Short Sharp Shocks! #41
Kitty R. Kane: The Straitjacket In The Woods
Reviewed By A.S. MacKenzie
KR: There are slight story spoilers in this review.
In this #41 edition of Demain Publishing’s series of ‘A Short Sharp Shocks! Book’ we’re again left with a feeling of “what did I read?”
This is a sentiment I’ve had with a few of these. None of that feeling is bad, it just speaks to the format in which these stories appear. Because of their diminutive size, they need to pack in a lot in a few words. In some case, like Straitjacket doing so means you’ve got to take in a lot very quickly and that can sometimes lead to a slow digestion of a fast story.
In this, we find a couple who’ve gone into the woods on a dare to find evidence of local superstition about a disfigured old woman who kills and curses all who enter. It’s bolstered by tales of an institute for the criminally insane getting shut down nearby. Our intrepid duo quickly find themselves in a horrible situation where their tent is destroyed and they hide in some caverns. Unbeknownst to them, this is the exact cavern where the old woman does, in fact, live but not alone. There are horribly disfigured children with her and they find the two.
After a bizarre turn of events where they find the children aren’t malevolent and that the old woman is their caretaker, they are given details about the truly horrific doctors at the institute and how it was their fault these children were created. In an attempt to right some wrongs, one of the couple gets captured by the bad doctors and then we see where the evil in these woods really lies.
The story is not as well-paced as I would hope, and some sections feel rushed and uneven like you as the reader may have missed something. But, that isn’t to say the story is a bad one or not worth reading, just go into it knowing there might need to be some connections the reader will need to make to bring clarity and that the story moves quickly.
While this book is an interesting one in the Demain catalog I don’t think it should be anyone’s first choice, but definitely not one to skip.
The Straitjacket In The Woods
When Abi and Jay lose a game at Halloween, their friends have a challenge for them. Simply enter the deep forest where a legendary crazy woman named Pendulous Sedge is said to live, obtain a trophy and bring it back.
Nothing however can prepare them for what they find after spotting a blood-covered straitjacket hanging from a tree…
Kitty R. Kane Talks To Demain Publishing
(Originally featured on the Demain Publishing Blog 26th November 2019 HERE)
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome to the family. For those that don’t know you, can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
KITTY R. KANE: Hi! Of course – I’ve been a lifelong horror fan since very young when I would steal Richard Laymon novels out of my father’s bedside cabinet. It was Laymon that inspired me to become a writer of horror. I always knew I wanted to write but received little encouragement at school. Maybe part of me felt like it was one in the eye to the doubters when I was first published, and I’ve really not stopped since.
DP: Good for you. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of Laymon’s work but I was big fan a few years back. What is The Straitjacket In The Woods about?
KRK: My story is a Laymon inspired tale. It has been kicking around my mind for a long time, I wanted to explore family units with a difference, and spin a Laymon style twist in it.
DP: Yeap, I could see the influences…tell us about your protagonist.
KRK: My main protagonist is a woman called Pendulous Sedge. It’s the name of a plant that I stole but she is my experiment with what can happen to misunderstood people when evil people get a hold of them and abuse them. And a shining example of humanity and love in the face of severe horror.
DP: That’s a great way of coming up with a character’s name – will have to try that one day. Did you have to do much research before writing your story?
KRK: The research I had to do for this was centred around deformity and the differing forms it can take and the effects it has upon the afflicted. I also researched a little about genealogy and the effects of inbreeding.
DP: With that in mind, where there any scenes you found difficult to write?
KRK: The most difficult scene for me in this story was the sexual assault. I am a sexual assault counsellor in my real life, and bringing it into my work is always difficult, but sometimes for the story to work it is required. The Laymon inspiration demands there be a sexual element in the story, but it is certainly more subtle than my earlier work.
DP: Other than Richard Laymon, which other authors influenced you / your writing?
KRK: Author who inspire me are of course Richard Laymon, but also Ramsey Campbell, Susan Hill, Graham Masterton, Tim Lebbon, Jack Ketchum, Diane Guest, Robert R McCammon and many more.
DP: Some great names there – I do need to read some more Ketchum. Always happy to see Graham mentioned too. What would be your definition of horror be?
KRK: What is horror to me? It’s not the creature created by a brilliant mind. It’s not the ghost cooked up by a great tale-spinner, it’s not even the blood and gore of films like Saw, horror to me, as I’ve witnessed too many times in real life, is what man is capable of doing to fellow man.
DP: Sadly very true…in terms of films, anything you’re looking forward to seeing?
KRK: Without question Dr Sleep. I loved the book, I can’t wait to get chance to see the film.
DP: And finally, what frightens Kitty R. Kane?
KRK: I’m scared of a few things, I have a strange phobia of balloons, anything that goes bang really, but what terrifies me more than anything else is not seeing my daughter with her own family.
Kitty R. Kane
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For more information about SSS! please visit the Official Demain Website www.demainpublishing.com
A. S. MacKenzie
A. S. MacKenzie is an Atlanta based author who loves all things books, movies, games, and comics. He lives with his wife, spoiled dogs, and an unhealthy obsession with building things. He can be found building worlds in books, building plastic models, or building with wood. Check out his website at asmackenzie.com for ways to join his newsletter and read free stories. Also, he’s been known to frequent Twitter (@a_s_mackenzie) to say something vaguely interesting and Instagram (a.s.mackenzie) for food, travel, and random pics.
Hit Then Run
It was a store robbery gone wrong when the criminal got away but the victim was hit by a car.
Then it happened again.
For newly hired detective, Phil Ford, this was beyond coincidence. Told not to investigate further, he couldn’t let it go. When he falls into a much larger conspiracy involving death-for-hire, organized crime, and corruption in the Sanford Sheriff’s Department; it will cost him more than he knows to get to the truth.
You can download Hit Then Run from www.asmackenzie.com