I bought Warmed and bound when it first came out and was pretty excited to read it. When I got it in the mail I was still excited just by looking at it. The Velvet did a really great job with this book. I started into it, there’s a very nice forward by Steve Erickson followed by an intro by Logan Rapp, the thread sky marshal over at The Velvet. And then the stories. Upon completing them all I was left in awe at the fact that there was not a bad one in the bunch. Usually when you read an Anthology, especially one of this size, there will be the few stories that just didn’t do it for you. As unbelievable as it may seem, that is not the case here. Every story in this book is good, really good. One should not skip over a single one, you would be missing out on something very worthwhile.
Of course you have the heavy hitters, the guys you already know will have some quality stories, like Craig Clevenger, Stephen Graham Jones, and Richard Thomas. Chances are if your checking this book out you may know Cameron Pierce and Bradley Sands, two leading Bizarro authors. The biggest treat for me though were the stories by authors I had never read anything from before. I won’t go through every single one of these stories but I will touch on a couple of my personal favorites.
Right off the bat the book starts with Axel Taiari’s Death Juggler, which doesn’t just raise the bar for the rest of the stories, it launches that bar into orbit. It didn’t matter though when the following stories are by such talent as Caleb J Ross, the before mentioned Cameron Pierce, Paul G Tremebly, and Nik Korpon to name a few. Edward J Rathke’s The tree of Life was only the beginning in a series of emotional head trips that kept me page turning.
But soon after this I set the book down, and for one reason or another I didn’t pick it back up until about a week ago. Realizing I never finished all the stories I jumped back in at Jeremy Robert Johnson’s Laws of Virulence, a story that will make you know JRJ deserves all the praise he receives about his books. From here I went on to read some of the best short stories I have ever read. One that really came out of nowhere and took me off guard as far as quality and enjoyment was Bruised Flesh by Craig Wallwork. This story began a trifecta of absolute perfection that was completed by Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Men By Craig Davidson and Three Theories on the Murder of John Wily by J David Osbourne. That’s three names that are now at the top of my radar.
To try and wrap up this lengthy review I want to mention Richard Thomas’s Say Yes to Pleasure. I have read quite a few of his short stories and his debut novel Transubstinate, but this story has become my favorite by him so far. This piece will tear at your heart, it has a sadness that can only be matched by Pela Via’s story Touch. Finishing out this massive collection is Chris Deal’s In Exile, to use a word that may be thrown around quite a bit describing this anthology, heartbreaking. A fitting end to a collection of dark and fierce literature.
I’ve said all this just to say this is an extremely great collection of stories. I have yet to find an anthology that contains so much excellent work by so many authors I had not read before. I can’t recommend this book enough.
Buy it here Warmed and Bound