Era of the Spectre by Rui Cruz

8/10 A journey through the darker emotions of the mind.

Era of the Spectre is a collection of twelve short stories written by Rui Cruz and published by Midnight Showcase Fiction in 2010. The piece is very much a collection of character studies, exploring the ways in which different characters deal with themes such as isolation, hopelessness, fear and death. These themes can be quite dark and may not be to everyone's taste, but if you are game there are rewards to be found.

This collection tries to take the reader on a journey through the darker emotions of the mind, from the Harbinger of Chaos lamenting the purpose of his existence in Lucid Dreaming, to the ever growing despair from living in complete isolation in The Silent Lake, and finally the discovery of an unexplained brightness despite all the darkness in Peace. The unique exploration of dark themes by individual characters is a major strength of this collection and is central to each story, however, the pacing and plot can sometimes suffer when too much focus is placed on character development

Weird Chronicle, The Guiding Light of the Southern Sea, and His Was the Foreboding are by far the strongest stories in this collection, with The Damned and The Angels No Longer Weep deserving of honourable mentions. For me, the weak link in this collection is The Gifted; a well written story exploring the complex relationship between a boy and his sister, but completely out of place when considered in context with the rest of the collection.

This is the first published book for Cruz and it is a well written and accomplished piece. The dark and foreboding atmosphere is unrelenting throughout the story this can sometimes make these stories hard to get into. Despite the dark nature of this book and the issues with pacing and plot, the characters that have been created and the emotions they explore are quite remarkable and certainly make this book worth reading.

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