Something Akin To Revulsion by Judith Sonnet

Judith Sonnet takes a hammer and chisel to our sensibilities and good taste with her collection, Something Akin To Revulsion: Six Extreme Short Stories. There is nothing safe, nothing sacrosanct, and nothing off-limits within these pages–and that’s how it should be.
It was my pleasure to be one of the first to experience LOLCOW, the story that starts this particular collection. Judith’s rendition of this grotesque and graphic tale was the winning performance of the 2022 KillerCon Gross-Out Contest, and with good reason. Plumbing the depths of the internet for hilarious, perverse, and captivating content might provide more stimulation than one is prepared to experience. But like the narrator of LOLCOW, we can’t help ourselves as we return to the trough.
Liquid Sick suitably tackles the TERF epidemic, showcasing for readers that those people spend too much time spewing excrement and too little time on empathy. Judith’s own trans experience influences and informs this narrative, and she does an excellent job of providing both amusement and poignant social commentary. Also, apropos of nothing…fecal emesis has always fascinated me.
Sonnet’s next story, Rehearsal, provides a grim and unrelenting glimpse into the hours before a school shooting transpires. Kids who did nothing wrong find themselves prey to the whims of cruel and maladjusted classmates with pizza cutters to grind.
Body-Crunch takes us to the dimly lit, poorly constructed ring of a backyard wrestling match that goes horrifically wrong. It’s not every day one almost feels bad for a pedophile, but it’s hard not to feel some faint stirring of sympathy as everything comes crashing down–and spilling out.
In Coke-Nail, a group of bored, slacker teenagers decide they know where they might be able to score some cocaine. The deal doesn’t work out as planned, but one of them still manages to reach a state sort of like snowblindness.
Finally, we have Something Akin To Revulsion, wherein some truly awful preadolescent girls decide they’re going to play a prank on the dumpy, less popular girl in their class. The conclusion might have you in stitches, though, so it’s worth sitting through the horror.
Sonnet’s collection is as gripping as it is bleak and nihilistic, and it’s got those traits in spades. Her story notes clarify the inspiration and motivation behind each of the inclusions, and it’s always a pleasure to spend a little time getting to know the author after finishing something that’s hollowed you out like this collection is sure to do.

Shattered Skies by Chris Miller

The Foreword provided by Patrick C. Harrison III accurately captures the most impactful component of Chris Miller’s stories collected in Shattered Skies, suspense. There is an underlying sense of suspense to these tales, sometimes bordering on dread and other times sweeping the reader away with excitement, but ever-present just the same. Combining that anticipation and tension with masterful storytelling, Miller has assembled an amazing cross-section of what he’s capable of as a writer.
Instead of delving into each of the stories, as I often do, I’m choosing to focus on the handful that left the most lasting impression on me. This is not to say that anything is lacking in the others, just that I’m going to be spoiling things in small ways, and I’d prefer to avoid doing so with everything in this collection.
Kicking everything off with 10-35 At First United Bank, Miller thrusts readers into an all-too-plausible sort of horror as an elderly bank security guard finds himself caught up in circumstances he can’t control as he desperately tries to save the lives of those he loves. The bank heist trope receives a refreshingly sincere treatment that’s sure to be heartbreaking for readers.
Behind Blue Eyes was a story I’d already thoroughly enjoyed when I read And Hell Followed, an anthology of the end times. Miller’s portrait of a world going progressively more mad with each pressure wave of the horns blasting to signify the end is something that propels us toward a conclusion that feels simultaneously unfair and fitting. This one is a story of guilt and remorse over the way little things can have a profound and lasting impact on our lives, amplified in the recollection.
An attempt to relax with a house full of family transforms into a confrontation with a looming and mysterious terror enveloping the protagonist’s world in Horror On Lonesome Lane. Discovering what awaits on the other side has rarely seemed this awful and sinister.
Road Kill Gods provides us with a glimpse into what might be required of us to hold nature at bay as we carelessly and callously slaughter our way through our lives. Unwilling to accept the price to be paid, will our protagonist release a wave of horror upon the whole world?
As a child, there was no one in my family with whom I spent more of my time than my grandfather. In my case, it was my maternal grandfather rather than my paternal, but that doesn’t change the way Miller devastated me when I was reading Farewell. I was lucky enough to be in my 20s before my maternal grandfather passed away, and I can only imagine how much worse it would’ve been if he’d gone when I was much younger. Farewell is a touching and heartbreaking story, but it’s also a story of how tragedy can sometimes bring families closer and establish new roles for us as we seek to fill the void left in someone’s absence.
A Magnificent View brings us back to the same event from Behind Blue Eyes, or a similar enough event that we can assume they might be the same. Forced to witness the world collapsing into chaos from miles above the surface, a lone astronaut measures his life by oxygen percentage, knowing that he might still be the last survivor of the human race when all is said and done.
Wrapping up this collection with the M. Ennenbach co-authored Neon Sky was an excellent choice. We experience another story that, at its core, is about family and the risks we’ll take to save them. We’re gifted with another tale of a heist gone wrong, this one in a near-future cyberpunk dystopia. Fast-paced and endlessly exciting, Neon Sky is a fascinating juxtaposition from the somber tone of 10-35 At First United Bank. Miller and Ennenbach deliver a thrill ride populated by police drones, horrifying machines that keep the city functioning, an army of mafia killers, hackers, and confusing firearms.

Shattered Skies is a finalist on the ballot for the 2022 Splatterpunk Awards to take place at KillerCon Austin in August of 2022.

Twisted: Tainted Tales by Janine Pipe

Janine Pipe delivers a diverse assortment of stories with Twisted: Tainted Tales, the only theme being that the bulk of the action takes place in the 1980s. This collection, framed as being stories from a missing author, as discovered by a woman tasked with sifting through the missing person’s household for anything of value, is packed full of nostalgia for those of us who recall the era. Unlike some nostalgia-heavy writing I’ve read recently, Pipe doesn’t lean on the nostalgia to do the heavy lifting and instead keeps the focus on her largely spectacular storytelling and captivating set pieces.
Each of the stories contained within Twisted: Tainted Tales has been titled (or retitled) with that of a song from the music released in the 1980s. This is done with the explanation that there’s a mixtape accompanying the discovered manuscripts.
The collection starts strong with Footsteps, a story of three women venturing into a section of wilderness where something sinister and bloodthirsty might be waiting for anyone unfortunate enough to stumble upon its hunting grounds.
When Doves Cry is a period piece about a woman accepting the kindness of a stranger on a cold night from a man seeking the right woman to fulfill his peculiar needs.
The third inclusion, I Want To Break Free, subverts our expectations as we experience the same event from a captured victim and her captor. But which one is the monster?
Maneater introduces us to two detectives investigating a series of exsanguinated victims. The nature of the crimes themselves is perhaps less startling than the perpetrator when one of the detectives discovers the monster behind the killings.
A night at the club turns into a bloody, violent act of intimacy in Addicted To Love.
Sweet Child Of Mine delves into the topic of imaginary friends and the potential consequences if those friends aren’t as fanciful as we suppose.
Tainted Love recounts a narrative of obsession, as an infatuation transforms into something far more unsettling, culminating in brutal violence and skilled craftsmanship.
With Lost In the Shadows, we’re introduced to a town plagued by a rash of missing children, and a sinister discovery at the local drive-in theater.
It’s a Sin is a ghost story about friendship, child abuse, and overprotective parents that ends unhappily.
The post-apocalyptic tale, Love Is a Battlefield, acquaints us with a society where the rich and powerful have been stripped of their privilege. We follow one of the former upper crust as she believes she’ll be forced to face death as entertainment for those now in control.
Running With the Devil is a story of urban legends and ghost stories, and the profoundly negative impact those things might have if we discover them to be true.
Boys being gross, led by adolescent hormones, and burgeoning sexual discovery is the topic of Paradise City. Of course, things take an awful turn that is sure to make every man cringe.
School’s Out Forever resonated well with me as someone who routinely ventured into condemned and abandoned buildings. A couple of friends decide to trespass in a haunted school where atrocities once took place, hoping to find the place haunted but ultimately terrified by what they discover.
Two brothers on a camping trip with their father discover that a mother’s love transcends death, in Living On a Prayer, especially when there’s an ancient burial ground nearby and revenge to be taken.
The fifteenth track, Thriller, delves into the fact that the topic of urban legends and ghost stories again, exploring the haunted houses we’re all sure exist within our hometowns as we’re growing up.
Nobody’s Fool explores the possibility that one young boy’s night terrors might be rooted in something other than an overactive imagination and that there might be an important message embedded in the unconscious horror that he experiences.
Stephen King’s not the only one who can tell a tale about the convergence of coming of age and sewer drains. Janine Pipe concludes her collection by introducing us to a different sort of monster that might be lurking in the storm drains the most daring children explore when there’s pride and a kiss on the line.
The closest thing I have to a complaint is that I’d have preferred the author’s notes compiled at the end of the book rather than at the end of each story. It was more jarring, having those notes breaking up the framing story of discovered manuscripts rather than placing them at the end of the collection. I’m a fan of the author’s notes being included, so I’m pleased that Pipe included them, but I feel like they could’ve been in a better location.

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski, Translated by Danusia Stok

Like most Americans, my first exposure to Geralt of Rivia and the wider world of The Witcher was through video games. It wasn’t until a short while later that I opted to check out the books upon which the video games were adapted. The Last Wish, a collection of seven short stories, was the first I’d read from Andrzej Sapkowski, and the tales were enthralling. Sardonic humor, entertaining dialogue, fast-paced action, captivating characters, and off-beat references to well-known fairy tales made famous through Disney bastardization produced a wholly original fantasy realm in which Geralt plied his trade.
Nested within the framing story of Geralt recovering from the injuries sustained in the first of the stories collected in The Last Wish, the stories primarily serve as flashbacks to earlier events in the titular Witcher’s life.
The first of those stories, and the source for the injuries, is a tale titled simply The Witcher. A king’s daughter, cursed at birth as a striga from the king’s incestuous union with his sister, has been preying on the population of Temeria. Many had tried to either lift the curse or kill the monster to no avail. Geralt offers his assistance and the assurance that he believes he can end the curse, but Geralt might have more difficulty doing so than he expects.
A Grain of Truth finds Geralt wandering off the beaten path, where he discovers two corpses with peculiar wounds. He soon discovers a large manor with an unexpected beast as a host. An interesting riff on the Beauty and the Beast narrative, A Grain of Truth provides the reader with a glimpse of the strange shapes love can take in Sapkowski’s writing.
It’s the third story, The Lesser Evil, that provides readers with the explanation for how Geralt obtained the pejorative nickname, the Butcher of Blaviken. Additionally, this story provides readers with a unique twist on the Snow White fairy tale, with a distinctly dark and sinister damsel at its heart.
A Question of Price introduces readers to “The Law of Surprise” and Queen Calanthe of Cintra. Another story with a curse at the core of it, we learn the power of destiny within the world of The Witcher, and we witness that love can be both blind and without judgment even in a realm brimming with cynicism like Sapkowski’s creation.
The Edge of The World shares with readers the first adventure featuring Geralt and the bard, Dandelion. Tasked with ridding the farmland of Lower Posada of a devil while restricted by a wise woman to inflict no harm on the creature, Geralt and Dandelion discover that there is more going on than the peasant farmers suspect.
In the story, The Last Wish, we meet Yennefer of Vengerberg after Dandelion and Geralt accidentally release a genie from its captivity, resulting in Dandelion being grievously injured. Seeking assistance from the sorceress, Yennefer, Geralt finds himself a pawn in a game he knew nothing about. He must find a way to restore control if he hopes to save Dandelion’s life as well as that of the duplicitous sorceress.
The framing story, The Voice of Reason, culminates in Geralt and Dandelion leaving the temple only to be waylaid by a company of soldiers who challenge Geralt to a duel. We also receive a glimpse into the fate the surrounds Geralt, one of blood and violence.
These stories are in no way chronologically lined up, and many of them will be familiar to those who have watched the Netflix series adapted from Sapkowski’s writing. Similarly, the strangely fluid chronological delivery will feel quite familiar to fans of the series. There are, of course, deviations in the adapted material for the series, but the core elements of the stories are present, which makes what Netflix has done quite spectacular.

This Post May Cause Unexplained Ocular Bleeding…Or It May Cause You To Buy It, At Least

If you haven’t already heard about May Cause Unexplained Ocular Bleeding, this post is for you. If you’ve heard about my new book, but you don’t know whether it’s something you’re interested in, this post is also for you. Essentially, this post is for anyone and everyone.
Tomorrow morning, August 18th, my second collection of short fiction becomes available in digital formats at http://www.godless.com for the low price of $2.99, which is $1 cheaper than it’ll be in digital format when it goes live on Amazon on Friday, August 20th. It will also be available in paperback on August 20th for the low price of only $8.99.
Check out this cover, designed by the fantastic Drew Stepek.

That design alone should be enough to whet your appetite. If you’re one of those style over substance sorts, that cover layout should be all it takes to convince you that you need this in your collection.
Of course, you’re in for more than a fancy-looking cover when you pick up a copy of this book.
Not only does this collection include the sleeper hit, Horseplay, from Godless, but it contains nine additional short stories that are sure to make my readers uncomfortable as often as it entertains them. Not only that, but I have made certain to include a brief note that details the inspiration behind each of these tales of terror and tribulation. Some of these notes are more worthwhile than others, but I wanted you–my readers–to know me a little better when you came out of the experience than you might have on your way in.
Here’s the description from the back cover of the paperback edition:

I didn’t know how to react when Carver Pike provided me with what I must admit is likely to be the best blurb I could ever hope to receive. Any comparison to a writer of Gaiman’s caliber is going to be flattering–and also impossible to live up to. I’m going to hope that I don’t let my readers down when I turn out to be nowhere near the author Neil Gaiman happens to be.
Adrian Ludens not only provided a fantastic blurb, but his keen eyes also caught little bits and pieces of editing that had slipped through the cracks along the way. After staring at the same stories for so long, one becomes inured to faults and flaws that might ruin the tone of a story. It’s a sort of editing blindness that creeps in and destroys otherwise fantastic manuscripts. Had it not been for Mr. Ludens taking the time to read the stories with a critical eye, I might have missed a handful of mismatched tenses and incorrect words.

You can, of course, purchase this title from http://www.godless.com or through the Godless app tomorrow. The link is below:

You can also hold out until Friday the 20th, to pick up a copy at the following link on http://www.amazon.com