Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: Ugly Little Things - by Todd Keilsing

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Earlier this year, I read Todd Keisling's novella, The Final Reconciliation. It's still one of my favorite reads from 2017.  Ugly Little Things is Keisling's first collection and if you didn't get to read The Final Reconciliation, I've got good news on a couple of counts. Not only is his new book a chance to be introduced to his work through ten of his shorter pieces, but it also includes his critically acclaimed novella.

A Man In Your Garden - Ever see something out of the corner of your eye and then question whether it was really there?  Take that premise, add a delightfully creepy twist and you have A Man In Your Garden.  And one of my favorite lines in the entire book. tell yourself it was your imagination, a phantom conjured from the tomb of sleep, given life by the bourbon soaking into your liver.

Show Me Where the Waters Fill Your Grave - A well-constructed and bittersweet tale of never-ending love with a healthy dose of horror.

Radio Free Nowhere - A road trip, a radio dead zone, the song of a siren...and oh, the horror.

The Otherland Express - A terrific story with a Twilight Zone vibe.  I'm a genuine Nobody.  I help all the other Nobodies get from here to there, and sometimes I find Nobodies who don't realize they're Nobodies.  Sometimes, I find people who want to become Nobodies just like the rest of us.

Saving Granny from the Devil - A totally enjoyable story about choices.  One that shows the man in black in a new light.

The Darkness Between Dead Stars - A mission to Mars, a single volunteer, a familiar trope with a fresh look.

Human Resources - Lovecraftian mythos in the age of technology and one of the best opening lines I've read this year.  It is with deep regret and sorrow that I must bid you farewell.  Effective immediately, I am resigning from my duties as HR manager on account of having just murdered my assistant and misleading others at the company.

House of Nettle and Thorn - A story with mutant plant girls.  Whats not to like?

When Karen Met Her Mountain - Is it ironic that I'm reading a story about Karen meeting her mountain at the same time I met a mountain of my own? In a single week, I nearly had a kidney transplant, but the kidney was damaged and we had to pass, I fell down a flight of stairs, and was hospitalized with Congestive Heart Failure. The following week I began dialysis.  As Karen Singleton's Daddy would say, "...sometimes things just happen and there's nothin' to be done about it...when there's a mountain in your way, you either climb other it, or you find a way around it.  There ain't no in-between."

The Harbinger - Some people are afraid of clowns, for me, it's dolls.  In this short, Keisling takes a familiar trope and delivers an effectively scary tale.

The Final Reconciliation - In this novella Todd Keisling introduces readers to the fictional heavy metal band The Yellow Kings.  It's been years since that fateful show at a small L.A. nightclub.  Miles Hargrove and his producer are interviewing Aidan Cross, looking for the true story of their one and only performance of The Final Reconciliation.

Todd Keisling is a wonderful story-teller.  As I read the diverse tales in Ugly Little Things I found the only common thread to be the horror.  It's there in every story, and I couldn't wait to see where the author would take me next.

Ugly Little Things is available from Crystal Lake Publishing  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

Todd Keisling is the author of A Life Transparent, The Liminal Man (a 2013 Indie Book Award Finalist), and the critically-acclaimed novella, The Final Reconciliation. He lives somewhere in the wilds of Pennsylvania with his wife, son, and a trio of unruly cats.

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