*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
You raise the book’s cover with the fire poker and bend down for a closer look. On the yellowed paper are two typed lines. The first is the title:
The Last Book You’ll Ever Read
On the next page is the dedication:
Your forefinger hovers over the page when you remember the possibility of poison and jerk upright. This must be a prank, albeit one you never heard of and don’t see the humor in, although you can see no one hiding behind any of the nearby trees of shrubbery or cars. You can hear no snickering at your expense.
You squat, steady your hand, and flip open the front cover of the book with the poker to inspect the first page. Those two typed lines are still there. You didn’t imagine them. You were lying before when you said you called the police. Now, you are seriously considering it.
Then, something like a prickle on the nape of your neck, curiosity perhaps, makes you want to – have to – look at the rest of the book before alerting the authorities. You lean down and blow the page no dust or any suspicious powder flies off. No immediate danger. You can call the cops in a little while.
Just to be sure though, you prop the fire poker by the door and retrieve a pair of latex gloves you keep in the kitchen for handling raw meat. No toxic powder doesn’t necessarily mean no toxin at all. Plus, gloves will preserve any fingerprints on the book for when the cops arrive. First, you have to learn what else is written on its pages. You take one last glimpse around the neighborhood, then hesitate for a moment before plucking the book from your stoop, going back inside, and locking the door behind you.
The Last Book You’ll Ever Read is a collection of 5 short stories from writer Scott Hughes. Ranging from the psychological horror of a tortured mind to the grotesque body horror of a man and some questionable cement, these five stories are fresh, modern, and oh so dreadful.
The Last Book You’ll Ever Read is probably the shortest collection I’ve reviewed so far, but man does it pack a punch. The collection is well written, explores new and creative ideas rather than the usual horror tropes, and has a connecting thread that sandwiches the stories that really made me smile and genuinely creeped me out a little bit.
The beginning and ending portions are in second person point of view, as in ‘you get up, you see’, which is rarely used I find but in the right context can be very effective and in The Last Book You’ll Ever Read it is used to perfection. And the real meat of the sandwich explores psychological horror, body horror, and like any great anthology type series reminded me at times of The Twilight Zone or even Black Mirror in the way a couple of stories played out.
One particular story called ‘eXhaurio Inc.’ has stuck with me since I read the collection. It follows the story of a man seeing a ‘free’ computer advertised on television but when it arrives it isn’t like any computer he’s ever heard of, and soon he begins to pour his life into this computer, forgetting to eat and sleep. I was enthralled from the get go by this story and am not likely to forget it any time soon. I think we need more horror centered around technology and the devices that we use every day and how they mess us up sometimes more than the fictional monsters we all fear so much.
This is a short and sweet collection that is not one to be missed. If you are looking for well written and intriguing dark fiction stories to disturb you before bedtime, I would make The Last Book You’ll Ever Read, the last book you read before bedtime at the very least. I only wish there were more than five stories and I’ll be looking out for Scott Hughes name in the future.
About the Author –
Scott Hughes is a writer from Georgia, USA. His fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in Crazyhorse, Carbon Culture Review, Strange Horizons and many, many more. Currently teaching English at Central Georgia Technical College, he lives with his two dogs Bacon and Pip, and is finishing up a YA novel called Red Twin. You can find Scott on Amazon, Goodreads, and learn more about his work over on his website here.
Links to Buy and Review
What’s your favourite horror story collection? Do we need to incorporate more technology into our horror fiction? What do you want the last book you ever read to be?