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Inflictions: A Collection

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Welcome to the world of John McIlveen. Enter, please, but be warned… here you will find tales that blur the lines of horror, vengeance, humor, sorrow, and humanity. You will encounter broken people with dark secrets and darker desires. Meet Justice, whose art exposes your soul. Ride along as a man’s search for his daughter reveals that sometimes the best way to heal old scars is to make new ones. Go on vacation with the Seth’s, who are forced to play a game that is every parent’s nightmare. Play a Sunday game of softball with the most unusual team imaginable. You will experience the foulest parts of humanity, as well as the funniest and sweetest. Some of these stories will make you laugh, some will anger or shock you, but all of them will affect you. You will love, hate, and sympathize with the characters, possibly at the same time.

"John McIlveen never retreats. John’s not afraid, you see. He pulls no punches. He doesn’t turn his back on the horrors that spring from humanity, he forges mirrors and holds them up, forcing us to look." Christopher Golden​ - NY Times Bestselling author

"A disturbing and thoroughly entertaining creepfest. So much wicked fun." -- By Jonathan Maberry​ -NY Times Bestseller“

McIlveen paints with a broad palette of colors, and he blends them and highlights them with a master’s touch. Tragedy and comedy, vengeance and salvation, hope and horror, the absurd and the sublime, all skillfully worked into the same pages and presented here for our enjoyment.” – James A. Moore​, Author of The Seven Forges series

"Shocking, moving, and always surprising, John McIlveen's Inflictions will delight and terrify the reader in equal measures. A solid collection from a talented writer." – Tim Lebbon​, author of Coldbrook

"The writing is so strong, and the stories so expertly crafted, that their unflinching nature is all the more visceral. INFLICTIONS is as fine a collection of horror stories as I've read in the past ten years." -- Rio Youers​ author of WESTLAKE SOUL.

Contents of this collection:

Paint It Black
Make a Choice
A Mother’s Love
The Confession of a Confirmed Has Been
Simon Says
Saddled Vengeance
Finding Forever
Hell to Pay
What If …
The Bore
A Perfect Man
In Defense of …
Playing the Huddys

302 pages, Hardcover

Published April 12, 2015

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About the author

John M. McIlveen

31 books140 followers
John M. McIlveen is the author of the paranormal suspense novel, HANNAHWHERE, winner of the Drunken Druid Award (Ireland), and nominated for the Bram Stoker Award (HWA). He has also the author of three story collections, A VARIABLE DARKNESS, INFLICTIONS, and JERKS and Other Tales from A Perfect Man.

He works at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and lives in Haverhill, MA with his wife, Roberta Colasanti.


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5 stars
16 (64%)
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5 (20%)
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3 (12%)
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Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Paul Ataua.
1,352 reviews128 followers
December 9, 2020
The blurb at the top and the reviews within it suggest this is probably the best thing since sliced bread. Other reviewers wax lyrical about it. For me, the stories were OK but almost instantly forgettable. Although they seemed passable when I was reading them, I found myself unable to recall any of them just a few hours later. It must be something wrong with me, so don’t let me put you off.
Profile Image for Ken.
Author 92 books22 followers
October 29, 2014
John McIlveen’s got guts. In his story collection, Inflictions, he not only shares with us the seedier, nastier side of human nature (and does he ever!), but he takes insane chances. In one story, a character makes an anachronistic joke that would be jarring in any other setting. The story is an over-the-top Western that’s already more than half parody, so it works. In a few others, he shows us the dangers of betrayal, the perils of greed and the weakness of human beings. McIlveen does not, as his introduction says, pull his punches. He’s honest with us, his readers, and despite what people might say, no one really wants to hear the truth. Truth is ugly. Truth is unsettling. Truth hurts. And, that, my friends is what makes him a good writer. Because he gives us the truth, albeit sometimes disguised by repulsive, abominable characters doing unspeakable things. Under the madness, behind the laughter, lies honesty. That’s what I want when I pick up a book. So, yeah. Pick up this book. Read it. Enjoy the ride.
Profile Image for Stephen.
177 reviews9 followers
March 16, 2023
Hard as nails. No holds barred. In your face themes. Author holds back nothing. Be prepared for reality.
Profile Image for Claudia.
159 reviews12 followers
November 30, 2015
I love short stories. I think when one does them well, they satisfy our need for brevity but with substance. McIlveen does them well, indeed. These stories are dark with a touch of humor now and then, just to give us a chance to take a breath. They are about terrible people and people in terrible situations. Some are shocking and others are sorrowful. The range is wide but one never feels like a story doesn't belong to the collection. I loved this collection. It's not for the squeamish but for those who bear to feel disgusted, heartbroken, angry, satisfied and terrified within the confines of one collection, this book is for you. As Christopher Golden says, "He pulls no punches."
472 reviews9 followers
June 27, 2020
From the surreal to the humourous this is storytelling at its finest
From body horror to talking dogs there’s no lack of entertainment in this collection
Well narrated and highly recommended
I received a free review audiobook and voluntarily left this review
Profile Image for Madelon.
773 reviews10 followers
March 5, 2016
I never pass up the chance to read anything written by John M. McIlveen. Some of the stories contained in INFLICTIONS can also be found in JERKS AND OTHER TALES FROM A PERFECT MAN, my review of which can be found right here on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/review/R285K35R....

It can be difficult to find a truly fresh voice, yet here is one whose name deserves to be shouted from the rooftops. It is truly difficult not to wax poetic about each and every story contained in INFLICTIONS, yet how can I not?

* "Paint It Black" - Not your mamma's Rolling Stones song.
* "Infliction" - The sins of the father...
* "Jerks" - How can a man write so perfectly from the first person point of view of a woman?
* "Make a Choice" - A tale to make your toes curl and your skin crawl.
* "A Mother's Love" - Where does it end?
* "Smokey" - A cat's eye view.
* "Roundabout" - Not just a road thing in Massachusetts.
* "Succumb" - Succinct and to the point.
* "Portraits" - Artistry i//n horror.
* "Nina" - Watch your step!
* "The Confession of a Confirmed Has Been" -
* "Signs" - Like the song says... "Signs. Signs. Everywhere signs."
* "Simon Says" - Follow if you dare!
* "Desolation" - Everybody has an Armageddon tale... Stephen King had THE STAND, Robert McCammon had SWAN SONG, this is much shorter and still makes the requisite point.
* "Hope" - Hope is that thing that springs eternal.
* "Saddled Vengeance" - A tale of the wild, wild west.
* "Finding Forever" - A new look at be careful what you wish for.
* "Hell to Pay" - ... literally!
* "What If ..." - How many times in life do we use that very phrase?
* "Devotion" - How great the bond between mother and son.
* "The Bore" - A tale of low self-esteem if ever there was one.
* "A Perfect Man" - Perfection is in the eye of the beholder.
* "In Defense of ..." - Do you know what Uner Tan syndrome is? I didn't either.
* "Playing the Huddys" - Be a good sport.

INFLICTIONS is a fantastic book on so many levels. Even what might superficially seem like a simple little tale is something to ponder. Horror writers pay their dues by writing the tropes... vampires, werewolves, ghosts... basically all those things that go bump in the night. McIlveen has brought a freshness to these time honored and time worn subjects, and just when you think you know where the plot is going... it doesn't. His tales will make you laugh, and they will make you cry, and they will make you shudder and perhaps even retch, but you won't put the book aside. You will want to read more.

Let me throw in a plug for Kindle right about here. I currently read on a Kindle Touch that I've had for going on two years. Aside from being able to carry all the books for which I have promised reviews, it also has a great dictionary and connection to Wikipedia. When I come across a word or term with which I am not familiar, I can simply highlight it with my finger and a window of information pops into view. One of my lifelong mottoes is that any day I learn something new is a good day. A good writer will challenge a reader to learn something new whether the work is fact or fiction.

One more thing... Do read the introduction by Christopher Golden and the afterward by James A. Moore. It is always interesting to read what one writer says about the work of another. I guarantee that both are worth the read.

Quite simply, John McIlveen has the soul of a poet and the mind of maniac; his writing is erudite and profane. He is a word-smith that will make you think.

I received a copy of INFLICTIONS from the author for review.
Profile Image for Diann.
173 reviews
April 19, 2017
Rating=3.5 stars.

As with any collection of short stories or essays, there are always some stronger than others. A few would be rated "2", a couple would be rated "5". I settled on the "4" rating as there were a lot of threes and fours here, and when McIlveen hit the button, he hit it.

Warning, many of these stories are disturbing. It is the horror genre after all. He doesn't always take you down the road expected - and when he does, based on stories you may have read earlier - you still don't expect. Note also that some of these tales get a distinct "R" rating were these movies.

I hope to come back later to edit this review with regards to the best of these stories. Perhaps I'm just waiting for those pieces to gestate...
12 reviews13 followers
June 12, 2017
Inflictions is a collection of short stories by award winning author John M. McIlveen. Most of the stories might be classified as Horror, but Suspense, Crime, SF, Fantasy and Humor are all part of the mix; sometimes by themselves, but often within the same story. Many of the stories are dark, midnight-in-a-coal-mine dark. Many others are humorous: caustically satirical, dryly witty, or warmly funny. Impressively, he often mixes different kinds of humor in the same story, and light in with the darkness, casting wondrous shadow plays on the wall for our enjoyment.

I got the impression from reading this collection that Mr. McIlveen is a profoundly humane, jovial human being who sometimes becomes saddened and angered about how his fellow humans treat one another. He sees the light and the darkness that lies within us all, and writes his stories to celebrate the light and caution us against the darkness. Laughter, empathy, horror, and revulsion are all his tools to make his readers understand what it means to be human. The stories within are not sermons—they are far too entertaining—but they are mirrors for his readers to see the world with, and also themselves.

In his biographical statement I learned that Mr. McIlveen has published more than 40 stories, so this collection represents about half of his short fiction oeuvre. I earnestly hope a companion volume of more of his shorts is published in the future because I have become addicted to them. In full disclosure, he did provide me a copy of Inflictions for the Kindle for my honest review. That is irrelevant, because I will be purchasing a paper copy of this book, just so I can get him to autograph it. I will cherish that book because whenever I look at it, it will remind me how good genre short fiction can be. I am an aspiring writer myself, so when I read a superlative collection of short stories—such as ones by Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Roald Dahl, Fritz Leiber, Richard Matheson, Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison, Clive Barker, Laird Barron, or Joe Hill—I am both reading it for pleasure and to see how the magician performs his tricks. Inflictions is a book like that, but dammit I'm still not sure how the maestro pulled off his tricks. Perhaps another read or three and I will figure it out.
Profile Image for Amanda.
34 reviews9 followers
December 31, 2014
I became interested in this author's work after reading Infliction, which is in this collection, in Happy Little Horrors: Freak Show. I was intrigued by the themes of the story, which I don't want to give away since it is so short. It included things that I had struggled with myself, and the character turned it into a sort of superpower over her abuser. I thought that this was very powerful in a horrifying sort of way, and I needed to read more of McIlveen's work.

This collection did not disappoint. Nearly every story was more intriguing than the last. I read them as bedtime stories to myself, usually one story a night except for the few longer ones. Some of them are delightfully simple and other more convoluted, but each has a clear message (except only one that I didn't understand).

I expected all of these stories to be horror, but only some of them are. Some of them are more dystopian, and the one called Devotion, while sad, was rather hopeful. I think that Devotion may be my favorite story included here. That or Paint it Black though they are so different that I can't really compare them.

I highly recommend this book. I love nearly every single one of these stories, and this is the sort of book I'd recommend to other people to expose them to different styles of writing.
Profile Image for Dale.
Author 50 books36 followers
January 30, 2018
In this collection of short stories, we see an amazing talent, where the author can scare the pants off you one minute, and make you laugh out loud the next. Lots of horror and darkness, but spiced with humor in places to relieve the unbearable tension he creates in several of the tales.
From short-shorts to longer tellings, Inflictions is a recommended work. Dip in and sample some of the bloody offerings. Just not before bed.
April 22, 2018
McIlveen deeply understands familial love, which is why his horror is so devastating. This is especially true in the title story Inflictions as well as Make A Choice (which would make an excellent film).

In this collection you’ll find tales that deal with family bonds strained, broken and twisted. You’ll find horror, humor and humanity, as well as a touch of the surreal.

To learn more about the author please check out: https://johnmcilveen.com
Profile Image for Finnegan.
78 reviews
October 14, 2019
Now, I love John McIlveen's writing. I finally got around to reading "Inflictions" and 9 stories out of ten were fantastic. My favorites were "Paint it Black", "A Mother's Love", and "Smokey". This was not an easy read because the book explores some dark themes, but overall a great read. Bravo, John!
Profile Image for Teresa.
661 reviews11 followers
February 14, 2022
Great collection of weird, horror, and fun stories. I especially liked The Jerk. Perfect break from long books!
Profile Image for Ken McWilliams.
20 reviews2 followers
January 14, 2017
It is normally difficult for me to get into a collection of short stories. I compare it to eating a side dish without a meal. However, there are always exceptions to my rule. H.P. Lovecraft and John McIlveen are those exceptions. McIlveen is a master of the modern short story. The proof is in this collection. My favorite is "Paint it Black," a tale of justice rendered by supernatural means. There are unexpected nuggets of comedic gold buried between the covers as well. "Jerks" contains a scene of a little old lady wrestling with a Mega-Dong 2000 (read the story) that still makes me laugh out loud. I fully intend to steal the phrase "Nuttin changes the expression on someone's face like a twelve gauge," for my email signature. I found that gem in "Signs." A tale about a dead woman getting revenge on her spouse. "Inflictions" is worth the read. If you haven't read McIlveen's other work, this is a good place to familiarize yourself with him.
Profile Image for Jennifer Collins.
Author 1 book26 followers
May 3, 2017
This is one of those collections that might not appeal to most readers... but those who find themselves interested will love it. The collection of horror stories here is varied and engrossing, and the beginning ones were chilling enough to make me think twice about reading them at night (which is a good thing with this type of collection, of course). At the same time, some of the stories were laugh-out-loud funny, so that the book was a bit of a roller coaster to read, and all the more fun because of it.

All told, only horror readers will appreciate a number of the stories, but this is going to most appeal to readers who like eclectic works, and who want bits of humor to come right alongside their suspense and darkness. There are also some great grotesques, as well as some really striking moments of everyday terror to make you cringe away from what you're reading, and wonder how long you can allow yourself to think about some of the questions posed.

So, all told? Yes, I absolutely recommend it, though not to the faint of heart.
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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