“Of Nightmare Realities” by author Toneye Eyenot is a short story anthology that will chill you to the bone. I’m usually wary of short story anthologies, as they can become extremely self-indulgent and repetitive. “Of Nightmare Realities” is in a completely different league than the rest. Injected with a heavy dose of fatalism and amor fati, the anthology reads like a Kafkian masterpiece. I’m unsure whether the author has had any interaction with Franz Kafka’s work, but this anthology reads exactly like Kafka. Even the tone and its “Turkish fatalism” are like Kafka and Nietzsche.
I am also extremely impressed by the author’s exquisite writing technique. He never misses a beat, nor does he wallow in a dark pit of misnomers and terrible self-indulgence. He writes with force and attitude, never backing down from creating intense and powerful set pieces. The reader is swept away by the Black Mirror/Outer Limits motifs, and reading “Of Nightmare Realities” is akin to doing brain surgery on David Lynch – it’s weird, remarkable, macabre and violent.
The very first story, “Deathday Wishes”, is about a man who knows when he’s going to die. For the author to take such a primal fear and create a world around it speaks volumes about this superlative anthology. I was left breathless during the last few lines. Although our reviews are predominantly academically oriented, I can’t help but write how I felt when I finished the first short story. You know that disturbed feeling you get after watching an insane horror film? Like The Shining or The Exorcist? Well, that’s what I felt inside of me – an embryonic, whispering fear coupled with the sudden realisation of my own mortality.
The anthology is mostly about death, dying and predeterminism. Nothing about this is happy, nor will you feel any sense of happiness after reading it. That wistful contentedness, that inherently human need for experiencing “peace”, will be ripped away from you and you’ll be left in the dark, clamouring and screaming to get out. Most horror authors fail to take the essence of horror – fatalism and nihilism – and combine it with a very real form of amor fati. Ghosts and ghouls don’t do it for me, nor do demons and the rest of the horror lucky packet. “Of Nightmare Realities” did it for me. In fact, it terrified me on such a deep, subconscious level that I actually had nightmares about the stories.
“Of Nightmare Realities” contains the author’s version of the human condition. It’s not a pleasant version, but for a horror anthology I cannot fault it. The only criticism I have is the author’s verbosity. There are way too many adjectives used to describe certain set pieces, plus the author uses somewhat obtuse and obscure words in his descriptions. It’s usually better to dumb down the verbiage and make it simpler for the reader, otherwise it comes across as self-indulgent and reads like a vanity project.
These are small technicalities which I’m sure the author will correct in his future works. I want him to stay in the Kafka arena. This is where he shines. The stories which were not Kafka-esque, lacked the terrific veracity which made the anthology so great in the first place.
“Of Nightmare Realities” is visceral and nightmarish. It’s also one of the best short story horror anthologies I’ve ever read.
RATING: 4 ½ out of 5
Buy it here – Kindle, KU & Paperback: mybook.to/OfNightmares