Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Review: The Dark at the End of the Tunnel by Taylor Grant

After seeing Taylor Grant read at two StokerCons in a row (one of which I was graced with the privilege of sharing the reading slot) and being quite impressed each time, I knew I needed to pick this book up at some point, so I finally ripped it out of my mental to-do list and bought the damned thing. And it does not disappoint.

Throughout this collection, Grant proves his talent as a short story writer. Writing short stories that are satisfying for both the writer and the reader can be a challenging task. Grant mentions in his introduction that he wrote the majority of these stories for his own personal enjoyment with no real yearning to have them published. Thankfully his senses were slapped into him and he pursued publication, because it would be a shame to have these tales rotting in some dank drawer, whimpering to be read by the craving eyes of the horror public. These are no self-indulgent, masturbatory tales. Quite the opposite. They deserve to be read and enjoyed.

The book starts out strong with “Masks,” which deals with a man who doesn’t quite feel like himself anymore. This is immediately followed by what is likely my favorite piece in the collection: “The Silent Ones.” Such a depressing story that addresses the topic of loneliness in a way I’ve not seen done before, and it gets pretty damned weird along the way. “Dead Pull” is a fun and satisfying story, especially for someone such as myself who loves animals dearly and abhors those who mistreat them. “The Infected” takes a clever approach to tackling the drudgery of being a working stiff versus following your creative dreams, which intersects with a peculiar “fiction” manuscript passed down from grandfather to father to son that begs to be completed. There are no stinkers in the bunch. It comes as no surprise that this book was a finalist for a Bram Stoker Award.

Grant has an enviable command of language, his stories and the ideas that spawn them are unique, and he doesn’t stick to one type of horror. Some of these stories could be referred to as “quiet horror,” while others are far more brutal. Some have a sci-fi edge, and there are occasional hints of the black humor you might find in a classic E.C. Comics story. Being able to hop genres while maintaining quality and style is a commendable feat, so pick up this book and see how it’s done.

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