“A new Dark Academia anthology from Shortwave Publishing featuring stories of gloomy buildings, secret societies, futuristic boarding schools, gothic yet modern aesthetics, and occult learning.”
Dark Academia is a subgenre for horror and fantasy that is only now achieving the fame it deserves. Setting the horror against an academic backdrop, the genre is known for tackling issues such as diversity, colonization, racism, and more. With “Wilted Pages,” editors Ai Jiang and Christi Nogle have selected stories that showcase some of the finest examples in the setting with a group of diverse and fascinating writers.
Opening the anthology is Jen Fliss’s “Ijo de Ken Sos Tu?” A story of a Jewish student struggling with the past, who arrives at her dorm and struggles with the past. Fliss writes with a sense of longing and horror, unveiling a steady mystery through a backdrop of bullying and identity. Any Jewish writer can sympathize with heroine Leyla and the antisemitism with which she deals in the academic setting. Being confronted with a swastika is the nightmare of so many Jewish students, embodying the fears of past and future mingling as one that defines this story.
Hot on the heels of Jen Fliss’s story is Simo Srinivas’s “The Girls of St. X.” Students within academia are driven to excel, and Srinivas wastes no time in placing the reader within the mind of one such student. Weaving a tale of culture, envy, and obsession, Srinivas uses second person to convey a grim tale of academic success, but invites the reader to ask at what cost it comes.
Veteran writer Steve Rasnic Tem presents a story of demonic influence through academies and libraries.An exploration of human evil mingled with the supernatural, Tem spins an eerie and haunting tale with every word well crafted to ensure the reader worries about what will come around the next corner.
Suzan Palumbo’s “The Da Vinci Chip” is a story of the future with all its grim flaws. Palumbo showcases the overlap between magic and technology with a link to Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.” A story that serves as both homage and reminder with a sense of alluring fright and the harm one can do when forgetting is as easy as adjusting new technology.
“Wilted Pages” is a triumph, showcasing veteran and new talent with the best of Best Academia, encapsulating the best of the terror that lurks in old libraries and their dusty shelves.