Short Story Review: The Darkness in the Pines

Happy Sunday Campers!

It’s time for another short story review!

This time I read The Darkness in the Pines by Harlan Graves.

I’ve been a huge fan of Harlan Graves ever since reading The Beast of Fallow Pines (my review here) and Something in the Woods (my review here).

I even got to have a digital chat with Harlan Graves about his writing (you can check that out here)! So when this short story came out at the end of last month I just had to have a read!

What did I think about this short story? Keep on reading, peeps!



After the tragic death of his wife, Howard Ward returned to Fallow Pines to live a life of quiet seclusion. When Howard comes across the mangled remains of a bear in the woods, he discovers that something he thought only existed in campfire legends is stalking the darkness of the pines.




***Brief disclosure***

I am an Amazon affiliate and earn a tiny commission for purchases made through the Amazon links in this post. It’s a great way to help me keep things running on my blog if you’re already intrigued enough to make a purchase.Β 


The Review

The cryptid craziness continues!

I’ve been a fan of Harlan Graves since reading The Beast of Fallow Pines, and this story didn’t disappoint.

Set before the events of The Beast of Fallow Pines, this short story follows Howard (David’s dad) as he lives his days out in Fallow Pines. His simple off the grid life is shattered when a strange being in the pines wreaks havoc on the land. Can Howard figure out what the creature is and hunt it down, or will he end up like that mangled bear carcass he found in the forest?

I really loved this story. We’ve seen two terrifying tales of these cryptids, and this one took a somewhat new spin on it especially with the character choice.

Howard was a great MC. He was smart, self-sufficient, and quick on his feet. I also love how much depth we got in such a short time. He suffers from PTSD from being in the Vietnam War, and I enjoyed exploring what triggered his PTSD and made him who he is without any crazy info dumps.

The plot was similar in nature to The Beast of Fallow Pines but with enough distinct differences to make most of it seem new. I will admit that the beginning felt a bit repetitive to the other stories and their beginnings, but that quickly changed when things started hitting the fan. There were also some exciting and troubling revelations in this story that really made things riveting and kept me blazing through the pages.

This was a great continuation of the Fallow Pines saga, and I can’t wait to see what harrowing stories Graves has in store for us!


That’s A Wrap!

Well that’s it for this short story review. I hope you enjoyed it!

Have you read this story? Are there other short stories you’ve read that you simply have to gush about? Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to start a conversation!

Have a great day!


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  1. I’m actually not familiar with this author so.. I’m definitely going to have to check him out, this sounds really good.
    Great review! Thank you for sharing it!

    • Yeah, hes actually super new from what I can tell and has been publishing just over a year or so.

      Thanks, I hope you enjoy his material as well!

      • Oh totally! I’m curious what other monster stories are out there that I haven’t thought of . I’m sure there are tons. On to the search for them!

      • Oh totally. And theres always room for new monsters to be created like what I did with my Reapers.

        Yes! I forget the title but it was about missing kids. Pretty good stuff!

      • Omgoodness, he has so many crazy unique monsters.. it’s fantastic!
        Side note.. I’m definitely going to have to find the time to read ‘Reaper’, it sounds wonderfully creepy.

      • Oh, I wasn’t aware that he had so many monsters created. Will definitely have to check out more of his stuff.

        Aw, thanks! I hope you like it. πŸ™‚

      • Theatrical gasp! No! Not Dean Koontz!
        Okay, scratch John Saul for now, start with Koontz first.
        And I completely understand.. I don’t think I’ve met anyone on here who’s reading list isn’t completely ridiculous. Plus we have to be functioning members of society, too, there is that.

      • Haha, well I’m more likely to try out new authors I haven’t read before these days. Having read Saul, I probably wouldn’t stress reading another book of his unless I was obsessed with his work or until I read a bunch of other authors first.

        I guess mass randomness is a pattern?

        Omg tell me about it. I go to grad school soon and I’m heartbroken that I won’t be able to read as much fiction.

      • I can understand that. I’ve been trying out a lot of authors I’m not familiar with this year, it’s been a fun(and mostly interesting) experience.

        Is it random if it’s a pattern?

        Congratulations on grad school! Hopefully it won’t take you away from reading fiction too much!

      • Isn’t it? I’ve mainly been reading my competition in the horror genre that I located on Amazon bestseller lists, but as competitive as I like to be, it’s been a very supportive time and I even got to interview two of the authors I read.

        But yes, definitely lots of new authors this year, probably around 50% I’d say.

        Haha, fair point! I think it’s simply a pattern.

        Thank you! I honestly wish I could just do school for a year and graduate much earlier, but patience isn’t my strong suit. All in due time!

      • Always keep an eye on the competition, but don’t get too caught up in what they’re doing, that you lose some of your own voice in the noise!
        Isn’t it wonderful how everyone is so helpful and supportive in the book world?

        A lot of great books still to come this year, I can’t wait to see which ones meet expectation!

        A pattern or chaos, none of can make sense of any of it, either way. πŸ˜‚

        And you’re welcome! Fortunately keeping busy makes time pass right on by.. it won’t seem like very long at all. Best of luck!

      • Oh, for sure! Mainly I just try to get to know them and see what their process is. I’m super stubborn so you don’t have to worry about a thing with me, haha!

        Totally! I love the sense of comradery that is ever present. I’ve made so many friends in my time as an author. So lucky!

        Yeah, me too! I’ve got a lot of great ones coming up that I can’t wait to dig into.

        Right, three years is like, what, three months? I’ll be totally fine lol.

      • Learn from those you respect, and if they’ve succeeded at what they do, all the better! And being hard-headed is a fantastically motivating quality for a writer.

        Technology does have it’s benefits and having the ability to bring so many different people together is one of the better ones!

        Just a few? 🀭

        Lol, I’d say three years is definitely going to feel longer than a few months but, as long as you’re doing something you enjoy, it won’t feel as bad! May I ask what you’re studying?

      • Thanks for all the encouraging and kind words. πŸ™‚

        I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum (even as a kid and yes, I got spanked a lot because I never backed down lol).

        Haha you’re right. It’ll probably feel like a really long year that never ends at some point, but there are only 43 credits to the degree, so there’s that to look forward to. I had way more for my undergrad.

        I’m studying library science! πŸ˜€

      • It’s my pleasure, we should all be building one another up.

        Back when kids were spanked, you mean? πŸ˜† I was a pretty big handful, myself.. but I like to think of it as ‘precocious’. It’s helpful focusing all that energy into writing!

        Only 43? That’s still quite a bit! I think it will feel like forever and be gone in an instant. Besides, once you’re done, you’ll have achieved something wonderful. All the hard work will be worth it!

        That is epic!
        (I’m sorry. All I heard when I read that was “Because I.. am a Librarian” from The Mummy.)πŸ˜…

      • Exactly!

        Haha yes, in the before time 🀣 Oh that’s a good way of looking at it.

        Yeah, I plan on doing two classes each semester and one every summer semester. So… about 15 credits per year.

        Hahaha! Good reference. I just adore libraries and books are life so I’m gonna be living my best life for sure.

  2. Hey, if you have to live with it, make it useful!

    And you are going to be sooo busy.. that’s some serious dedication! But, hey, if this is what you really want and makes you happy? More than worth it.

    (Thank you!) I think you’re going to be living everyone’s best life! If you can’t be a cat.. living and breathing books is definitely the second best option. πŸ˜‚

    • Yeah, it’s going to be a struggle but i know im doing the right thing. I figure I should maybe stop all the crazy career changes by the time I’m 40.

      Haha right? I would love to be my cat Ajax. He can have my job as a human! Do a freaky friday switch!

      • Hey, you keep doing what drives you! And if you’re doing something you love right now.. that’s all that matters.

        I want to be me.. as a cat. No Freaky Friday switching places stuff.. just straight up Animorphs. My poor furball has so many allergies, it would be miserable to switch places with him, not to mention awkward later. πŸ˜‚

      • Aw, thank you! I will!

        Oh no, poor kitty! I’d gladly be an animorph too if that’s on the table minus the yeerks. No alien fighting for me unless I’ve got an army of Rachel’s on my side.

      • Oh, no.. It’s a real thing!

        Flying, wow, how did I not even think of flying! That would be magnificent!

        Btw, you’re one of my nominees for ‘The Aesthete Blogger Award’. πŸ˜…

      • Dang, that’s crazy.

        Haha, exactly! I just automatically thought of that Tom Petty song Learning to Fly.

        Aw, thanks! What is that?

      • At least he isn’t allergic to books. πŸ˜†

        And I can see that, that definitely fits! Flying always gets Space Jam stuck in my head..

        I’m still not sure, really.. I think it’s mostly to show appreciation to the bloggers making the world a little better through their brand of creativity. I did a post and that might explain better.. but I think that’s the gist of it. πŸ˜…

      • Haha true! That may be a dealbreaker.

        Ooo that’s a good reference too!

        Oh, well that sounds lovely. Thank you so much!☺

      • It’s definitely nice when you come across people who get what you’re saying!

        That’s one of my TBR reads.. it sounded pretty good. It sucks you don’t like it more but, may I ask, what aren’t you enjoying?

      • For sure! So much easier to connect when you understand the same references.

        You know, I’m not sure. The plot is interesting and the characters are okay, but it doesnt hop off the page for me.

      • Too true!

        And what a shame.. I hope it improves!
        If you want an odd (but short) read, ‘Follow Me to Ground’ by Sue Rainsford is good.. in a pretty weird way.

      • Yeah I’m at the halfway mark and I’m still just feeling kinda meh. I just dont think theres enough depth with the main character.

        Oh, what’s that story about?

      • Yeah, I’m kind of having the same overall issue. Lack of interest. It’s intriguing, but never really took off so I’m like hurry it up already I’m bored lol. Yeah, I’m at 85% now so I’ll finish it today. Spoiler alert, it won’t be a great rating. It’s just so bland!

        Thanks for sharing. I skimmed over your review, avoiding the spoilers like how carpet was hot lava when you’re a kid lol.

      • I was going to say ‘Maybe the end will be worth it,’ but if you were at 85%, it would have to be something spectacular.. you do have me pretty curious about it though.
        Hopefully your next read will be much more exciting!

        And yea, I have a problem with spoilers, I’m working on it. πŸ˜…

      • Haha, yeah if I’m feeling lukewarm at 85% it’d have to be one hell of a turnaround to reignite that spark. I’d say if you’re in the mood for a YA romance with just a little spook factor then definitely check it out.

        Oh, no worries! I get both sides of the age old argument for/against. This last book I read was extremely hard to review without spoiling. Sometimes it’s insanely hard.

      • Ouch.. yea, I don’t see a rabbit coming out of that hat. And I might still read it, I am curious whether I would have a similar opinion, but it will probably be a while. YA and Romance aren’t my favorite combo.

        Right? Some of them really are harder than others and, surprisingly, it’s usually when you didn’t enjoy the book that it’s worse!
        Hopefully you’re next read will be more enjoyable!

      • No worries. I’m not huge on romance, but this was a chance to switch things up and try something a little different.

        Thanks, crossing my fingers!

      • I’ve been trying that this year, too, trying books I wouldn’t normally. I can’t say it’s going very well so far.. but it has been different. πŸ˜…

      • Haha, I’m right there with ya. Although I am broadening my horizons, usually it’s not the best experience. There hasn’t been one that I’ve absolutely loved yet. Then again, I am super headstrong so I’m not very surprised.

      • Well, that sucks, not a single one?
        Just curious but.. what was the last book that was a five star read for you?
        There have been a lot of ‘unfortunate’ reads recently but, I guess I was lucky, I’ve had a couple really surprise me this year.

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