cover image Dark Duets

Dark Duets

Edited by Christopher Golden. Harper Voyager, $25.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-224027-9

Authors collaborate with uneven and decidedly unscary results in this frustrating anthology. The 17 “all-new tales of horror and dark fantasy” are trite in concept and lazy in execution, eschewing pathos for laughs and terror for sentimentality. Among the few unsettling efforts is “Wielded” by Tom Piccirilli and T.M. Wright, which plumbs the depths of the human condition while charting the effects of violence on the living and the dead. Charlaine Harris and Rachel Caine merge Christian myth and recovery from rape in the painfully effective “Dark Witness.” A single woman’s recurring nightmares lead her to violent destiny in “Branches, Curving” by Tim Lebbon and Michael Marshall Smith. By contrast, echoes of classic myth are belittled by misplaced humor in “T. Rhymer” by Gregory Frost and Jonathan Maberry and “Sisters Before Misters” by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, and Holly Black, and the promising internal conflict of a child-hungry troll is reduced to Disneyland moralizing in “Trip Trap” by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Kevin J. Anderson. Readers seeking the truly dark should look elsewhere, which is a shame and a surprise, considering the talent assembled here. (Jan.)