Under Rotting Sky – Matthew V. Brockmeyer
Reviewed by Miranda Crites
- Paperback: 268 pages
- Publisher: Black Thunder Press (20 April 2019)
I attended the release party for Under Rotting Sky on Facebook, which was really a lot of fun, and I was telling the author that I would be reading and reviewing his book for Kendall Reviews. He offered to send over a new copy with a few formatting corrections, which I accepted. Thank you to Matthew V. Brockmeyer and Black Thunder Press for providing me with the eBook.
Extremely deep. Dark. Nostalgic. And refreshing, if you can say that horror is refreshing. Sometimes it can be. Well, that is until the darkness creeps in. Then, it lingers a bit before making itself comfortable and showing its unmasked face. Once comfortable, the show begins.
I hadn’t read anything by Matthew V. Brockmeyer before, but I will definitely be reading more of his work. This is one of the darkest books I’ve ever read.
There are twenty stories in Under Rotting Sky.
In the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death, a couple of fatherless brothers scrounge the streets of Seattle for survival. With their father gone, it’s up to them to search for recyclables to return for food money for themselves and their hard-to-please, alcoholic mother. While downtown searching for bottles and cans, Max spots Mary Ellen. As he follows her through town, we realize this is no ordinary crush. There is something far more sinister going on here.
A Dirty Winter Moon
This is one of the stories I referred to as refreshing. It’s refreshing because I haven’t read a lot of stories set in the Pacific Northwest. It is a nice change of scenery, and I can almost smell the fresh air and earth and see this beautiful place.
As different as the setting is to read about, it’s a familiar way of life for me. It’s almost like Brockmeyer is describing my family’s cabin in the woods at times, right down to the propane refrigerator.
Hopefully, my life won’t end up like this story.
Dandelion, Henry, and their daughter, Sophia, have acquired forty acres of land an hour’s drive away from the closest small town. They’re building their cabin—their life—off the grid here. A lot of work has been accomplished, but there’s much more work to be done. They have added a dozen Rhode Island Red chickens and a small greenhouse and are planning to add much more to their farm.
They learn that homesteading is a lot of hard work that usually comes with slow progress. They’ve already experienced some crop loss and setbacks.
Life on a farm comes with intrusions.
A creepy man appears as Dandelion and Sophia are planting garlic. He has a message to deliver. A warning.
Then there’s chaos. Destruction. Loss.
Roach is out looking to score some drugs. On a whim, he decides to steal something bigger, which would have been a really bad decision even if he hadn’t been high. Now, as if Roach’s life wasn’t bad enough, it gets worse. The pain and sadness are bad. Now, Roach’s own personal Jiminy Cricket is steering him to do good deeds, but it can’t really be there, can it?
Extremely dark and sad.
Greg and Katherine’s marriage is pretty much a train-wreck. Greg suggests they take a trip and try to repair their relationship. Things are not going as planned, but then there does seem to be a turn for the better.
I certainly didn’t see that ending coming! Wow!
A New Man
Thank goodness for all the knowledge you can gain from the internet. Without his online education, Bartholomew wouldn’t have this wonderful life he’s made for himself.
Reckoning the Corn
An exhilarating, witchy story. This one made me really sad and squeezed my cold, black heart. Lots of twists and turns. That ending!
A science fiction story where there’s a lot more going on that what meets the eye. Lots of gross-out moments!
Have a Heart
This was one of my favorite stories in the collection. This is one of the most horrific stories I’ve ever read.
We have a large, old white oak tree in our yard at the cabin, and my dad always comments on how dangerous it is. He pretty much hates the tree, and he cuts down trees near his own home all the time as they grow. I love that tree, and it’s one one of the things I made sure was kept off-limits while the land was being cleaned up for the cabin. I walked past the live trap we have set to catch various creatures who like to cause chaos, go toward the giant white oak tree with at least one questionable branch hanging out over the fire pit, and up the steps to our cabin where I sat and read Have a Heart. When I finished, I thought maybe Matthew Brockmeyer had written this story right here on my own front porch. When my husband and son brought home new baby chicks a couple of weeks ago, my husband told me he almost decided to get me a goose, too. Had he brought me a gosling, we might be stacking new firewood today because I might have really thought hard about cutting down the old tree after all.
Raymond and Beatrice are fighting over the decision to keep or cut the old madrone tree as they often do.
A broody goose is sitting on a clutch of eggs.
An unwanted visitor has been lurking at night, and Raymond tries to trap it.
Horrible, horrible, terrible things happen!
This story raises a lot of flags. If you’re a cryer, it might bring some tears. It nearly ripped out my heart.
Under Rotting Sky
I don’t know whether the sadness, pain, or darkness stands out more.
An 80s, punk rock, homelessness, and drug-laden kind of love story.
“My name is Garbage and forever will my name be etched into my head by the girl I loved. I haunt a world of filth, piss, and blood beneath a rotting sky.”
Star Rating (out of 5): 4.7*
Under A Rotting Sky
Twenty unforgettable tales of transgression and horror by the award-winning author of KIND NEPENTHE.
In “Mine” a child hangs precariously between the isthmus of innocence and evil, shedding his humanity for the altar of a wolf pup.
A horrifying and ancient legend reveals itself with a shocking new twist in “A Dirty Winter Moon.”
“Have a Heart” teaches us that nature always prevails over the follies of man, sometimes in an extremely gruesome manner.
In “Rumpelstiltskin” the troll under the bridge is very real, and wants your children for unspeakable deeds.
In “The Gym Teacher” a boy’s obsession with serial killers leads him to discover the true nature of a monster.
These twenty stories traverse the outskirts of society to reveal the brutality of humanity in all its gory glory.
Miranda Crites is a reader, book reviewer, photographer, writer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia. Miranda has always enjoyed reading, photography, and writing. She received her first camera as a gift when she was nine years old. The writing bug bit her at a very early age. She won the young writers’ contest in first grade and never stopped writing.
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