In Tooth & Claw (Supernatural Horror Anthology Review)

Contains spoilers.

9IZFjRjb

Daniel Soule’s In Tooth & Claw (Rotten Row Publishing), an anthology of surreal and supernatural horror stories, begins with the novelette, Plight of the Valkyrie, the story of a soul-reaping guild that seeks out a empathic, medically skilled serial killer for recruitment. The premise is fascinating, however, the deployment of a extremely lengthy monologue midway into the story concerning the purpose of the spectral guild to which the protagonist (Mortimer) belongs both saps the story of its tension and, at the same time, creates a build-up without a pay-off. That the guild angle is central to the story and also the very thing which removes the unsettling atmosphere the story generates in its impressively moody introduction suggests that the story might have been more effective without recourse to supernaturalism, as Val’s murderous medical proclivities proved sufficiently intriguing so as to have been able to carry the tale in its entirety, should the author have so-desired.

The next story—The Breed—is one of the best in the collection. The tale centers on a number of paratroopers from Nevada who are sent to the Middle East to liquidate a number of Farsi-speaking and thus, presumably Persian, terrorists at the behest of the US military. Of course, given the title, one can assume the novel angle: The soldiers are werewolves, born out of a secret nazi experiment that was coopted by the US government. Despite deploying a premise reminiscent of David Brückner’s Iron Wolf, the narrative nevers falls to schlocky mediocrity, firstly, owing to the deftness and three-dimensionality with which the paratroopers are detailed, secondarily because of the competence of the prose and the structure of the story, and thirdly because the narrative threads are drawn together with a seriousness and authenticity typically absent from the kind of exploitation and shock-horror film it brings to mind. The 1987 film Predator is mentioned in the story’s opening and presents itself as a good point of comparison, as The Breed is as different from Iron Wolf as the beginning of Predator is from its own middle and end.

VwlCM-dx.jpg
Illustration depicting a scene from ‘The Breed’ by Stuart McMillan.

To Kill A Quisquilia (a title I first erroneously read as ‘To Kill A Quesadilla’) concerns a young woman’s death and a supernaturally gifted boy’s contention with a demon (the titular ‘quisquilia’) disguised as a garbage truck (which, as far as disguises go, is quite original). The tale provides a tonal break from the two proceeding tales, as it begins as a grim mystery and swiftly develops into a jaunty, macabre comedy. A welcome bit of levity to break the tension of the preceding tales.

c5lcAlSU.jpg
Illustration depicting a scene from ‘To Kill A Quisquilia’ by Stuart McMillan.

Next is The Switch, a psychologically introspective murder mystery. Its interesting in that the mystery lies not in who the killer is, but in why the killer did what she did (the reveal is quite gripping, so I shant spoil it).

After that is The Breed: The Last Watch, a continuation of The Breed’s mythos. It fails to match up to the original, chiefly because of its clumsy structure, as the reader is constantly jostled between numerous underdeveloped characters which are scattered throughout different time-periods. The problem with the story is not that there are time-jumps, but rather that one has no idea what is going on as a consequence thereof.

YnOgdGi4.jpg
Illustration from ‘The Breed: The Last Watch’ by Stuart McMillan.

Next up, Only Some Things, the story of a deformed man waiting at a bus stop. Though emotionally evocative, it feels unfinished, namely because it ends so abruptly. As a sketch for a longer work, however, its thoroughly intriguing.

Next is Witchopper, my personal favorite in the collection, which tells the tale of a father and son who set out to investigate the veracity of a local urban legend. Unlike, The Breed: The Last Watch, the time-jumps are very deftly deployed such that never once did I have to re-read a line or skim back up to the preceding page in a attempt to understand what was going on. It also features several scenes of impressively atmospheric tension.

Concluding the anthology is The Lostling, which, much like Only Some Things, is a story about which little can be said, as it also feels underdeveloped. There is no middle or end, but only the introduction of a introduction. That being said, it is also one of the most ambient and haunting of all the pieces.

In Tooth & Claw is a thoroughly mixed-bag, but never a boring one.


My thanks to Mr. Daniel Soule for providing me with a early copy of the anthology.

Fiction Recap 2019 [#1]

Selected fiction works we have published as of this year.


June


May


March


February


July


§

We extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of our gracious patreon supporters and avid readers.

Independent Fiction Publishers | Individuals and Organizations

Editor’s note: A publisher will be included if: 1. That organization or individual publisher is independent (not affiliated/supported by a major institution, such as a university, corporation, government, etc), and, 2. They principally publish original narrative fiction (not poetry or fan-fiction). All publishers where applicable will feature a social media handle. Links will be forthcoming. ‘Literary’ is used in its broadest sense to mean ‘pertaining to written works of narrative fiction.’


Individual authors / publishers

Alina Hansen (poet, developing first novel) [website]

Avani Singh (horror writer, admin of blogggedit) [twitter: @blogggedit]

Benjamin Langley (horror novelist) [twitter: @B_J_Langely]

Brandon Scott (horror and thriller writer) [twitter: @BrandonScottAu1]

Brianna M. Fenty (horror writer) [twitter: @fentyscribbles]

Dan Klefstad (neo-gothic novelist, author of the Fiona series & Shepard & the Professor) [twitter: @danklefstad]

David A. Estringel (poet and short story author) [twitter: @The_Booky_Man ]

Ellis Michaels (scifi and fantasy author) [twitter: @EllisMichaels9]

fishbowlpress (fiction and poetry) [twitter: @fishbowlpress]

Garth T. Ogle (author of The Bowl of Tears and Solace) [twitter: @gtaogle]

Giovanni Dannato (author of ApostasyThe Warlord) [twitter: @GiovanniDannato]

Glahn (surrealist, short story writer) [twitter: @sexypesty]

Iain Kelly (literary short story author and novelist) [twitter: @ianthekid]

Jess Gabnall (dark fantasy and horror author) [twitter: @Jess93Bagnall]

Jess Lake (scifi and romance writer) [twitter: @JessLakeAuthor]

Joanna Koch (literary short story writer) [twitter: @horrorsong]

J. Brandon Lowery (flash fiction writer of the fantastical) [twitter: @jbrandonlowry]

Karl Wenclas (author of The Tower, writer at New Pop Lit) [twitter: @KingWenclas]

Michael Carter [twitter: @mcmichaelcarter]

N. O. Ramos (horror novelist) [twitter: @N_O_Ramos]

Peter Clarke (satirist, author of The Singularity Survival Guide) [twitter: @HeyPeterClarke]

Simon Webster (novelist and chief of The Cabinet of Heed) [twitter: @MrSimonWebster]

Steve Hart (latter-day Jack London, author of the serialized novel, The Promise of Shaconage) [twitter: @BlueSmokies]

The Dark Netizen (flash fiction author) [website]

Wicked Fables (macabre fantasy and scifi writer) [twitter: @WickedFables]

Zach Mulcahy (fantasy author, developing novel) [twitter: @ZTMbaronofurga]


Literary publishing organizations

101 Words (flashfiction) [twitter: @101words]

Aphotic Realm [twitter: @AphoticRealm]

Channillo (literary network similar to a literary netflix) [twitter: @_Channillo]

Defiant Scribe [twitter: @Defiant_Scribe]

Drunken Pen Writing (short stories) [twitter: @drunkpenwriting]

Ellipsis Zine [twitter: @EllipsisZine]

Fictive Dream (flash fiction) [twitter: @FictiveDream]

Fishbowlpress [twitter: @fishbowlpress]

FlashBack Fiction (historical fiction) [twitter: @FlashBackFic]

Flash Fiction Magazine [twitter: @flashficmag]‏

Forge Litmag [twitter: @forge_litmag]

Formercactus [twitter: @formercactus]

Gold Wake Press (literary press) [twitter: @GoldWakePress]

gn0me (experimental fiction) [twitter: @gnOmebooks]

Gone Lawn [twitter: @gonelawn]

Gray Matter Press [twitter: @GreyMatterPress]

Hagstone Publishing (fiction and crafts) [twitter: @HagstonePub]‏

Horror Sleaze Trash [twitter: @horrorslzztrash]

Idle Ink [twitter: @_IdleInk_]

Jokes Review [twitter: @JokesReview]

Literally Stories [twitter: @LiterallyStory]

Lunarian Press [twitter: @LunarianPress]‏

Midnight Mosaic Fiction [twitter: @MidMosFic]

Milk Candy Review [twitter: @moonrabbitcandy]

Monkey Bicycle [twitter: @monkeybicycle]

New Pop Lit [twitter: @NewPopLit]

OddMadLand (surreal experimental fiction) [× discontinued ×]

Okay Donkey [twitter: @okaydonkeymag]

Reflex Press [twitter: @reflexfiction]

Sinister Grin Press [twitter: @SinisterGrinPre]

Spelk [twitter: @SpelkFiction]

Story Shack [twitter: @thestoryshack]‏

Surfaces [twitter: @SURFACEScx]

Terror House Magazine [twitter: @terrorhousemag]

The Arcanist [twitter: @The_Arcanists]

The Cabinet of Heed [twitter: @CabinetOfHeed ]

The Copybook [twitter: @CopybookThe]

The Dark Calls (temporarily closed) [twitter: @The_Dark_Calls]‏

The Fiction Pool [twitter: @TheFictionPool]

The Molotov Cocktail [twitter: @MolotovLitZine]

The Stray Branch [twitter: @debbiedberk]

X-R-A-Y [facebook: @xraylitmag | twitter: @xraylitmag]


If you wish to support our work you can do so here. If you wish to contact the site administrator, you can find him online here.

Fiction Circular 9/7/18

We’re always open to ideas on sites to cover for future installments, so if you know a good writer or collective, let us know via logosliterature@yandex.com


FLASH FICTION

Ramya Tantry of the whimsical writing site, And Miles Before I Go To Sleep… published The Mist, a surreal micro-fiction about (as you might have guessed) a peculiar mist and (as you probably didn’t guess) a lucky garden gnome.

Run, the mist is descending.. Run for your life“, cried Stu.

The poisonous mist was settling on his skin causing blisters. He was in tremendous pain and was in desperate need of water to wash the mist away. But he was unable to move. Poor visibility due to mist was creating hindrance in searching others.

He cried for help. He called for his friends. But no help arrived. As the mist started to clear he could see the bodies of his friends. He saw some of his friends on the other side of the fence crying their heart out.

I bring good luck. I am a good luck charm. I am the protector. Why I am being killed?“, Stu – the Garden Gnome wondered.

Certainly a evocative beginning to a tale, the only question: what happens next? Did Stu survive his ordeal? What is the mist and how did it become poisonous? Where did it come from? Perhaps we shall find out in another installment.

Curiously, The persistently consistent Dark Netizen also published a flash fiction entitled The Mist (presumably both he and Ms. Tantry were inspired by the same writing prompt). His story differs from Ms. Tantry’s in that there are no gnomes, but rather, considerably more giant spiders. Really not sure which situation is preferable…

Newcomer Avani Singh of the horror fiction site Blogggedit published a horror story memorably titled Weirdo Elevator. The story of the strange elevator and the terrifying smile continues in Why? Why Don’t You Leave Me? and is further elaborated upon in part 3, NOW YOU SEE ME! One thing I quite enjoyed about blogggedit’s posts is the usage of disquieting photography throughout, that both fit and intensified the narrative. We’ll be covering the rest of the series once we finish reading it and are definitely interested to see her work develop and progress.


SHORT STORIES

Worth reading from Jellyfish Review, When God Closes A Door by Kathryn Kulpa.

“I could picture the droop of his thinning hair, his hangdog eyes, as he realized the terrible sort of person I was. Like that song that says you always hurt the ones you love, but that wasn’t me. I hurt people I kind of liked-“

Nell begins the first chapter of a series titled The Angelic Conversation. A tale of convening with celestial beings.

angelic-alphabet1.jpg

“The social media app, which had in recent times, become her refuge. Another world she could escape to and be someone else – or perhaps just another version of herself, which was usually carefully concealed in her day job as an archivist.”

A tale of the freedom inherent to anonymity; no nagging questions from friends and co-workers; but are such relationships built as a stage or are they a potential alternative avenue of human connectivity, as real and genuine as talking to John upon the street? And who is this John anyway? I suppose we shall find out in her next installment.

We got around to reading more from OddMadLand’s back-catalog and delved into Ardency and Hysteria, the peculiar tale of a poet, Ren, who, believing himself a bird jumps to his “death” and, under perpetual transformation and internal turmoil, contemplates becoming his own planet and what life upon himself would entail.

“It was reported that the photographer and poet ended his life at the age of twenty-nine, but what they did not know is that he never hit the ground after jumping to his death. Instead the sky fell, and as it went down he went up.”

Like all of the stories at OddMadLand, Ardency and Hysteria is stylish, experimental and dense with symbolism. Highly recommended.

Terror House Mag’s Working The Night Shift by Daniel Bretton has a good premise – a depressed, wayward hall monitor seeing something or someone late at night, or at least he thinks did; this realization then causing total life-reassessment. Life, he realizes, is stranger than fiction, or something (it isn’t really laid out very well how this event changed his perspective, though the set up is well-done). However, this interesting premise is undercut by clunky prose which almost always tells rather than shows. Additionally, the story raises a few philosophical questions (the author snipes at dogmatic materialism (qua Dawkins et al.) and states – rightly – that what is true is not constrained by dogma, personal or collective; “if something is real it can take the pressure [of investigation]”) but doesn’t follow through with this idea, which makes the story feel, unfortunately, rather half-finished.

“In the modern day, the scientific and educational establishments have turned to a dogmatic materialism. No deviation from this premise is tolerated, with researchers and scientists putting their careers at risk by pursuing wider areas of research. Yet, to paraphrase a figure Burke otherwise has little use for; “if something is real it can take the pressure.” The strange, extraordinary, and yes, spiritual aspects of the universe do not simply cease to exist because post-enlightenment men choose to ignore them.”

Also from Terror House Mag, My Shinning Boy by Patty Fischer.

John Siney, whose work we’ve covered previously (The Ghost Of A Flea), has released an extract of his 2016 novel, A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Woman. All I can say thus far is that it is splendidly written, amusing and hold’s too high an opinion of Pollock (who was dreadful).


NOVELLAS & NOVELS

Nothing to report; still working through The White Lioness (Kurt Wallander #3) by Henning Mankell.


NOTABLE NON-FICTION WORKS

Lastly, though not a prose fiction work, Disappearance and Assembly – Extract by David J. Roden is well worth a read.

“-only the speaker, the human, has any place on the stage-“


Thanks for reading!

If you wish to support our work and help promote independent fiction authors, you may do so here. If not, you’re welcome, its free.

Logos Anthology: Free e-book

The Logos Club proudly presents a collection of some of our finest choice writing featuring: Kaiter Enless, Cygnus-X, Gio Pennacchietti & Joel Hyduke. Re-distributing or altering the contents of this anthology will result in immediate manly challenge and a subsequent duel at ten paces.

Click the link below to receive the book and many thanks for your kindly patronage.

Official Logos Club Anthology, Part One