Back when I was the managing editor for Fear & Trembling I was contacted for an interview by Lea Lawrynowicz who was writing an article for Rue Morgue titled “Divinity in Darkiness: The Rise of Christian Horror.” That article appeared in Issue 87 (March 2009). One of my quotes that made it into the article was “Regardless, it’s here to stay and other subgenres may branch out because of it. Who knows? We may be reading Buddhist horror one day.”
Three years later (an interesting number there) my prediction comes true with Dark Faith: Invocations, edited by Maurice Broaddus & Jerry Gordon. Both in the general sense in that this anthology of short stories can be more broadly defined as Spiritual horror or Religious horror than just Christian horror, and also in the specific sense with Elizabeth Twist’s story, “Kill the Buddha.”
The writers in the anthology are practically a who’s who list of short speculative fiction authors—like Jay Lake, Lavie Tidhar, Mike Resnik, Nisi Shawl, Tim Waggoner, and Lucy A. Snyder—as well as up and comers like Michael Ehart and Lashawn M. Wanak. The writers, both new and seasoned and in between, are among the best of the best. And the stories in the anthology show it, too.
While all the stories are spiritually themed and revolve around faith this isn’t your kiderized horror, whether it borrows from Christianity, Paganism, or Buddhism. And a lot of literary and slipstream elements can be found among the stories as well, like Jay Lake’s “The Cancer Catechism” or Tom Piccirilli’s “Subletting God’s Head.” Every story keeps you reading, makes you feel for the characters, and a few throw some excellent plot twists your way. As anthologies go, this one is far above average.
Not only do I highly recommend this anthology, I also think it should be required reading in theology and religion classes the world over. But, then again, I’m crazy that way.
Best read while listening to: there’s so much diversity here that there’s no way that mentioning one or two song artists could do the whole antho justice. So go with your gut instinct and listen to what feels right for each story. Just don’t let it be the Veggie Tales theme song.