On the back of finishing the excellent Simon Avery novella, The Teardrop Method, I was eager to jump into the latest issue of Black Static Magazine #63. I’ll be honest, I was pretty wrung out from finishing that book and after excellent non-fiction from the ever-reliable Lynda E. Rucker and Ralph Robert Moore I was once again floored, this time by the excellent novella, The Harder it Gets The Softer We Sing from Stephen J. Dines. This story starts off in bizarre fashion with a dream sequence featuring no less than Ray Bradbury and Charles Bukowski in a bar. It threw me off a little, but as I delved further into Dines’ story I found myself unpacking an emotional and thoughtful tale that seemed to get better and better the further I read. By the story’s end, I was wiping tears from my eyes. I love a story with an emotional punch and this one delivered in spades. Powerful stuff indeed. I’m also a huge fan of stories in which a camping trip goes awry and Nicholas Kaufmann’s The Fire and the Stag ticked all the right boxes for me. This is a chilling and unsettling tale about a siblings disappearance and a brother’s quest to uncover the truth. A family disaster sparks a creepy folk horror tale that really works well. It’s the perfect story to wrap up the fiction section of the magazine.
Other stories by J. S. Breukelaar, Kirsti DeMeester and Matt Thompson are not short on quality either, though they didn’t quite stick with me as the novella and The Fire and the Stag did, still you may enjoy these tales even more.
I always look forward to reading Black Static. Here is a magazine that doesn’t quite get the same attention or recognition as the likes of Nightmare Magazine or Cemetery Dance, but the fiction is as good, sometimes better in my opinion. If you like dark fiction then get yourself subscribed.
4/5 flickering torches from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.