Here in the Dark, the first collection from award-winning author Meagan Lucas, is a gritty genre blending wallop of short stories, set mostly in Southern Appalachia, that explore the female experience of lawlessness. In the tradition of Dorothy Allison and Bonnie Jo Campbell, Lucas tackles, with unsettling honesty: poverty, addiction, motherhood, and social justice in an increasingly troubled cultural climate. These are character-driven stories about crime, but less a who-done-it mystery and more a meditation on how the vulnerable navigate a world devoid of true justice. Unflinching in its gaze, Here in the Dark is an ambitious collection from a bold and empathetic storyteller.
Perceptive, intimate, and brave, these sixteen stories encompass shame and forgiveness, loss and redemption, oppression and revolution, and signal a new way of thinking about power and trauma. In “Voluntary Action,” a sheriff’s deputy witnesses the overdose of a high school friend in her custody. In “Buttons,” a little girl, bullied by the neighbor boy, gets her revenge with a needle and thread. In “Sitting Ducks,” a hurricane bears down on mothers, daughters, and sisters in an un-evacuated women’s prison. In “Asylum” an immigrant woman, suffering a terrible loss, sees ghosts in the hotel and houses that she cleans. In “Hell, or High Water” a young woman with Stockholm syndrome is abandoned by her kidnapper deep in the woods of Western North Carolina. And in “Here in the Dark,” a newly clean addict is given the opportunity to start over with her son if only she’ll snitch on her former lover and pimp, but discovers, of course, it’s not that simple. Blending Lucas’ musical prose with high-tension stakes, and resonant characters, Here in the Dark is a collection not to be missed.