By Glenn Rolfe
Published by Alien Agenda Publishing, December 2014
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a review of a book. Leave it to Glenn Rolfe and an incredible set of short stories to get me back in the game.
I read Slush, a slightly older anthology from Rolfe, on the porch of my home, in the hot summer heat. The title, appropriately reflective of my own physical state in the heat, guided the tone of the stories within. Twelve stories presented in rapid succession make up the contents of Slush, and all twelve stories blend together with a ferocious sense of grime and despair.
I was taken aback by just how horrific some of these stories were—several were mean-spirited to their core, while others started like a crisp autumn morning, only to devolve into gratuitous horror by its end. Every story sang its own tune beautifully, drawing you in for a variety of reasons only to spit you out, churned through a pulp of human emotion, depravity, and violence.
I appreciated how each of these stories were written. The characters stood out in each story, each person distinctly human, hauntingly relatable, and faced with godawful choices, flaws, and downright bad luck. From the opening story “Skull of Snakes” which had a “boys on bikes” feel, I knew these were unique tales of terror.
There was little I disliked about this collection, but chief among them was how a few of the stories made me feel: dirty, tarnished…so perhaps this anthology has truly achieved what it set out to do. The writing itself is thoughtful, reminiscent, light at times, and bludgeoning when need be. Rolfe is truly talented at tone changes, writing characters you can really see, and making your skin crawl when things go wrong.
Check this one out if you get a chance. It may be several years old, but it packs a punch not every anthology can achieve.