I’m not entirely sure how I managed to miss this story or how it was kept out of the press, but evidently somewhere in New York there is a now empty grave no longer possessing its former occupant. The long since deceased Rod Serling has risen from the grave. He is once again walking among us, but living under the protection of an assumed name.
And that name is Patrick Loveland.
I realize that it comes off as somewhat of a cheesy line, but the fact is that I’m actually starting to write this review before I’ve even finished reading his most recent book. We are talking about an author who, by all rights should have been born seventy-five years ago, just so he could rise to fame and glory as one of the writers on shows like The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone or Tales From The Crypt. Because whenever I read his stuff, all I can think is that I want this story on my television, right now and in beautiful black and white with an amazingly creepy score.
Somebody has got to make that happen.
There are plenty of writers out there with great, vivid imaginations. But Loveland always seems to take it to the next level, in a way that’s so completely out there and yet so entertaining that all I want to do is go back to the beginning of the story and look for details that I missed the first time through. It’s at this perfect level with monsters and visual effects in the stories that make you wonder what the hell is going on in this guy’s dreamscapes.
I loved how the stories felt like pieces in a larger puzzle. The stories all feel like they belong together, not simply a common theme but that they could all be happening in a common universe. Several of them are direct continuations of the stories that came before. The stories in the book are separate, but like a mass of swarming tentacles, they are all connected as well. Or, to put better in the context of the book, the stories all feel like different sets of eyes, blinking at you in the darkness which shrouds the creative epicenter that lies at the heart of all of this.
There were a few stories that stood out for me, in particular. The leadoff title, “Ekwiiyemak (The Place Where It Rains)” was a fantastic opening salvo. The genre has come to be called “weird western”, which I have had a hard time wrapping my head around. I’m just not sure what it means. Regardless of how you label it, I think that westerns and horror are a match made in heaven. There is so much unknown to westerns, just from the era they are set in, so many stretches of blank, dark territory where who knows what is going out there. Who knows what could be lurking in the trees over that ridge or in the darkness of those caves? I think Loveland plays those aspects to perfection and makes the historical setting work perfectly with his own narrative sensibilities.
“Iris and Kayyali Beyond Trolltown” presents an engaging world upon which this narrative is drawn. And I liked that Loveland didn’t bore us with a ton of dry exposition, giving us way more than we really need. What information is given comes in a natural pace with the story and did exactly what it needed to do. This was an exciting story and I think I should point out that Loveland does a great job with action and his description of that action. The fast parts of the story feel fast and exciting and I think his background in film allows him to give his writing a very cinematic feel. Whatever it is, it works well.
“R-Day for Mr. D” and “R-Day for Mrs. D” was a cool pair of stories that actually serve nicely as one larger piece. He does this as well in another pair of tales centered around a detective. In these tales, we see a husband and wife pairing off against a monstrous and powerful entity. Both stories stand on their own and also lend each other weight. It’s perfectly handled and paced out.
The last story from the collection, “Beluga” was fantastically bonkers. And yet somehow, Loveland manages to take a concept that is fully around the bend and put you in a place where it seems completely rational and probable. It starts out with the character in quite possibly the most terrifying position imaginable. It’s the stuff that the deepest of nightmares spring from and it all grows into a frantic tale of survival that I couldn’t turn away from.
This collection is incredibly unique and special. Do yourself a favor, support a fantastic human being of an author and make your way over to your favorite book peddler. You won’t regret it.
Chad A. Clark is an author of dark-leaning fiction, born and raised in the middle of the United States. His road began in Illinois, along the banks of the Mississippi and from there he moved to Iowa, where he has lived ever since. From an early age, he was brined in the glory that is science fiction and horror, from the fantastical of George Lucas, Gene Roddenberry and Steven Spielberg to the dark and gritty tales of Stephen King and George Romero. The way from there to here has been littered with no shortage of books and movies, all of which have and continue to inform his narrative style to this day. Chad has written horror, science fiction and non-fiction. He has been published by Crystal Lake Publishing, Dark Minds Press, Shadow Work Publishing, Sirens Call Publications and EyeCue Productions and his books have received critical praise from the Ginger Nuts of Horror, Ink Heist, Confessions of a Reviewer, Horror DNA and This is Horror. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page