I’m a great lover of short stories in speculative fiction, my first love in scifi having been Ray Bradbury which happens to be the author Ray Cluley waxes nostalgic about most in the first story of this collection. I wanted a review copy of this book based solely on the title and cover art. The cover shows tentacles making their way out of a dresser drawer, making me think of Lovecraft (another author Cluley was inspired by). And when it comes to monsters, I’ve a had a thing for weird creatures since my teens.
Probably Monsters doesn’t disappoint after evoking the memory of these great writers. His style varies from tame to hardcore to fun. I was continually impressed by his imagination and story building. The characters and complex and unpredictable, the stories have satisfying twists twists. I think he shines brightest with the stories in which he mashes together the horrors encountered in reality and the supernatural horrors of more typical horror tales.
A piece of writing from the story “At Night, When the Demons Come” that really hit me as beautifully haunting:
“There came next a wailing shriek I never in whatever life I’ve got left ever want to hear again. If that rooftop scream was a woman birthing death, this one sounded like the demon clawed her own abortion. The shards of it went through you like jagged porcelain and as it trailed off it thinned to a fiery hot needle in your ears. The way the wind shipped it into a ricochet pulled it through you like infected thread, yanking the line tight till you clutched your head against the pain. When the other one joined in I wished for death just so the chorus would end.
“It stopped eventually though the reverberations of those screams will be with me forever as a tortured background noise as permanent as thought. I can still hear it now when I close my eyes, finding myself in the same darkness.”
A little note I want to add – this book is gender and LGBT friendly. I love finding books that have characters that aren’t necessarily (although one story in particular is and it’s a great one) about being gay but simply a story that happens to have a LGBT protagonist or character in it. The more I see this I feel there have been big steps forward in society regarding LGBT issues. It’s very different from my youth which I think of as the days of Ellen Degeneres making headlines and having her show canceled.