Monday, January 11, 2016

Reviews for the Week of January 11, 2016

NOTE: Please see bottom of main page for submission info. Thank you.

AMAZING PUNK STORIES by David Agranoff (2015 Deadite Press / 270 pp / trade paperback & eBook)

A collection of punk horror horrorpunk, this is one big book of mosh pits, ink, mohawks, tattoos, and rebellion. The stories span a gamut of genres and settings, from far-future sci-fi to Lovecraftian, post-apocalyptic to Cold War, zombies, supernatural, grindhouse splatter … with elements of romance, western, cyberpunk (what else?), family, and faith.

Now, admittedly, I know practically zilch about punk. Of the real bands mentioned, I’d heard of maybe two or three, so I sure wasn’t going to be able to guess which were made up by the author – he kindly includes a list in the appendix. My ignorance of the music did not, however, stop me from enjoying the stories.

My personal faves of the bunch are 'Tasha and the Fountain,' in which an old lady is given a second chance at a new life, the delightfully over-the-top 'Blacker Than The Darkest Night Of The E-Vile Souls,' as a guy takes on a new gig with a band very serious about their Satanic goals, and the clever twists of 'Reunion Show.'

Other bits that particularly shine include the chilling end of 'Born Again,' the opening line and gooshy descriptions in 'Best Of, At The End Of,' and the sheer horror-movie fun contrasts of 'Book Your Own F***ing Life' and 'The Last Show At The Mortuary Collective.'

-Christine Morgan

MURDER GIRLS by Christine Morgan (2015 Evil Girlfriend Media / 320 pp / trade paperback & eBook)

Sweet little Christine Morgan. Author of the fine Trinity Bay trilogy which I reviewed back in the print editions of THE HORROR FICTION REVIEW. As many of you reading this know, Christine has become a prolific writer in the horror, fantasy, and thriller genres, and still manages to write non stop reviews of other people's work for the fine eZine you're currently reading. So I was thrilled to see she had a new horror novel out, which she humbly forgot to tell me about (hahaha---busted baby!).

But seriously ... MURDER GIRLS introduces us to 5 college roommates who turn out to be more than slightly unbalanced. When they discover they're being spied on by a perv, they bet each other that they can "get away" with killing him. And they do. But that isn't enough for our murderous posse, who deep down seem like ordinary girls with every day issues.

They're sick and tired of the amount of male serial killers who have been covered by the media over the years, so they decide to get in on the action. They create a soundproof room above a barn next to their apartment, and begin to kidnap, torture, and kill men. Police believe another male killer is on the loose. The girls get more pissed...

Now, I have a sick sense of humor, and to me this worked well as a very darkly humored tale. I'm not sure if others will see it that way, but if not too bad for them. MURDER GIRLS has the feel of a prime time horror/comedy/drama show only taken to an absurd extreme. And if you've read any of Morgan's older novels, you know she isn't afraid to go heavy on the sauce...

I'm going to assume this is the first installment of a series, as the ending is kind of abrupt, and a few questions are left unanswered (in particular, the events of one girl's violent past). Here's hoping there's more to come from these 5 college nutjobs...and if not, MURDER GIRLS is a fine way to kill a weekend if you enjoy grim horror with a humorous bent.

-Nick Cato

CUT CORNERS VOLUME II by Ray Garton, Monica O'Rourke and Shane McKenzie (2015 Sinister Grin Press / 66 pp / trade paperback & eBook)

Ray Garton. Monica O’Rourke. Shane McKenzie.

Any ONE of those authors would more than make grabbing this book worthwhile, but the three of them together? Definitely not to be missed! I’m not even sure what more there is to say. I mean, we’re talking top-notch talents here, some of the genre’s best.

Garton's 'A Flat And Dreary Monday Night' DOES hit way too close to home, based as it is on actual events (mostly, only mostly, we hope).

I’ve yet to read anything by Monica O’Rourke that doesn’t leave me wincing and flinching in many unspeakable ways, and 'Exposed' continues that squickworthy trend. Shane McKenzie, in 'Bleeding Rainbows,' takes a slightly more paranormal and philosophical turn, though rest assured there’s still plenty of satisfying gore.

So yeah, get this book (as well as the first volume from 2012, that features tales from Bentley Little, Ramsey Campbell, and another from Garton), read them, support them. This is a series I’d love to see continue!

-Christine Morgan

ECSTATIC INFERNO by Autumn Christian (2015 Fungasm Press / 183 pp / trade paperback & eBook)

I got my hands on a copy of Autumn Christian’s new short story collection ECSTATIC INFERNO from Fungasm Press. Being a fan of the author’s work for years prior, I went into the collection holding onto a certain expectation or standard of what to expect. And let me tell you, the book meets all of these expectations and then some. Autumn Christian has a unique way of drawing the reader into the dark realm of her mind. She does this with extraordinary detail, bending genres between the dark side of Science and Horror Fiction with a hint of some of those fantastically dark, grimy Southern Gothic tropes. The author manages to describe a plethora of dark and sometimes even morbid subjects with beautiful adjectives that have the power to standalone, but when combined with the subject matter and overall aura at hand, we as the reader are sucked into this dark realm quickly, and with the turn of a page one may feel a genuine darkness, beauty, and overall discomfort takeover as if you’re experiencing some sort of literary demonic possession through topics of nihilism, post-traumatic stress disorder, relationship abandonment, and any and all adverse side effects found within ones damaged psych.

Whether this is impacting the conscious or subconscious mind in reality or a lucid dream world, the author’s words are strong and well-written, leaving you as the reader with some sort of lingering dysfunction that is both equally pleasant and uncomfortable as it is genuinely pleasing and memorable.

Favorite stories: 'Crystal Mouth,' 'Pink Crane Girls,' 'The Singing Grass.'

-Jon R. Meyers

THE MIDNIGHT CREATURE FEATURE PICTURE SHOW by David C. Hayes (2015 Crowded Quarantine Publications / 184 pp / trade paperback & eBook)

The concept of this collection, nearly a chronological chronicle of homages to many of the schlockiest of the shlock – from Universal classics to biker-babe-sploitation, zombies, alien abductions, sword-and-sandal manliness, fetish porn – is sheer fun, and the stories themselves back it up in all respects but one.

Hate to say it, but I have to; EDITOR, stat! Especially in a collection, when most of the pieces have been previously published and presumably run past a few sets of eyes, it’s hard to overlook. Maybe I’m just too picky (this should not be a surprise to anyone), but it did make me nearly give up on this book, more than once.

But only nearly. As mentioned above, the sheer fun-factor and concept drew me back in enough to stick with it. A vampire who runs a comedy club … how far would a method actor go for the sake of a role … hippies vs. hellcats … the mysterious creature living in the wooded foothills … sex and violence, blood and guts and gore … yeah. It’s a lot of fun.

If I had to pick one fave from the batch, I’d probably need to go with 'Barbarians! Savage Sword of King Conrad: Genesis' for its complete shamelessness and the hilarious enjoyability of the voice. There are also plenty of terrific turns of phrase, crazy characters, and awesomely done descriptions throughout. It just needed one more good solid edit-pass.

-Christine Morgan


No comments:

Post a Comment