Autotomy Cocktail: Zachary Ashford
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Ashford is back with another Demain Publishing release. With his excellent ‘The Encampment by the Gorge & Bloody Memory’ duology within the Demain world already, and his double bill of fantastic savagery with his Unnerving releases ‘Sole Survivor’ and its sequel, I was really excited to see this land in my inbox to check out.
It just so happened that I was also reading an upcoming release of his with the potential to blurb, and wouldn’t you know? I’d suggest this one works as a tiny prequel to a degree for his next release.
Either way, ‘Autotomy Cocktail’ goes places I didn’t expect when I started, which was fantastic.
What I liked: The story follows Serge, stricken with a debilitating affliction that is causing his body to break down. Losing the ability to function and soon to even walk, he begins to search outside of the medical community to try and help his body. When he actually finds something that works, the results are far from what is expected and takes us into borderline science fiction realms.
Ashford has a way of writing completely engaging characters and stories. You feel like these are characters you’ve been reading about for years, even when you are only five pages into meeting them. I immediately felt empathy for Serge. He just wants to feel ‘normal’ again, even when that will never happen. As the unforeseen changes begin to occur, Ashford ramps things up to eleven and we go from character piece to characters on the run and the story zips along from there.
As I mentioned, this may very well be a minor prequel to what he has in the works, but whether it is or isn’t, the questions Zachary asks and demands the readers to answer create a tension that I really enjoyed.
What I didn’t like: I really liked the character of Serge, but as the changes took place, I wasn’t completely sure if we were supposed to think he had grown arrogant or what. There is a subtle change to his dynamic in the story but I struggled to place my finger on that pulse.
Why you should buy this: Ashford actually steps out of his normal themes here and tackles a really unique piece of fiction. I had a blast reading this and not only did it showcase the wide scope of his writing ability but also why Demain Publishing continues to push out stunning reads.
This was a really top-notch entry and one I had a blast reading. Ashford has quickly become a must-read author, and I think more people will be adding him to that category with this release.
Serge Couture would do anything to rid himself of the illness that’s destroying his life. So when he discovers he can engineer his own cure with a DIY gene-editing kit, he jumps at the chance. And why wouldn’t he? It’s not as if his life could get any worse…
Autotomy Cocktail: an over-the-top tale of bad science, bad decisions, bad jokes, and bad mutations.
“Autotomy Cocktail is the starfish-themed body horror bonanza you never knew you wanted.” – Pat Lacey, author
(with a cover by Adrian Baldwin)
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
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