Title: Dark Tales
Author: Shirley Jackson
Publisher: Penguin Modern Classics
Date: 2017 (2013)
Genre: Short Stories / Horror / Gothic
Summary: There’s something nasty in suburbia. In these deliciously dark tales, the daily commute turns into a nightmarish game of hide and seek, the loving wife hides homicidal thoughts and the concerned citizen might just be an infamous serial killer. In the haunting world of Shirley Jackson, nothing is as it seems and nowhere is safe, from the city streets to the country manor, and from the small-town apartment to the dark, dark woods…
Dark Tales was first published in 2016 as a new compilation of short stories by Shirley Jackson. I’m not sure if these particular stories appear in other collections – they probably do – but this collection is said to be ‘a collection of Shirley Jackson’s scariest stories’.
It took me so long to read this book because I just couldn’t get into the stories. I didn’t find them as unsettling as I expected and, honestly, some of them were just boring. They didn’t evoke any emotional response from me which is kind of disappointing.
Since this is a collection of short stories, I’m going to choose two of my favourite stories to talk about in slightly more detail before discussing the collection as a whole briefly.
What a Thought
This particular short story was incredibly short, just four pages long, but it was one of the most unsettling in the collection for me. Jackson explores intrusive thoughts as a woman thinks about murdering her husband even though she doesn’t actually want to. She created a claustrophobic atmosphere of tension as the reader waits, knowing what is going through Margaret’s mind, to find out what she will do next. I loved this story because it was everything I wanted this collection to be.
The Man in the Woods
This story was weird, unsettling, and unnerving but I loved it so much. Jackson masterfully created a suffocating, eerie atmosphere and each character was wonderfully written. They just had so much personality and I felt like I was in the same house, experiencing the same things as Christopher. Was I disappointed by the ending? Slightly. However, the build-up to the ending was absolutely stunning and I think that this story really showcases Jackson’s skill. I also really liked the little references to mythology in this particular story. They weren’t the most important part of the story but they were a nice touch.
Overall, I was slightly disappointed by the collection but several stories really captured my imagination. I’m not sure whether I’d recommend this specific collection of Jackson’s work – mainly because I’m not sure if these stories appear in collections like The Lottery and other Stories – but I would recommend Shirley Jackson’s writing because it is just fantastic.
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.