The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Critters Galore

December 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm (horror, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

With this anthology, May December Publications offers a variety of monster tales that spans the spectrum of action, humour and horror, along with striking illustrations for each selection. It is interesting to see how many of the stories in the anthology involve themes of revenge and/or protective loved ones. I found something entertaining in each of the stories, even the ones that weren’t my favourites. It’s great to see an MDP anthology showcasing so many talented writers.

A Golem in Ozone Park – I think this story really captured the old time movie feel. Silvestri has a very visual approach to his tale. You can easily picture a wide-eyed Abby standing in the rain with an air of urgency, or the golem looming over his creator as he got to his feet. I could almost imagine the sound of bad special effect thunder and cheesy music. Probably one of the most culturally colourful stories I’ve ever read in a horror anthology.

A Zinger Must Die – I was a bit spoilt by this one, being a Haligonian myself, I could identify with the setting very easily. That being said, I felt as though I had stepped into the Twilight Zone with the introduction of cartoon characters, and I tend to “zone out” with any discussion of US politics, no reflection of Mr. Pelmuter’s tale-telling skills. There was an odd contrast of the complex language used to the nature of the tale – I would have expected a more simplistic language as a match with anything “toony”. There was also an interesting irony in how the Newfoundlanders, who can be sometimes larger-than-life, came across as more cartoony than the creatures themselves.

The Pit – This is an action-packed tale with a battlefield feel to it, a hardened hunter vs a man with a bestial nature. It was a fun story.

The Spine Tingling Tale of the Crystal Golem – I wasn’t sure how to take this story. It went from the classic campy intro, a la old cliff-hanger serials, to some cheesy dialogue (“honeybunches” and “love muffin”) with more modern camp, and all the characters having rock names, but I gathered that was all intentional for a spoof effect. It was amusing, but not really my type of horror humour.

Just the Two of Us – I loved the imagery in this (seeing ovals like leeches and the way the sunshine is described while Brandon is meeting with his mom – great stuff) as well as the fluid writing style.

Fish Boy – This story presents a monstrous case of people-watching that gets interesting once the discordant family dynamics are unleashed. Then the people-watching turns to something more shocking. I liked this because it was a horror tale with greater dimension.

And the Dark Growls Back – I loved this story and its real-life monster. It was a veritable thrill-ride, with plenty of surprises. It sucked me in and didn’t let go, because in addition to the unusual beginning, action and excitement, there was so much detail (including some serious gore). The ending was fitting as well. This was my favourite story in the anthology.

The Visitor – Another great read. It has a nice build up and good pacing. The characters are very realistic; one of the main ones is a sceptical curmudgeon and the other a bit blasé, although she proves caring in the long run.

Frightening Cliches – This was the type of tongue-in-cheek dark humour I expect to find in a horror anthology. The story was an entertaining, high-spirited romp, with puns and jibes at the stereotypical middle-aged couple. There were a couple of MDP Easter eggs thrown in there for good measure.

Dead Planet – This was a bit too “Flash Gordon” meets “Alien” for my tastes, but it did add variety to the anthology and the writing was technically good. There was plenty of action and some very scary moments. The Sci-Fi fan would likely enjoy this one.

Hayride – A bestial killer is terrorizing a part of Michigan and the residents there are attempting to fight the fear, participating in Halloween events as they always have. A smooth read with a wild twist.

Fish out of Water – This one had a steampunk/Jules Verne feel to it, with a hint of Lovecraft – a more intellectual horror. Once again, not my preferred version of the genre (although I did like the touch of Lovecraft), but it also added variety to the anthology and was certainly technically well-written.

From Rebirth to Reburial – This was interesting and intriguing, sort of “noir”, but it seemed more like an intro to a novel than just a short. There was a lot going on, the characters were introduced but clearly had much more to them and I wanted more background than could conceivably fit in a short.

North – The intro was a little heavy and metaphor-laden for me, but once I got past that, I really liked this story. Very original – a different spin on the usual bigfoot/yeti story.

Revenge of the Zombie Pussy Eaters – To say this story was a little blue would be an understatement. It definitely had shock factor. It had laughable moments but it was a vulgar humour. I think I’d have to be in the right mood or have a couple of drinks in me to really enjoy this sort of levity, and I could easily see some people finding this story offensive (although I have thicker skin than that.).

Keeping It Together – This story made me smile right away with the description of someone as a “friendly baguette” and by the second page into it I was laughing out loud. I’m a sucker for good zombie humour and, to me, this was by far the funniest story in the anthology.

I think I agree with some of the other reviewers that this was the best MDP anthology yet. They assembled a great collection of quality stories with quite a menagerie of beasties.


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