Dark Tales

Review by Heather Haunert

Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson is a collection of the author’s most disturbing tales. There are seventeen stories included that vary in length, but not in suspense. Each one will leave the reading questioning what just happened but in a good way.

Each one of these dark tales is reminiscent of Jackson’s wildly popular short story “The Lottery” which is a cult classic among high school English classes across the country. I distinctly remember being a junior high student when my teacher used “The Lottery” as a social experiment. I was the victim in her story, and it still brings back horrible memories to this day.

Lovers of her popular work will undoubtedly be transfixed with each of these stories. Some will leave you questioning Ms. Jackson’s conclusion, while others are so incredibly diabolical, it’s hard not to be in awe of the author’s uncanny ability to weave a web of a story that’s not soon to be forgotten.

To make sure and not spoil the reader’s fun, below are a few snippets of the dark and twisted tales spun by Shirley Jackson in Dark Tales.

“The Possibility of Evil”

One of the most frightening aspects of Jackson’s short stories is their realistic feel. A story that comes across as an everyday occurrence is always more upsetting to our nature that something far-fetched. “The Possibility of Evil” is a masterpiece. It’s a story of an old spinster in town that anonymously writes letters to the townsfolk stirring up gossip and trouble. Ms. Jackson’s twist of an ending will delight readers.

“Louisa, Please Come Home”

This story will no doubt leave the reader shaking their head at the end. A nineteen-year-old girl runs away from home on the eve of her sister’s wedding. For three years she has covered her tracks and remained hidden in her new life not far from her hometown. When she accidentally runs into an old neighbor, the shocking trip home leaves the reader with more questions than answers.

“The Honeymoon of Mrs. Smith”

This is one of the most disturbing stories in the collection. A newlywed woman receives multiple “warnings” regarding her new husband. She consciously chooses to ignore them knowing the outcome. 

“All She Said Was Yes”

An intriguing tale of a young girl that is able to see the future. Her attempt to save people is met in vain when they ignore her time after time, even her parents. As a reader, you know what’s coming but the author does it in a way that surprises.

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