Richard Gavin's The Darkly Splendid Realm was published in 2009 by Dark Regions Press.

Richard Gavin is a Canadian horror writer. He is the author of three short story collections: Charnel Wine, Omens and The Darkly Splendid Realm.

Richard Gavin's official website can be found here.

Here's the official description of The Darkly Splendid Realm:

If you've felt eyes studying you from the shadows, it has seen you...

If crooked branches have rapped upon your window at night, it has summoned you...

If your dreams are plagued by half-glimpsed terrors, it has claimed you...

From one of the most gruesomely original voices in contemporary horror comes this book of thirteen nightmares. Richard Gavin will plunge you into underworlds of Hellish beauty; give you flight on Dread-Moths' wings; tend for you a thicket that blooms with feral children. More than a volume of horror tales, this collection offers visions of a realm whose splendours are as illuminating as they are dark.

And here's the review:


Richard Gavin'sThe Darkly Splendid Realm contains thirteen stories. It also contains a wonderful introduction by Laird Barron and an interesting afterword by the author. The stories are:

  • Prowling Through Throated Chambers
  • Where the Scarab Dwells
  • Phantom Passages
  • Primeval Wood
  • Final Night in Nevertown
  • Children of the Mound
  • The Language of the Nameless Region
  • The Astral Mask
  • Dreaming While Adrift on the River of Despair
  • Getting the Strap
  • Waterburns
  • The Bitter Taste of Dread-Moths
  • Following the Silent Hedges

The Darkly Splendid Realm is a real treat for fans of dark fantasy and horror literature. I think that Richard Gavin's stories will be of interest to everybody who likes modern and well written horror stories, because his stories are fascinating and his prose is good.

Richard Gavin's stories owe a lot to old horror masters and their eldritch stories. Gavin's stories are firmly rooted in old school horror, which is the founding stone of modern horror literature. It's easy to notice that Gavin's writing style has been influenced by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, William Hope Hodgson, M. R. James and Arthur Machen. The reason why I compare Gavin to these old masters is that his stories are full of subtle psychological horror and dread of the unknown which can be found in their stories. The legacy of these old horror writers seems to live on in Gavin's stories.

When I read these stories, I liked Gavin's writing style very much. In his stories suspense and surprise are not merely devices to intrigue the reader's mind, but they're also used to stir the reader's emotions. The dark and threatening atmosphere, which is always present in Gavin's stories, creates an unsettling and disturbing feeling – this feeling will haunt the reader for a while after he or she has finished reading the stories. Only the best writers are capable of creating this kind of creepy atmosphere and sense of dread, so it's easy for me to say that Richard Gavin is one of the best modern horror writers (he can be compared to Laird Barron, Livia Llewellyn, Barbara Roden and other modern writers).

The characters in Gavin's stories were real and interesting characters. His characters were almost similar to the characters in certain old horror stories, because they were unable to resist temptation and were almost helplessly drawn towards darkness and weird things.

Gavin's stories range from normal horror to mysterious horror and from supernatural horror to psychological horror. He masters all of these elements amazingly well and he often blends them (that's why his stories feel fresh, exciting and original). Most of these stories can be called weird fiction, because weird fiction is probably the best way to describe them.

Here's a few words about certain stories:

Prowling Through Throated Chambers is one of the finest stories in this collection. It's a dark and gothic story about a man who visits a haunted house attraction. (This story can be found at the publisher's website. Please, do yourself a favour and read it – it's a good story.)

Children of the Mound is a great dark fantasy story. It's a story about crusaders who are bringing Christianity to a pagan land.

Final Night in Nevertown is an interesting story about a town that begins to disappear one piece at a time.

The Astral Mask is a great story about a man who begins to question his sanity.

Getting the Strap is a different kind of story. It isn't exactly horror, but it's a bisturbing story about abuse and the relationship between a boy and a grandmother.

Following the Silent Hedges is brilliant weird fiction. It shows the reader a fascinating glimpse of the unseen world.

When I began to read The Darkly Splendid Realm I wasn't familiar with Richard Gavin's stories, because I had only read one story (Prowling Through Throated Chambers). Now that I've read this collection I can say that I'm glad I read it, because Richard Gavin a gifted writer. We need more horror writers like Richard Gavin, because writers like him remind us that there's much more to horror than blood and guts. Subtle psychological horror and weird happenings are often far more powerful and disturbing than explicit scenes of violence (several readers probably have nothing against gory horror, but I'm sure that most of us love good old-fashioned weird fiction very much and want to read more well written weird stories).

I can highly recommend The Darkly Splendid Realms to all readers who want to read good dark fantasy and horror. It's one of the best new short story collections I've read. These weird, bizarre and shocking stories will seduce all horror fans. If you're as big a fan of quality horror as I am, do yourself a favour and buy this collection – you'll love it!

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