Twisted Dark is back with another collection of stories! True to his notes, Gibson steered down a slightly different path with this one. While still ultimately a creepy collection of tales, this volume is a bit more muted on the twisted level, but also has some humor thrown in for good measure — more of a balanced variety, rather than sticking to one genre. Personally, I liked Twisted Dark volume one. I'm one of those people that love horror stories with a twist and volume 1 was packed full of exactly that. I have to admit, there was a wide range of emotions while reading Twisted Dark Volume 2. There's a twist at the end of each story; some you can see coming, some you have no idea about. There were a couple stories where I found myself cracking up at the end, one I still don't understand, a couple were pretty dark and a couple that were incredibly suspenseful.
Variety is key with Twisted Dark Volume 2. There's a special tone for each story and it really makes a difference. There was a lot of thought and work put into each story and it shows. Anthologies always require more work than one long story — there's different artists to keep track of, the length of each story and more importantly, you have to be creative enough to come up with ten stories instead of just one. As a reader, having an anthology like this is nice because it never gets dull.
"Legacy" was one of the stories I guessed the ending to pretty quickly, but was still a decent read. It lacked the twist, but was a real spotlight on the darker side of human nature and what happens when you trust someone, even if that person is an old friend who's become your agent over the years. Marc Olivent's artwork has more of a block-like quality to it. Lots of straight edges and shadows to lend a creepier aspect.
"Smile" had the twist at the end that I've come to expect from Twisted Dark. There was nice use of foreshadowing at the beginning since the main character was in a police station giving a statement, so obviously she did something wrong, but the ending definitely wasn't what I thought it'd be. It was worse. The artwork was done by Atula Siriwardane and it looked like something straight out of the '80s. It's probably the hair that's giving me that vibe, but take a look and tell me I'm wrong.
Both "If Only" and "Evolution" had me laughing. Both had the twist, but Gibson threw me for a 180 and left me with my mouth hanging open at the end. I refuse to ruin the surprise, but I will say that the ending of "If Only" was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole book. These two, along with "The Experiment" were definitely the added comedy, but still maintain an underlying dark side. Arijit Dutta Chowdhury has more of a cartoon quality with rounded edges, but that might have been because the art is meant to tell a happy, carefree story. Chowdhury's art is a stark contrast to Hugo Wijngaard's art in "Evolution." Wijngaard is darker and relies heavily on shadows to prove his points. There's usually a very simplified background that'll draw the eye of the reader to the characters.
"Flamboyant" was one that lacked the twist and save for the final picture in the story, wasn't overly creepy either. It revolved more on friendship, justification and revenge. The last page left a resounding ominous tone that made it worth reading though. The art was another high note for this story. Heru Prasetyo Djalal has definite talent for drawing expressions, especially around the eyes.
The one I didn't understand was "HMTQ." It didn't really have a twist, didn't seem creepy and was just something I didn't expect to see in Twisted Dark. I'm guessing the moral was something like never really knowing someone, even after being married for so many years, but I feel as if I was missing something important for that one. There was a reappearance of a couple of characters from "If Only" as well, which I enjoyed. When the stories are interconnected, I find that I pay more attention to the finer details. Jan Wijngaard did some nice artwork with more of a pencil sketch quality to it, and whether it was meant to or not, had a comforting feel to go along with the story of a couple turning 100.
"Paranoia" was one of the creepier stories. The beginning started off a little slow, but the last picture made up for it in spades. Makes you wonder what kind of mental illness your neighbor might have or if having a creative imagination might actually be a bad thing. Again, Marc Olivent did the artwork, so there's the consistent straight edge quality of his work.
"The Experiment" = Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. That's honestly the best way to describe it. The story was a little cliched with the geek getting the jock back for picking on him, but by the end I'll admit to cracking a smile. Mark Martel's art is pretty sketchy with little to no background at all, which left me a little disappointed, but it wasn't even close the worst I've seen.
"Becoming A Man" was by far the most suspenseful story in the book. Very good narration coupled with extremely detailed artwork that left me with giant eyeballs as I was reading it. Antonio Balanquit Jr. has his shading down perfectly and pays close attention to detail, whether it be background or characters. His art was my favorite.
Disturbing, sinister and dark all weave together in "Popular." Now this is more what I would expect from Twisted Dark. Most people don't really think too much about stalking and "Popular" brings forward some real world fears that people should pay attention to. What would you do if someone was in your house taking pictures of you and then posting them on Facebook? Also, Caspar Wijngaard's another artist I wouldn't mind seeing more of. In this one short story, there's a multitude of facial expressions, detailed backgrounds and ominous tones and Wijngaard doesn't miss a beat through all of it.
Overall, I was pleased with Volume 2, but I think I liked volume 1 a little better. As with all anthologies, there's always one or two stories that fall flat, but the book as a whole was very entertaining with its plot twists and sinister undertones. It's the type of story I like reading at the end of a busy day. Something that will carry your mind off to another world and keep you captivated for a few hours. This is a book that I'd recommend to just about anyone who enjoys stories of a darker nature.
Felicity Gustafson was born in Ohio and, after the astounding realization that there was more to do than look at trees and cows, she decided to become a nerd and got into comics, anime and video games. At Comics Bulletin, she sticks mostly to reviewing things out of the horror and comedy genres. She spends most of her time working in the manufacturing industry, finishing her computer degree and steadfastly avoiding ham fat at all costs.