Into the Night is Tor Nightfire’s monthly horror short fiction and poetry review series. I’m here every month 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.
This month, I review stories and poems ranging in themes and subgenres from publications like Flash Fiction Online, The Arcanist, and more. Check out May’s installment if you want to read last month’s Into the Night picks.
‘The Bullfrog and the Black Dog‘ by Marsheila Rockwell (Horror Writers Association)
Content note: mental illness
First up on the list is Marsheila Rockwell’s “The Bullfrog and The Black Dog,” up on the Horror Writers Association blog. This poem is a part of their Mental Health Initiative and deals with issues related to mental health. I read from the HWA blog pretty regularly and was surprised and delighted to find Rockwell’s poem. The piece grabbed me instantly with its brutal imagery and singsong rhyme scheme. The poem showcases a dog attacking a frog relentlessly, only for the frog to continue returning. Normally, I’m not into rhyming poetry, but I enjoyed the startling way the rhymes would appear and connect the piece.
‘warming‘ by Maria Zoccola (Nightmare Magazine)
Content note: climate change
The June Issue of Nightmare Magazine was packed with all sorts of great fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One poem in particular jumped out at me: Maria Zoccola’s “warming.” Zoccola’s poem addresses our consistently warming planet and the ways we find to accept and live in the heat and unsustainable world. The opening note from the author is a great comment to keep in your mind as you read through the short, somber poem–it sets the mood. Though the poem is only two lines, one stanza, it packs a punch in those two lines using stark and real images.
‘Daisy‘ by Paul DesCombaz (Flash Fiction Online)
Content note: violence and gore
As always, I love all the stories and poems featured on this list. But I always have a few favorites or dark stars in my heart. One of them off of this list is Paul DesCombaz’s “Daisy” in the June issue of Flash Fiction Online, which follows a character after some catastrophe that has changed dogs into, well, something that isn’t a dog, but much worse. As in Rockwell’s poem above, DesCombaz’s dogs keep coming back, plaguing the protagonist. There is a small amount of gruesome violence in the flash piece and some moments that make “Daisy” one of the scarier pieces on this list.
‘Salamanderman‘ by Michael Carter (The Arcanist)
Content note: parent death
These last three pieces—DesCombaz’s, Carter’s, and Hogan’s—stand out on this list as some of the more gruesome pieces I’ve featured recently, so be warned. While DesCombaz focused on the relationship between people and domesticated animals, Michael Carter’s “Salamanderman” veers a bit more to the oddities side of the horror realm. “Salamanderman” follows the story of two brothers after their father dies and one begins to change into another creature. Growing up on the Jersey Shore close to the Pine Barrens where many stories involve monstrous transformations, stories like this always make their way into my heart–especially when they are told in such a way that is both touching and strange.
‘Stinkpit‘ by Liam Hogan (Pseudopod)
Content note: gore, animal cruelty
Out of the three gruesome stories on this list, Liam Hogan’s “Stinkpit” is the gruesomest and features quite a bit of animal dismembering and suffering, so stay safe as you listen to the protagonist maintain and build his stinkpit. A part of me wants to explain and summarize what Hogan’s story is about and give you a taste of the disgusting nature of the stinkpit, but a much bigger part of me suggests you find your own way to the stinkpit and its contents.
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.