Murder Ballads: John Horner Jacobs
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I somehow completely missed the boat on reading ‘A Lush and Seething Hell,’ by John Horner Jacobs. Honestly, I remember a lot of reviewers heaping praises on it but at that point I was constantly being rejected by Netgalley and I figured there was no way I’d be approved for it.
Recently on Twitter, John said he was looking for reviewers and I emailed him directly through his site. To my shock and amazement, he replied and sent me a digital copy! I was over the moon.
I dove in immediately and all I can say is this – prepare yourselves friends. This one is stunning!
What I liked: Featuring eleven stories of varying lengths, John Horner has stated this may very well be the only collection that he’ll ever release. I hope that’s not right. While he mentions in the introduction that he struggles with the short form, many of these stories are some of the best short stories I’ve ever read, easily sitting among the greats of our times.
The collection starts off with a bang. ‘Children of Yig,’ is a fierce Viking story that follows Grislea, a woman trying to gain the trust of the male warriors she’s fighting with. They come to a farmhouse that they plan to pillage when the story takes a turn. Absolutely creepy and one of the highlights of the collection. The other standouts for me were the stunning AI story ‘Single, Singularity,’ the gruesomely brutal dog-fight story ‘Old Dogs, New Tricks’ and the watery dread of the story ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife.’ For me, the story that was my personal favorite was ‘Patchwork Things.’ I am such a fan of wilderness stories and John really delivered with this one. I wish I could go into details about what happens and why I loved it so much, but anything I really say, even a minor synopsis would fall into spoiler territory. Just amazing.
What I didn’t like: Well, this is purely my own fault, but the final story in the collection, ‘Murder Ballads,’ is a sequel to John’s novel ‘Southern Gods.’ I haven’t read that, so for me, I feel like I didn’t connect as much with the story as I would’ve if I’d already read the novel. It was still a great story, but I think fans of that book will appreciate it that much more.
Why you should buy it: John is one of the best writers’s out there and I am kicking myself for not having read ‘A Lush and Seething Hell’ even more now. He has crafted some truly amazing stories here, and within this collection, you get to see him tackle a variety of Horror sub-genres which is amazing. I am so humbled that John sent me a copy to review. He and this collection have made me a fan for life.
Murder Ballads And Other Horrific Tales
A terrifying collection of horror and crime noir from the author of Southern Gods and A Lush and Seething Hell.
Featuring ten tales, two never before in print, Murder Ballads and Other Horrific Tales is an exciting glimpse into the dark territories of the human heart.
These are coming-of-age stories. Stories of love and loss, grief and revenge. Survival and redemption. From old gods to malevolent artiﬁcial intelligences, vampires to zombies to ghosts, Jacobs exposes our fears and worst imaginings.
CONTAINS THE SEQUEL TO SOUTHERN GODS
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of three novels, a number of novellas and four collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
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