**3.5-stars rounded up**
Apart in the Dark contains two chilling novellas from one of my favorite voices in the Horror space, Ania Ahlborn.
The first, The Pretty Ones is set in 1977, New York City and follows mousey underdog, Nell Sullivan.
Nell’s life is very contained. She lives in a dingy apartment with only her brother and a teddy bear for company. She goes to work and comes home; that’s about the extent of it.
At work, she is part of a secretarial pool where she is mostly ignored, but sometimes bullied, by the other girls. They’re pretty, polished and definitely look down on Nell. She doesn’t fit in.
It’s the Summer of Sam and a monster lurks in the city, murdering pretty girls. For once, Nell is happy to be flying so far under the radar. She’s clearly not the killer’s type.
When girls in her office start being killed, Nell begins to wonder if it is just a coincidence, or if it actually has something to do with her.
I liked this story. If I were rating it on its own, I would have given in 3-stars. It was subtle, but it did keep me interested.
There was one major reveal, which I felt was pretty clear from the start, so I wouldn’t say it was particularly suspenseful. However, it does display how great Ahlborn’s writing is. She can hold your interest even when not a lot is happening plotwise.
The atmosphere she created in this was very well done. It felt like 1977-NYC. It had texture and grit. I could picture everything in regards to Nell’s apartment, her commute, her workplace, the grime and desperation. I could feel it.
The second story, I Call Upon Thee was B-Horror on the page. It was great and for me, really amped up the pace in comparison with the first story.
Please keep in mind, when I say B-Horror, I do not say that with shade. I love B-Horror. The vibe of those movies is what this story brought me and frankly, I was living for it!
We have Maggie Olsen returning to her childhood home after the tragic death of her sister, Brynn.
This isn’t the first tragedy to strike the family. Both of Maggie’s parents have also passed away under mysterious circumstances at their house.
The narrative alternates between the present and the past, showing Maggie and Brynn’s relationship when they were kids and how some of their actions then may have actually shaped their present.
We have a local cemetery they like to visit, the legend of a dead girl, a creepy-ass porcelain doll and a Ouija board. What could go wrong, am I right!?
Basically, this story is a cornucopia of Horror elements that I love to see!!
This story was fast-paced, gripping and had some genuinely terrifying scenes. I really enjoyed this one. I would give it a 4.5-star if I were rating it individually. It was a very strong story for me, one I will remember for a long time to come.
I have had this book on my shelves for years. I am so happy that I finally made the time for it. I would definitely recommend this to Horror Lovers.
I think it perfectly showcases the range of Ahlborn’s writing; so well done!