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Brain Dead Blues

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From the author of What Do Monsters Fear? comes a thrilling debut collection of short fiction. Included is an exclusive novella, God is In The Radio, in which an ageing rock-star pens a song with help from a peculiar old man, one that leaves his fans itching for more...one he calls “Brain Dead Blues.”

Eleven additional tales of monsters, murder, and the supernatural lie within these depths that will not only entertain you, but send chills up your spine.

• A young girl discovers that a monster does, in fact, dwell beneath her bed.
• An antique store owner stumbles upon a circus artifact that local down-and-out's are just dying to see.
• A bare-knuckle boxer tries his luck in the ring one last time, only to fight tooth and nail by light of the full moon.
• A starving man sees only one option to survive the zombie apocalypse - by taking a bite of the undead.

These stories are only a sampling of the horror that lies in wait for you, should you choose to enter the mad brain child of Matt Hayward. Prepare to grit your teeth.

268 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2017

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Matt Hayward

27 books111 followers

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Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews
Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,071 reviews266 followers
May 26, 2017
Review of BRAIN DEAD BLUES by Matt Hayward

My first reading of this author provided to be quite rewarding. Matt Hayward is an accomplished author, not a new jockey fresh out of the stable. BRAIN DEAD BLUES is an eclectic group of tales, bringing in diverse genres and categories. Many writers can bring horror, but only the outstanding bring horror so subtle that the monster is hugging your shoulders or sitting on your chest before you've realized your spine is chilled or your hair stands on end. Mr. Hayward's horror is terrifying, implacable--and possibly the subtlest I've ever read.
Profile Image for Tim Meyer.
Author 53 books985 followers
June 29, 2017
Brain Dead Blues by Matt Hayward is a solid collection of short stories. It has a little bit of everything - cosmic horror, old tropes, classic monsters, new creations, coming-of-age, and all-out gore fests. Matt really shows his range as a creator, and although some of the topics and themes have been done to death, he still manages to keep his stories fresh and entertaining, avoiding the pitfalls of unoriginality. We need more voices like Matt Hayward's in the horror genre. I can't wait to read more of his work. Some personal favorites in this collection include: God Is In The Radio, Critter, and Meeting Gregory.
Profile Image for Steve Wynne.
33 reviews2 followers
August 1, 2017
Solid, fantastic collection. Burned through this puppy in two days. Highly recommended; favorite stories: Meeting Gregory, God is in the Radio. Grabbed me from the first page and didn't let go until the end. Can't wait to read more from Mr. Hayward.
Profile Image for Russell Coy.
Author 3 books19 followers
May 28, 2017
A tremendously entertaining collection. Hayward takes many old tropes and approaches them from weird new angles, making for a fresh and propulsive read. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Somer Canon.
Author 23 books58 followers
April 28, 2018
I love short story collections and am not at all hard to please in that department, but if I were, I'd still love this book. So many different locations, and yet a similarity to them all. So many different people, different situations, different big scaries. This was like a wonderful six-course meal. A little of this, little of that...all good.
Profile Image for Valerie.
641 reviews15 followers
May 29, 2019
This is a great book of horror filled short stories from Matt Hayward! My second book I’ve read from him and I enjoy the joining of a musicians take on the horror genre! The first story sets the tone for the book, God is in The Radio! It even has tentacles in it! Few other favorites are Meeting Gregory-haunting story with feeling, That’s the Price You Pay-story of a mirror, vampires see themselves but the price to do so is high! My opinion, all the stories are good and well worth a read!
Profile Image for Rob Errera.
Author 34 books4 followers
August 14, 2017
Irish author/musician Matt Hayward puts his impressive writing chops on display in his short story collection, Brain Dead Blues.
The lead story, “God Is In The Radio,” owes much to H.P. Lovecraft’sThe Music Of Eric Zahn,” only it’s more coherent and satisfying than the original. An aging rock star finds an inter-dimensional doorway hidden inside the notes of his latest tune.

Those little off notes in a Blues lick. The ones that make you think of sex and sin… Those blue notes and the tritone are where the secrets lie.

Music and melody drips from every page of Brain Dead Blues, and Hayward sets a colorful scene will a handful of well-chosen words.

The place smelled of sawdust and stale beer, but to him, it smelled like the raw stench of live music.

The intersection of melody and monsters is where Hayward shines brightest.

Something about the melody got under his skin, wriggled about like a maggot, infecting him. He vomited three times.

At times, Hayward uses his tales to portray the sad path modern music has taken.

Honestly, no one gives a shit! We've devalued music so damn much that people just expect you to bleed for free.

The real artists, the real musicians, they're left working in coffee shops and garages across the globe for next to nothing…

A love of Lovecraft is evident in Haywards prose, from panicked, unreliable narrators, to creepy, cosmic creatures.

Other worlds. Worlds that would make you lose your mind even if you only gave them a glance.

Their faces did look eerily similar to an angler fish, lower lip eating the upper.

Hayward’s other literary strength is weaving fairy tales, folklore, and traditional horror tropes into something wholly original. “The Faery Tree” draws inspiration from “The Monkey’s Paw” while turning the “Tinkerbelle”-notion of fairies on its head. “Cordyceps” turns people into exploding seed spores, while “Critter” blends the best parts of ET and When Animals Attack! Even something as innocuous as a will-o’-the-wisp becomes a unearthly nightmare in Hayward’s hands (“An Angel And A Reaper”).

There are vampire and werewolf stories in Brain Dead Blues, but neither are what you’d expect. The vampire tale—“You Get What You Pay For”—is more of a rumination on eternal life and endless loss, while tipping its hat to the “creepy curio shop” trope. The werewolves in “King Of The Gypsies” belong to a kind of monstrous Fight Club that holds love and family sacred.

As an accomplished musician, there is a palpable rhythm and pacing to Brain Dead Blues. It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it…until one of Hayward’s strange creations pops up and scares the shit out of you. 



Profile Image for Dan Myers.
88 reviews1 follower
May 4, 2019
Solid Storytelling!!!

Quick, short, action-packed reads. Fabulous storytelling from an obvious fan of the tropes. However, they each have Mr. Hayward's own special twists to them. Keep an eye on Matt Hayward...he's a special up and comer!!!
Profile Image for Yvonne (go.for.a.walk.chuma).
304 reviews5 followers
November 14, 2019
Well done!

Es erstaunt mich immer wieder, wie viele gute Autoren es im englischsprachigen Raum zu entdecken gibt, von denen Deutschland anscheinend noch nie gehört, bzw. gelesen hat. So ist Matt Hayward definitiv ein weiterer, mehr als talentierter Erzähler auf meiner Liste der persönlichen Neuentdeckungen im Bereich Dark Horror Fiction. Dabei ist der aus Dublin stammende, für den Bram Stoker Award nominierte Autor recht vielseitig begabt und machte sich schon bevor er sich dem Schreiben widmete, einen Namen als Musiker – genauer gesagt als Gitarrist und Songwriter.

Eine passende Überleitung, denn einige der in "Brain Dead Blues" enthaltenden Stories behandeln das Thema Musik(business) in ganz spezieller Art und Weise und mit spürbarem Kennerblick. Insgesamt findet sich aber eine facettenreiche Mischung unterschiedlichster Kurzgeschichten in dieser gelungenen Anthologie wieder. Es gibt ein wenig von Allem: Coming-Of-Age, klassischer Monsterhorror, irische Mythologie, Lykanthropie und vieles mehr. Vielfältig und stets unterhaltsam, mal sehr atmosphärisch, dann wieder ungeschönt aber immer auf den Punkt. Hayward ist ein guter Erzähler, bodenständig irisch weiß er zu fesseln und schafft, was vielen Autoren nur schwer gelingt – gute Geschichten mehr oder weniger kurz und knackig zu Papier zu bringen und trotzdem den Leser derart für seine Figuren und das Geschehen einzunehmen, als hätte dieser einen 300 Seiten-Roman in der Hand.

Mein persönlicher Favorit ist "Meeting Gregory" – eine gefühlvolle Coming-Of-Age-Story, die mich sehr berührt und begeistert hat und die ich direkt zweimal gelesen habe. Wow. Es gab aber auch noch viele andere tolle Erzählungen wie zum Beispiel "Cordyceps", "The Faery Tree", "In The Woods, We Wait" und "An Angel And A Reaper".
Die hier enthaltenen 12 Geschichten habe ich alle gern gelesen, die meisten draußen in der Natur, was bei der ein oder anderen Story einen zusätzlichen Reiz ausmachte und deshalb einen absoluten Geheimtipp darstellt.

"Brain Dead Blues" bietet eine bunte Mischung an Kurzgeschichten, die definitv jeden Geschmack bedient. Hayward hat ein Gespür für gute Charakterzeichnung bei seinen Figuren, schafft Atmosphäre, würzt das Ganze mit einer Prise Humor sowie Bodenständigkeit, gibt irischen Background und musikalische Rafinesse hinzu und liefert so verdammt gute Unterhaltung. Lesenswert!
Profile Image for Dr. Fiona M. Clements-Russell.
83 reviews3 followers
November 15, 2019
Matt Hayward rocks. This collection makes that statement official, if ever anyone might have been in doubt. It's a full-blown rock horror fest of the very highest calibre, and if you enjoy your scares to have more than a tinge of rock'n'roll excess to them, look no further.

I enjoyed every single story in this wonderful collection, and I just know I am going to be dredging this one out of my Kindle library in years to come. It's just a shame that there are only Five Stars to award, because this one earns at least a lucky for some Thirteen!

Great job, Matt, you're right up there at the top of my favourite authors list, and this awesome collection just cements your place. I can't wait until your next book is published...which I actually know is in December, because I have just pre-ordered it!

Please never stop rockin' the socks off the horror story world, because we need your storytelling so badly!
Profile Image for Ken Jensen.
108 reviews5 followers
December 10, 2017
Some pretty good stories. But the first one was almost enough to make me stop reading the book. Written in a very slow style and way too much whining about how the music industry is different than in the past. Skip this and the later story with a musician for some decent short stories.
Profile Image for Jamie.
141 reviews23 followers
September 26, 2019
You know that moment when you discover that one of your favorite recording artists is also phenomenal live in concert? (I hope you do.) It’s the same feeling when you find out that an author can write both novels and short fiction with an equal measure of talent. This is the feeling I encountered when I followed up my read of Matt Hayward’s first novel with his short fiction collection, Brain Dead Blues.

I enjoyed all of the stories, and the collection as a whole was a five-star read. Each story is unique, and I loved that as I progressed through the collection, I went through a range of emotions as a reader. With short fiction collections or anthologies, I like to narrow it down to my “Top 5” favorite stories. I’ll do that here, with a snippet of my thoughts on each.

-GOD IS IN THE RADIO: This one being about a rock musician automatically pulled me in from the beginning. I loved the horror woven in with some fantastic descriptions of rock n’ roll—in my notes I had written, “page 18-19-this description makes me think of certain albums I love and how I feel after attending an amazing concert”. I also noted a line from a song woven into some of the dialogue later in the story, which I thought was fun and might not be noticed by all readers.

-CRITTER: This was a fun read. Gory and also had me laughing out loud a few times. I thought that Angela was a great character, and got a little thrill out of her adventures once she discovered the critter…

-MEETING GREGORY: My favorite story of the collection. So, you can probably guess that it did make me cry. However, it would still be my favorite regardless of that fact. I did also find myself laughing and smiling at certain parts, but it was mostly a heartfelt story about true horrors brought on by real people. This one has been on my mind since I closed the book, and I would re-visit it again. It wrecked me in a good way.

-THAT’S THE PRICE YOU PAY: This one is a unique spin on a vampire tale. I love vampires, and enjoyed that it is different than any other stories I’ve read on the topic. I also feel like I could re-read this one several times and take more from it with each read.

-KING OF THE GYPSIES: This story is a different spin on a werewolf story, and I really enjoyed it. I once thought I wasn’t that into werewolf tales, but I think I just wasn’t reading the right ones, because this is one of those that has changed my tune.

I highly recommend this collection if you’re already a fan of Matt Hayward’s writing, and if you haven’t read any of his work yet, then it would also be a great starting point. You really can’t go wrong with any of these stories.
Profile Image for Ryo Hazuki.
1 review
October 14, 2020
I 'll be honest. I was coming here to put three out of five stars. I started reading this collection at the beginning of the year, then I read a couple of stories a few months after that and finished it just yesterday (mid October). During the time I was reading it it felt good but nothing special. Except for a few stories like the opening God is in the Radio, Critter and Thats the Price you Pay. But now as I was looking back at the stories to make up my mind for my rating it seems I'm really liking most of them. I don't remember this happening to me with another book. So, I'm glad I have bought another couple of books from Matt Hayward waiting now to be read.

God is in the radio - 4/5
Critter - 5/5 (really loved this one)
Cordyceps 4/5 (would like it to be 20-30 pages longer)
In the woods 4/5
Meeting Gregory 4/5
That's the price you pay 5/5 (great little story about vampires and a pawn shop)
Hunger pains 3/5
King of the gypsies 4/5
The faery tree 4/5
Swan song of Robert Enslin 3/5 (not exactly the same but I felt it like a weaker God is in the Radio)
No one gets out alive 4/5
An angel and a reaper 4/5
Profile Image for Alan Clark.
Author 117 books320 followers
July 15, 2017
Matt Hayward is a fresh, new voice in horror. With BRAIN DEAD BLUES, he’s put together a delightful assortment of chills, in some ways a sampler of his larger works in future publications. Keep an eye out for his short fiction in magazines and anthologies, and look out for the novels to come!
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews

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