Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mr. Moon's Review of Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter

The werewolf. Simply put a monster of legend that has been, for the most part, ignored in modern horror. Vampires are all the rage in current pop culture leaving a void where the lycanthrope should be right along side them. Brain P. Easton remedies the lack of werewolves in new dark fiction with a vengeance in his amazing new novel ‘Autobiography of a Werewolf’.
The story starts with the main character, Sylvester Logan James, describing his childhood with his woodsman French-Canadian father. We learn Sylvester lost his mother during his birth and during a winter trip to see an old family friend, Michael Winterfox, loses his dad to a werewolf attack. Winterfox trains our young hero in the ways of the Reydosnin Warriors; an ancient and all but extinct line of ultra bad ass Native American warriors. Winterfox reveals he has hunted werewolves, or the Beast as he calls them, and young Sylvester’s rage commands him to do the same. So begins a lifetime of revenge and heart ache for our hero.
Winterfox trains Sylvester from the age thirteen to the age eighteen. The old man passes on knowledge of battle, the forest, the spirit world, and most importantly the Beast. Once of age young Sylvester strikes out for Vietnam as an outlet for his fathomless rage. Once the action starts here it never wanes. The story develops surprisingly solid amidst great action scene after great action scene.
I must take a minute here to tell you the action sequences in ‘Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter’ are Grade A Hollywood film quality. Each is fast paced, well described and would leave Chuck Norris with aches and pains. Even though Sylvester hunts the Beast his entire life not every battle is with his clawed fanged and furry arch nemeses. Oh, no, in fact a fight scene from Sylvester’s time in prison (a long story you’ll have to read for yourself to believe) is one of the best written and paced through out the book. When our hero does engage the Beast the violence is brutal, vivid, and satisfying.
For those monster fiends like me, you will love this book. During his training, Sylvester learns of the several known kinds of werewolves. There is Noble Wolven were full blooded direct descendants of the original six beast princes. These wolves could change at will and were nearly the most powerful of their kind. A second breed is known as High Wolven. Most of these were powerful and respected but not full blooded. Then there is the baddest of the bunch, the Darkest Wolven. These monsters were raging unstoppable behemoths that never took human form. As Sylvester learns there are many different kinds that even Michael Winterfox didn’t know about. He travels from Canada to Vietnam to the United States and back. Before he can get used to Canada he is off to Russia. Kicking werewolf ass along the way. Sylvester finds clues to finding beasts through a highly honed instinct and his superior tracking skills. He picks up on a trail, always in original and interesting ways, and follows it to the beasts waiting at the other end. Once he finds the wolf he exterminates with extreme prejudice, always in original and interesting ways as well.
I can’t get over how great the action here is but in order to be thorough I also have to tell you how deep and engrossing the seamless story is and how naturally it flows. Mr. Easton peppers his brutal battle scenes with an ever-developing plot that grabs you with the strength of the beast’s claw. There are a range of emotions here that is uncommon for such an action packed book. The details in Sylvester’s travels lead me to believe either Mr. Easton researches the way Sylvester tracks or he really has been slaying werewolves for the past forty-some-odd years.
I not only recommend Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter, I say if you are a werewolf fan you can’t live without it. This novel should be required reading on the subject of Lycans from now until the end of the world.

Find it here

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mr. Moon's Review of Fungus of the Heart

Jeremy C. Shipp’s new collection of bizarro short stories Fungus of the Heart contains elements of horror, crime noir, and quite often dark fantasy. Mr. Shipp has a very distinguishable style even amongst the growing number of authors writing bizarro fiction. He manages to be descriptive and concise at the same time all while spinning quick moving and engrossing stories. Fungus of the Heart is not near as dark or horror heavy as Shipp’s previous collection, Sheep and Wolves, relying more on emotional wallop than out and out scares. The thirteen fantastic stories in Fungus of the Heart all share the common theme of relationships. Shipp takes looks at desire and love in always entertaining and unique ways. Each story is unusual and each packs a different feel but the collection as a whole has a personal feel that pulls you in even deeper.

The stories are as follows.

‘The Sun Never Rises in the Big City’ opens the collection with a pulpy noir story complete with a hard edged detective. The main character is working on the death of a ‘rag’ and the story gets weird as it twists towards a crescendo.

The simple title of The Haunted House betrays the complexity of the actual story about a ghost that helps the living deal with traumatic events. Ash is a ghost that possesses the body of his ‘clients’ and on this particular case everyone involved grows in unexpected ways.

Fungus of the Heart is the story of a man struggling to gain the power to free his kidnapped love from the mysterious ‘fortress’. Our hero is a Sentential (body guard) for Protectors (or powerful beings that watch over and keep villages safe). The catch, in order to gain the power he needs he must eat the heart mushroom of a number of noble Protectors.

The Boy in the Cabinet has only a paper cup and Death Cat for friends but he still has a twisted journey of self discovery waiting for him.

One of my personal favorites, Just Another Vampire Story, is anything but common blood sucker lore rehashed and covered with glitter. The story grabs a hold of your heart right away and drags you to a distant cave inhabited by vampires every bit as unique as you would expect from Jeremy C. Shipp. Strong horror with a heart.

Ticketyboo is a place Jeff and Jill go to recover from the trauma caused by a mysterious accident with their parents. This story is a dark genre blurring visit to a surreal world of healing.

The Escapist is the dark fantasy tale of a gnome who escapes from the enemy goblins’ Farm and befriends a gnome general who will stop at nothing to destroy the goblins.

Ula Morales is the story of an antlered daughter of a magic tree who lives in a surreal forest.

Spider House is a quick weird story that deals with war and the trauma it predicates.

Monkey Boy and The Monsters is the fun story of Monkey Boy the monster slayer and it follows him as he battles his foul enemies and learns about family life.

Kevin Donihe, Agape Walrus is the wacky story of an all loving walrus that lives with a zombie polar bear in the hills of east Tennessee. Classic bizarro.

In Kingdom Come a man searches for his missing boy in a world that is haunting, dark, and futuristic.

How to Make A Clown closes this great bizarro collection with the story of a man with a clown in his attic.

I enjoyed some stories more than others but I’m a gore loving horror hound that doesn’t always go for the emotional rollercoaster that a collection like Fungus of the Heart offers. Though not as terrifying as I typically prefer, Mr. Shipp has put together a highly accessible work of bizarro that could gain him fans from all corners of the reading world. I enjoyed this collection and will seek out more of Shipp’s work. His ability to go from whimsical to heart wrenching in only a few short words makes him a talent to watch in my eyes.

You can find Fungus of the Heart on kindle and paper back here.