book review, horror, short story

31 Days of Horror: Bleak Precision by Greg Chapman

Eight exquisite horror stories and one essay on horror, illustrated by the author’s own stunning artwork, make this collection by 2 time Bram Stoker Award nominee a book you don’t want to miss.

Taking point for this collection is Kakaphony, about the nightmare of hearing voices and the dark path it can lead you down in an effort to escape. Like all of the stories in Bleak Precision, Kakaphony can be enjoyed on a purely superficial, horror level, while at the same time appreciating the grotesque lens that the author uses to probe deeper into a real life problem.

Next is a short essay on Horror fiction: A bleak and depressing look at truth. Chapman succinctly states why he likes horror, and writes it the way he does.

The Pest Controller’s Wife is a Bluebeardesque tale with heart, and introduces a character I would like to emulate.

Fascination utilizes an unusual narrative structure to present characters that are obsessed with death.

Scar Tissue is so appealingly horrific and satisfyingly layered that it can be read as both a body horror story and the tale of a deranged killer.

Unrequited is a simple tale of grief and trying to recapture a lost loved one.

I love dogs, but I sympathized with the main character’s quest to silence his new neighbor’s incessantly noisy hound in Mongrel.

Hard Bargain is full of interesting imagary, with a flesh mountain and deals made between spiritual entities. It’s a tale I need to ponder further to truly decipher, but it’s an emotive story.

Feast of Feasts, like many of the stories in this collection, deals with obsession and strange appetites. Something we, like the main character, should be careful of, lest they consume us.

I knew Chapman first as an artist. I’m a huge fan of his work (he has even done the cover of my upcoming novella, All of Me), so when I learned that he was an author too, I jumped at the chance to read his work.

I enjoyed Bleak Precision. While Mongrel and The Pest Controller’s Wife were my favorites of the volume, I know Hard Bargain and Scar Tissue are going to stay with me for a long time.

The author’s voice is so distinct that it was a joy to journey into the world of each tale. I’m not sure if his artistic talent has helped inform his fiction or not, but each tale drew me in the same way his artwork does, and showed me a world that made me feel as if I was not just reading a story, but being lead through another world by the author himself.

There is also a simplicity in Chapman’s characters, a certain raw earthiness that grounded them in reality, which helped make the fantastic situations they found themselves in resonate with me on a deeper level.

My first foray into Chapman’s fiction, but it will not be my last.

I award Bleak Precision

Bleak Precision is available for $5.11 ebook on Amazon.

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