Last month, I made a list of the goriest scenes in horror fiction for Meli’s Thanksgiving Day Gross-Outs. It not difficult to come up with memorable gag-inducing moments, but have you ever thought about the most heartwarming moments in the genre? This Christmas, to keep in the spirit of giving, good will toward men, twinkling lights, sugar cookies shaped like fir trees and all the joy the holiday brings, I want to focus on the softer side of horror lit. How hard could that be? I mean, it’s the author’s ability to touch our heart and soul that render the nasty bits so effective, right? Turns out this was more difficult than I originally anticipated. When I solicited other horror fiction fans for their picks via Facebook, Twitter, and my favorite message board, the Rue Morgue Mortuary, all that came back was the sound of crickets chirping. While the thread in the Mortuary for “Goriest Book Ever” went on for 3 pages, “Most Heartwarming Moments in Horror Fiction” got one response, and that was to say “Gonna have to think on this…” Still, bound and determined to prove that where there is blood there is heart, I managed a few choice moments from horror fiction that really tug on the heartstrings and get readers grabbing for tissues. Bust out your Kleenex, folks, these are my most heartwarming moments in horror fiction!
As far as Southern Gothic Horror goes, this bad boy is top of the heap. It’s rare, these days, to come across a first novel by an author gifted with such lyrical prowess. J.R. Parks starts this novel off with a bang, introduces the reader to their new favorite anti-hero, and grabs your hand – whisking you through a backwoods, hillbilly horror ride in a jet black ’69 Charger. Sit tight folks, this one sparks real fast, and doesn’t let up. Hooah!
During the 1980s, the stink of evil permeates like bad cologne throughout Verney County, Mississippi. Hellhounds and demoniacs had taken up residence, hurtin’ on folks and gettin’ mean. But there’s one feller they didn’t count on. Bucky Dennis—high school football star, Vietnam veteran, and divorced father of two—Bucky’s the slack-jawed bayou bubba that won’t take no guff.
After a botched insurance sale to a British stockbroker turned werewolf, Bucky stirs from his post-war decomposition and crippling apathy only to be baptized in hellfire. With a five-fingered Buick and a .44 named Harriet, Bucky delves into the dark side of the unknown and uncovers a devilish plot for the world’s undoing.
As mentioned before, Parks has a lyrical prowess that could be rivaled by none other than my favorite wordsmith – Steve Vernon. It’s really hard to find that one person who can just speak to your soul, someone who knows the gait at which you love to read, someone who can make you forget you’re reading and instead throw you headfirst into a spell so deep, that you literally have to remember to breathe. While The Gospel of Bucky Dennis may not be that for you, it certainly was for me.
Now, Bucky himself…well…here’s an anti hero that I honestly adore. He’s got balls, he’s got sass, and better yet – he’s painfully human. The punishment that Parks doles out on his titular character is fierce, but he’s done the man a solid by always letting him come out on top. Well, at least almost on top. I can imagine Parks having had a ton of fun with this one. The strength of this character lies in Parks’ ability to put him in some completely unbelievable situations, beat him with emotional, physical, and mental hardships; and then finding the solution in dialogue, a few choice actions, and a whole lot of attitude. You can’t help but love this guy.
Parks has an obvious affinity for classic monsters, and tackles them in his very own way with this novel. The Gospel of Bucky Dennis is basically a collection of short stories that tie together in the end, creating a whirlwind trip through the author’s very imaginative mind. We’ve got werewolves, zombies, blood sucking bats, and evil cults bent on raising hell in this little novel. Very ambitious, and very well done.
I’d get out there and grab a copy of this if I were you. It’s not only an adventurous and fun read, but it’s got enough blood boiling action to keep you going from start to finish. Easily one of my favorite releases in 2010.