This is a special review for me. Firstly, it’s the first one I’ve ever been asked to write in an official capacity (I’ve written for friends on Amazon in the past as a means of helping sales, though what good I achieved is up for debate). And secondly, when someone says they have something they would like reviewed because other sites feel the work is too extreme, I’m there like a shot!
So here we go:
Blood Bound Books have sent across three anthologies of extreme horror and erotica:
Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead
Reviewing extreme horror is just as difficult as writing the stuff. If you like it some people regard you as a perverted sociopath. If you loathe it you’re a narrow minded bigot. Well, as an author of extreme horror it’s true to say I’ve never been a bigot – hence why I’ve welcomed the opportunity to write this review.
Of the three anthologies, DOA is the most controversial and the subject of this review.
Firstly, BLOOD BOUND BOOKS appear to be a professional outfit who should be proud of their work. The stories are all well written, decently edited and presented in a professional manner. Respect has been shown to the stories, no matter what their content might be and for this they should be congratulated. Not only are they giving authors whose work is designed to shock and disturb even the strongest of wills the opportunity to actually see their work in print, they are treating the stories with the respect they deserve. These authors are people who might be fearful of the reaction their work would create, but BBB appears to be a publisher willing to defend what some might call the indefensible. And for that they must be congratulated.
The most common theme throughout the stories is the abuse of women and children – those the doomed Titanic’s passengers insisted be saved first. These are easy and familiar topics for horror writers. The ability to tap into what scares people most is a horror writer’s niche and there is little in the world that scares us most than our loved ones coming to harm – especially if those loved ones are deemed vulnerable. Some of the stories in this collection tap into this fear perfectly. They give us disgust for the perpetrators, fear for the victim and horror at the action. Yet some of them go too far. Turning a scary story into something more like wanking material. Stories that are literally just single scenes of a female victim (child and adult) don’t fit. They don’t work. It is these stories that make people wonder about a horror writer’s psyche. If the foulness isn’t put into context, then it’s going to seem like you’re writing notes for future actions And whilst that’s not necessarily true, it will be difficult to convince the casual reader – or friends and family. Trust me, I know about this one. I myself have written about incest, rape and paedophilia and I know the reaction it garnered. Being asked if I was a victim of sexual abuse because I wrote the story was an eye opener.
I say this because it might be useful advice for some of the authors in this collection. Perhaps subtlety might work better than offering the image of an individual sat at his keyboard with his pants round his angles, hard-on in one hand, the other busy as the fingers tap away and relay the fantasies (and not all the authors are male – but it has to be noted that the stories written by women are far more subtle in pace and description, making for a better read).
As per usual with a lot of stories, the best one was the first one, CHERRY CLUBBING by Kenneth Yu. It managed to disgust with subtlety; not going overboard with the descriptions, letting the imagination run riot and asking questions of the reader. Other notables were CATERPILLAR by Craig Saunders, MY DARK LOVER by Stacy Bolli and SAVING RALPH by Alec Cizak.
For me, the wank fodder were A LAXATIVE FOR WRITER’S BLOCK in which the author seemed intent only on causing offence as though trying to be horror’s Frankie Boyle, whilst the other was TO BE FILLED IN BY THE SUBJECT – which had a brilliant concept but preferred to go for over the top visceral as opposed to bringing it back slightly. The problem with revelling in gore is it makes the story less realistic. Toning the extreme narrative down slightly would have made the tale more authentic – hence scarier. This isn’t to say these two are bad stories. They’re expertly written and each has a very powerful voice. The plots are original and they both start well, drawing the reader in. I just feel they could have been better stories with less description – and certainly less trying to be offensive.
But all of this is simply my opinion which, at the end of the day, means very little.
So I commend BLOOD BOUND BOOKS for having the guts (pun intended) to publish such tales and I commend all the writers for doing what they do well enough to garner such strong reactions. I guess it’s now up to the authors and what they want to do. If they wish to see more of their work published, I suggest going for subtler imagery as opposed to all out gore. But then, I’m not one to talk. I have a story called Commode which has seen people questioning my sanity.