Rob Smales
Weird House Press (March 20, 2023)
Review by Elaine Pascale

Humans have never been able to answer the age-old question of whether God has a sense of humor, but readers know that Rob Smales does. LaundryLegs continues Smales’ tradition of providing scares, squirms, and the heebie jeebies, but allowing for psychological breaks for laughter.

Mr. Ross is grieving the death of his wife, Martha, who apparently took good care of him and their children. Part of her caregiving included the laundry. Martha had mentioned a large centipede in the basement, but the widower had always dismissed it as a tall tale intended to scare or entertain the children. When the laundry duty is passed to him, he meets “LaundryLegs” in its many-legged flesh (or exoskeleton).

Fearing he is succumbing to dementia (as his mother did), Mr. Ross begins recording his experiences and feelings in a journal as a way of keeping tabs on his memory. This was when the creature-feature became heartfelt, and the horror shifted from external to internal. Mr. Ross had experienced dementia from “the other side”—the adult child watching his mother lose reality until she was unsure of who he was. As much as he fears experiencing that mental loss, he also does not want his children to witness it, especially when one of his daughters-in-law is hellbent on putting him in elderly care.

The question driving the story is whether it is better to see a monster (such as a giant centipede) than to lose one’s mind. Smales judiciously allows the reader to sit with this while also deftly ramping up the action, and violence.

LaundryLegs also contains a short story, “The Soldiers of Summer,” which is a darkly comedic look at the suburban competition for the best lawn. Whereas LaundryLegs had its many-legged arthropod, “The Soldiers of Summer” has demonic crab grass that seems more plentiful and menacing when the neighbors are looking (the cul-de-sac’s answer to Poe’s troublesome beating heart).

I have long been a fan of Smales’ writing, and I thoroughly enjoyed both stories in LaundryLegs. I am confident that most horror fans will enjoy this book, whether they favor creature-feature, psychological, dark-humor, or bizarro horror.

About Elaine Pascale

Elaine Pascale had been writing her entire life. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, son and daughter. Her writing has been published in several magazines and anthologies. She is the author of Blood Lights, and If Nothing Else, Eve, We’ve Enjoyed the Fruit. Elaine enjoys a robust full moon, chocolate, and collecting cats.