ProleSCARYet: Tales of Horror and Class Warfare
Edited by Ian A. Bain, Anthony Engebretson, J.R. Handfield, Eric Raglin, & Marcus Woodman
Reviewed By J.A. Sullivan
Within horror fiction, we often find characters plagued by impossible choices, trapped in hellish circumstances, and exploited by the forces of evil. Sound familiar? If you’re part of the working class those unfortunate situations probably don’t sound like fiction at all. Have you had to weigh putting off medical treatment against paying bills you already have? Stuck in a soul-sucking job? Do you think your boss is in league with the Devil? Yes friend, there are many horrors of capitalism, and that’s exactly what you will find within the anthology ProleSCARYet: Tales of Horror and Class Warfare.
These 19 stories blend genuine experiences and fiction to explore feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and the inability to escape our station in life through inventive and disturbing ways. Some tales expose the absurdity of capitalism, while others lean into horrific savagery of the class system. You’ll find familiar, terrific authors such as Hailey Piper and Laurel Hightower, as well as writers that might be new to you. The following are just a handful of my personal favourites in the collection.
In “Salen’s Found” by Corey Farrenkopf a landscaper is faced with subjecting himself to anaphylaxis from poison ivy or losing his job by refusing the boss’s orders. Feeling there must be more to life, he contemplates joining a local religious commune, but sometimes it’s better the devil you know. The author did an amazing job of infusing this story with a tangible sense of desperation.
And speaking of the devil, “Beelzebub (Gas Station 1)” by Nathaniel Lee takes the title of ‘Lord of the Flies’ in a literal direction. What begins as a comical take on working the dreaded nightshift at a gas station soon takes a turn to terror when a menacing figure approaches the clerk with a buzzing suitcase. I had an idea of where this tale was going, but the details and writing style were so good I reread it a few times.
Ever feel like your job will be the death of you? At Frozen Yoggie’s House of Yogurt if your death means keeping the customer happy, then so be it. At least that’s what store manager Jane expects of her employees in “Empty” by Noah Lemelson. When a customer requests an item needed from the storage room, staff suit up and load M16 riffles to face the infestation lurking in the dark backroom. This was a fun and scary story, and I loved the satirical undertones.
But workers aren’t the only people to be exploited in capitalism, as displayed in “The Price of Motherhood” by Tiffany Michelle Brown which looks at the role consumers play instead. Depressed over her ex-husband’s new family, Leslie turns to the company Lyfelike to make her dream of motherhood come true. In this story, the character is both the victim of consumerism and part of the problem as her need for wish fulfilment overrides her emotional and financial responsibilities. Leslie isn’t exactly a sympathetic character, but she’s relatable and understandable, which makes the story even more impactful.
Throughout the collection, there were a few stories that didn’t quite resonate with me, but overall, it’s a strong anthology. Whether you’re looking to commiserate with characters stuck working for the man, or need to vent your frustrations on inequalities, and want some chills along the way, ProleSCARYet: Tales of Horror and Class Warfare is a unique take on capitalist horrors you won’t soon forget.
And the talented editors behind this project (Ian A. Bain, Anthony Engebretson, J.R. Handfield, Eric Raglin, and Marcus Woodman) are putting the money where their mouth is as all profits of the book will be directed to “Labor Rights” an organization working to improve the rights of workers around the world.
Your nose is to the grindstone, day after day. You spend your work hours overworked and underappreciated, only to return home and deal with bills, landlords, and the ever-oppressive shadow of capitalism consuming you and everything you love.
The horrors of capitalism are the horrors we all face every day, and they are confronted head-on in ProleSCARYet: Tales of Horror and Class Warfare.
Contained within are nineteen tales of capitalism gone wrong–from designer children to deadly bosses, predatory lenders to plague-ridden laborers–all revealing the dark underbelly of economic oppression from some of horror’s best independent and emerging writers from around the globe. In solidarity, there is strength against terror and fear. Let these stories be your guide, because, after all…
“What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” – Karl Marx
J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.
As curator of “Scary’s Voices” on Kendall Reviews, an article series reviewing horror podcasts, Sullivan loves listening to all things spooky. If you have a horror podcast recommendation, let her know.
On top of contributing short stories to Kendall Reviews, her fiction has appeared in Don’t Open the Door (2019), It Came From The Darkness (2020), and she acted as an assistant editor for Black Dogs, Black Tales (2020). Other spooky tales and updates on her writing journey can be found on her blog.
You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan
Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com
Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan
Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan