Overdue Book Reviews

Whenever I read a good book from an indie press, I try to drop a review. These book reviews are long overdue, but I hope you enjoy them.

Black Heart Boys’ Choir by Curtis M. Lawson is a pitch-black story that won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s sharply written and rich with menacing character. A bitter teenager aims to end the world by performing a supernatural “cursed” song. The story is told with musical prose and an ambiguous plot structure that raises questions about the reliability of our psychopathic anti-hero’s first-person perspective. Despite its pervasive bleakness, the book kept my interest until the inevitable Grand Guignol conclusion foreshadowed in the prologue. Black Heart Boys’ Choir is bold enough to take risks as only indie press can in today’s overly cautious publishing climate, so give it a shot if you like your horror fiction grim and unflinching.

Wormwood, the dark thriller from Chad Lutzke and Tim Meyer, slid right under my skin, opening some very old wounds from back in my youth. As a coming-of-age story, it rings coldly true by tapping into the deep insecurity of a troubled adolescent on the brink of sexual awakening. As a horror story, it builds on that nervous tension to sickening levels with bloodcurdling impact. Wormwood is a tale of dangerous friendships, heartfelt longing, adolescent lust, and lost loyalties. I knew “that” girl growing up. I knew all those kids. I was one of them, and I remember those feelings, too. So will you.

Mark Matthews redefines the werewolf legend in The Hobgoblin of Little Minds, projecting his tale through the lens of psychology. Here, lycanthropy is an acute symptom of the bipolar disorder, with the manic phase likened to the heightened state of awareness experienced by a patient in the “wolf” state of hunting for prey, while the inferior human phase is associated with depression, dormancy and hibernation. It’s a clever concept that is convincingly realized through the engrossing drama of a close-knit family torn apart by mental illness. These poor souls are then exploited by a mad scientist obsessed with creating a new, superior form of human creature at any cost. Hobgoblin is a pervasively dark novel but skillfully crafted while shedding light on the struggles of mental health in a fresh and inventive way.

White by Bret Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho and Less Than Zero, is part personal memoir and part delicious screed against modern American cultural trends. This book is sure to tick off today’s speech police and the screeching offended class who demand conformity to their “enlightened” but authoritarian world view. Ellis’s book serves as an expertly articulated “F— you” to the hive-mind on behalf of those of us left who still believe in individuality, independent thought, and freedom of expression … you know, liberal ideas.*

*I realize the Ellis book isn’t an indie release.

– M. Weber

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