The Dark Verse Vol. 1: From the Passages of Revenants

While working a booth at Creation Entertainment’s Weekend of Horrors last Autumn (because, yes, I also have a weakness for horror films) I found myself with a little bit of extra time between sales. Looking right across the hall from myself sat an author selling his debut collection of short stories, The Dark Verse Vol. 1: From the Passages of Revenants. I decided to support M. Amanuensis Sharkchild (obviously not a pen name), bought a copy of his book and got to reading right away. It’s rare that I ever find the time to read books on my own outside of school, and I’m glad that the one I happened to pick turned out to be a very pleasant read, otherwise I might have given up on reading anything outside of my assigned reading completely. I know it’s a little late to give my review, considering I’d finished the book several months ago, but when rummaging through my stuff it caught my eye and I realized I’d never written a proper review of it; I considered this an outrage, since not many books manage to captivate me in such a way as this one had. So, without further ado, I present to you my formal opinion of Sharkchild’s collection of horrific bedtime stories, The Dark Verse.

If you hadn’t guessed it already, The Dark Verse belongs to the horror genre, but it doesn’t limit itself there, as some of the short stories within dwell into the realm of fantasy. The prose itself is very poetic in nature, and leaves much of the horror to the imaginations of the reader, which I greatly enjoyed; I’ve come across too many horror novels where the author attempts to spell out exactly what is supposed to be scary, which often reflects how ridiculous it is. Sharkchild’s style of writing, as well as his themes, very much reminded me of that of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, which no doubt exists in my mind that these two were, as they are to many horror novelists, great influences for Sharkchild.

I may not have the right merits to say this, since I’m not too terribly familiar with the horror genre of writing, but I found the content of the short stories to be exceedingly innovative and creative, especially in comparison to horror films, in which I am terribly familiar. The circumstances of suspense Sharkchild manages to develop with only a dozen or so pages per story largely impressed me, and actually encouraged me to read each and every story in hopes to see how far his creativity can go; and it goes far. Some of it reminded me of the eccentric nature of many of the Masters of Horror episodes.

One in particular which really resonated with me was titled “Gift of the Crossroads” and detailed the demise of one loving father after stumbling upon a small piece of other-worldly fabric that clings itself to flesh and sows itself into the body. Now, I know that synopsis really doesn’t give it justice, and by itself it sounds quite ludicrous, but believe me when I say that M. Amanuensis Sharkchild manages it to make it a terrifying, suspenseful thrill, and is probably my favorite of all the stories featured within this first volume.

I think it’s safe to say that I really enjoyed this book. It has all the essentials every collection of horror stories needs: suspenseful writing, creative and horrific plots, and proper development when asked for. If Sharkchild were to ever write a full-length novel, you can bet that I’d be sure to check it out. As for The Dark Verse, I’m going to settle for a score of 8/10; I can’t really think of anything to truly criticize about this book, but I certainly don’t find it to be the end all, be all of horror fiction writing, especially since I’m not familiar enough with the genre. I look forward to the future work Sharkchild has to offer, which will likely be a volume two for these passages, but until then I am satisfied reading random stories out of this volume before turning out the lights at night.