If you’re looking for a good scare (or several dozen good scares), then look no further than F.P. Dorchak’s anthology of short horror fiction Do the Dead Dream? Collected here are forty-five short stories spanning the entirety of Dorchak’s writing career, many of which originally appeared in publications like Black Sheep, Apollo’s Lyre, and The Waking Muse. In each story, Dorchak’s skills as a storyteller with a penchant for considering not just alternate realities but alternate ways of thinking about reality are on full display. In other words, Do the Dead Dream? isn’t just scary … It’s also deep.
In fact, things get deep pretty quickly (and literally) with a piece titled “The Wreck,” in which a diver is inexplicably and undeniably drawn to a mysterious shipwreck at the bottom of the sea. This story gets at the heart of human desire—particularly that brand of desire that is rife with conflict: The diver in question knows that his oxygen supply is limited, yet he keeps pushing, keeps going deeper and deeper in search of the truth behind the mysterious wreck. The theme of searching for truth continues in the following story, “The Walkers,” which finds the member of a mysterious tribe of—well—walkers sent to the rear flank of a long march to check on rumors of death and destruction. Once again, the truth is out there, but it certainly isn’t pleasant.
Not surprisingly, Dorchak’s search for truth raises more questions than it answers throughout Do the Dead Dream?, but for my money, that’s always a sign of good art. Additionally, this is a substantial volume—forty-five stories spanning nearly 500 pages—so the creepiness and intrigue will certainly carry you well into the new year.
Shelf Unbound Contributing Editor Marc Schuster is the author of The
Grievers, The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom and Party Girl, Don DeLillo, Jean Baudrillard, and the Consumer Conundrum, and, with Tom Powers, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy: The Discerning Fan’s Guide to Doctor Who. He is the editor of Small Press Reviews, and his work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals. Marc teaches writing and literature courses at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.