Ginger Nuts of Horror
Born in Blood by photographer Nick Hardy and author George Daniel Lea can be described in the simplest of terms as a large format glossy photographic portfolio linked together by a series of short stories from George Daniel Lea. However, the simplest of terms is never nearly enough to describe anything that George Daniel Lea is involved with, for George is a writer who forces you as a reader to push the boundaries of what you are comfortable with.
Born in Blood is a challenging and at times bewildering collection of short stories, some of which can be described as screams of consciousness. In this collection, George never goes for the mundane or the safe ground. His rich, elegant prose and his refusal to shy away from some dark and disturbing imagery and themes will push the reader into the dark and primal regions of their psyche as they make their way through this bloodsoaked collection of stories.
While the stories themselves are not linked they all seem to share a common thread of mental anguish, facing the fears and confronting the past to find in some cases a minute fragment of redemption or at least peace the protagonists within.
Another Nightmare is an excellent example of Lea's use of a scream of consciousness, where the protagonists are trapped within a hellish nightmare, every time he falls asleep, a nightmare that has now started to exist in the waking world. Lea's description of this nightmare and in particular the feelings of the protagonist are utterly captivating; the nightmarish existence is brought to the page with a filthy and gritty realism that will leave the reader feeling genuinely disturbed.
A Feast for the Eyes is perhaps the most complete story in the collection with regards to a having a standard narrative structure. This tale of a man confronting the past, his relationship with his father, and the revelation of the monster that his father was, is an excellent and disturbing take on the sins of the father motif. A compelling tale that deals with the impact of one's parents on the psychological well being of a child, it is rich with darkly beautiful prose. The claustrophobic descriptions of the childhood home are an excellent metaphor for the sense of entrapment of your past
Elsewhere in this collection George touches on religious guilt and fervour with Be Well, and with Cains Gospel, a dark Barkeresque tale of a woman fighting against the confines of a mental torture chamber of her own making Lea's graphically gothic portrayal of a dark and dank mental prison are something to behold.
Born in Blood, as mentioned earlier, is not an easy read, the reader is always kept second guessing as to what is really going on, is this real life or is this fantasy? We are never really party to what is going on, but this never detracts from the power of these stories. The strong themes of entrapment and the confines of suffering from mental health issues are handled with a grotesque, yet sympathetic manner.
The twisted and malformed beauty of Lea's prose shines brightly throughout this collection, with nods to Barker and Z Bright, Born in Blood is a powerhouse of metaphor-filled prose, it will challenge, you, sicken you, and bash your soul its descriptions of mental anguish, but is ultimately a deeply rewarding and accomplished collection.
Sitting side by side with these stories is a series of stunning portraits from the talented photographer Nick Hardy. These disturbing, highly detailed photographs work withe stories to complement each other. Hardy's excellent use of lighting contrast, low and high key images and wonderful deep texture in each picture could only be achieved by a photographer who is at one with his art.
Born in Blood is an excellent example of a mixed media collection where all the elements of the book work together to create something truly magical. I highly recommend purchasing a copy, and doing so will help to raise money for some very worthy causes.