Red Lagoe, author of Lucid Screams, brings us her follow up collection of horror shorts, Dismal Dreams, with a foreword by Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Devil’s Dreamland, Sara Tantlinger. Every day is steeped in horror. An inexplicable force deep in the forest. A serpent lurking in the shadows. Or the sinister thoughts forged in the deepest abyss of a tortured mind. Lagoe offers a gamut of horrific experiences artfully woven into thirteen stories. Explore the darkness within a selfish heart, face death among ghosts, and roar into the snarling maw of a beast. Horror can be empowering if we can survive our most dismal dreams.
Red Lagoe grew up on 80s horror and carried her paranoia of slashers and sewer creatures into adulthood.
When she’s not spewing her horror-ridden mind onto the page, or substituting at the elementary school like a normal upstanding citizen, Red enjoys amateur astronomy, and can be found lingering in the inky shadows among beasts for a better view of the stars.
Red's short story collection Lucid Screams released in February 2020. She is a staff writer for Crystal Lake Publishing's Still Water Bay series. Her stories have appeared in Dark Moon Digest, Sinister Smile Press's If I Die Before I Wake, volumes 1, 2, & 3, Crystal Lake Publishing’s Shallow Waters Volumes 1,2, 3&4, Trembling with Fear’s Year Two anthology, Owl Hollow Press’ Under the Full Moon’s Light anthology, and more. Her viral apocalypse novel Fair Haven released in 2017.
Red Lagoe isn't an author who is churning out stories for the sake of it. DISMAL DREAMS is written with a genuine fire, desire and a spirit to create something very special. It's rarely seen these days if you ask me. And that's no BS. Originality shines all the way through here. This is easily one of my favourite collections of the year so far. I imagine it will be the same for many of my friends. If I had to single out two favourites, I'd go with FLICKER and ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY. They just had little extra something that felt super creative to me. You'll no doubt have your favourites too. And I want to add that we all know that reviews aren't meant for authors, but Red should know that this collection is one she can be extremely proud of. It will stand the test of time. So, Red, well done. For everyone else, put this to the top of your TBR now. You can thank me later.
Supreme. Brilliant. Fantastic. I loved this more than I can even explain. DISMAL DREAMS by Red Lagoe might just be one of the best short story collections I have read so far. Each story, regardless of length, is a powerhouse all on its own. The characters in them are written so well, they are given complex feelings and thoughts, and you care for each and every one of them no matter how long they are on the pages. These stories ended with punches to the stomach and my jaw on the floor. The twists and turns had me all over the place in the best way. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, Lagoe took me for a totally different journey. I was disappointed when I turned the page and realized that story was going to be over and simultaneously elated that a new world was about to be painted right in front of me.
These stories are PHENOMENAL! Some of these characters are going to stick with me for a long time. Some of these stories are still on my mind at the forefront days after finishing. My favorites are: "The Creation of Man," "Shutter Stop," "Flicker," "A Cold Day In Hell," "Never Have I Ever," and "Doll House." But each story in here is five stars for me.
Red Lagoe is an author I discovered through random browsing of kindle horror freebies, one who made a good impression first time out of the gate. So I was delighted to find her second book available as a freebie once more. Mind you, these very random occasions, her books, in quality and style, are much more than an average Kindle freebie. So anyway, I enjoyed the author’s Lucid Screams and her Dismal Dreams was a worthy follow-up. More unsettling dark stories in the same vein. Marriages gone awry, parenthood gone awry. No happy families here – dismal is in the tile, what’d you expect? But it’s all in good fun. Lagoe is an imaginative and entertaining writer and a crafty weaver of nightmares. She expertly balances psychological with visceral. Knows how to draw you in and disturb you profoundly. A very fun and quick read. Recommended for genre fans.
Dismal Dreams is another fantastic collection of weird tales by the crazy-talented Red Lagoe.
Lagoe's wild imagination and brilliant storytelling are superbly showcased in this collection, and I continue to be blown away by her work. She is one of the best, most unique voices in the horror genre today and I cannot recommend her work highly enough.
If you're not reading Red Lagoe, you really should be!
Dismal Dreams is a solid collection of enjoyable dark fiction stories. Most of the tales are about murder, regret, and consequences. Every story in here is good. My favorites from this collection: "Doll House" is gruesome and unsettling; "The Creation of Man" is a reimagination of the garden of Eden with a dark twist; and the final story in the book, "Burden's Beast", artfully depicts guilt and self-loathing as a materialized monster. Red Lagoe is adept at writing in a straightforward, easy to read style that is consistent from one story to the next. This is a wonderful introduction to her work.
I’ve been looking forward to reading Dismal Dreams since I turned the final digital page of its predecessor, Lucid Screams. Red Lagoe has a real way with words, and I’m enamored with the way that she can hook me with just a sentence or two. It seems I’m not the only one who thinks the same, since the opening quote from Sara Tantlinger’s wonderful foreword is the first line of the story ‘Dollhouse’ from the collection (incidentally, this story also appeared–and was one of my favorites–in the We Are Wolves anthology I read earlier this year.
Lagoe’s way of fusing everyday actions with the macabre, and her way of fusing horror in both the mundane and the metaphysical, kept me turning pages, barely able to put the book down (which is not ideal when I’m reading on my 15-minute break at work)! That said, it was usually enough time to at least down one whole story at a time. Sometimes two. As with any good collection, there was a good range in the length of the stories.
One thing, as a whole, I really like about Lagoe’s stories is they’re never longer than they need to be. Two of my favorite stories, ‘The Creation of Man’ and ‘The Terminator Line’ are only five and four pages long, respectively. Any longer than that, and they would have lost the spark that made them so powerful. There’s so much skill in being able to feed readers just enough information to tell a great story, to draw them in, and leave enough information for them to infer what led the narrator/character to the actions we’re seeing, the choices, whether good or bad, that either make, break, or end their lives.
A brief thing worth mentioning because she does it so well, is the Content Warnings. They are well hidden in the back of the book, on the very last page, behind the ‘about the author,’ so it’s so easy to skip or ignore if you don’t need them, but available to any who might need to take a look. She also mentions whether or not there is a spoiler warning involved. If I’m being honest, and I always am, I didn’t look at these until after I’d finished reading, but it’s always nice to see an author being conscientious of others.
My absolute favorite story in this collection was ‘Flicker.’ The story kept me on my toes, had me making up wild theories about what was happening the whole time, and had such a satisfying conclusion that managed to tie everything together perfectly at the end. The perfect amount of horror and heartfelt. I’m a big softie, but I’m not sure that was the only reason I was crying at the end of it. That story just ripped the emotions out of me, whether I wanted to let it or not.
Some of my favorite stories were ‘The Creation of Man,’ ‘A Cold Day in Hell,’ and the final story, ‘Burden’s Beast.’ Saying these are my favorites doesn’t detract from the fact that every story in this collection hits home, and the range Red has between pulling at one’s heartstrings and bringing the horror/slasher movie vibes.
After reading Red Lagoe’s previous work “Lucid Screams”, I was eager to read this one. I felt the author really flexes her writing muscles in this collection…she is a master of imagery. Also the dissection of the human psyche and layered way she writes female characters is reason enough to pick up this collection of horror stories. Personal favorites are Flicker, Valentine’s Day, One Year Anniversary, To The Ground (a haunted love story which surprised me in all the best ways!!), Never Have I Ever, and Doll House.
I loved Lagoe’s first collection, Lucid Screams, but this collection is another level. Visceral and haunting, these stories will stay with you. Personal favorites include Flicker, One Year Anniversary, and To The Ground. If you love horror, or fiction that leaves scars, get this book.
In her sophomore collection Dismal Dreams, Red Lagoe has assembled thirteen unique, thought-provoking stories sure to haunt your dreams. I have had the pleasure to read some of the stories contained in this collection in other publications, but Red was right to bring them back into this collection. All the stories balanced each other well. Standout stories for me in this collection were:
Dismal Dreams- Our title story took a turn that I was not anticipating. Dark and disturbing The Creation of Man- A creative and fresh take on the familiar story of Adam and Eve. Valentine’s Day- The lengths one will go to save themselves in a life-or-death situation One Year Anniversary- I originally read this story in Slashertorte and it has stuck with me ever since. So good! This story comes in a close second as my favorite of Red’s writing. Doll House- Hands down, my favorite story that Red has written. Super dark and gritty. I can’t rave about it enough.
You can’t go wrong with Dismal Dreams, there is something for every flavor of horror fan. 5/5 Stars Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of the book to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This was my first experience with Red Lagoe's work, and what a fantastic collection. There are several pieces or dark fiction in this one that expertly explore trauma, and I think "Doll House" is one of the best short stories I've ever read. It's so jarring and disturbing....couldn't get enough.
Red Lagoe has accomplished a rare feat with Dismal Dreams. We get a book full of thirteen wonderfully nightmarish stories that span a terrific variety of horror styles. We’re left feeling at once battered and bruised from the power of the horror within these stories, while also springing to our feet eager for more. And, at least for me, it left me not only super satisfied as a reader, but super inspired to write, create, and explore more of the dark corners of stories that reside in my own head as well.
If you enjoy horror and enjoy the short story collection format, I highly recommend you check this one out. While there were a few stories I didn’t love AS much because that type of horror just isn’t my favorite thing, it’s a super solid collection of powerful and visceral horror stories.