INTO BONES LIKE OIL | A book review by weird speculative fiction writer Ted Fauster

INTO BONES LIKE OIL
by Kaaron Warren

A book review by weird speculative fiction writer Ted Fauster

There’s a reason Kaaron Warren won the Shirley Jackson award. And several others.

INTO BONES LIKE OIL is a chilling tale of guilt and regret, salted by the true horror of the sea. You feel dirty reading this novelette, and you should.

Warren has a way of knocking you down a few pegs, stripping you bare. She wastes no time, tossing you straight into a weather-beaten, ramshackle boarding house where the ghosts of both the dead and the living dwell. These are the broken people. The pariahs. The sinful and unforgiven. And together they’ve built a home.

The story follows Dora, a woman tainted by a foul memory she cannot escape, bent and broken under the weight of guilt. How she came to be at The Angelsea is not important. The old house has become a place where the dead speak through stormy dreams. And Dora desperately needs answers.

“You can’t do damage, when you’re asleep,” Roy, the proprietor says. “You can’t think about your own guilt.”

I really enjoyed the way the name of each chapter ticks off the days. Reminds me of The Shining. Each one is brief. Brought to a sharp point that digs deeper with every turn of a page. The tension builds slowly but steadily, like a clock wound too tightly.

This is my first book by Karron Warren. I look forward to consuming everything else she’s written.

TF

ZERO SAINTS | Book Review by Weird Fantasy & Speculative Fiction Author Ted Fauster

ZERO SAINTS
by Gabino Iglesias

A review by weird fantasy & speculative fiction author Ted Fauster

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Are you sitting down?

You should sit down.

From the very first page, ZERO SAINTS pulls you in. It’s the equivalent of that bad friend you shouldn’t be hanging out with grabbing you by the neck of your t-shirt and yanking you into the passenger seat of a ’71 Lincoln Continental. Before you can so much as buckle up, the tires are squealing and you’re off to the races.

pulls you in. It’s the equivalent of that bad friend you shouldn’t be hanging out with grabbing you by the neck of your shirt and yanking you into the passenger seat of a ’71 Lincoln Continental. Before you can so much as buckle up, the tires are squealing and you’re off to the races.

Let me tell you something about Gabino. He’s one of the most hardworking hustlers out there. This guy eats books and shits poetry. He’s a giant, a god and a legend. He’s also the nicest guy I know who can snap you in two.

Blending Spanglish, Spanish and English, whenever and wherever he wants, Iglesias takes us on a wild ride through a smeared canvas of violence and enchanted terror. There were several downright gut-twisting moments where I almost had to put the book down, including the description of a man’s neck being snapped to one side that will haunt me to the grave. But I deserved it. This book owns that moment. It wants you see, to feel. It wants you to know.

Iglesias’ writing is beyond raw; it’s stripped to the bone and bleeding. It’s another color you can’t see. I’m warning you, you’re gonna lose some fingers and possibly one ear along the way. That’s the price, and you should consider yourself lucky. But the most beautiful aspect of this book is the fantastic parlor trick is pulls off in your mind–you genuinely find yourself rooting for a drug dealer.

Let’s face it: in my pasty white world books like this scare the shit out of me. I’m thankful for the bubble in which I can comfortably (and safely) recline as my mind travels through an unimaginable universe no one should have to endure. In the process, I found myself becoming increasingly aware of something else.

I was thankful for my life. I was comforted by the fact that I very likely won’t ever have to face any similar circumstances–and I’m not talking about having to become a drug dealer in order to survive, getting mixed up in murder and Santeria, friends turning on you, running blindly for your life. These are the aspects of the dreamworld, the imagined nightmarish landscape through which the author’s brain had to travel and endure to get to the end. He wrote it. And you deserve it.

This book won’t break you, but it just might wake you up.

Ted Fauster