Reviewed by Nancy
5 out of 5 stars
Robert Dunbar has been called one of the "saviors of contemporary dark fiction" and an "avatar of literary horror." Martyrs & Monsters runs the gamut of this extraordinary author's narrative range, embracing vampires and sea serpents, werewolves and swamp creatures... as well as a host of nightmares for which no names exist. Whether set on an orbiting space station or within a haunted tenement, these terrifying tales are steeped in a passionate intensity that renders them all but unique within the genre, and all boast a sophistication that qualifies them as that rarest of rare commodities: horror for intelligent adults.
I loved Martyrs & Monsters for its variety of rich, intense stories, and its diverse cast of characters, many of whom are troubled people who struggle through life and live on the edge.
These disturbing and unsettling stories are not graphic, but they will creep up on you and won’t let go.
Though each story in this collection will linger on in my memory, a few favorites stand out:
Getting Wet – Very murky, damp and unsettling. Tim and Conrad were extremely well developed considering the short length of this story. They were not especially likable, but their life experiences and the tragic events in the story made me feel very deeply for them. The ending left me breathless and managed to be sexy and revolting at the same time.
High Rise – It’s a contemporary ghost story. It’s also about the relationship between two brothers and the sacrifice one makes. The ending shattered me.
Mal de Mer – A beautifully written, evocative story that left me shaken. I love the sea - its mysteries, turmoil, tranquility, and lack of consciousness. This haunting, disturbing and erotic story explored aging, loneliness, and the emotional toll of being a caregiver.
Explanations – Wagner and Jimmy love comics and old movies. Wagner owns a comic book store. When Jimmy gets a job at Wagner’s store, their friendship deepens and obsession grows. Wagner’s wife has had enough. Dark, sad, and humorous.
I would recommend this collection of stories to those who love thoughtful and intelligent horror.