Review by George Ilett Anderson
A Very British Purge
We probably all had that feeling at one point or another where someone has committed some act or said something unconscionable and you’ve just thought “I’d love to see you get your just desserts.” It’s an idea take to its logical extreme in the enjoyably sharp collaborative novella from J.R. Park and Matt Shaw, “Postal.”
Set in a contemporary England, the current government has decided to instigate a new piece of legislation, the “Postal Execution Grant” as a means to subdue and control the population. This official letter grants thirteen members of the population the right to commit legalized murder on any other person they deem worthy of receiving their wrath, free from any legal or ethical complications. I think it’s probably fair to say that Park and Shaw serve up quite the menu of deserving characters!
The story starts out introducing a disparate group of individuals going about their daily business. As the novella unfolds, it becomes clear that the majority of characters fates are inexorably intertwined and it is going to be an eventful and memorable day for all the wrong reasons. I have to say that this is one story where you are positively itching for the main characters to get their just desserts. The main antagonists are a thoroughly unpleasant bunch of narcissistic and arrogant characters intent on using and abusing all around them. Thankfully in amongst their bile, invective and rage is the character of Janet who provides a nicely contrasting story about the role of morality and individual choice in society.
However, you probably aren’t reading “Postal” for the character dynamics or the subtle social commentary but more the inventive and wonderfully nasty levels of retribution dished out by the recipients of the aforementioned letter. As one would expect from Park and Shaw, two writers steeped in the more extreme end of horror, the punishments must fit the crime and what you have here are some deliciously inventive and nasty slices of retribution.
“Postal” comes across almost like the bastard love child of Grand Guignol and a comedic farce; interspersed amongst the gleefully creative and graphic deaths is a healthy injection of jet black sardonic humour and sharp slices of social commentary. The novella takes some well aimed pot shots at English notions of civility and duty, politics and society’s lurid obsession with violence and social commentators who like to stir the pot. Suffice to say that “Postal” is a sly and sharp slice of visceral wish fulfilment that is well worthy of your time and money.
From Matt Shaw (Sick B*stards) and J R Park (Upon Waking)...
It was a bold move, an initiative by a truly inspirational leader.
The scheme was a simple one. Each month a letter would be sent to selected people; thirteen in total. Within that month the receiver of the letter was given the lawful right to kill one person. It didn’t matter who it was or how they did it. The receiver granted the right to commit murder with no legal consequences.
Each month people wondered whether this time they’d be randomly selected. Whether they’d be chosen to make their lives that little bit easier by killing the person who was making it unnecessarily harder.
Praise for the authors
“Park is a much-needed shot in the arm for gritty pulp horror.” – DLS Reviews
“Uncompromising and savage, Matt Shaw's writing ensures that the future of the horror genre is in good hands.” - Shaun Hutson, author of 'Slugs'