Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Book Review: 'Fireflies of the Dead' by Eric Kapitan

Vermont author Eric Kapitan pens horror tales! His published books to date include AS THE BLADE CUTS, TRAPPED IN THE RITUALS, and DARKNESS: POEMS OF EXTREME HORROR, BURNING DOWN PARADISE and now FIREFLIES OF THE DEAD. To keep a single them alive Eric wisely mixes both poetry and prose to increase the spectrum of the grisly and very fascinating ideas that flow from his pen (or keyboard!).

Gaining a wider audience for his work Eric wisely places the following before the reader in his Introduction – ‘I've always found short story collections to be interesting, whether it's from a single author or a variety of them. There is something fascinating about the art of telling a short story. To be able to draw out fully developed characters and plot in a short amount of words and sentences. I feel that the best short stories (and novels, for that matter), leave you wanting more. When you've finally turned that last page, you wish you hadn't. You feel that the story could continue and you could learn more about the situation and the characters involved. The following is my contribution to the art form that is short story telling. Given that my first three books have been primarily focused on poetry, I've decided to put in poems between each short story, starting with Fireflies of the Dead. The inspiration for the poem came from a cemetery that's a mile or two down the road from my home. Many loved ones of the deceased have placed solar lights on the graves, creating quite the beautiful sight on a night when the moon is full. On summer nights, while driving home from work, I look out at the cemetery and see all the tiny specks of light illuminating the area. I often imagine that they are the souls of the dead who lay below the ground, hovering over the vessels they once lived in. For those who are familiar with my previous books, you can expect plenty of gore and the taboos that I just love to explore. I also attempted to go in a different route with one story in particular that I hope you, the reader, will enjoy. Most of all, I hope I leave you wanting more.’ And that is a warm introduction.

An example of one of the poems follows:

Eyes squint, the tears run down the cheeks.
The flesh moistens and heats as hands clench the face.
Skull pushes in against the brain.
Pain spreads like a violent storm.

Falling to the knees ˗˗
shrieks exit the mouth.
Teeth grit together;
blood slides down the gums,
falling onto the lips, oozing down the chin.

Clothes drenched in sweat, bubbles boil on the skin.
Little pops of blood exit from the face.
Eyes fall from the sockets,
splashing into a pool of blood, soaking into the carpet.

Legs and arms convulse as body fat shakes.
White smoke rising, twirling into the air,
a messy wet pop fills the room in a sea of red.
Specks of brain and blood stick to the walls.
Pieces of skull bounce off the cheap wall paper.

The body falls forward, arms still stirring.
Boiling blood streams out of the stump,
burning the carpet and staining it red.

And a taste of his prose – this form the story NEW LIFE: ‘Bloodstains covered the tan rug of the living room. Noah's father lay on the floor with multiple stab wounds in his chest, arms, legs and face. The handle of a large butcher knife was sticking out of his mouth. Noah's mother remained on the couch with a big gash in her throat, her magazine covered in blood. A big bloody hand print was smeared across the very expensive flat screen TV as a football game played on it. Spooky walked through the living room, stepping in a pool of blood and spreading red paw prints across the carpet. She climbed on the chest of Noah's dad and licked the blood from his face.’

Still with us? Then this book will become a favorite of those who love to explore the darkest spaces and thoughts. Leave the light on….Grady Harp, October 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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