Thanks to Recent Poetry Readers!

Thank you so much, those who have supported my site and been reading my books! It’s much appreciated, especially in these trying times! 🙂
Somebody definitely has been reading them, as three have consistently been in the Top 10 for Contemporary Poetry on Amazon for over a month! The last upcoming poetry collection I’ve got for awhile has been delayed until July, but in the meantime, these are still free.

I wish I had realized this earlier, but please note that some versions of Amazon only offer some of the Kindle chapbooks that are supposed to be free for free, for whatever reason, but Smashwords offers an alternate Kindle version worldwide. It’s just not as pretty as the Amazon version. They can be bought for inexpensive, though, and they’re available in print, so please take a look if you haven’t already! Be sure to add them to Goodreads, too!

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A Thank You to Recent Poetry Readers!

Thanks to all those from my blog who’ve picked up a copy of my recent releases, either the paid, print or free ones. All are equally appreciated, and I love to see that my work is enjoyed so much! 🙂 Cosmic Love has been in the Top 10 in Contemporary Poetry and in the Top 250 in Dark Fantasy for nearly a month!

I was afraid that, like what’s kind of been happening with my books on Goodreads, since earlier versions of some of them came out last year, there would be little-to-no new downloads or feedback, despite the two versions being extremely different, and I don’t feel right promoting them much at the moment. At least not until there’s more of the series out. I adamantly want to focus on my fiction, but I’m certainly grateful that my poetry seems to have found its path. I am a little bit more interactive on Goodreads, so if you read my books and want to tell me what you think, that’s the better place to do it, and you’re welcome anytime.

The next entry, Infinite Summer, ought to come out internationally on May 25th, then on Amazon somewhat later.

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Smashwords Interview 2019

The updated interview for my Smashwords profile. I answered one last year around January. So many things have changed with my work, so it was high time for a fresh one, now that I have actual books on there.

Q: What motivated you to become an indie author?
A: Ah, this question is something of a paradox. A variable and yet also a constant.
I will say that as of this interview, I’m currently working on the S.M. Shuford Poetry Collection, an ongoing saga that compiles most of my poetry and is to some degree autobiographical, hence the blatant narcissism of the title. There is set to be thirteen to fifteen books in total in that series. After that, in 2020 I’ll have another handful of large-scale poetry compilations, similar to 2018’s Loverboy, a short story collection and slowly eke my way into writing novels on a regular basis.

Q: How do you discover the eBooks you read?
A: It’s a smoothie of recommendations, avid hunting for new things to read, and random chance. Book-seeking is one of the few things that’s better if you’re pretty much careless in how you go about it.

Q: What is your writing process?
A: Vomit a mass of something vaguely interesting. Rinse the excess words off. Polish them. Publish it. Kill the thing you bore and rebuild it Frankenstein-style when you decide it wasn’t good enough the first time. You know, the usual way. Continue reading “Smashwords Interview 2019”

Book Review – Accents of Horror by Chris Snider

★★★★ 4 Stars

Full Title: Accents of Horror: Four Flavors of Death
Genre: Horror / Paranormal
Publication Date: September 15th, 2013
Publisher: Independent

“Who else knows you better than yourself? You know all of your secrets.”

Accents of Horror is a four-act theatre of dark deeds, revenge and restless phantoms. It’s a load of creepy, classic urban-legend fueled fun. I like that it can be cut into different varieties of horror, from a ghost story to occult horror to a very real horror that comes completely from human beings, nothing paranormal involved.

These are all very brief stories, so it’s difficult to go in-depth about them without outright spoiling the plots, but here is a quick rundown of my thoughts on each. I recommend this collection if you’re looking for something short, sweet and with a conservative but lasting dose of disturbing imagery.

“A Stranger in the Rain” – ★★★★

This I believe was my favourite, along with “The Comeback”. “A Stranger in the Rain” is a story of sin and retribution in the classic way. Twisty, sinister and laced with devilish hallucinations.

“Headlights” – ★★★★

A rather sweet take on the vanishing hitchhiker myth. It isn’t incredibly scary, but is creative in its retelling and a pleasant read otherwise. It is more heart-warming than anything.

“Dinner With Death” – ★★★

This was the darkest story atmospherically, but somehow didn’t stand out to me as strongly as the others.

“The Comeback” by Ellen C. Maze – ★★★★

The twist in this short is like a gut-punch. I loved everything about this story, which follows a has-been actor and his rivalry with an up-and-coming actor that he feels has stolen his role in the spotlight. The bitterness of losing fame and jealousy react to a terrible and violent end.

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Book Review – Red Boots by Kate Willis

★★★★ 4 Stars

Genre: Short Stories / Fiction
Publication Date: December 6th, 2017
Publisher: Toward Home Press

Red Boots is a Christmas story with a lovely message about generosity. It has a very Dickensian vibe, the shopkeeper protagonist who is not so wealthy himself going out of his way to help a family with a young child.

There is no stress of anxiety over the holidays, it’s the kind of cozy short read that’s perfect for the frosty evenings on the horizon. Red Boots is optimistic and hopeful, and could’ve made a good short novel as well. I wish I had gotten to know more about the shopkeeper, like he doesn’t really elaborate a whole lot on his own situation. I suppose that shows his selflessness, but still would’ve been neat.

Book Review – Tacking on the Styx by Jeffrey L. Hatcher

★★★★★ 4.5 Stars

Full Title: Tacking on the Styx: An Epileptic Sails the Facts, Fiction and Philosophy of a Mental Illness
Genre: Psychology / Science
Publication Date: March 15th, 2016
Publisher: AuthorHouse

Tacking on the Styx is a fascinating and unabashed look at epilepsy and cognition, unique from your usual psychology book in that it is also intertwined with both memoir and a fiction narrative, so a richer, more empathetic understanding and sense of individuality can be gained as you also learn more about epilepsy and neurology of the brain.

Can I say first that Tacking on the Styx is ridiculously in-depth. It could well be the definitive book on epilepsy. The narrative benefits the medical text strongly as well, which you might not expect. It reminds me of David B.’s graphic novel classic, Epileptic, though is more striking, being from an epileptic person’s viewpoint rather than their close relative as Epileptic was. I would recommend both to get the best understanding if it’s something you wish to know more about.

The body’s most vital organ is a complex landscape. I don’t pretend to be a doctor, definitely having more of an amateur interest in medical science, but I think we can all agree with Hatcher in that empathy is the key to mapping and understanding the mind.
I can speak from personal experience, however, that a healthy environment is also vital. No one with any disorder, whether mental, physical or neurological, can hope to mollify or heal it in an environment completely devoid of empathy and peace.
The roads to recovery and stability are delicate indeed, and I think that while modern medicine is truly a godsend, doctors can lose sight of this, so it’s very necessary to have books like Styx to promote that understanding. Continue reading “Book Review – Tacking on the Styx by Jeffrey L. Hatcher”

Holiday eBook Giveaway – Day 5

LoverboyCover(Complete)

Again, thanks to all who have downloaded a copy. This may be the last day it’s free on Kindle, so if you’re on the fence… I believe I’ve solved the paperback issue so… finally the paperback ought to be available for purchase by this weekend. Troublesome, but isn’t that life. Anyway, feel free to grab a copy below.

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Holiday eBook Giveaway – Day 4

LoverboyCover(Complete)

Thanks to all those who have downloaded a copy of Loverboy thus far! This is only the beginning of the road. For those who want one, they’re free on Kindle for the rest of the holiday season for anybody.
An interesting little fact I don’t think I’ve noted is that this collection began conception as romance short stories.
I had had like, two or three poetry compilations that were finished and supposed to come out before Loverboy was even decided as poetry, but it ended up usurping them. Kind of like a parasite that becomes its host. Oddly, it was totally thematically different from those two collections. It’s not even very similar to its companion book, Absolute Heaven. In genre only, maybe.

The hardest part of talking about Loverboy at all is that I’m perplexed about where it even spawned from. It just… was all on paper one day, or so it seemed like.
But anyway, feel free to grab a copy and tell your friends if it’s something they might like. Perhaps you will see something perplexing and valuable in it.

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Holiday eBook Giveaway – Day 3

LoverboyCover(Complete)

Thanks to all who downloaded a copy of Loverboy yesterday, for awhile it made it to the Kindle Free Top 10 in the Poetry category, right next to an Edgar Allan Poe compilation! I never dreamed that would happen. It also made it pretty high in the Fantasy and LGBT categories, surprisingly.
Oh, and you shouldn’t, but if you do experience any problems with the eBook, please tell me and I’ll fix it so you can get a new copy. It should look fine on most devices, at least the ones I’ve tested. The paperback should be out by Christmas if interested. It was supposed to be out several days ago but there was a strange delay because of publishing and rights and all that boring stuff you definitely aren’t interested in. I know I’m not. Ugh.

Anyway, I’m posting some frosty new winter and holiday themed poetry here for the week up to Christmas as well, so enjoy! Get your copy of Loverboy below, and feel free to offer your thoughts in a review. Happy Holidays!

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Holiday eBook Giveaway – Day 2

LoverboyCover(Complete)

My poetry debut Loverboy is free as a Kindle download for the holidays. Go crazy, it’s available in all Amazon regions to anybody. You don’t need Kindle Unlimited.
I decided to publish most of my poetry independently, purposefully. It’s not a matter of who publishes it, and if it happens to be picked up by a publisher later, that’s fantastic. I don’t have an issue with that.
It was more the fact that while widely loved, poetry is still niche and you can avoid all the arbitrary nonsense of waiting for somebody to take your project on if you just put it out there yourself. So for now here it is. Please give it a try, and if you miss the giveaway the regular price is pretty low.
If it’s something I’ve put out myself I don’t usually charge more than $7 USD for any of the eBooks. I mean, you don’t even get a physical copy, and as a book collector myself I find it ridiculous to charge much more than that. Share this giveaway with your friends who love to read so they can get a copy as well.

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Holiday eBook Giveaway – Day 1

LoverboyCover(Complete)

This dreamy dark poetry debut is FREE on Kindle for the holiday season starting today. If possible I will try to extend the time it’s free, but no promises, so Loverboy, for now will be free until Dec. 21st! It’s free in all regions, not just the ones below, and you can also borrow it on Kindle Unlimited. After the giveaway, it goes back up to $1USD, so still not too pricey. I’d adore some genuine feedback, from what I’ve seen the end design looked beautiful.
The paperback version has had some annoying technical troubles (it looks stunning but there were some issues with publishing) but should be out soon, along with its companion Absolute Heaven, which comes out later this December.
I should note that my poetry is probably best for mature readers. It’s not explicit but explores some more adult themes.
These books are completely indie by choice, so please help support my work by sharing this post and telling your friends, while they can get it for free! 🙂

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Book Review – Growth by Karin Cox

★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Poetry
Publication Date: July 17th, 2011
Publisher: Independent

Growth is a terrarium, budding and withering within the containment of a moment.
It’s casual yet sincere, but feels snipped. The collection jolts to an end just as it’s starting to really fit into its skin. Growth‘s blooming violets, after all the time they have taken to live suddenly get beheaded.

I liked it, though, and I’d probably read more. I usually judge whether poetry is good or not, not by its style but rather the visible effort and if it triggers the urge to create, and Growth does a solid job of inspiring. Cox’s prose is still of a lot higher quality than your average mass-market poetry book, and Growth is a short freebie. That’s important to note.

“For years I wrote for love of living, then years in tribute to disdain. I walked the streets, eyes primed for sorrow, littering words like falling rain.”

Book Review – The Plague Council by Eliza Taye

★★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Science Fiction / Post-Apocalyptic
Series: Oceania
Publication Date: July 21st, 2018
Publisher: Independent

It is a fact that I met The Plague Council by the sea, and read it there with its heart beating in waves at my feet. Hearing the ebb and flow of the ocean firsthand is an injection of new life when the blood in your mind feels stagnant and sad. The best circumstance to read a new book.

The Plague Council begins what I believe will be a really original science fiction series, taking place in a post-apocalyptic society that is dying but has the chance to be renewed if they can relocate to the bottom of the sea where disease cannot reach what’s left of them. A different ebb and flow, of life versus death. I like that it’s a reverse reinvention of the Atlantis myth. Rather than rediscovering an older culture’s “Atlantis”, they build their own.

I’m drawn to the water as much as the wind. People share a lot in common with the ocean, beyond even the cautious phrase of science and reason, and more complex than the simple fearfulness of superstition.
We are made of its body, we need it. Importantly it also has the will to be merciful or murderous as it chooses. The ocean is a creator and yet also destructive towards its creations. Sounds much like a human personality, doesn’t it?

This story asks some interesting and sometimes uncomfortable questions about what people should choose in the case of a widespread disaster – in the wake of complete trauma, could we go back to the sea? Would it welcome us after what we’ve done to it, or destroy us? Who would be saved and who would be forgotten, and why? Is this more power than we should ever be given that some should decide these things while others have no say?

The writing is descriptive and clear, but I do wish some of the characters besides Jessica were more fleshed out. This prequel is a promising start though. I’m eager to start the main series and see where it takes me.

Book Review – The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits by Matthew Meyer

★★★★★ 5 Stars

Full Title: The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits – An Encyclopedia of Mononoke and Magic
Genre: Mythology / Dark Fantasy
Publication Date: June 1st, 2015
Publisher: Independent

Don’t ever practice demonic rituals without the guidance of an expert, kids.

The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits is a sequel to Meyer’s yokai encyclopedia, this time delving into more occult aspects of Japanese mythology, such as curse and blessing practices, ideas of hell and heaven, and particularly infamous phantoms. Unlike your standard run-of-the-mill yokai, have the misfortune to come across one of these and you’re pretty much screwed.

There is an entire section on my homeland… I mean, a horrific place I’d never heard of and certainly don’t own a summer home there – Jigoku.
You could call Jigoku the Japanese equivalent to Hell in western religion, and is heavily intertwined with Buddhist philosophies. Descriptions of Jigoku make Dante’s Inferno look like a jolly walk through the park. Like Dante’s Hell or perhaps a foul-tasting but elaborate cake, Jigoku is made up of increasingly unpalatable layers of suffering.

“Mugen Jigoku, the hell of uninterrupted suffering, is the eighth and deepest circle of hell. […] The souls down here are so hungry and thirsty that they tear apart their own bodies and drink their own blood in a useless attempt to ease their suffering. Words literally cannot describe how awful this hell is; if Mugen Jigoku were ever accurately described, both the reader and the writer would die from the sheer horror of it.”

Ushi no toki mairi is a pretty notorious ritual this book talks about in-depth. I knew about it before, but did NOT know how bad the implications of it were. It shows up in a lot of classical Japanese art as well as manga and anime – if you’ve read anything by Junji Ito, you’ll probably know his character Souichi, whose signature is the ringlet of candles and nails associated with the practice. I found the similarity to voodoo fascinating.

That’s just touching on a few strong points, really the whole thing is full of interesting curiosities and superstitions.
Unlike Meyer’s previous yokai book, probably not as many people are aware of these parts of Japanese myth and ancient religion. This is also an especially cool and professional book, and it’s not once boring. Meyer also created paintings for each entry, all of which are great.
Sadly, as I mentioned in my review of The Night Parade, these can be hard to come by in physical print. You can still get eBooks readily, but this is the sort of book the coffee-table format is made for.

Book Review – The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons by Matthew Meyer

★★★★★ 5 Stars

Full Title: The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons – A Field Guide to Japanese Yokai
Genre: Mythology / Dark Fantasy
Publication Date: March 1st, 2012
Publisher: Independent

Remember, phantoms are more scared of you than you are of them. Well, except in the many cases in which they aren’t. In which, tough luck!
Yokai are “ghosts” from Japanese mythology. I say “ghosts” in “quotes” because the meaning of yokai can be rather vague, and can extend to monsters, human ghosts, animal spirits, cryptids, demons and more tangible curses alike. They range from adorable and welcome in the household, to elusive and oddball, to violent and vindictive should you dare to seek them at the crossroads.

There is a yokai for every niche, anxiety and injustice you can blurt out. Pick out a nightmare you remember some imagery from, and there’ll be a yokai to match it.
My personal favourite is the bloodthirsty tree, Jubokko. I also enjoy the company of Jikininki, but find craving fresh humans to eat for all eternity to be a melancholy way to exist. Every time I talk to one, I’m grateful that cannibalism is a choice rather than a necessity for most people.

I’m also rather fond of the Nuppeppo just because its history is weird, to say the least. The Nuppeppo is essentially a great stinking wad of unused human-like meat and there is more than one recorded case in history of people coming into contact with it. Supposedly if you can catch it and cook it, it and will make you live forever.
If you could stomach the rotting, slithery mess… Ugh, nevermind. No thanks.

I have to say, a comprehensive book on yokai was much needed and The Night Parade is exceptionally awesome. As rich as the source material is, there is a surprising barrenness of solid Japanese mythology books in English.
The effort and talent that went into this guide is phenomenal. It’s organized, heavily researched and the author’s paintings are crisp and beautiful. Unleaded creative fuel.
I’ll always favour the visuals in books like this, but Meyer’s artwork really is cool. I didn’t even realize they were digital pieces until it was mentioned.
Some of the more obscure yokai you can’t actually find creative interpretations of anywhere, even in classical paintings.

It’s depressing that The Night Parade is hard to find in print. A vibrant, colourful collection such as this ought to be in physical print. It’s still on Kindle though, so not all is lost.

Book Review – Eden by Michael Robertson

★★★★ 4 Stars

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic / Horror
Publication Date: September 27th, 2014
Publisher: Independent

“They’ve more than coped. They’ve thrived. Who’d have thought that the next evolutionary step for humankind would be to take away our ability to think? Remove our ego, and we stop destroying one another.”

Eden is a pair of twin stories, “Eden” and “Pandora”. In both, the dead live again but incomplete, trapped in a sleepless state of blind hunger by a virus or else a curse. Eden stands out as different because here, existence as a zombie is seen for how undeniably tragic it is. Thought-provoking and bleak, it might be beautiful poetry if it didn’t involve eating the human you used to be.
I’m not normally a huge fan of zombie books but I enjoy them if they are unusual or fresh, and this short novella does a good job of that for being a read of only an hour or so.

“Eden” is the stronger short, being about a father and son living, or shall we say surviving in a government containment center, left to watch the remnants of their desolate world die through screens alone. They note that it seems disturbingly peaceful now compared to how it used to be, which carries a lot of terrible implications for them now that they seem to be worse off than the undead. This is definitely the better of the two stories, and you grow surprisingly close to the son, Mark, and his predicament as he begins to see less and less light from his future.

“Pandora” is confusing because it seems to start in the middle of the event, without really explaining what led to it. There is an elusive box that unleashes the undead, but why did the characters even have this, and how in the world did they get ahold of it? “Pandora” is good, but could’ve branched out. It feels like something was lost in the midst and it leaves so many questions in its trail.

Book Review – Better the Devil You Know by Bey Deckard

★★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Horror / Paranormal
Publication Date: October 1st, 2015
Publisher: Independent

Wherever the soul lies, I feel mine has been vivisected to shrivel in shame just for being familiar with this novel. I don’t even feel good about writing a review, and I write gruesome stuff for a living.
It’s pretty controversial, being banned from a handful of book outlets, notably Smashwords. Quite ironic, considering Smashwords is known for not rejecting much in any genre.

Better the Devil You Know is a straight-up Alighierian horror dressed up as an erotic romance. A knife-wielding demon in the skin of an unusually flirtatious angel, if you will.
I admire Deckard’s bravery in publishing this book, but am tortured in giving it a good rating. To say it is “disturbed” is an understatement. Calculated and extreme violence abounds.
The reason I think I liked it in spite of its gut-churning details, is because I find novels on the facets of human cruelty to be poignant and more potent than other novels.
A heartwarming book will be kind and remembered fondly now and then, but a heart-crushing book will survive time and not allow you to forget it. This one definitely won’t.

Bey Deckard is a talented writer, especially with characterization. This makes the extreme violence that much more unpleasant because the author builds a sense of sympathy for even the characters you know will die.
Well, except for the protagonist. There is no sympathy for him. I hesitate to call Byron Danielsen a “pro“tagonist, as ending up in an enclosed space with this man is a fate worse than death, but that’s what he is.

Byron is the source of the book’s controversy and discomfort, a serial killer and torturer with no emotional scale in particular. Karma won’t even touch the man with such a hostile, almost alien set of mannerisms and even when he dies and goes to Hell, the devil himself is like:
“Is this even a human being?”

The religious themes when Byron goes to Hell bothered me some. It’s very Inferno-esque, but it’s not that the themes are offensive (though they easily could be, fair warning) but that they’re not handled that well. I think in trying to steer more towards realistic fiction than paranormal, a lot of the underworld-building was handwaved away. Hell is basically like a bunch of office buildings that are perpetually on fire or otherwise buried in stone.

Better the Devil You Know is outrageous and revolting, but also a little tragic. It’s egregiously mislabeled, so much that it seems trolling – I found that it was categorized under “romance” – and is definitely more cut out for someone who like disturbing thrillers. Sure, this is emotionally strong and painful, but it is NOT a love story. Unless you consider demons posing as a man’s victims to torment him romantic.

If Better the Devil looks like something that’s up your alley, go for it. It is in all fairness a well-written and original book, but don’t say I never warned you. Graphic content abounds and I’ll note a trigger warning for torture and dark sexuality.

Book Review – The Gown by Emilie Autumn

★★★★★ 4.5 Stars

Genre: Short Story / Horror
Publication Date: February 19th, 2018
Publisher: The Asylum Emporium

The tile of the ward is colder than death’s heart, and yet it always tries to coax us back into its arms with a lie about its nature.

A young woman is admitted to a hospital several times over her life, at first for an innocuous general visit as a teen then for her deteriorating mental and physical health as an adult. Each time one same old gown turns up, stained with the blood of a past embarrassment that seems to haunt her, an omen which only seems to serve to add insult to her injuries.

“The gown had become a staple of her wardrobe, a reviled relative that would not die and kept visiting even though he was not wanted and he knew it very well.”

All mental illness stories, true or fiction, tend to be horror stories. Horror plants its flora in the guts of fear and tragedy, and mental illness breeds both in abundance.

A criticism of The Gown is that the protagonist is overreacting to an unlikely bloodstain, and that it isn’t a “realistic” depiction of mental illness.
You have to consider what the stain means in the context of paranoia, though. To a person admitted again and again to a hospital in a fragile state of mind, how could it seem like anything other than fate taunting “No matter where you run, you’ll always end up here.”
Being mocked and constrained by even the little things in your environment is any mental illness in a nutshell, which is part of why it’s so hard to fight them. There is not really any freedom that’s meant for your hands, even if you had everything in the world at your disposal. It will just turn against you, eventually.

So, I find this story quite realistic, save for perhaps the over-the-top ending. I didn’t think the study questions were really… necessary, but I do think the subject of this short is one more people should consider from other perspectives and ask themselves about in-depth. It can be the tiniest, most inanimate, most innocent things that trigger the worst catastrophes in us.

Book Review – Snowy Pines by Chris Snider

★★★★ 4 Stars

Genre: Horror
Publication Date: April 18th, 2017
Publisher: Independent

Carson McClain is having a rough time of it – his wife blames him for the accidental death of their child, and the stress of trying to earn her affection again has led him to remote Colorado, where he wrecks his car in a severe snowstorm. When Carson wakes, he is trapped in an abandoned hospital, inhabited by the damned and nightmarish. Poor Carson, it seems, is unwelcome even amongst monsters.

I am always alert for creepy hospital tales, realistic or fantastic. I enjoyed the mystery of Snowy Pines, though it is more action horror than psychological. I have a soft spot for diabolical abominations, so I really liked the descriptions of the horrors Carson comes across and has to evade or fight.
I noticed a few shout-outs and homages to my favourite series ever, Silent Hill, as well. (Shotgun in the nurse’s locker, anyone?) Given it takes place in a decrepit, dark hospital, I don’t see how you could help but mention the series that made the setting popular.

I don’t have many criticisms, but I felt that more time dedicated to fleshing out the side characters wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Carson is a decent and well-written hero, or antihero depending on your interpretation, but the other cast are seen in rather monochrome shades.
Snowy Pines is a short novel you can dissect in a day and night and is enjoyably bleak and strange. I do recommend.

Book Review – Zerostrata by Andersen Prunty

★★★★★ 5 Stars

Genre: Bizarro / Fantasy
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2008
Publisher: Eraserhead Press

“That wasn’t what I wanted. That wasn’t what I wanted at all. I didn’t want to be a kid again. I just wanted to be in Zerostrata. I just wanted to look out over things, from that height, with virtually nothing holding me back from the world around me.”

Zerostrata is a story of innocent wonder, things falling apart and being mended. This is the kind of book that cuddles up to your heart and brain and presses out all the decay and sadness, if just for a precious while. It’s the strangest of soul-searching adventures.

The magnificent “Zerostrata” is only a treehouse, precariously perched in the tallest tree in town, in the yard of Hansel Nothing’s childhood home. It’s a moldy old deathtrap, but it’s Hansel’s favourite moldy old deathtrap, and when he returns to his mother’s strange, sad house from the mystery of the abyss and sees that things are in the same shambles they always were, Hansel turns to Zerostrata for comfort. One night in Zerostrata, he looks through the window onto the flesh of the world below and sees a girl running naked on the street – her name is Gretel.

I suppose you’d think this makes it a retelling, wouldn’t you? But I don’t exactly know what to call this book. Zerostrata can’t be bothered trying to squeeze into labels, it just is what it is and it’s beautiful. It’s a little living melancholy wearing a fairytale mask, but there’s a bittersweet realism about the characters even when they’re climbing to the moon and warping reality. Continue reading “Book Review – Zerostrata by Andersen Prunty”