Book Review: When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson

When Things Get Dark

Do you like reading short stories? I have ever since high school when I first read “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. I remember doing my homework reading it and thinking “this story is so boring” and then BAM! The ending totally throws you for a loop and you realize that it isn’t some boring small-town event, but a horrifying, unthinkable tradition.

Ever since then I’ve been a huge fan of Jackson’s work and have slowly been making my way through her novels and short story collections. When I saw When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson I knew I had to read it. I was itching to see how other authors would incorporate her unique brand of horror, and friends, it did not disappoint.

In this collection we see stories from 18 diverse authors, all with incredibly unique stories. Some are obviously paranormal, others seem mundane but have shocking twists, and then there are the ones that sweep you up into an eerie, uncomfortable atmosphere where you aren’t quite sure why you’re scared, but my God, you are.

The stories, in order, include:

  • Funeral Birds by M Rickert
  • For Sale by Owner by Elizabeth Hand
  • In the Deep Woods; The Light is Different There by Seanan McGuire
  • A Hundred Miles and a Mile by Carmen Maria Machado
  • Quiet Dead Things by Cassandra Khan
  • Something Like Living Creatures by John Langan
  • Money of the Dead by Karen Heuler
  • Hag by Benjamin Percy
  • Take Me, I Am Free by Joyce Carol Oates
  • A Trip to Paris by Richard Kadrey
  • The Party by Paul Trembley
  • Refinery Road by Stephen Graham Jones
  • The Door in the Fence by Jeffrey Ford
  • Pear of Anguish by Gemma Files
  • Special Meal by Josh Malerman
  • Sooner or Later, Your Wife Will Drive You Home by Genevieve Valentine
  • Tiptoe by Laird Barron
  • Skindler’s Veil by Kelly Link

Standout stories for me were “For Sale by Owner,” “In the Deep Woods; The Light is Different There,” Quiet Dead Things,” “Refinery Road,” and “Special Meal.” These all had different kinds of terror woven into them, and will stay with me for a while.

There’s something for everyone in this collection when it comes to horror sub-genres, and overall, it’s a fantastic collection. A must-read for fellow fans of Jackson’s work, and one that all horror fans should read. Whether you read scary stories year-round or are looking for something to read this spooky season, add this collection to your list.

Thank you to the publisher, Titan Books, for sending me a digital ARC via NetGalley. When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson edited by Ellen Datlow, came out on October 12, 2021 and is available wherever books are sold.

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