Christopher Buehlman’s Between Two Fires transports readers to the region now known as France during the peak of the Black Death. The world was ending. Sickness had emptied whole villages, leaving nothing behind but decaying remnants and ghosts that haunted the vacant homes. The survivors, few and far between, were living through horrors no one had ever seen. Amid this nightmare of disease and human predation, a war unlike any witnessed on Earth was taking place. This tableau of terror, both human and spiritual, is the world Buehlman brings to life. When Thomas, a crude and disgraced knight, takes it upon himself to shelter and protect a young girl–who knows things she should not know and sees things others cannot see–he knows he’s set himself on a path that might end in tragedy. But nothing can prepare him for the madness and cruelty awaiting them on their journey to Avignon. The boundaries of reality are repeatedly blurred throughout the narrative, forcing the reader to question–as Thomas does–whether he’s awake or dreaming. The dead haunt the living, tormenting them with cruel assertions and distorted recollections of the past. Ghosts appear and disappear, leaving us to wonder which of these apparitions are truly beyond the veil, and which are drawn from the memories of Thomas and the weary priest who joins him on his quest. Will the trio arrive where they intend, or will the gates of Hell await them instead. Is there a difference? Steve West narrated this audiobook almost perfectly. The delivery of dialogue and narrative components were both handled with great attention to detail. The narration was almost as gripping as the story itself.
It can be difficult living in the shadow of one’s father, especially if that father is particularly successful and celebrated in certain circles…or maybe pentagrams. Time is a quick and brutal story of a son determined to show his father that he’s not only ready to take over the family operation but that he can be both inventive and innovative in doing so. By the time the story reaches its satisfyingly grotesque conclusion, it feels like we’ve been there for a while, but that’s the nature of forever, I suppose. Time loses all meaning when there’s no end to it. Choosing a pedophile as a victim is an excellent choice, as it makes it impossible for the reader to sympathize with his plight. It guarantees that we’ll be in it for the long haul, regardless of how vile and cruel the punishment becomes. We’ll be cheering at the sidelines, hoping to see more suffering. By the time all is said and done, I’d certainly say this son has met or exceeded his father’s lofty expectations. It’s not every day a father and son celebrate by spit roasting a pedophile on their cocks, but in a Todd Love story, one really shouldn’t be surprised.
This title is to be released through http://www.godless.com on January 31st, 2022. You can obtain it for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:
Karen is the fourth installment of the Fucking Scumbags Burn In Hell series, initiated by Drew Stepek. This volume was thrust upon us by Lucy Leitner. She was perhaps the perfect writer for him to next incorporate into his Hoopiverse. It’s plain to see that, as soon as Stepek allowed Leitner to take the wheel, she proceeded to plow her BMW through no less than half a dozen overweight men, women, and children in a rampage from which the reader can’t turn away. Karen is…well…a Karen in every conceivable sense. If you don’t know what that means, I’m curious about how you’re reading this review from your space beneath the rock under which you’ve clearly been residing. Karen’s not someone you’d want to follow on Instagram, for sure, unless you’re looking for tone-deaf comparisons with concentration camps. That particular gag reminded me a great deal of Marjorie Taylor Greene, and I subsequently pictured Greene in the role of Karen for the rest of the story. By the time Hooper comes along, you’re practically begging to see this monster receive the comeuppance you know she’s got coming. Leitner does not disappoint!
You can find this title, as well as the other amazing contributions to the Hoopiverse, by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app to your Android or Apple device of choice. I’ve included the link to the Hoopiverse titles below:
A Little Bit Country, the introduction to the terrific Fucking Scumbags Burn In Hell series, sets the bar high and showcases a uniquely cruel and sardonic portrait of Hell. It’s not supposed to be a fun place, after all. The important thing to remember is that these people belong there, and the torment awaiting them is one that would make Dante proud. Reading about the experience of “Country” as he finds his place in the realm of the damned, I’m forced to reconsider Jean-Paul Sartre’s assertion that “Hell is other people,” and suspect that perhaps Hell is more appropriately ourselves. There is something of No Exit in this brief, humorous tale, in that Hell is not the place we expect it to be, and it’s that subverted expectation that contains the trap waiting to spring closed and provide the torture we’ve earned. Country seems almost sympathetic at first, but I think there’s a little bit of Hooper in all of us, and the satisfaction at seeing how everything comes back around can’t be understated.
The Skid Row Slugger is an amazing follow-up to A Little Bit Country, taking more time to flesh out the newest victim than we had with Country. While the first installment reminded me of C. S. Lewis and Chuck Palahniuk, with the portrayal of Hell as a dead-end job filled with bureaucracy and confusing rules, the follow-up feels more like a Clive Barker experience. This second tale also provides a tantalizing glimpse of how devious Hooper can be. There’s nothing sympathetic or redeeming in the character of our protagonist. A racist, violent, and sexist LA cop isn’t exactly the sort of person I imagine anyone cheering for–but supporters were speaking up in favor of the former officers involved in the Rodney King case and every major incident since then. The Skid Row Slugger isn’t a story for those assholes, though. This is a tale written for those of us who feel that thrilling chill running up our spines when we witness a neo-Nazi punched on camera. It’s the fictional catharsis we need when we try to live our lives as civilized people who won’t resort to violence. Again, there’s a sense of delight in reading this story, and we owe Drew Stepek a favor for giving us this cherished sense of satisfaction.
You can find both stories, along with additional installments of the Fucking Scumbags Burn In Hell series at http://www.godless.com