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.
In a career punctuated by numerous surreal horror stories, The Town might be Bentley Little’s most surreal book of them all–and that says something. Steeped in the Russian spiritualism and mysticism of the Molokan immigrants to the United States and Mexico, Little introduces readers to a religious sect about which most people know little to nothing. I’m well-versed in world spirituality, and even I had little understanding of Molokan philosophy and culture. When Gregory Tomasov won the California lottery, he didn’t necessarily strike it rich. He did earn enough to move his family back to his hometown in rural Arizona, where he believes his children are safer than in Los Angeles. At first, the homecoming seems to work out nicely, though strange occurrences are popping up. It isn’t long before the whole world around them appears to be going mad. It all has something to do with Jedushka di Mudvedushka, the Owner of the House–a Russian superstition–and the banya (bathhouse) on the property where the Tomasovs moved. Little manages to keep the reader guessing what might come next as he ratchets up the tension and defies expectations at every opportunity. Nothing can be taken for granted as the narrative propels us toward a ghastly and horrific conclusion from which only some will walk away. David Stifel’s narration suitably captures the accents of various characters, and he provides listeners with a thrilling experience while at the same time delivering the narrative with an unusual drawl and cadence that is occasionally off-putting. It works for the story in question, but I’m not sure how much of that was intentionally applied for this audiobook and how much was just the narrator’s manner of speaking.
In Cerberus Exploitation: A Grindhouse Triple Feature, Patrick C. Harrison III, Mike Ennenbach, and Chris Miller nail the storytelling aesthetic of grindhouse exploitation cinema with a Troma flair. It’s particularly appropriate that I mention Troma since this book begins with an introduction provided by none other than Lloyd Kaufman. Like proper triple-feature experiences, the book contains trailers, film credits (with dream casting choices from the authors), and everything a fan could hope for…aside from the popcorn. Electro-Satan Comes To Wolfe City introduces us to a group of kids hoping to enjoy a summer camping trip, only to have everything disrupted by mutant hillbillies. Ennenbach’s contribution to this collection gets the reader/listener’s attention almost immediately with a musical performance that should have anyone in stitches. From there, it’s a barrage of violence, humor, and all the splattery goodness fans of the genre adore. Patrick C Harrison III then hits us with his twisted take on the women in prison genre with Vampire Nuns Behind Bars. Replete with lesbianism, sadism/torture, scientific experimentation, rebel uprisings/prison riots, and–of course–vampires. Terrible things are taking place at this women’s prison, where political dissidents and troublemakers–and a handful of nuns–are swept under the rug and channeled into one of two secret chambers where horrors await. When a prison break’s attempted, the balancing act that kept the facility functional gets disrupted hugely, and the halls and cell blocks become a slaughterhouse. And finally, we arrive at Chris Miller’s Sons of Thunder, focused on a military recovery mission in the dystopian Hellscape outside of the “safely” bubbled cities owned and operated by corporations. Escape From New York and Assault on Precinct 13 come together, producing a malformed and grim, action-packed adventure. Mutants, terrorists, and doomsday cultists stand in the way of an elite team and one man bent on revenge at any cost. There’s no point in trying to describe the escapades these authors have assembled. It’s something one just has to experience for themself…and I recommend doing so as soon as possible. Daniel Caravetta’s narration is spot-on, capturing the lunacy and low-budget mayhem of grindhouse cinema in a way only a fan of the films could manage.
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.
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:
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:
Waking up can be a bit disorienting. Waking up to a large room full of people attending your funeral would be vastly more confusing and horrific. For Gregory Laine (Gory), this is how it all begins. It’s only natural for a zombie to eat, but Engkent goes one step further and offers both a motivation and a purpose behind that constant drive to consume. With a mouthful of his girlfriend’s breast, Gory is captured by agents working for iASK, the Institute for Abnormal Scientific Knowledge, before he’s carted off to a secret facility where the institute hopes to study the properties that have resurrected him. In this miraculously undead specimen, the keys to various scientific and metaphysical mysteries could be revealed–if only the dead man would cooperate. Can anyone be prepared for the changes Gory is undergoing? What surprising revelations does he have in store for those hoping to monitor him, his former friends, and himself? Garry Engkent provides readers with an often-overlooked perspective within zombie fiction–the perspective of the dead–and he does so in a way that sets itself apart from the work of David Wellington, George A. Romero & Daniel Kraus, and others who ventured into this territory.
You can obtain this story as well as the other Emerge titles by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:
Arnold’s parents have a honeymoon to celebrate, and they’re leaving for the weekend–what Jimmy the Chimp insists will be a “dirty weekend.” Arnold and Jimmy are thrilled to imagine a weekend left to their own devices while their usual babysitter casually ignores them while sneaking into the sauce. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s in store for them. Instead, Arnold and Jimmy are carted off to spend the weekend with Arnold’s aunt Dorreen, a new age hippy with a vegan diet and a vastly different idea of fun from what Arnold and Jimmy the Chimp have in mind. A surprising session of naked yoga is the last straw, and the rest of the weekend becomes a rollercoaster of death, dismemberment, and debauchery. Caffrey continues to entertain with the antics of Arnold and Jimmy the Chimp while creating bedtime stories that only the least qualified parent would share with a child. Thankfully, he provides audio narrations of each of these stories, so you can settle in and let him read these amusing tales to you just like mommy and daddy did before they were hauled off by Child Protection Services and incarcerated.
You can find this, and the other titles in the series, by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device. The link is below:
The Professor has previously deconstructed, distilled, and devastated classic literary prose with his magnificent and monstrous homages to some of the great writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This time he’s set his sights on something far more primal…a well-loved fixture of North American cryptozoology…Bigfoot. Two campers amid passionate playtime in their tent are interrupted by a startling roar that incapacitates them in preparation for the monster coming their way. Cruel and sadistic, the creature takes pleasure in torturing his prey as he builds up to a climax of cyclopean proportions, and The Professor keeps us right there, in the center of the action without relenting or taking any more pity than the beast itself does with its prey. Envisioning the sasquatch as a carnal clamoring colossus, The Professor joins the ranks of those–like Lucas Milliron–who transform the beast from the friendly, secretive forest dweller of Harry and the Hendersons into a vile, sexually aggressive predator. A cautionary tale about the risks associated with camping, and especially against having sex while doing so, Spunk of the Sasquatch paints a revolting portrait of the elusive beast. By the time his rumbling roar is resonating within your bones, it’s already too late. Just remember, all he wants is a little head. Naturally, The Professor includes an audio edition of this thrilling tale. I recommend settling in as the man himself caresses your ears with the vile and visceral details conveyed through his voice.
You can obtain this for yourself by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:
Arnold and Jimmy the Chimp are up to no good yet again as Christmas approaches. The school is preparing their annual Christmas performance, and Arnold initially believes he’s being left out, without a role to play. When Arnold is tasked with handling the donkey for the nativity play, it’s only a matter of time before everything goes wrong. Problems with erectile dysfunction from his father provide Arnold and Jimmy with all the inspiration they need, and Terry the donkey has the excitement of his life ahead of him. As a prank becomes an unforgettable nightmare for the students and family in attendance, Christmas will never be the same again. As with all of the Fucked-Up Bedtime Stories, Peter Caffrey provides us with audio narration of this delectably depraved tale that is unsuitable for all but the most emotionally and psychologically scarred children and the adults they grow up to become. The quality of his narration is no less impressive than many of the professional audiobook narrators on the market, so readers/listeners have no cause for disappointment.
This title was released through http://www.godless.com as part of the AntiChristmas event for December of 2021. You can obtain a copy for yourself by going to the website or downloading the Godless app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below: