Book Review: MAELSTROMS – COLLECTED DARK FICTION ABOUT THE SEA

A review by Renata Pavrey

I love anthologies for the bite-sized stories they provide to read on the go, and also for introducing the reader to a range of writers and writing styles within a compact collection. Maelstroms from Shacklebound Books piqued my interest for its genre and theme of dark fantasy and horror set around the sea. Edited by Eric Fomley, the compilation features an assortment of short stories by twenty-three writers, each one wonderful in its own way.

From mermaids to pirates, haunted castles and dangerous storms, sea creatures and suspicious amphibians, witches and queens, Maelstroms presents a plethora of tales about watery graves. I particularly liked how the authors dissected the narrow theme and explored the depths of their dark imaginations. Each story is so different from the next one, even though they’re all about the same topic. Kudos to editor Eric Fomley for his spectacular selection for this collection.

Some authors like Dorian Sinnott, Taylor Rae, and Dawn Vogel I was already familiar with from their work in other books. The anthology introduced me to new, stellar writers like Ai Jiang, Dennis Mombauer, Addison Smith, and Jenna Hanchey. A few stories that stood out for me were Dangers of the Deep, A Bad Day at Sea, Until There Were None, The Island of Masks, No King Will Come for You, The Ocean’s Choice, Grow, and The Kingfishers Come at Dawn, although I loved all of them – Maelstroms is a very well written and put together collection.

Some quotes:

~There was nothing to row to. Only the sea, filled with the crimes of his past.

~The sky, the very sea, was red. Not the red of blooming sunlight, but the crimson red of blood.

~They said her hair had become stained with blood and that is why it was red. Dead Red Delahaye.

~What tossed us into the sea’s dark waters was not the strong winds that carried us forth, nor the storms that brewed and rocked the ship, but the men who found that we were too many mouths to feed.

~The word slides into the hall like frozen glass.

~…the shadows were so profound that just his weighted leg revealed which side was down.

~…the agony of drowning and the peace of death.

~In the end, her most important lesson was the one the students taught.

~Scattered among the sand are a multitude of stones…, worn affectionately from embraces of the ocean.

~I feed on iron and bone and tears.

~Frost clung to her eyelashes and nipped at her cheeks, tasting her. The winter was hungry.

My rating – 5/5

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