Reading Notes: "When Things Get Dark": Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson edited by Ellen Datlow

9 comments
WHEN THINGS GET DARK: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson

The stories in this anthology drew inspiration from American writer, Shirley Jackson. These tales capture different facets of her literary style and the overarching themes commonly found threaded through her collective body of work.

Present in this anthology are stories of quiet horror, murder mysteries, secrets, hauntings, dysfunctional families, rage, loneliness, psychological terrors, and the supernatural. Following are the notes I jotted down for each story as I read them. I was vacationing at Dillon Beach, CA, and staying in a quaint, little cliff-side house called Wit’s End. It was literally the perfect setting.

A note about "reviewing notes":

As I read, I jot things down about the stories to help me remember what they were about and how they made me feel. So, these are not complete sentences or full reviews, but I think they get the message across and I'm happy to share them.


"Funeral Birds" by M. Rickert
Lenore is socially awkward and lonely. Going to funerals to people-watch. Part of the suffering and sadness of others while at the same time, just an observer. Maybe even fantasizing the funeral is someone she loved. 

"For Sale by Owner" by Elizabeth Hand
Subtle, quiet horror with a memorable opening line. A dog walker finds joy in her curiosity about the homes of strangers. She gathers a group of women to trespass with her for an overnight stay in a strange house.

"In the Deep Woods; The Light is Different There" by Seanan McGuire
A beautiful, atmospheric, literary story blurring the line between fantasy and horror.

"A Hundred Miles and A Mile" by Carmen Maria Machado
“I wouldn’t approach a dog that bites.” The luring of a girl? Repressed childhood memories.

"Quiet Dead Things" by Cassandra Khaw
A tense story about a murder in a strange, little town.

"Something Like Living Creatures" by John Langan
A strong sense of mood and power. Divination. Witches. Empowerment. Rituals.

"Money of the Dead" by Karen Heuler
A claustrophobic, suffocating, toxic relationship between a mother and her son. A tragic tale rife with parental guilt. Suffering. Nature vs. nurture. Terrifying.

"Hag" by Benjamin Percy
“The ocean likes to cough up its dead.” For fans of cults, small-town horror and secrets, murder, family dynamics, and a strong sense of place. Coastal. FEED THE HAG. One of my favorite stories in this collection.

"Take Me, I Am Free" by Joyce Carol Oates
A disturbing story of neglect. “Before I knew what was happening she got inside me and kept growing and growing and now she’s everywhere.” Unwanted child. Reluctant motherhood.

"A Trip to Paris" by Richard Kadrey
Compelling tale. Needing freedom, independence from family. Tied-down. Claustrophobic. Mold. Guilt.

"The Party" by Paul Tremblay
“Eat, drink, and fuck for tomorrow we die.” Living in the moment. Unplugging. Secretive, weird, cultish party. Cake.

"Refinery Road" by Stephen Graham Jones
Themes of friendship. Ghosts. Family secrets. Abuse. Guilt. Redemption.

"The Door in the Fence" by Jeffery Ford
A strange little story about the journey a widow embarks on after the death of her husband.

"Pear of Anguish" by Gemma Files
Another favorite story, this one is dark. Coming-of-age. Adolescent girls. Self-harm. Witchcraft. Menstruation. Finding kindred spirits when you’re awkward, lonely, different.

"Special Meal" by Josh Malerman
A family meal. Dystopian? Restrictions on education; learning. Math. Rebellion. Defiance.

"Sooner or Later, Your Wife Will Drive Home" by Genevieve Valentine
Different women in “compromising” situations. “You could kill a woman practically anywhere.” Sexism. Predators. Pretending and performing in relationships. Independence.

"Tiptoe" by Laird Barron
Photography. Predators. A childhood game. Family dynamics. “Warm and fuzzy outside, cold tapioca on the inside.” A lakehouse vacation—the description transports the reader. Clairvoyance. Sons & Fathers.

"Skinder's Veil" by Kelly Link
A man is distracted by his roommate having too much sex, takes a job as a housesitter for a friend who has a regular housesitting gig for a residence out in the woods. There are some strange house rules. The story is very “Twilight Zone”-esque. Rose Red & Rose White. Friends & Neighbors.


This is my ritualistic plug for anthologies and short fiction collections by one author. I truly believe that anthologies are the best way to discover new storytellers that are compatible with your unique preferences. It's so simple to pick up something like, When Things Get Dark and sample the stories as they apply to the overall theme that interests you. In this case, if you're a fan of Shirley Jackson, you're bound to find something here that moves you the way her stories did. Then, you can pick up one of these author's collections and sample more short fiction to be totally sure they're a fit.

Short fiction. It's the best. 

Get When Things Get Dark at Bookshop or Amazon 

To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.

Comments

Isaias7491's picture
Isaias7491 August 4, 2022 - 10:15am

Thanks for sharing such a brief review about the book. I am going to order it and read it. Because I learnt alot from the simple review and going to apply it on kinemaster prime latest app which we recently started and going to analyze the changes in it. Will share the positive outputs of it.

samneerha's picture
samneerha October 24, 2022 - 2:09pm

Yeah, when you are at skybar top and It's cool if there are programs that allow you to create animated videos yourself, and even better if you know how to make them. In my case, I do not know how to create such animated videos that I would like.

samneerha's picture
samneerha October 29, 2022 - 1:22am

One think I doesn't understand why in the airplane no internet is existed.
There should be one, so we enjoy playing <a href="https://techoy.org/">TECHOy.org</a> and using the android apps.

samneerha's picture
samneerha October 29, 2022 - 2:43pm

A Unique And Attractive Name Is The Need Of The Hour which combinernames
provides. Whether You Are Blessed With A Baby Or Starting A New Business,
You Should Always Be Ready With A Lovely Name. Have You Tried Every Single Thing To Get A Unique And Delightful Name But Failed?
Then You Are At The Right Place Because This <a href="https://combinernames.com/">Name Combiner</a> Website Has A Mind-Blowing Solution For You.

MorganGwen's picture
MorganGwen November 8, 2022 - 1:29am

There are friends that really want you to be like them thank you my friend for telling me about Dr Ayoola. I was introduced to Dr Ayoola by my friend. me and my friend have been playing lottery games for some years now. and we are always running out of luck. One day my friend play and win. And I was surprise how my friend won the sun of 10 million euro I was asking him questions and he open up to me and told me it was by the help of Dr Ayoola so I ask him to help me. My friend gave me the contact of this great man call Dr Ayoola I contacted him and told him why I contacted him and also tell  him I got  his information form my friend. To cut the long story short Dr Ayoola help me with a winning number just as he did for my friend and I was able to won 13 million euro all thanks to you Dr Ayoola for your kind heart and for willing to help me and my friend I will for ever grateful to you sir because you have done what on one can do for me. You can contact him today and be the next to testify. this man is good when it come to giving winning numbers I will drop his details just Incase you need him to help you thank you sir you can contact him via  drayoolasolutionhome@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/ text or call +14809032128

joshbuster53's picture
joshbuster53 November 15, 2022 - 2:29am

All  thank to Dr Ayoola, My name is Josh Buster I live in California, I want to let the world know how this man changed my life and that of my family. I have been playing jackpot for so many years now hoping to win and start my own business, I have been a driver and same time I have being playing lottery game for more than 10 years now each time I play I always run out of luck. one day I was browsing with my phone when I saw some testimonies about this man call Dr Ayoola on how he has helped people win lottery games, I was shook and I ask myself if this is true and also contacted this man for help and told him everything, why I contacted him. He asked me if I have been playing lottery game before now and I said yes. He told me that he will help me with the right number to win if only we work together which I told him I am ready to work with him. After working with him he gave me a number to play, after playing the number Dr Ayoola gave to me, I came out a winner of jackpot of 1,000,000 millions dollars  all thanks to you Dr Ayoola for your help I am so happy now. And now I am fulfilling my promise by sharing your good work to the world. Dr Ayoola is  a great man and a man GOD has sent to help people and put a smile on peoples face. Thank you for what you have done for me Dr Ayoola I will be for ever grateful to you, you can contact him if you are willing to change your story for good via  drayoolasolutionhome@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/ text or call +14809032128

Morning Gossip's picture
Morning Gossip November 15, 2022 - 3:57pm

MORNING'S GOSSIP:

Post From Ali Syed, From the UK Cryptocurrency Recovery, Lost BTC Recovery

Hello, my name is Ali Syed. I got scammed

Immediately, I contacted ULTIMATE HACKER JERRY & I trusted him because his reviews were from our local guild WILDER NEWTON. & within 4 hours of contacting him, I got all my funds back with an ROI. It was unbelievable. I must state, I had to send out my review also. He's indeed recommendable.

Contact:.

(Ultimatehackerjerry@seznam. cz)

WhatsAp (+15,51,20,2-2,3-3,5)

Ma Sha Allah

Annette Mylan's picture
Annette Mylan November 22, 2022 - 3:27am

Now You Can Stop Your Break Up, Divorce or Lovers Rejection…Even If Your Situation Seems Hopeless! I contacted a real spell caster DR Prince that helped me change my husband’s heart to love and want me again, and he really did and now we are very happy together. If you are here and your Lover is turning you down I will advise you to contact DR Prince . The potency of his spell is so effective and can reunite broken relationships and can also make one get pregnant no matter the situation and not only that, he also has the power to cure all types of diseases within the period of 48hours. I am a great testimony. Contact him today and thank me later. You can also contact him on WHATSAPP: +18144484537  EMAIL:  obinnaspelltemple@yahoo.com website   https://obinnaspelltemple.com