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theresa braun
The Broken Darkness
In her debut collection, Theresa Braun explores the inner workings of the human heart and what it is we most desire—forgiveness, acceptance, love, fame, or merely to escape who we really are. Whether we are battling ghosts, demons, mythical monsters, the past, or other dimensions, we are really facing the deepest parts of ourselves. These thirteen tales of horror and dark fantasy may appear to be a matter of good versus evil, but they are all a reflection of the hidden corners of the soul that are often shades of broken darkness. The characters in these stories must face their inner and outer terrors, or else suffer the consequences.
This first short story collection from Fountain Dead author Braun offers 13 horror tales complete with ghosts, jilted lovers, mysterious figures lurking in the night, and even a disheveled guardian angel in desperate need of an attitude adjustment. Braun masters the art of visceral writing by bringing the haunts to life through the sizzling of “biological slop” and frightening moments filled with oozing blood, chilling apparitions, and grotesque medical experiments. The unique combination of seemingly unrelated individual tales forms an eerie and unsettling menagerie of terror sure to entice horror fans.

The stories explore a variety of themes, such as love and kindness, religion and faith, and breaking cycles of abuse. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a fast-paced warning to be careful what one wishes for, and “Guilty as Cell” explores the dangers of texting while driving. “Heirloom” blurs the line between fantasy and reality when a therapist contemplates the meaning of power, while “Legend Trippers” cautions readers that thrill seeking can come with disastrous consequences. Braun keeps her audience engaged while blending genres with offerings like “Lost Time” and “Stillborn,” mixing horror with a dash of speculative fiction, while “Dying for an Invitation” summons readers to Transylvania for a tale of twisted gothic love.

Several of Braun’s dynamic characters draw inspiration from familiar lore, such as vampires or ashrays—mythic creatures with ties to Scottish folklore, rumored to absorb their victims. Others skillfully toy with modern twists on familiar protagonists, including a loner teenage who happens to be a Satanist and a nurse who ends up at the center of a disturbing secret. Braun’s main players often find themselves in battles not only for their lives but for their souls, which heightens the stakes and conjures nail-biting tension. Horror fans will appreciate the variety of characters, themes, and scares in this unsettling collection.

Takeaway: A collection of fast-paced horror stories with memorable characters and terror galore.

Great for fans of: Laura Diaz de Arce’s Monstrosity, Bora Chung’s Cursed Bunny.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A