‘Skullpocket’ by Nathan Ballingrud

By far the best story in this anthology (I’m not lying when I say the other tales in this book simply didn’t stand a chance when the editor included this one), ‘Skullpocket’ features Jonathan Wormcake, the Eminent Corpse of Hob’s Landing – and Nathan builds a world that is extremely tilted, but man alive I would pay whatever price I had to visit it. It starts like a piece of ‘high-pulp’ (the best compliment I could ever give) and you’re unsure if you’re reading a children’s story and then… you forget about what it is or isn’t and just read it. It’s a horror yarn that has a horrific ending that completely works – and that’s a rare thing, indeed.

First published in Nightmare Carnival, 2014. Read it online here

‘Wide Acre’ by Nathan Ballingrud

Nathan Ballingrud’s North American Lake Monsters is one of the very best collection of North American weird fiction I have read; like Raymond Carver if he embraced the weird fiction tradition running from H.P. Lovecraft to Laird Baron. ‘Wide Acre’ is essentially a story of PTSD, but one that also features a werewolf. Not as metaphor or allegory, but neither as a key part of the narrative. What is important the fallout from the horrific event; the attack that kills his friends and traumatizes the protagonist also ruins his life. The implication being that some events can never be got over.

First published in Visions Fading Fast,Vol. 12012collected in North American Lake Monsters, Small Beer Press, 2013