Review Summer — Week 10

Bit of a sicko threesome for you this time, with reviews of Amber Fallon’s The Terminal, Toenails by Dani Brown, and Cotton Candy by Kevin Strange! Wet-naps not included, sorry!

Title: The Terminal
Author: Amber Fallon
Publisher: Fresh Pulp Press

Originally appearing in the limited edition Thunderstorm Books’ The Daughters of Inanna, this kickbutt novella is now available on its own … and you don’t want to miss it. Brian Keene’s cover blurb promises “sure to appeal to fans of J.F. Gonzalez,” which is praise indeed as well as a fitting tribute from someone who’d know.

To add to the fun, I hear some other reader pitched a burn-this-book hissy fit because of the protagonist’s sexual orientation. Aww poor baby. If that’s the worst thing you can imagine, being, I dunno, tricked somehow into, what, empathizing with a guy who likes dudes? If that’s the most disturbing and uncomfortable aspect here? You, pal, are reading the wrong books. Gay mind cooties. Good grief, grow up.

For me, the disturbing and uncomfortable parts had more to do with, y’know, the wrenchingly emotional human elements of loss and tragedy and horror and guilt. Dirk’s situation should resonate for anybody with even half a soul – taking a significant other home to meet the family at any sort of big holiday-charged event is something we ALL can relate to! Likewise airports during the most hectic travel season, and Little Miss Yoga Pants (who wouldn’t want to smack her?!)

And that’s even before, with zero warning, our potential rom-com turns into a summer blockbuster action/disaster movie video game. Die Hard II meets HALO, it’s aliens instead of terrorists, aliens who look like Tolkien orcs by way of a Mad Max future.

One minute, Dirk and his sweetie are trying to prepare themselves for parental disapproval … the next, it’s chaos and carnage and destruction, it’s lakes of blood, spilled guts, severed limbs. It’s panicked survivors who no longer care about delayed flights or lost luggage. It’s found weapons and desperate team-ups and trying to tap into one’s inner hero, only to have things go even more terribly wrong.

I tore through this book like it was a bag of chips, packed with salt and flavor and crunchy goodness. Then, also like a bag of chips, where you could devour the whole Costco-sized thing but only got the snack-pack, it’s over too soon and I was left whining and cursing, shaking the bag, scrabbling for any last tasty crumbs.

There needs to be a next book, and it needs to be SOON.


Title: Toenails
Author: Dani Brown
Publisher: MorbidbookS

I like extreme horror as much as the next gal … okay, maybe more than the next gal, provided the next gal is anywhere close to normal. But maybe I’m getting pickier as I age; I seem to require something beyond a litany of grossouts.

Admittedly, this book is indeed a litany of grossouts, and if that is what you like, you won’t be disappointed. It’s packed start to finish with unrelieved disgustingness. The guy has a thing for eating toenails, but just in case that somehow isn’t oogy enough, cue the foot-sweat and toe-jam and nail-fungus. But wait! as the late Billy Mays might say. Act now and they’ll throw in pus and smegma and crusty butts! Rape! Murder! Grave-robbing! Necrophilia!

This main character is a really really awful person, the worst person in the universe, and you won’t be allowed to forget because it will be thrown in your face at least three times a page. The reader’s told again and again how cruel this guy is, what a controlling abusive tyrant, his wife and kids and neighbors live in abject fear … but nothing’s ever really provided to back that up, no WHY he is, HOW he does.

It reminded me of a protracted entry to the WHC’s Gross-Out Contest, competently written, plenty of gross sick stuff, but missing some of the humor and spirit and zing to really make the grade. Unrelieved. Unrelenting. All in all a tad overdone and too much.

The book also includes an excerpt from something called “My Lovely Wife,” which appears to follow a similar vein, only involving a tracheotomy fetishist. Followed by like 30 pages of ads, which made about ¼ of the whole thing a catalog. That, methinks, is a bit more than a tad overdone and too much.


Title: Cotton Candy
Author: Kevin Strange

Sometimes you just go and pick up a slew of books on author name and title alone, without checking out any sort of cover copy or synopsis, so you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into.

Maybe you see it says Cotton Candy and you’re expecting clowns or circuses or something, and boy are you ever wrong; you start reading and it’s hot chicks in fursuits … well, okay then.

So you keep reading, and the hot chicks in fursuits is the frame narrative around the real story, presented in letter/journal form, detailing – in very vivid detail indeed – an elderly widower’s plunge into perversion following the death of his wife. His burgeoning interest in porn becomes an addiction, which becomes an obsession.

Various kinks quickly follow. Bondage accessories. Hookers. Toys. Eventually, he realizes what he craves most of all is to take part in a gang-bang, and one day the opportunity arrives. It seems a little sketchy – the scrawled flyer with its cloying cotton-candy scent, the weird little man, the questions, the conditions – but, he can’t resist.

Even after he gets to the remote farmhouse where the event’s to take place. Even after he meets his fellow participants, and the woman who’s eager to get things started. His second thoughts only really start to kick in when he sees all the stuffed animals … and the rack of costumes …

It’s a real-life fetish fantasy, though. If he walks away, he might never get another chance like this. And, of course, by the time it all starts going crazily bad, it’s too late.

Probably needless to say, the book is pretty well NSFW. Also NSF public, and family. It’s maybe a bit on the graphic side, maybe, just a bit. Ah, who’m I kidding? It’s a hilarious smutty riot!


Coming up next week, reviews of: Prince of Nightmares, the Morbid Metamorphosis anthology, and Kids.