Swallowed By The Cracks by Thomas McMahon Browne and Smith

8/10 I would definitely recommend this anthology to anyone who would like to broaden their horizons.

Swallowed By The Cracks is the latest (7th) compilation of four Dark Fantasy / Horror writers by John Everson and Bill Breedlove. They are the producers of the yearly ‘Dark Arts Books’ anthologies. The latest four authors that contributed to their anthology were Lee Thomas, Gary McMahon, S. G. Browne and Michael Marshall Smith. Each of these writers submitted four short stories in the Dark Fantasy / Horror genre, resulting in a compilation of 16 stories.

These short stories vary widely, both in the way you experience the story and in topics. The writers even manage to create a new mood and way of writing for all their stories. Since these stories only span some tenfold of pages, they always have to keep in mind the balance between getting to know the character(s) and getting to experience the ‘mystery’. Therefore the characters and topics show a huge variety. In the introduction the producers provided some teasers for the contents of some of the stories, and they sure worked up an appetite for me so I’ll shamelessly quote them here:

What if thinking about something really bad happening to you actually drew something really bad to you?

What if that interesting stranger in the Internet chat room was lying about much more than you’d ever expect – like about even being human?

What if the human brain was just a big tape recorder? How long until it was just another commodity? And how would you use it?

What if seemingly innocent medical trials for experimental drugs led to spontaneous evolution and a superhero known as… Diarrhea Boy?

Digging up your inner fears and nightmares is what these writers excel in and it sure shows. The fast pace that comes naturally to this genre will have you turning pages at record speeds! Presenting an overview of every short story contained would take too much place and will lessen the surprise at some of the topics so I’ll keep it vague, as I’m wont to do.

Most stories elaborately take their time to build up suspense, in order to completely turn your world upside down by the end. Short breaks to digest what you’ve just read after each story are not optional. A sense of mystery is prominent in every story. Even though most of them remain unexplained, this only adds to the sense of ‘mystery’.

Halfway through the anthology the stories became less interesting but the last author picked it up again and offered some great stories to end this very interesting anthology. The imaginative prowess of these four authors was great to experience. I’m more prone to read books focused on character development but even I got to like the refreshing scenarios of Dark Fantasy / Horror. I would definitely recommend this anthology to anyone who would like to broaden their horizons, and I’m positive that people who already are familiar with this genre will have a great time reading these short stories, I know I did!

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