Into the Night is Tor Nightfire’s monthly horror short fiction and poetry review series. I’m here monthly to suggest spooky tales and poems I found online, usually for free. The main objective of this review series is to give horror readers and fans like you a wide selection of authors, publications, and pieces to read every month and to shine a light on some great works by talented authors publishing right now.
But it’s also a great way for me to experience some parts of what contemporary short horror has to offer. This month, I review stories and poems ranging in themes and subgenres from publications like Apex, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, and more. Check out June’s installment for last month’s picks.
‘What is a Monster?‘ by Sharang Biswas (Strange Horizons)
First on July’s list is Sharang Biswas’ ‘What is a Monster?’—a poem that had my full attention from the first lines. Biswas’ poem poses a question that develops into another, deeper question, neither of which ever receives answers. The poem’s voice is strong and reminded me of children’s folktales. Biswas also crafts some pretty memorable monstrous descriptions that juxtapose dark, vile images with those of warm, tender sensations. ‘What is a Monster?’ also introduced me to a new favorite word, ‘corpse-cave.’
‘Waiting‘ by Alexis Lamantia (Strange Horizons)
Alexis Lamantia’s ‘Waiting’ also appears in one of Stranger Horizons’ July issues, but the similarities stop there. ‘Waiting’ is a prose poem that still holds the rhythm and flow of a poem broken into stanzas or kept to a stricter form. Each line pulls the reader through toward a transformation or becoming we are never shown. But Lamantia’s lines craft a stark picture of what possible horrors will come once everything changes. To be honest, when I first read the poem, I didn’t even try to grasp anything. I was just taken for a ride by the prose and enjoyed every moment.
‘Once Threshed‘ by Brett Harrington (Coffin Bell)
I have a soft spot for poetry, so I am always on the hunt for horror poems to fill each installment of Into the Night. Luckily, July’s installment has three poems for readers to check out! Brett Harrington’s ‘Once Threshed’ appears in Coffin Bell’s Volume 5 Issue #3, which came out at the beginning of July and is packed with dark poems and stories. ‘Once Threshed’ stood out to me not because it ventures into new territory but because of how Harrington revisits our continuous love affair with death and the grave in a new way. ‘Once Threshed’ is a short nine-line, three-stanza poem with surprising line ends and odd rhymes full of imagery that sticks.
‘Creatures of the Dark Oasis‘ by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Apex Magazine)
The first story up this month is Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s ‘Creatures of the Dark Oasis’ from Apex Magazine’s 132 issue. I am always a sucker for gay characters in a horror setting, but mix in rich folklore, culture, and history, and you have me on the hook. Stufflebeam’s story was exactly that: a horror story with fantasy elements that created a unique world, characters, and creatures. A murder mystery wrapped up in a supernatural investigation makes makes for a story that left me wanting more. It’s not that the story wasn’t a complete narrative, but that the world and characters had enough depth that I wanted to see the rest of their lives and continue following them on their dark journey.
‘Trials and Invocations in the Basin of the Three Sisters‘ by K.S. Walker (Three-Lobed Burning Eye)
K.S. Walker’s ‘Trials and Invocations in the Basin of the Three Sisters’ is much like Stufflebeam’s story–both stories create a strongly developed culture and history. And they are both dark fantasies with strong horror themes and notes. But they are also extremely different, not only in voice and overall plot, but Walker’s story is a flash story that doesn’t feel like flash. ‘Trials and Invocations in the Basin of the Three Sisters’ conjures a whole world filled with superstitions and dire consequences in a short period by setting the story up as a sort of guide to the strange.
As always, I hope you found a new magazine, writer, or story to satiate your horror hunger. Also, if you have a favorite publication that puts out excellent horror poetry or fiction, please tell me about it by leaving a comment on this article or dropping me a line.
The same goes for writers and editors of publications. I would love to connect and read the horror stories and poems you’re publishing! Just send me an email.