cover image The Devil’s in the Flaws & Other Dark Truths

The Devil’s in the Flaws & Other Dark Truths

David Niall Wilson. Crossroads, $19.99 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-63789-758-4

In the preface to these 21 tales from Bram Stoker Award winner Wilson (This Is My Blood), the author associates himself with writers like Stephen King, setting expectations for some classic horror shorts, but in practice this collection is hard to pin down, blurring genre boundaries between horror, sci-fi, and fantasy and offering up slippery, hard-to-grasp stories. The most engrossing tales are those that follow a familiar logic, including “Anomaly,” a Lovecraftian sci-fi piece that steadily increases the tension on the way to a surprising but satisfying reveal. Meanwhile, the least successful, like the bite-size “Unique,” are those which, though vivid and imagery-dense, fail to relay comprehensible plot or meaning and are instead overcrowded with scenic detail. The winding eponymous novella, original to this collection, follows a man seeking to fulfill a childhood oath made with a friend from whom he has since drifted apart, an act which turns out to involve a portal through a tapestry hung in the back room of a pawn shop, and another world in which unknown creatures lurk. Though these stories won’t keep readers up at night, they will certainly provoke contemplation. (Jan.)