Encyclopocalypse Publications has done something fantastic in bringing this classic piece of 1980s animal horror back to life. Capitalizing on the fears of the nuclear age–of science gone wrong–Mark Kendall penned this exciting tale of deadly, swarming flies descending on the unexpecting people of New Mexico. From the moment the truck transporting the load of genetically modified flies crashes until the clamorous conclusion, we witness close-up accounts of people, pets, and livestock as they run afoul of the insect menace. Scientific hubris, myopic politicians, and a wholly unprecedented threat combine to create a perfect storm for the horrors to unfold in the worst way possible. At the core of the story, a mother’s desire for revenge propels us along a reckless path amid the devastating events scattered throughout the tale. New faces appear only to be summarily devoured and left as a bloody pulp by the devouring proboscises of the flies. Sean Duregger is at the top of his narration game, lending each character their own distinctive voice, breathing life into even the most minuscule roles within the story.
The Damned Place could be considered the spiritual successor to Stephen King’s IT, transported into the 1990s from the 1960s of King’s pivotal masterpiece. Coming of age tales are a familiar substrate upon which horror authors can build a significant sense of dread and high stakes, relatable terror–after all, we were all children once upon a time, complete with imaginations and an unflappable sense of our own invulnerability. Some attempts are more successful than others, and Chris Miller’s foray into the subgenre is massively successful. Deep in the woods is a dilapidated house with a history so unspeakably awful that almost no one in the nearby town of Winnsboro remembers it exists. When a group of friends stumbles across the house, they unwittingly draw the attention of a monstrous, hungry creature hoping to slip through the border between worlds and into ours. It’s in this place that they also discover their world is more magical and unreal than they’d have ever expected. Miller provides readers with an unflinching, uncensored glimpse of a world populated by bullies, tragedy, and alien beings. With gritty, grimy realism, Miller drags us into the story he’s crafted, forcing us to bear witness to extreme depravity and cosmic horror in equal measure. Gone is the infamous underage sewer orgy of King’s novel, but don’t worry because Miller manages to add plenty of discomforting and unsettling elements to his book. But it’s not all about the terror, The Damned Place is also about the strength of friendship and the courage found in the face of impossible conditions. Daniel Caravetta’s narration captures the accents and speech patterns of the characters in a way that makes them jump off the page for the audiobook edition of Miller’s novel.
Just as the nightmarish and unfathomable events of Abhorrent Siren are reaching their feverish conclusion in San Antonio, the events of Abhorrent Faith begin. An inclusive, interfaith potluck hosted by a local Rabbi is interrupted by a hideously transformed–and transforming–monstrosity and the rabidly bigoted evangelical preacher seemingly controlling it. As the world outside the synagogue devolves into chaos and madness, a different sort of madness is on display in the defiled sanctuary. Baltisberger packs this follow-up to his previous novella with just as much perversity and horror but a different brand of social commentary. The scathing indictment of the opioid epidemic is still present, but that takes the backseat as he focuses his ire on bigotry, nationalism, and the anti-semitism embedded in altogether too much of society–and human history as a whole. Calling out the inherent hypocrisy, scriptural ignorance, and mental gymnastics embedded within right-wing Christianity, one can’t help but feel a thrill each time Ari stands up to Adrian King. At the same time, one can’t help but feel the almost tearful frustration and anger at Ari–or anyone–having to contend with the level of ignorance and hate given unworthy life in the story’s antagonist. It doesn’t take long for the reader to recognize that the monsters aren’t all outside, and I’m not talking about the infected, mutating members of Ari’s interfaith circle. Altogether too much of this narrative is non-fiction, in the sense that these abhorrent acolytes of intolerance and acrimony are everywhere one looks, and the anti-semitic sentiments are alive and thriving wherever people like that are platformed and given attention. Baltisberger is angry over this, and that anger seethes beneath the surface of his spectacular storytelling in this follow-up to Abhorrent Siren. The discerning eye might recognize a certain similarity between the cover art and a certain evangelical nut known for unhinged rants and barely suppressed bigotry. This is not an accident.
This title is available through multiple avenues, but you can pick it up for yourself by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device. The link is below: