7 Brains from Michael Louis Calvillo took me for a ride. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, never having read any of Calvillo’s previous works, this little book kept me on my toes right from page one.
Humanity is on the cusp of a New Evolution. Yep! Pure Emotion has curdled and given way to empty solutions, a gilded edge of bling-bling exteriors masking Rampant Corruption, Souring Evil and Internal Pollution. Our hero, Malcolm, the reluctant man with a reluctant plan, purpose fluttering in his chest from zero to a million miles an hour in seconds flat, holds the keys to the kingdom of light. All he has to do is eat seven lovely brains and set things right. He’s got a hacksaw, and a hammer, and a set of determined, pearly whites. Can he usher in hope before the imminent descent of everlasting night?
The story is told by Malcolm, himself, in first person. After only a few pages it becomes apparent that Malcolm is quite possibly insane. Calvillo’s narrative invites the reader into Malcolm’s mind, and paints a picture of a happy, yet troubled man. Malcolm’s nightmares draw upon legitimate human fears, while his conscious mental state evoked a genuine sympathy from this reader. As the pace of the story quickens and the antagonist is introduced, Malcolm further straddles the line of insanity, yet remains grounded by his constant love for his family.
Calvillo pushes the boundaries of classification with his antagonist. I began reading expecting a zombie splatter-fest, but that opinion was quickly squashed as Malcolm’s degeneration is protracted and “zombie” becomes improper terminology. Elements in both story and narrative suggest a paranormal antagonist, however that idea is quashed by the antagonist himself.
I said before that this book took me on a ride, and that’s the best way to describe it. 7 Brains is emotional, psychological horror. Having said that, this book contains all the gore and uncomfortable situations that hardcore readers will crave, and will test those limits at least twice. Calvillo made this book incredibly funny in areas where the humour was best served, and the punchlines were delivered effortlessly. Calvillo also examines the human condition, as each of the 7 brains represent human attributes that in Calvillo’s world, (and in ours, I’d agree) have been rendered extinct. Malcolm is forced to make gut-wrenching choices, and Calvillo’s world is so expertly constructed that all choices offered to Malcolm could have a terrible outcome.
7 Brains is only a taste of what Michael Louis Calvillo has to offer, and as a chapbook, it’s a bite-sized portion of awesome. You can order a copy from Burning Effigy Press, and check out Calvillo’s other works on his website.