‘The Ethereal Transit Society’ by Thomas Vaughn – Review

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

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I always make it a priority to check out the shithouse prophets when I find myself in a new place. It seems like the worse the town is, the more profound their insights. I scan the graffiti on the bathroom stall, filtering out the scatological limericks and requests for ten-inch dicks. The piss vapors sting my eyes. The racist epitaphs remind me I’m in the South – way out in the sticks. The I see what I’m looking for. The prophecy takes the form of a Eucharistic call and response.

What will we do with all of these little brown babys?

The misspelled question is scrawled in black magic marker. Right below, in a steadier hand, comes the riposte.

We will baptise them in the waters of death before they drink the blood of our daughters.

“Amen, brothers,” I chuckle. We’re in the right place. There’s no doubt about that. Something has these hillbillies on edge. They’re scare and they don’t know why. Even after Quint’s death he still has the ability to freak people out. But that’s the way it is with a good messiah. They just won’t stay dead and buried.

You can also watch my video BookTube review of this book here.

Synopsis –

Not all cults are wrong about the end of the world…

Believing their late mentor is calling them from the grave, the last surviving members of a modern doomsday cult travel across the country to reclaim his body in preparation for the end-times he preached about. Tracing their leader’s echo through a cosmic signal known to them as the Transit Frequency brings them to the rural outback of Arkansas, where its presence has drastic and dangerous effects on anything living. Time, though, is running out for the last of the remnants of the Ethereal Transit Society as they attempt to track down his final resting place and unlock the mysteries of the coming apocalypse before they become victims of it.

The Ethereal Transit Society is the debut novella from Arkansas writer Thomas Vaughn, and brings readers a tense and authentic dive into the philosophies of modern doomsday and UFO cults while delivering a strong dose of cosmic horror fiction.

Thoughts –

The Ethereal Transit society is a short novella packed full of nuanced characters and messed up people. Exploring cult members task to locate and retrieve their late messiah’s body, in order no less to explain the secrets of the end of the world, this is a novella that sits in the mind long after you turn the last page.

Vaughn’s writing is engaging and shaped by the characters we share the story with. A mixture of sci-fi and cosmic horror, the story delves into universal themes of loneliness, existential pain, and the human drive to find meaning in life and the suffering we are inevitably subjected to. As well as this, there are some gruesome things done to corpses and glow in the dark goo that I personally would not be touching, but each to their own.

The Ethereal Transit Society is a new angle on the familiar idea of cults, where not only are we diving in after the end is over and these characters have been left behind, but also dealing with a cult that might not be as delusion as they seem.

A rich and well written novella that will make you rethink the next time your ears start inexplicably ringing.

About the Author –

Thomas Vaughn is a fiction writer whose work encompasses dark magical realism. He is a byproduct of the debris field of rural Arkansas, a place he calls the archive of pain. When he is not writing fiction he poses as a college professor whose research focuses on apocalyptic rhetoric and doomsday cults. He views the writing of fiction as integral to the struggle for higher awareness. Feel free to visit him at brokentransmitter.com.

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‘Periphery: A Tale of Cosmic Horror’ by Michael Winter – Review

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

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“What?” Andrew was teetering over a precipice he had been approaching for twenty years, ever since the day his father had returned from the police station still caked inn dried blood and announced to his wife and son that he was moving out, that it was the only way to ensure their safety, although they had nothing to fear from him. All the scary stuff was out there, out in the light. Out in the open. It always had been. 

“That’s what your old man calls them. Quintalochs.”

Andrew wanted to look away, but a feeling of inevitability had taken hold. In his mind, things were clicking and snapping, falling into a terrible alignment nothing could stop. The palm frond held his gaze. There was something unnerving about its size, about the way each long blade bent, then bent again, tapering to a barbed point. They jutted from the central stem like angled spokes that thickened every time he blinked. There were well over a dozen veins, running in twos all the way to the ground before curving toward the bin. 

Andrew saw with a start that the frond wasn’t connected to the tree at all. It was simply propped against the fence. What had made him think otherwise? And what about those discolorations on the pavement? O dd the way they continued up the side of the trash bin, as if the two marks were actually part of the same thing, a sweeping curve of antenna for instance.   

 

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Synopsis –

John Tate has always been at the periphery of his son’s life, but he’s had good reason for it. Now however, as Andrew is drawn into a hostage situation by a man claiming his father filled his head with monster, Andrew starts to see shadows on the edge of his vision, creatures that surely can’t be real, but they are. Andrew’s life, already cracking, is starting to crumble away as the city of Tampa rages with fire and voices in the minds of it’s residents but only a handful know the truth – an alien race that humans have evolved not to be aware of, is on their way to annihilate them all. Now, despite his efforts, John cannot hide the truth from his son anymore and both must embark on the final journey to try and save their people.

 

Thoughts –

In Periphery, Michael Winters tell a horrifying tale of cosmic creatures that live amongst us, beside us, and at the edges of our vision, our own ability to be blissfully unaware of them being the only defence we have against them. Led by rich and engaging characters struggling with their own inner turmoil and now bombarded by the telepathic terrorists hell-bent on invading their community and minds, Periphery is a modern cosmic horror with a classic feel to it.

Following Andrew on his discovery that his absent father’s rantings about shadowy creatures was nothing but the truth and the eventual merging of the community to fight a singular threat that can no longer be ignored, this story will leave you wondering at the shadows in your peripherals, at the flicker of movement in the corner of your vision. Where is your eye drawn? Will you follow the urge to look and know, or is ignorance more than bliss, but mortal safety?

 

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Periphery is a novel that pulls the reader in through believable characters, unsettling possibilities, and the hope that can be found in community. With strong, skillful writing, and a common enemy to fight, Winter spins a tale of darkness that will leave you cautious of every shadow.

 

About the Author –

Michael Winter is a 2015 graduate of the University of South Florida’s MFA program, with a degree in creative writing. He worked for “The Tampa Tribune” for twenty-eight years as a copy editor, page designer, feature writer and columnist.

His short fiction has appeared in the “Fiction Quarterly section” of “The Tampa Tribune”, “Modern Short Stories”, “The Tampa Review”, “Other Voices”, “Fourteen Hills”, and “Natural Bridge”. His non-fiction has been published in the “Private Lives” section of “The St. Petersburg Times”, “The Tampa Tribune” and 2 Bridges Review.

He lives in Florida with his wife, daughter and assorted creatures of the canine and feline variety.

 

Read and Review –

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What’s your favourite cosmic/sci-fi horror? Do you prefer them to be set on earth on in space? Let me know down below!