You win some; you lose some - especially when it comes to anthologies. And for mine, the latest collection from DarkFuse, as edited by Shane Staley, was something of a loss.
Perhaps it was the fact that there were none of the regular writers normally associated with DarkFuse to hold up an end with this collection. Normally, I'd champion the inclusion of some relative unknowns, but Staley on this occasion has seen fit to go with newer or lesser know writers for every tale.
RITUAL by Lauren Gallo features a decent clash of cultures narrative, but is unfortunately marred by clunky writing and an ending that can be seen coming 10 pages away. Not for me. 1.5 stars.
CHANTERELLING by Nicole Felderinger starts well, but soon has characters behaving in completely unbelievable ways. A vengeful ghost story at its heart, this one is an okay read. 2.5 stars.
TO GET PAST IT by Tim W Burke is the pick of the bunch for mine. Powerful, well-written, and with a satisfying ending, to say anything more would be to take away from the experience. 4 stars.
THE MATCHBOX SIGN by Evan Dicken wins the "weirdo" award for this collection. What starts as an exploration of child abuse and the mental health problems that result from it, ends in bat-shit insanity that almost defies description. An ambitious 2.5 stars.
TAKING IT ALL AWAY by L R Bonehill never quite came together in a way that gelled for me, but I suspect others will enjoy this tale of a man caring for his terminally ill father when something makes its presence known more than I. 2 stars.
WINNING ISN'T EVERYTHING by William R A D Funk is a decent "too good to be true" tale of a gambler who should know nobody gets nothing in this life for free. 2.5 stars.
Taken together this is a collection that is unlikely to blow anybody's socks off, but most will find one or two stories to their liking.
2.5 Unique Ways to Settle an Old Score for DarkFuse #3.