First off, apologies to the author for my late review. I was asked to review one of the short stories from Dark Quill Publishing, but to make up for my tardiness I will be reviewing all four which are currently on his website (some are upcoming).
The Devil's Tree: This is a very short story about two boys, one of which is being abused by his dad. After school the two boys take their frustrations out on a very ugly 'devil tree'. I like the overall symbolism of the tree, but I think the story might have benefited by having a splash of the supernatural in it as well. There doesn't have to be a lot, just enough to classify it more firmly in the horror genre. Overall, however, the description and the characterization make this very interesting. 4/5
Concealer: This is the largest and the best story in my opinion. Angela is a woman who spends most of her time at home and obsessed with trying the newest fashion. Secretly she is harboring a secret, one that is gradually eating away at her. Besides the great characterization, the author there are also a few scenes which are genuinely terrifying, and the author uses some actual images in the story which work to its advantage. However, Concealer also has one flaw. The...characters...speak...with...too....many....ellipses. This is somewhat puzzling as none of the other stories have this problem. Ellipses can be a useful tool to emphasize something horrific. When the character is trying to give me their best Shatner impersonation, however, then we have a problem.
Besides that, however, this is an interesting and scary read. Definitely the best out of the four. 4.5/5.
After Light: The first half of this story was very interesting-an unattractive woman working as a part time sex caller is being hunted by an unknown creature called 'the Animal'. I really wished this story could have ended on a strong note. But unfortunately, the second half goes into cliche territory when it is discovered just what exactly the animal was. Even when the creature would have been revealed, there was still an opportunity or two to surprise the reader, but sadly that didn't happen. 2.5/5
Virulence: This story didn't grab me as much as the other ones, and I think it was due to the characterization. Michael is babysitting his younger brother Max and his friend Brenda drops in without warning, drinks his beer and makes herself at home, even though she is clearly not wanted from Michael's point of view. Michael comes across as condescending and snobby, and the dialogue seems stilted at times. All three are attacked by a literal virus which seems to come out of this computer. Overall this is all building up to a surprising conclusion which does justify the character and dialogue issues, but overall it couldn't hold my attention too much. 3/5
Overall all of these are an entertaining read and I am hoping that the author, Patrick Zac continues on his writing career and publishes a book with the same quality as Concealer. It would be fun to see.
Dark Quill Publishing is available here: http://www.dark-quill.com/