John F. D. Taff
“First he gave us
LITTLE DEATHS: THE DEFINITIVE EDITION. Then he unleashed his unique brand of
pain in THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS.
Now Bram Stoker Award-nominated John F.D. Taff – modern horror’s King of Pain – returns with LITTLE BLACK SPOTS. Sixteen stories of dark horror fiction gathered together for the first time, exposing the delicate blemishes and sinister blots that tarnish the human condition.
From a man who stumbles on a cult that glorifies spontaneous human combustion, to a disgraced nature photographer who applies his skills for a vile outcome.
Where a darkened city parking structure seems malevolently alive, and a Halloween costume has a husband seeing his wife in a disturbing new light.
When a ruined man sees far too much of himself in his broken family, and a mysterious bottle of liquid arrives with a deadly secret inside.
Little Black Spots is a beacon shining its light into some of life’s most shadowy corners, revealing the dark stains that spatter all mankind.”
Thank you to Anthony Rivera and Grey Matter Press for a review copy of ‘Little Black Spots’.
The great thing about short story collections is there is always something to suit every taste. Every story is different and it’s ok if you don’t like them all.
For me, this was a good enough read; I didn’t love all the stories, some, I really resonated with and some I just became bored with. Overall, Little Black Spots was an enjoyable read.
My particular favourites:
-The Immolation Scene
This is a very intense story of loneliness and helplessness, emphasizing just how far people are willing to go to feel, to feel anything.
Corey is besotted with Amy, his ex and also his colleague. They engaged in a 6 month passionate affair before Amy abruptly ended it, claiming love wasn’t enough.
BothCorey and Amy have a special, yet dangerous, ability. They can ‘burn’; theyboth have the ability of spontaneous combustion. They can ignite their flesh,sometimes without realizing. Neither knew of the other’s ability, until a chancemeeting when they cross paths during work. Amy is clearly more comfortable withtheir ability than Corey, he can’t bear the pain, the burnt flesh, the scars itleaves. The smell of the burning flesh is overwhelming. It’s too much to see,to deal with and to cope with, Amy wants them to be together completely, toburn bright as one, but he cannot commit to that, breaking Amy’s heart.
“How far are you willing to go this time”
“How much are you willing to feel”
Corey returns to his mundane existence, ‘numb’ from losing Amy again. He is lonely, the emptiness eating away at him.
I loved this opening story from Little Black Spots, it’s a perfect story examining the human condition and how we are afraid of what we don’t totally understand. We are willing to sacrifice our own happiness, willing to miss out on what could be a pivotal life changing moment, because of fear, fear of the unknown and our innate resistance to change.
-Just a Phone Call Away
Just a Phone Call Away, this was a deeply disturbing tale of a middle aged average woman, laid off from her job. It’s difficult, you have worked somewhere a long time, and you become set in your routine, the daily mundane lifestyle of the nine-to-five life. If something happens, such as being unfortunately laid off, it can be hard to find something else. It’s a sad truth too, but the older we get, the harder it can be sometimes without the right qualifications, the right connections and the rest.
Cynthia was unfortunate enough to find herself in this situation, and it made her feel powerless, helpless. A colleague had joked once that she had the voice to be a phone sex worker. Little did she know that this would be her next career move, and her un-doing.
Just a Phone Call Away is a horrific story of the mental decline of Cynthia, as she attempts to regain control of her life. It’s quite a terrifying read I found, escalating all through, culminating in a very dramatic, disturbing climax.
-The Depravity of Inanimate Things
I loved this one, it started out quite innocent. A guy in a cinema who is pirating movies (Okay maybe not so innocent but you get my drift) for overseas use. He thinks he is some kind of film ‘Robin Hood’, giving the poorer people of the world the option to view these blockbusters as they come out without having to pay the over the top cinema prices.
He then starts hearing voices, everything, and I mean everything is talking to him, from the bottle of champagne to the TV in his apartment. Even the characters in the movies he is watching are turning to him. He is hearing voices everywhere.
His descent into madness is riveting to read. Even at the end, it’s the voices, he had to do it, and they just wouldn’t stop until he killed. He genuinely believes he is hearing voices and completely accepts this as the new ‘normal’.
It’s sad that he didn’t seem to have anyone to help him, someone who could have seen his mental issues and got him the help and medication he needed. I guess in a way that was the moral of this story. He thought he had it all, women, money. But in reality, he had no-one.
I loved about a third of the stories within Little Black Spots, like I said, collections always have something for everyone. I would definitely recommend checking this out; I myself want to have another read through it. I sometimes need to be in a different frame of mind to truly appreciate certain works. A second read through and I may have a new favourite three, who knows?
You can find it here via Amazon:
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)