Saturday, July 07, 2012

Ghosts In A Desert World - Review

Matthew Tait is one of those Australian speculative and horror fiction personalities that has always intrigued me. He's a smart guy, and his views and opinions of what is going on in Australasian literature are worth noting. I was pleased to pick up a copy of his freshly released collection of short stories Ghosts In A Desert World

It's currently free on Amazon, but they tend to only allow you a free give away for 5 days at a time. The collection is worth acquiring, even if you do end up paying for it.

There are names that get tossed about when one is reviewing horror writers. Matheson is a good example, I've been compared to the late master myself. Tait does have some of the classic gore elements of Matheson present and very correct, but he also has that wonderful element usually found in the short stories of Joe R. Lansdale.

Remember when Lansdale wrote really fucked up fiction? His collection BY BIZARRE HANDS remains one of my favourite short story collections. The comparisons between Tait and Lansdale come when you experience the dread that both manage to so easily create. Tait's stories put us in a world that could be just around the corner for any of us. The country road, the small town, the invevitable outcome of too much popular culture, and a complete disregard for the sanctity of human life.

If I have one gripe with the collection it is that it is too Americanised. There are stories set in Australia, but they have American protagonists. The ones set in familiar locations of the USA are fine, but I wonder if they were written for an American market, which is disappointing as there is a good market for Australian horror of quality.

Tait loves gore, there's nothing here that focuses on suspense or only superanatural elements. It's visceral, every fleck of blood, every carefully orchestrated slash of a throat, or a wrist or a disembowling (which seems to be a personal favourite of the author) is well choreographed and adds to the intensity of the story. Not two characters are the same in this collection. The only common ground they share is folks from various walks of life finding themselves in situations that they didn't plan on, facing foes so unspeakably fucked up that you understand them thinking that this is some nightmare they have to wake up from.

Final verdict, a good gore filled collection of strong horror stories. The writing is competent and imaginative. The stories deliver and the blood just drips from every page.

Read it. You shouldn't be disappointed.

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