‘Unsafe Words’ by Loren Rhoads – Review

*Disclaimer – I received free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

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“You’re going to love this place.” Caleb promised. He pulled his bike over to the side of the pot-holed driveway, so Violet stopped, too. The house ahead of them was clearly vacant, its creamy paint gone scabrous as the stucco beneath it had fallen away. The window – blank, like eyes blinded by cataracts – reflected the flawless cerulean sky overhead. In front of the house stretched a lawn gone to meadow. Its tall golden weeds drowsed in the sun.

Violet and Caleb rounded the lawn – was it heart-shaped? – and went to sit on the broken steps leading up to the veranda. Caleb shouldered out of his backpack and pulled out two sandwiches. They were dill Havarti on sourdough with some lettuce and just a little mustard. Violet smiled, pleased that he’d finally remembered she was vegetarian. After the bike ride up the mountain, the sandwich was perfect, washed down with water from her thermos.

The area around the derelict house seemed eerily quiet. The fall of a leaf, rattling on its way to the ground, echoed. Violet turned so she didn’t have her back to the house.

Synopsis –

Thoughts –

Unsafe Words is a unique collection of dark fiction that explores themes of addictions and desires, of man and monsters, and does so in a way that enthralls the reader not only with the subject matter but by the strength of Rhoads descriptions and sentences. Ranging from the haunted wilderness of ‘In the Pines’ to the sci-fi horrors of ‘The Arm’s Dealer’s Daughter’, this collection reaches far and wide, examining every dark corner you can think of

Unsafe Words is a collection that is diverse and inclusive of queer people, exploring physical and emotional desires that are too often shunned from our pages. Rhoads clearly shows that she is not afraid to describe in detail the physical and loving acts of her characters, as well as the bloody and violent ones. From unique vampire stories such as ‘Affamé’ were no blood is ever spilled, to the heartbreaking ‘The Energizer Bunny at Home’, the stories in this collection cut deep and open up new avenues for fiction that need to be explored more.

Unsafe Words is a dark short story collection that reaches far, cuts deep, and is not easy to forget.

About the Author –

Loren Rhoads is author of Unsafe Words, the first full-length collection of her edgy, award-winning stories. She’s the co-author of Lost Angels and its brand-new sequel Angelus Rose. She’s also editor of Tales for the Camp Fire, which raised money for survivors of 2018’s devastating wildfire in Butte County, California.

Loren is also author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel.

Finally, she is the author of the space opera In the Wake of the Templars trilogy: The Dangerous TypeKill By Numbers, and No More Heroes.

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‘Who’s There?: A Collection of Stories’ by Dimas Rio – Review

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

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Who’s there, crouching like the moon behind the gray clouds?

Who’s there, writhing like  pouncing thunderbolt?

Crawl out of the darkness, my child!

Called the Jungle, to the restless Hunchback. 

Don’t you know? Darkness is my blood. 

Howled the cursed Hunchback. 

The Jungle cracked a smile, red and ripe. 

They are my beloved. 

 

Synopsis –

Drawing on local folk tales of vengeful banshees, dusk-dwelling monsters, and other forms of the undead, this collection of five short stories will transport readers to the deep, dark abyss where demons forever reside: the human mind.

 

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Thoughts –

‘Who’s There?’ is a collection of five short horror stories from Indonesian writer, Dimas Rio. Translated into English, the themes range from murder to folklore, ghosts to demons, but always with the uniting thread of human darkness to weave them together.

Rio paints modern and relatable characters in horrifying situations. From a man fielding questions about his absent fiancé to a woman overpowered by the urge to cut into her own flesh without her young son seeing, each story has a slow burn beginning that builds the tension and anxiety of the story. Well paced and description, each tale brings the reader close to the characters and the thumping of their overworked hearts.

A particular stand out for me was ‘The Wandering’. It follows a night security guard as he paces his floor, the reader soon learning that Badrun is not the upstanding citizen that he presents to others, including his pregnant wife, and he has made mistakes in his past. Letters from a person who seems familiar but cannot place begin to turn up in the deserted office space and it seems that he is not alone. This story for me encapsulates the overall tone of the collection and the attention to detail in characters that brings the stories to life.

 

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A short collection but one filled with nuance and dread, ‘Who’s There?’ will leave readers wanting more.

 

About the Author –

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Dimas Rio was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. He wrote his first novel in his birth home entitled “Dinner with Saucer” (Katakita, 2006) which was shortlisted in the “Talented Young Writer” category of 2007 Khatulistiwa Literary Award in Indonesia. He went to write a series of short stories for a local teen magazine entitled “Huru-Hara Rako” (Rako’s Chaotic Life) from 2006 to 2008.

Recently he published his second book entitled “Siapa di Situ? (Sebuah Kumpulan Cerita”) which was translated into English under the title of “Who’s There? (A Collection of Stories)”.

When not writing, he has a hobby of being lost. He spends his weekdays being lost in the sea of office paperworks, and spends his weekends being lost in procrastination. But his favorite state is being lost in a good book, an engaging conversation and cultural places that broaden the mind. And also B grade horror movies.

 

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Questions