Short Story Review: “Daniel’s Theory About Dolls” by Stephen Graham Jones

4 of 5 stars.

Tales of horror often showcase psychopaths among us. Creepier yet is when the psychopath is a child. Who’s reading the cues in the budding adult-sized problem? And who’s making excuses for the imp?

This creepy tale follows 2 brothers, 8 years apart in age, from the time that Daniel is 5 and speaks for the first time–on the occasion of their mother’s miscarriage of Baby Janine. After a private ritual of burying a baby coffin in the woods, the parents turn all attention to Daniel, overlooking and excusing any transgressions.

The older brother narrates his lifelong misgivings of Daniel’s antisocial behavior, starting with Daniel’s nighttime digging up of the “grave” in the woods that only holds a plastic girl doll just days after the funeral . . .

The thirty years scope of this short tale is fascinating as the boys become men and estranged and reunited over the course of later life events.

This tale appears in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2016 edited by Paula Guran, I received directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read this author’s “The Elvis Room”, “Little Monsters” and “The Ones Who Got Away”.




[Check out my other reviews here.]


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