DARK MURMURS-A Compendium Of Curiosities
Edited by: Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime
October 10, 2022
Silent House Press
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis
Hello there, horror fiends! It’s your old pal Skull with a review of an amazing collection of short horror fiction from Silent House Press that I just know you’re going to love. Dark Murmurs is indeed a compendium of curiosities with the aim of shaking things up. The stories are breathtaking which is exactly what you’d expect from editors Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime, but this anthology also aims to bring attention to BIPOC and female writers. It has been proven time and time again that these writers are often treated as being less than or have their work dismissed because of gender and/or color issues that shouldn’t be. Just as no book should be judged by its cover, a story shouldn’t be turned down because of its writer. You will see the theme of discrimination brought up frequently in Dark Murmurs whether the protagonist is a human or a spider who’s just not going to take it anymore as in Webbed by Ellie Douglas. By calcium, this book has my bony digits clacking madly on the keyboard, so let’s keep a creepy thing going and check out more of Dark Murmurs!
In a story so vivid, you can feel the boot kicks, a cobbler and rabbi stuck in a WWII concentration camp create a golem to protect their fellow Jews from the Nazis. It is a success…for a while. But as the cobbler says at the end of The Cobbler And The Golem by Catherine McCarthy, “we cannot escape our fear…better to take it with us and learn to live with it.” There is no master race and there never will be. Sadly, there is no shortage of people who hate others for things that cannot be changed.
Looking for a short story that will flat out terrify you with its twisted ending? Then check out Last Words by Richard Chizmar. This one’s going to give you a bad case of chills. The narrator tells us of how his wonderful grandfather raised he and his brother after a tragedy took their parents. Pops taught them how to fish, play baseball, and rewarded them with treasure hunts. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to go on a hike in the woods looking for buried treasure with maps and everything? Oh, what fun! The narrator loved these so much that when Pops mentions a final treasure hunt on his death bed, he can hardly wait to get started. But what he digs up brings a horrible realization. How the hell can one person be a loving parent and the epitome of evil at the same time?
Tea For Two by Elizabeth Massie also delivers a startling conclusion to what appears to be a standard love story. Will rescues Macy from the evil magician they both worked for. Daniel Dawson does a LOT more than just pull rabbits and endless scarves out of his hat. That stuff is mere child’s play for this friend of the devil, who can do horrible feats with his dark powers. Will falls in love with Macy and when Dawson turns her into a wooden dummy, gallantly tries to steal her away from the magician’s evil clutches. But he soon finds out that it’s impossible to run away from the truth. We are who we are despite the skin we’re in.
When I was a kid, my mom constantly hammered into my head that violence for any reason was wrong. Nice sentiment maybe, but I soon found out that turning the other cheek and all that jazz only works for saints in religious teachings. On the street in a new town every six months, I learned some different lessons. One of the main characters in Jill Girardi’s story One Every Year appears to have reached a similar conclusion. We get the story from Debbie who’s constantly getting yelled at and made to feel like trash by Uncle Hank. That seems to be Hank’s overall approach with family. Yell, hit, and dismiss. But when a bunch of hoochies pull up next his boat on the lake he’s a real charmer. Strangely enough after Debbie’s Aunt Ro tells them a story about a Native American Princess who haunts the lake, taking at least one victim every year, a rather major event happens to support her words. But was it caused by the Setauket princess’ ghostly powers or something a bit less ethereal?
What I’ve shared so far is just a tiny taste of the powerful stories included in Dark Murmurs I haven’t even told you about Philip Fracassi’s tale Serial Numbers which explains why it may be dangerous to fulfill one’s fantasies with money. Or why it’s a bad idea for immortals to fall in love with those who have a definite lifespan, as happens in Brandon Scott’s tale Stargazer Lily. But in all reality, your old pal Skull must wrap this review up so people can read it and find out how much they’ll enjoy having their own copy of Dark Murmurs-A Compendium Of Curiosities or gift it to someone who loves speculative fiction.
There’s just one thing left to do, rate this anthology using a system of 1 to 5 stars. Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer rates Dark Murmurs a very hearty 5 STARS! Jam packed with awesome writers and edited by the power team of Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime this is a horror anthology you need to read. Avoid a boring winter by grabbing a copy of Dark Murmurs stat! For more information about this and upcoming releases, contact the publisher at: firstname.lastname@example.org You can also contact the editors:
Jill Girardi: Twitter: @Jill_Girardi
Lydia Prime: Facebook: @AuthorLydiaPrime
And don’t forget to follow me, your old pal Skull, at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com which will help your favorite independent authors, poets, and publishers. This an inclusive blog where everyone is valued, except for haters who are heartily encouraged to climb into the nearest industrial trash compactor and press start. My human host, Brian James Lewis is a disabled poet and writer with PTSD who has 3 new Beat Generation style poems in Trajectory Journal issue 23, available now! As is issue 22 which contains his terrifying short story Following My Destiny about misguided mass shooter Chance McCandless.