I came across this collection while looking for “Southern Gods” on Amazon. At 99 cents it didn’t look as if I had anything to lose by giving it a tryI came across this collection while looking for “Southern Gods” on Amazon. At 99 cents it didn’t look as if I had anything to lose by giving it a try and what would you know? That little investment turned into a couple of hours well spent. The stories in “Fierce as the Grave” are short, twisted, and greatly increased my desire to read some of Hornor’s longer work.
“Verrata”, the first tale, takes place in futuristic New Orleans that is far from being ideal. Hornor takes ghosts to the next level here, and introduces lots of elements that were confusing at first but made “Verrata” memorable in the end.
“Heaven of Animals” is a mix between zombies and the Wild West. It was my least favorite, perhaps because I needed a few more pages to really feel something for the characters. If you happen to like zombies, however, this one is definitely for you.
“Bone China” is the story of two women, a birthday celebration and a family reunion. It’s by far my favorite tale from this book; it’s set in the South and the atmosphere really shines through the text, which just makes it all that much creepier.
In “Sneaking in” a small town kid learns that every action has a consequence. This tale marks the end of the collection and it left me wanting more, which I guess was Hornor’s intent from the beginning. The creepiness here, to me, lies not in the supernatural element, but in the protagonist’s system of beliefs, that justifies abuse as long as you can get away with it.
Overall, “Fierce as the Grave” is one solid collection, and if you have the time to spare, a great read. ...more
Note to self: do not read ANYTHING written by Stephen King after dark. Nothing. Not even if it happens to be comedy, or non-fiction, or freaking poetrNote to self: do not read ANYTHING written by Stephen King after dark. Nothing. Not even if it happens to be comedy, or non-fiction, or freaking poetry. Haven’t you been traumatized enough? You can’t see a clown without pissing yourself! Not that it’s hard to scare me though. I’m the kind of girl that needs to have every light on when she goes downstairs to grab a glass of water, one of those people who knows something’s right behind ready to grab me if I don't reach the second floor as fast as possible and one of these days my mom is going to call and find nothing but shattered glass and nail marks in the wood…
That little show of paranoia should show you that I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to horror. It should also indicate you that most of the stars given to this short story collection come from King’s talent to scare me shitless. From electronic appliances from hell to the torture of memories, these tales bring to your door a big bag of uncomfortable feelings and triggers for insomnia. Among the ones that impacted me the most are:
- Jerusalem’s Lot:This was the reason I decided to read this book in the first place. It’s a sort of prequel to the events of Salem’s Lot: a man moves into a house that once belonged to his ancestors and progressively discovers an unsettling relation between his family and a ghost town called Jerusalem’s Lot. The story stands on its own well; it doesn’t require prior knowledge of the novel to enjoy it (although it certainly helps) and the style reminded me a little of Lovecraft and Sheridan Le Fanu. For those of us familiar with Salem’s Lot, it reinforces the idea of the existence of places that attract evil, be it in the form of vampires, serial killers, or even gigantic worms from hell.
- I am the Doorway: An astronaut has to deal with the after effects of an exploration to Venus that goes really, really wrong. This one was creepy as hell, and it plays with the concept of close encounters in a way that I found very original. It made me want to scratch myself all over.
- The Mangler: Here Kings answers the one question we’ve all asked ourselves at one point in our lives: What would happen if a demon possessed a laundry folding machine? What’s that? You don’t believe that anyone could wonder such a thing? They even made a movie!! (Starred by Robert Englund, no less)
But seriously, it’s a good story. Those laundry machines are fucking evil.
- The Boogeyman: This is the reason why I can’t open my closet door during the night. I originally read this story when I was 16 years old, living through my first winter in the house of my host parents, and it scared me so bad I considered the possibility of going upstairs and begging (at that point) virtual strangers to let me sleep with them. Here, let me give you an idea of what I looked like:
In case you’re wondering, this little gem tells the story of a single psychotherapy session with a man who’s convinced that the boogeyman has killed his three children, and is now trying to get him.
- Grey Matter: Have you ever thought about the worst thing that could happen from eating rotten food? The result could turn you into a cross between and , so please check the expiration date of everything you eat.
- Sometimes They Come Back:I knew I was going to like this one right from the title. When ghost from the past force a high school teacher to come to terms with some memories buried deep within, he has to employ some drastic measures to preserve what little remains of his sanity. And it also has a movie coming up sometime next year!!
- Strawberry Spring:A serial killer haunts a college campus during the strawberry spring. I saw the ending coming from a mile away, but it was still a pretty good story and I really recommend it.
- The Lawnmower Man: All I can tell you about this story without spoiling it is that you’ll want to get off your lazy ass and take care of your own lawn. This story was weird and wonderful and made me very weary of the man that is in charge of the lawn in my neighbor’s house.
- Quitters, Inc.: “Quitters” is a story that will hold a special appeal to smokers. The proposed method is unorthodox to say the least, and quite chilling, but if that doesn’t cure you then nothing will.
- Children of the Corn:I know this story spawned around seven movies that I don’t plan to see. It’s about a couple on the brink of a painful divorce that gets lost in the middle of nowhere… well, to say it better, in the middle of the Kingdom ruled by “He Who Walks Behind the Rows”. The disturbing factor of “Children of the Corn” is high, probably because it reminded me of kids like this little dude: Mexican Preacher. Little preachers always give me the chills.
- The Last Rung on the Ladder: The following contains spoilers, you’ve been warned: (view spoiler)[ So… one of my uncles killed himself about a month after I turned 15. My cousin found him in the early hours of the morning strapped to a bed; apparently after ingesting cyanide one tends to get frantic because it feels like drowning, and my uncle thought it best to prevent any outburst that could alert family members of what was happening. What I remember the most about the whole event was waking up at dawn and finding my dad in his room crying. He held me and said that on my birthday party my uncle had tried to talk to him, but my dad had brushed him off telling my uncle that he needed to get his act together before asking anyone else for help. Now he wished he could turn back time and do a better job being a brother… I know that this memory still eats him alive from time to time, and it’s probably scarier than the most terrible thing my frantic mind can come up with at any given moment. Reading this short piece of fiction was like reliving that morning all over again, and it still brings tears to my eyes. It was very moving story, and it’s probably going to stay in my heart longer than anything else in this collection. (hide spoiler)]
- One for the Road: The second reason for picking up this collection is right here. It attempts to give a sort of continuation to the events of Salem’s Lot, but all I could think while reading it was (view spoiler)[ What happened to Mark and Ben????? What did they do after the fire? Did they leave? But it didn’t look like that was their intention!!!!! Did they try to go after the remaining vampires? But why are the creatures back then? YOU’RE KILLING ME MR. KING!!!!!!!! (hide spoiler)]. I’d like to think the best though, and it is in its own right a good vampire story, so I’m recommending it. And tonight I’m sleeping with my parents, just in case.
- The Woman in the Room: The central theme of this story is terrifying, but not for the reasons you think. If a loved one is suffering from a terminal illness that has taken away the most basic aspects of his dignity, do you let the disease run its course or do you do something about it? I don’t think that SK is trying to pass judgment on either answer here but, for what it’s worth, I think it’s at least important to ask the question. (oh, and the story is also very good, so read it please :) )
In conclusion: please do yourself a favor and read this book. You’re bound to find at least one story that tickles your fancy. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more