Dark Missives

Dark Missives by Dan Howarth

Dark Missives is the debut collection from author Dan Howarth, bringing together 11 stories that encompass the full range of horror.

A holiday camp employee finds himself in the middle of a murder spree. A band’s biggest fan discovers just how far he will go for new music. A detective investigating a series of murders gets pulled into the seedy underbelly of the city. A delivery driver gives in to temptation and opens a suspicious package. The owner of a gallery is determined to leave his own legacy on the art world.

Let Dark Missives take you on a tour of the roads less travelled in Northern England to explore what truly lies in the shadows.

The IndieMuse Review

This debut collection from UK Horror author Dan Howarth boasts such twisted tales as:

  • A holiday camp mascot with a sinister secret
  • A father/daughter game of Hide and Seek, where they may end up finding more than they bargained for
  • A deal with the devil that has cursed a famous songwriter to eternal silence, and their biggest fan that will do what it takes to hear them play again
  • A lost traveller, doomed to wander forever without ever finding a place to call home
  • A spate of unexplained deaths that a lone policeman believes may be linked to a deity worshipping cult
  • An art installation that will have the critics talking for years to come

I must confess that, when I began reading the collection, the stories were well written and entertaining, but none of them were standing out to me. I was enjoying what I read but the collection was lacking that one killer story, or memorable character, that made the book stick in the memory long after you’d put it down.

The opening story (“Dustin”) was a fun concept and wisely kept a lot of questions unanswered, while “Anderson” and “Hide, Go Seek” were deliciously creepy (particularly the latter) but were fairly similar tales (family versus creature), albeit with very different settings. All three were a lot of fun, and well-executed, but I just felt there was something missing to elevate them from good stories to great ones.

As I read on, however, I found that there were great stories in abundance as the book progressed. The fourth story (“The Silent Key”) was a fantastic Tales From The Crypt-style cautionary tale with a great twist. “From The Ground Up” was a tense, intriguing short about a couple renovating their new house who soon find it under siege from an invasive plant, and closing story “Collaboration” ends the collection on a strong note with a surprisingly graphic gut-punch boasting a very memorable closing scene.

It is hard to pick a favorite, as there are some very strong contenders in the middle of Dark Missives. “This Is The Only Place I’ve Ever Called Home” dials things back to deliver a slow-burn, downbeat tale of a traveller who has lost his family and is cursed to never live the life of his ancestors. “The Pusher”, one of the collections longer stories, mixes cosmic horror and police procedural to tell a story of a grieving man who will do whatever he can to find meaning in his new life. If I had to pick a standout, it would be the books scariest offering, “Nesting Instinct”. The set-up is unique, the payoff haunting, and features a truly horrific creature and some fantastically unsettling imagery.

There isn’t a bad story to be found in Dark Missives, a collection that just gets better as things progress, with a handful of absolutely stellar offerings. Howarth is a talented writer, just as capable of delivering a fun cautionary tale as he is of scaring the life out of you, and Dark Missives showcases an impressive range and a promising new talent.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

Curation Results: Dark Missives

gHoster
B-Baal
Emo-Lee
KnotBTK
Deathdealer
Curator Notes: "Truly impressive collection of stories from a relative newcomer. Add Howarth to your watch list for your next favorite book." —gHoster

This title has been officially certified by indiemuse reviewers and curators as a recommended read. Read about our certification process here.

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