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The Dark Corners Collection #BookReview

Don’t believe what they say. There really is something to be afraid of in the dark. You’ll find it in a quiet motel in the middle of nowhere, on the other side of an attic door, under the bed when the lights go out, and in your own imaginings when your mind starts playing tricks. Whatever your fears may be, the nightmares begin here.

Dark Corners, a collection of seven heart-stopping short stories by bestselling authors who give you so many new reasons to be afraid. Each story can be read in a single sitting. Or, if you have the nerve, you can listen all by yourself in the dark.

These seven stories include (in order):

  • Hannah-Beast by Jennifer McMahon
  • The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger
  • There’s a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed by Edgar Cantero
  • Miao Dao by Joyce Carol Oates
  • The Tangled Woods by Emily Raboteau
  • The Remedy by Adam Haslett
  • Oak Avenue by Brandi Reeds

The Dark Corners Collection Review

Since these are all short stories, I thought I’d take them one at a time and then tell you my impressions overall. These reviews are as short as the stories warrant and do not contain spoilers.

Book cover for Hannah-Beast

Hannah-Beast by Jennifer McMahon

The fate of a lonely girl becomes part of a town’s shameful secret history in Thriller Award winner Jennifer McMahon’s terrifying story of guilt, retribution, and one tragic Halloween night.

Thirty-four years ago, on October 31, poor Hannah Talbott took part in a scavenger hunt gone violently wrong. The mean girls made sure of it. To this day, for a haunted local mother, the most unsettling Halloween costume of all is an urban legend they call Hannah-Beast. It’s a reminder of the past she can’t forget. Especially tonight when it’s come back, so close to home.

Hannah-Beast Review:

This was a pretty good one. I think it’s my first story by Jennifer McMahon. Centered around a horrible event that happens in the main character’s childhood on Halloween night, it flashes back and forth between past and present. As you learn what happened in the past, the tension builds fairly effectively.

I felt sorry for the bullied girl in the flashbacks. She was definitely naive, but children can be so cruel that it wasn’t completely unbelievable either.

The ending was a decent one as well. Not really shocking, but still horrifying.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Sleep Tight Motel Book Cover

The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger

A woman on the run finds refuge in a motel at the edge of the woods, with plenty of vacancies. Check in for the night with New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger.

Eve has a fake ID, a .38, and a violent lover receding in the rearview mirror. He’ll never find her at the isolated motel, and its kindly manager is happy to ease her fears. But if Eve is the only guest, whom does she keep hearing on the other side of the wall? Eve won’t get a good night’s rest until she finds out.

The Sleep Tight Motel Review

‘The Sleep Tight Motel’ is one of my favorites of the Dark Corners collection. It immediately sucks you in and makes you feel for the main character. There’s this sense from the beginning that something really isn’t right. Watching it unfold – though – it’s not scary. It’s not even dark. It’s a little heart-breaking and a little reassuring all at the same time.

Really well written, and it deals with a dark theme, but I have issues even getting the word “heart-stopping” near it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Theres a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed

There’s a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed by Edgar Cantero

The thrill of a sleepover becomes sheer terror as kids voice their greatest fears into existence in this cheeky, vividly cinematic tale by New York Times bestselling author Edgar Cantero. Lights out.

It’s bad enough that its venom-dripping chelicerae can slice through flesh like warm butter. Worse? It’s right there under the bunk. It’s a fact now. To make it through the night, the children must obey the rules: don’t get out of bed, stay out of the shadows, and don’t wake the beast. But as the threats multiply, so do the rules of survival. And with the safety of dawn still hours away, the fun is just beginning.

There’s a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed Review

I went into this story having read some of Edgar Cantero’s other work, and so I had a rough idea of what I was in for. I was right. He does a near perfect mix of silly and serious that absolutely delights and brings back strong memories of childhood.

I loved the set up. The story kicks into gear immediately. (A good thing considering its only 24 pages long.) I felt like I was right there with the kids as everything was going sideways for them.  And the ending? Offbeat, unexpected, and perfect.

This was a fun short story that made me smile, but heart-stopping terror? Not even vaguely close.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Miao Dao cover

Miao Dao by Joyce Carol Oates

A girl comes of age with a vengeance—and help from a friend—in a tale of unnerving suspense from National Book Award winner and literary master Joyce Carol Oates.

Bad things have been happening since Mia began to mature. Her dad left. Boys at school can’t keep their hands to themselves. A lecherous stepfather has moved in. Her only refuge is an abandoned lot on her suburban cul-de-sac, crawling with feral felines—one of which follows Mia home. Ghostly white and affectionate, she is Mia’s new companion and—as Mia’s tormenters will soon discover—her fierce protector.

Miao Dao Review

I did not enjoy this story. I can see how it might be unnerving, though.

Miao Dao is about ‘real’ horror, with a side of crazy. I don’t particularly care for real horror, especially of the type mentioned in this story. So, I had to force myself to read it, and I swear it was the longest 66 pages I’ve read. I kept at it only because I want to get through the whole collection.

Joyce Carol Oates’ writing is, I think, like Stephen King’s – in that there’s nothing really wrong with it, I just don’t particularly like it.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Book cover for The Tangled Woods

The Tangled Woods by Emily Raboteau

He went on the road expecting the worst of America, but what if the worst of America was also in him? This is the unsettling story of a man in a midlife crisis and his unexpected awakening, by award-winning writer Emily Raboteau.

Poison-tongued film critic Reginald Wright is known for his creative insults and intolerance for the garbage culture, insufferable rudeness, and thoughtless racism of predictably common people. Now, against his better judgment, and with a marriage in crisis, he’s attempting a getaway in the Poconos that quickly fulfills his every low expectation. In fact, it’s becoming a nightmare. And that’s just what Reginald needs to wake up.

The Tangled Woods Review

When you want to punch the main character the entire way through the story, there’s a bit of a problem. Reginald is a truly detestable man, and unfortunately as he’s the narrator, it’s basically impossible to find anything to like about the story.

This is horror – a horrible vision of the now/near future. Unfortunately, even as someone who sees the state of the country and the way things are headed and absolutely agrees that it’s turning into a nightmarish cesspool, having it shoved in my face in the story was not precisely entertaining.

The writing felt as harsh and rough as the main character did. I don’t know whether it’s deliberate or not.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Book cover for The Remedy

The Remedy by Adam Haslett

He’s a man with a body under siege—and the willingness to proceed with a cure so miraculous all one can do is gasp—in this chilling story by New York Times bestselling author Adam Haslett.

After years of traditional treatments and therapies, Derrick still suffers from pain ineluctable enough that it has become his identity. Then he hears of an exclusive, very private New York clinic that promises relief. It comes highly recommended by a friend. The multisession remedy unfolds as a sensorial wonder that’s so illuminating it’s enough to bring tears to Derrick’s eyes. It’s all working so well. So unexpectedly well.

The Remedy Review

I don’t dislike it, necessarily, but… this is not horror. I’m not sure how it gets built into a “dark corners” collection, and to be frank, I’m a little peeved about it. What, precisely, about someone finding a remedy to their pain is so horrifying? I can only see this being horrible for people who maybe haven’t lived the majority of their lives with a mental or physical illness that is debilitating.

For me this story was about finding peace and not being in pain any more.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Oak Avenue Book cover

Oak Avenue by Brandi Reeds

A young wife and mother—new to this town and to its secrets—learns just how much she doesn’t know in this tingly tale of all the things hiding in the dark at the top of the stairs, from bestselling author Brandi Reeds.

While renovating her Victorian home, Ana Clementine finds an ornate door buried under forty years of earth. Once she restores it to the attic, she starts hearing whispers, her loving husband becomes a stranger, and her baby daughter learns a chilling new word. Maybe Ana has unlocked the house’s secrets. Or maybe she’s becoming just a little unhinged herself.

Oak Avenue Review

This is quite possibly the best of the lot – and one of the few that I would actually put in the ‘horror’ section. It’s giving nothing away if you read the synopsis to tell you this is a ghost story of sorts. A good, creepy one, that will send a shiver up your spine. There was a lot I appreciated about Oak Avenue. The atmosphere sets almost immediately. The way the author balances the joys of having a small child against the evil creeping in. The way she can envision the house. It’s all very lovely.

I want to read more by Brandi Reeds.

Rating: 5 out of 5


Overall, the biggest problem with the Dark Corners collection is that whomever was in charge of compiling these “heart-stopping tales of terror” has either never read a horror book before, or is such a colossal wimp that they shouldn’t be allowed near the horror section to begin with. While most of the stories are okay individually, as a themed collection, it completely fails to impress.

Still, it was nice to read a bunch of well-edited short stories.

These books are available on Amazon.

Published in3 RatedShort Stories
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One Comment

  1. Ouch. Several of these didn;t work, eh. Such a great list of authors though.

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