Published by Shock Totem on 3.29.16
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Supernatural
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In his striking debut collection, Greener Pastures, Michael Wehunt shows why he is a powerful new voice in horror and weird fiction.
From the round-robin, found-footage nightmare of “October Film Haunt: Under the House” to the jazz-soaked “The Devil Under the Maison Blue,” selected for both The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror and Year’s Best Weird Fiction, these beautifully crafted, emotionally resonant stories speak of the unknown encroaching upon the familiar, the inscrutable power of grief and desire, and the thinness between all our layers. Where nature rubs against small towns, in mountains and woods and bedrooms, here is strangeness seen through a poet’s eye.
They say there are always greener pastures. These stories consider the cost of that promise.
Greener Pastures is simply OUTSTANDING! This is literary dark fiction at its finest.
These stories almost all deal with heavy themes like loss, grief, and loneliness and yet, they’re all distinctly different from each other. A lot of them reminded me of the stories of Robert Aickman, Laird Barron or Thomas Ligotti, but I actually liked Wehunt’s tales more than those. I’ve been thinking about why that is and here’s what I’ve come up with: Laird Barron and Thomas Ligotti are both fantastic with dark, nihilistic fiction and I don’t find these stories to have that nihilistic flavor. (I didn’t feel like killing myself when I finished Greener Pastures-so that’s a plus. Also, the very last story, Bookends , ended on a hopeful note which was SO PERFECT, it gave me shivers.) Where Aickman is concerned, I enjoy his weird tales, but I often find myself left wanting, whereas with Greener Pastures I always felt satisfied at the end of the story, with more of an understanding, (I think), of what the author intended.
All that said, my favorite stories were: Greener Pastures -a weird little piece about truckers and the “spaces between”. Without anything overtly scary, this tale made me feel extremely unsettled. October Film Haunt: Under the House -this story had a distinct House of Leaves vibe to it, minus all the side stories and footnotes. After I read it, the cover of the book finally made sense to me. Just a glimpse of that dog with the wooden crown in his mouth gives me the serious creeps. I also adored Dancers the story of a long, but unfulfilling marriage, some trees, and a creepy-ass thing in a jar. It makes me shudder just to think of it.
I enjoyed almost every. single. story in this collection. Each one was beautifully written, thought provoking and some of them caused genuine unease. What more could a dark fiction lover ask for? Oh, I know- MORE, please!
My highest recommendation to everyone, but-especially to fans of weird tales like those of Aickman, Ligotti and Barron. This one stands right up there with the best of them, so don’t miss out!
*Shock Totem provided me a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*
About Michael Wehunt
Michael Wehunt grew up in North Georgia, close enough to the Appalachians to feel them but not quite easily see them. There were woods, and woodsmoke, and warmth. He did not make it far when he left, falling sixty miles south to the lost city of Atlanta, where there are fewer woods but still many trees. He lives with his partner and his dog and too many books, among which Robert Aickman fidgets next to Flannery O’Connor on his favorite bookshelf.
His fiction has appeared in various places, such as The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Cemetery Dance, and The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu. His debut collection, Greener Pastures, is available from Shock Totem Publications. Visit him at www.michaelwehunt.com.