A spellbinding collection of short fiction explores the dark imaginations and experiences of the human mind in spine-tingling tales of horror and suspense by Zane, Tananarive Due, Stephen Barnes, Robert Fleming, and other distinguished African-American authors.
Title: Dark Dreams – A Collection of Horror and Suspense by Black Writers | Edited By: Brandon Massey | Narrator: Various | Format: Audiobook | Genre: Horror/Suspense | Language: English | Content Warning: See Below Review | Source: Self-Purchased | Starred Review
Dark Dreams Review
I have had Dark Dreams on my list on Goodreads for a very long time, after I read Brandon Massey’s Twisted Tales. I picked up the audiobook pretty recently. I am also angry at myself for waiting so long to listen to it. An anthology can be fairly hit or miss but on the whole I enjoyed the stories very much.
I also really love the narrators. Each one did full justice to the story they were reading and it never felt as though they were bored or only doing a half-assed job. I also really liked the introduction by Brandon Massey. I’d also like to apologize if I’ve spelled any of the narrator’s names wrong. I couldn’t find them written anywhere so I had to go by sound.
Of course there were stories that were not top of the mark for me but not because they weren’t well written.They just weren’t my style and I could see others liking them more. And with this many stories there is bound to be something for everyone. Below are my reviews of each story along with the narrator for each.
Written by Zane – Narrated by Kevin R. Free
The collection starts out with an interesting vampire story. I don’t really care for buckets of sex with my stories as oft-times it’s unnecessary. So it did detract a bit from my enjoyment of the story but I think others will like it more if they enjoy a bit of vampire erotica.
But Beautiful and Terrifying
Written by Robert Fleming – Narrated by Dion Graham
Set just after World War II this story is an interesting look at Japanese-American tensions and Japanese folklore
Content Warning: Racial slurs
He Who Takes Away the Pain
Written by Chesya Burke – Narrated by Sharise Booth
What was scariest about this story was the reliance on religion over actual doctors. It was told well through the little girl’s eyes and had a creepiness of who exactly The Shadow Man was.
Written by Kalamu ya Salaam – Narrated by Niambe Niambe
Bras Coopee was more of an internal horror as the protagonist struggles with himself and his values
Written by Joy M. Copeland – Narrated by Susan Spane
Zazu works as a housekeeper and also collects hair for Miss Ruby for extra money to get “beautiful” blonde hair. This story was disturbing not only for its content (see below) but also Zazu dreaming about being blonde and ‘perfect’.
Content Warning: Attempted rape
Written by L.R. Giles – Narrated by Kevin R. Free
A good, creepy story about a very vain man who gets his comeuppance. And there are tentacles.
If the Walls Could Talk
Written by L.A. Banks – Narrated by Sharise Booth
This was by far one of my favorite stories. It took a lot of turns that I didn’t see coming. It was by turns touching and funny. I loved it. This is one author I plan to pursue more. And the narrator was just fantastic.
The Fourth Floor
Written by Ahmad Wright – Narrated by Dion Graham
A great story about PTSD, respect and demons – inner and outer.
Written by Lawana Holland-Moore – Narrated by Myra Lucretia Taylor
Empty Vessel was a hard historical fiction read and haunting, as well. I can’t say much more about it but READ IT.
Content Warning: Racial slurs, rape
Written by Christopher Chambers – Narrated by Niambe Niambe
The pacing was uneven but I was engrossed in the tale being spun before me. The narration was excellent and fit the story so well.
Written by D.S. Foxx – Narrated by Sharon Washington
I wish Dreads was a bit longer because it was beautiful and magical. Not much in the horror realm but it certainly gives pause. Have you ever noticed how powerful women in ancient pictures always had hair that felt almost alive, powerful?
Written by Terence Taylor – Narrated by Kevin R. Free
Plaything was an intense read. I was almost amazed that it had been written in 2004 rather than 2019. It predicts gay marriage being legalized, the decriminalization of marijuana…and AI used for pleasure. The author deals with it deftly as a lawyer arguing a case involving two men on trial for using a sex doll for sexual purposes. A sex doll made to look like an eight year old child. It is an excellent story and knows what nuances to bring out.
Written by Linda Addison – Narrated by Susan Spane
Two small girls use their inheritance of magic and power to save their grandmother.
Written by Rickey Windell George – Narrated by Sharise Booth
Red is sumptuous and decadent, taking you on twists and turns that will leave you dizzy.
Written by Francine Lewis – Narrated by Myra Lucretia Taylor
Men are hungry for wealth…women of the sea are hungry for flesh.
Written by Brandon Massey – Narrated by Kevin R. Free
After their grandfather dies, Steven and his brother, Craig, are tasked with clearing their grandfather’s cluttered garage. What looks like clutter at first reveals treasures beyond imagining. And they need a guardian.
Written by Patricia E. Canterbury – Narrated by Sharise Booth
A tale of reincarnation and reclaiming what’s yours. While I did really love the premise and story the ending was a little anti-climactic. I don’t know if Marguerite was a person the whole time or what she becomes at the end. If you read it let me know!
Cum Onn, It’z Lovely Whether
Written by Anthony Beal – Narrated by Niambe Niambe
This was a twisted Christmas time story that had a lot of interesting ideas and descriptions. A little too much, at times. The Dashers sounded fierce and I liked the breaks from the action with the ghost girl. I also loved the way things tied together at the end. I think it would have benefited from trimming some of the unnecessary techbabble and making the Krampus and The Crimson Christ less cartoonishly lewd.
The Gray Riders
Written by B. Gordon Doyle – Narrated by Dion Graham
I kind of wish I had read this a year or two ago since I wouldn’t have had ‘Old Town Road’ playing in my head. I apologize. But, it was a great story nonetheless.
Written by Stephen Barnes and Tananarive Due – Narrated by Kevin R. Free
I did like the story but I’m not usually drawn into zombie stories very much. It had the classic elements. Survival, love death. All of it. It was good but not a favorite.
As you can see there weren’t many that I didn’t like and even the ones that I rated loser were still good ones. Just not my particular style or taste. If you like horror anthologies with a bit of everything – magic, beauty, pain and wonder then you should definitely check it out.
You can find Dark Dreams via its Goodreads link or, if you’d like to help support literacy you can check at Better World Books
GracieKat was the first co-host of Sci-Fi & Scary, Lilyn’s partner-in-crime, and sub-head of the Kali Krew. She reviews horror books, movies, and games for the site. She also does a weekly Focus on the Frightful feature, and is the site list-maker. She is also in control of the Sci-Fi & Scary podcast which will relaunch soon.