I feel it is time for another real time review, and I can think of no better book to review than this collection of short stories from one of my favourite authors. Splinters is published by Timeline Books , the book is due to be published on 01 November 2012, in a strictly limited edition of 500 numbered and signed copies.
To whet your appetite, you can read one of the stories Gaolbreak from the above link.
Kicking of the collection is this twisted modern fairy tale about the dangers of CCTV, and those who watch it. Centred around the Gemini Apartment block, this claustrophobic, will have you enthralled with its paranoia inducing narrative, told from many view points with a story within a story within a story almost meta style, you will be left wondering Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes,Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, and searching your home for that tiny little hole that may just be hiding a camera within it.
A brilliant start to the collection.
Joe is scared of the dark, or to be specific, he is scared of what comes out from under the bed when the lights go out. The thing under the bed has grown with him, mutating into larger and more horrific things as Joe has grown older, but is it real or is it just fantasy? Well you will have to read the story to find out. This is a very good story that manages to bring something new to an age old trope. With some excellent turn of phrases such as "Outside, the night rubbed its hands together before nosing once more at the cracks, keyholes and windows of every home".
So two stories in and already Mr D'Lacey has made me become a little bit paranoid about staying in my own house, what with hidden cameras and monsters under the bed. If this keeps up I'm camping out tonight.
Life isn't great for Sophie, stuck in a dull marriage with kids who seem to be more of a burden than anything else, she craves for a little bit of excitement in her life. Then slowly but surely her life gets the zest she is craving. However beware, as things are wont to happen in these sort of stories the zest begins to sour.
This story had me pondering it for a long time, mainly because as Sophie's life begins to tumble out of control, the horrors she is put through and has to witness are extreme to the max. Reading these passages was not easy, and at one point I considering not finishing the story. However I'm glad I did, yes these passages are difficult, voyeuristic, and extremely uncomfortable, but the pay off of why they are happening makes these passages worthwhile. Alter Girl is a good modern fairytale, if though Joseph had toned the horrors down this would have been an excellent story.
THE QUIET ONES
Charged with taking out a commune, where the members have made a perilous journey through the frozen Tundra, our assassin soon realizes that there are things much more dangerous than the cold that inhabit this inhospitable wasteland. This is a simple yet wonderfully stylistic and atmospheric story that takes us into the bleak and cold heart of a killer. With some high tension scenes between the assassin and a child caught in the cross hairs of his gun.
THE UNWRAPPING OF ALISTAIR PERRY
Poor Perry, he just can't seem to get the woman of his dreams, until one day something miraculous occurs, that gives Perry everything he ever wanted in woman. This soon leads to him getting everything he ever wanted, that is until ......
This is a very strange story, it's one of those stories that if you wrote down the plot plot, you'd think "what the hell", yet thanks to Joseph's talents as a writer it actually works very well.
THE MANGO TREE
This story starts of like a good old fashioned children's fairy tale, but don't let this fool you, this is no no kids tale. What follows is a great non Disneyfied take in the Circle of Life. This is my favourite story so far, mainly as it shows an author who can mix up his writing styles and this story shows both the range and talent Joseph has to offer.
ARMAGEDDON FISH PIE
One of the main things that I love about this genre I once you look past what looks like a limited number of plot lines, you soon realise that when a talented author tackles a well worn narrative, they will inevitably bring something special to the table. With Armageddon Fish Pie, Joe doesn't just bring the main course, he brings, the starters, the pudding, and the after diner coffee to the table. This is an extremely thoughtful story that rather than going down the well worn route that these stories are wont to do, this story breaths new life into this sub genre, and will stay with you long after finishing it.
This short story could almost be viewed as a companion piece to The Unwrapping of Alistair Perry, where a man is transformed into a snake, after a touch too much heroin. Of the two The unwrapping is the better story, perhaps due the the much shorter length of Kundalini. Not bad just not as great as the other excellent stories on offer here.
SON OF PORN
After the rather heavy tone of the previous tales here we shift down a gear into the more fun end of the spectrum. This rather dirty little ditty will have you reaching for the wet wipes after you finish reading it with mankind on the cusp of a new reproductive era, a porn mogul takes great pleasure in discovering new ways in which to enjoy the biology and anatomy of the human being.
Considering I normally skip over any sex scene in the books I read, I was more than surprised to find myself riveted by this story.
WHAT THEY WANT
This is a fun collection of four short segments that us what the aliens really want when they finally come down and visit us. It's not easy mixing humour and horror, but Joe pulls it of with a first class effort.
THE FOOD OF LOVE
I new it had to happen, gods forbid I read a collection that doesn't have a zombie story in. Jimmy don't like zombies. Luckily, this story doesn't shamble through the typical graveyard of zombie stories. In fact this is an excellent, thoughtful and rather emotional tale, that shows the power of love even after death. The heart may not be beating, but the heart will go on.