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This new collection of horror tales marks my first time reading Adam Light’s work but, based on some of the stories contained within, it certainly won’t be my last. ‘Dreams For The Dying’ offers eleven spooky shorts that feature;

  • A long-haul truck driver who picks up more than cargo to keep him company on the road
  • A drive out to a reputedly haunted scene of a local urban legend proves to offer more tricks than treats to one group of friends at Halloween
  • Family secrets, murder and betrayals are soon forgotten when a loving father’s curse comes to enact vengeance upon his evil son-in-law
  • A millionaire who has done it all (or so he thought) until he is made an offer he literally cannot refuse
  • A loving husbands last, desperate attempt to save his ailing wife, and the disastrous consequences when the cure turns out to be worse than the disease

At one point in his Author Notes, Light notes that he feels one of his stories has a ‘Tales From the Crypt’ vibe and it’s a sentiment I definitely echo here, and one that can be applied to quite a few of the shorts collected here. Stories like ‘Vengeance by the Foot’ or ‘Valley of the Dunes’ read like long-forgotten episodes, providing a darkly humorous horror short that is pacy and engaging, and delivering on the obligatory ‘twist in the tale’. A lot of the collection has a similar vibe (‘Way Out of Here’ would make a fantastic Twilight Zone episode and longer pieces such as ‘Ghost Light Road’ feel very cinematic and are begging for a live-action adaptation) and the pervading sense of urgency and assured writing means this is a book that is tough to put down once you’ve started.

While a lot of the stories are quick and fun reads, the longer offerings tended to be the ones that stood out the most to me. My personal highlight was ‘Serving Spirits‘, a cautionary tale of a young woman who no longer connects with the person she married, and her missing father who disapproved of their union and would stop at nothing to break them apart. A unique supernatural element is factored into a strong character piece, which gave this story the high stakes and unsettling vibe that I love in my horror shorts. The closing story, ‘Panacea‘, is another stellar story, starting out as a genuinely affecting and melancholy look at an ageing couple. The husband is dealing with the painful and impending death of his partner and, in his desperation, makes a decision that he comes to regret. The downbeat and moving opening slowly morphs into something more bombastic and grotesque, delivering a body horror story memorable for all the right reasons.

Not every story lands quite as effectively. Stories like ‘Taken’ and ‘The Continuance Agency’ have great concepts and effective build-ups but, for me, don’t quite stick the landing. The latter feels particularly abrupt after some fantastic world-building and intriguing set-ups that ultimately don’t really go anywhere. Ultimately though, I did enjoy every story in the collection, which was consistently entertaining and boasts a handful of stand-outs that more than justify the price of admission. 

‘Dreams For The Dying’ is a strong definitive collection with some unforgettable offerings and, while not every story can live up to the heights of the best the book has to offer, there is plenty to enjoy here for any horror fan. What does remain consistent is snappy pacing, accomplished writing and an overall sense of fun which all but guarantees a good time. 

Richard Martin

Richard Martin

Reviewer

Richard Martin started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatized himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner and an inappropriate amount of books. 

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