Review for 13 Horror Stories by John McDonnell
Recalling some of the classic horror and sci-fi stories of the 50s and 60s 13 Horror Stories is a nicely put together batch of short horror tales. Each of them has its own style and unique twist ending for the reader. Removed from the violent hack and slash of modern horror these tales are just the thing for those fond of more subtle horror. Here you’ll find jealousy, betrayal and revenge as much as you’ll find horror.
My own personal favorites were the stories “The Smell of Love” (a tale about late in life love and the mother that stands to lose a lot by its fruition) and “The Returning” (a ghost story about a jealous and tortured wife and the aftereffects of her last tragic night). These stories reminded me of those often found in the horror comic House of Secrets made up of an air of the surreal and darker aspects of human interaction.
Grundish is a down and out quiet soul whose life has been lived for the benefit of his friend Askew who's asked him to help him avoid the fate of of his forebears (all of of whom have ended up in jail at an early age and therefore waste their lives) by shooting him if it ever looks as if he's going to have to go to prison. This arrangement has worked out for the pair over the years (though Grundish finds himself serving time for Askew and therefore faces several setbacks and expressing himself through carefully orchestrated breaking and entering jobs)until Askew goes completely insane on a man who lives in their trailer park and kills him.
Frustrated by events as it was Grundish now flees with his friend and his octogenarian Aunt in an attempt to once again save Askew from the fate he seems destined to fulfill. The only trouble is that just when things start to look better they only get worse and usually because Askew isn't able control his impulses. Caught in a whirlwind of crime, insanity, death and mayhem Grundish, Askew and the people dragged into their misadventure are locked in on path of doom.
Once again Lance Carbuncle has created a cast of characters that fascinate and amuse the reader as often as they horrify them with their actions. Carbuncle is no ordinary author with his blend of Gonzo and off the wall Harry Crews inspired characters he manages to create a unique story that goes much farther than you might expect. Grundish, Askew and Askew's Aunt Turleen have their own unique world view which often leaves them outside normal society, wrapped up in the mens problems they all form a cohesive unit that while often flawed in action tries very hard to seek out whats best for the group.
While the oddball charm is just as strong here as in Smashed, Squashed, Splattered, Chewed, Chunked and Spewed there's a tempered quality to the way its dolled out over the course of Grundish and Askew which allows the novel to be serious more often than not and this actually makes Carbuncle's second novel better than his first.I highly recommend this book for its humor, sense of adventure and loveable oddball qualities all of which make it a standout and a clearly original piece