“This is a fantastic collection of horror short stories, to be frank. The ability of the author to move through so many different kinds of horror scenarios, and to invoke so many different emotional responses in such a short space of time, is surely the mark of someone who ‘gets’ horror as a genre. Mr Thorn has certainly made his mark on the genre as a whole, and also on me: I look forward to reading more horror stories, and especially any more that come from his pen. I can only hope that we see more of his fiction in the near-future, and whole-heartedly recommend that you pick up this anthology.”
Rebecca Gransden’s Rusticles quickly makes two things apparent. First, it lends its focus most intently on sensory language and imagery (consider introductory story “The Neon Black”‘s opening line: “Out of the blue and into the black neon night, along a street made of pulse shaking off its dreams”). Second, this book has very little use for the standard ingredients of narrative fiction. Full of cryptic, off-kilter language and scenarios driven by obliqueness and obscurity, Rusticles declares itself as something other than a collection of plot-driven stories. In this way, it instructs the reader to read in an unusual way.
Although it bears hints of magic realism, dark fantasy and horror, the book never announces its station within a certain genre camp. Its deft and mysterious relationship to genre brings to mind the works of Daniel Braum, but Gransden’s commitments are so much different than those on display in a book like The Wish Mechanics. Rusticles is so strikingly anti-narrative that it is actually incredibly difficult to describe its contents in any detail.
The book displays interest in the possibility of loosely impressionistic fiction-writing, wherein plot is not only secondary to mood and atmosphere, but is actually lingering somewhere outside the pages. These stories are made up of residue, periphery, those ingredients which usually go ignored. It is a bold and sometimes fascinating approach to fiction-writing. Unusual syntax abounds, with occasional bursts of remarkably focused prose that borders on poetry. One line from “The Boy at the Table” stood out to me in particular: “He was a picture made of sand.” I don’t think I know what it means, but I really like the way it reads. Interestingly enough, I could apply this same sentiment to the majority of the book. Gransden demonstrates a unique point-of-view with this collection, and for that reason alone it is worth a read.
It is difficult to pinpoint any individual album in Alice Cooper’s massive, eclectic discography as “summative” or “trademark.” Certainly, his original band enjoyed an inspired and singular run from 1971 (Love It to Death) to 1973 (Billion Dollar Babies), and his first official solo album Welcome to My Nightmare announced a fully realized vision of conceptual horror rock, complete with a guest appearance by Vincent Price and accompanied by a lavish, theatrical tour production. However, Cooper the solo artist is perhaps best characterized by his entire oeuvre in all its shifting, diverse and ambivalent forms — this singer-songwriter is the progenitor of shock rock as vaudevillian grand guignol; he is a meta-reflective and identity-shifting social satirist, and he is an artist of far-reaching, sophisticated conceptual range who proudly inhabits (and often embodies) that which some might call “low art.”
“One of the best things about running a blog dedicated to horror fiction – and hell, just being a reader in general – is discovering new writers. One of the best and most rewarding feelings as a horror fan is reading a new author’s work and being blown away by their talent and the awe of discovering something cool. That is the exact feeling I got when I first sat down to crack open Mike Thorn’s debut story collection, Darkest Hours.”
Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Mike Thorn, who released his debut collection Darkest Hours towards the end of 2017 through Unnerving. Thorn’s Darkest Hours is a collection of 16 stories that run the gamut of the various horror sub-genres from bizarro to splatterpunk and everything in between. Just a few of the things you will find in Darkest Hours is alternate dimensions, deadly cults, ghosts, manipulations of reality, human monsters and so much more. I will be posting my review of Darkest Hours tomorrow, so please stop by and check that out as well. Today, Mike stopped by to share his favorite Stephen King books from each decade of his career. What are your favorite King books? Does your list look like Mike’s or a little different?
“With monsters that hunger for flesh, ghosts that lie in wait, and brutality at the hands of humanity – this collection certainly has it all. Delving into the satirical, chilling and downright disgusting, this is a must read for those that like a bit of horror in their lives.”
“… you know each one of these tortured souls is going to have something terrible happen to them and half the fun of reading this collection is trying to determine which angle Mike Thorn is coming from.”