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December 19, 2021

Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas by Josh Malerman, Jane Yolen, et al. ~ a Review

by MK French

Some lands belong to shadows and spirits, and these haunted places are not for the living. They exact a terrible price and those who explored them in the past left behind instructions for the living, which eventually became superstition and ghost stories. To reclaim this lost knowledge, the Umbra Arca Society was created and maps were drawn of the explorers' travels.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Shadow Atlas
November 2021; Hex Publishers; 978-1736596432
ebook, print (440 pages); horror anthology

This collection of short stories and poetry is edited by Carina Bissett, Hillary Dodge, and Joshua Viola. Cover and interior art are from Aaron Lovett. The authors are well known for writing fiction and fantasy; Amazon lists this anthology as horror. The memos, notes, and such within the text of the book reminds me of the novel House of Leaves, in the sense of a story-within-a-story-within-a-story framework, with typographic changes for different layers, and a sense of unease permeating them. (wanna get freaked out? Try that book. Seriously, it'll twist your brain inside out.)

Over the course of the book, we're introduced to the Umbra Arca, the collection materials, and the legends themselves within the text of the stories. They do carry the creepy and faintly horror-laden atmosphere of legends. Wives that don't die, people that go missing, creatures from stories that are indeed real, the will o' the wisp, etc. I have a hard time picking out which is my favorite because the stories are all well done, and I liked the drawings highlighting the stories. While reading the book I lost track of time, absorbed in the collection's premise of being a collection of true stories collected by a number of talented authors. It's not just the myths of the United States involved, but other parts of the world as well. I really enjoyed the spooky atmosphere and legends that were written about.

Buy Shadow Atlas at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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