Books Read in May

Like months before, here’s the books I read in May and what I thought about them.

Neil Gaiman  — The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Brian Evenson — Song for the Unraveling of the World
Betty Rocksteady — In Dreams We Rot
Gwendolyn Kiste —  Pretty Marys All in a Row
Junji Ito — Uzumaki (#1-3)
Stormy Island Publishing — Fear and Fables
Dark Regions Press — I Am the Abyss
Kathryn Wesley — The 10th Kingdom

Neil Gaiman  — The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a novel about a man who sneaks off after a funeral to return to his boyhood friend’s farm house at the end of the lane. He sits at the bench that faces his friend’s ocean, though it looks more like a pond. He remembers meeting the girl after his family’s car is stolen and found at the end of the lane. She brings him to her home to meet her mother and grandmother, then brings him around back their barn to her ocean, which leads him down a path of magic, monsters, and other, weird things.

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as Giaman’s Neverwhere. It kind of reads flat and the world I wanted to learn more about: the Hempstock’s family, the monsters, their magic, etc, isn’t explained much at all. There’s inklings throughout, but not much. I feel like this could’ve been more fleshed out and given his readers a lot more about the world, but it is what it is.

Brian Evenson — Song for the Unraveling of the World

Song for the Unraveling of the World is a collection of weird and surreal, sometimes odd, stories from Brian Evenson. His work ranges from sci-fi to horror to just strange.

This was my first Evenson book and I thought it was amazing. I love how strange some of the stories were, and I really enjoyed Evenson’s simple but yet effective prose. There weren’t overly described creatures or weirdness, he was able to convey the queerness of it all with just a few words, which not many authors can do. Each story was wonderful, so I don’t have favorites, but the story, “Sisters” — a Halloween tale about a witch family — is something I would love to see adapted to film, or at least expanded upon in another story or two. Really, really enjoyed that one.

If you’re a fan of the weird, the strange, or the surreal: buy this book.

Betty Rocksteady — In Dreams We Rot

Rocksteady’s debut collection, In Dreams We Rot, is a book brimming with erotic, evocative, tingling and bizarre horrors that range from loss, to love, to lust, to every emotion that makes us human.

I enjoyed this book, though I still enjoyed Rocksteady’s award winning novella The Writhing Skies far more. I wanted more from each story, because I felt some ended more abrupt than I’d like. However, that’s not to say they’re poor in any form. The stories I enjoyed the most where: “These Beautiful Bones,” “The Desert of Wounded Frequencies,” “Lonely Hearts Club,” “Larva, Pupa, Mouth,” “Elephants That Aren’t,” and “Crimson Tide.”

Another thing that I missed in this book was Rocksteady’s artwork (there was some in “Elephants That Aren’t”), and I hope her art will appear more in her next work.

Overall, a great collection for any fan of the weird or the bizarre, and I recommend picking this up.

Gwendolyn Kiste —  Pretty Marys All in a Row

Pretty Marys All in a Row is a novella about one of the four Marys of folklore/legend, whose bound to a stretch of highway near an old graveyard, and her struggle with the repetition of afterlife and the inability to break the endless cycle. Then, there’s a voice issuing from the shadows gathering in her room…

What Kiste did with the Mary legends was clever, and I found it interesting how she portrayed each one (although there was no Miss Mary Black/Mary Black, which may be more of a local legend than nationally). Also, like her later novel The Rust Maidens, it provided a satisfying ending.

Overall, it was a quick but wonderful read and I look forward to reading more of Kiste (And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe will be next), and I recommend it anyone whose interested in legends, folklore, or just a fan of Gwendolyn Kiste’s work.

Junji Ito — Uzumaki (#1-3)

Uzumaki (#1-3) is Junji Ito’s collection of Uzumaki — the Spiral mangas, and what could I say that hasn’t already been said about them? They’re beautifully drawn, very unsettling, and his craftsmanship is superb. The stories are surreal, weird, straight-up odd; grotesque and horrifying.

This was my first Ito manga and I devoured it within a couple hours, and now I’m left wanting more. Highly recommend purchasing this if you’re a fan of the weird.

Stormy Island Publishing — Fear and Fables

Fear and Fables is an anthology full with horror stories ranging from Halloween tales to the loss of loved ones to mysteries heritages and even more.

Overall, it’s a solid anthology and if you’re looking for short horror stories, I recommend picking it up.

Dark Regions Press — I Am the Abyss

I Am the Abyss is a collection of stories surrounding the theme of “the abyss” published by Dark Regions Press. Each author is original in their stories and what they believe “the abyss” is or could be, ranging from the surreal, to straight-up horror, to ghost and a hint of the weird.

I enjoyed all the stories, but the ones that stood out the most were: “Samsara” by Greg F. Gifune, “Blacktop” by William Meikle, “Crimes and Ashes” by Nicole Cushing, and “The Burning Woods” by Michael Marshall Smith.

Kathryn Wesley — The 10th Kingdom

The 10th Kingdom is a modern retelling of the Grimm fairy tales: Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Step Mother, etc, intertwined into one singular story focusing on a woman and her dad who’re thrown into a world of magic and adventure when a Prince turned dog stumbles through a magic mirror, transporting him to New York City.

This book is a novelization of the 2000 10-hour TV mini series The 10th Kingdom. I really enjoyed it when it came out then, and watched it several times. It was only until recently I discovered it in book form, and part nostalgia and part enjoyment of the story itself, I quickly purchased it.

Although I liked the TV series more, the book still was a fun read. Never got boring and since it was adapted from the script, the story moves quite fast with the lack of details or descriptions of characters, settings, etc (I’m assuming they believed that the reader has already watched the TV show, and can fill in the blanks).

I recommend anyone a fan of retelling of fairy tales and mythology to watch The 10th Kingdom, then if you want more, read the book.

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