I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.by Jason Parent
Published by Comet Press on October 3, 2016
Genres: Crime, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror, Occult & Supernatural, Psychological Horror
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Terror follows those who let it into their hearts.
Guests of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris attend a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. On that fateful night, a great man falls, but he is not alone. For Henry and Clara, the night is only the beginning of lives wrought with jealousy, madness, and horror.
The Only Good Lawyer
Bradley is a savvy defense attorney with no scruples. Under his representation, many a guilty man has gone free. But when a voodoo priest takes the stand, Bradley soon discovers that he, too, is on trial, and the punishment for guilt may be more than he could bear.
Dorian loves himself, and why wouldn't he? Every guy wants to be him, and every girl wants to be with him. He would trade all he has to make his looks last forever, but bargaining with the devil may leave him short a soul.
For the Birds
Nev's best friend is his parrot. In fact, it's his only friend… and his only ally when his home is invaded.
Revenge is a Dish
Maurice has landed a dream job, chef for a rich couple on their yacht. The wife has carnal desires for him. Maurice has some carnal desires of his own.
WRATHBONE and Other Stories, by Jason Parent, is a collection of one novella and four additional tales showcasing the author’s versatility and mastery of the writing craft. The book begins with an impressive introduction by Kealan Patrick Burke, followed by the titled novella, WRATHBONE.
“I am not a good man.”
This begins the gothic-style tale of Major Henry Rathbone and his life after President Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. Rathbone and his betrothed, Clara Harris, were in the box with Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln as the fatal shot was fired. The novella is told as Rathbone’s narrative, and his point of view stems from this main, distraught, self-belief: “. . . my failure cost a great man his life . . . “
This was a hauntingly beautiful work, reminiscent of some of the early masters of horror. We progress from that pinnacle historical moment and follow Major Rathbone and his family as time goes on. The reader is thrust into the narrator’s mind, seeing the demons and brief, peaceful respites, that progress throughout his years. Are these demons a product of a guilt-racked mind in decline, or did the Major get a glimpse of something . . . other . . . that broke through the veil into our reality? An elegant work of historical fiction that will leave you wondering exactly what went through Rathbone’s consciousness after that fateful date.
The second story, “The Only Good Lawyer”, had me mentally at the edge of my seat the entire time. A crooked defense attorney becomes uncertain of his own success when he meets the disfigured father of a brutally murdered girl, whose killer he is defending. A fantastic conclusion that surpassed my own expectations!
In “Dorian’s Mirror”, Parent pays homage to Oscar Wilde’s classic, “The Portrait of Dorian Gray”. Here we have a modern day, self-proclaimed Adonis, who depends upon his looks for his livelihood. When the image he sees in his bathroom mirror begins to betray him, it isn’t long before his biggest fear faces him in every reflective surface. When you make a wish, be very careful that the outcome is one you can live with . . .
“For the Birds” is one story that will come back to haunt me every time I make a roast beef sandwich! Nev is a man living alone, with only his pet Scarlet Macaw for company. His bond with his avian roommate reminded me of a happily-married couple. When reading about a rash of murders and petty burglaries in his area, Nev quickly assures his beloved bird that “I’d never let them get to you, girl. . .”, despite her–peculiar–tastes. However, what happens when the aforementioned scenario becomes a reality?
The last story in this collection, “Revenge is a Dish”, is one that I thought I had figured out right from the beginning. Parent’s descriptions and the bleak situation our main character, Maurice, finds himself in were so vividly portrayed that I could easily picture his every pain–both physical and mental. In fact, I was so engrossed in his predicament that when things began to change from my own expectations, it took a while for it to register. Ultimately, this was Parent’s story, and he turned it into something so much more than I was expecting.
In most story collections, I’ll have a clear list of favorites. Even alongside the stand-out novella, Wrathbone, I can honestly say that every story here was a five-star read for me. Jason Parent gives us a collection that effectively showcases his diverse range of writing ability and creativity. Wrathbone is a top contender for my number one collection of 2016.