‘Grotesque: Monster Stories’ by Lee Murray – Review

*Disclaimer – I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*


Choking on dust, Walters ran for his life. The stinking horde of living dead swarmed in his wake, their faces slack and their eyes shifting and soulless. They moved fast. Stilted and shuffling, but fast, nonetheless. It didn’t pay to get too complacent. He’d know better next time.

If there was a next time.

Sprinting over the rise, the battered Steyr rifle bouncing at his hip, he leaped over a copse of tundra, and kept running. He had to get somewhere safe: somewhere fortified or, at the very least, hard to get to.

He scanned the horizon. There was fucking nowhere to go. Beneath the mountains, a volcanic wasteland stretched for miles before him. It was like a threadbare hall rug, rucked up in places, and reduced to a few scrubby tufts. What had he expected? It’s not as if a new shopping mall or housing development would have popped up since his last trip through here; the desert region had been lonely and isolated even before the Coming.

Glancing back, Walters took a gander at the mob. Shit shit shit. They were still coming. Just a couple of hundred metres behind now. He’d never known zombies to be so persistent. Why hadn’t they given up? Because he was probably the only live meat in the region, that’s why.

-The New Breed

Synopsis –

Three-time Bram Stoker Award® nominee Lee Murray delivers her debut collection, and it is monstrous. Inspired by the mythology of Europe, China, and her beloved Aotearoa-New Zealand, Murray twists and subverts ancient themes, stitching new creatures from blood and bone, hiding them in soft forest mists and dark subterranean prisons.

Thoughts –

The collection laid out in Grotesque: Monster Stories by Lee Murray, is a deep well of unsettling stories, fascinating characters, and a heavy leaning towards the original mythologies of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Ranging from legendary demi-god creatures, to the darkness inside of man himself, there is a variety of substance and setting in this chilling collection.

Murray has a skill for introducing a story in the most engrossing way possible, steeping the reader in a realism – even when the events and worlds are anything but – that makes it impossible not to dive head first into these characters lives. From the desperate survivors in ‘The New Breed’ that throw morals out the window in order to save their own skin against the zombie hordes that prey on the and yet you are reluctant to cast any blame on them yourself, to the dangerous lives of the tribesmen in ‘Hawaiki’ who must fight for their brothers and sisters – no matter what. Speckled with interesting histories of the Maori people and their scared beliefs, including a glossary of Maori terms to expand your lexicon.

The stories range from flash fiction, to almost novella length, and at times this does leave the reader hungry for more. Some stories do feel as though they are the beginning of a much longer story, even a novel, rather than a complete short story themselves, however these instances are few for the generous number of stories in Grotesque: Monster Stories.

Grotesque: Monster Stories is a rich collection that explores chilling settings, harrowing creatures, and showcases Murray’s skills of drawing the reader in, and holding on tight.

About the Author –

Lee Murray writes fiction for adults and children, for which she has been lucky enough to win some literary prizes. Her novels include A Dash of Reality, Battle of the Birds, and Misplaced. Lee lives with her family in New Zealand.

Read and Review –




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