Like I’ve said about a lot of authors I’ve reviewed, Danger Slater is a name I knew but hadn’t read anything by him. I came across a post of his mentioning he had some copies of his book Danger Rama and that he was willing to give them out for reviews. I get a lot of books in E files to review, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it was pretty awesome to get a physical copy complete with a personalized signature.
Danger Rama is three separate novellas in one book. Like most books I read I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I like to just jump in blind be surprised, and usually it’s a pleasant experience. This time was no different. Starting out with The Knights of White Castle it’s immediately noticeable that Danger Slater is a funny guy. From the ghetto talking chick behind the counter to the high school kid’s that come in to eat White Castles, Slater has a good grasp of realistic dialogue. This is a story about a fired middle school science professor that builds a time machine and things do not work out as expected. Funny thing is the entire time I was reading this I kept picturing the professor as Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb.
The second story, Somonbulant, is my favorite of the three. The main character Dylan keeps waking up to find himself in wild and crazy situations. He is a sleep walker, and while he’s asleep he lives out a life that is extreme and completely unlike his awake self. We are with a confused Dylan every time he wakes and tries to understand what is happening to him. It’s written in a way that we get pieces of a puzzle every time he wakes up until it all comes together. This one has some pretty interesting takes on some real life personalities.
The final story, Me & Me & Me & Me & Me & Me & Me & Me, is a cool sci-fi story about a guy named Abner moving along through space, completely alone. Abner was sent out in search of a new planet to inhabit since earth is pretty much toast. After a malfunction breaks his communications with earth, Abner is left with just his thoughts and his vacuum. But fear not, cause after that it gets weird, but also deep.
All three of these stories have elements of science fiction. But with characters like rapping dinosaurs and a humanized finger they are definitely Bizarro. Danger Slater is an author to keep an eye on, with as impressive as this book is his future works should be pretty awesome.
Buy it here DangerRama
This review is long overdue. I could list a bunch of reasons why it took me so long but really it doesn’t matter, it is what it is.
Bizarro has grown a lot in the last couple years. There have been a lot of new authors emerging, many really talented. But I have yet to find anyone who compares to the weird that is Wol-vriey. I first came across him with his book Invasion of the Ass Chickens. That book was crazy, but good. It was as weird as you could get but well written. When he offered me a copy of Meat Suitcase in exchange for a review I jumped on it.
This book starts out with the story of Soldier, who along with his fellow troops from Deadline Central is locked in a fierce battle with the Eeks. The Eeks are a Horse headed race whose faces change into that of any human they kill. Not only is this war deadly, it’s psychologically destructive. Soldier becomes the last man standing, so to speak, as he fights to the death while the lower half of his body is being eaten by meat termites. This is what happens before the first chapter even begins. It’s just a small shadow of what goes on in this book .The adventures Soldier has, along with his partner Sergeant, are incredible and borderline insane. Wol-vriey really puts these guys through the wringer, as just when it may seem like they have completed a mission DC throws them back out into the war.
Wol-vriey has no shortage of wild ideas and interesting concepts. We are introduced to characters and landscapes that are fascinating and rich with the detailed clarity of a master storyteller. There’s Pumpkin Sunshine, the pumpkin sun that floats in the sky above Stasis, he’s The Pumpking. Then there’s Wetville where its buildings are huge umbrella canopies that protect the town from the huge whale-clouds that swim in the sky. These are but small examples, they barely scratch the surface of Meat Suitcase.
About the only issue I had with Meat Suitcase is that it’s written in 2nd person. It wasn’t really an issue, I had just never read a book from this perspective before so it took a little getting used to.
In the time between Ass Chickens and Meat Suitcase, Wol-vriey definitely hasn’t lost his touch. Instead he’s managed to ratchet up the weird even farther. If you’ve never read anything by Wol-vriey and you’re into Bizarro then do yourself a favor and grab one of his books.
Buy it here Meat Suitcase
I had recently read David Barbees A Town Called Suckhole. I found that Barbees writing is imaginative, entertaining, and funny. So of course, I was excited about reading his newest book Thunderpussy. Straight off the bat this book doesn’t disappoint, it is funny and highly entertaining. This book features Declan Bruce, Agent 00x. He’s a spy for ZE State and he’s kind of like James Bond only taller, and has an awesome mustache.
After many of the other agents have met untimely fates 00X is sent in to figure out what is going on. Oberon Tubbs, CEO of Tubbstech, is buying a shipment of Z8 Powder from a Jamaican Drug lord. It’s up to Declan Bruce to find out why. The only real clue that he has is the word Thunderpussy. It’s a wild ride to Tubbs hideout on the moon as Bruce fights and screws his way to solving the mystery.
One of the things that I liked so much about Suckhole was the crazy and interesting characters, and Barbee has continued that trend with his latest book. He is a master at populating his books with individuals that are equal parts bizarre and fascinating, amusing and intriguing. From kung-fu Rastafarian’s to an evil henchman with a 10 foot pecker, Thunderpussy is littered with awesome characters. And seeing as how 00X is bad-ass spy, it would be awesome to see more of his adventures. He could be to Barbee as 007 were to Ian Fleming, only way more insane. And with an awesome mustache.
Barbee writes some top notch Bizarro. He is definitely someone to keep an eye out for. I will be waiting anxiously for whatever he puts out next. I’m sure it will be just as great as this book was.
Buy it here Thunderpussy
This is the second piece of work I have read by D Harlan Wilson with the first being his short collection, They Had Goat Heads, which was fantastic. Wilson is an exceptional author. He is the thinking man’s bizarro writer. So when the opportunity to read his newest book, Diegeses came about I jumped at the chance and sure enough I was not disappointed.
The book is split into two halves. The first half is The Bureau of Me. Here we have Curd, a business man of some sort who is being pursued by agents of the Bureau. Basically Curd is an asshole, a drunk, and he may be delusional.
The second half of this book is The Idaho Realty. Again Curd stars in this portion but as a soap opera star. He’s still an asshole, shown best by his lack of desire to dress according to wardrobe or even to learn his lines. Showing up to film scenes in a long sleeve shirt, slacks, and flip flops, he wears a sign around his neck explaining to the audience what he is supposed to be wearing. The lines start to blur between what is the TV show and what he believes is reality.
I’m not going to pretend that I can fully wrap my head around what Wilson is saying with this book. His writing is surreal and abstract. His imagery is amazing and his stories will grab hold of you and refuse to let go until you reach that last page. And even then they still have their claws imbedded in your brain. His work isn’t easy to just finish and walk away from. I thought about re-reading Diegeses after I was finished. I guarantee I missed some things on my first read. So far I haven’t read anything like D. Harlan Wilson, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my two ventures into his books. I believe anyone who is a fan of his work will not be disappointed by his latest effort. And to anyone looking to try Wilson’s brand of bizarre writing this would be a fine book to start with.
Buy it here Diegeses
I’ve read a couple books by William Pauley 3 and so far I’ve enjoyed each one. Last year he gave out a couple of his shorter ones to gain some reviews. Slime Night was one of those books, and I finally got around to reading it.
This book is a throwback to most anyone who grew up in the 80’s and maybe early 90’s. It’s the story of a couple of high school kids who battle over the love of a girl via pinball. The girl is the school slut, but our two boys may be the only ones who’ve never done anything with her. Pretty much if I said anything else about the story I would be spoiling something for a potential reader.
Slime Night is really short but it’s well written and entertaining. One could easily read it in a sitting. Pauley manages to cram a lot of character development in such a short span. It’s also full of interesting pinball information.
Though it still has the WP3 feel, it doesn’t have the weirdness and bizarre aspects he’s known for. I’m not saying it’s completely bizarre free, but it’s just not at the level one may expect from reading his other books. And that’s not a bad thing at all, sometimes it’s nice to see a weirdo author you like changing it up a bit.
Buy it here Slime Night
David Barbee first came to my attention when he wrote Carnageland for the New Bizarro Author Series. I didn’t get a chance to read that one but I remembered the name when he put out his next book, A Town Called Suckhole. I’ve always been a sucker for post-apocalyptic fiction so I eye-balled this one for awhile. It wasn’t until he ran a special for a signed copy of his book that I finally bought it. I’ll just go ahead and mention that when I got the book in the mail Barbee threw in a bunch of extra goodies like comic books and trading cards, he’s just a swell guy.
The meat of the book takes place after the War of Northern Aggression was ended with the dropping of nuclear bombs. The world had been destroyed but the south was able to rise up with the help of such great rednecks as George W Foxworthy, Jeezus, and the beloved St. Hank. They helped in the creation of the town of Suckhole. Fast forward some odd years and it’s time for the Hell-Yeah Heritage Jamboree. Someone has been brutally killing the town’s folk. It’s up to the sheriff, his son, and a monster that doesn’t exist named Dexter Spikes to figure it before the start of the Jamboree. Things end up getting pretty crazy and violent.
There’s so much about this book to like. Suckhole is filled to the brim with a crazy cast of characters. From Sheriff Billy Jack Bledskoe with his horrible cleft lip to Skynyrd Lee Faulkridge and the rest of the steroid pumped Militia. Chances are you’ve never read about characters like this before, and Barbee has the chops to write them real and unforgettable. Some of my favorites would be the sentient robotic moonshine stills, with their need to one up each other.
There are lots of references to the south and country music in this book. Barbee plays in almost every redneck stereotype you could think of, but it’s funny too. Barbee’s writing is extremely entertaining. He mixes in equal doses of action, humor, and weirdness. If you like your bizarro well written with a strong plot and slightly grotesque to boot, then this book is for you.
Buy it here A Town Called Suckhole
Unicorn Battle Squad. You tell some people that’s the title of the book you’re currently reading and you might get a few odd looks. Who usually hears unicorns and immediately thinks it’s going to be something cool, or even have action and violence? I’ll admit it, I wasn’t so sure about this book when I decided to read it. But it has a cool cover and the quote on the front – ‘Somewhere between Kafka and My Little Pony, only even weirder than that sounds.’ By Ben Loory really piqued my interest. I was happy to find out that a book about unicorns can be cool, really cool.
Here we have Carl, a low level clerk living in a dangerous city that’s on the verge of falling apart. Where he usually goes home to his father and eats boiled cabbage for dinner, one day he goes home to find his father missing. After a little snooping he discovers his father had purchased something but not yet picked it up. Carl decides to go get it hoping it will lead him to his father. What he ends up getting is a sickly unicorn, and the beginning of an epic journey.
The action really begins when Carl is taken in by the unicorn riders protecting the city. These guys are like big, crazy Viking types who ride battle worn, steroid pumped unicorns. Carl joins them in a battle against a seemingly unstoppable army. It’s amusing to read about weak and wimpy Carl just trying to stay alive much less assist in battle.
This book really took me by surprise. I remember when Kirsten Alene had a book in the New Bizarro Author Series, Love in the time of Dinosaurs. I never read it, but now I find myself wishing I had. And after Unicorn Battle Squad I will. The words original and unique get thrown around a lot when talking about bizarre books, but I don’t know of any better ways to describe this book. Between the landscapes of the desolate city, or the vast desert Carl finds himself in. Or the interesting and strange characters like the obese princess of the Theklanian army, this book is wildly entertaining.
I have to mention the one downfall to this book, the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but I surely hope Kirsten Alene was planning a sequel. And if she does one, I’m looking forward to it.
Buy it here Unicorn Battle Squad
If you’re into Bizarro at all then you’ve probably seen the name Cody Goodfellow. I know I had, quite a few times. But, like most of the books I have reviewed, I had not read anything from Goodfellow. That finally changed with his newest collection All Monster Action. This collection of stories is titled perfectly too, it is literally filled with all monster action, with an emphasis on the action part. Comprised of four short stories and one longer story broken down into three parts, this is the written equivalent to B-movie monster heaven.
The first half of this collection is called Coming Attractions. This is the portion that features the four short stories. These stories run the gamut of Sci-Fi, Horror, WW2, Bizarro, basically almost any genre you can think of, or sub-genre even. The first story in Coming Attractions, called Doorway to the Sky, is one of my favorites. Taking place on an island in the South Pacific, an almost forgotten group of American soldiers deal with the restless natives and what they call to the island. Another of the shorts I liked a lot is The Care and Feeding of Sea Monkeys. This is the tale of nerdy Ramdu and what his lust for the genetically altered Sea Monkeys gets him. This story is set in a twisted future and is heavy on the Bizarro factor. All of the shorts showcase Goodfellows excellent story telling capabilities and his wild imagination.
Now, the second half of this book is called Our Feature Presentation and is a three-part story sharing the title of the book, All Monster Action. This is basically an epic Kaiju B-movie in story form. It’s like Godzilla style monster action that starts off with America using their giant beast to battle the evil monsters from other countries. But the story moves on to a power play for the infamous Dr. Otaku, the world’s foremost freelance kaiju-engineer. There’s a virus that’s released and causes major cities across the U.S. to transform into their own monsters. A 400 pound Albino with Halitosis tries to become emperor of earth. And all the while one U.S. solider is forced to try and stop it all.
This may seem like a bunch of random craziness, but pretty much nothing I can say will come close to how weird, insane, and awesome this book is. Cody Goodfellow is a master storyteller. His descriptions are crystal clear, which can be a bad thing if you’re not into disgusting subject matter. If this book is any indication, Goodfellow is an author you will want to keep your eye on.
Also, I can’t forget to mention the awesome interior art by Mike Dubisch and Nick Gucker. The visuals of the monsters within this book are stunning; it’s a great added touch to complete this collection.
Buy it hereAll-Monster Action
A while back William Pauley III gave out a couple of his ebooks for free and I snatched them up quick. Having read The Brothers Crunk and enjoyed it quite a bit I decided this dude was one to look out for. His book Goddamned Electric Nights features three short bizarro tales that are as enjoyable as they are weird.
The first story is $5 Electric Suzie. Pauley puts an interesting twist on a tale about love and obsession.
The Spiders of Honeyville is one of the most original zombie stories I’ve read, maybe the best of the three if I was forced to choice a best.
Closing out this book is Insection 8. In this our narrator walks into a crazy Japanese game show in progress. And if you think Japanese game shows are all crazy, none of them are like this!
This book is great, well written and extremely entertaining. It’s perfect for anyone looking for some crazy Bizarro reading. Or, if you haven’t read anything from WP3 before this is an excellent place to start.
Buy it here Goddamn Electric Nights
Lehorn’s Hollow is a combination of Brian Keene’s books Dark Hollow and the follow up Ghost Walk put out by the Science Fiction Book Club. I picked this up at a flee market while on vacation because I thought it was cool to have both books collected together and because I hadn’t read either book yet. And it was like three bucks. I don’t know if you can still get this anywhere other than used book stores or Ebay, but Deadite Press has Released a new edition of Dark Hollow and will be releasing Ghost Walk very soon. I am breaking my review up as separate books.
I got into reading Brian Keene’s books after he left Leisure, and didn’t have an opportunity to pick up all of his books before they left the shelves and was in limbo for a time. But I started following his site and waited to see what was to become of his back catalog. While I was waiting it was announced that there was to be a movie filmed of Dark Hollow, and to raise money for it they were selling shirts with the image of the book cover printed on it. Being the good fan that I am I purchased myself a shirt and proudly wore/wear it, even though I felt a little funny wearing a shirt for a book I hadn’t yet read. Maybe I’m just weird like that, it certainly didn’t stop me, though. Anyway, I no longer have to feel funny about it, finally.
Here we meet writer Adam Senft, who I couldn’t stop picturing as Brian Keene himself. While out walking his dog, Big Steve, in the forest near his home he stumbles upon a fairly out-of-the ordinary scene. It’s not a spoiler to say it involves a Satyr, a half human half goat creature, like Pan. The town is affected by the strange music the goat man plays, and Adam takes it upon himself to try to rid his town of this evil.
It will be noticeable to anyone who has read a lot of Keene’s work that this is one of his earlier books, but any short comings from the writing stand point are easily over looked. The concept of using a writer as ones protagonist is nothing new, but Brian does an excellent job with Adam. He creates a likeable, real character with down to earth friends and relatable problems. With the exception of the Satyr of course.
This was the first book of Keene’s to introduce me to pow wow. I don’t know how much of what he put into this book is real or made up, but he has me convinced he is a master at the craft.
Also spread throughout this novel are neat little tie -ins with others of Keene’s work. Some are not real blatant, but some are. I always enjoy how Brian incorporates different things throughout his stories, creating his own huge universe.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. I believe it maybe one of Keene’s best as far as his characterization and storytelling go, and I didn’t want to leave Adam’s town. Luckily there is a sequel with Ghost Walk.
Buy it hereDark Hollow
Jumping straight into Ghost Walk after reading Dark Hollow may not have been the wisest choice. With the characters from Dark Hollow still fresh in my mind I opened G.W. and wondered ‘Who are these people?’ Obviously Ghost Walk does not pick up from where D.H. left off like it’s the next day, ala the original two Halloweens. Instead it picks up five years later and introduces us to Ken Ripple, the owner of a local haunted attraction, The Ghost Walk. I had a hard time getting into this book at first, I just don’t think I was ready to be introduced to new characters and a new situation, in my mind I wanted to continue on with Adam and his adventures. But I persisted, and before I knew it I was sucked into this new yet familiar world.
Something has awakened in Lehorn’s Hollow as we lead up to the opening of The Ghost Walk haunted attraction. In customary horror fashion people go missing but are assumed elsewhere, and the work on The Ghost Walk goes right on schedule to ensure it opens on time. Here we are introduced to Ex-Amish Magus Levi Stoltzfus. Levi’s character has become pretty popular within Brian Keenes fandom, and in this book we get a good taste of what this guy’s all about.
Levi teams with reporter Maria Nasr and together they recruit Adam Senft to try and stop the evil in Lehorn’s Hollow before it’s too late. I don’t want to spoil anything for potential readers, there are obvious changes to Adam, it’s been a few years and he’s been through some stuff, but past that his character didn’t seem the same to me. I didn’t care about his character like I did in Dark Hollow.
Overall this book was decent. Not one of my favorites from Keene, but I would recommend reading it for Levi’s character if nothing else. But if you’re a big fan of Keene’s you definitely won’t be disappointed with the tie-ins to other books that he usually does.
Buy it here Ghost Walk
I recently went on a little Stephen Graham Jones reading spree. I started with It Came from Del Rio, then I jumped into The Ones that Got Away, each one on my Nook. While reading those I read Growing up Dead in Texas in paper back. SGJ is a great writer, I have enjoyed everything I have read from him and plan on getting into more of his books in the future. I decided to write reviews for all three of these books, but instead of posting each one of them on here I figured I would just do one big post.
My Review of It Came from Del Rio by Stephen Graham Jones
Forgetting the fact that everything I’ve read from SGJ was exceptionally great, I would want to read, It Came from Del Rio for the cover alone. It reminds me of a comic book cover, one that would have come from something like DC’s Vertigo line, not from the standard super hero books. And because of this cover I expected a crazy horror, slasher novel, or something close. But I’ve read SGJ before, so why would I even think that.
We begin with the story of Dodd, a fugitive hiding out in Mexico with his young daughter, Laurie. Dodd transports things across the border for the right amount of money, and he’s really good at it. Only one day a job comes up that is quite out of the ordinary. Dodd gets put into a situation where he doesn’t have a choice whether or not to take this job, that choice has been made for him. With the end of this job comes the end of the first half of the book. The second half picks up fifteen years later, with Laurie as an adult and a member of The Border Patrol. She has a new life, but she has never forgotten the one she had as a child, living in Mexico with her dad. And then the killings start.
This book is written like journal entries, the first half from the perspective of Dodd, the second from Laurie. In less capable hands this could have been a disaster, but thankfully we have Stephen Graham Jones at the helm. And to touch on what I mentioned earlier this book wasn’t anything like I expected. What I enjoyed the most was the early relationship between Dodd and Laurie, and how it made me feel for the little girl when her father left for that last job. That right there is why SGJ is a master at the written word, he creates real characters, ones that you care about, and feel for. Originally I thought this book would just be like a pulpy horror novel, but it is so much more, and I am very happy about that.
So, yeah, everyone should read this, and everything else he has written. You would be doing yourself a favor. Also, did I mention the Hell Bunny? This is called part one of The Bunny head Chronicles, I don’t know what the plans are for any sequels but I’ll be ready if he puts them out. Though I’m sure they couldn’t top this one, could they?
Buy it here It Came from Del Rio
My Review of The Ones that Got Away
So everyone knows Stephen Graham Jones is the man, right? This guy can write stories in his sleep that for anyone else it would take years. Oh, you don’t know SGJ? Do you need something of his to introduce you to his writing? The Ones that Got Away may be the perfect place to start, provided you can handle it.
Featuring thirteen stories most of which were originally published between 2005 and 2010. These stories seem all over the place, and to label them as just horror stories would be an injustice. But they all share the common thread that they are excellent. It’s rare that you can pick up a collection of short stories and really enjoy every single story. Even the weakest story from this collection could be the best short you read all year.
I don’t want to individually go into each story, so I’ll just hit on a couple of my favorites.
Till the Morning Comes is a disturbing little tale about a boy forced to share his room with his little brother when his uncle comes to live with them. There are things in his uncle’s room that he sees that keep him awake at night, and things that he hears. One desperate night he sends his little brother into their uncle’s room because he’s too scared to go himself, and that act will change the whole family.
So Perfect reminded me of the old movie Heathers with Christian Slater and Wynonna Ryder. And for whatever reason it also made me think of Jawbreaker with Rose McGowan and Rebecca Gayheart. It’s the story of two pretty popular girls who find a new dieting technique, and the prank they play on one of their loser classmates.
And finally there’s the story that closes out the collection, Crawlspace. Partly it’s about the relationship with our narrator and his best friend Quint; partly it’s about the narrator’s struggle with his infidelity. But there’s also Quint’s obsession with proving his newborn son is telepathic, and that he can cause him to wake up crying simply by reading horror novels. This story in itself could have been a novel, or a novella at the least. It’s very engrossing. The characters are interesting and Jones’ writing is top notch.
Reading this collection I found myself deeply involved in each story, and just as deeply disappointed when they came to their conclusion. This book is perfect for any fans of SGJ work, or anyone wanting to check him out for the first time.
Buy it here The Ones that Got Away
My Review of Growing up Dead in Texas
How do I convince people how great this book is and get them to want to read it? Short of saying ‘You need to read this book’ over and over again I will try to say something that expresses how much you should read it.
On the surface it’s about a fire that took out twenty-five modules of cotton. That is a major topic throughout the book, but it’s just the beginning. In almost three hundred pages we are shown life in the small town of Greenwood, and follow Stephen Graham Jones as he pieces together all the events that followed that fire.
If you’ve read anything by SGJ then I don’t need to say that his writing is superb. But in this novel he goes beyond anything I’ve read from him before. It’s stellar, it’s awesome, or maybe it deserves a new word created just to describe it. This isn’t a start at point A and end up at point B kind of book though. We are introduced to situations in chapter one that seem innocent at a glance, but when we revisit them in chapter eleven we understand the true meaning. He slips through various tales with ease. He stops one story in chapter two with ‘and that’s how I want to leave them for now.’, and picks it back up in chapter three after filling in some gaps and interjecting bits about himself from this time period.
This is a book about Hot Wheels, it’s also about telephones and calling people. It’s about the tournament game short, not one, but two players. It’s about family, family that has been lost and family that you protect. It doesn’t really matter what I say this book is about, you should just read it.
Buy it here Growing up Dead in Texas
You can’t read the Bizarro genre without seeing the name Jordan Krall. But as many times as I’ve seen his name it took me awhile to get around to reading one of his books. Fistful of Feet was where I decided to start with Krall, and I believe I choose well.
Taking place in Screwhorse, Nevada we are introduced to this strange desert town when our hero Calamaro wanders in with his wooden donkey. It doesn’t take him long to get the attention of some of the thugs that push around the rest of the town, and in typical heroic fashion win the hearts of regular townsfolk. But in this book even the regular folks are weird. Playing a large role in the story is the local whorehouse, which is known for indulging customers in their strange fetishes. We have women like June who has a little foot growing out of each of her ankles, giving her a total of four feet. Then there are the Brady sisters, who specialized in burping. This is only a couple examples of the strange characters from this town.
There are a few different story lines involving the different characters, some that run into each other. It can be a little confusing with so many characters, but not so much to ruin the book. Krall does a good job with it all, he doesn’t leave any loose ends, which can typically happen with so much going on.
Overall this is a pretty action packed story. Between Calamaro battling it out with the rich William Lyons or Sergio and his friends plotting to rid the Mayor of his gold, the weird cows with tentacles instead of utters, or the sexually transmitted tattoos, this book will keep you entertained.
I’ve never really been into westerns, this is the first book I’ve read that in that genre. I’ve seen people say that there are a lot of nods towards certain westerns. I think that’s pretty cool, even if I wouldn’t know them to catch them. I will definitely be reading more from Jordan Krall, and I will be encouraging others to do the same.
Buy it here Fistful of Feet
I just realized while posting this that this is my first review of a Brian Keene book. I’m pretty sure I meant to do reviews of some of his other books, but obviously I didn’t. It’s better late than never though.
I only started reading Brian Keene’s work just as his relationship with Dorchester dissolved. What I read was what my brother had and a couple books my wife bought for me over the internet. A little while back he started a relationship with Deadite Press, and for fans like me this is exactly what we needed. They have been reprinting not only Brian’s mass market novels but stories that had originally only appeared in rare limited editions. So now I and so many others can easily get our hands on books and stories that diehard fans may have been dreaming about for years. Sometimes it pays to be late to the party.
The Cage intrigued me from the first time I read the premise of it. One night while closing down the electronics store a madman comes through the door. Brandishing guns and not afraid to use them, he ushers the employees into the back and locks them in a cage. This is the cage that the title refers to, it’s the area where they keep the small and expensive items. Much like the movies Phone Booth or the original Saw, the majority of this Novella takes place in this small area. One by one the intruder takes the employees to the front of the store, leaving whoever is still in the cage oblivious to his plans.
It’s best to know up front that this is a short novella, and it is not heavy on the action. One of Brian Keene’s main strengths is his characters and how he has the ability to make them interesting and real. That talent is showcased well here, with the characters being confined to this small area, wondering what is happening in the front of the store.
Besides the main story here there are three short stories included in this book, Marriage Causes Cancer In Rats, Lest Ye Become, and Waiting For Darkness. All have been previously published but like the main story, unavailable for awhile, until now. Following each of these is a few words from the author regarding how he came about writing these stories.
Overall I enjoyed this book, the main story has become one of my favorites from Keene. I would recommend it to anyone that is already a fan of his, or looking for a story to check out his work.
Buy it hereThe Cage
This was my first foray into the extreme horror genre as far as books go. I am familiar with other authors in the genre, like Edward Lee, but for whatever reason I have never sat down and read any of their work. I came across this particular book because the publisher, Deadite Press, has been reprinting a lot of Brian Keene’s work. I have been impressed by the quality of their books, and have heard nothing but great things about Genital Grinder itself.
This collection of seven stories range in length and sickness, but as twisted as they are they are very well written. Six of the seven are some of the craziest and goriest stories I’ve ever read. Harding does a great job of taking the disturbing depravity and utilizing it in an equally funny and entertaining story.
The highlights for me are Damaged Goods, Genital Grinder: A Snuff Film in Five Acts, and Genital Grinder 2: Dis-Membered. These three stories follow the adventures of Von and Greg, two very sick individuals who get themselves in some hilarious situations that you might feel disturbed to be enjoying. There is nothing sacred in these three stories, from murder to cannibalism; from rape to necrophilia, these stories have it all.
I don’t want to go into detail about all of the stories, but truly they are all exceptional and entertaining. I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the writing in all these stories. There are maybe a couple that soar above the rest, but there isn’t a bad one in the bunch. If you really pay attention while reading this collection you will notice the small connections between them. I found it really enjoyable seeing how they all kind of fit together.
Even though I have almost no experience with the extreme horror genre I would still recommend this book to anyone that is into it. Ryan Harding really pushes the boundaries of disgusting, but he does it expertly. I personally was surprised to find that the great writing almost over shadowed the grotesqueness.
Buy it here Genital Grinder
I’ve known of Craig Wallwork for quite awhile. We both frequent The Velvet forums, though him more so than me. A lot like the other writers on The Velvet his work was one that I always meant to check out. His name has sat on that ever growing list of people I want to read. With the publication of Warmed and Bound, an anthology from The Velvet, that finally changed. After reading Craig’s story, Bruised Flesh, I wanted to kick myself for waiting so long to check his work out. Coincidentally, right after I finished reading W&B I came across the pre-order for his first book, Quintessence of Dust. I jumped all over that. It was really cool that while waiting for my copy of the book to arrive Kuboa Press made a few of their titles available for free on smashwords. I was able to download QoD and read it before the physical book was in my hands.
This is a collection of eleven stories, all well written and most are a bit twisted. There is one common factor that binds all these stories together, and that is Mr. Wallwork’s amazing talent. From the emotional impact of a father and his young daughter fighting to survive in Night Holds A Scythe; to one man’s duty to be there for his best friend, who happens to be a Minotaur, in Men of Honor. These stories are original, interesting, and extremely well written. Craig Wallwork seems to have quite the imagination, and he possesses the skills to expertly convey said imagination onto paper.
It would almost be too difficult to pick a favorite from this collection, but if pressed, I really enjoyed Morning Birdsong quite a bit. The character of Ralph was both humorous yet heroic when the time called for it. There could be a larger story behind this short one, and I would be all for reading it.
These stories will pull you into their world and you will know these characters like they are your friends, or your neighbors, or someone sitting next to you on the train. There is no doubt in my mind that Craig Wallwork is a name we’ll be seeing more of, and I for one am grateful. He writes the kind of stories that keeps me reading books, and he writes them better than a lot of the big names.
Buy it Here Quintessence of Dust
Pray You Die Alone is another great collection of short horror stories. Prunty is skilled at creating horror with lots of dread and twisted elements. There’s not much bizarro in this one, which is why it reminds me a lot of another of his collections, Sunruined. The seven stories contained in this book are excellent, each in different ways.
The opener, The Summer of Flies is a creepy tale of Marcus, who starts to wonder if he is the last person left in town. When he meets Ellen, she convinces him that she knows where the bodies of everyone else are, and that they should try to find the killer.
In the second story, Death Tripping in New Orleans, it has been two years since Tod survived a terrible car crash. Following a voice to New Orleans Tod finds himself face to face with the truth of his past.
Durning is the story of Christina from Durning, Ohio. When Adam agrees to go back to Christinas home to meet the family he gets a surprise he never dreamed of.
In Air Cathedral we have serial killer Arthur. Desperate to find the Air Cathedral, Arthur has killed countless times, but will this time finally bring him what he wants?
The Nowhere Room is the tale of Anna, who after having mental attacks for years decides it’s time to head back home. She needs to go back to the Nowhere Room and face what happened all those years ago.
The story Black Rosita’s Man is about a blues guitarist like no other named Alistar Doos. Nathan East goes to hear Alistar play and try to find the answers to a friends disappearance.
Closing out the book is the story Rayles, which may be the most bizarre of the bunch. The town was once a place for dreams, but that was before Rayles got sick. Now the town is more of a prison. As bad as the people want to escape, what will they find past the town limits?
Each story showcases Prunty’s vivid imagination as he ushers his characters through horrific situations. I recommend this for anyone who is interested in checking out Andersen Prunty’s work for the first time. And if you are already a fan of his work, you will definitely dig this collection.
Buy it here Pray You Die Alone
Cameron Pierce was one of the first bizarro authors that I read, starting with Abortion Arcade. Since then I have read a few more of his books and stories, each one has been original and entertaining. Gargoyle Girls of Spider Island followed right along with everything else I have read by him, but I think this may be my least favorite of his books. This was still a good read, entertaining and imaginative in a bizarre and grotesque way.
The book starts out like a B-rated horror movie, with a few young adults cruising the high seas on one of their dad’s boats. They encounter some pirates on some pretty bad waters and have a little scuffle, which leads to one boat being sunk and the survivors heading for the nearest shore. This particular land that they end up at is Spider Island. From here things go from island paradise to monster fest. Pierce keeps the action cranked up and the weird factor increases consistently throughout the book.
I have read quite a few bizarro books, and I am quite the fan of the genre. But this book may have some of the sickest scenes I’ve read. There are some truly disgusting moments in this book. There are probably worse books out there as far as that goes, but I haven’t been reading them. Still, if you’re a fan of bizarro and of Pierce, you will enjoy this book.
Buy it here Gargoyle Girls of Spider Island
This has been the first book I’ve read by William Pauley 3 but it will not be the last. This book is described as an 8 bit Fack-It-All adventure, and it definitely is an adventure. It will take you to some weird and very interesting places. Page after page you will not know where you are headed, but believe me you will still continue on with the journey, and it is worth it.
The cover of The Brothers Crunk may be one of the best book covers I’ve ever seen. It looks like an old school Nintendo game, complete with the black plastic sleeve, simple yet extremely effective. It was the first thing that put this book on my radar. It should be noted that the cover was done by Brandon Duncan who has created many notable covers for books by authors like Andersen Prunty and D. Harlan Wilson.
Set in a post-apocalyptic Japan, TBC is the story of brothers Divey and Reynold who are traveling brackfas burrito salesmen. After a wreck in the desert that costs them their van, Divey comes across what amounts to part of a metal skeleton. This is where the story really takes off into uncharted territories. An attack from some wasp women ends with the awakening of the cyborg Vandeboom and the real beginning of the adventure that has Reynold searching for his missing brother. Throughout this you will get plenty of Nintendo references, from old controllers to games, most will remember from childhood.
I’ve read that this book is set in the same universe as another book by William Pauley 3, Doom Magnetic, and may have ties to it. I am looking forward to reading that book next. I was definitely impressed with my first foray into the odd mind of Pauley. He has the ability to create humorous and interesting characters, throw them into a completely absurd world and craft a uniquely believable story.
By it here The Brothers Crunk on Amazon
Even though the market for the zombie genre is getting over-saturated I’m still a pretty big fan of the living dead. What I mean by big fan is really more toward the visual side, movies, television shows, and video games. It wasn’t until here recently that I started reading books and stories featuring the undead. I used to think that a good zombie apocalypse would be hard to translate to the written word in an entertaining way. I have since realized I was wrong.
This book starts out like a lot of horror movies, with kids out partying and getting into trouble. While out joy riding in one of their dads bakery truck they run over what appears to be a drunk guy. They do the horror movie thing and try to cover it up, because that always works so well. The real meat of the story takes place the next day at a convention center, which is rented to a group called Recipe Days during the day time. In the evening the convention center is rented to pro wrestlers coming to do a show. The two groups over lap when the wrestlers show up early. After intimidating the ladies from Recipe Days they help themselves to some doughnuts from a certain bakery truck. What follows is one extremely entertaining read. Once the action kicks in it does not let up.
SGJ treats us to a unique and interesting Zombie story where the survivors are not your normal one-dimensional horror fare. His characters are very real, intelligent people fighting for their lives. Also, with his zombies he adds some new interesting twists.
Jones is a master storyteller, I have enjoyed everything I’ve read from him quite a bit, and this book was no exception. I have been having trouble reading paper books in a decent amount of time, recently I read e-books because I get through them faster. But I read this as a paper book and it kept me turning the pages and so engrossed in the story that I finished it in about a week. I recommend this book to not only zombie lovers, but anyone who likes action on top of a good story.
Buy it here Zombie Bake-Off on Amazon
I spoke in another review that I am not a big fan of the short short fiction, but that doesn’t stop me from reading it. This was the first book I had read from D. Harlan Wilson, and it does contain a couple pieces are of the short short variety, but this book was superb. After reading it my first thought was ‘why have I waited so long to check this author out.’ Thirty-nine stories packed into one hundred and forty-six pages, these streams of conscience pieces will take you places you haven’t been before, and some of those places may scare you.
Collections like this are hard to review, the stories jump all across the board and range in many shapes and sizes. A couple really great pieces from this are Whale – with a surprise alternate (happy) ending which has a father taking his daughter to a pet shop for a goldfish but decide to check out the whale room instead. The Arrest, where one man tries to arrest another man, but that man disagrees and tries to arrest the first man. And then things get crazy weird. The story that I liked the most was The Sister, which featured illustrations by Skye Thorstenson. The images added a whole new layer to Wilson’s words that took the story to a whole new level. The collaboration is absolutely brilliant.
This book is one of the best things that I have read this year. It’s still early in the year but They have Goat Heads is going to be very hard to top. This collection is the reason I started reading the Bizarro genre. These stories are absurd, surreal, un-real, and well crafted. In all the Bizarro I have read I had not yet read anything like this before, I will definitely be reading more by Wilson.
Buy it on here They Had Goat Heads on Amazon
This book isnt on Amazon so for right now I dont know how to direct anyone to purchasing it, but when I find out I will edit this post.
Edit: I knew I had originally grabbed this book as a free download Garrett Cook offered, but I didn’t realize its always free. You just can’t get a better deal on an awesome book like this one, everybody should download a copy and buy his other books.
The first thing I ever read from Garrett Cook was a short story titled The Torments and Indignities Endured by Job During His Tenure At the Hello Kitty Factory, it was on his site one day when I was just checking out random writers. It was great, funny and entertaining. When I got this collection and saw that this story was included I had a pretty good feeling that this book was going to be good. I was right.
The collection kicks off with Meatballs of Knowledge, which Garrett Cook state’s at the beginning was written as a custom story for a fan. It tells the story of a sentient sandwich in the Garden of Eden. Much like his story about Job it’s a bizarre and witty retelling of a classic biblical story, just slightly blasphemous.
Another favorite of mine from this collection is The Man in the Film Noir Hat. Nobody knows who he is, he just sells ideas for only a dollar. Everybody jumps at the chance to give him a dollar and gladly uses the ideas he gives.
Finishing out this collection is Along the Crease, which is almost my favorite story I’ve read by Cook (I say almost because Archelon Ranch is number one.) Two unlikely people are told they are each other’s true love and that they cannot be together or they will bring about the end of everything. It’s a truly moving story, these two individuals want to do the right thing as they are continuously drawn to each other.
I couldn’t say enough good things about this book. Cook’s stories have bizarre and fantastical ideas but they have a real human feel. He is definitely a writer to watch out for. He mixes genres with the best of them and has a knack for warm and compelling stories that draw the reader in, making it very difficult to put his books down mid story.
Get it for free here Heresy and Hearsay for free
Prunty delivers again with another great book. In this one he strays from the horror he writes about a lot and goes for more of a surreal and comical story. He still puts his main character through the wringer in typical Prunty fashion.
Saul Dressing has been drafted by the army of everything. He’s being sent to a country that threatens their freedom, his job is to observe and declare war on any hostiles. He’s the right man for the job, or is he? And are there even any hostiles to declare war on? You really feel sorry for Ol Saul, thrust into a situation that doesn’t make sense and forced to do things he doesn’t understand. But they give Saul a rockin gun, one that with a push of a button can dispense food, pop out a tent, or act as a bidet. They may send him off well equipped but that’s nothing compared to what he ends up finding.
I’ve read quite a bit of his work and to be honest this was my least favorite so far. I’m not saying that in a bad way, every book can’t be a master piece. If someone had never read an Andersen Prunty book there are others I would recommend first, but this is still a very good read. Like most of his work there are twists and turns you won’t see coming. My Fake War is weird, funny, very entertaining and worth a read for any fan of Bizarro fiction.
Buy it here My Fake War at Amazon.com