With a table of contents that reads like a Who’s Who of the best dark fiction writers today, how could ORPHANS OF BLISS be anything less than phenomenal? I had lofty expectations and I’m thrilled to say they were all exceeded.
I enjoyed every story here, which is rare for me.
Kealan Patrick’s Burke’s tale is a like a dreamy hell.
S.A. Cosby’s ONE LAST BLAST is an enjoyable departure from Cosby’s crime novels. Maybe not enjoyable for the characters, but it was for me.
From Cassandra Khaw’s story about a girl who loses her father:
“Hurt changes you. Hurt stays. Hurt gnaws a nest for itself in the heart and stays burrowed there until you die.”
Abuse leaves scars.
HUDDLED MASSES, YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE by John F.D. Taff is a story about what replaces a man’s heroin addiction. There are worse things than being addicted to drugs. There are holes, there are holes everywhere.
Gabino Iglesias’ story HOLDING ON was a combination of crime, grit, class distinctions and pain. Sometimes it seems like, in certain areas of the world, including the United States, this narrative is coming true.
BUYER’S REMORSE by Samantha Kolesnik was a surprising and unique tale of a different kind of addiction. At first I thought the addiction was shopping, but I was way wrong.
Josh Malerman nailed his story about a witch that…well, you’ll have to read it. The title of the tale is from a chilling scene in the narrative. A SOLID BLACK LIGHTHOUSE ON A PIER IN THE CRYPTIC. And it does sound cryptic, doesn’t it?
Kathe Koja’s SINGULARITY was super short, but like most of her work, it doesn’t need to be wordy to make a serious impact.
Mark Matthews’ tale of addiction was dark and stark.
“There is no death. Our bodies carry on. Fluids dehydrate into the sky to become rain clouds and fall back to earth. We decay into the soil, descend into the ground, and then resuurect into dandelions and tulips. We dissolve in the ocean, eaten by fish, become the ocean, become the fish.”
I have read hundreds of anthologies and collections over the years and I can honestly say this one towers above most of them. Enough so that I would deem this in my top five anthologies of all time. I know that every reader brings their experiences and baggage to a story and maybe that’s why these tales connected with me so deeply? I can’t say for sure. I like to think that I do know top notch writing when I see it though, and this volume is CHOCK-FULL of exactly that.
My highest recommendation!
Thank you to Mark Matthews for the paperback ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. Also, thanks for that little note in the back.