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    • Man With No Name: A Nanashi Novella April 20, 2017
      Man With No Name Written by: Laird Barron Published by: Journal Stone (March 2016) Series: Nanashi Novella Paperback: 106 pages ISBN-10: 1942712863 ISBN-13: 978-1942712862 ASIN: B01ATOL62M Where to buy: Journalstone, Amazon.com (print), Amazon.com (e-book), and other fine book retailers. Publisher’s Comments: Nanashi was born into a life of violence. Delivered from the streets by the Heron Clan, he […]
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    • Flesh of my Flesh: The Follow-up Interview September 25, 2015
      Hello Ghouls and Boils, I know… it has been a while. This year has been a trying one for me and I have been dealing with some “real life” stuff…  scarier than anything I post here. I apologize for our absence. But it was brief this time. Now that “real life” is levelling out, we are […]
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    • Now available: The Lovecraft eZine 2014 Megapack! August 10, 2015
      Hello Ghouls and Boils, So for the brief week off. But I had a case of life. I was on a bit of a mission and it went quite swimmingly. But fear not wicked ones. I am still here to bring you the strange and spooky! Today we have some news from a wonderful ezine […]
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    • A Conversation With Craig Yoe August 1, 2015
      Hello Ghouls and Boils, Today I was fortunate enough to sit and have a chat with the wonderfully fascinating creative genius, Craig Yoe. Craig and I met at HeroesCon this summer when he accepted an award at The Inkwells on Steve Ditko‘s behalf (sort of). I was beyond thrilled when this incredible talent agreed to […]
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    • Flesh of my Flesh —- The Review! July 29, 2015
      Hello Ghouls and Boils, It is day seven of Flesh of my Flesh week! FomF was a zombie movie filmed here in Portland, OR. Please check out Tuesday’s interview to hear about it’s inception and long awaited release from the Writer/Director – Edward Martin III – of the film, Wednesday’s article written by yours truly, and Thursday’s interview with Sean Strauss […]
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    • Flesh of my Flesh: Interview (/Happy-Hour) With Actress Tara Walker July 28, 2015
      Hello Ghouls and Boils, It is day six of Flesh of my Flesh week! FomF was a zombie movie filmed here in Portland, OR. Please check out Tuesday’s interview to hear about it’s inception and long awaited release from the Writer/Director –Edward Martin III – of the film, Wednesday’s article written by yours truly, and Thursday’s interview with Sean Strauss – […]
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    • Flesh of my Flesh: An Interview With Director of Photography Ryan K. Johnson July 27, 2015
      Hello Ghouls and Boils, It is day five of Flesh of my Flesh week! FomF was a zombie movie filmed here in Portland, OR. Please check out Tuesday’s interview to hear about it’s inception and long awaited release from the Writer/Director – Edward Martin II – of the film, Wednesday’s article written by yours truly, and Thursday’s interview with Sean […]
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    • Flesh of my Flesh – Zombies Need Love Too July 25, 2015
      Hello Ghouls and Boils, It is day four of Flesh of my Flesh week! FomF was a zombie movie filmed here in Portland, OR. Please check out Tuesday’s interview to hear about it’s inception and long awaited release from the Writer/Director – Edward Martin III – of the film, Wednesday’s article written by yours truly, and yesterday’s interview […]
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    • Flesh of my Flesh – An Interview With Documentarian and Location Manager Sean Strauss July 24, 2015
      Hello Ghouls and Boils, It is day three of Flesh of my Flesh week! FomF was a zombie movie filmed here in Portland, OR. Please check out Tuesday’s interview to hear about it’s inception and long awaited release from the Writer/Director of the film and yesterday’s article written by yours truly!  Today we will be talking with […]
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    • Flesh of my Flesh – Through The Eyes of the 2nd Assistant Director – Madness, Mayhem, and Love July 23, 2015
      Hello Ghouls and Boils, Welcome to day two of Flesh of my Flesh week! FomF was a zombie movie filmed here in Portland, OR. Please check out yesterday’s interview to hear about it’s inception and long awaited release from the Writer/Director of the film.  Today you get to hear me ramble on about my time on the set. […]
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Cold to the Touch

cold_cover

Cold to the Touch

Written by: Simon Strantzas
Published by: Tartarus Press (July 29, 2009)
Page count: 212
ISBN-10: 1905784155
ISBN-13: 978-19057841
Where to buy:
Tartarus Press
Amazon
Publishers Comments:

Reality is a thin translucent membrane that separates this world from the one beyond, and that membrane bends and buckles as we thrust ourselves against it. Through the barrier we see distorted visions, the merest glimpse of which is enough to infect our minds. . . .

Thirteen tales of strangeness and surrealism await the reader of this book; stories of loss, despair, and what happens when those without hope meet that which they cannot understand.

Two women vacationing far away encounter the mysteries of island life. . . . A trip north of the city to woods and a lake and a sky hungry for more. . . . Snow is falling, reminding the dying of all they’ve lost, or the young of all they have yet to lose. . . .

The other world, it awaits you in the dark, cold to the touch.

Contents: ‘Under the Overpass’, ‘The Other Village’, ‘The Uninvited Guest’, ‘A Seed on Barren Ground’, ‘Writing on the Wall’, ‘A Chorus of Yesterdays’, ‘The Sweetest Song’, ‘Pinholes in Black Muslin’, ‘Fading Light’, ‘Poor Stephanie’, ‘Like Falling Snow’, ‘Here’s to the Good Life’, ‘Cold to the Touch, and ‘Afterword’.

Hello Ghouls and Boils,

Tonight I have a special treat for you, a gift from the Book Gods. I was lucky enough to receive a package of books from Tartarus Press. I accidentally discovered Tartarus Press on Facebook during one of my endless searches for like-minded people. This small independent publishing house based in the UK publishes fiction from the past and present “All evoke a sense of wonder or the supernatural in beautiful, exciting prose.”. Of course when I read this, and then gawked at their catalog for a little while, I just had to get my hands on some review copies!

I am always excited to receive a package, so when it arrived I opened it with the grace of a hippo. If I had known what was inside I would have treated the package with care. I didn’t know what I was about to behold so forgive my oafish behavior, dear Tartarus. I promise you the books survived. It is not enough to say that Tartarus Press books are simply elegant . The pages are silky smooth and a pleasure to turn. The spines are strong, the quality of the binding superb. The smell is divine (yes, I am a book sniffer – you know you do it too). My fiends, books crafted by true artisans are the reason I love to read. To snuggle up with a book of this quality is a bit of heaven that you will never experience with a digital file. If such care and attention was payed to the exterior, I reasoned that the stories within must be pretty special.

Clearly, I was excited to get started.

Overwhelmed by my choices, I asked SNS readers on Facebook which title should be first in line. Simon Strantzas‘ Cold to the Touch won the vote. It turned out to be a terrific introduction to this publisher. With that thought, here is my full review of Cold to the Touch. Enjoy my fiends!

Abstrusely,
Sarah L. Gerhardt

Simon Strantzas is the author of two twisted collections of strange tales and horrific adventures. His first book was Beneath the Surface published by Humdrumming Press. (I haven’t had the pleasure of reading this collection yet, but I hope to track it down.) The second book is entitled Cold to the Touch. (According to his website – a third collection is being created – I will keep my eyes peeled.) When I did my first book review on SNS I spoke about the great masters of the short story, like Poe, Lovecraft, Twain… I spoke of how I longed for a new generation of that ilk. If there is a renaissance happening in short stories, writers like Simon Strantzas are leading the way.

Simon’s stories range from frightening to painful, from sad to wickedly delightful. One thing is certain, Mr. Strantzas ripped out a bit of his soul and threw it onto the page with a violent beauty. Such stories could come from no other place. This collection is evocative, endearing, strange and horrifying all at once. I am reading it a second time now, but have to put it away — others wait.

All of the stories in this collection are delightfully dark and wonderfully weird. There were moments where I thought Strantzas’ writing was a bit too cordial. But they were brief and his characterizations were so compelling, that those fleeting moments were easily forgotten. Currently I have two favorites from this collection, so I will focus in on those. I know that it is easy to give a short story away, so I promise these bits will be spoiler free!

The Other Village

This weird tale centers around two Canadian women who are on a holiday to the Mediterranean. It is clear from the beginning of the story that their friendship is rocky. They hadn’t spoken in some time and both went on the trip anyway. It may have been out of spite or obligation or simply the fact they already spent the money. Whatever the case, they were stuck with each other.  They come across a shady guide who offers to take them to “the real places. They leave their legitimate tour and that’s when the real excitement begins. This story is well woven. I felt involved with its characters. It has all the elements I love in a strange tale. I have always believed the unseen is often far more terrifying than what we are shown and this short verifies that. The Other Village does an excellent job of getting your heart pumping and it has a deliciously satisfying ending.

A Seed On Barren Ground

This strange story is about a woman who suffers great loss, only to suffer more. She is referred to a mysterious festival in the middle of nowhere. All she wants is for her suffering to end, for things to return to normal. She becomes convinced that this festival may somehow give her this. When she arrives at the festival she discovers it has long been over, but a mysterious tent still stands and there are people gathered inside. This captivating tale brought waves of emotion. I felt the sorrow of the main character and was invested in her journey. I felt the heat of the desert, and her heavy, heavy pain.  A Seed on Barren Ground took some unexpected, well-executed turns and I happily went along for the ride.

Final thoughts:
Simon Strantzas invites you in and leads you around his universe with the grace of a ballroom dancer. His style is elegant and haunting and as a reader you feel drawn to each story in a unique way. I am looking forward to more work from this author. This book will hold a permanent place in my collection. I recommend Cold to the Touch to anyone who likes Horror, Strange Tales, Dark Fantasy or Short Stories. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5.

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