A Walk in a Darker Wood collects thirty tales of folk horror, leaning heavily toward the traditional but sprinkled with a number more modern takes on the genre. The tellings range from the workmanlike to the sublime, from the straightforward to the deeply mysterious. Some are vignettes, snapshots of weirdness, witchcraft, and older gods. Others are fully fleshed worlds within worlds of their own. Several of them touch on the unmistakable folk horror underpinnings of Lovecraft’s cosmology. And in keeping with the ancient tradition of folk-ballads, A Walk in a Darker Wood also contains a fine selection of evocative poetry to round out the offerings.
In short, there is a little something for everybody.
“Towards A Place Where Everything’s Better” by S.L. Edwards is a chilling look at what finds a way into the world when a family falls apart.
“Rosaire, Master of Wolves” by Manuel Arenas is a gloriously overwritten tale of witchcraft and revenge, and a complete joy to read.
“The King of Mudlings” by Shayne Keen begins like a light child’s story before veering off to some very unexpected places.
“GreenFingers” by Sarah Walker is dreamlike and urgent, tapping into adolescent anxieties and rebellions as the way back to the wild.
“The Blackdamp” by William Tea reminded me of Charles L. Grant’s work–alienated, creepy, and intimate.
“Fine and Fancy Arms” by Gordon B. White is a cross between a traditional folktale and gossipy local history, full of witchery and redemption.
“King O’ the Wood” by Can Wiggins is vivid as life with fully-formed characters, and it struck me as a strange cousin to To Kill a Mockingbird.
“A Slow Remembered Tide” by John Linwood Grant is quiet, beautiful and terribly sad with the slowly failing effort to keep memories alive.
For fans of folk horror, A Walk in a Darker Wood is a feast. The selections strike a good balance between playfulness, seriousness, and grim despair, and offer some surprising interpretations of the theme by some very talented authors. I recommend you pick it up, and see where the stories take you. You won’t be disappointed.