The Dark Diaries
Mark R. Vogel
Independently published (December 8, 2023)
Reviewed by Nora B. Peevy

Mark R. Vogel’s The Dark Diaries is his fifth book following The Crestwood Lake series, The Ripper’s Time, and Food for Thought. The cover art is haunting and beautiful. This book is a real BANGER. I sat down to read after dinner and read straight through midnight. The anthology is amazing. Drawing from his own background his characters shine, and his plots are intricate. He has thirty-seven years experience as a psychologist, has published hundreds of food and wine articles, gone to culinary school and is an expert on Jack the Ripper, having given multiple lectures on the latter two. Living in New England I assume also influences his work, because his anthology deals heavily with the occult and there is one centered around The Mothman, one of my favorite cryptids. He ties the entire book together with Luther Van Haden, who is Satan with a modern twist, a cult of witches, and the case of a serial killer with two of the funniest detective characters.

The Dark Diaries dialogue is a verbal Ping-Pong match. I found myself giggling aloud at the conversations. Here’s one of my favorite digs from the book, “You couldn’t throw a dart out of a window without hitting someone who was a taco short of a combo meal.” You’ll have to read the anthology for more witty insults, but if you’re seeking new ones look no further.

Putting finesse into his plots, Mark R. Vogel’s plots gallop across the pages. He shows you just enough to keep your interest but doesn’t go into the graphic actions of the killing scenes. And believe me there is PLENTY of killing and a LOT of blood in this book, which I appreciate having a penchant for occult stories and tales about Jack the Ripper and other serial killers.

My favorite stories are The Cambion which is about a woman impregnated by an incubus who bears a demon child and The Cryptid, a Mothman tale with a unique plot angle. I won’t give away the details, in case you choose to read the anthology, which I thoroughly recommend. Be prepared to sit down after dinner in your cozy pajamas with a drink and a blanket for a marathon read. I’ll be wearing my pajamas in style with a mug of tea.

About Nora B. Peevy

Nora B. Peevy is a cat trapped in a human’s body. Please send help or tuna. She toils away for JournalStone and Trepidatio Publishing as a submissions reader, is a co-editor for Alien Sun Press, the newest reviewer for Hellnotes, and has been published by Eighth Tower Press, Weird Fiction Quarterly, and other places. Usually, you can find her on Facebook asking for help escaping from her human body or to get tuna. Tuna is nice. Cats like tuna.