goes off the rails, is haunted, haunts her. I haven't read another story quite like this one, and the feeling it brought up in me hasn't left, either.

Children of the Kingdom by : T.E.D. Klein */*****

I suppose any collection like this is bound to have at least one irredeemable story. This one is a 'people in the walls' kind of story, only much dumber, taking far too long to get to the point. The note at the beginning says that Klein is a disciple of Lovecraft, but he seems to have just taken the racism and left the cosmic horror. I see comments that this one is supposed to play with or otherwise comment in an interesting way on racial anxiety, but I found the overall construction of the story to be pretty inexcusable. It's not just that the narrator is racist; it's that the story itself often seems to confirm and fit with the narrator's view. This one sucks! Skip it.

The Detective of Dreams by : Gene Wolfe ***/*****

A very neat premise--dream cop!--that doesn't ultimately amount to much. Read it for the fun trip into the unconscious of an unnamed central European kingdom, but don't expect anything particularly interesting to come out of it.

Vengeance Is by : Theodore Sturgeon **/*****

Thoroughly foul revenge story about something horrible happening to absolutely horrible people. Okay for what it is, but not particularly memorable.

The Brood by : Ramsey Campbell *****/*****

The last of the truly great short stories here. This is a standard kind of vampire story, but it's exceptionally well-told. The only story of the bunch that made me genuinely scared. Atmospheric and creepy in all the right ways.

The Whistling Well by : Clifford D. Simak **/*****

This one gets an extra star for being thoughtfully written, and bringing its setting to life. But the premise of the story is so thoroughly idiotic that it's difficult to take the thing seriously.

The Peculiar Demesne by : Russell Kirk ***/*****

If you ever wondered what horror written by a National Review contributor would look like, this is it for you. There's a creepy, creative horror story at the center of a bigger frame narrative. But the frame narrative hogs the spotlight, and the story is weaker for it. Kirk's premise is essentially: "What if a guy who was really really cool told you a spooky story?" but the story ends up being much more about how cool the guy is (look at him making oil deals and receiving admiration from citizens of Unnamed African Country; look at him quoting Plato) and less about the spooky story that ostensibly is the reason for the Kirk's inclusion in the collection.

Where the Stones Grow by : Lisa Tuttle ****/*****

Tuttle's contribution is weird, creative, and engaging. I suppose it's also a revenge story, though you might not recognize it at first. The dialogue is kind of weak, and it doesn't get a huge amount out of its premise, but it's an enjoyable and surprising story for what it is.

The Night Before Christmas by : Robert Block **/*****

A story about a crazy creepy guy being crazy and creepy. There's not a lot to this one, and it seems reverse engineered around its ending, in a bad way.

The Stupid Joke by : Edward Gorey ***/*****

Not much of a story, but Gorey's illustrations are wonderful as ever.

A Touch of Petulance by : Ray Bradbury **/*****

The only thing I think I've ever really enjoyed from Bradbury was The Veldt, and unfortunately this story doesn't change my mind on that. There's a simple time-travel premise here, but whatever it's trying to say about our ability to change the past is horribly muddled, and without character work it doesn't have any weight.

Lindsay and the Red City Blues by : **/*****

Another entry in the horrible things happen to horrible people genre. This one's better than the Sturgeon story, much more atmospheric, but feels pretty dated in its depiction of Morocco. At least this one is interesting while it's happening.

A Garden of Blackred Roses by : Charles L. Grant ***/*****

There's potential for a great story here, and Grant is clearly a talented writer. However, the story itself is overwrought and needlessly convoluted. There's certainly something to be said for saying less rather than more in horror--you need to let your audience's imagination run free a bit if they are to be truly scared. But your audience shouldn't have to work so hard to realize why the story is supposed to be scary in the first place.

Owls Hoot in the Daytime by : Manly Wade Wellman ****/*****

An understated, engaging story about the gates of hell opening somewhere in the woods of the South. This one's not really scary, but it's got a plainspoken charm to it, and the imagery is so well-trodden that it transcends tropeyness for universality.

Where There's a Will by : Richard Matheson and Richard Christian Matheson **/*****

A very conventional premise executed conventionally. It's fine, just not memorable.

The Mist by : Stephen King *****/*****

A true horror classic, and one I was excited to read (as opposed to watch) for the first time in this collection. What I was surprised by was how sharp King's prose is, and how effective (if broad) the social commentary of the piece is. It's quite interpretable, though some of the themes are fairly blatant. All the same, there is an enjoyable, affecting build-up to the supermarket scenes, and the tone is introspective, rather than hysterical. It's a classic for a reason! I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this one on its own.
Profile Image for France-Andrée.
578 reviews22 followers
October 28, 2013
This book really deserved to be celebrated in a 25th anniversary edition. The quality of the stories included in this anthology is remarkable. I would not give less than 3 stars to any stories and there's a couple in there that are 5 stars for sure.

I'm not gonna comment on every short-story, but here is a little words on each of my favorites :

The anthology starts with a bang with a little gem called : Late Shift by Dennis Etchison. A little intriguing and the twist at the end was worth the read; I wasn't far, but I hadn't guessed exactly and that is probably why I liked this short-story so much.

Next on my list of favorites is Children of the Kingdom by T.E.D. Klein about what goes on in New York's underground. The characters here are really interesting and it is the major force of this story.

Detective of Dreams by Gene Wolf has a nice twist...

The Whistling Well by Clifford D. Simak about a young man learning about his ancestors and the evil that drove them from their homestead had a very good atmosphere.

In not sure, I got everything in The Peculiar Demesne by Russell Kirk, but I really enjoyed trying to guess the ending... I was wrong!

I got some chills reading Where the Stones Grow by Lisa Tuttle (one of the rare female writers in this anthology) it reminded me of a Doctor Who episode. Rocks can be so scary when given organic form, one poor guy that saw them move once will pay for it dearly.

The Stupid Joke by Edward Gorey was a little different since it is a cartoon. Made me feel guilty about spending lazy days in my bed... Now, why would someone want to make me feel bad about that?

I really liked Ray Bradbury's A Touch of Petulance. I'm always partial to a time traveling story... I liked the fact that the protagonist meets his future self and that things do not turn the way the older version wanted; shows us that given the same set of circumstances all of us would make the same mistakes all over again.

Now, a long time favorite of mine is The Mist by Stephen King, I didn't know it was originally published in this anthology. I read it so many years ago that I was a little confused with the movie which I saw more recently. I used to be a fan of the author, but I haven't read him in years and this novella reminded me about why I used to love him... it's not for the scariness (though this was very creepy), it is the characters that hooks you. .

All in all, I was blown away with the anthology and I recommend it warmly to fans of the genre, but also to other people - like me - who only dabbles in it once in a while (like me and October).
Profile Image for Rachel the Page-Turner.
250 reviews5 followers
May 21, 2021
When you read an anthology, even in a genre you love, you’re subjected to writing styles you don’t care for and stories that you think could have been left out. That’s how this one left me feeling. It has Stephen King and Ray Bradbury (who I feel wrote the best story in this book), but it also has some stories that made me curious as to why they were picked. Mostly because they sucked. There were some gems among it all, though! Here are my ratings of each story...

Stephen King: The Mist 4/5
What can be said about “The Mist” that most horror fans don’t already know? It’s decades old and with so many screen adaptations (of varying quality), I think most people know the plot: The Mist comes rolling down New England, while the monsters inside of it kill everyone in its path. The story revolves around a group of people caught in a grocery store, fighting for survival. While definitely not one of his best books or novellas, it’s still a classic from the master and an important part of King’s collection. I’ve read it at least 20 times, and I always think about it when in supermarkets on a foggy day! A good beginning for any horror anthology.

Dennis Etchison: The Late Shift 3/5
This is an odd little story about things that may or may not happen after death. Nothing spectacular, but a decent read.

Isaac Bashevis Singer: The Enemy 4/5
This is the story of a ghostly waiter with attitude! The writing style wasn’t quite my cup of tea (pun intended) but the story superseded that bit. It was very short but very entertaining; one of the better stories in the book.

Edward Bryant: Dark Angel 5/5
An excellent story of a woman rejected and scorned, this was one of the few five-star stories for me. After being humiliated, a woman makes a voodoo doll she uses to get even with her tormenter, with very entertaining results.

Davis Grubb: The Crest of Thirty-Six 2/5
A (rather weak) story of love and floods? I wasn’t really impressed with this one.

Robert Aickman - Mark Ingestre: The Customer’s Tale 4/5
A man meets another in a London pub, and is told quite the tale of a past haircut that went awry in quite a horrific way.

Karl Edward Wagner: Where The Summer Ends 3/5
A strange little story about evil kudzu... and what it might do when summer in the south ends. I’m not exactly sure what kudzu is outside of it being a plant, but this story sure made it sound menacing.

Joyce Carol Oates: The Bingo Master 3/5
A weird but decent story of a middle-aged woman who wants to lose her virginity to a foreign Bingo caller.

T.E.D. Klein: Children Of The Kingdom 3/5
This was a strange one, and one of the longer ones in the anthology. It started normally enough - a man has to check his grandfather into an assisted living facility. I’d give most of the story four stars, but then the ending was abrupt and vague, almost like it didn’t fit with the rest so it ended on a three. Slightly disappointing.

Gene Wolfe: The Detective Of Dreams 1/5
This was so annoyingly written that I didn’t want to finish it, but it was short so I went ahead. I shouldn’t have wasted my time, but I thought a “dream detective” sounded interesting. It wasn’t, at least not in this.

Theodore Sturgeon: Vengeance Is 4/5
A quick tale told by a bartender of rape and revenge. I usually don’t care for “ran into this person and had to listen to their crazy story” kind of stories, but this was a really good one.

Ramsey Campbell: The Brood 3/5
This was a decent story about a veterinarian who lives across the street from an elderly woman who seems to bring home a lot of stray animals. What she’s doing with them, he couldn’t have imagined...he had to see for himself!

Clifford D. Simak: The Whistling Well 2/5
This one started out pretty well, as a man is asked by an elderly relative to write the family’s history into a book only to be seen by her. This leads him to the countryside to a whistling well... and then the whole story fell apart, leading to a weak ending. I hate when that happens!

Russell Kirk: The Peculiar Demesne 1/5
This was awful and I totally skimmed it. Also, it made me look up the words “demesne” and “Archvicar” (which seems to mean nothing). I’m not a fan of ‘boring old men at a party telling a story’ kind of writing.

Lisa Tuttle: Where The Stones Grow 4/5
A much welcomed respite from the last two stories, this one was really good. Paul’s father died when he was a young boy, and Paul was always afraid that his dad was murdered by England’s standing stones. After turning down a job opportunity there for that exact reason, he buys his first house in San Antonio, Texas. But what are those strange stones doing by his fence?

Robert Bloch: The Night Before Christmas 4/5
A rich, older man propositions a young artist to paint a portrait of his wife. (Cliche warning ahead...) but the artist falls in love with his muse, leading to what I can only say are consequences.

Edward Gorey: The Stupid Joke 1/5
Stupid is right...this was a short, illustrated piece with a poem like a children’s book. And it wasn’t even funny or entertaining. Not a fan.

Ray Bradbury: A Touch of Petulance 5/5
What a great story for how short it was; to me (and this is huge because Stephen King is my everything) this was the best story in the book. A man comes across his future self, who tells him of a fatal mistake he must not make again. Will he be able to change the future?

Joe Haldeman: Lindsay And The Red City Blues 4/5
This was a good one - a man travels to Marrakesh only to find he had no idea how different the culture would be. Of course, when dealing with the supernatural, culture doesn’t have much bearing and he returns home to America with a couple of surprises...

Charles L. Grant: A Garden of Blackred Roses 3/5
This started off really well, then began to meander. Basically though, it’s the story of some very special roses at a very special house. Average but decent.

Manly Wade Wellman: Owls Hoot In The Daytime 2/5
The anthology creator said this author writes like Mark Twain, and that’s true, but it’s not necessarily a good thing. “We was a-workin and a-dancin fit ta holler” yeah we get it, they’re country. Not that great of a story either; kind of a ‘traveler in the night experiences something strange’ story. The ending was good...because it was over.

Richard Matheson/Richard Christian Matheson: Where There’s A Will 5/5
A father/son duo teamed up for this one, and I’m so glad that they did! When a story is only about a dozen pages long, it’s hard to talk plot without spoiling something. It starts with a man awakening in a coffin, and the rest I highly recommend reading yourself.

Gahan Wilson: Traps 5/5
This is the story of a newly-minted exterminator’s trip to get rid of some rats in an elderly woman’s house. She has some wild ideas about their intentions, and he thinks she’s just suffering from a lot of loneliness and a little dementia. But he’s new on the job, so he doesn’t know all the tricks of the trade. This was a perfect ending for the anthology, and it ended with a satisfying laugh.
Profile Image for فهد الفهد.
Author 1 book4,727 followers
September 10, 2018
Dark Forces

هذه إحدى أشهر المجموعات القصصية في أدب الرعب والقوى الخارقة، صدرت المجموعة في مطلع الثمانينات وضمت 23 قصة كتبها بعض أشهر كتاب أدب الرعب في تلك السنوات، يعترف محرر هذه المجموعة كيربي مكاولي بأنه قرر أن تكون هذه المجموعة هي المقابل في فن الرعب لمجوعة الخيال العلمي الشهيرة (Dangerous Visions) والتي صدرت منتصف الستينات.

قصص المجموعة متفاوتة طبعاً، تستفتح بقصة ستيفن كينج الشهيرة (The Mist) والتي حولت إلى فيلم قبل أعوام قليلة ومسلسل العام الماضي، سنكتشف طبعاً أن كاتب الفيلم عمد إلى تغيير النهاية والتي تركها كينج مفتوحة، من قصص المجموعة التي أعجبتني (The Crest of 36) والتي تقص حكاية رجل مخبول يعيش على حافة نهر مع عجوز غريبة، يكتشف رواي القصة الشاب أن هذه العجوز تنقلب إلى فتاة جميلة في الليل، وعندما تتنبأ هذه الجميلة بفيضان عظيم يغطي المدينة الصغيرة، ينتقل المخبول مرعوباً إلى أعلى غرفة في فندق المدينة، فهل سينجو من الفيضان؟ تأتي النهاية صادمة بشكل رائع، وهناك كذلك قصة (A Touch of Petulance) والتي يعود فيها عجوز في الزمن ليحذر نسخته الشابة والمتزوجة حديثاً من قتل زوجته، ولكن لماذا قد يقتل حبيب حبيبته؟ ما الذي يمكن أن يغير علاقتهما حد القتل! في قصة (Lindsay and the red city blues) نتابع مغامرة شاب أمريكي في أزقة مراكش والتي تقوده إلى نهاية مؤلمة، أما قصة (Traps) فهي عن مبيد قوارض يزور منزلاً ليكتشف أن الفئران في هذا المنزل من نوع متقدم ومنظم وأنها قد نصبت له فخاً، لقد انقلب الصياد إلى طريدة.
Profile Image for Erik.
209 reviews7 followers
July 24, 2016
This was a nice read in 80's horror. Most of the stories are 2.5-3 star types, but "The Mist" and "Traps" really stood out as 5 star plus stories. It shows once again just how good Mr. King is a writing quality horror back in the day, as "The Mist" might be one of his best stories period.

This is a perfect collection to read to fill short windows of reading time, as the stories are compact and satisfying. Overall, I give this a 4 star rating on the pair of exceptional stories above which would have made the book worthwhile even if all the others were terrible... which thankfully most are not. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Maria Lago.
433 reviews93 followers
October 15, 2019
Una recopilación muy chula, con relatos de grandes, medianos y pequeños autores, muy diversa y muy disfrutable. Una traducción actualizada es necesaria, porque cada vez que se traduce fucking por "jodido" muere un gatito.
Profile Image for Pam.
121 reviews11 followers
September 1, 2007
The definitive horror anthology from the 80's, and let's face it, horror has been on the decline since then, so let's just say it's a definitive horror anthology.
Profile Image for Kwirebaugh.
33 reviews
November 18, 2008
What I remember most about this book is King's "The Mist". It was when I was in college that I read this and thought it was good enough to be a movie and they made it into one this year!
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