Miscreations: Edited By Doug Murano & Michael Bailey
Reviewed By Michelle Enelen
In the beginning; never have I been so smitten with a foreword. Alma Katsu writes eloquently with a depth of knowledge so touching that it demands its own acknowledgement. She easily endears the Monster to you even if you’ve never felt that way before. This is an old love for me, Frankenstein’s Monster. He really deserves a name, though in his creator’s time that would have been blasphemy. Imagine! The Monster is not the worst character of the story, who would ever believe that (Clive Barker-Cabal). What’s a Monster anyway? Katsu believes it’s subjective and I wholeheartedly agree! She invites you to look inside yourself. Could you be someone’s Monster?
This book has a monster for everyone. The very first story by Michael Wehunt drops itself right in your bedroom, right in your bed. The heart, the body we try to command and whip into shape, but the corporeal has a separation from the mind. Both yours to lose…maybe. The end is a sinister Cheshire smile.
Brian Hodge’s Butcher’s Blend is amplified by our own political climates. Often our gathering doesn’t lean to peaceful endeavors. Is there an end or is it a seasonal harvest? Josh Malerman has been climbing to the top at a ferocious pace, yet this story right here in MISCREATIONS is my favorite piece he’s written. It’s a question of our nature, our justifications, and the deciding of our souls. Are Monsters born, do they really have a choice?
Max… oh Max. That was my reaction upon finishing You Are My Neighbor by Max Booth III. Loneliness, figuring out who you are, deciding what you would do to be where you feel you belong. Made me sad, yet still held a definite creepiness. I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll be glad when more of you have read it. This is a story I need to talk about.
This book does not relent. Lisa Morton pieces together the next story. Dr. Frankfurter thought he’d made a perfect man with ol’ Rocky, alas his poor black heart was crushed, spindled, and mutilated (maybe that was Meatloaf?). Who among us hasn’t been disappointed in relationships; that is not a question. If you could make the perfect companion, I know that you would!
Laird Barron brings you a girl who mistakenly kisses a toad, instead of a prince she gets King Dick! Barron weaves his descriptions so intricately you see his Hall of Doom and baulk at the Sanguine Dream Eater. Victor LaValle sets you down upon the seer’s throne. Do you make a fast buck or tell the truth that no-one wants to hear? Many of these stories open questions and leave you to your own answers. Only Bruises Are Permanent left me in a quandary, I understand why but there was a distaste to the ending. I felt like an unlovable creature had been created from the leavings of another. Let’s discuss this one when you’ve finished it. I’ve no doubt you’ll read this book. Anthologies are great when you get a little bite from your favorite authors, finding new voices to love is a sweet dessert. It’s okay to give in to temptation, especially when it comes from Doug Murano. It seems everything he’s touched has turned to gold for me (Gutted is another of his that I highly recommend). Michael Bailey is the other father of this beautifully articulate monster. He has a wealth of accolades to his name; multiple awards, designer credits, and a new collection out called Oversight which I’ll be digging into soon.
Not Eradicated in You by Bracken MacLeod… that pause is there because that’s what this story did to me. Curious, vindicated, yet still a little sad. Do you remember the last time a story made you feel so much? I’m sure it depends on your childhood, but even if you didn’t experience the flux first-hand most of us know someone that did.
This book doesn’t taper off, instead it includes two of my favorite writers Stephanie M Wytovich and Mercedes M Yardley. Wytovich expertly intertwines rage and pain while interjecting a dark sadness. Her words feel like a mournful violin in the midst of a grand tempest.
Yardley hones her knack for running you through a beautiful Hell. She has the eloquence of a poet with killer’s instincts. Reading her story is like dancing with your infatuation while wondering exactly when the skin will peel back, and the evisceration will begin. It fascinates me how well these two stories complement each other.
The final story in Miscreations is about THE MONSTER himself, about his daughter, Aila. I appreciate the lack of details because I believe it’s best to let the reader wonder how this could be possible. Theodora Goss played that perfectly! You are left to wonder about this story, does it end? My adoration of The Monster is justified through his love for Aila, his respect for her mother, and his actions toward the intruder. He never stops being a monster to the outside world. Too often we see others with blinders on, only gathering the information we’re already accustomed to. Your monsters are likely not my monsters and my sympathies may cover a completely different area than yours. This makes Miscreations an important read. If you immerse yourself into these stories, you’re likely to come out a little more monstrous yourself!
What happens when we make monsters? What happens when we make monsters of ourselves?
Grotesque beings lurch from our darkest dreams. Vicious beasts stalk our twisted pasts. Lost souls haunt our deepest regrets. They are the blood on our hands. They are the obsessions in our heads. They are the vengeance in our hearts.
They are Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors.
Edited by Bram Stoker Award-winning editors Doug Murano and Michael Bailey.
Featuring a foreword by Alma Katsu, and illustrations throughout by HagCult.
Raised by Pentecostal preachers, horror was not a readily available commodity. As her love grew, her parents were occasionally summoned to school to talk about book reports and various projects that weren’t quite appropriate for her age. They were lost as to where she’d gotten such “trash”. Luckily for her, there was a librarian that understood her insatiable hunger for darker worlds. Even now, if she could, she’d live among the stacks.
Her penchant grew to include ghastly movies and music, which she’ll happily share with anyone listening. The love of horror continues with her favorite videogame, “House of the Dead, Overkill”. She’s not the best gamer, except when defending herself against the wrong monsters. Head shots are her speciality.