Ginger Nuts of Horror
Matthew M. Bartlett has risen to become one of my very favorite writers, one that I will gladly read anything and everything that is available. His dark and signature style is, plainly put, brilliant. This short collection is no exception. The limited edition hardcover from Dunham's Manor is gorgeous, featuring an unforgettable cover by Dave Felton.
After a short but no less important introduction by the wonderful Scott Nicolay (you ought be reading him as well!) we get started with the opening tale, "Carnomancer." After a bizarre incident at the local grocery store, a manager discovers that the meat department lead holds keys to a mirror world, a horrific landscape made of meat, raw, bloody and unflinchingly horrific. The next tale, "Spettrini" follows the dark journey of a magician, slowly swirling the drain of his career who finds his former mentor offering a new act in a small venue.
"Follow You Home" trails a fellow who leaves a party early and finds himself dogged by a strange and terrifying creature. "No Abiding Place On Earth" gives us the invasion of a neighborhood, an invasion of bizarre flying creatures that you'll not soon forget. "Kuklalar" is an office-set tale of the horrors of management and all of its tiers, made even more frightening by the odd pains taken to make the place better and the nightmare that unfolds because of that move.
The next-to-the-last story is the titular one and follows a disc jockey as he embarks on a promotional stunt, the 24 hour broadcast and the small cracks that bloom to full shatter in his sanity with every passing minute. And for the wrap-up, Bartlett gives us one of the most heart-wrenching tales I've read in a long, long time, "The Beginning Of The World" is just a gut-punch. A father and daughter stare down the end of it all, that's really all you get as you must read this one. Savor it as a bite of seared meat or a savory treat. It will sting and burn and you'll feel it long after.
Bartlett is a genius. I say that not as some lofty empty phrase. Not a shitty crown made from the foil of empty gum-wrappers. I say it because it is the damned truth. No one mines horror like he does. From the freshness of ideas to the diabolical turns of phrase, he never leaves me anything less than awestruck. You need to be reading him. All of him. Every single word of him.
The Stay-Awake Men & Other Unstable Entities is available in limited edition from Dunham's Manor Press. Click here to pre-order a copy