Author : Red Lagoe
Published June 25, 2021 by La Red Books
Horror / Short Story / Collection
I’m a huge fan of the short horror story format, especially when I can listen to it via podcasts such as one of my favorites, The No Sleep Podcast, and Dismal Dreams felt like a collection of all of those same style horror stories. Highly enjoyable and unsettling, with a good variety of “types or genres” of horror present across the spread of thirteen different stories contained in this book.
Lagoe has a way of writing that hooks you into the stories very quickly while never getting lost in details that don’t push the story forward to it’s grisly conclusion. That style, that approach to storytelling, is so well suited for short horror fiction. Much like a monstrous arm yanking you into the shadows, nothing but teeth and claws flashing in the moonlight, the stories pull you in, tear the hell out of you, then spit you back out after their horrifying conclusions.
Lagoe’s horror flavor moves swiftly and fluidly between horror genres, from grotesque body horror and psychological terrors to cursed lands and deadly games. And nearly EVERY one of these stories hits with maximum impact.
As with any collection, some stories that connect better than others. The best part about that is seeing how different readers respond to different stories, everyone has a different favorite, and that is a testament to Lagoe’s storytelling ability as there truly isn’t a bad story in this collection.
Some just stand out a little more than others and for me, a couple of favorite stories within were Shutter Stop, Flicker, Prospect Nowhere, and Doll House.
Shutter Stop is a tale of a photographer needing to “get the shot” that no one else can by trespassing into an area fenced in with signs warning “No Photography”. Breaking the rules comes with consequences.
Flicker feels like a horror version of a superhero type of story as a special bond connects Father and Daughter, and they have the gift of telekinesis. But gifts like that don’t go well when mixed with PTSD, kidnapping, and murder.
Prospect Nowhere is a wonderfully creepy take on the idea of finding yourself stuck in a time loop, a time loop with a dark and nasty secret.
Doll House, well THIS story is one of the most horrifying stories in the entire collection. Not only from the more visceral and grotesque body horror side of things, but because it couples child psychological terror with it and leaves you absolutely gutted by the end.
Red Lagoe has accomplished a rare feat with Dismal Dreams. We get a book full of thirteen wonderfully nightmarish stories that span a terrific variety of horror styles. We’re left feeling at once battered and bruised from the power of the horror within these stories, while also springing to our feet eager for more. And, at least for me, it left me not only super satisfied as a reader, but super inspired to write, create, and explore more of the dark corners of stories that reside in my own head as well.
If you enjoy horror and enjoy the short story collection format, I highly recommend you check this one out. While there were a few stories I didn’t love AS much because that type of horror just isn’t my favorite thing, it’s a super solid collection of powerful and visceral horror stories.
Dismal Dreams by Red Lagoe gets 4 out of 5 stars
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