Atrum Tempestas available at Lulu.
Publisher: Black Hound
What they say: A collection of dark, surreal and fantastical tales that will prick your senses. Written by the cream of up coming and established authors, this collection will leave you compelled and looking over your shoulder.
What I say: Unfortunately, the above blurb is nicely written and a good example of a useful sales pitch which bears little resemblance to the actual product.
There are gems within the 25 stories offered, but the journey to find them is a difficult one for they are few, and the ground between them is vast and littered with rubble.
And I don't blame the authors at all. The editorial efforts are nonexistent with bad grammar, typos and poor sentence structure allowed to pass onto the printed page.
Many of the stories have a good premise, but fail in execution. Some should not have made the short list. It feels like there wasn't a huge response and so some below par stories were included, which brings down the reading experience.
But enough negatives, there are some solid positives here as well.
The cover is a nice piece of artwork. I tip my hat to Crystal Adkins (staff member of SNM Horror Magazine as well as an obvious freelance artist of talent).
While good stories at the beginning of the anthology were rare, (I found two in the first sixteen offered) it did get better as I went through, and it almost came home with a wet sail (five good ones in the last eleven).
In total, I found seven stories I enjoyed. Stories with a plot, characterisation, setting, and written with enough skill, that any editorial mishaps or oversights did not detract from my enjoyment. They came at the premise from a new or unique angle, or were just downright disturbing. These stories shone out from the others like diamonds on a black velvet cushion.
In no particular order other than how they appear in the TOC, they are:
Chalky White by Gregory Hall (Easily my favourite in the entire anthology)
That Damned Old House by Jeff Ezell (Evil clowns, with a hell of a twist)
Harlequin by Sarah Basore (Poignant with a deadly sting in the tail)
Q by Jade Eckert (this is original and very well written)
Child Villain by Danielle Ferris (Yes I'm a sucker for an evil child tale, but this girl is disturbing)
Would You Like Fries With That by Ben Eads (enough to put you off fast food for at least a week)
Apart from the above mentioned authors, the other stories were told with mainly fair to good attempts as far as technical writing skills, but the premises adopted were overused, cliched, and generally a bit of a yawn. I would not like to see the good stories overlooked because of the bad points which abound, so I leave you with one final, exceptional point: you can purchase and download this anthology from Lulu for only $1.40US. I strongly suggest reconsidering any thoughts of paying for the print version.
On my reading scale, this anthology only gets a 2.4.