Welcome back to Into the Night, Tor Nightfire’s monthly horror short fiction and poetry review and roundup series. I’m here every month to recommend you spooky tales and poems I found somewhere on the net. My main objective with this series has always been to give horror readers a wide selection of authors, publications, and stories to read every month–like a subscription box, but for dark fiction and poetry, but more importantly, free.
This month, I review stories and poems ranging in themes and subgenres from publications like Nightlight, Anathema Magazine, and more. Check out April’s installment if you want to read last month’s Into the Night picks.
‘The Spiders‘ by Chelsea T. Hicks (Poetry Magazine)
Chelsea T. Hicks’s poem, translated into English by the author, creeps and crawls in a chilling way. A heart is like a spider, or maybe our want for something outside ourselves turns us into spiders. The author’s use ampersands keep the poem small and quick, like a spider. As I read, I was surprised by every line and touched by the surprisingly soft and dark ending. In a way, “The Spiders” is representative of all the pieces on this month’s list. Each one has a touch of tenderness blended with their horror and darkness.
‘Ghost‘ by Andrew D. Hulse (Grim and Gilded)
Content warning: death, decomposition
I found a lot of poems I wanted to feature on this month’s Into the Night, but then this would have been a poetry review column, so I had to whittle it down to only a few. Andrew D Hulse’s poem is another dark, tender work, but in a totally different way than Hicks’ poem. In six stanzas, Hulse builds a laundry list of wishes for once the character in the poem is dead, which are at once grotesque and hopeful.
‘Drowning Songs‘ by M.S. Dean (Anathema Magazine)
OOOOHHHHH. THIS STORY. M.S. Dean’s short story, “Drowning Songs,” has stayed with me since I first read it. A woman is repeatedly drowned and killed by her father to bring good fortune to their town until a new child is born, at which point the father transfers his attentions to the baby. “Drowning Songs” is really dark, yet Dean does a wonderful job weaving in little bits subtle loveliness. With a wonderful voice and descriptions that kept me tied to the flow of the narrative, “Drowning Songs” is my top recommendation from this month’s list.
‘Unearthen‘ by Carly Racklin (Haven Speculative)
For readers who enjoy a long-form poem with a bit of a story, Carly Racklin’s “Unearthen” follows the narrative of a story about a body coming back to life. Fantastic imagery and surprising line breaks encase themes around reconciling with death in a dark poetic package. While reading, I let go of trying to guess where the poem was going and let it startle me. More importantly, I let the images hit me again and again.
‘Choice‘ by James Barnett (Night’s End Podcast)
The last two stories on this list are perfect for fans of audio fiction or drama. The first up is James Barnett’s short story “Choice” on Night’s End Podcast. Two brothers discover they have a long-lost brother and go to meet him in hopes of learning the truth about the father that walked out on them when they were children. “Choice” is a mix of excellent horror storytelling and some cliché comedic moments that nevertheless had me laughing out loud. But the silly moments didn’t take away from the spooky, original moments.
‘Loneliness is in Your Blood‘ by Cadwell Turnbull (Nightlight Podcast)
Another favorite on this list is Cadwell Turnbull’s recent short story “Loneliness is in Your Blood” on the Nightlight podcast. The short story features a creature from African folklore, an immortal old woman who shifts between skins and feasts on humans, who suffers through the reality of eternity. Like many stories on this list, there’s a dark tenderness to Turnbull’s story, allowing the horror to hit on multiple levels.
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.