Anything Can Be Dangerous – Matt Hults

Books of the Dead Press is all about quality horror, so you can imagine my joy when founder/editor James Roy Daley handed me a copy of Anything Can Be Dangerous at a gathering this past August, all while mentioning that Matt Hults is an author to watch. Can anything be dangerous, or is this just a husk of a collection?

Anything Can be Dangerous contains four amazing stories, plus a preview to the highly praised novel Husk, by Matt Hults. The stories include:

Anything can be Dangerous ~ the simple things in life can kill.
Through the Valley of Death ~ a dark vampire story that will make you remember fear.
The Finger ~ zombie literature has never been so extraordinary.
Feeding Frenzy ~ lunchtime in a place called Hell.

We begin with the titular piece, Anything Can Be Dangerous. Greg’s life is going very well, having just met a wonderful woman, yet superstitions passed to him by his mother seem to haunt him at every turn. I got the sense that the reader is supposed to fear for Greg’s sanity, as it’s not often that plastic bags attack humanity. Hults creates a frenetic pace for his character, at times perhaps a bit too frenetic as there isn’t much time for suspension of disbelief. A very enjoyable story, yet there are better in this collection.

Feeding Frenzy is next, and offers up a very unique spin on Hell. Two friends conspire to reopen an abandoned roadside restaurant, but their first walk through inspection ends up being their last. This story straddles a line between haunted house and zombie eat-pocalypse quite nicely. The logic used by the protagonists is very solid, and the interactions between protagonists and antagonists are very natural. It’s a quick read, but a very good one.

Hults then takes the reader on a walk Through The Valley Of Death as a family is stranded roadside in the dead of winter, with a snowstorm imminent. The family trudges through the woods with all characters acting as the reader would expect, and Hults takes special care to make the 3 year-old daughter an incredibly sympathetic figure. The antagonists are based on real folklore, and truly had this reader expecting the worst for the antagonists. The final plot twist is enough to make the reader ask for more. A thoroughly enjoyable tale.

Hults saves arguably the best for last, and gives us all The Finger. Jimmy is either a genius or incredibly stupid, depending on the reader’s perspective. What begins as a not-so-simple get rich quick scheme ends up with Jimmy being hunted down by both the law, and the undead. Hults truly lets his creativity flow with this piece, but thankfully not at the expense of plot and believability. A fine end to the completed works contained herein.

The reader is treated to a very (too) short preview of Matt Hults’ debut novel, Husk. Again, my only complaint is that it’s a preview and not the whole book. Wow.

Matt Hults indeed proves that Anything Can Be Dangerous, and that he is a new force in the horror literature world. To pick up your copy of the book, visit the Books of the Dead Store. For more information on Matt Hults, please contact Books of the Dead.

13 Drops Of Blood – James Roy Daley

James Roy Daley gathers 5 of his favourite published works and adds 8 brand new short stories to give readers a thorough cross-section of his work with 13 DROPS OF BLOOD. What awaits those who search for Blood? From the website:

From the author of THE DEAD PARADE comes 13 tales of horror, suspense, and imagination. Enter the gore-soaked exhibit, the train of terror, the graveyard of the haunted. Meet the scientist of the monsters, the woman with the thing living inside her, the living dead… James Roy Daley unleashes quality horror stories with a flair for the hardcore. Not for the squeamish.

The synopsis doesn’t note the science fiction or dark humour stories that await, choosing instead to focus on Daley’s preferred genre while leaving two surprises for the reader’s discovery. The book is divided into 5 sections: Horror, Monsters, Zombies, Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Dark Humour. On first glance, those might seem redundant but upon reading, one begins to understand Daley’s methods.

HorrorThe Exhibition begins the book with a with resounding visceral, almost torturous feel. The story is told from two points of view, which converge in a bloody climax.
The Confession is a more cerebral ghost story in a noir setting, with a decent (albeit foreshadowed) twist.

MonstersBaby is a love story with a monster thrown in. The premise is good to begin with but loses momentum with too many twists and turns.
A Ghost In My Room gives nearly everything away in the title. The premise isn’t anything new, and the ending is telegraphed.
Jonathan vs. The Perfect Ten creates a Wild-West feel in a dirty small town. Jonathan creates monsters, the monsters create havoc. This piece ends the section very well.

ZombiesThe Hanging Tree is another Wild-West period piece. The sheriff is shot, somebody must pay for the crime. Red (the new sheriff) and Doc carry the deed out, but their curiosity regarding a curse on the Tree proves to be their undoing. An enjoyable piece.
Thoughts Of The Dead is a first-person narrative from a zombie’s point of view. The government has found a way to cure the disease, and the narrator must now type everything he has experienced. The slow-burn that the character experiences is quite well done.
Summer Of 1816 is rooted in history, as it’s the fictionally altered tale of Mary Shelley’s conception of FRANKENSTEIN. The story is good,and though the ending is once again foreshadowed, the research Daley put in is quite noticeable and gives the story an authentic feel.
Fallen takes us inside the mind of a man no longer willing to live with the zombie apocalypse. He gets his wish, though I credit Daley for taking an unconventional route.

Sci-Fi/FantasyThe Relation Ship A child is tempted aboard a ship where he remains until his temptress no longer fancies him. This read like a YA romance and is probably the weakest story of the 13.
Suffer Shirley Gunn creates an Earth where dogs are more intelligent than humans. Shirley’s dog is able to communicate with words, and warns Shirley of her imminent suffering. While fantastical, the concept is solid though the ending again is foreshadowed.

Dark HumourHumpy And Shrivels are two out-of-luck drunks who choose to test the rumour about the haunting at their local cemetery. This one’s quite droll.
Curse Of The Blind Eel teaches the reader numerous witty synonyms for both “shit” and “taking a shit”. It also educates the reader on exactly how to avoid being bitten by a vampire (hint: it involves shit). Daley ends the collection by showing off his abilities with wordplay and his rather peculiar sense of humour.

Genre fans will enjoy the Horror, Monsters and Zombies sections, as Daley’s output here ranges from good to great. The Sci-Fi/Fantasy section may be for some, but definitely doesn’t fully showcase Daley’s talent. Dark Humour should only be read with a strong stomach and morbid curiosity.

For more on James Roy Daley, visit Books Of The Dead Press.