January is over and it’s time to reflect back on the books I read in January and share with you my favorite! Here’s what I’ve read:
COYOTE SONGS by Gabino Iglasias
THE SPECTRAL LINK by Thomas Ligotti
DARKANSAS by Jarret Middleton
LITTLE BLACK SPOTS by John F D Taff
THE OPEN CURTAIN by Brian Evenson
DARK MARY by Paolo di Orazio
THE SEA WAS A FAIR MASTER by Calvin Demmer
AN ARMY OF SKIN by Morgan K Tanner
BLACKBIRD by Michael Fiegel.
I feel like my ability to pick books to read is improving because I enjoyed all of these to some degree or another. I have separate reviews coming on the Demmer book and the Tanner book as well so I won’t mention too much about those here other than that I enjoyed both.
The two best books I read were COYOTE SONGS and LITTLE BLACK SPOTS. It’s hard to pick one over the other but I was blown away by some of the stories in LITTLE BLACK SPOTS so I’ve got to talk about it.
In the introduction of John FD Taft’s LITTLE BLACK SPOTS, Doug Murano warns the reader that they’re going to “want something to hang on to.” I remember thinking that a statement like that is a bit over the top for just a short story collection. I’d heard good things but I didn’t expect it to be this good. It didn’t take me very long to realize Doug was right. This collection is a wild ride and there were times when I was looking for something to hang on to.
There’s something in this collection for everyone! The underlying theme of love kind of sits on the outskirts of many of the stories and pulls you along as you move from one frightening tale to the next. While I was reading, I made a list of the stories I liked and why I liked them but soon realized I was just listing out every story in the book. This is now the only criteria I will use to evaluate short story collections…
Since I can’t pull put my favorite stories because I’d be telling you about the whole book, there are some I want to point out because they stuck with me or there was a particular part of them that was especially creepy or scary for me.
Immolation Scene is the perfect first story and I think it set the tone for the whole collection. The Bunny Suit is the next story and I think it cemented in me that I was going to love every story that followed. My note for this was simply “What the fuck? This was awesome,” and I don’t think there is a better description that I could give you. A Winter’s Tale is another story about love and is one of those stories where you know something is off but you just can’t put your finger on it as you read it. Loved this one.
And finally there is the set of four stories that I read in one sitting one night that I don’t think I’ll ever forget Everything Must Go, Purple Soda Hans, A Kiss from the Sun for Pardon and The Dark Level. This four story stretch had me turning page after page and I couldn’t put the book down. Everything Must Go is about a man who sees a store on the street that no one else can see. The store quickly becomes an obsession for him. Purple Soda Hand has that coming of age feel to it that got me into horror in the first place and I’ll always love stories like that, it’s also weird as hell. A Kiss From the Sun for Pardon is a vampire story but again the focus is less on the vampires and more on love. And finally The Dark Level which literally gave me claustrophobia in a way I didn’t realize I could feel.
I could go on and tell you about every story in the collection but I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun for you. Go out and buy this one, you won’t regret it.