Echoes of Darkness by Rob Smales ~ 2016

Thirteen tales of twisted and demented pleasure

Author: Rob Smales
Publisher:  Books & Boos Press; 1 edition (February 27, 2016)
Publication: February 27, 2016
Pages: 287
Language: English
Jacket design: © 2016 Mikio Murakami
Author photographer: Billy

"This book was provided by Rob Smales in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

5 Stars

Rob Smales
Folks, I love traveling the world via imaginations of some very talented writers' whims they have in print.  Hell, I've practically been everywhere folks - to search for suspenseful thrill rides my for mind's eye - serial killers getting away/caught, wrongful injustice to the innocent not being set right, drug-lords having their ways, murder with twisted endings you would not ever dream of otherwise.  At times the settings and atmosphere is all too serene.

Some places you can only travel to through others' imagination.

From a very deranged and talented young mind comes a baker's dozen of tales filled with huge amounts of murder, ghosts, insanity with your own reality, disturbing dreams, & for some of you - disturbed echoes of darkness that will make you rise from the wet with sweat.  As an anthology, these tales - these incredible echoes blend together nicely if you want your shit scared out of you one weekend.

Rob Smales writes with poignant impact on twists that slaps insanity right into you.  Some of these tales will actually give you those 'quick' leg or hip twists as you read and your mind says, "Oh, man"  and you slowly shake your head a couple of times and grin.

Right on, next tale - 13 of these folks - hell on pages ... and you keep on reading.  Each tale compels you to read the next one.  Well-written echoes.

As I launch into my review,  these thirteen tales begin with an accommodating introduction from Mr. Smales, infusing you with a word or two about the title, and Rob, rest assured this tuning fork resonated with perfect pitch from your Echoes of Darkness  ~

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Death of the Boy  ~  ...“Sorry, boy. But this needs doin’.” ... Then he saw them...

Death of a Boy was what the boy needed.  Personally, I think he thanked the old man
I enjoyed the hell out of that tale

A Night at the Show  ~  ...“Because that thing needs to stay secret. Needs to stay hidden. No one can know.” ....

Keep checking that calendar  -  Valerie's mother Mrs. Redfern and Val's friend Hillary celebrate her ninth birthday - A Friday night out at the movies turns into a multiple 'double-feature' for Hillary.  Love a good scream


In Full Measure  ~  ...“Now, Mr. Capshaw, I only hope that God can see His way clear to giving you exactly what you deserve, whether it be striking you down or casting you out of Heaven to burn for all eternity." ....

LOL -  Laughed my ass off in this one.  Careful of what you wish for, oh that's right, she didn't wish she prayed.  In either case, be careful.  Keeping her backbone solid and demanding not to fiddle with such a nonsensical bill-collector at the door, Eva wanted to voice herself to the Top Dog.  Well, Eva, hindsight is always 20/20; sometimes it's 30/30 but in many cases, history does repeat itself as described in the notes after your tale Eva, just ask your author.  When is the next one? You know, the next chew?


Those Little Bastards  ~  ... I nearly laugh aloud at the quavery “Hello?” he sends into my foyer. He’s not in a crowd now, and the fear is back, so big I can see his eyes right...

Dares and thoughts of 'how big our my balls' really? Then, one pissed-off ghost, and does it make you wonder of purgatory?  Very quick tale - sweet & sour for all around


Maxwell's Silver Hammer  ~  ... More than two dozen   .  .  .  things were trying to get out. Ben screamed. His mobile phone, lying on the floor by the gurney, began to chirp. He scrabbled for it; flipped it open. “Hello?” ....

Self-righteous 'old school' doctor counts his chickens before they hatch


Photo Finish  ~  ... His father stepped back, struck a heroic pose with fists on his hips, gave an exaggerated smile, and said “Cheese!” The pose did make Billy smile. The camera flashed, the motor whirred, and the white square stuck out of the little machine like a tongue. ....

This one was inwardly different - a story developing within and ending facing yourself, and the plot twist.


A Man's Done Right  ~  ... “I didn’t come in here for you to help me! I came in here to help you!” .... 

Doing the right thing with consequences and not a damn thing you can do about it. -damn-


One Sock, Two Sock  ~  ... “They were rolled! A pair! What the hell do you do, eat them?” The dryer sat motionless, not deigning to make the slightest response. “I know it’s you.” She indicated...

My drawer consists of one color - white.  If I need any other color/type/need I go purchase, use, end.  Won't permit me to go through such hell.

Mutes  ~  ... I need to get this told, just in case, but I have to hurry. I don’t know how much time I have. Granny McCallum was right. She always said— wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. My name is Scott St. Armond. I’m making this recording in my apartment, and I swear I’m of sound mind. I swear to God. ....

EMT Scott Armond has the sight on my affinity for Good & Plenty.  He wants them gone and the sweet sickly smell they waft under his nose, too.  Sorry, Scott, no-can-do on that one, might be damned, but, I won't stay mute.  Good & Plenty kicks ass.  Or try hard Root Beer Barrels candy, maybe?


On Cats and Crazy Ladies  ~  “Great big mansion, way out from town. No neighbors. Cop response time, not so great— for them, anyway. For us, it’s pretty good. A rich old lady living all alone goes out every day to buy food and shit. She goes out, we go in and find the cash she has stashed in the house. We can’t find it, we wait until she gets home, then make her give it to us. We find a bunch of sweet lookin’ stuff we could hawk for cash, we wait ’til we get her wrapped up, then pull that”— he threw a thumb over his shoulder toward the van parked amidst the tallest of the bushes—“ up to the door and load in everything we can. Then we drive off, leaving the old lady tied to a chair for the mailman to find or something.” He brushed his gloved hands together as if dusting off after a job well done. “Easy-fucking-peasy.”

Burglary awry - Leave the crazy cat ladies alone.  See this keyword here: crazy.  Should give you a clue.  Just stay away.

Ma Liang's Crayons  ~  ... “Crayons!” The girl rocked on her little bottom in excitement, though, to tell the truth, Julie was more impressed with the box than its contents. It doesn’t look like there are any metal parts at all, and that moving rack is beautiful. That is some serious craftsmanship— seems a little silly to do all that work just to hold a set of Crayolas. ....

This colorful Chinese legend paints a scene a bit too late for all concerned.
I want a box.  Please.


Wendigo  ~  ... They left me some food— quite a bit, actually— but they took their words with them. I turn and look from place to place, at the food they left behind. At the meat. Not a lot left. But it’s mine. ....

Reality takes on a new meaning for a lone plane crash survivor.


Playmates Wanted  ~  ...“Beautiful,” he murmured, and the word echoed in his mind, buoyed by the memory of that last scream. What a voice! ....  ...“Give   .  .  .  me a   .  .  .  scream   .  .  .  lover!”...

Last victim for this serial killer?  I don't think so

This tale was perfect for closure - for Benny and for us readers

If I may come full circle, these 13 tales from a very dark and disturbing corner(s) of Rob Smales mind will delight all those in search of the creepy & chilling horror reads.  Each story is completely different than the next, yet, as a collection, this anthology is beautifully melded into one you gotta read.
Rob brings the story to your senses quickly and vividly with the role of the character being described throughout each tale.  As in Death of the Boy, the old man's character was multi-leveled in respect to being humane.  In Wendigo, the mental breakdown.  In On Cats and Crazy Ladies, the burglar's characters were developed right along with the pace.  Quick and vivid.  Great short-story skill.

Themes, settings, atmosphere envelopes the reader.  The tales read as if Rob Smales has been writing short horror stories for a while.

There were a few spots through the read where "big ten-dollar" words don't work.  Thought 4 star read; In Full Measure: chitinous carpet did not flow.  In A Man's Done Right, the word seined - I don't agree with.  You're narrating at one level of reading then Bam! a ten-dollar word.  If a small ordinary everyday word would work - then use it.  These words though are completely okay when your character needs to sound a bit above everyone. Like explain it as in Mutes: ... commotio cordis, or cardiac arrest due to impact ....  There's a couple of other spots, but, I've said my piece/peace.

Ask me if I would recommend and I would say, "You haven't read this yet?" - with a raised eyebrow

Folks, Echoes of Darkness is no longer in print

  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $3.99 ~ Paperback $11.98 USD
  •  Barnes & Noble ~ Paperback $9.59 USD

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About the author  ~

Author Rob Smales

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Rob Smales is the author of DEAD OF WINTER, which won the Superior Achievement in Dark Fiction Award from Firbolg Publishing’s Gothic Library in 2014.  His short stories have been published in two dozen anthologies and magazines.  His story “Photo Finish” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won the Preditors & Editors’ Readers Choice Award for Best Horror Short Story of 2012.
Most recently, his story “A Night at the Show” received an honorable mention on Ellen Datlow’s list of the Best Horror of 2014, and was also nominated as best short story by the eFestival of Words in 2015.

Lifelong reader, recently turned writer, my friends were surprised when I turned to writing horror.  They remember me reading a lot of Sci-Fi while growing up.  And I did.  But there was an awful lot of Fantasy, Crime, Mystery and, yes, Horror in the mix.

Though I do have a few non-horror stories in my head and fighting to get out (I started this ride writing a series of Sci-Fi shorts to read to my son at night), most of what I write about comes from the darker side of life.  And unlife.  I'm going to just keep sprinkling material onto the mulch pile in my mind and see what comes up.

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