Brand new review for my anthology collection "Return to 'Return to Oz', and other tales"
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Possibly the most diverse collection I have ever read. Superb! Highly addictive!
Well this book hooks you right from the get-go! It's unique, with some refreshingly original concepts that are totally addictive and enthralling. Such a diverse collection that hits all the right spots.
I struggle to think of anything like this publication in the horror fiction market today, with a new writing style to boot!
We begin with 'Footprints On The Lake', a very strong start, and a remarkable journey. Not at all what I expected from the title. This one thrives on intrigue and mystery. We are taken back to the caveman era, and shown how they communicated and lived. This one holds its own. But when one of the tribe notices something bizarre about a nearby lake, the tale takes an unforeseen twist. Magical, enchanting, and leaves you peculiarly emotional. But don't worry horror addicts, there is violence, strangeness, and supernatural elements at play.
The next story felt very personal. Realistic characters and a living situation that you sympathize with. With the exception of a young boy claiming the existence of a monster underneath his bed. This is a new take on an old classic fear that dates back centuries. The irrational, childish worry that something dangerous and evil lurks beneath the bed. But is it so irrational in this case?
The next insertion into this collection will blow your mind. 'Return To Oz' is sensational and gripping. And again, not at all what I expected. Everyone will read a title and make different presumptions. But I could never have been prepared for this superb ride. Expertly crafted, bewitching, explosively vivid, a stand-out chunk of fiction. This will stay with you forever. A first person account of a creepy voyage compared to the classic movies 'The Wizard Of Oz' and 'Return To Oz'. Equally educating as it is astounding.
One thing I love about Justin's writing is that he takes on a distinct energy for each story. That matches perfectly with the flow and pace of each individual short. His narrative not only explains the happenings, but places you there in lifelike detail. Also, the introductions to each story give you an idea what you're in for, or do they? They most certainly have you hungering to find out!
'Concrete Cage' is brutal, raw and rough. A brash and obnoxious piece of fiction that will make you feel uncomfortable, but curiously unable to stop reading. A confrontation between two gangs that bears witness to violence and bloodshed, with an oddly poetic ending.
Although all stories appease in contrasting ways, 'Undercurrent' has to be my favourite. Which is weird as technically speaking it's not a horror in the strictest sense. There are no monsters, psychopaths, ghosts, or spooky old ladies. A group of explorers take a trek like no other. Some like-minded individuals decide to head out on an expedition of underground tunnels. But we as readers are wary of the millions of ways this could go wrong. Deep underground, rocks, slippery surfaces, and unsteady earth. You'll be on the edge of your seat constantly. I felt claustrophobic, anxious, and very unsettled. But the fear of the unknown gives the excursion a dose of adrenaline needed to make it riveting. This one packs a punch and adds even more variety to the mix.
Now we are back to traditional horror with 'Old Hag'. A haunting account of a young girl's experience with a disorder known as sleep paralysis. An ancient, frightening entity lurches onto this innocent girl as she sleeps. Breathless terror, quite literally as the victim feels the weight of the Hag on their chest. While this is horrifying, and possibly the worst sleep disorder I could imagine, we are educated, with very real circumstances and characters. We go beyond the fright and myths, and expose the life-destroying side effects of living with this ailment. As we would expect, she has difficulty sleeping, or even wanting to hit the sack, knowing what is waiting in her unconscious.
'Bacchanal' is an experiment in human behaviour. Students fall under a spell that compels they worship Bacchanal as they visit his temple. But there are no prayers or chants in this worship. This type of praise involves the releasing of inhibitions. Doesn't sound scary until you realise how it produces crazy, irrational, impulsive attitudes. It reveals deep-seated, malicious desires that we hold inside, and forces us to act on them. But just what do they all crave?
These are but a few of what Mr MacCormack offers us, each outstanding, each addictive, each extraordinary.
Possibly the most diverse collection I've ever read. One minute you'll be petrified, the next angry, then awkward, emotional, defeated, empathetic, disturbed. But one thing is for sure, each will entertain, and shock the hairs from your body. Justin is a very talented writer in both his authentic, alluring content, and the execution of it.