Sabbath of the Fox-Devils by Sam Richard- Book Review

Sabbath of the Fox-Devils
Sam Richard
Weirdpunk Books (May 15, 2020)
eBook/Trade Paperback/ 158 pp

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“This sin that we have let infect every single aspect of society will not stop until it has claimed each and every child in this room until it has dismantled and destroyed the lives of their entire generation.”

Listen up, folks. I’m going to say two words. Well, two names… rather. A first name and a last name and I want you to shut the lights off as you whisper them into the closest mirror in the dark. Do this three times with your eyes closed and then go ahead and slowly open them while staring deep into the mirror to reveal some of the darkest secrets buried in your mind’s eye. Repeat after me, “Sam Richard.” Do you see it? Can you feel it? The looming shadows of weird fiction, bizarro author extraordinaire, who after the recent release of his debut collection, ‘To Wallow in Ash and Other Sorrows’ continues to shock and torment and amaze us as the reader by melting brainwaves with his highly unique and original prose. This time with a Bizarro Fiction story that pays dark homage to the small creature horror films of the 80s, jam-packed with the time’s darker bits of nostalgia. So, throw away the black and white checkered slap bracelets and the radical hot pink and fluorescent, lime green skateboards and say hello to the Satanic Panic of yesteryear with style and grace.

“I am my own undoing and try as I might, I cannot yet spit you from my mouth. Neither hot nor cold, you are lukewarm and useless to me. I have searched your Word for freedom from subjugation my entire life and found only more chains.”

“After learning about the existence of a powerful grimoire through a cartoon, 12-year-old Joe is determined to find it and change his lot in life. But in doing so, he’ll also uncover a local priest’s dark secret and how it may be connected to Joe’s brother abruptly leaving town five years ago. Part homage to the small-creature horror films of the 80s (GhouliesGremlinsThe Gate) and part Splatterpunk take on a Goosebumps book, Sabbath of the Fox-Devils is a weird, diabolical coming-of-age horror story of self-liberation in an oppressive religious environment set during the Satanic Panic. Prepare your soul to revel in the darkness.”

The author hits a dark and creative homerun on the turn of every page with this bizarre Splatterpunk tribute to the above-mentioned themes and imagery of yesteryear. With a dark and evil preacher lurking, hideously ferocious and violent but also somehow extremely loveable fox-like creatures wreaking havoc on an oppressed and abusive religious setting, chock full of enough satanic magic and occult ritual panic for days and days and days. This is one sure to leave more than the mark of the beast on your technicolored and tormented soul…. Hail Satan! 666.

Check it out!

Cherry Blossom Eyes by S.T. Cartledge- Book Review

Cherry Blossom Eyes
S.T. Cartledge
Eraserhead Press (November 1, 2019)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 134 pp

“A work of poetic surrealism reminiscent of the films of Guillermo Del Toro and the Siúil A Rún manga, The Girl From The Other Side” – Carlton Mellick III

Margot and Blanko live on the Isle of Flowers, blessed by the rose gold light of the cherry blossom sun. In the season of the Cold, they build bonfires on the beach to ward off the malicious shape-shifting sea creatures known as tourists from the island. Each year their home becomes colder, their resources become tighter, and more tourists swim ashore and murder the locals, bury them beneath the cherry blossom trees, and take their identities like nothing ever happened. Can they survive long enough to sort out real from imposter and put a stop to this hostile takeover?

This was a really fun and entertaining book from start to finish. The author manages to deliver a completely solid and original Bizarro Fiction story jam-packed with beautiful and eclectic prose and dreamy and artful imagery. One-part fantasy, one-part horror, the story follows two loveable characters in love as the powers that be are attempting to split them apart all in fear of the Isle of Flowers biggest fear, the tourists. The tourists are shape-shifting sea black shadow creatures who can mimic and shape-shift into anything they want. Their reputation, to trick and deceive (but not everything is as it seems here as we as the reader continue to read on as the books true magic begins to unfold before our very eyes). When a loved one disappears and falls victim to the tourists lies and deception the two lovers are separated. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as we discover more about these mysterious shape-shifting creatures. Once the tourists true nature is brought to light (yes, pun very much intended) we as the reader discover there is far more going on and the author leaves it up to us as the reader to dig and decipher how far we really want to dig into their true meaning. Which I thought was a really impressive feat by the author here, as he manages to uncover more depth to the overall book, as if hidden away and lurking and waiting in the shadows and there but only if you really want to uncover the truth, which also ties in beautifully with the overall concept of the book, all the while also managing to tie in some hella strong sociopolitical commentary on modern society.

All in all, a very solid and original Bizarro Fiction story that was very well written, beautifully and memorably poetic, and often extremely thought-provoking in terms of overall artful imagery and sociopolitical commentary on modern society alike.

Check it out!



Snuggle Club by Carlton Mellick- Book Review

Snuggle Club
Carlton Mellick
Eraserhead Press (March 1, 2020)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 126 pp

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Alright, folks. Step right up, read all about it. The king of bizarro has a new book out and you should be all about it. Until those new pre-orders for the author’s recently announced ‘The Bad Box’ from Eraserhead Press arrive in September, I came to the harsh realization that I hadn’t taken the time to write up a review for this one yet. So, let’s take a moment to remedy that situation real quick as I had finished this one up around the time it came out a little bit earlier this year (back in March, I believe) and then just here again decided to reread it for the sake of typing up this review. So, here it is. Right here. Right now-now-now.

‘Snuggle Club’ by Carlton Mellick III summed up in three words or less is this… A GOOD TIME. It’s like if Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Fight Club’ were to meet H.P. Lovecraft at a Dungeons and Dragons tournament and then at the end of the tournament the two of them gazed into each other’s eyes, got hella weird and creepy, and then one of them said to the other, “Oh, hey… I have something I need to show you and maybe while we’re at it we can make some weird cuddly fur babies and shit.” And then, you know… H.P. Lovecraft continues to show Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Fight Club’ the door but in this case it’s a secret door that leads to all the fabulous creations that only the most creative weirdos in the universe could even begin to imagine.

You get the point, so when recently widowed Ray Parker’s wife dies and he’s sick to death and tired of not being able to sleep at night because he misses the closeness of his beloved wife. He decides to visit a local cuddle group at a place called Cuddle Me! A place that hosts and specializes in just that, cuddle parties, so that he can try to experience the closeness of another human being and hopefully get another good night’s sleep before his eyeballs dry out of his skull and his brain rots into a pile of mush-fog. No matter how strange or awkward it might be Ray’s willing to try anything at this point. But what he doesn’t see coming, well, aside from the overall weirdness and eccentricities of the other members of the group, was just how serious others really took to the whole overall art of cuddling. He didn’t even know it was a thing before. When the event coordinators realize just how soft, squishy, and cuddly Ray really is they decide to invite him to another group. A group that takes place below them after the cuddle session is over. A place right beneath their very feet. Imagine the netherworld of cuddling. The inside-out of the Cuddlesphere. Picture an entire CUDDLEACOLYPSE right beneath your very bones and it’s raining cuddles in every direction and then some. This is where the author really steps up his creative genius and introduces us to the ultra-soft and squishy cuddle gods of the Snuggleverse, sentient worm and bug-like creatures from another dimension who cuddle so hard, whilst taking the art of cuddling beyond the entire overall human experience and turning them into something much more, how do you say it… extraterrestrial, perhaps?

Oh, and there is a character named DJ Tanner. Shout-out to ridiculous cheesy 90s family comedies, heyyyyy. There’s a lot more than a Full House going on in this one though, folks.

Check it out!!!

 

Allison by Jeff Strand- Book Review

Allison
Jeff Strand
Amazon Services, LLC (Mar 15, 2020)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 270 pp

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“Some might say that if a woman had the power to severely harm or kill you with her mind, and she couldn’t control this power, it was best not to date her. There was a definite logic to that point of view.”

Alright, folks. One of our favorites in the genre has just managed to do it again. Strand delivers to us a new and compelling, visually-stunning, fast-paced read of brilliant action-packed telekinetic superpower goodness in his latest book here and she comes by the name of, Allison. But, be careful ghouls and gals. Especially if swiping right and hitting the mean streets of today’s up and coming dating scene. But, let’s also take a moment to breathe and take in the beautiful cover art created by the talented cover artist, Lynne Hansen.

“Takes the girl-with-supernatural-powers-gets-pushed-too-far trope and makes it delicious again.” — Errant Dreams

Allison can break your bones with her mind, and she can’t control her power. Now forty-five years old, she’s spent her life trying to stay away from other people. But a random encounter with a couple on the street leaves her believing that she may have done something horrible. Something unforgivable. Killer-for-hire Daxton and his girlfriend Maggie know the truth. Instead of easing Allison’s anguish, they come up with a cruel plan to take advantage of it. But with Allison’s abilities exposed, there may be a grisly body count very soon…

From its shocking opening to its sinister conclusion, ALLISON is Jeff Strand at his over-the-top best!

“The idea that she could just… crush him from the inside out like that was terrifying.”

You may need more than a pocket full of contraceptives for this pretty little lady because you might just get yourself into a little bit more than what you bargained for. Just in case that’s not clear enough for you, I’d like to remind you that we’re not talking about happy endings and puppy dog kisses over here. Nope, we’re talking about big, bad infamous mob bosses here spinning a tale full of gore, blood-curdling, neck-snapping, intestine-munching madness with no hope and despair. Especially if you’re the one trying to tame such a beast. She’s wild and crazy folks, so be careful what you wish for. There might not be a soul left alive on this planet that is strong enough to pin this one down.

Check it out!!!

The Devil’s Woods by Brian Moreland- Book Review

The Devil’s Woods
Brian Moreland
Rising Horse Books (June 6, 2017)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 310 pp

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“The forest on our land is sacred and alive. So be careful how far you wander. The trees have eyes, and they’re always watching…”

Alright, folks… let’s all take a deep breath, pretend that we’re not boarded up within the confines of our own homes binging daytime soaps on the streaming television sets, and enter the dark, shadowy woods of a native village haunted by ghosts. I don’t know about you but, I’m hella into the sound of all that dark jazz, and wanted to give a little shout-out to this book in case anyone else missed it when it first came out a couple years ago like I did. ‘The Devil’s Woods’ is a supernatural horror thriller with Native American lore from yesteryear!? Now, you can say that again! It’s also a huge plus when the author absolutely nails it out of the horror park so to speak with a cast of super well-developed characters that we as the reader are able to follow right alongside those same very haunted footsteps as their paths become engulfed by flames as some of our worst nightmares and then some come true before our very eyes.

“Fear wears many skins. Deep within the Canadian wilderness, people have been disappearing for over a century. There is a place the locals call The Devil’s Woods, but to speak of it will only bring the devil to your door. It is a place so evil that even animals avoid it. When their father’s expedition team goes missing, Kyle and his brother and sister return to the abandoned Cree Indian reservation where they were born. Kyle can see the ghosts that haunt the woods surrounding the village—and they seem to be trying to warn him. The search for their father will lead Kyle and his siblings to the dark heart of the legendary forest, where their mission will quickly become a fight for survival.”

“You must call in your animal spirit guide and enter with the heart of a warrior.”

With many twists and turns leading up to an action-packed ending with even more twists and turns located on nearly every page. This is an absolute must read for anyone who likes their fiction jam-packed with horror and suspense. To shy the story-line away from being anywhere near predictable, the author has carefully included many of those lovable horror tropes found in the modern supernatural thriller, but then has also managed to ever so graciously take all the necessary steps to mash it up into something much more terrifying, suspenseful, unique and overly creative to share with us as the reader, and I found myself loving every second of it.

Check it out!

Give It to the Grand Canyon by Noah Cicero- Book Review

Give It to the Grand Canyon
Noah Cicero
Philosophical Idiot (July 12, 2019)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 156 pp

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“Ashley would make hot dogs, Rich and I would be on the registers. There was also Debbie from the Bronx. She was a whirlwind of human emotion and Eastern American Sadness.”

Alright, ladies and gentlemen. Check this out and listen up. This is an absolutely beautifully crafted, well-written, fantastically unique gem of a book that I’m currently looking at right now as I continue to hit the keys on this black and white click-clacky keyboard. And, that book in reference is none other than Noah Cicero’s latest book ‘Give It to the Grand Canyon’ published by Philosophical Idiot Press, which I personally absolutely loved and adored and cannot recommend to you enough. The author’s writing is just so pure and genuine and poetic, it’s as if he sat down to write it to personally vent because he needed to. He needed to just sit there and tell us, as the reader, what he was going through at that time for a handful of distinct reasons, but, the main reason being that he just needed to and that it mattered more than anything else in that time. This comes naturally to us as the reader in the shape of these multi-cultural vignettes told from the point of view of our all-star narrator Billy Cox, who has moved back to the states after being in Korea for more than three years with his ex, when he comes back to the Grand Canyon (the closest place to home) where he takes a summer job making minimum wage at the National Park like most college kids do for a summer job. It’s during these times that our narrator self-reflects on a handful of different subjects through a handful of different characters that we all know and love and can relate to because we’ve all personally met somebody like them in the past. Those who can also all be found at the heart of that genuinely nostalgic Americana, being culturally diverse and accepting of others, mindfully respecting nature, nurturing self-care, finding true love and lasting commitment, coping with abandonment amidst struggling with our own interpersonal relationships, suffering from the overbearing weight of eternal sadness and depression, whilst trying to remain calm and sit back to do that intimate soul searching for that perfect American dream that others seem to wear so naturally, and others seem to fail so hard time and time again. Which is one of the factors that keeps Billy coming back to the canyon where he believes that there’s a much deeper connection to be found there.

“Maybe I could do that? Go into the canyon, get lost and let go, let death take me. But I knew I wouldn’t do that, I enjoyed missing her too much. I indulged in my misery, there was no intention of ending it.”

Our narrator points out that the Grand Canyon is more than just a tourist trap. There’s always somebody there. But, also, that the canyon is always there for you too. People traveling from all over seem to come and visit the beautiful landscape for the same reason. Just to stare into its’ soul. Our narrator finds this mostly peaceful, but eventually leads us astray into the darker themes of his own personal self-reflections when he makes the realization that he is always spending so much time in the local bars, asking others what they’re doing, or what they’re thinking and feeling, but never paying very much attention to himself or his needs and the pain he is suffering from, as he seeks solace within the confines of the canyon. On one of his hikes to the bottom of the canyon and back, Billy realizes that it’s all maybe just because he is afraid to confront who he really is. Maybe that is why he has felt like the Grand Canyon has always called out and spoke to him. Maybe he just needs to self-reflect. Give his memories full of pain and sorrow and suffering back to the Grand Canyon much like his friends Kaja and Sheila did when they were going through difficult times and healed by the canyon.

“She responded while wiping the counter, “But he doesn’t want to talk about it, he would probably feel better if he talked about it.”

Near the end of the book we as the reader come to the realization that Billy has just been struggling and trying to get over his ex-girlfriend the entire time. It’s confirmed that the reason he up and left Korea out of the blue was to simply get away from her, and that all the conversations and personal time and investments he’s taken in conversation and getting to know the many other’s around him was all just to avoid having to process those hopeless feelings of genuine sadness, depression, and personal abandonment from his past relationship with his ex-girlfriend. Coming to the realization that he spent most of his time henceforth avoiding the subject almost entirely, as he became devastatingly fixated on that lovesick sadness to where he was personally overwhelmed and consumed by the sheer weight of it. That it was all foggy (like when the fog rolled into the canyon and covered up all the beauty for days at a time). On his final hike to the bottom of the canyon and back he too finds himself giving it back to the canyon like his friends as he comes to the harsh realization of why it is that he actually misses her the most and is not over her just yet, and, that’s because he felt like he never had her heart. He felt like she would be with someone else now and asking how they were and she never cared about him in that way, so it wasn’t even necessarily the fact that she was gone anymore, but, more so in the fact that the general “concept” of her was missing in his life, and that was the sort of love and connection he personally felt like he needed. So, when he asked his friend Dream why it hurt so much. His friend told him that like everything else it was just something else that he’d lost, and that it was he, Billy Cox that was putting all of his pain into her.

“Dream said, “Because you feel like too many things have been taken, your brother died, your grandpa died, all your friends in Korea are gone, you don’t relate to anyone in your hometown. You are putting all of your pain into her.”

In the epilogue, we as the reader discover that his ex makes a trip out and visits the canyon years later after their relationship. She’s never been there before and she’s standing there talking and reminiscing about her relationship with Billy. She explains that their relationship had gone south because she was insecure about their relationship. She felt too young and dumb and insecure and scared, so she’d just ended it with him, as if to run away from it entirely to not have to deal with it because she felt like she was the problem. Billy doesn’t know this and probably never will which adds to the point of him adding the unnecessary weight of their failed relationship to the burden of everything else in his life much like he always had, and that perhaps he didn’t feel enough in the end because he was used to always feeling so much in the beginning.

‘Give It to the Grand Canyon’ is a brutally honest and genuine portrayal of contemporary Americana and modern cultural diversity while coming to terms with the severity of our own basic human nature in society today, and what it’s like to be physically and mentally attuned to your immediate surroundings and emotions. Everybody has a lovesick story to tell and a place to belong. It’s just all about the way in which we as human beings decide to get there that makes it all worth living for in the end.

Check it out!!!

 

Starving Romantic by Vincent James Perrone- Book Review

Starving Romantic
Vincent James Perrone
11:11 PRESS (Sep 8, 2019)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 102 pp

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Alright, folks. Listen up. If shorter works and/or poetry collections are more your cup of tea then you might want to stick around a little bit longer for this one. On the outside, a gruesome and shocking cover that actually rather quite beautifully depicts and coincides with the pain and suffering going on within its pages. Starving Romantic, is a brutally honest piece of psychological lamentation that captures the heartfelt essence and imagery of films like Winter’s Bone mixed with those timelessly subtle undertones of drowning in the Midwest at some type of socially estranged gathering and/or brouhaha, chock full of that great kind of lingering sadness only found towards the bottom of a dark, bottomless pit filled of pain and suffering, hopeless despair and thickened ultra-black sadness that we have all experienced in our human lives at one point or another whether dealing with personal issues and/or depression, loss of a family member, a recent breakup, tragedy, tragedy, tragedy. You know, those other more negative thoughts and feelings that take us away from our happy place(s), but yet with that underlying necessity of just being because without those kind of negative feelings and attachments, the good times we experience wouldn’t be so damn good. They wouldn’t even register or be visible to the naked eye or in this case heart. The book is overall very well-written, highly creative, lyrical, heartbreaking, and emotional whilst managing to be overly dreamy and dreamlike with this beautiful dystopianesque ethereal/intergalactic/otherworldly type of sad and dreary atmosphere set in the bleeding hearts of the Midwest. So, let’s lace up those work boots, folks. We’ve got some serious work ahead of us before we die.

The fumes of crowded Greyhound buses, a Floridian coast visited by Father Time, a woman with a penchant for birds and elevators—what is the substance of humility?

Written in three sections, Starving Romantic explores themes of loss, family, home, and love through a hyperreal lyricism. The backdrops are often the forgotten Midwest, the sprawling landscapes of Detroit, and the anonymous house, complete with porch and backyard.

Starving Romantic lives in chaos, between its own conflicted nature. A celebration of turbulence, romance, and youth and the lingering pain that it brings with it.

Some of my personal favorites from this outstanding poetry collection were ‘The Landing,’Underripe,’Other Seasons,’Barbs, Baby Teeth, and Weekends.’

Check it out!!!

https://1111press.com/

Elaine by Ben Arzate- Book Review

Elaine
Ben Arzate
ATLATL Press (Feb 28, 2020)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 100 pp

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This reminds me a lot of my grandma’s house, he thought. It’s like every old person in the Midwest has the same interior designer.”

Omg, you guys! What a neat, creative, pervy, creepy, terrifying, little novella we have here from ATLATL Press, which, if you didn’t already know always manages to deliver the eclectic goods, chock full of black comedy/ dark humor to feed even the most eccentric of readers out there amongst this sick and decrepit and demented world. Reader beware: this is a purposely uncomfortable and unexpectedly pervasive read; but, it’s definitely not written out of bad taste and there’s a point to it and it fits rather well into the storyline and overall composition here beautifully, whilst managing to add to the madness lingering about every turn of the page. This is a first for me written by the author and I can safely say that it won’t be the last.

When Chris hops on a train to meet up with his girlfriend Agnes and her recently widowed father for her mother’s upcoming funeral in the small and peculiur town of Elaine located somewhere in Upper Michigan, things begin to get fuzzy for our main character. Why are all the female’s including the woman on the train named after the town they live in? What does it all mean? What is it with all these perverted dreams and vivid hallucinations he keeps having about all the females in his life? His sister. His girlfriend. Elaine. Elaine. Elaine. The preacher? Perverted commercials on the television? What is happening in this godforsaken town? Why can’t he leave?

“The funeral’s going to be really dreary, Chris thought.”

The true magic of this book is in the slow-burn way in which the story unfolds before our very eyes. That slow, creeping dread that looms from within the words on the page that keeps us as the reader wanting to keep reading quickly to find out what’s going to happen next. There are some really heavy undertones and characteristics of folk horror going on here in abundance, specifically in the way in which all the strange characters from Elaine, MI seem to act and respond to everything, in that, as-if-there’s-nothing-strange-going-on-here type of way, when, in fact, there oh so very much is. I also really liked the author’s clever use of music in this book, adding to the main character’s entire gimmick of being the owner of a record store, listing out specific bands and song titles throughout the majority of the book, which I’ve taken the time to ever-so-conveniently compile below in the order in which they appear like one of those old-school Midwestern emo compilation mix-tapes from yesteryear, which nobody has probably done with a book since reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower back in the day.

The Elaine Mixtape

Johnny Cash- Folsom Prison Blues
Iron and Wine- Walking Far From Home
This Mortal Coil- A Single Wish
Creedence Clearwater- Someday Never Comes
Captain Beefheart- Electricity
Magnetic Fields- With Whom to Dance
Animal Collective- Sun Tongs Album
Clinic- Goodnight Georgie
The Butthole Surfers- American Woman
Outkast- Roses
The Dresden Dolls- The Jeep Song
Yes- Into the Lens
Tracy Lawrence- Can’t Break It To My Heart
Iron Maiden- The Evil That Men Do
Reba McEntire- The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
Tim Mcgraw- Indian Outlaw
Creedence Clearwater- Proud Mary
Bruce Springsteen– Born in the USA
Hank Williams Jr.- All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down
The Highway Men- The Road Goes On Forever
Garth Brooks- Friends in Low Places
Asia- Heat of the Moment

Do yourself a favor and check this one out for yourself to see what it’s all about!

Luciferin by J. Peter W.- Book Review

Luciferin
J. Peter W.
Grindhouse Press (Feb 3, 2020)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 92pp

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“They’re barely sixty years old and they look like hundred-year-old corpses.”

OMG, okay… I absolutely loved this book. It’s weird. It’s fun. It’s unique. It’s highly creative and very well-written, which was honestly very much to be expected being that the novella was published by Grindhouse Press and all, who has managed to time and time again prove their publishing game to be very much unique and top-notch. The real magic in this book I believe though comes in the form of its quirky, offbeat, deadpan humor, and the overall brilliant use of simplistic everyday items and events mixed fluently and flawlessly alongside a cast of strange and lovable (as well as a few not-so-lovable) characters as the far weirder concepts of the book naturally unfold as the story progresses.

After having to cancel their summer beach vacation, Daniel and his girlfriend Natalie head off to the small sunless town of Luciferin to rescue Daniel’s parents who appear to have gone mad. They’re sitting around watching porn all the time and randomly and neurotically staring blankly off into space all the while laughing belligerently at presumably nothing at all. Plus, Daniel’s father is convinced that his mother isn’t even human anymore but that of a demon and has been for years while he’s been gone. Things really start to take a turn for the worse when a mysterious girl by the name of Lilith, who shows up randomly in the middle of the backyard. Daniel soon discovers that he’s just invited in far more than he can handle, as he is forced to try and rekindle his relationship with his overemotional sister, Deborah, who is at all times one second away from walking away from it all. When Daniel’s girlfriend turns up missing, he is forced to work with Deborah. The two of them head up to the Lucid Light factory, where there’s more than just the yellow glow of the fireflies lingering in total darkness amongst the shadows.

Very much recommended. Check it out!

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn- Book Review

The Grownup
Gillian Flynn
Crown Publishers, NY (Nov 3, 2015)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ Hardcover/ 64 pp

thegrownupgfcoverimagemyreview

Alright, folks. This is an interesting one. Why? Well, I thought you’d never ask. Let me go ahead and get on with it and tell you all about it then. First of all, let me start out by pointing out that the reviews online for this book are predominately, well, not very good at all. Terrible, actually. But, here’s the thing… I’m not really even sure why because the book (story really in this case) is absolutely fantastic. The writing on display here is nothing short of award-winning if not admirable, with one of the best first opening lines any of us has probably read in a very long time. Flynn metaphorically wakes us as the reader up and says, “Okay, pay attention to me and what I have to say right now…” throwing us that good old-fashioned horror bone (BAM!) against our own freewill and delving us straight into this great, little mini fantastic supernatural horror/suspense thriller gem of a book. She does this, you guys, in literally sixty-four pages of award-winning writing that is powerful enough to make an entire movie out of. Only a masterful storyteller has the ability to grab the attention of the reader and throw them straight into a piece of work like that, and Flynn literally does this here seemingly with no apparent effort whatsoever on the very first page. In the first paragraph. IN THE FIRST LINE! OMG, why am I screaming right now? Tomato, banana, am I right? I know, this is also a really great time and example for me to point out something really annoying that I’ve personally noticed about fans of specific authors (really people in general for that matter), but I’ll try to stay on point with the main point here in that I’m specifically talking about the point of award-winning masterful writers such as Flynn and/or other authors who have produced memorable works that have been picked up and turned into major Hollywood movies that have done very well, resulting in gaining a new and improved and much larger (perhaps even more mainstream) fan base and/or following of readers who will pick up the next available title based on the last simply because the name that did the movie, etc. So, in this specific scenario now we have a short story (a supernatural/horror/suspense/thriller, mind you, which differs a bit maybe too much from the author’s prior non-horror/non-supernatural work as well) that was also previously already published and already made available within the pages of another anthology. So, if you didn’t know that before paying the $9.99 or whatever this one was for a short story in print, and already owned that previously released anthology with this story in it… sure, I get that. BUT, here’s the thing and according to the substantial number of mixbag reviews I saw and read online, this wasn’t even close to being the case. The majority of the complaints were not only the length of the work, but of weak and narrow plot and structure, and I’m guessing here on this one but of the occasional goody-two-shoes overly conservative type of reader that we see leaving shitty reviews time and time again, who is not able to handle talking about a little bit of risky sexy time with our narrator’s handy line of prior sex work because of god knows what kind of personal issues they’re personally having to where they feel the need to try and demerit someone else’s art form for their own personally and extremely subjective belief system that anybody else in the world could turn around and point the same sort of blame back at them just like I am doing now, which, in return makes it a point of no return, and thus looking at your opinion from the outside looking in, you really have to stop and ask yourself, “Does it even matter at this point!?” Because let me tell you… It probably doesn’t. And, to all of that, I further say, rather ask, if you will… did you not even read the book!? Because the author gives us a lot. She gives us a lot as far as storyline/plot/structure is concerned within the very first pages of this book, and in only sixty-four pages in its’ entirety she manages to deliver us as the reader a masterfully unique and creative, well-written story jam-packed with more twists and turns than a lot of full length novels available on the market today.

Originally published as a short story titled “What Do You Do?” in George R.R. Martin’s Rogues anthology, The Grownup is a short story/novelette that has been retitled and republished as a solo release in a number of different formats. I found and picked up the small, white pocket-sized hardcover edition. Upon first glance, the book is absolutely beautiful, whilst sporting a bright yellow/lime greenesque back cover that ever so loudly reads in large, bold white text YOU LIKE GHOST STORIES?

“The house creaks all night long,” she said. “I mean, it almost moans…”

“A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.”

“Get as much money in as little time possible, and then go home and eat zebra cakes and watch arbitration-based reality court TV on a broken mattress amongst the stains.”

Reminiscent of her childhood recollections for survival in this overly trivial world with her mother, our narrator is an unnamed sex worker looking for a sudden change of pace when she takes a new job promotion. No more backroom handjobs, she’s moving on to bigger and better things, as she sets up shop in the front-room acting like a seasoned fortune teller psychic medium extraordinaire when she meets, Susan Burke. Susan is a distressed mother in dire need of the narrator’s services, living amongst the backdrop of your cliché haunted house—a Victorian mansion that’s well over a hundred years old with something more than just blood leaking from the walls.

Carterhook Manor
Established 1893
Patrick Carterhook

Susan buys what our narrator is selling and together they arrange for her to come stay with her and her family in the haunted Victorian of yesteryear. Upon arrival we as the reader quickly discover there’s more than just the house that’s a little more than off-putting. What is up with her creepy kid, Miles? Why does Susan put up with his terrible behavior? We soon discover that the family’s past has something to do with it. This is where Flynn takes a moment to brag and shows us as the reader that she can step-up her literary skills better than anyone, as she gives us something overly cliché to vibe with at first, and then manages to throw us into the bloody, gruesome hooks of her story web that she’s been spinning right before our very eyes before reeling us in and spitting us back out and feeding us to the suspenseful horror wolves, in this case the wolves being at the heart of many twists and turns to come. Just when you thought you knew what was going on, the author throws us another curve-ball, further showcasing her skills as a masterful storyteller that only the best are able to achieve in a shorter piece of work such as this one.

Do yourself a favor and check this one out if you haven’t already!