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.

Beyond Reform by Jon Athan, Aron Beauregard, and Jasper Bark

When I first heard about Beyond Reform, and the authors involved in the book, I knew it was something I had to read. This need became more pronounced when Brian Keene announced the nominees for the Splatterpunk Awards at KillerCon Austin 2022. As a nominee myself, in the same category, I felt a compulsion to dive into the nominated works from my competitors/colleagues/friends. They’re not mutually exclusive categorizations.
Upon reading Beyond Reform, I felt confident that it would be the title that blew the rest of us out of the water. As it turns out, I was correct, and I was waiting to post this review until after I’d confirmed my assessment.
Beauregard, Athan, and Bark capture the theme of Beyond Reform in essentially every conceivable sense. The stories are grim, fatalistic, captivating, sometimes amusing, and often horrifying in their portrayal of the worst aspects of human nature.
Aron Beauregard kicks it all off with the title story, Beyond Reform. Hoping to score some quick cash and have some fun along the way, Marcus finds himself the focus of a couple’s revenge. Unfortunately, for everyone involved, Marcus has made enemies of more than just the two of them, and even the best-laid plans fall apart sometimes. Beauregard pulls no punches and dares the reader to flinch as he ups the ante with each new roll of the dice.
Midnight Glory by Jasper Bark introduces us to a dysfunctional couple with a seemingly unlimited capacity to hurt one another and a similar capacity to sustain the damage. The source of this seemingly supernatural horror is rooted in a gift that turned out to be a bit more than bargained for and a punishment a long time coming. Bark’s grotesque and graphic sexual imagery was almost gag-inducing, and that’s something to be proud of.
Jon Athan hits us next with Tortured Until Proven Innocent, a tale of a vile sexual predator who appears to be getting his comeuppance at the hands of distraught parents. In Athan’s work, as in real life, the stories don’t always have a happy ending, and he doesn’t shy away from hammering that point home with painful clarity.
The Martini Club is Beauregard’s second addition to the collection, and its focus on desperate, lonely women obsessed with rehabilitation and sexual fantasies oriented around a convicted serial killer is a thriller, for sure. As it turns out, not all of the women in The Martini Club have the same sort of fantasies in mind when they finally have the object of their obsessions at hand.
Athan’s Dead But Alive introduces us to a funeral director with a dark and perverse secret that knows no limits, just as the man knows no shame. The disgusting, depraved, and uncompromising delivery from Athan only makes the conclusion to the tale all the more satisfying.
And finally, Jasper Bark concludes the volume with A Most Chemical Wedding, the most unique of the tales included in Beyond Reform. While it is indeed a tale of revenge like much of what came before it, it’s one with numerous twists and wry humor in the mix. Spirituality, alchemy, and a voice that breaks the fourth wall with obvious pleasure make Bark’s second inclusion a fun and fascinating way to wrap everything up.
As you can probably tell, I’m quite a fan of this title.
I’ve heard it said there’s no shame in losing to the best, and the three authors involved in this project showcased why they are some of the best at what they do.

The Damned Ones by Chris Miller, Narrated by Daniel Caravetta

The Damned Ones picks up the threads left behind by The Damned Place 26 years after the horrific conclusion in the forest outside of Winnsboro, TX. The four children have grown up and gone their separate ways, largely relegating the memories of that fateful–and fatal–day to their nightmares. And while they’ve mostly forced themselves to forget what happened, believing it to be a thing of the past, The Glutton has not forgotten, and neither has Jake Reese, still trapped in the dying world where Jim Dalton had left him.
When a woman disappears, and her distraught mother calls the police, it’s Chief Jim Dalton who answers the call. Signs of violence point toward something awful happening in the woman’s apartment, and it’s only the first of many terrible disappearances to plague Winnsboro, all having something to do with Norman Reese, Jake’s younger brother. No less mad, and driven by religious fervor and the pressure of a tumor in his brain, Norman might be precisely what The Glutton needs to force his way into our world.
Jim, Honey, Ryan, and Freddie must come together again to face the monster they hoped they’d left in another world before our world becomes a desolate and dying place as well.
Chris Miller raises the stakes and ramps up the violence for his follow-up to The Damned Place, pulling no punches as he lays out the welcome mat for The Glutton to join us in rural Texas. Mysterious disappearances and secrets from the past have managed to fester long enough that the abscess on the edge of our universe has no choice but to burst and fill our world with its infected burden.
Daniel Caravetta again provides excellent narration for the audiobook, following the children seamlessly into adulthood and bringing their deeply embedded trauma to life. Norman’s harsh and nasal shrieking dialogue was exceptional, and stood out as a high point in the narration.

The Scream by John Skipp and Craig Spector

Skipp and Spector captured the zeitgeist of the late 1980s in an unflinchingly visceral and gritty tale of worlds colliding in a catastrophic and terrifying nightmare brought to life. Heavy metal, Christian fundamentalism, and the horrors of a war most people wanted to forget–though it was less than two decades in the rearview–combine to create a tense and dizzying descent into the depths of Hell. But Hell isn’t content to remain in the depths.
The Scream is the fictional band the Christian right believed all heavy metal acts to be, sinister occultists using the devotion of their fans to bring Hell on Earth. Fronted by the beautiful and mysterious Tara, the band pushes the limits of technology, performance art, and irreligious symbolism. But there’s more going on than performative evil, and it all has something to do with a presence at work during the Vietnam war.
Jake Hamer, Vietnam veteran and frontman of the Jacob Hamer Band, is no stranger to pushing limits and pushing buttons. He’s developed an extreme dislike for the brand of Christian fundamentalism promoted by the likes of Pastor Daniel Furniss, and that sentiment goes both ways. As conservative voices in the political world seek to stifle and curtail the free expression of artists like Jake Hamer, these two men find themselves on opposite sides of a battle neither of them knows is coming, with stakes that they couldn’t imagine.
Skipp and Spector’s novel hits the ground running with a barrage of violence and insanity that sets the stage for the nightmares still to come. Packed with as much social commentary as violence, the authors force readers to confront some unpleasant truths, the most striking of those being the light shone on the performative nature of evangelical Christianity being not so different from the performative Satanism of heavy metal artists of the time.

Abhorrent Faith by John Baltisberger

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:

Bel, The Last Dragon: Jungles of Habbiel by John Baltisberger

Bel, The Last Dragon begins in the Land East-of-Nod, a dizzying and unreal metropolis populated by beings that defy easy description. Not altogether dissimilar from Barker’s Midian–though the nature and scope of this story is far more grand than Cabal–there’s a certain flair and beauty from which one definitely feels a Barker-ish flourish as Bel wanders the streets of this hidden city.
Bel, long believed dead, believed himself to be deceased as well. During the American Civil War, he’d sacrificed himself in the centuries-long War of Dictates between the Sheydim and the Watchers (fallen angels bent on molding the human world to their twisted whims). Following that sacrifice, Bel’s fellow dragons sacrificed themselves in retaliation, each falling in turn, though the tide of the long war only marginally swayed in the direction of the Sheydim. No longer solely the first, Bel awakens outside the Land East-of-Nod as the last dragon.
Enraged and distraught by the loss of his brethren and the minimal benefit gained by their sacrifices, Bel wants revenge. Advances and knowledge gleaned during his centuries of restorative slumber have provided Bel with a chance to obtain the revenge he seeks. A series of islands existing in a strange tangential space separate from the human world is ruled over by Watchers who seek dominion, independent of their brethren. Here, the Sheydim and their allies have a chance to strike profound blows against the power of the fallen angels, to gain strength and the expertise necessary to ultimately assault the Watchers divying up the human world.
In this place, Bel will mete out the bloody, fiery vengeance that drives him as he learns to work with those who have fought this war while he slumbered in near-death.
The first target is the jungle island ruled over by Habbiel and his forces.
Whether you’ve read the epic poem, War of Dictates, you’ll benefit from diving into this tale of cosmic horror and fantasy crafted by Baltisberger. If you’ve had the pleasure of reading War of Dictates, you’ll be pleased to see familiar faces in a format more conducive to truly getting to know them. If you haven’t read the poem, this can be your introduction into the realm of War of Dictates and a primer of sorts that can make your journey through that twisted and violent epic all the more complete.

This title comes out in May of 2022. A link will be added once it becomes available.

Fucked-Up Bedtime Stories #6: High Tea by Peter Caffrey

Arnold’s mother isn’t doing well, and when his father–for some unknown reason–can’t track down Aunt Dorreen to babysit while he takes mommy away to get her some help, there’s no choice but to enlist Molly’s help to take care of Arnold.
Unfortunately, Molly isn’t alone for long, and her friend’s brought along some hard drugs. We’ve all been warned about the dangers of drugs, and Arnold has too. But peer pressure from Jimmy the Chimp might be too much for Arnold to bear, especially when the prospects of becoming King Arnold are rapidly diminishing as he struggles to be a good boy.
In this hallucinatory installment of the Fucked-Up Bedtime Stories, Caffrey blurs the line between what’s real and what’s happening solely in Arnold’s imagination, providing us with a tale of dizzying escapades of extreme violence and sexual content.
The audio edition provided with the purchase brings the whole experience to life in all its vivid and disorienting detail, lovingly narrated by the author.

You can read this for yourself by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app to your preferred mobile device. The link is below:

The Crimes & Passions of John Stabberger Volume 4: The Second Fall of the Third Reich by John Baltisberger

Immediately after Nazi scum kidnapped his romantic interest, Esther, John Stabberger sets out on a recovery mission that’s sure to produce copious amounts of blood and carnage. This is John Stabberger we’re talking about, after all. With the assistance of a celestial entity of indescribable appearance, Stabberger’s quest for vengeance and rescue leads him straight to the Texas Governor’s mansion–as one might suspect, when there are Nazis involved.
The Governor isn’t the only familiar face readers will encounter on Stabberger’s bloody rampage. He’s hardly the only bigot involved with Texas politics. Stabberger as well will come up against some familiar faces from his past on his way to retrieve Esther from the clutches of the Nazi menace.
Stabberger has faced challenging odds in the past, but will his rage and seemingly inexhaustible surplus of murderous implements be enough to take him through the countless guards, Nazis, and Nazi guards standing between him and his target?
Will there be a surplus of long pig for carnitas in Hell after everything is over?
Will you just read the damn story for yourself to find out?

This and the other Godless League titles are available from http://www.godless.com or through the Godless app on your mobile device. The link is below:

The Doze Volume 3: Stalk of Shame by Drew Stepek

Following the events of Concrete Christmas, Slaughterdozer is out of commission and transported to a secret Globoshame facility where he can be studied and held securely captive. All of that will change when a wannabe actor and two-bit criminal, Chance McAlister, is forced to take a job with one of Charles Busk’s companies to pay penance for attempting to rob his distant in-law. Chance never anticipated he’d be coming face-to-face with a monster of living concrete or that his coworkers would be grade-A douchebags, but life works out that way for him.
Seeing The Doze from a different perspective, that of a relatively innocent bystander with no love lost for Globoshame or its CEO, Charles Busk, Stepek provides readers with a glimpse of just how inhuman Slaughterdozer appears from the outside–and how human he can still be.
Will The Doze escape from his confinement?
Will McAlister work off his debt to Globoshame?
Will you just read the damn story and find out for yourself?

You can pick up Stalk of Shame and the other Godless League titles by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

Reincarnage: Maximum Carnage by Ryan Harding and Jason Taverner

If you can imagine the natural outcome of the much-maligned ninth installment of the Friday the 13th series, Jason Goes To Hell, you’ve got some idea of what you’re in for with Reincarnage by Ryan Harding and Jason Taverner.
With the titular Agent Orange, Vietnam Veteran turned slasher extraordinaire, we have a masked, seemingly immortal serial killer who routinely returns to slaughter people who make the mistake of venturing into his territory. The government knows he exists, and they know they’ve found no way to stop him in his murderous rampages more than temporarily. The only solution is to evacuate the region and build a fortified perimeter around the region Agent Orange inhabits. Patroled by military personnel tasked with killing him, again and again, to keep him contained within the walls, the perimeter isn’t perfect but it’s all that separates Agent Orange from the outside world.
Taking a page from Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic, Harding and Taverner imagine a culture of “stalkers” developing; brave or insane souls who venture into the kill zone for memorabilia, or for the sake of saying that they survived crossing into Agent Orange’s territory. At the point when Reincarnage takes place, Agent Orange has become as much a part of pop culture as Charles Manson or Jason Voorhees. Books, video games, and collectibles of all sorts proliferate the world the authors introduce us to.
When eleven people wake up in an otherwise abandoned hotel, it doesn’t take long for them to realize they’re on the wrong side of the walls, with no idea how they got there or why they’ve been deposited in the last place any of them would want to be. Conspiracy theories abound, but answers are harder to come by. Maybe, if this band of survivors could find the time to catch their breath and think things through, they could discover why they’re in the ghost town of Morgan and who would want to leave them there; but the number of survivors is steadily diminishing, and staying still for too long only invites disaster.
Will anyone stay alive long enough to discern the truth?
Will anyone escape?
You’ll have to read it to find out.
This edition of the book includes additional material focused on another group of survivors venturing through the kill zone simultaneously, with no better fortune favoring them.

You can obtain this edition of the book by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below: