Now Bram Stoker Award-nominated John F.D. Taff – modern horror’s King of Pain – returns with LITTLE BLACK SPOTS. Sixteen stories of dark horror fiction gathered together for the first time, exposing the delicate blemishes and sinister blots that tarnish the human condition.
From a man who stumbles on a cult that glorifies spontaneous human combustion, to a disgraced nature photographer who applies his skills for a vile outcome.
Where a darkened city parking structure seems malevolently alive, and a Halloween costume has a husband seeing his wife in a disturbing new light.
When a ruined man sees far too much of himself in his broken family, and a mysterious bottle of liquid arrives with a deadly secret inside.
Little Black Spots is a beacon shining its light into some of life’s most shadowy corners, revealing the dark stains that spatter all mankind.
Title: Little Black Spots | Author: John F.D. Taff | Publisher: Grey Matter Press | Pub. Date: 2018-18-11 | Pages: 310 | ISBN: 9781940658841 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration
Little Black Spots Review
In his introduction to this collection, Doug Murano states “ Before you read the following stories, let me give you a few words of warning: You’re going to want to hang on to something.” He is unquestionably correct. Taff has crafted a group of stories that left me looking up in amazement several times while reading.
I have read so many collections and anthologies this year that honestly, I was a little burnt out. Most of them were great, but I really missed getting lost in ONE world. I was apprehensive as I picked this up…what if I couldn’t get involved? What if my own marathon of short fiction left me unable to appreciate what I was about to read? I needn’t have worried. Taff took me on a journey unlike any other, and while it wasn’t one world, it was one twisted, delicious MIND I found myself lost in. Here are a few of my favorites.
“The Bunny Suit”
Halloween. Is there any other holiday that horror fans appreciate more? October is king of the calendar, at least in my estimation. In this tale, the main characters choose their costumes as they look forward to pretending to be someone else, even if for just a little while. But what happens when the line between pretend and reality is blurred? This was the first story of this collection to leave me slack-jawed with “what in the hell did I just read” written all over my face. From the husband’s nefarious nighttime activities to the wife’s penchant for salads and greenery – this one is sure to leave you in awe.
Purple Soda Hand
“Simply put, Tony was thirsty.”
This story was so weird and absolutely disgusting at times; I love its dark beauty. Leave it to Taff to take something as innocuous as a discarded bottle of purple soda and turn it into one of the most engaging short stories I’ve read in a while. I am not giving up any more details on this one. Know that the descriptions are fluid, the characters believable, and the story something completely unexpected. I want more of this world.
The Coriolis Effect (Or, Chiromancy for Beginners)
“Every tiny crack and every miniscule furrow is a story, an encounter, a soul trapped in a thin layer of skin, telling its story over and over…”
Family secrets, palmistry, and the effects of transformative life experiences are woven throughout this story, much like the lines of a palm as quoted above. Again Taff created characters that I could relate to; he really is skilled at crafting believable dialogue and reactions to life events. This one read like a movie playing in front of me – I could see the brothers and the differences in their chosen paths.
These three tales are tied for my top spot in this collection. I couldn’t possibly pick one over the other. There are others I could extol, but I think it’s better left for readers to discover the rest on their own. I’ll be picking more up from Taff in the future, that’s a certainty.
Tracy joined Sc-Fi and Scary in September 2018. She reviews horror books for the site and bemoans our general lack of grammar, but puts up with us because she loves us anyway. Feel free to reach out on Twitter and Instagram at @tracy_reads79, or on Goodreads as well!
Tracy is also part of the Ladies of Horror Fiction crew.