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Review

HYbriD: Misfits, Monsters and Other Phenomena on

w/ John M. Cozzoli

Editors Donald Armfield and Maxwell I. Gold have taken their book, Hybrid: Misfits, Monsters and Other Phenomena, very much to heart in selecting the poems and stories within (a hybrid format in itself), to include bizarro, noir sci fi, sword and sorcery, and speculative fictions for a reading that has something for just about anyone. These tales will either provide you with a straightforward reading or something to puzzle over, leading your thoughts to deeper meanings. Or maybe no meanings at all, just some go-with-it and enjoy moments. A good collection of mixed authors should always make you want to seek out their other works and this book will certainly have you doing that. It should be noted too that the cover design and illustration by Luke Spooner (we often overlook the graphic designers when doing reviews, don’t we?) is quite good.

The first story, Making Friends, is a comedy of errors involving a happy dog, a curious but unhappy creature, and a couple of farmers meeting the neighbors they never knew they had. Angela Yuriko Smith paces it all into a 1950s sitcom-like nocturnal interlude for Miriam and Bill. It is a good choice as the opening story, breezy and light, and visually funny: there be monsters here, but they are not all gloom and doom and gory pieces.

That is, except for what happens to the villagers in the Ruination of the Gods by Dr. Chris McAuley (Stokerverse) and Claudia Christian (Babylon 5 and Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator). A wizard tries to raise the dead but gets caught. As all diligent readers know by now, what happens to people who get on the wrong side of wizards, caught in the act of doing questionable things, means terror to come. Kail, the Conan-like warrior (or Kali, since the proofreader must have been out to lunch with this one), ignores the giant stew-pot death waiting for him for doing the same punishable act and gets into trouble quickly. Luckily for him the monsters from the sea provide a bloody good diversion for the villagers. While this story uses the standard sword and sorcery approach (an angry wizard, a beguiling witch, and a warrior torn between duty and personal need), McAuley and Christian handle the action, the gory pieces, and the tragic fallout of his decision well, leaving the path open for future adventures.

If you lean towards a 3 Stooges-like bizarro storyline, go to Hopital Automatique by D. Harlan Wilson first. It defies description, as any good bizarro fiction should, but if you have watched the 3 Stooges in the comedy short, Men in Black (1934), that provides a bit of a warm-up to the absurd mayhem wrought here. It is an I-don’t-know-what-is-happening narrative and therein lies the fun. The pace is frenetic, the characters and milieu insane, and this opening line will sum it all up for you: “The car didn’t run over the nurse until she had changed my bedpan and injected a second dose. It was a Datsun.” I question how a Datsun got into his hospital room in the first place, but at least it was not an elephant*, and that second dose sounds like a clue. On the plus side, she did manage to change his bedpan before being run down. The only other meagre clue I can give you for this one, without giving up and speaking to Wilson first, is that Hopital is the French word for hospital. For the rest, you are on your own.

More sensible humor will be found in Alicia Hilton’s Savages Anonymous. A funeral home basement in Trenton, New Jersey, provides haven for a nude extraterrestrial with two heads, an extraterrestrial arachnid and other assorted aliens—along with some mutants—griping about the challenges of getting along with humans. A boy’s ghost interrupts their proceedings, sending Xapanna (the two-headed alien) on a vendetta for the boy’s murderers. The Crime Stoppers Tip line sends her in the right direction. The action and humor are conveyed through very short paragraphs, many one to two lines long, and an endearing ending that ties back to the difficulty of getting along with way-out others.

Art by: Jules Tavernier

The Scoocoom of Big Rock Mountain is a more serious weird western with a more traditional approach to hybrid terror. Taking place sometime between the 1860s to early 1900s, a former buffalo hunter, Max, now sheriff, has family and Big Foot problems (skookoom is a Chinook word meaning Big Foot). Max, having helped to decimate the Indian tribes by hunting the buffalo to near extinction, is partially responsible for the scoocoom putting the bite on the settlers for its food source. Max also has a drinking problem that makes his aim a bit tricky and his step a lot unsure. Once you get past the proofreader still out to lunch (scoocoom flips to skoocoom a few times), Michael Knost delivers a simply plotted western with all the right emotional and weird elements for his characters and events.

The Big Foot theme is seen again in Maero by Lee Murray, a poem where a day packer is enjoying his hike until he comes across a severed limb and “glossy giblets quivering.” This first-person account with the Maero (Māori for Big Foot) is not the usual “train-train” encounter. A sadder one is to be felt in Kolkata’s Little Girl, in which Bandhura is “waiting, in front of a blue-clothes shop for someone to tell her story.” A too long and heavy mala hangs around her neck, hinting at a deeper meaning hidden among the poem’s lines. Alessandro Manzetti’s acheri is haunting and begs for a longer treatment.

There are many hybrids to be found in this collection of twenty stories and poems. The editors have crafted an engaging reading experience across genre types, of which this review has only scratched the surface. As Dark the Night will trap you in Stella’s depression-fueled shadows; the noir science-fiction Vis-à-Vis puts you there in Punktown among the low-lives and no-lives; and Slo-Mo will make you mind the sloths and give them a wide berth and forget the selfies. All these stories make for an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

*For those not familiar with the Marx Brothers, the reference comes from Groucho’s quip as Captain Spalding: “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got to my pajamas I don’t know.”  Feel free to also substitute proofreader for elephant if you are so inclined.

June in Review

Letters of the month H (and) S

June was a busy month for us. We released two new books of Horror/Speculative Fiction and have some exciting news we will be announcing soon!


Kristi DeMeester has quickly become a favorite author. Her feminist touch and original voice in the horror genre is absolutely gorgeous.
“DeMeester can tell a story!
Haunted by her mother’s heritage Lila tries to piece together these murders that makes her mother feel uneasy, she’s hiding something… And what is hiding inside herself?
Switching between timelines, beautiful prose and an otherness that hunts the purity of young girls. Such a Pretty Smile is a haunting, magnificent book!”


16 short pieces of dark surrealism and folk horror, many of which are being published here for the first time. J.M. originally conceived of these stories as akin to unsettling campfire tales.

Dim Shores always brings the new goods to our shelves. Mixed with a few poetic pieces and some gorgeous prose. Bédard excites the body horror, plagues the mysteries of dark surrealism and carves out the folk horror. This collection may be slim but holds a powerful debut and I think the author is only breaking the ice.
Collector #111


If you like Audiobooks or Short Stories.
Check out PseudoPod

Found this podcast while searching for more of Kristi DeMeester’s work. She has two tales premiered on PseudoPod. I listened to
Slipping Petals from Their Skins.
Inspired by Kristi’s childhood obsession with Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies books and imagining that if she ate flowers, she could become one of those fairies.


Other Books in June
The House from Hell: The True Story of Gertrude Baniszewski
(True Crime Seven 2022)

Scooby Apocalypse Vol. 1-4 – Keith Giffen (Graphic novels – DC Comics 2017)
Sensor – Junji Ito (Manga – Viz Media 2021)


The TikTok Queen drops in with some Extreme Horror

Make sure to follow her on TikTok


Her Name was Amber – Matt Shaw
Sex Blood – Rick Wood

@samanthas_shelf “Sex Blood” by @rickwoodwriter ♬ original sound – Samantha Hawkins
@samanthas_shelf

“Her Name Was Amber” by Matt Shaw

♬ original sound – Samantha Hawkins

Introducing Karla Kay to our Street Team

Karla is from Minnesota and has a strong passion for reviewing books. Follow her on Goodreads and her blog
Karla’s Literary Korner

“Sloths luring the curious into its rainforest, watching and waiting. Backpacking amongst beasts of legend. A vindictive clone and a story of obsession, passion and revenge. Entertaining the
consciousness and machines. A progeny of origami with a selfish mother. An ancient, monstrous beast that hungers for children. A mothers hidden secret and the power that lies within. Vampire/human hybrid, hunted and rebirthed. Extraterrestrials and the fight against the injustices of humanity. The dishonoring of mother earth and the monstrosities blooming into life.

The unique writing style and creations within evoke emotions from the depths of the mind. It wraps around like a shadow reaching out, clawing, grabbing, and then letting go for only a moment. Pondering each story, reveling in its dark beauty in words, the hybrids are imaginative creatures, discomforting and yet there is love and light that shines from the darkness. A labor of love for the unnatural, unusual and the monsters that lurk around corners.” 5 🌟

GRAB YOUR COPY HERE!

Cover Art by Jaundre Van Breda

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Bizarro is so much fun to read. The creativity in this is amazing. There is a lot of horror elements that had me cringing and tons of humor that had me chuckling. All the elements in this were just crazy imaginative. It plays out like a full on movie production in your mind with it’s vivid imagery and detail.”
Read Full Review HERE


Grab your copy of SNAILBUTTER

Closing Song: