Review of “The Broken Darkness” by Theresa Braun

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.

I seem to be reading and reviewing mostly horror lately, but this collection stood out and did not disappoint. I always enjoy horror that focuses on the inner demons of its characters rather than simply external monsters and gore. Each of these thirteen stories comes at these inner demons slightly differently and in unique settings. I love how many of the stories include some myth or ancient-feeling lore with a twist, and many of the locales naturally lend themselves to deepen the impact of these myths – I’m thinking of “Dying for an Invitation” and “Homecoming” in particular.

It was also great that the “voice” of the writing changed for many of the stories so that it didn’t feel like I was reading the same tone and style over and over. Some main characters are male, some are female – that alone is a nice changeup from a lot of horror I read. Some stories feel older, some feel newer. The stories are set all over the place. Many of the stories seem to be predictable and then there’s a nice twist – something you expect in short stories, I think, but I liked these twists.

My personal favorite was probably “The Celestial Assignment.” It’s a unique perspective on guardian angels that drew me in right away, and I liked the story more and more as the main character learned and grew.

All in all, this was a great collection. It’s a quick read that draws you in. There were occasional missed edits in the writing, but nothing major that was a distraction. The characters are good, the settings are good, the plots are interesting and diverse, different subgenres change things up, and there’s a nice cohesive feel to the whole collection because each story focuses so well on the characters’ inner demons being just as problematic as the external monsters.

See it on Amazon!

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