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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
True to its title, Footsteps in the Dark: Stories of the Bizarre and Unusual by Carlo Armenise marshals eight grim but bold tales for mystery and horror fans; eight steps into the darkness. Set in Kankakee, Illinois, A Conversation With Death is Step 1, about a man named Jeremy Ward who works closely with the Feds to hunt down his wife’s murderer. While on the way to a murder scene, Jeremy makes an unscheduled stop at a mysterious diner, a surprisingly important place that will bring him closer to the psychopathic serial killer. It's an aptly chilling start to the collection. Fear of growing old? Beauty always comes at a price in Step 2: The Potion as superstar Mona Moore finds out the hard way.
Notwithstanding the obvious dark themes, the stories do engage readers' empathy and intellect. Shifting fluidly between the living and the dead, the good and the bad, love and hate, they effortlessly take readers along for the ride: a man trying to escape death through astral projection, a small-time crook who just couldn’t go straight, a revamped talk show with a shocking result, a psychologist’s life turned upside down by a patient and more. The diverse story premises and characterization have been narrated with such boundless imagination. All in all, the intensity of Footsteps in the Dark brings to life unforgettable characters and surprising plot twists at every turn. This is my first read of Armenise's work and I look forward to more, particularly in this genre.