As I work to expand Horribly Hooched’s horizons into Horror Fiction, Justin was kind enough to send me copies of a series of his shorts, some of which are part of the soon to be assembled Antholocaust.
Given these fall between 20 and 40 pages, I’ll review each story separately below.
The Punishment Due
Clocking in at 10 pages, this story revolves around convicted criminal Garrett Mosely, who is serving a long sentence to atone for his horrible crimes. However, when he lands again in solitary, the only place he truly feels safe, a mysterious being shows up and presents him with an alternative sentence.
I fucking LOVED this concept. Author Justin Osborne had me fawning over every word like a pre-teen girl over that sparkly emo vamp kid, and I was pissed when I got to the end – I want MORE! Its a brilliant approach to a concept everyones familiar with, and putting oneself in Garrett’s shoes (which is easy to do when Osbornes smithing words) is unsettling to say the least, downright nauseating at its worst. Absolutely, totally, without a doubt pick this one up. It’ll leave you salivating for more.
TL;DR: Its a buck, you peon. Its worth the read. 8/10
A rather unremarkable single woman (surprise surprise she has a cat) pines after her boss, and goes to great lengths to get him to return her affections
This one didn’t do it for me, and of Justin Osbornes shorts, is definitely the weakest. Its a combination of the simple one dimensional female perspective, and unoriginal subject content that lost me. Its easy to tell from the outset pretty much whats going to happen, and the character of Maddy Hearns is unbelievable and flat – not someone who’s plight I particularly care for, or am interested in the outcome.
TL;DR: Simple love-obsession story about an unremarkable and boring woman. 4/10
Bitter Fruit: A Taste of the Antholocaust
Layabout security guard Trevor has his world turned upside down when the geo-thermal power plant he’s ‘guarding’ frees…something…from the depths of the earth, and he’s forced to do battle with it in the middle of the night.
I really enjoyed Trevor – which is saying something for a short, as its hard to make a character appealing in so few pages. Before I realized that Bitter Fruit was a collection of stories, I found myself gearing up to read about this guy for 100+ pages, and I wasn’t turned off by the idea. The premise is simple – which is exactly how it should be. Post 2’s magic is in the telling – and as with the rest of Justin Osborne’s work, you’ll find yourself wanting more.
TL;DR: Solid storytelling paints a picture of tense survival with a surprising ending, 7/10
Prepped (Pt. 1 and 2)
Prepping for the inevitable zombie apocalypse FINALLY pays off for ‘Ol Crazy Dave’ Moore.
We’ve all had the talk. Usually sipping a round of beers, at some point the topic comes up. What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse? Whats your go to weapon? Someone says ‘Costco’, someone else says ‘shotgun’, someone else says ‘sword’. The wonderful thing about this (2 part) short is that it gives the reader a chance to vicariously experience the process of prepping for, and hopefully surviving, the end of the world. Additionally, for the first time that I’ve encountered, Justin Osborne actually assesses the reality of zombies – i.e. they couldn’t survive in extreme temps and are doomed to die off within six months. FINALLY.
TL;DR: Every zombie lovers wet dream, keeps you on the edge of your seat – you will want, NEED to find out how Dave’s story ends. 9/10
You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll
A family gets more than they bargained for when the move into a new apartment in the form of an ethereal house guest
A relatively straight forward story, again, but told quite well. Actually a bit heartwarming, there wasn’t a whole lot of ‘scare factor’ here, just a well written family ghost story with a nice message.
A portly bibliophile has one helluva day, between the girl of his dreams, an overly protective ‘cat’, and a jilted ex boyfriend.
This one hit home for me. On many levels – I mean, the main character may as well have been written about me. Fat bookloving cat owner? Shiiiiiit. And, truth be told, I wouldn’t mind an overly protective potential demon protecting my ass. Once again Justin Osborne does a stellar job putting the reader in the shoes of the lead character, while also adding some wonderful flavor in the form of Trip and the shop owner Mr. Larson. Its a fun read, even if I do picture Mitch a bit…well:
TL;DR: One of the stronger stories in the collection, definitely worth a read. 7/10
Bottom line: Justin Osborne is a masterful word smith, and definitely someone to look out for in the world of written Horror. I personally can’t wait for the complete Antholocaust to come out, and will be first in line when it does.
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Categories: Horror Fiction