Upon first learning about this book, I saw it described as
something along the lines of (and pardon my paraphrasing) “Kaiju trans porn.”
And, well, that should give you a good idea of what you’re getting into here.
However, let that be just a starting point to the madness that lies within this
very brief 142 pages.
Carol is a trans woman who is bartending on a cruise ship
that also happens to be a Kaiju, one of a handful that has managed to destroy a
good chunk of the world. In fact, there are many trans chicas working upon this
sleeping giant, and a few are also involved in some deviant side gigs.
Something within the Kaiju causes some of the crew and passengers to transform
into inhuman creatures, and really all you need to know for now is that you’re
in for some bizarro body horror (though not solely that). Anyone who reads my
reviews knows I don’t like to get into the plot too much, but rather some other
Despite of the strangeness that takes up the bookends of
this novella, I think the strongest moments are in the middle, when we get to
go back in time a bit and find out about Carol’s life before the current events
of the story, from being a reluctant “band mother” to a witness in court who
also happens to be lambasted by the media. Here we really get to know her
character a bit more, and I began to care about the internal turmoil she dwells
on throughout the book, usually via sarcastic remarks.
Which brings me to my favorite element of the book:
Glasser’s penchant for sarcasm. She’s never afraid to let it fly, and it makes
up a large amount of Carol’s personality, which feels true to form considering
the pain she feels. Sarcasm is a common deflection method. Seriously, though,
the writing is quite humorous at times, and there were several lines that made
me laugh out loud. (When describing a pair of eyebrows—“They were really grey
and bushy, as if he’d grown them with the pride-maintenance of a ZZ Top
F4 is not going to be for everybody, this is certain. And
that’s okay. In fact, that’s great. Any art that is created with the intent of
pleasing everyone is sure to be trite, forgettable trash. Instead, you get
something disgustingly adventurous, unabashedly unique, and wholly fearless.
Prudes and TERFs need not apply.
Here's a little teaser from my debut comic series Hag, coming in early 2019 from American Gothic Press. Illustration by Jon Clark. "It's the biggest flood Texas has seen in years...and Carl Simmons is caught in the dead center of it. Unfortunately, he's not alone."
Sometimes I forget how enjoyable straight-up old-school horror
can be. You know, the stuff I grew up on? When it’s done well, as is the case
with W.J. Renehan’s novella Night’s Harbor, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
At first I was a little worried since this is a vampire
story, and we certainly don’t need any more romantic fang-whores littering up
our literary world. No thank you. Luckily, Renehan has opted for vamps of the
vicious variety. I mean, no joke, these bastards are fugly inside and out, and
they do some extremely nasty things to some of the characters that even shocked
me a little. Yup, Renehan is not
afraid to go to some dark, dark places many authors will not explore, which I can
appreciate. I mean, this is horror, right? Not a happy-go-lucky skip through
Candyland while holding hands with Santa Claus.
The setup to this story is very basic. Vamps taking over a
town, slaughtering or turning its denizens one by one, seeking something that
could allow them to essentially take over the world, and the town (most notably
a former sheriff and an old vampire hunter) must fight to protect humanity,
both their own and as a whole. What makes this novel work well and stand out is
Renehan’s superior command of prose. Not only is it very tight, but he allows
enough flourishes of language to solidifies him as a solid all-around writer.
If I were to complain about anything, it’s that I wish this
were a novel rather than a novella, mostly because I would have liked a little
more breathing room to further develop some of the minor characters. The main
players are developed well, considering the space constraints, but I would have
loved a few more chapters with some of the other characters, specifically those
who fall victim to the vampires and have some seriously horrible fates. It
would have made the already strong impact even stronger.
All in all, I was impressed and look forward to reading more
of Renehan’s work, especially when I get the hankering for a primo modern take
on classic horror.
I know it’s a total cliché to say you just can’t put a book down, but screw it. Tremblay’s latest novel is the epitome of such a claim. Problem is, I was reading it during breaks at work, so I HAD to put it down. Gah!
I’ve been a huge fan of Tremblay since A Head Full of Ghosts (easily one of my favorite horror novels of the last ten years or so), and have been meaning to get to his back catalogue eventually, despite it not being of the same genre (I’m of the belief that authors this good generally excel at whatever genre they attempt to tackle. See Joe R. Lansdale for another example of incredible writing trumping genre). But in the meantime I’ve been moving forward. Despite it being a very different beast from AHFOG, I loved Disappearance at Devil’s Rock quite a bit, so I was rip-roaring ready for some more Tremblay to consume. Gimme gimme gimme.
I wasn’t ready for The Cabin at the End of the World.
Allow me to give you just a quick setup, a taste if you
will. A gay couple (Andrew and Eric) and their adopted Chinese daughter Wen set
off to a cabin in northern New Hampshire to enjoy some alone time. Since this alone
would not make for a very interesting book, naturally something has to foil their
plans. And that something comes in the form of Leonard, Sabrina, Redmond, and
Adriane, a group of intruders who show up feigning friendship but harboring
something much darker. All signs point to cult, but something’s off. You see,
these four individuals (who allegedly have never met before that morning) have
all foreseen the impending apocalypse, and the only way to stop it is from
coming (and it’s coming, like, really goddamned soon!) is for the happy family
to choose to do something unspeakable. To share anything more would be
spoiling, so I’ll leave it at that.
Tremblay employs a breakneck pacing I’ve not seen in his
previous efforts, only taking a few brief breaths for reflective flashbacks,
and it works well for this book. I was sufficiently stressed from the moment
things turned bad until they grew much, much worse. And if you’re familiar with
Tremblay’s love of ambiguity (which I also love, love, love), The Cabin at the
End of the World is no different in the sense that you may think you have a
handle on what happens by the time you hit the last page, but you can’t really
be sure. One thing you can be sure of: this is a dark, dark book.
As is to be expected, the prose shines in a way that perfectly
sates my appetite for language. To manage this while maintaining such manic
energy throughout is no small feat. A brutal story, beautifully worded. As long
as Tremblay keeps pumping out novels of this quality, I’ll keep shelling out my
P.S. Paul, you need to promise to come back to San Diego one
day. I regret to inform you that, though you managed to personalize my book and
leave a message, you never technically signed it! Haha!
In honor of the one-year anniversary of the release of Secrets of the Weird, I thought it might be fun to post a couple of brief deleted scenes from the book. Enjoy...
Deleted Scene #1:
This would have taken place right at the beginning of Chapter Fourteen, just before Civilized Cannibals played their show at Club Club. In this brief exchange between Mace Akers and Steve London, there's some fun dialogue and setting description, but ultimately it was just slowing down the chapter as a whole, so away it went.
Steve London inched his way toward Club Club’s infamously
grotesque restroom. He looked like an animated skeleton doing the graveyard
boogie. Frail old stickers and flyers on the Wheat Paste Wall attempted to
escape from their positions. The pathway leading from the main hall of the club
to the restroom was stickier than a rug weaved with freshly chewed gum. A few
thoughtful and inspirational graffiti statements tattooed the restroom’s outer
A GOOD TIME, CALL 1-800-YOUR-MOM
& THE VACCUUMS SUCK
BLEW CHACHI CHARLES TOSSED BUDDY’S SALAD
A strident flush roared behind the door,
as if the whole city was about to be sucked into the Earth’s toilet. Moments
later, Mace Akers burst through the door like a firefighter on the way to save
a kitten. He lifted each arm and sniffed at his pits, confirmed they were
acceptable for public interaction. A devious grin was smeared across his
“Is it safe to go in there?” Steve asked. Worry haunted his eyes.
“Well,” Mace said, “it’s not my finest work, but I think you’ll still be
Steve froze, weighing out his options. He puffed on the remains of a
clove cigarette as if it were providing him with oxygen. His pupils bounced
around inside his eye sockets.
“I used the last of the TP, too,” Mace said, already halfway across the
club before Steve had a chance to make up his mind.
“I think I can hold it just a little longer.”
Deleted Scene #2:
A very tiny cut from the fanzine interview with Civilized Cannibals. There's some funny stuff here, but I also realized Mace and Steve had already given Christopher a lot of grief about his previous relationship with Cypress, so it would have been a little redundant.
S.S.: What’s this I hear about one
of you guys dating some chick from the Sweetville Hitlerjugend? Is that true?
Well, all I’m saying is that it wasn’t me. Not saying that I wouldn’t partake, just that I didn’t.
Shut up. Okay...shit. That’s done and done, all right?
Sure it is.
Come on...can’t a guy make one stupid mistake in his life? Let’s just get this
clear: I don’t agree in any shape or form with her politics. Never did and
never will. I thought she had a couple of good qualities—
I bet I know just what those two wonderful qualities are. Tune in Tokyo!
Shut it. Basically, I was hoping she’d grow out of it. Didn’t happen. The past
is just that. Let’s move on.