I strive to keep you both terrified by my stories, while also keeping you up to date on what films have come out giving you fair warning if they are bad or a heads up if they are good. The point is, if you love horror as much as I do (which I can only assume you do) then you enjoy the writings and reviews I painstakingly punch out after every finished book and every final reel of a film. Today, I have a review of an anthology that might have slipped under the radar if you weren’t being as vigilant as you should have been.
Splatterlands is a thirteen story anthology released October 3rd of 2013. The point of the collection is to bring back that olden days where gore was brought out to shock and amaze, to terrify and titillate. Think Clive Barker and his Hellraiser series as a prime example of what I’m talking about. The book comes in a kindle edition as well as paperback, and is roughly two hundred and eighty pages; practically a steal if you down load the book as part of an online collection.
The stories are all worthwhile, with some standing out more than others (obviously). “Housesitting,” is one such tale that stands out for its straddling-the-line style of gore and pure snuff, pushing the boundaries of horror in ways that it is meant to be pushed. Another such story from this collection is Heirloom, where you get to see a unique weapon of choice used as the method of torture. Instead of a hook or a knife, it’s an antique gun. Now as it should go without saying, this is an anthology not intended for children or young adults, so some of the stories can get a little risqué. Just look at it this way: would Hellraiser be an appropriate film for them to see? If yes, then you have some mature kids ready for mature content. If not, might just nudge them off to bed with some of Rachel Caine’s work (lovely author with a great series under her belt, just aimed at young adults).
Another story that slipped past us is the Bell Witch by John F.D. Taff. An interesting tale with several characters ranging from a teacher to a ghost-haunted girl to slaves for her family. The book starts off with an interesting enough hook, and pulls you in quickly using short chapters and broken sections, switching speakers every few paragraphs (save for a scant few times). The writing is well done, the pacing is fast and exciting and the narrative between the characters, while strained, feels natural for the most part. Another tale where discretion is advised if you plan on letting a child read the book as there are some sexual situations as well as liberal use of racial slurs. The setting provides a fine backdrop for it so it isn’t out of place, it’s just not the kind of work a ten year old should be reading.
A New Year novel for all you zombie lovers out there is a great tale told by TS Alan. With three hundred and thirty pages and extremely short chapters, it is easy to fly through this moderately paced book. The writing is solid with nary a break in narrative or unneeded dialogue being used; the whole thing is just a perfect tale through and through, with so much going for it that I am loathe to share anything about it for fear I’ll ruin it for others. The main character is J.D, the son of a police officer and a paramedic to boot. He deals with the zombie apocalypse fairly well if not for one thing: the opening paragraph of the story is him telling you how he’s bitten and is turning into one of the undead. The rest of the tale is how he survived up to that point, banding with other survivors as they brave the utility tunnels throughout the city. I won’t ruin the surprise, but it does have an awesome ending that I can only describe as genius.
Between these three often looked over titles, I think I’ve given you a summer reading list worthy of any English professor worth his salt. What you have before you are torrid tales of torture, stories of a ghost haunting a family in pre-Civil War America and a book on zombies running rampant through the streets with a protagonist who is already dying.
What more could you want?