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Dark Furies, edited by Vincent Sneed
Genre: Mixed Genre Anthology
Publisher: Die Monster Die
Published: 2005
Review Posted: 4/24/2008
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10

Dark Furies, edited by Vincent Sneed

Book Review by Jeff Edwards

Have you read this book?

Editor Vincent Sneed pits beauty against beast in Dark Furies, a collection of sixteen "weird tales" of extraordinary females keeping supernatural horrors at bay.

The anthology promises to examine "women and monsters from every angle possible," and the contributors seem hell-bent on fulfilling that promise. Stories run the gamut from R. Allen Leider's naughty, twisted fairy tale, "Love Is in the Air," to Jan Rukh's "Danse," a hybrid of dark fantasy and science fiction featuring a leather tunic-clad vampire hunter brandishing her broadsword in a land "where day and night are a function of computer-regulated halogen lamps."

Most of the collection's tales unfold in more familiar surroundings tainted by otherworldly elements. In James Chambers' "Gray Gulls Gyre," a vindictive spirit gathers hundreds - maybe thousands - of seagulls around a dying man. Chambers conjures up vivid imagery such as a pink scarf in a shoebox " a petrified newborn" and a closing line ("The worst things that passed among people never really ended, but rolled on forever in ripples across time, eternally unanswered") that invites favorable comparison to Fitzgerald's finale in "The Great Gatsby."

Humans summon demons with alarming regularity within the anthology, yet a few authors manage to freshen up this stale premise. For example, the creature unleashed in Ed Hickcox's "Anastasia" takes the form of a sultry beauty with a taste for sado-masochism. And in "After These Messages...", Adam P. Knave delivers a tale ripe with black humor aimed squarely at children's fare like the Teletubbies.

In his submission guidelines for the collection, Sneed suggested match-ups in the vein of Modesty Blaise versus Cthulhu. Ron Fortier comes closest to this ideal with "Fury in Vermont," a lively pulp-style adventure climaxing in a battle between Katherine Gunnilla Furyaka (a.k.a. Miss Fury) and Yog-Yoteth, the white worm. William Jones obliquely approaches the same type of conflict with "The Tiger," a tense action tale in which a genetically-engineered assassin questions her latest assignment while bitterly noting how a scientific facility has become a "temple."

Arguably, the book's strongest story is Michael Amorel's "Trapped in Remission." As the piece opens, a Hopi describes his wife's death to a visiting researcher from the Center for Disease Control. Initially, the doctor can think of nothing except her own professional reputation, but she soon gains a deep understanding of personal sacrifice. Amorel includes a gripping dream sequence that conveys Lovecraftian cosmic horror: "Among the myriad constellations were...dark things...that clung to the pitch blackness between the stars...I knew I couldn't bear seeing it...The whole was too much for my mind to grasp."

Like many anthologies, Dark Furies is a mixed bag, but a handful of sub-par "beastly" tales don't spoil the rest of this above-average collection.
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