Title: Down Among the Dead Men
Author: Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois
In: The Monstrous (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Horror, War
Dates read: 20th April 2020
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: He fingered the spoon compulsively, turning it over and over; it was hard and smooth and cold, and he clenched it as tightly as he could, trying to ignore the fine tremouring of his hands.
He always thought that they were friends. That he was their saviour. But, then he realises that they’re all dead here. Just some are a little more dead than others.
There seem to be a few Jewish / war / prisoner of war stories popping up in my reading at the moment. And although they’re completely heart-wrenching, kind of devastating and seriously intense… they’re also kind of completely amazing. And I am definitely in love with them. What I didn’t expect was to find one such story in a collection of monstrous fantasy stories…
At the beginning of this story, I figured it was going to be dark. After all, it starts with the moment that the narrator first realises that his friend is a vampire. But, then I thought he was going to be a nice vampire… there were so many justifications for his actions. And then things got dark again. Which to me, is the mark of a great story – one which takes you through ups and downs and makes you constantly question your assumptions. The fact that it was done in only a very few pages just made it all the more impressive.
This short story had a much darker, more twisty ending than what I had expected. Which, of course, is kind of why I loved it. There is something fantastic about a dark ending that leaves you disquieted and uncomfortable.