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Weak and Wounded

Posted by Steve the Bookstore Guy On Tuesday, June 03, 2014

I was in the mood for some Horror short fiction the other day. Fortunately, Cemetery Dance sent me over a small collection from one of their regular authors, Brian James Freeman, that seemed like just the ticket.

WEAK AND WOUNDED is the name of the collection, and in it are five horror stories.

The interesting thing about Freeman's brand of Horror, in my limited experience thus far, is a more grounded type of Horror. I had my first reading experience of Freeman's work in TURN DOWN THE LIGHTS with the story, "An Instant Eternity". It was one of the stories I liked the most in that collection, and it really made me anticipate reading WEAK AND WOUNDED. I wanted to see if the style I saw in that story would feed through this collection.

The following is from Cemetery Dance's webpage:

In "Running Rain," a devastated husband and wife try to pretend life can somehow be normal again after their son becomes a victim of a serial killer known as The Riverside Strangler... but the dark secrets they're keeping from each other push their relationship to the brink.

In "Marking the Passage of Time," a couple approaches the end of the world in their own ways as the clock ticks down and they try to figure out where all of the time has gone...

"Where Sunlight Sleeps" is the tale of a grieving father and his young son, both dealing with a shared loss the best they can, who take a trip down a memory lane lined with jagged edges and vicious traps...

On "The Last Beautiful Day," a devoted husband returns to the scene of the worst day of his life by volunteering for a job that is both morbid and profound.

"Walking With the Ghosts of Pier 13" is the story of a young man visiting the beach front amusement park where his brother died during a terrorist attack. He wants to understand why a madman came to this place and blew himself up and killed so many innocent people... but the answer to that question might not be the only thing waiting for the young man when he starts walking with the ghosts.

Of all those stories, my favorite was "Running Rain". Don't get me wrong, all the stories were good. "Running Rain" was great. It's the kind of story that has me looking at my own writing to see how I can improve. I keep trying to pick my second favorite story, and I change my mind every time. Each has merits. What I love about all these stories is the way in which they are all grounded in a version of reality.

What Freeman seems to understand is how to make every situation utterly horrific. These stories are very personal Horror rather than monster-centric. I know many people that would scoff at this brand of Horror, and to each their own I suppose. To me, these stories were far more terrifying because they seemed more...I don't know...close to home. Certainly not all of Freeman's stories will follow this narrative vein, but I love that he can write this type of story so incredibly well.

I would also point out that there is a haunting quality to the way Freeman writes. "Where Sunlight Sleeps" and  "The Last Beautiful Day" really demonstrate this. It's a bit hard to write about in reviews of short stories without spoiling anything, so trust me. These stories are terrifying in their own way, and will haunt you.

If there is an issue with this collection, it is that it is hard to find. It sold out at Cemetery Dance. Hopefully they will make it available as an ebook. It is an extremely quick read due partially to length, but mostly to not wanting to put it down.You can find it on ebay and Amazon, fortunately, but probably not for long.

WEAK AND WOUNDED is a terrific collection, and one of the Horror anthologies that has stayed with me most, and caused me to simply nod my head in appreciation. Freeman is an incredible author, and I cannot wait to read more of his work.

Recommended Age: 16+
Profanity: Only in one story, and it's brief
Violence: I'm not gonna say much here, but it's what Freeman DOESN'T show that stands out
Sex: Nope



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