Apologies, my literary friends! My last review has been quite some time ago and my last English review even longer, but my life has been slightly derailed from its literature-loving tracks these past few months. An even bigger apology goes out to Mr. Calvin Demmer himself – I wrote this review back in November when I was still in Russia and simply forgot to post it. Talk about hectic lives and all.
Winter has hit hard and crashing here in Russia and between the layers of snow and wind and knife sharp coldness, I am very much in the mood for some good, old horror. Snow muffles screams, they say. I’m not too keen on finding out.
A while ago, Calvin Demmer approached me and asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing two of his shorts, which he described as YA/Horror. Avid readers of my blog are probably already well informed about my soft spot for bad YA, but here’s news: I dig horror. I love everything that makes my skin crawl, from genuine slasher horror to Lovecraft to psychological thrillers à la Fitzek or Dorn and paranormal Ania Ahlborn style creeps on paper. I dig that stuff, I really do. Safe to say I was very excited to read his two stories, Labor Day Hunt and Hungry Ghosts.
“A rocky relationship threatens to ruin Lara Adams’ first time abroad. To her surprise, she finds that she and her boyfriend, Ray, have arrived in China during the “Hungry Ghost Festival”. Swept up in the warm mood of the festival and people, Lara feels things may finally improve. This year, however, the ghosts have found a new way to prolong their stay in this realm.”
Labor Day Hunt
“Jared Rodgers needed cash and had to work, while the rest of his hometown got to kick back and enjoy Labor Day. After answering a job ad in the local paper, he is directed to an abandoned warehouse. An ominous feeling grips him as soon as he enters the boarded-up building. By the time he realizes what’s going on, the hunt has already begun.”
So, what is there to say? Demmer sucked me in and I inhaled these short stories during my lunch breaks. I loved the easy flow of the stories, the writing came natural and I never once wasted a thought being upset about awkward wording or weird idioms. See, that’s my pet peeve – language in a book differing so much from its context that I fall out of immersion. Especially in the horror genre this can be a problem – finding high quality horror that comes down to more than a slasher movie written out can be challenging. While Demmer did not serve me full-sized horror, I still enjoyed this snack pack of terror on the go.
Demmer didn’t manage to quite avoid all cliché situations (which, admittedly, had me raising my eyebrow at times), but generally speaking none of the clichés had any noticeable effect on the story.
All in all, both stories are very readable. We’re not talking Lovecraftian Horror here, but definitely wonderful time eaters for when you need to get over with that car ride or airport layover. Just don’t read them in the bathtub, or you might stay longer than planned. Four out of five anatomically correct hearts for Labor Day Hunt and Hungry Ghosts!