Thursday, May 25, 2023

Review: NIGHTFALL AND OTHER DANGERS by Jacob Steven Mohr


Rating: 2.4/5 stars 

My rating for this book based on an average of my ratings of all the individual stories is 2.4/5 stars.

I am fairly new to the horror genre, having really just started reading it earlier this year. I was able to meet the author of this short story collection, and he sold me on it by telling me that it contains stories from a variety of horror subgenres, so it would help me figure out which subgenres I prefer reading. 

I’ve always struggled with short stories in general because of the lack of any kind of character development, world building, or concrete plot, so do keep in mind that I’m already a little biased against them. I know short stories are meant to deliver something different than the aforementioned story traits, but it’s still hard for me to enjoy most short stories simply because they are so short. 

I will preface my reviews of each story by saying that I think Mohr is a good writer, but a lot of these stories were simply not my style preference. I rate books based solely on my enjoyment level, so while I didn’t really enjoy too many of the stories in Nightfall and Other Dangers, I think seasoned horror readers and short stories lovers will enjoy this collection more than I did as they are more used to the genre conventions and will be able to tell the difference between the various subgenres within. 

“Nostalgia”—3.5/5 stars

I love the idea of a garden of hands, but at only half a page long, this story is too short to even be called a story. At best, this is the start of an idea for a story. I wish this had been longer because I enjoyed what little there was. 

“You Are the Hero of Legend”—3/5 stars

Every sentence in this story starts with the word “you.” I love stories told in second-person perspective, but it felt a little repetitive here. I feel like that’s the point though, although we never discover who the narrator is, which I feel is one of the best mysteries in any second-person POV story. I liked the writing style, but the story was quite short again so it’s hard to form a real opinion on it. 

“Song of the Summer”—1.5/5 stars

Finally a story of a proper length, but unfortunately this did nothing for me. I saw the twist coming and I was kind of bored with this one. I also don’t prefer slasher stories. 

“The Panic”—5/5 stars

This story was great! The only one in the collection that I truly loved. I love stories that feel unsettling and eerie, that evoke a sense of impending dread. There’s something inexplicably mysterious and creepy going on and I was desperate to figure out what was happening. The only thing I didn’t prefer here was that this story had an ambiguous ending because I am someone who needs ANSWERS. But I still liked it. I need more horror like this, but I don’t know what to call this subgenre. 

“Some Bad Luck Near Bitter Downs”—2/5 stars 

Two brothers accidentally obtain a severed head. Sounds cool, except this story felt like it was a western, which I didn’t like. Guns and whiskey and guns: not my thing. I like the idea of severed heads, which may or may not still be alive, but I didn’t like the setting or characters in this one. 

“Mister Mickenzie”—3/5 stars

This was a longer story that had me simultaneously intrigued and bored. Two little girls are joined during playtime by their mysterious imaginary friend who decides the rules to all the games: Mister Mickenzie. My main problem here was once again the lack of a concrete ending. I like my stories wrapped up neat with a bow, but this one had a more ambiguous ending, alluding to something but it’s still not clear what will happen. Those who enjoy open-ended stories will likely like this better than I did. It wasn’t bad—certainly creepy and unsettling—but it was also not really my jam either. 

“1855”—1/5 stars 

I don’t have much to say about this story as it did nothing for me and I was honestly quite bored, which is unfortunate as the author states this is his favorite story in the collection. 

“A Real Likeness”—2/5 stars 

This story had a strong start but ultimately was a flop for me. A college art student notices something strange take shape in his portraits. I thought it sounded cool, but there was no real resolution, no noticeable horror aspect, and the ending didn’t make sense to me. 

“Copilot”—4/5 stars 

This is a bit of sci-fi horror, although the horror element is pretty minor to me. I like stories where other beings invade human bodies though, so this worked for me. This is my second favorite in this collection, and the only story besides “The Panic” that I genuinely enjoyed here. 

“Red Meat”—2/5 stars 

I don’t know if this is Japanese horror or just a generic gory story, but it didn’t really do anything for me either way. The gore didn’t bother me, and the ending was interesting, but I just felt nothing while I read. I think it needed to be longer. 

“Last Supper”—2.5/5 stars 

Definitely an interesting concept with a cliffhanger ending, but again, it needed to be longer. I want to know more about the world because I kind of get the sense the two characters are some of the last characters alive and I want to know why. 

“She’s New in Town”—1.5/5 stars 

A girl with weird eyes buys a pair of sunglasses at a grocery store. That’s it, that’s the whole story. What was the point? Where was the horror? 

“When It Rains”—1.5/5 stars 

Once again, what? Maybe I’m just dumb or a very unseasoned horror reader, but I’m just not seeing the point of most of these stories or what makes most of them horror stories. This story was kind of pointless to me. A sort of anti-meet-cute. 

“Sometimes You Get Two”—2/5 stars 

I’ve never cared about hunting, and this, the longest story in the collection, happens to be entirely about deer hunting. Completely just not my thing, and I could not wait for it to end. And then then end was so convoluted that it just made me angry. What the heck even happened? It made absolutely no sense to me. 

“The Machete at the End of the World”—1.5/5 stars 

I got more from the author’s description of what’s happening in this story than I did from the actual story. He said it’s a slasher meets post-apocalyptic fiction, and I wouldn’t have guessed either of those genres from actually reading it. I feel like a broken record at this point, but this was confusing and I don’t understand what it was supposed to communicate. 

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