Contents May Unsettle: David Court
Reviewed By Ben Walker
First off – great title. Perfectly sets up a mood of both scary tales and gut-churning ones, which is precisely what this generous collection of 20 stories and poems serves up. From an opening piece rich with backstory and eerie moodiness, with a neat spin on an old monster to boot, the warning signs that you’re in for a good time are clear as day.
Those warnings are mostly borne out across the various horror and sci-fi tinged offerings within, ranging from weird encounters with virtual spaces to immortal friends, trick-or-treating Elder Gods, Shocker-style shocks, botanical bizarreness, superheroes and more besides. Unlike a bottle of pills, variety is the name of the game here, with each story offering fresh surprises and a decent dose of humour to offset the frights, thrills and erotic horror. There’s also a healthy disdain for Comic Sans, which should be instantly endearing to anyone but the most stubborn of meme-lords.
Amongst my favourite stories were the folk horror stylings of At the River’s Brink, its peculiar menagerie of monsters and olde-worlde trappings bringing the videogame world of Monster Hunter to mind, before bringing in a character from folklore to deliver an unexpected spin on a classic yarn. Shadow and Substance traps its protagonist in a world of someone else’s making to gradually creepier results, while 12 Drummers Drumming offers a less-than-typical Xmas-inspired story that echoes stories like The Silence and A Quiet Place while dishing out steaming hot piles of gore and goo.
There are longer stories alongside snappier ones and poems that serve as effective breaks between the lengthier shorts. I’ve had mixed feelings about overlong short stories in other single-author collections recently, but these managed to hold my interest all the way through, keeping things fresh through to the (sometimes bitter) end. A few times I was even left wanting more from the worlds they conjured or the lives they described, which is as good a reason as any to give this the thumbs-up.
There’s something for all tastes here, so I highly recommend grabbing a copy, popping a few Tums or chugging a bottle of Pepto Bismol, and prepare your brains and your belly for a thoroughly unsettling time, as well as some genuine giggles.
KR: You can read a fantastic interview that Kendall Reviews had with David Court HERE
Contents May Unsettle
The fourth collection of prose by David Court, author of “The Shadow Cast by the World”, “Forever and Ever, Armageddon” and “Scenes of Mild Peril”..
Features twenty tales of madness and obsession, treachery, super-heroics and apocalyptic dystopias.
Ben got a taste for terror after sneaking downstairs to watch The Thing from behind the sofa at age 9. He’s a big fan of extreme & bizarre horror and well as more psychological frights, and most things in between. When he’s not reading, he’s writing, and when he’s not writing he’s on Twitter @BensNotWriting or reviewing books on his YouTube channel, BLURB.