Dark Owl     Publishing

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The Dark Walk Forward

By John S. McFarland
A harrowing collection of frightful stories



Also on Kindle Unlimited!

This book is appropriate for teenagers.

"Literate and suspenseful... complex and lyrical... drawn from the traditions of Southern Gothic horror.

John McFarland has a talent for drawing horror from raw human emotion. The Dark Walk Forward is heartbreaking and sad as well as frightening, with characters that linger in the mind long after the pages have turned."

~ Elizabeth Donald, Author of Nocturne, Setting Suns and The Cold Ones


Scare You to Sleep read two stories from this collection on their podcast.

Listen to them below!

Listen to "The Little Dead Thing"

Listen to "Mal Ardents"

(at 24:00 minutes)

The small town of Ste. Odile in America has experienced the Great War in ways that no one should ever have to endure.

Doctors must tend to births and deaths that make their most difficult cases seem benign.

An 1880s schoolteacher is faced with the worst blizzard of her time and must save the children under her charge.

A young man searches for his father in the abandoned orphanage the older man owns... and both know they will despair at what they find.

A primitive woman experiences colonization and the stereotypes of men, yet finds her own method of retribution.

John S. McFarland has slogged through his characters' woes and woven them into sweetly emotional yet acutely distressing tales. We as readers are forced to understand the pain, the despair, and sometimes the hope of his creations.

We realize we are lucky to live in the era we do. We also realize anything can change to tear us apart. Is it fate? Destiny? Or do we bring about these changes on our own?

McFarland will let us know.

About the Author

John S. McFarland's short stories have appeared in numerous journals, in both the mainstream and horror genres. His tales have been collected with stories by Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, and Richard Matheson. His work has been praised by such writers as T.E.D. Klein and Philip Fracassi, and he has been called "A great, undiscovered voice in horror fiction." McFarland's horror novel, The Black Garden, was published in 2010 to universal praise, and his young reader series about Bigfoot, Annette: A Big Hairy Mom, is in print in three languages. This story collection is his first.

Praise for John McFarland and tales from The Dark Walk Forward

"McFarland is adept at creating unsettling scenarios within very human, everyday contexts. The horrors that plague his characters feel like something that could happen to anyone, anytime, which is a great way to creep under a reader's skin and stay there a while."

~ Philip Fracassi,

author of Behold the Void

"The stories are...

extremely well-written."

~ John Linwood Grant,

author of A Persistence of Geraniums

"Classic horror, worthy of

H. P. Lovecraft."

~ Michael Gerber,

author of the million-selling

Barry Trotter series

"The sorts of tales I very much like...

Extraordinarily powerful."

~ T.E.D. Klein,

author of The Ceremonies and

Dark Gods

"McFarland tempers his frights with the mercy of familial love and sympathy for outsiders and victims. Horror readers will be riveted."

~ Publishers Weekly

"A beautiful and absolutely terrifying collection of stories. What's unique... is that all of the stories are sort of intertwined in a way. They have little references to the other stories, even though they all take place in different periods with different people from all walks of life. It's so clear they're all a part of the same world. It really brings a realism and gravity to each story, which, when it comes to horror, the realer it is, the scarier it feels.... They all have darkness that looms over them that I've never seen over an entire collection. John really has a way with atmosphere."

~ Shelby Scott,

Scare You to Sleep podcast

"McFarland's writing is lush and sensual, filled with textures, sounds, smells, and primal terrors that have lurked beyond the firelight since prehistory. It is filled with wit, psychological insight, and intelligence, counterbalancing the deepest dreads that curse our collective nightmares."

~ Kenneth Anderson,

editor of Charon II

"McFarland's style definitely whispers of older writers, like Lovecraft, but his handling of language is much more crisp and focused. The perfect combination of literary and contemporary. One of the great, undiscovered talents of horror fiction."

~ C. P. Dunphy,

Gehanna and Hinnom

Interviews & Reviews

Here are some fascinating insights on some of the subject matter featured in The Dark Walk Forward.

PLEASE NOTE: An asterisk indicates the article contains graphic photos.

The birth of plastic surgery* from National Army Museum

H.R. Lumley and pioneering facial surgery* from

Great War London blog 

Staged Grafts - Pilot - Henry Ralph Lumley* from The Great War 1914-1918 'The Rage Of Men' Facebook page

How Horror Changed after World War I by W. Scott Poole from Literary Hub

Blizzard of 1888 ravaged the Plains with hurricane like winds, deadly cold by David Hendee from The Omaha World Herald

The Forgotten Story of the Radium Girls* by Kate Moore from BuzzFeed

Images (top to bottom):

Cover art by Andrea Thomas. Image is of 2nd Lt. H.R. Lumley.

Anna Coleman Ladd works with a recipient of one of her prosthetic masks, France, 1918.

"Que valor!", Plate 7 of the Disasters of War series by Francisco Goya.

Author John S. McFarland.

Dawson School in Dawson, Minnesota, c. 1890.

Cornelia, the Vestial Virgin, entombed alive surrounded by bones in the dungeon. Line engraving by G. Machetti after B. Pinelli. Click here for source.