Monday, September 8, 2008

Book Review: The Black Garden edited by Christopher Allan Death

The Black Garden , edited by Christopher Allan Death, is a darkly sinister collection of short stories that will surely help cultivate your black thumb! Filled with eight eerie and terrifying tales, The Black Garden will find a way to crawl under your skin with its creeping tendrils of terror!

Roots take hold with The Black Garden’s first spooky story, “The Kennel” by Evan J. Peterson. The reader is led through a menagerie of genetically manipulated specimens by a mad doctor. It’s the future, and people have taken to tinkering with different species’ DNA to create bizarre conglomerations of creatures. This garden of grotesqueries sets the malicious mood for the rest of the anthology…

Next, we have “The Indigenous Flora and Fauna of a Small Tropical Island” by Sam W. Anderson. The reader is quickly ensnared by the engrossing tale, much like the lead character is snared by a rather hungry plant. Though images of Little Shop of Horrors may come to mind, “The Indigenous Flora and Fauna…” manages to stand on its own with its brisk pacing and to-the-point characterization.

Third comes the deliciously heebie-jeebie inducing “Teardrop” by David Dunwoody. This is probably the goriest of the bunch, and features a old and mysterious teardrop-shaped anomaly that’s been worshiped for as long as it’s been around…until a crack forms in its surface and something rather unpleasant begins to spill out…

“The Legless Ones” by Jodi Lee takes the old story of how snakes were created from the Bible and bends it using its own mythology and Old World pagan gods. The atmosphere conjured by the film recalls the misty moors of Ireland and the haunted mounds that dot its landscape.

“To Feed the Little Children” by Sharon M. White is probably my favorite tale of the bunch, showing us that looks can be deceiving and that the seemingly weak and innocent aren’t at all what they appear.

An old evil inhabits Old Flat Mile Road, an evil that won’t stop until blood has been shed on its pot-hole-riddled black top in “Care and Feeding of the Old Flat Mile” by Aaron A. Polson.

A spurned spouse gets revenge on her cheating husband with the help of a technologically advanced GPS system in “Aria” by Allison M. Dickson. “Aria” is probably my second favorite of all the stories. The cheating husband starts off sympathetic, but in the end you really start to think he got what was coming to him. I also loved the whole “technology run amuck” angle the story took and the pacing is excellent, with an acceleration toward a smashing climax!

Finally, the book finishes with the decidedly weird but no less satisfying “Ill Conceived” by Felicity Dowker. A couple in their 40’s have given up all hope of ever having a child of their own, but suddenly discover that they have conceived something…in the strangest of places.

The Black Garden is a wickedly fun collection of macabre mayhem that would make a great addition to any horror fan’s library. It’s a very quick read and clocks in at about 120 pages, but the tales contained within the pages make it all worthwhile.

Order via Corpulent Insanity Press by visiting HERE!

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