Review by The Bone Breaker
Generally, I reserve short stories for when I am between novels - particularly if I am waiting for a book to arrive in the mail - that way, I know I will not be in the middle of a book, when a new one arrives. :-)
This wasn't the case with this collection of short stories. I had nothing on my plate when I started to read this collection, and it's a good thing as I was so captivated by the tales within, that a new novel would have had to have been set aside anyhow.
The first story, Bloodlines, is the longest at 47 pages. This is the story of four complete strangers who are invited to a mysterious gathering at a Southern Louisiana Manor, that was built in the 1800's, and has a sordid history behind it. It is a tale of greed. . .
Next is April - the story of a 17 year-old girl who has been experiencing mysterious blackouts. Upon awakening, her bedroom would appear to have been ransacked, and at one point she even found a butcher knife under her mattress. What is the story behind her strange blackouts?
[this one is a great story, however I felt that it ended too abruptly - I wanted more!]
* Note: Keeping in contact with the author of this collection, I found out, just the other day, that April may be made into a film - Cool! :-)
In The God Complex, Brown tells the tale of a cult that uses methadone wafers [during their weekly communion] to control its congregation through addiction and sedation. . .
From Midnight to One tells the story of an unhappily married woman, waiting for her husband to come home - while home alone, in the woods, during a storm, with possible intruders in the house. . .
[a very cool & creepy story]
In The Acquired Taste, a new parasite is discovered in some sushi - a parasite that affects the brain, turning people homicidal!
It's All True is an excellent story about an author who is investigating a haunted mansion that was once used as an amputation hospital during the Civil War. He enters with only a camera, a recorder, and a flashlight. . .
Live Through This is a scary story because it could really happen - it is a tale of a bedridden man and his obsessed lover!
In Two Miles, the main character of the story wakes up - seemingly in the middle of a desert - not knowing when or how he got there. After a mysterious wall and a billboard "screen" appear, showing scenes from his life, he begins to wonder if he has been drugged. . .
The End of Summer is probably the most memorable story in this collection. In this story, the title character - Summer - inherits her aunt's home, which is filled with all sorts of occult paraphernalia, including books, voodoo dolls, etc. After going through the home, bizarre deaths start to occur. . .
Feast of the Pigs tells the story of a drug pusher who is arrested in an alley, by a female officer. He is then stuck in a holding cell - his rights were not read to him, he did not get a phone call, and he was never fingerprinted. . .
[Screw it, I'm going to blow the whistle on this one - this one is a killer vampire story! Ahhhhh - sorry, I couldn't help myself]
In A Dead Ringer, on New Year's Eve, 1897, an unfaithful wife and her lover murder her husband. . .
[this tale was fantastic and has a very "Poe" feel to it]
House by the River tells the tale of a schizophrenic serial killer, as told by a lone survivor. . .
Althea's Last Dance is the story of a modern day Jack the Ripper. Althea is a stripper, who crosses his path. . .
[If you were wondering about the cover of the book - shown above - it is a butterfly charm, which is worn by Althea in this story]
Bliss Hill is the shortest story in this collection - only a mere five pages. In 1942, something is killing the chickens and cattle on a rural farm. . .
The last story, Zoe's Swan Song is about an egotistical superstar who is determined to become even more beautiful than she already is. . .
[this one is quite nauseating, and I mean that as a compliment]
In the very beginning of the book, Brown quotes Poe, Lovecraft, Nietzsche, and Francis Bacon - I am not familiar with Bacon, though I am certain that the others would be be proud of their influence upon Brown's bodies of work found in this collection. Brown is very descriptive and atmospheric. He utilizes very cool metaphorical sentence structures, and he has a knack for keeping you on the very edge, throughout his stories [which progressively get better, in my opinion]
If you enjoy short stories, then this collection is definitely recommended!
For further information, you can visit the author's website at http://www.traumatizedalexandersbrown.webs.com/