Dark Passions

Dark Passions - Jeff Gelb, Michael Garrett, D. Lynn Smith, David Benton, W.D. Gagliani, Dave Zeltserman, Roberta Lannes, Christina Crooks, Cody Goodfellow, Steve Vernon, Ed Gorman, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Gary Lovisi, David J. Schow, Lisa Morton, Thomas Tessier, Steve Niles, P.D. Cacek, Gra Brainycat's 5 Bs:
blood: 5
bombs: 3
bondage: 4
blasphemy: 4

This is a fun little collection of mostly forgettable dark stories with adult themes. I wouldn't necessarily call them all 'erotic', as that's generally used for highbrow smut explicit and arousing sexuality, but all of these stories involve sexuality and relationships. The vast majority of the stories have explicit sex, and most are explicitly violent.

Two stories in particular stand out for me: Magna Mater by
Cody Goodfellow and Tres Hermanas by Roberta Lannes. I'm looking forward to reading more of their work; their work showed by far the most depth and interesting arcs of the whole anthology. Magna Mater, in particular, showed the insight and originality that I've come to expect from Apex Magazine - which is very high praise, indeed.

The rest of the stories, while well written and well edited, didn't cover any new ground nor offered any new perspectives on sex, sexuality, relationships, the human condition, yada yada. Maybe I've read too much horror? Maybe there's only so many ways the 'woman scorned' can exact her revenge on her unfaithful lover? Maybe there's only so many ways to retell "The Monkey's Paw" using heteronormative masculine protagonists? Also, what is up with all the stories of possession? Sure, it's a great vehicle for some lurid sexual craziness but where are the questions of free will and are we always dooomed to repeat the mistakes of the past? All the usual horror tropes are trotted out in the twenty stories in this compilation, but only two of them go anywhere interesting. Ten percent. That's it.

I found this at amazon for five bucks, and the other digital editions in this series are each around ten bucks. I feel ten dollars is way too much for this anthology, and I'm trying to convince myself I didn't get ripped off at the five dollar pricepoint. Given the quality and imagination of material that can be had at other retailers (and without the encumbrance of unnecessary DRM or proprietary file formats) I recommend that fellow readers with jaded tastes either wait until these are steeply reduced and/or continue to look elsewhere