Bella’s Boys by Thomas R. Clark

Thomas R. Clark has crafted an interesting tale with Bella’s Boys. It’s a little bit American Psycho, a larger bit of cosmic horror, and a lot of splatterpunk erotica.
The reason I mention the novel from Bret Easton Ellis isn’t only because of the fixation on music and the almost overwhelming attention to detail associated with said music throughout the novella–but that does have something to do with it–it’s because this novella captures something of the 1990s dive bar, metalhead scene in the same way American Psycho satirized the white-collar, predatory capitalist world of the 1980s. At the same time, Bella’s Boys certainly depicts graphic acts of sex and violence (often simultaneously) with the same unrelenting and unfiltered lack of concern so many readers enjoyed from Ellis’s novel.
The afterward, providing a glimpse into the author’s life and the real-life snowstorm that inspired the blizzard taking place within the novella, was a nice touch. It’s fun and entertaining to see just how much of the story was pulled from a piece of Clark’s own life. I would certainly hope none of the people trapped in the house they were trapped in during the real blizzard ended up being converted into conscious bits of fecal matter…but maybe the truth is stranger than fiction?
The short story, Prey for Change, attached to the end is a tantalizing glimpse of a world that melds Viking society, werewolf mythology, and something reminiscent of the army of the dead from Game of Thrones. I would read more of that story, for sure.
Since I listened to the audiobook edition of Bella’s Boys, a comment on the narration is in order. It’s almost unfortunate that the sole weakness with this edition of the book is the quality of Allyson Wentworth’s narration. This isn’t to say the narrator does a bad job of it, but there was a certain flatness to elements that seemed like they merited a bit more passion or at least spirited delivery. From what I can see, she has only narrated a couple of books thus far, and it could be due to this being the beginning of her career as an audiobook narrator. Please don’t let my personal opinion on the narration dissuade you from checking out the book in whatever format most appeals to you. I sincerely doubt even my favorite audiobook narrators were at the apex of their craft when they started.

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