The Bad Box by Carlton Mellick III- Book Review

The Bad Box                                                                                
Carlton Mellick
Eraserhead Press (September 1, 2020)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 152 pp

I think we can all admit that the year 2020 has been a public display of one never-ending shit-show after another. But let’s try really hard to keep it positive here because the great godfather of Bizarro Fiction has dropped a new book on us back in September, and it’s quite honestly more than a lot of fun. It’s tons of fun and then some really if we’re going to be completely honest here. It’s a long walk in the park with hairy white goat legs. It’s x-ray vision. It’s kind of like shooting rainbows from out of your fingertips. It’s weird looming googly, ball-bearing eyes. It’s learning how to instantly speak Cantonese out of the deep blue. It’s also body moles, A.D.D., and wiggly wretched brown banana slug fingers. Like I said, TONS of fun and then some because it’s the bee’s $#@&!#% knees, folks.
 
“Little Benny isn’t very good at taking tests. It’s not that he’s a stupid kid or doesn’t pay attention in class. It’s just that he’s absolutely terrified of failure. It doesn’t matter how hard he studies. He gets so nervous that he freezes up and his mind goes blank, rarely even answering a single question before the time is up. This is especially difficult now that he’s in Mrs. Gustafson’s fifth grade class, where the punishment for failure is to draw a curse from the bad box—a magical device that permanently mutates children into horrific monsters.”

Benny Paulsen hates taking tests more than anything in the world and just can’t seem to pass any of them to save his life. He keeps having to reach his hands into that godforsaken bad box made of black steel, wrapped in barbed wire and chains, accompanied by a set of long drooling monstrous teeth. It hisses and growls in the Mrs. Gustafson’s hands, oozing a thick, dark fluid that smells like dead fish. It’s filled to the brim with dread and unease. It’s a very, very evil box. Benny just received his fifteenth punishment, and it might be worse than all the others, but, at this rate, only time will really tell. After hooking up with and becoming friends with Mika, a translucent blue slimeball (thanks to Mrs. Gustafson’s Bad Box) the two of them are now known as the Super Villains. So, what better time than now to team up and plot a devious bad box heist. But you will have to read the rest of the book to find out what really happens for yourself. This book is a lot of fun. The author manages to keep the reader heavily engaged in the storyline as the loveable (and well not-so-lovable) characters continue to keep getting weirder and weirder by the turn of every page, and the payoff in the end is exactly what we as the reader always wanted or needed. It’s also kinda/sorta like this overly cute, cuddly fun body horror story. Imagine a group of kids playing Candyland on the set of Hellraiser. Or, something like all hands on deck the Ouija planchette on a colorful playset with the Teletubbies.

Check it out!