Horror Fiction

Black Buttons, Vol. 1

That’s a weird title for a compilation of stories NOT covering topics like Arts and Crafts or cross stitching, I know. A little investigation reveals the back story, which when considered with the content makes perfect sense.

According to Midwestern folklore, someone who’s been cursed by witchcraft can leave a black button lying on the road. If you pick it up, you’ll get more than you bargained for. Taking the button means you also take the curse . In Black Buttons, Vol. 1, five Midwestern writers conjure nine dark tales to cast a spell over your imagination.

Intrigued yet? You fucking should be.

black buttons poster v1


Nine stories. I can’t really summarize that shit for y’all, but Mark himself did a damn decent job of it, so my lazy ass is gonna have you scope this out:

On a furnace-hot night in Kansas City, a man with a dark gift gets high off the truths people hide inside. When a storm breaks loose, his addiction overdoses in a voice he can’t deny. – By accident, a boy loses his prized baseball to the peevish old couple next door. When he and his sister sneak into their house to get it back, they come face-to-face with a nightmare out of left field. – In the Ozarks, when your pipes clog with a stench that’s ungodly bad, you call a plumber who’s accustomed to the truly ungodly. – A teenage girl faces violin practice, virginity, prom, and the ancient rites of Spring, as something worth dying for. Gather ye red flowers while ye may… – Chess is the game of kings, but when a very bad boy gets a very special chess set, it becomes the game of blood and death

Stolen shamelessly from Amazon. Given that, what are you getting into? I can’t exactly prepare or warn you. Not in the slightest. But I can say this – its coming from the mind of the man behind Hellzapalooza, and its one helluva ride, as should be expected.


This compilation of fuckery exemplifies everything I hate and love about short stories. Sure, I read it in one fucking sitting, but why? Because this literary brilliance is just that – brilliant.

And why do I hate short stories? The effective ones make me want more, and I cannot flip fuckety STAND that sensation! WHY DOES IT HAVE TO END.

Yes, it ends when it should. Yes, most of the stories are as completely packaged as they should be. But that doesn’t change the fact that these authors have so effectively created a world and a space that I am rez dog DESPERATE to spend more time there, and they don’t give it to me.



That being said, I’ve gotta talk a bit of shit for a second. Two stories weren’t QUITE up to par, (meaning they sit in my mind at like…a 90% rather than a 98) just because they were a bit obvious and a little too silly when compared to the rest. I won’t call ’em out specifically, but the joke they’re based upon is…not the greatest.


I’d consider myself pretty fucking well read, and despite my apparent lack of grammar or varied adjectives, I promise I have a somewhat decent vocabulary – with that on the table, hold my fucking beer because i’m going out on a limb here – \

Mark L. Groves and company have put together one of the best short story compilations I’ve ever read.


I said it. Tickle my balls and call me Elmo, but its out there, and I stand by it. If you don’t pick this one up RIGHT FUCKING NOW you can ding dang doodly prepare your bumhole because I am going to jam some sense into it AGGRESSIVELY


TL;DR 9/10. I don’t often review fiction, but when I do its because its important. And Black Buttons, Vol. 1, is important.


Pick up the book (Kindle or Paperback) here:
Amazon.com Widgets

mark at crypticon 2014

Author and Editor Mark L. Groves and Crypticon 2014


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2 replies »

  1. How the hell do you find the time to read books? Fuck me, I struggle to keep up with new movies, several days of poetry prompts, my young wife, my horror film reviews & my photography adventures–& sometimes the theater plays I find myself in. Are you the modern Faustus? Do you fucking sleep at all? By the way, the review was bitchin’ If I ever found time to read a book, it might be this one.


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