Inside the self-published collection of short stories by T. Joseph Browder, titled Dark Matters, are 7 tales of varying subject matter. I picked up this little gem after hearing it mentioned several times on the literary podcast, The Library Police, hosted by Dietrich Stogner and Josh Mauthe. To quote the guys from the podcast, “there are no bad stories here.” Each tale inside Dark Matters is a wonderful experience and one I’m glad I took a chance on. When I read, I’m normally drawn back to the same trustworthy, safe authors that I know and love. So, to step outside my comfort zone and try someone new, I get a little queasy. Thankfully, Mr. Browder has a new fan, and I can’t wait to hear details about the new novel he is working on! I’m not sure if he has a dedicated website, as I can’t find one, but he does have a Facebook page where he posts information: T. Joseph Browder on Facebook
While there are no bad stories in this 7-story collection, not all stories are created equally. What you will find, though, is that even at it’s weakest, Dark Matters offers bang for your buck. The tales range from emotional, heart touching recounts of youth, fear, chills and spills and action. There’s psychological horror, supernatural events, even some science fiction elements – a little bit of something for everyone.
Toby – The tale of a boy and his special St. Bernard. I admit, there was a lump in my throat at the end of this one, and Mr. Browder does a fantastic job of relating the tale of the innocent child in Lima, Ohio to the married father years later. Toby pulls at the heartstrings, folks, and this is just the first story in the collection.
Rogue – For me, Rogue was the weakest link in the book. I was lost for a second at one point, when a flashback occurred and I wasn’t able to get back on track for the remainder of the story. Rogue is in no way a bad entry into the collection, but not my favorite out of the seven. Rogue refers to a grizzly bear that terrorizes a wounded, stranded motorist. The story culminates in a no-holds-barred, knock down, drag out fight to the end.
Hammerfall – Right smack dab in the middle of the action is where Hammerfall starts. I enjoyed this tidbit of what seems to be a much larger work sitting around somewhere that the author is hiding from us. Hammerfall refers to a particular event that occurs in the story and follows a man with a past as he is thrown into an intense situation and must decide how to deal. Greg, our hero, is far from a hero and the thoughts we are allowed to share with him make that evident. The story – as a few others do – ends abruptly, and I like that! Mr. Browder seems to get it – the reader doesn’t always have to have everything little detail drawn out for them at the end of a story. He ends a couple of the stories – such as this one – without any further explanation.
The Visitor – A vampire. An old man. A mansion rigged with every imaginable booby trap. This is one you have to experience for yourself.
The Contract – A man walks into a bar. He meets with a hitman and slides him an envelope with the mission. The assassin is taken aback when he opens the envelops and discovers his target is the same man sitting across from him. He promptly pulls out a gun and shoots the man between the eyes. The man shakes his head and tells him he has 72 hours to try and do the job he’s been given, otherwise, the man will come after the assassin with a vengeance. How do you kill a man who can not die before he comes after you? A fantastic thriller/horror/supernatural tale. I actually wanted to know more about the natty man myself and hope he might show up in another tale further down the road in another collection.
After Hammerfall – a follow-up story that takes place about a dozen years after the events of the story Hammerfall. Different characters and a simple, simple tale that deals with how a planet reacts, how people change and what might rise up in man’s place if a few vital elements were removed from everyday life over the course of years.
Educator – The final tale. Short, sweet, to the point. And, again, it seems like it should be part of a much more expanded story. I was reminded of Darkman by the end, but by saying that, maybe I’ve said too much.
I consumed Dark Matters in 2 days, and it only took that long because I picked it up late one night before bed and finished it up during breaks at work the following night. If you enjoy quick reads and enjoy a variety in your reading, pick up this book. Then! Head over to sites such as Goodreads and leave reviews, rate and leave comments on the sites you buy the ebook, etc.
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