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I have been busy the past few weeks catching up on some book reviews for http://www.ingridhall.com and one of my recent favourite’s was Dark Messages by Daniel J Weber.  Daniel is a Canadian writer whose oeuvre is horror fiction, in particular fantastical horror.  He is taking part in a year-long campaign to promote talented indie writers: Indie and Proud.

Dark Messages a short story anthology by Daniel J Weber

Dark MessagesDark Messages is a slender volume containing 6 tales of horror, fantasy and allegory,  many addressing issues of self-esteem and the omniscience of death.

The first thing I should say is that this is a very short collection, coming in at only 42 pages, but good things come in small packages, as they say!  Weber takes the reader on a dark roller-coaster of a ride, intense, surreal, visceral even visionary at times.  Yes, he uses some blood and guts horror, but a lot of the horror stems from the mind and how people perceive themselves, how they react to each other and their environment.

The first story, Undying Memories, depicts a grieving mother trapped in side her own grief and memories.  She appears as lost as her dead son, lying trapped beneath the waters of a lake.  The forest setting and the allegorical and  deadly wolf that stalks her, and the timeless quality of this story, create the atmosphere of a claustrophobic fairy tale where there will be no happy endings.

A Mile in My Shoes was another intriguing, almost surreal, tale of a man who inherits a collection of shoes and finds he can ‘feel’ the lives of those who wore them.  From the emptiness of his grandfather and his dead-mans’ shoes, to the shoes of a delinquent dispossessed boy; until he finds the shoes that really fit, and brings the story full circle.

My favourite story was Master of Death.  This was a surreal story where the narrator/observer watches a tattered man struggling through the desert in a final battle of wills with death.  The story is as wild and intense as the desert wind that whips through it, with Breughel-esque imagery repleat with lakes of blood.  My other favourite tale was They Know Not What they do, an odd choice for me as it has a very Christian theme.  Weber creates an emotional re-imagining of the crucifixion complete with warring demons scenting victory as the failed Saviour doubts himself on the cross.  Doubt, fear, redemption – it’s all there!

Asides from the exploration of self-esteem, one of the predominant themes in this collection was the power of death: always stalking you, seldom bested – a suitably dark message and one which was handled in a beautifully dark and Gothic, yet thoughtful manner.

Occasionally the stories were a little over-blown, and occasionally a bit opaque in their message, but overall I think this represents a very strong, thoughtful and gripping collection of tales, told in a very vivid and at times quite moving style.  My biggest gripe was that there were only 6 stories in the collection – I could easily have read more.

All in all a great short read!

Dark Messages by Daniel J Weber is available on Amazon: