Shock Totem #10 (Jan 2016)
- The State of Shock Totem Publications, or We Are Not ChiZine Publications
- Closing for Submissions
- Shock Totem Returns!
- Apex Publications Acquires Shock Totem Book Line
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 8
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 7
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 6
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 5
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 4
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 3
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Tag Archives: Grand Mal Press
I had the pleasure of reviewing Matt Darst’s debut novel, Dead Things, a few years back. I said nice things about it because it was a good book, a fresh take on a tired trope by a young man ready to dive into the very crowded pool that is the genre. I often saw his posts on the Book of Faces and wondered what he was working on, so when he messaged me to see if I’d review his new novel, I said, “But of course!”
Freaks Anon is a very different book. It’s got something for everyone: a superhero for the geeks, monsters for those folks, super-secret government groups for those cats, and all woven around a premise that would almost be ridiculous if it was not so thoroughly researched and rendered with such detail.
Centurion is/was a superhero. Really, he was a teacher but he decided that the world needed a hero, and damned if that was not going to be him. So he hung up his lab coat for some homemade armor and gladiator garb and took to the streets in his chariot, er…beat-up minivan. He’s had a rough time of it since his side kick was murdered and, between benders, he’s been trying to solve the mystery of who is murdering unique kids around the country (e.g. a boy with the gift of speaking to animals is beheaded in a mall).
Centurion has a lot of hurdles and he trips over almost all of them as he closes in on the girl he believes to be behind these murders. Nigel Crown is a rock star, a former punk gone arena rock with some spiritual connections. These connections put him on a collision course with Centurion and pit them against a group that could hold the fate of the world in their vile hands.
That’s the basic plot, but there is so much more going on. From the long and rich history of the villains to the honest and realistic depiction of the heroes, Freaks Anon is a fun and splendid adventure with splashes of horror/sci-fi and action/adventure. It is well written and whip smart.
Let me give you another reason to buy this book, in the event that my saying it fucking rocks is not enough. All proceeds of this book are being donated to Stand Up to Cancer. Because, as we all know, there is not a scarier monster out there than the Big C. It does not care who you are, how old you are, or what you have going on in your life. It just takes. So buy a copy of Freaks Anon and read it because it’s a great book. Or buy a copy to donate to the cause and then gift the book to a friend or a library. Just buy a copy, please!
Freaks Anon is available from Grand Mal Press.
I have probably stated before, quite a few times, actually, the fact that I am just about zombied out. So when I received a package containing Dead Things, by Matthew Darst, I read the blurbage and sighed. Zombies. But I won the book through a Goodreads giveaway—and hey, Free book! Better yet, a signed free book.
I started it that night, and within two or three nights had finished it. It was that good.
The debut novel is set nearly twenty years after the “zombie event.” The dead have risen and eaten folks. Society has collapsed and rebuilt itself. Religious fanatics have lots of control. Our main characters are literally thrown together in a plane crash and forced to stick together to survive. Adding to the tension of outrunning the hungry dead, there is the fact that no one trusts anyone else, as anyone could be a mole for the church. I’m talking Witch Hunt kinda-church.
Darst uses a number of nifty maneuvers to keep this a fresh offering. The dialogue is smart and witty. The science behind the story is very well thought out and smart. In fact, I’d say the weakest point would have to be the ending, which seemed a bit rushed—literally rushing headlong into and messily hitting closure in a chapter.
As I stated, this is a debut novel. A well-written, smartly entertaining debut. Integral to the plot are the zombies; however, it is more than a zombie novel. It’s a novel about humans being, a novel where the monsters we become are far more frightening than the things shambling from the graves to gnaw on our flesh.
Dead Things is available from Grand Mal Press.
In 1992, James Havoc released this wonderful book of bizarre and repulsive word swill. I loved it. Still do. Then he went missing. Dropped right off the face of the earth.
Gone. Never to be heard from again.
Like a meth-fueled mixture of William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, Michael Gira and Chuck Palahniuk being poured down the eager throat of Edward Lee, Satanskin is that hardcore. Graphic as anything you can imagine. Surrealism carved in the faces of the damned with a rusty razor equals Satanskin.
Havoc didn’t paint with words…he fed you the words then reached down your throat—or up your ass—and then finger-painted your brain with them. These stories are prose-beasts. Skulking ugly creations that stumble in and out of cohesive narrative. There are vampires and nameless things, aliens and undead creatures. Depraved children and Demonic butt-sex. It’s an explosion of supreme insanity and chaotic cringe-worthy debauchery. This is Bizarro, from a time when the tag didn’t really exist.
This title was released in 1992 via The Tears Corporation/Creation Press. In 2011, the 20th anniversary e-book edition, which includes the bonus story “Third Eye Butterfly,” was released by Elektron Ebooks.