Reviews of Dark Fiction

Antisocieties by Michael Cisco

A rather short collection of 10 stories, ANTISOCIETIES packs a wallop of unsettling weirdness into its 125 pages.

Not going to lie, I have not read anything by Michael Cisco before this. I see that I own a lot of anthologies in which he is featured but, (story of my life), I haven’t read them yet. I do know Grimscribe Press and I know they only put out quality work, so when they offered me the chance to read this collection, I took full advantage of the opportunity and here we are.

If you’re expecting a straight up horror collection, you probably should be looking elsewhere. That’s not to say that some of these stories aren’t horrific, because they are, but the most common thread among them is…uncertainty.

I’m not going to talk about all the stories, but I will talk about the ones that made the biggest impression on me.

INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK: When a man goes to live with his grandmother, he familiarizes himself with her small tight-knit community. Soon thereafter, he spots a man wearing a mask. Who is he? What’s up with the mask? I found this tale disconcerting and still find myself thinking about it and at this point, I read it almost a month ago.

MILKING was my second favorite story here. A boy living in a beach house, where his parents are always quiet and there is always a glass of milk waiting for him on the table in the morning. Here, we have another story that has had lingering effects on my brain.

THE STARVING OF SAQQARA I don’t even know what was going on here, but it was a compelling tale of a man in search of a sculpture/statue that disappeared.

SACCADE: My favorite of the collection! For me, this story was the pinnacle of unnerving. I’ll admit that I was unfamiliar with the word saccade, so I looked it up, (though the narrator of this tale provides a definition as well.) This is what I found. SACCADE: a rapid movement of the eye between fixation points. What if your eyesight was so keen that you could see letters in that tiny blur between the letters that are actually printed? Yeah, think on that unsettling little thought for a moment. I don’t know…for whatever reason just the thought of that creeped me out.

All of the stories here were good, but for me, the ones I’ve listed above were the standouts. Not all of the narratives had a clear point of beginning and end, or cause and effect; which is why I said above if you’re looking for uncomplicated straightforward horror tales, this volume might not be for you. But if you enjoy the type of tale that you leaves you unsettled, disconcerted, and thinking about certain aspects and characters, turning them over and over in your mind? This is ABSOLUTELY the book for you!

Highly recommended to fans of Weird Tales!

Thank you to Grimscribe Press for the paperback ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!

Anitsocieties Book Cover Anitsocieties
Michael Cisco
Weird Tales
Grimscribe Press
May 15, 2021
Grimscribe Press

ANTISOCIETIES is a collection of ten stories about isolation - what it does to people, and what isolated people do to each other and themselves. An ominously quiet town. A haunting young adult novel from the turn of the century. Two starving captives frozen in agony. A young boy from a doting family. A man in a cheap Halloween mask. A succession of portraits of people trapped in their own identities, some of whom insist on their own ideas because they would have nothing at all without them. People for whom being seen by another is terrifying. And, like any collection of portraits, ANTISOCIETIES is also a collection of speculative mirrors ...

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