If The New Black, Dark House Press’s first title, was the best of what was already out in the dark wild of the neo noir landscape, then their latest anthology, Exigencies, thrusts new progeny into the abyss with new twists on the genre.
Richard Thomas, the editor-in-chief is attempting to stake out a nuanced space in the oft over simplified horror genre. Most casual readers and non-fans may not think there are sub-genres to horror, likely associating their stereotypes about the genre to the limited experiences they may have with authors (Poe, Lovecraft, etc.) or even film. But they’d do themselves a favor by sampling this anthology, which applies a tone and aesthetic across straight horror, sci-fi, contemporary lit, and even fantasy. The space Thomas carves out is in feel, the “I’ll know it when I see it,” aesthetic, making this the perfect entry point into the new black for casual fans. Find something you like, then dig deeper.
Some of my favorite stories were “Cat Calls” by Rebecca Jones-Howe, which practically oozed sex from the page, but carried a latent undercurrent of threat and malice. The dread running under Letita Trent’s story, “Wilderness” was masterful and made me wish she’d extended the short into a full length work. (Maybe she has, be right back to go check.) The visceral violence of “Monster Season” by Joshua Blair actually made me put the book down for a moment and go grab a palate cleanser of something happy. And “Single Lens Reflection” had a certain poignancy to it that takes the expectation you’ve been given in the stories before and spins the genre on its head again.
Thomas says, “…in that pulsing abyss, that endless yawning void, there is a tiny light shining.” In some stories, it’s a glimmer of hope. In others, it’s the siren call, a trick to get you to break upon the rocks. In all the stories in Exigencies, it brings you in closer, calling out to the darkest things inside you.