In yet another collection of hauntingly horrific short stories, Withelder tells stories this time that all trace back to the mysterious Dark Web. Whether the characters in the stories are themselves trawlers of the Dark Web or not, the Web has caught them like flies and inflicted horror on them, whether for legitimate reason or not.
What is Tales From the Dark Web about?
Withelder brings us yet another collection of horror stories. This time, the stories are all unified through a specific connection to the Dark Web. The Dark Web is a term used to describe the underbelly of the Internet. On the Dark Web you can buy illegal drugs, traffic in exotic animals, buy unregistered firearms, alter your identity, hire a hit man, etc. Each story in this collection included a connection or allusion to the people lurking on the Dark Web.
- “Burial” – In which a man finds himself caught in a lie by mysterious blackmailers and digs himself into an even worse hole
- “Cure” – The story of a therapist who absolutely should not be allowed to practice
- “Delivery” – A story of the bravery of one delivery driver despite all the odds
- “Gambler” – Probably a useful cautionary tale against the dangers of online gambling
- “Smart” – A horrific tale of a college student who seeks to improve his grades but gets far more than bargained for
Themes: Darkness, surprising horror
The overarching theme of the Dark Web is absolutely set aside in favor of some of the most surprisingly dark and horrific plots in any short stories I’ve ever read. I devoured this book in a single sitting and each story left me even more shocked than the last. There are a lot of scary surprises in this collection!
Some of these stories felt very real, and were also shocking and surprising. I think my favorite story was “Delivery” which was arguably the only story with a happy ending of sorts. I enjoyed some of the twists such as the ending of “Cure” and the dark twist taken in “Gambler,” as well.
I noticed something when I was writing out the descriptions for the stories above: all of the characters in these stories were men. This was something I didn’t even notice while reading, and considering the amount of stories included it’s not surprising (there aren’t many after all). Still, the only female character even really mentioned is deceased the whole time. Just something to make note of and observe in future Withelder stories. I’ll give him more chances because I do enjoy his writing, but should diversity not make an appearance in the next work of his I read I’ll be reconsidering my support of his writing.
Content warning for major gore. These stories are a lot darker than I was expecting, and though I enjoyed this I’ll admit to a bit of horror for myself when I was reading “Smart” in particular. There are some gory descriptions, as well as serious and plausible discussions of death and murder. If these are things that are uncomfortable for you to read, this collection is probably one to avoid.
I found that the concept of connecting horror to the Dark Web was a fascinating one, and I think in the few short stories in this collection Withelder manages to touch on some of the most unexpected aspects of that horror. I was certainly not expecting the results of “Delivery” or “Gambler.” Despite my few criticisms of this collection I was once again enthralled by Withelder’s horror writing and found myself absolutely eating these stories up for breakfast!