In his debut collection, Calvin Demmer presents us with twenty-three unique short stories that are a pleasure to read. If you are a fan of dark short stories, read The Sea Was a Fair Master. The stories were fairly short and easy to read, but had just the right amount of detail to give the reader a clear (and creepy) image of something unique.
The stories within the collection cover a wide array of topics or themes, so it’s possible there is something in the collection for anyone. From androids to ghosts to cold-hearted killers, you’re sure to find something appealing whether you like stories that are rooted in fantasy or rooted in day-to-day life. I wouldn’t say any of them were very detailed in the gore, but the plots themselves were macabre. I only say that because some people like detailed gore and some people do not (I appreciate either approach) but the plots were creepy enough for the imaginative to fill in the details.
I think that my favorite stories were “Underneath,” “Hangman,” “Graves,” and “Noisy Neighbors.” “Underneath” contains a horrific discovery by some homeowners as they dig a grave for a deceased pet, and it’s pretty interesting how it was handled. As I read “Hangman” I thought to myself that this would make an awesome scary movie. In it, a nighttime security guard discovers a secret class called Extreme English and it makes you wonder how long that class has been in session. “Graves” was one of those heartbreaking ghost stories I like so well because they’re just dark and sad. And with “Noisy Neighbors” I like how the initial setup of the story made me think the character was going to do one bad thing, only to find out he was in the middle of a totally unexpected other bad thing.
There were other stories in there that I really enjoyed because they had a clever ending or because they had a dark and sad atmosphere but the ones above were my favorites.
There were a couple that were well-written but didn’t give me the same thrill as the others. For me that was “The Peeper,” “The One,” and “Trashcan Sam.” Nothing wrong with them, just not for me.
I really enjoyed reading this collection and some of the stories are sure to stick with me well beyond the read.