The Horror Zine Review
The Dark Side of the Womb
Edited by Kevin G. Bufton
|Paperback: 132 pages
Publisher: Createspace (November 4, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
The Dark Side of the Womb
Edited by Kevin G. Bufton
Review Jeani Rector
The Dark Side of the Womb is an unusual take on the horror genre; it concentrates on the dark side of babies and motherhood. This can be considered a delicate subject matter to focus upon…unless it is done well. Otherwise, some (mainly women) could find this subject matter offensive. Fortunately, The Dark Side of the Womb is mostly done very well.
I have to say up front that I was very surprised (and disappointed) that stories which focus upon babies and motherhood are written exclusively by men (unless S.C. Hayden, Wol-vriey, and T. Fox Dunham are women) with the exception of the single female author, Cecilia Dockins. I realize that the presence of women in horror overall is under-represented, still, I would like to have seen more women involved with this particular book considering the theme.
That said, some of the stories in this book were original and clever, and a few were even ingenious. Because this is an anthology of sixteen short stories, I don’t have space to review them all, so I will showcase my favorites.
“She’s My Everything” by S.C. Hayden begins with: It was dusk in Boston, bitter and cold. I trudged along Massachusetts Avenue, kicking through slush piles beneath a gunmetal sky. Those two opening sentences set the tone for a descriptive, surprising story that grabbed my attention from the start and kept it until the end.
Joseph A. Pinto’s “Sweet Nectar of Life” is an emotional insight into a paranoid, disturbed psyche. Pinto’s story is reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe, which is high praise indeed. This is a really good story that successfully builds suspense.
I was pleased to see that this anthology includes a work by Philip M. Roberts, who has submitted fiction from time to time to The Horror Zine. Roberts consistently delivers some of the best fiction I come across, and he continues to merit that praise here. His story “Jay’s New Home” answers this question: What happens when a seven-year-old boy, who sleeps under his bed, is a witness to his father’s murder?
Editor Kevin G. Bufton chimes in with his “Mother’s Milk.” I will say that I singled this story out for praise before I realized that Bufton is this book’s editor, so I am unbiased in choosing his work for inclusion. “Mother’s Milk” is a nice mix of the undead, the British Army, and an unusual baby. This story is a fresh take on the zombie genre, with a humorous but effective ending.
“New Beginnings” by David Edward Nell is set in the exotic location of Shanghai, described as a jostling landscape of urban fusion. Camille watches the TV news as it proclaims that the USA has suffered nuclear attacks. This is a realistic story of worst case scenarios.
Another previous The Horror Zine contributor is Michael Wolf. Again, this is another writer who is consistently excellent, and his “Slideshow” is highly original, as Wolf’s stories always are. Lots of elementary school kids have problems, but what if your father kills people? And then takes photos…for a slideshow? A fascinating story.
Finally, I am singling out “Baby Bub” by T. Fox Dunham for praise. This one is an interesting gem of a story. An emotionally disturbed wife becomes pregnant when a baby climbs through her window…but is she really pregnant? “Baby Bub” is one of the best stories in the book.
Overall, this is a very good book. But as in any book, there are some issues, including some editing problems in The Dark Side of the Womb. There are punctuation errors peppered here and there in the book, and some inconsistencies between American and British quotation marks.
A few of the stories are tired and rely upon shock value instead of plot value. No one wants to read details about the child abuse done to little Missy. Other ineffective stories include such unappealing lines as M’face to yo’ ass and Mary Meth-head. Sub-par stories such as these bring down the quality of the anthology as a whole.
Still, most of the stories in this book are not just good, but are exceptionally good, and as I said before, some are even ingenious. This is an unusual book, and I recommend The Dark Side of the Womb for the stories that are exceptionally good.
Many of the works in this anthology will stay with you long after you read them, and I’ll bet that after reading this book, you will worry when you shut off the lights, or look out a dark window, or hold the sheets in your hand when you make your bed. Priced at only $9.99, The Dark Side of the Womb is not only a delicious treat of dark delights, but a really good value too.
You can buy the book HERE
About the editor
Kevin G. Bufton
Kevin G. Bufton is a father, husband and horror writer, in that approximate order. He lives in Birkenhead in the UK and is currently working on his first solo anthology. He blogs on an irregular basis at http://buftonsblog.wordpress.com
About the reviewer
While most people go to Disneyland while in Southern California, Jeani Rector went to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror there instead. She grew up watching the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on television and lived in a house that had the walls covered with framed Universal Monsters posters. It is all in good fun and actually, most people who know Jeani personally are of the opinion that she is a very normal person. She just writes abnormal stories. Doesn’t everybody?
Jeani Rector is the founder and editor of The Horror Zine and has had her stories featured in magazines such as Aphelion, Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Dark River Press, Macabre Cadaver, Ax Wound, Horrormasters, Morbid Outlook, Horror in Words, Black Petals, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Hackwriters, Bewildering Stories, Ultraverse, and others. Her historical fiction novel about the black plague titled Pestilence: A Medieval Tale of Plague was released in 2012 from The Horror Zine Books.