Reviewed by John Saxton

This is an attractively packaged magazine; A4, glossy, with a creepy front cover image which, like the rest of the illustrations in the zine, shows a clever and effective use of light and shadow.

The contents of this publication reveal an interesting mix of the factual and the (at times bizarrely) fictional.

We open with an illuminating interview, giving insight into the mind and writing of Gary A Braunbeck--the author of the first story.

Within a Dark Wood is a cleverly worked tale that shifts mercurially between the past and the present and from viewpoint to viewpoint. A man, haunted by his past and the ghost of his former self is drawn into new nightmares by the people in the next apartment. The ending benefits from a couple of rereads, not through any flaw in the writing--if anything it's the reverse, as this is a really thought-provoking piece.

We're then made privy to an extensive bibliography of the works of Mr. Braunbeck. After reading those first few pages I almost felt like I knew Gary personally!

William P Simmons checks in next with The Wind When It Comes. This is a beautifully descriptive offering--metaphors and similes permeate the text like a sinister, icy fog (!) This dark tale of domestic violence, the wages of sin and the death of dreams leaves the reader with a genuine chill, but also a few nagging, unanswered questions at the end, which detract a little from the overall impact.

I loved Christine Lay's The Nest--a delightfully quirky number this one. A tale of strange possession which develops from a familiar domestic premise, takes a final twist at the conclusion, around a most bizarre corner. This is literally “one in the eye” for all those irritating DIY fanatics. Hip hip hooray!

Sloppy Sally by James S Dorr relates a story of sibling rivalry taken to a fatal degree. Whilst this is a good horror tale, I wasn't entirely convinced by the authenticity of the narrative voice, and I found this something of a distraction. Well-plotted though and rounded off with chilling imagery.

The magazine's own review section is followed by an interview with Simon Clark and Tim Lebbon. This enlightening piece leads us into the 'special excerpt' from Exorcising Angels by Clark and Lebbon. In this extract, the pure talent of these two authors oozes from the pages. Appealing consistently to each of the reader's reeling senses, this is a master class of descriptive prose. The story-telling is subtle and believable and draws the reader into contrasting landscapes of death, hope, fear and magic. Exquisite.

The interview with Paul Miller of Earthling Publications (who brought out the story) was a fascinating way of rounding off this section.

Collector's Corner will delight Clark fans with its in-depth focus on the collectible--some rare, some more accessible--works of Simon. Well-researched.

The final story is Pure As The Driven Snow by Greg Beatty. Unprepared for the treacherous weather conditions, the main character heads out from work to his car and the journey home, to be faced by almost undriveable roads. Taking a backstreet shortcut, he espies a rather scantily-clad young hooker whom (out of human kindness...) he stops to pick up. From thereon in the story becomes extremely bizarre, with our hero concluding his role with some very strange acts in a snowdrift. A wonderful tale to round off the fiction section!

Bev Vincent's breadth of knowledge on Stephen King makes for an interesting penultimate item, with Bill Gauthier's (to be) regular feature, American Gauthic, leaving the reader with an enthusiastically written (albeit rather sprawling and anecdotal) closing piece.

The overall impression that Dark Discoveries #3 left me with was that of a magazine that's got style. It's a solid, good-looking issue, with rewarding contents--indicative that DD is a zine that's got the ability to continue to do very well.

Dark Discoveries, edited by James R Beach and published quarterly by Dark Discoveries Publications, 10400 SE Cook Ct. #120, Milwaukee, OR 97222, USA. A4, 64pp, $5.99 US ($7.99 Canada/ $9.99 International) or $19.99/4 US ($26.99 Canada/$34.99 International). For further variations and ordering details refer to website.

Website: - www.darkdiscoveries.com


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