Shared world anthologies are rare in dark fiction, and when they do come along they are often subpar at best, with one or two good stories shoring up a collection of mediocre ones. So it’s a pleasure to come across one such as The Soul Standard, a book that brings us four outstanding authors with a quartet of tales all vying to be the best one in the bunch. While not technically horror, the book is as horrific as the worst nightmare you can imagine, each story sporting a cast of desperately broken characters and unreliable narrators, all living on the edge of the deep end, one or two of them maybe just past it.
Technically speaking The Soul Standard is an anthology of four interconnected novellas, but it doesn’t really read that way. The four authors brought together here, while all being very different in style and approach, have managed to bring the collection together so masterfully that it reads more like one novel length story, each novella a thematically intertwined, vocally similar chapter, often referring to people, events, and locations from the ones that have gone before. And while those similarities do exist, the authors in no way restrained themselves from doing their own thing, adding their own unique flavor to this brutal, black as night collection.