Daughters of Darkness II
Updated: Jan 7
Stephanie Ellis and Alyson Fayre have collected together (and edited) four women Indie Horror writers - Beverley Lee, Lynne Love, Catherine McCarthy, and T.C.Parker – and given them free reign to terrorize us, each within a quarter of the book. It’s a great concept, this is pushing the boundary of short stories toward novellas, and giving the writers that extra space for character development and a liberal injection of atmosphere, and the results are like a prize cage fight. I’m gonna review this feature as a tag team horror knockout, with Beverley Lee and Catherine McCarthy in the red corner, and Lynne Love and T.C.Parker in the blue corner. Bets are over, it’s all or nothing.
Beverley Lee starts the novel off with a collection of four shorts (to Lynn’s body), each taking a myth or set Horror trope and putting her Gothic spin on them all. I mean, I feel I can’t say I’m an expert on Beverley’s voice definitively, having only read The ruin of delicate things, (and there’s nothing delicate about this starting attack on the senses) but – what the hell – this is classic Beverley doing what she does so well, atmospheric poetic mood-setting, smacking the senses, abrupt violence, clever spins on set tropes (vampires, zombies), and the bite-sized stories leave you reeling for more. In other words, a devastating attack right from the beginning on a blindsided opponent, you can already see the damage that Lynn has taken from the fury of the TikTok video queen.
But wait – you thought Lynn was done for, T.C. and her legendary vocabulary not even going to be given a chance on the floor, but Lynn counters Beverley’s flitting, dancing, enigmatic shorts with a three-part hammer-drive, building her foundation on a nursery rhyme! Imagine! Where the hell did that blow come from? Beverley is staggering, looking desperately for a sign in the eyes of Lynn at what she’s going to come up with next, but there is nothing. I mean – there is literally NO picture of Lynn that exists on the internet. She is a ghost – she has disappeared from the arena and has built a story based on a children’s rhyme – from a four-line “no-one remembers it” rhyme to a revenge-filled god that is hell-bent on destroying her character's life through childhood and wartime. The story sucks you in (Beverley is being sucked across the arena) and makes you care about the protagonist right from the start. Exemplary work and Beverley has had to graciously tag her teammate, Catherine, to sort out the spooky specter. It’s a move made out of respect, Lee’s put in a terrific volley. Let’s see what Catherine the mighty graveyard dweller can come up with.
If we could see Lynn’s face, we’d probably see that she’s worried, instead, she’s left us to scroll down her website in an infinity loop in the hopes of an elusive picture. However, Catherine’s TBR reach is mighty, as is her world-building, and she’s in for the long haul, choosing to use her entire quarter to showcase one story and focus on internal thought and a mystery, surrounding multiple deaths and breathtaking prose.
And it’s working. Lynn is becoming unstable against the self-assured, magnetic storytelling that is Catherine’s happy place. Catherine has total control – of the reader's expectations, of the delivery of information, of the pacing and setting of her fiction, (plus she had me wondering if the Torri was a tip of the hat to Miss Amos), the build of her story as hypnotic as the ending is Hitchcockian in presentation – subtle, poetic, classic.
There’s no other choice – yes – there it is, T.C.’s hand has been slapped we assume – we can’t see Lynn but T.C.’s climbing into the arena in fantastic bloody style, her descriptive visceral body tree dripping with gore and offal, that kind of imagery leaves no room for any other response – Catherine is bravely standing her ground, but Parker’s opposite POV two-parter hits the ground blazing – it’s merciless, her relationship work, as ever, immaculate. Characterization is everything, against a bloody background just pulling at the paranormal senses. And she even leaves it open at the end, the promise of more punishment like blood on the lips.
What can I say, Ladies and gentlemen? Choosing a winner out of this is impossible, I loved all of the stories, the book is kickass. Thoroughly impressed by all of the combatants and the editing dream team of Ellis and Fayre.
My thanks to Stephanie Ellis and Alyson Fayre for the ARC. Deeply appreciated.
I hope to be back commenting the next one.
Ladies, it was a pleasure, 5 out of 5 ⭐’s. Go buy this today.
You can buy Daughters of Darkness II by clicking on the Amazon store appropriate to you.
You can visit Beverley's website, HERE
You can find Beverley on Facebook, HERE
You can find Beverley on Twitter, HERE
You can find Beverley on Instagram, HERE
You can find Beverley on TikTok, Here
You can visit Lynn's website, HERE
You can find Lynn on Twitter, HERE
You can find Lynn, but you can't see her.
You can visit Catherine's website, HERE
You can find Catherine's on FB, HERE
You can find Catherine on Twitter, HERE
You can find Catherine on Instagram, HERE
You can find Catherine on YouTube, Here
You can visit T.C's website, HERE
You can find T.C. on Instagram, HERE
You can find T.C. on Twitter HERE.