The Black Dreams: Strange Stories from Northern Ireland

Title: The Black Dreams: Strange Stories from Northern Ireland

Writer: Various edited by Reggie Chamberlain- King

Publishing House: Blackstaff Press

Date of Publication:  October 4th 2021

Rating: 5 stars

”A dream possesses all of Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland is a sort of fairyland too. It is a place of outspoken symbols and unspoken rules, where only local logic applies. Strangers finding themselves there may find themselves lost there. And the dreamers who inhabit the place are safe as long as they don’t wake up. They sleepwalk, sleepwork, sleepwatch, and sleepwait, living inside the mind, eyes wide shut to what is outside it.”

The Black (Ian Sansom): A young man decides to paint his house black. And then, darkness consumes him.

Original Features (Jo Baker): A new house is a reason for celebration, a new family is about to step into the world. But a door in a dream and the night terrors that plague a child will mark the characters in this extraordinary story. And sadness permeates the atmosphere right to its striking end.

The Woman Who Let Go (Moyra Donaldson): A marriage of 30 years is torn apart. The woman of this beautiful story finds solace in an isolated house in the country. Nature and the ghosts of the past become her healers.

A Loss (Bernie McGill): What starts as the story of a deceased old aunt becomes darker and darker in a tale full of mysterious questions.

The Leaving Place (Jan Carson): A husband has to say goodbye to his wife in the Leaving Place. A story that will break your heart…

Bird. Spirit. Land. (Ian McDonald): A terrifying tale of magpies, haunted paintings, dark skies and trapped souls.

Silent Valley (Sam Thompson): I’m afraid I didn’t like this one at all. The resurrected witch hunting, the politics, and the exhausted Dystopian elements in relation to the Troubles seemed naive, exaggerated and quite ridiculous.

The Tempering (Michelle Gallen): A very intriguing take on the Changeling myth, as a kind father is substituted by a man of unspeakable cruelty that leads a family within the heart of the Troubles.

Now and Then Some Washes Up (Carlo Gebler): In an extremely haunting and cryptic story, a man comes of age in Belfast during the 70s. He becomes a teacher, creates a happy family and retires at 65, enjoying a beautiful house. Yet, the water hides secrets and death is never far away…

The Missing Girl – Extracts from an Oral History (Reggie Chamberlain- King): A tragic, haunting metaphor for the Troubles and the wounds in Northern Ireland.

The Wink and the Gun (John Patrick Higgins): I have no words to describe this story. A photographer is about to (unwillingly) reunite with his old classmates when a simple accident brings him to the path of two boys. Two strange-looking boys, with hollow faces and torn clothes. And everything changes. Perfection! Eerie, uncanny perfection!

The Quizmasters (Gerard McKeown): A cycler is threatened by a driver who starts asking trivia questions in a morbid, lethal quiz game. Paramilitaries or serial killers? Or are these two the one and the same? For me, the answer is a loud, unapologetic YES!) This one made my heart run cold…

Redland (Aislinn Clarke): A woman tries to understand her sudden fear of dogs and traces the history of Redlands.

The King of Seatown (Emma Devlin): The Seatown is a place where escape is not possible. The King wants control. IDs, passports. The land is divided over things no one understands…

A unique collection.