BloodWorm Book Reviews-
Updated: Aug 12
Where All Is Night and Starless
Myths, mysteries & mythos
Author John Linwood Grant collects seventeen unsettling stories of our fears and weaknesses, and of our often unreliable strengths: stories of monstrosity and the occasional hope, deliberately themed across three aspects of weird fiction. The section 'On Mythos' covers re-interpretations and subversions of themes from H P Lovecraft's Mythos; 'On Mysteries' looks into strange transformations, and 'On Myth' delves into the realms of folklore and folk horror, each with a dark twist.
From the churning hell of World War One to the quiet English suburbs, from contemporary Alaska to colonial Africa, these are weird tales of the decisions we make when faced with something strange, with turns wry, ironic, and dark. Some horrors are found not outside, but in the mirror before us.
5 Bloody Worms
Now Grant's writing is not my regular cup of tea, more literary than my bludgeoning violence. Yet since A Persistence of Geraniums and his Facebook Flash Fiction / Waffle, I keep finding myself drawn back to his writing. I savoured this collection like my favorite piece of chocolate. Too much to indulge in all at once, yet the perfect sneaky snack late at night huddled under blankets. The stories are rich and deserve careful examination. The prose is strong, yet shies from the purple prose it could so easily fall into if not wielded with such a deft hand.
"The city was a monster constantly on the edge of starvation; a monster which sharpened its claws on coke-high socialites and street heroin overdoses with the same indifference, which made its body garbage and tenements, spiked through with shining towers."
- Where the thin men die.
Now there are 17 stories in this collection that stretch from the freezing wastes of Antartica to the English suburbs, New York City through to the blood-stained earth of Africa. The characters are as rich and diverse as the settings, though I am pleased to note there are several strong female characters through-out. So given this, I am only going to highlight my 3 favourite stories. It has been a difficult choice.
With The Dark and The Storm
Set in Eastern Nigeria 1925 this story spins all traditional tropes on its head. There is no Christian Gods to fear here, but Missionaries who seduce the children of Nduka's tribe to release ancient Gods. Nduka must navigate the bureaucracy of white settlers and Christian authority when he realises that something is not quite right at the mission, and the children are learning of things other than Jesus. To save his people he reaches out to a God more powerful and thus the battle begins.
Today Is Tuesday
This short story about a man and his reclusive life with his sister keeps you guessing to the end. Then Grant smacks you in the head with a baseball bat as the truth unfolds.
Now, I lied. These three came in on a tie.
A Farewell To Worms
In this story I met the Greek Goblin (Kallikantzaroi) who develops a masterplan to cease the endless sawing of the World Tree. This story opened up a new mythology for me and I truly enjoyed it. The main character Philodoxes who wheedles and manipulates far beyond his suggest capability. I loved how Grant was able to weave so much of the lore regarding these little creatures into one short story. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Horse Road.
Yes, I am a massive fan of Grant's Mr Bubbles series on FB. I truly hope he brings out a collection of this black psychotic pony and his stalwart companion Sandy. He keeps teasing us so he had better do so. I was so excited to read this origin story of sorts, I mean who doesn't love a good origin story. Especially containing the contrary, indifferent, parsnip loving Mr Bubbles.
At Vrysfontein, Where The Earthwolf Prowls
Grant paints a brutal honest portrayal of the disease-ridden camps during the Boer war. His protagonist Redvers Blake appears in several other stories of Grant's and is surly, fatigued man, weary of the horrors yet he carries within him a special sensitivity; curse, talent or a magic as you will. This story raises some great questions, and is a rich blend of cultures. In fact, most of these stories do.
Seriously this is a fantastic collection and Grant is a talented author who deserves far more credit than he receives. They say that the last three authors you read, impact your writing. For that alone it is worth reading John Linwood Grant. Besides as he will tell you, his dogs are hungry.
Now before I get started on publicly promoting my book reviews I want to start off with a few points.
1) I will never ever take money to review a book.
2) These are my thoughts and opinions on books I have read for my own pleasure. If you disagree, excellent, that is why there is such an amazing selection of books in the world, something for everyone.
3) Why do most of my reviews have 4-5 Bloodworms?
Well I won't review books I don't finish (DNF) for a start. I am definitely not going to waste time on promoting them. I am quite particular about the books I do select and whilst I am a horror writer, I do read across the genres, neatly sidestepping romance.
4) You will find I am more critical of traditional published books. These people get paid a motza to create a perfect product and have a whole team. Yes I believe Indie authors and presses need to be held to the same account but I am a little more generous. Overall though, if the story doesn't cut it, it doesn't cut it.
5) Finally I am not a professional, qualified nor do I read deep in literary processes. I enjoy different books for many different reasons. Some are just popcorn fun, some are deeper.