A collection of stories that blends the literary and the fantastic and brings us characters on the verge―girls turning into women, women turning into deer, people doubling or becoming ghosts, and more.
These are stories about fear, what engenders it, how it is magnified, mitigated, or aggrandized into something at once annihilating and sublime. Insight is partial, transport ephemeral but resonantly strange. Uncanny moments of honesty or 'bright rawness' stud the experiences of Hunt’s characters like flashing gems. Hunt is by turns hilarious, wry, wrenching, and lyrical. Her ability to make a deft turn from the comic to the poignant is remarkable, her humaneness sometimes incongruous but never in doubt. For all their eeriness, their unwavering, unrelenting confrontation with defeat, disappointment, and despair, the ultimate effect of the stories in The Dark Dark is inspiriting, nourishing, and finally comforting ... Hunt’s subtlety of vision, her embrace of her panoply of oddballs and misfits, her willingness to make leaps of logic and association in order to link diverse phenomena — these virtues of empathy make her darkness, against every grain, a place of original and truly radical connectedness.
Like the best short story collections, The Dark Dark chews on some delicious, evergreen themes in extraordinary ways ... This is liminal fantasy with a solid literary sensibility; sure to please fans of Karen Russell and Lidia Yuknavitch. Hunt is the master of the lovely and strange tableaux vivant ... she is at her best when her stories seem to almost get away from her, crescendoing into feverish, manic beauty. Horror and strangeness are her allies. But once you boil away the horror, these are stories about middle-class women imprisoned by the domestic in some way or another. Hunt's female characters are full of deep trenches that overflow with sorrow and rage.
If you love strange fiction — Kelly Link, Aimee Bender, Karen Joy Fowler, Karen Russell, Twin Peaks, Stranger Things — Samantha Hunt’s The Dark Dark is a must-read title. This little powerhouse of a story collection is not just a rehashing of the literary weirdness we’ve all come to love, there’s something special about the way it’s put together ... Hunt veers from mundane to odd to unlikely to very improbable so deftly that when the truly impossible finally strikes — in a few but not all of her stories — the reader gets a flash of what the characters might feel: fear and wonder. Intelligent and literary, the collection is so grounded in character and emotion that every level of uncanniness feels organic ... The Dark Dark is a story collection with an organic literary strangeness that is a unique and excellent read.