Ginger Nuts of Horror
Naming The Bones from Laura Mauro is the latest entry in the Dark Minds Press excellent novella series, following on from such great novellas from the likes of Rich Hawkins, Ben Jones, and Gary Fry. These thematically distinct novellas have continually shown that Dark Minds Press knows exactly what makes for a great novella. When the announced that there latest title was from one of the brightest and most talented of the new generation of Horror Writers Laura Mauro, there was a wave excitement around Ginger Nuts of Horror.
Since first reading her short story While Charlie Sleeps in Black Static, this reviewer knew that a huge talent had just stepped onto the stage, and in the short intervening years Laura has grown and developed as a writer in ways that would make many another author green with envy.
Naming The Bones, is Laura's first published novella, and marks her first move away from the short story format, can Laura pull off a longer format story? You will have to read on to find out...
The horror genre is a many-faceted beast. You can have, among many other facets, your feel-good adventure stories where the hero fights the monster and gets the girl, you can have your subtle, multi-layered story whose aim is to make you look at the human condition, or you can have a story that is designed to shock, and make you feel uncomfortable.
Jonathan Butcher's What Good Girls Do is firmly rooted in that last category, this is not a story for those feint of heart, or easily offended. It is a story that pushed me as a reader, one that almost made me put the book aside and pretend that I had never laid eyes on it. This is not one of those warnings designed to make the book sound nastier than it is, What Good Girls Do is one of the hardest books I have ever read, but is it a book that is worth reading? Read on to find out what I thought.
I am not a huge proponent of labels when it comes to fiction, but I am aware that they are a bit of a necessity in that they are a way for fan and potential readers to rife through the myriad of titles available. So I would offer that this falls under the category of transgressive fiction, with one foot over the fence in weird territory.
Gorgonaeon is an almost stream-of-consciousness affair, concerning a woman straining under the ghost of her mother and her upbringing. Chaining more weight to herself with anchors of compulsive and erratic behaviors. There are obsessive visits to hotels and motels, exploring the objects left behind and the stains and detritus of lives passing through. There are excursions into dark ditches where carcasses hide and stagnant water stares. We dig in the dirt and expose the wriggling white things that live beneath it, almost as a reflection of ourselves. There is crippling guilt and chasmic loneliness and self-hatred for miles and miles.
I simply can't praise the dark and sparse tone and prose of this book enough. It truly is the work of a master tailor, dull needle and black thread between tweezered fingers, ready to stitch eyelids open and lips closed. Ready to prick out dark letters and messages on exposed skin.
Gorgonaeon is available from Dunham's Manor Press.
GORGONAEON, one in a proposed cycle of several books, is a fragmentary and hallucinogenic reading experience.
Frequent shifts in time and perspective imbue this book with an atmosphere of paranoia and dread, but an optimistic and magical aura can be exhumed from Krall's alchemical wordplay as well. The bizarre mages are poetically stitched to an odd narrative about mental and moral disintegration to create a curious doubling effect.
GORGONAEON is a challenging yet rewarding read that will appeal to fans of grotesque surrealism.
"Jordan Krall is one of the best of the next generation of writers looking askance at modern life and able to chart its absurdities and its dangers. His books conjure up uncomfortable visions with a lucid and alienating gaze." - Jeff VanderMeer, award-winning author of THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
Here's the thing about extremity in horror or any other kind of fiction:
It's relative; entirely subjective. One cannot pre-empt how others are going to react or respond to the material your provide; one can only hope that they do react, and in a manner that makes the work worthwhile.
The notion of advertising material as “EXTREME!” has never particularly sat well with me, as it seems to be an attempt to pre-empt or proscribe reaction before audiences have made their minds up. The relative extremity or not of any given material relies largely upon the reader; what biases, interpretations, intentions and, indeed, agendas, they bring to it. As such, one could make what one considers the most disgusting, offensive, morally reprehensible material imaginable, yet it might gain no traction or elicit no response from certain consumers beyond a shrug or a sigh.
I have had the pleasure of calling Chad a friend for well over a year now. I've read a lot of his stuff in beta stages and I'm usually pretty impressed with what he delivers. I was lucky enough to have done the same with this, his most recent novella. I loved his coming-of-age story from last summer, Of Foster Homes And Flies and was excited to see how he'd follow it up. Well, I can tell you that Wallflower is an about face.
Wallflower is the first-person account of Chris, a young man--a boy in a lot of ways who is just starting to feel his way in the world. Trying on adulthood while desperately clinging to youthful ideals of responsibility and mortality. While out with his friends one day, they break into an abandoned house--urban exploring, I think the kids call it--and while inside they discover a derelict sleeping in one of the rooms. The boys end up assaulting and injuring the man before they flee the scene. Chris however decides he's going to go back. he wants to see that the man is okay but he has another reason. He noticed the hobo's drug paraphernalia lying about and wants to try heroin, just to do it. Chris embarks on a needle-fueled journey that goes deeper than he ever intended as he discovers that there are perils and pitfalls that were never covered in the after-school specials.
What plays out is an odd take on the master/apprentice arc, shoved through William Burroughs fedora. It's bleak and haunting. Brushburn raw and brimming with dark realism and it is honestly horrific.
Wallflower is available on Amazon.
After an encounter with a homeless man, a high school graduate becomes obsessed with the idea of doing heroin, challenging himself to try it just once. A bleak tale of addiction, delusion, and flowers.
Review by George Ilett Anderson
A Very British Purge
We probably all had that feeling at one point or another where someone has committed some act or said something unconscionable and you’ve just thought “I’d love to see you get your just desserts.” It’s an idea take to its logical extreme in the enjoyably sharp collaborative novella from J.R. Park and Matt Shaw, “Postal.”
Set in a contemporary England, the current government has decided to instigate a new piece of legislation, the “Postal Execution Grant” as a means to subdue and control the population. This official letter grants thirteen members of the population the right to commit legalized murder on any other person they deem worthy of receiving their wrath, free from any legal or ethical complications. I think it’s probably fair to say that Park and Shaw serve up quite the menu of deserving characters!
Review by Tony Jones
“There are much, much nastier things at sea than sharks…..”
The kindle was made for this perfectly pitched slice of sea horror, making great novellas that might have been tricky to track down a few year instantly accessible. Fortunately for me I had the luxury of reading “Sacculina” in under ninety minutes whilst flying to a family wedding, but if I had been sailing to that same wedding I doubt I would have enjoyed it so much! In recent years the horror world has been enrichen by the renaissance of the novella and I’ve really enjoyed stuff by the likes of Josh Malerman and Ted E Grau and so now I have Philip Fracassi to add to my ‘must read’ pile. Obviously I’ve been aware of his growing reputation for a while, as he’s been making big waves as a writer of short horror fiction, but this was my first read. It certainly will not be my last.
Review by Tony Jones