reviews

Terrible Things, Black Shuck Books

Terrible Things cover final 2“Suffused with atmosphere, populated by horrors half-seen and then, in startling moments of revelation, seen all too clearly, David Surface’s stories stay firmly rooted in ghost story tradition. But where those oddly comforting classical terrors bubble up from grief or loss or regret or revenge, the menaces in Terrible Things sprout from a disturbingly contemporary sense of bewilderment. These are the ghosts of lockdown drills and frayed marriages, identity confusion and forced retirement and that constant crackling hum of a world tilting out of true, and therefore new and now and terrifying all over again.”

––Glen Hirshberg, author of the Motherless Children trilogy

“David Surface is like no one else. His fiction has a precision of detail that is always unsettling, and often heart-breaking. One of our greatest contemporary writers.”

––Ralph Robert Moore, author of Ghosters and Father Figure

“Each of the stories contained within Terrible Things is a small treasure to be marveled at. David Surface unpicks the seam of humanity to reveal the necrosis of our terrible secrets – the harms we visit upon one another, the lies we tell – but also that quiet hope that beneath it all there might still be something worth saving. Compassionate, astute and beautifully crafted, these are horror stories with soul.”

––Laura Mauro, author of Sing Your Sadness Deep

“David Surface’s first short story collection is a reason to rejoice for all lovers of disturbing, off-beat, and ghostly fiction. Well-written and multi-layered, these stories are unpredictable in the best possible way: the author doesn’t allow the cliches of the genre to dilute his own personal vision. Put simply, these stories are some of the very best weird fiction has to offer.”

––James Everington, author of Trying To Be So Quiet and Other Hauntings

“Location, location, location.  Or, to borrow M.R. James’ phrasing, places that are prolific in suggestion.  One of the things I like about the stories collected in “Terrible Things” – and I like many things about them – is the care David Surface has taken in what is sometimes called world-building.  This is often taken to mean grand endeavours on a Game of Thrones scale, genealogies and maps and all the rest of it, but at its deftest and most effective, it is the delineation of place in a few well-chosen descriptive passages.  Another of the things I like is that, having constructed these imaginary gardens, David proceeds to fill them with some all-too-real toads.  Character and setting are two of the three pillars on which the weird story is established, so it’s pleasing to discover that the third pillar – let’s call it narrative enchantment – is also present, raising up some remarkable tales for your attention.  If you feel at home in the October country of the imagination, you ought to enjoy these stories, in that complicated yet at the same time instinctive way we enjoy the best weird fiction.  This is David’s first collection, and I’m happy to recommend it, on the strict understanding that he comes up with another, as soon as he likes.”

––Steve Duffy, author of The Moment of Panic

“Knowing very little of the man aside from the warmth and intellect reflected in his fiction — and how his aesthetic has affected me — I’ve come to gain a sense that Mr. Surface, as a writer, operates like a war-torn combat medic. In the trauma unit of tale-telling, David Surface is unable to supply too many precious answers, rather he provides verbal sutures to the damaged and heart-sick, patching us up the best he can.”

––Clint Smith, author of When It’s Time for Dead Things To Die

“David Surface knows home is an alien place and Terrible Things is your expedition report––you’d do well to read it.”

––Adam Golaski, author of Color Plates and Worse Than Myself

Stories

“TS&TT 6he final story in the book is David Surface’s ‘Writings Found in a Red Notebook’. As its title suggests, it’s presented as a series of extracts from a diary – the literary equivalent of a “found footage” film. The sequential extracts convey perfectly the disintegration of the couple lost in the desert – that disintegration both physical and psychological. They also convey the mounting feeling of dread they are experiencing and the final lines are truly and utterly chilling. It’s the perfect end to a stunning collection of tales.”

Shadows and Tall Trees, Vol. 6
Reviewed by Anthony Watson, Dark Musings

Long-list Honorable Mention, Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 7, Ellen Datlow

S&TT 5“The most exciting story in the issue so far is ‘Terrible Things’ by David Surface. If it doesn’t end up reprinted in a best-of anthology, or on the final ballot of one of horror’s little literary awards, it’s time to reconsider the worth of those institutions.”

Shadows and Tall Trees, Vol. 5
October 2012
Reviewed by Adam Golaski
‘Little Stories: Crystalline Blood & Terrible Things’

Long-list Honorable Mention, Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 7, Ellen Datlow

 

“Here comes the tenth volume of the successful British horror anthology, consistently providing excellent new material for horror fans. To me the best story is ‘The Last Testament of Jacob Tyler’ by David Surface, a well-crafted example of supernatural horror at its best.”

The Tenth Black Book of Horror
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi, Hellnotes


Two stories that completely blew me away were Ralph Robert Moore’s note-perfect The 18…and David Surface’s haunting The Sea In Darkness Calls which used the liminal space of the seashore to great effect. One thing I love about anthologies is when they give me new authors to seek out further stories by, and Darkest Minds certainly did that.

The Sea In Darkness Calls, Darkest Minds
Reviewed by James Everington, Scattershot Writing

Long-list Honorable Mention, Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 8, Ellen Datlow

My favorite tale of the lot is David Surface’s “The Sound That the World Makes,” which is going to be haunting me for a long time to come. It will make you think twice about visiting a strange church for Christmas.

Nightscript, Vol. 1
Reviewed by M.P. Johnson, Amazon.com

Long-list Honorable Mention, Best Horror of the Year, Volume 8, Ellen Datlow

nightscript-3-half-cover

“Very much in tune with many stories in this book, the Surface one may be the most exquisitely poignant example…Here the couple, strangers to each other, but married for years…separated by the skin that you shed each night. Unforgettably, incredibly sad while strangely uplifting.”

The Des Lewis Gestalt Real Time Review

Reviewed by Des Lewis

Long-list Honorable Mention, Best Horror of the Year, Volume 10, Ellen Datlow