★★★★ A Darker Place by A. Martin is a slick collection of short horror stories that will leave you sleepless. In these fifteen tales, Martin visits various sinister scenes ranging from haunted houses to fog-filled forests, where grim fates will befall a whole slew of unsuspecting characters. Familiar faces like the Boogieman and Mr. Sandman make an appearance here, too—though that’s hardly cause for celebration if you’re unlucky enough to come across either of them. In the collection’s title story, an estranged son visits his distant father at the home where he grew up, hoping to finally get some answers about his mother’s disappearance. But those who go seeking the truth should be prepared for dark deeds to come to light.
At just under a hundred pages, Martin’s second short story collection zips along, buoyed by a malevolently playful sense of the paranormal and a healthy change of set dressing with each new chapter. (You can read our review of the author’s first short story collection, After Midnight, here.) Readers will encounter all manner of monsters in these pages, including ghosts, zombies, giant earthworms—and others that can’t quite be properly explained. Our reviewers have already remarked upon Martin’s use of classic horror tropes to strike those familiar points of fear, and that trend is certainly continued with A Darker Place. Still, it is clear the author has grown as a writer, combining poetic justice with circumstantial irony to create a strong common theme of grim humor throughout his stories.