Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher (through NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Title: Dark Tales
Author: Shirley Jackson
Published: 6. October 2016
Edition: Penguin Classics
Kindle Edition, 208 pages
Genre: Short Stories | Gothic | Horror
There’s something nasty in suburbia. In these deliciously dark tales, the daily commute turns into a nightmarish game of hide and seek, the loving wife hides homicidal thoughts and the concerned citizen might just be an infamous serial killer. In the haunting world of Shirley Jackson, nothing is as it seems and nowhere is safe, from the city streets to the country manor, and from the small-town apartment to the dark, dark woods…
◄ 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ►
I’m really conflicted on how to rate this book. It is a collection of short stories and I did enjoy many of them. However, there were also quiet a few confusing ones and ones I didn’t care about at all. I’m not that well versed when it comes to reviewing short story collections, or reading them for that matter, so we shall see how this review will go.
This collection consists of 17 short stories. And each of them is beautifully written. I haven’t read anything by Shirley Jackson before now, but after reading these stories I definitely plan on reading more of her works. Her writing style is simply beautiful and captivating, like nothing I have encountered before. It reminds me of Gothic novels and if you know me you know I love that way of writing.
The horror in these stories is very subtile. It isn’t always apparent, but rather as you continue reading a story you notice how unnatural it is. How some things the characters say don’t make any sense, how the thoughts of the character whose perspective we read from start getting more and more unrecognisable. Sometimes you notice the weird, creepy, dark things only at the end of the story. But all of them have definitely managed to spook me and unnerve me in some way. I wouldn’t call them horror stories, but instead I would refer to the title and call them dark stories. The title Dark Tales perfectly explains the atmosphere and tone in all the stories within this collection.
My favourite stories, from the first half of the collection:
The Honeymoon of Mrs Smith:
She just got married to Mr Smith a week or so ago and currently they are living in an apartment, where they are having their honeymoon. She comes from a rather rich family and she didn’t know Mr Smith much before their marriage. A neighbour comes to talk to her while Mr Smith is at work and confesses to her the fear that Mr Smith might be a killer, that was recently mentioned in the paper, and that he is going to kill Mrs Smith.
Jack the Ripper:
One day, while going home, a man comes across a girl that is asleep in an alley. She appears to have passed out due to the alcohol she consumed. Worried about her, but not knowing who she is he walks into the nearby bar to see if someone there knows who she is and what he should do. He manages to find out some information about her, but all in all the people in the bar weren’t helpful. He decides to take her home himself.
What a Thought:
A woman is sitting in her living room with her husband. Each of them is reading a book and relaxing after diner. The woman has had an uneasy feeling all day and she didn’t know what was making her restless. Suddenly it occurs to her that she could take the ashtray and hit her husband over the head with it and kill him. She proceeds to think of many different ways she could kill her husband, while thinking that she would never actually do it.
I rather enjoyed the stories in this collection. Most of the stories were very interesting, but quiet a few disappointed me as well. I think that’s the way collections are, you just can’t love every single story. It was a very fascinating collection and one I would definitely recommend to everyone who enjoys creepy and unnerving stories. It’s also not very scary, so it might be a good starting point for people who want to get into horror but aren’t sure if they will enjoy it, or rather don’t know if they can handle the scary things in horror books.