I wish I could read faster. There are so many books I would love to read, but only so much time in my life. My shelves alone have hundreds of unread volumes. And for every one I finish, I buy two more. This was a slow month with all the holidays thrown in, but it only encouraged me to devote myself more to my favorite pastime.
Necroscope IV: Deadspeak by Brian Lumley
Earlier this year, I declared I would never read a Necroscope novel again (not the first time I’ve said that). But here I am. I have a love/hate relationship with Lumley’s work. I love the adventures he takes me on, but I despise his methods of getting me there. Still, after reading the three prior books, I knew what to expect. One of my qualms with the series is the perfect, nigh-omnipotent protagonist Harry Keogh. In this novel, however, Harry’s godlike powers are diminished, adding some much-needed vulnerability. I have no plans to read the dozen other books in the series, but you know I will.
We Need to Do Something by Max Booth III
I’ve heard a lot about this book (and the recent movie) and was eager to see what the fuss was about. The entire novella takes place in a bathroom where a family barricades themselves during a tornado warning. There is the rebellious teenage daughter, her fart-joke-obsessed little brother, their alcoholic father, and their defeated mother. All sound like stereotypes, but Booth fills them with complexities. It is the characters that make this a phenomenal read. This short, emotional book glues you to the page. Just beware, the next time you enter a bathroom you may feel a little claustrophobic.
Dead Streets: A Matt Richter Novel by Tim Waggoner
This book is downright fun. The second in the series, it follows the continuing adventures of zombie detective Matt Richter. (I didn’t think the word “zombie” or “detective” would ever be in the description of a book I liked, but here we are). Shining brightly is the novel’s incredible setting. Nekropolis is a dimension home to a whole host of horror tropes, and every time I visit it, I find it more endearing. With this sequel, we dive deeper into its inhabitants and intrigues. I found myself enjoying it even more than the first book. That said, some of the exposition felt clumsy, especially towards the end.
Shithole USA by Mark Zirbel
Mark was kind enough to send me a copy of his debut novel. It was a much-needed reminder of why I love bizarro fiction and it may be one of the weirdest books I’ve read in the genre (which I consider high praise). At the same time, it was quite profound, especially for a book with so many poop jokes. The second half of the book felt like a fever dream (in a good way) as Zirbel leaps between different methods of storytelling. I am a fan of his collection Cyberpunk Zombie Jihad, and this book takes that winning combination of cyberpunk and bizarro to a whole new (much weirder) level.