Dark Steps by Martin Pond

This is a collection of seven dark fantasy/horror short stories and an extract from a novel. It’s aimed at fans of Stephen King, David Morrell and Dean Koontz and a couple of the stories have been previously published. There’s a lengthy introduction by the author, which I confess I skipped as I wanted to get straight to the action! Which means that if you opt for a kindle sample, you don’t get much more than one kindle page of the first story, but then it’s an inexpensive book at 98p, so a sample may not really be essential to your buying process.

Onto the stories. First up we have Waiting Room where a young boy waits to take a test in a world set some time in the future. This is a neat little tale and while I guessed the ending quite early on, it didn’t spoil the reading. Dream Feed was very clever – and very Stephen King! – as our protagonist hears strange Latin words over the baby monitor. I would have liked a bit more resolution and to know why, but then I don’t know any Latin and couldn’t find a free online translation. Even so, it was a great little story.

Egg is a more straightforward Easter murder tale that has an unexpected outcome. Near-Death Experience is again more mainstream as we watch a man watch a road accident – but a neat twist at the end makes it into something more than just a piece of prose. A Bit Christmassy was a touch obvious, but poignant in its own way and Resolution counts down to New Year’s Eve in a different way than most of us celebrate!

The Inheritance is a death-bed confession from a police officer to his son. By far the longest story in the collection, it has a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. And then we have Drawn to the Deep End – what appears to be the start of something that may develop into a psychological thriller. There’s a nice touch of menace here – not in the actions, so much, but in the voice of Peter as he goes about his daily business. There’s a link to a blog at the end of this extract and it looks like this novel is an online project, with an episode released each post.

So – overall, what did I like? The writing in these stories is excellent, with good dialogue and the author has a way of getting right to the heart of a character in a given situation. I have to say that Dream Feed was probably my favourite for story. But Drawn to The Deep End has real promise in the writing and characterisation and I’d probably buy the novel.

Reviewed by  Debbie Bennett

Dark Steps is available in Kindle format 

Find out more about Martin Pond