Odd Man Out – James Newman
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Ready to read one of the most emotionally charged, harrowing stories you’ve ever read? Ready to sit and squirm and feel the tears push forward while you watch a group of young kids continue down a path with no return?
I kept seeing Odd Man Out get a ton of love on a few different sites so I snagged it. I didn’t know the synopsis, I just kept seeing people make statements like; “the darkest novella I’ve ever read,” and “so disturbing but so heartbreaking.” I live and breathe reading dark, disturbing and heartbreaking.
I was sold.
I read this in just under an hour, but haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It has a similar feel to the real life Matthew Shepard tragedy from 1998.
Newman is a deft story-teller and he accurately portraits young boys from that time period. Their love of hard rock, sports and the very real fear of being or becoming gay. I lived through this time period and I am 100% ashamed to admit that growing up I frequently made similar statements that Newman uses as dialogue; “last one in likes it up the ass.” This was a hard read for me for a number of reasons. I’ve never cared if someone was LGTBQ, I want everyone to be happy and love who they fall in love with. My parents never told us it was wrong or that others were wrong for loving someone of the same-sex. But as Newman prophetically states in one line that stood out for current political reasons; ‘boys will be boys.’ Peer pressure was a massive determiner for a lot of my youth and a lot of the stuff I did with my friends. And truthfully the fear of being considered a ‘pussy’ or a ‘bitch’ would propel us to jump off of something high or throw that rock or etc. The fear of looking less or not man enough in front of your friends is real and it’s a strong motivator, no matter what your conscience says. I can confirm I’ve grown and changed significantly from when I was 13 years old, but it doesn’t take the sting away from reading words like this. Words that I know I casually tossed out around friends.
I highly recommend everyone read this. It should make you squirm, make you uncomfortable and make you devastated as the story plays out. The afterword was stunning and was a brilliant bit of additional information.
And if you haven’t take some time to watch the Matthew Shepard documentary, you should. I think it’s a great companion piece to this novella.
Star Rating (out of 5): 5*
Odd Man Out
WELCOME TO THE BLACK MOUNTAIN CAMP FOR BOYS!
Summer,1989. It is a time for splashing in the lake and exploring the wilderness,for nine teenagers to bond together and create friendships that could last the rest of their lives.
But among this group there is a young man with a secret–a secret that,in this time and place,is unthinkable to his peers.
When the others discover the truth,it will change each of them forever. They will all have blood on their hands.
ODD MAN OUT is a heart-wrenching tale of bullies and bigotry,a story that explores what happens when good people don’t stand up for what’s right. It is a tale of how far we have come . . . and how far we still have left to go.
Steve Stred is an up-an-coming Dark Horror author. Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick.
Steve also has a number of works on the go and enjoys all this horror, occult, supernatural and paranormal.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog Oj.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official Website here
The Girl Who Hid In The Trees
Something lurks just beyond.
Centuries ago a heinous act created a ripple that still haunts the residents to this very day.
Now the kids who reside near McConnell’s Forest live forever in fear.
Jason lost his brother when he was young. He left with his friends to ‘debunk’ the urban legend and never came back.
Now Jason and his group of friends are fed up and want to discover what is happening, what is the real cause of the terror holding their small town hostage.
But something is waiting for them. She may look sweet and innocent, but the friends are about to find out that pure evil can exist in the smallest of packages.
She’s out there. And while you may not know her name or what she looks like, the local kids will tell you if you ask, that you should fear for your life from the girl who hid in the trees.
From the dark mind of Steve Stred, the author of Wagon Buddy, YURI and Invisible comes this fast-paced, seat of your pants coming-of-age tale. A quick, violent, bleak read, The Girl Who Hid In The Trees will make you think twice about those sounds you hear far off in the woods.