In a genre saturated with regurgitated ideas, it is refreshing to discover unique concepts for horror stories still exist. I am a rabid fan of horror fiction, but I sometimes have to raise an eyebrow when I see the same tropes revisited to the point of exasperation. Thankfully, authors like D.M. Woon are out there plugging away and working hard to bring us original tales to curl our blood. Such is the case with his recent release, Tales of the Bastard Drunk. This hybrid piece contains several stories within a primary storyline, and the result is an intriguing tale you won’t soon forget.
If you are not familiar with Tales of the Bastard Drunk, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Mystery & Horror LLC:
Two travellers. One haunted town. A secluded pub. A bastard drunk. “Buy The Bastard a brandy, an’ he might jus’ tell you a tale ‘bout this town…” *** Kramusville is a town with a long and bloody history. When Paul and Fitz arrive on foot, desperate for shelter, they only find one place that appears to be open – The Finger Inn. There’s a train in the morning, but during the long night they hear the Tales of The Bastard Drunk. Tales filled with depravity and gore, each worse than the one before. They pray for the dawn to come, so they can leave – but will Kramusville let them go? A novel that unveils the most terrible of secrets, whilst questioning the art of storytelling itself. Be warned: not a book for delicate sensibilities. *** This performance will feature The Bastard Drunk’s personal favourite tale “Clean Up on Aisle Gore” starring Gina Atkins as The Checkout Girl.
Tales of the Bastard Drunk is written very well, in an innovative voice, with fluid prose and realistic dialogue. The book measures in at 110 pages, and Woon crams a lot into such a small space. I am impressed with how much Woon conveys in this story without taking up page after page of exposition. This is a testament to his talents as a writer.
The characters in Tales of the Bastard Drunk are believable and well fleshed out. Each is damaged in his or her own way, lending a large dose of credibility to the realism that could be. I particularly like the Drunk. Grouchy and reserved, he is poked and prodded throughout the whole book, and his tales do nothing to soften his persona.
The main plot and the stories within it weave a spiderweb of terrifying drama. A couple start off with concepts that could have been ripped from today’s news headlines…but each then quickly spirals down into the madness only an imaginative mind can conjure. The reader is then whisked away on a horrific journey into the supernatural, with the only reprieve coming at the end of the tale, at the arrival back in the bar. The Drunk (or Woon…whichever way you choose to look at it) is a masterful storyteller, and his descriptions are powerful and vivid. This aspect makes his stories so much more frightening.
Tales of the Bastard Drunk is a huge win for me, and I highly recommend giving it a look. Woon showcases his massive writing skills here, and I cannot wait to see what he offers next. This book is available now in a variety of formats, so make a note; it is perfect Halloween reading material.
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