Nightmare Magazine
Published buy: Adamant Press
Reviewed by: Jalyn Fiske

Nightmare magazine is one of the seemingly dwindling publications listed as a SFWA-rated market that pays professional rates of 8 cents per word or more. As a writer, I am happy to see that editor-in-chief John Joseph Adams is keeping the ship sailing (it’s hard to keep a publication afloat, y’all)—as well as Lightspeed magazine. They are staples of the SF genre. 

So this is the 103rd issue of Nightmare, and it’s a quiet one. I haven’t read massive amounts of previous issues, but I can say this one has that kind of slow creeping in the woods vibe. Or sitting around on a rickety porch, gazing into the hazardous horizon at dusk for it to arrive. This is the truest form of horror: that of suspense, and issue 103 delivers.

I especially enjoyed A.T. Greenblatt’s “The Family in the Adit”, which is the opening story. There’s this place called a Mine, and it seems to literally be a mine where people are enslaved and forced to work underground their entire lives. But it’s called simply: Mine. I like that. There’s a fairy tale structure to the whole thing with characters called Wife, House Guest, Husband, and Taskmaster—not to mention a dinner with drugged or poisoned food, a trope of classic fantasy. You know, things like: Don’t eat the food or you’ll be trapped in faerie forever! Don’t eat the food or the monster will wake and devour you! I love that stuff, and so I loved this story.

In John Joseph Adam’s editorial, he says he felt a close connection to Eileen Gunnell Lee’s piece “When the Snowshoe Hare Turns White” and Paul Crenshaw’s “Step on a Crack”. I’d have to agree. There’s something haunting about them, of imminent danger (but quiet, remember), and myself being a teacher, Crenshaw’s essay really hit home. It’s a timely piece about how the superstitious fears of our youth like Bloody Mary or don’t step on a crack have sort of evolved into real-life nightmares in the form of school shootings and gun violence. It’s heavy. And it needs to be said.

Overall, I really enjoyed the issue. Besides fiction, there’s author interviews, a book review, and a personal essay. Nightmare is a consistent publication offering the latest and greatest in short-form horror stories, so if you want to stay abreast of what’s going on in the genre—buy it, read it, share it.

Our Score: 85 out of 100

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