Opening Statement: I do not think, by any means, that my work is superior or equal to the authors I review. This is only my opinion. Let’s keep it that way.
I must preface this review with the following:
Jack Is Writing, by Shaun Adams, deserves an editor, but at face value, does not need one. There are more than a handful of errors, about four or five per story, but that in no way detracts from the strength of these tales. If anything, I felt like I had found several diamonds in the rough. They could be polished, but are just as unique and mesmerizing without touching them any further. For no other reason do I give this book four stars. Make that abundantly clear: This is a fantastic collection. The book floored me, and that is no easy task. If you peruse my blog, you will find only one other review. That’s how often I find a new piece of literature worth commenting on. We will go story by story. I will skip the 100 word additions only because I do not know how to review a story that short. I will say, though, they are all crafted by an author whose vocabulary is stammering. You will not find any unneeded words. I guarantee that.
Let’s get started then.
The Blind Star: This story shocked me. Not because of its content, but by its direction. The horror is quick and dirty, surprising and stunning. The lead up is what struck me as amazing. I just didn’t see it coming. Saying more would ruin the story, and most importantly, the surprise. Shaun leads us into the scene effortlessly, not revealing anything until the most exquisite moment. Bravo!
Favorite Quote: “…mischievous eyes sparkling in a face that resembled a walnut.”
Evil Moon: Who doesn’t love a story set in a nuthouse. This one unsettled me. Shaun puts us inside the mind of an unstable man on suicide watch. I was so pleased with this one, I actually read it twice. Madness, throughout history, has been attributed to the moon. If you’ve ever worked in hospitality, or for a hospital, you know what I’m talking about. But here, in this story, the moon is personified.
Favorite Quote: “The smell reminded him of a dead cat he had once found in a hedge when he was a child – road kill, left to rot in the summer sun for at least a week.”
Eyes of Clouded Glass: Blech! Poor, poor Clem. The description of the hag in this story is disgustingly brilliant, and utterly disturbing. Shaun spends little time describing his surroundings here, but what he uses to his advantage is a talent for show-don’t-tell. His descriptions play out through his character’s actions. You will find nothing as mundane as, “The walls were gray,” within these pages.
Favorite Quote: “I listened as worm eaten floorboards creaked and settled; a brief squabble over Frosty Jack was quickly resolved in a room down the corridor.” Let me say this: At no time does Shaun give us any information we don’t need to know. With the above quote, he adds atmosphere. To my dying day, I will scream from the mountain tops, horror is nothing without atmosphere. Shaun laid foreboding on so thick, it fucking dripped from my Kindle. Read and learn, people. Read and learn.
A Rough Parody of Billy: This is, hands down, my favorite story in the collection. It’s dark, nasty fiction at its very best. Shaun delves into weird with the ease of a trained professional. You know something’s coming, but God, you haven’t a clue what it might be. And just when you think you might know, he snatches the damn rug out from under your feet. I will be playing this nightmare out in my sleep for some time. As revolting and impossible as the story is, Shaun somehow made it very real for me.
Favorite Quote: “Billy feels the sting of haemorrhage from its passage behind his eye. It excites him, exquisite purgatory.” I mean come on, Shaun! That’s cheating. By the way, Shaun is English. Haemorrhage is just the way they spell it across the pond.
Out of a Dust Demon 5000: This is my least favorite story. It’s not poorly written, just wasn’t my thing. Funny side note: Shaun adds an afterword at the end of the story, explaining that his inspiration for this tale stemmed from Stephen King’s From a Buick Eight. In my honest opinion, FAB8 is one of King’s worst books. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Sorry, Shaun.
I Never Ordered Pizza: I think one of my least favorite questions to be asked as an author is, “Where do you come up with this shit?” Rarely can I explain, and usually respond, “It just pops into my head and I evacuate it as soon as possible.” But, I Never Ordered Pizza made me want to ask Shaun that exact question. The story is just good old fashioned fun, and oh, so fucking weird. I laughed, hard, on more than one occasion. Right where I was supposed to, I would think.
Favorite Quote: Just about everything that comes out of Cosmopolitan Smallman’s mouth. You’ll see what I mean when you read the story.
Sarcophagus Rising: This end of the world scenario seemed so real to me. I could almost see the newspaper print, hear the radio reports, smell the burnt ash in the air. Waking up to something like this would be my worst nightmare come true. I’m not a huge fan of apocalyptic thrillers, but this one had a personal feel to it. I felt so terribly sad for the nameless narrator.
Favorite Quote: “I thought I saw charred lumps of human remains; a foot in the ornamental birdbath, A head in the flowerbed.” That is copied verbatim. Even though it is my favorite quote in the story, it does have an error in it. This is what I was talking about at the beginning of the review. Small, easily overlooked typos are smattered here and there, but they don’t hurt. If you didn’t catch the error, the “A” shouldn’t be capitalized.
Eight Click’s To Eternity: Yes, there’s a typo in the title. There shouldn’t be an apostrophe in Clicks, but oh well. It is what it is. With that said, Shaun closes out his collection strongly. Not quite as strongly as he started, but that’s just my personal opinion. After reading this collection, I see Shaun has a penchant for sci-fi that I didn’t expect when I first started reading. The final piece of work showcased, has a mystery about it. It bores into that feeling some of us have that says, “We’re not alone out here in the universe.” I read another review of Shaun’s collection in which the reviewer said they wanted more, and I must agree, but only with this last story. It felt as if Shaun was halfway home, but ran out of gas before he reached his destination. I say that, but I know how we work as storytellers. Sometimes there isn’t any more. We’re only given a brief glimpse, and the image fades. Imagine bearing that cross. Knowing there’s a story, but not knowing if it has a proper ending. I deal with that shit all the time.
In summation: This will be a book I will read again and again. Maybe one story at a time, or another complete walkthrough. I’ve already read two of the stories twice just to see how he managed certain scenes. Shaun has that talent, that magic only a few possess. The power of a good storyteller is engulfing. You can sit there and listen to them talk for hours, and feel as though only minutes have passed. Shaun Adams, it would be my pleasure to waste the day away with nothing but your stories as company. Thank you for the escape.
P.S. Damn the torpedoes… Mara McBain, you’re next.