Your Arms Around Entropy – Brian Fatah Steele
Reviewed by Steve Stred
Recently I have had the great fortune of reading a number of fantastic collections of stories. From “Let There Be Dark” by Tim McWhorter to “Dreaming at the Top of My Lungs” by Israel Finn and “Greener Pastures” by Michael Wehunt, so I was excited to check this collection out, as I have seen it on a lot of various social media accounts lately. This is also the first release I have read from Brian Fatah Steele. This is my first collection where I can firmly say the author is worshipping fully at the feet of Lovecraftian fiction. I have read a number of works that profess love to Mr. H.P. Lovecraft, but Your Arms Around Entropy is solely dedicated to H.P. This at times becomes a slight distraction. I wouldn’t say this is fawning fan fiction, but a few times the stories find themselves edging close to that territory.
Individually each of these stories are fantastic. As a group – readers will fall into one of two categories; A) the group who reads them as individual stories or B) the group who feels the themes are too repetitive and will tune out.
I found myself in both camps at various times.
Now I will say this; I LOVE HP LOVECRAFT THEMED TALES. I want to get that out of the way. I am currently rereading Lovecraft’s collective works and it reminded me how much I simply love the odd, the creepy and the fear of the clouds opening up and the sky raining monsters down upon us.
One issue that many will have with this collection, is that this happens in almost every story. If you look at the author’s bibliography, it should come as no surprise to see his fondness of Lovecraft’s works and themes, but if you are a casual reader looking for variety, you may find yourself thinking or saying out-loud “here we go again, monsters from the sky.” In one instance it’s not “monsters” but mimes. On its own it works, but when it is following up a story about sky monsters with tentacles and then leads into another story with sky monsters, the reader may tune out.
I struggled with this review, simply because I love the stories on their own so much. There was a number of stories that I truly wish were turned into long reads, and if they ever are, sign me up, but the repetition still got to me. Additionally there is moments of pure beauty throughout and reading a “Lovecraft” love tale where an isolated girl falls in love with one of the Old Ones almost brought a tear to my eye. For me the stand out tale was easily Bleak Mathematics, but purely for my love of obscure black metal and the ‘danger’ present in some bands who appear and disappear. This hit every note on its head. The biggest drawback I found, was that some of these stories appear to be a 1st or 2nd draft, simply by the number of typos. I myself was able to work around them, but for more persnickety readers, that may be a distraction to your reading enjoyment. It might be worthwhile for the author to do a read through and update the release files (ah the beauty of technology).
So at the end of all of this, what are my final thoughts? Well, I am going to put this back on you, dear reader. If you love cryptically twisted tales of dystopian-apocalyptic futures, then I say run out and read this collection. If you are looking for variety, this maybe a collection to pick up and then read a tale, put it down for a day or a week and return to it then.
Star Rating (out of 5): 4*
“There is darkness everywhere. It lingers in wait under your bed and fills the void of space. Whispers that trickle into your mind when you’re vulnerable and a mass that stirs in that deeper black that cannot ever possibly be understood. Tales of divergent worlds, but all enveloped by forces more powerful than any nightmare.
A teenage girl staying with her grandparents for the summer discovers the abandoned shack on the property still has a terrifying purpose. With a small portion of America infected with an alien organism, a government envoy is sent in to parlay. A music journalist investigating a rock band influenced by H.P. Lovecraft stumbles into a far more harrowing underground scene. What appear to be millions of mimes roam the streets, killing people or worse. A necromancer’s protégé wonders how much more death can be summoned before there’s a breaking point. In a world now filled with monsters, a young woman is slowly dying one day at a time.
Twelve tales of cosmic horror and Lovecraftian nihilism. Stories where you have accepted the darkness, dove into the abyss, swallowed down the chaos. Stories where you’ve wrapped your arms around entropy.”
You can buy Your Arms Around Entropy from Amazon UK & Amazon US
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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
You have me curious how I will read and interpret these now. And I’ve been wanting to try this author. Thanks for the wonderful review.