BLOOD PUDDING & OTHER HORRIFIC DELICACIES
Review By Rafael Nery
Blood Pudding & Other Horrific Delicacies is the full-fledged attempt of Endless Ink at a very personal and specific kind of horror. And although it achieves what it aims, we must say it lands beyond that, and can be said to be a truly general, all-purpose work, touching and reflecting on themes such as solitude, passion, loyalty, selfishness, mourning, acceptance and even identity issues, labor struggles and gender inequality. And amidst these deep probings, comedy still finds a way to mix into the terror of the four short-stories present in this collection.
My Dear Mrs. Cunningham, from Dawn DeBraal, tells us the tale of Wreen, a germophobic vampire who lives at an isolated mansion, constantly bothered by his compulsive thoughts and impulse concerning the cleanliness and the hygiene of his home. Lucky him, he has the help of Mrs. Cunningham, a housekeeper actually patient and compassionate enough to bear with all his rigid rules and requirements. Being always cautious and discrete on his nightly walks to feed, Wreen is utterly surprised when in one of his journeys his life is turned upside down, and even Mrs. Cunningham is wrapped into the turmoil of his life and his feelings.
In Problems With Online Dating, Cliff McNish eludes us with an initially light and laid-back narrative, with dialogues that emulate the streams of online messages, giving the story a nonchalant and contemporary atmosphere. Its protagonist, Ty, shows herself as a mysterious, sensual and attractive woman in the dark-web, but truly is just as unsatisfied and disappointed with love as she could ever be, and displays, in reality, a shadowy and complex personality, taking us, the readers, to wander about her conflicted thoughts about death, obscure fetiches, taboos and desires. In this short-story, anything is taken for given, and nothing is gratuitous or coarse, or at least not more than our own human nature and condition.
Martha Everitt presents us a more political approach, dealing with conflicts around feminism, labor and wealth division and gender expression and identity, and approaching a re-enacting of a classical history with the boldness to populate with our contemporary and popular culture. The Bhad Wolf is set in a town taken by were-wolfs, and follows Charlotte, a secretary for a security company which is always mistreated by his co-workers. When prompted to deal with a dangerous urgency she'll have to face, although fearful, diverse perils and her own limits, struggling to prove that though being only a secretary , she has the capability and the strength to never give up. Martha's rhythm is fast-paced and is able to captivate us intensely with its characters and their predicaments.
And as a closure of this collection, Blood Pudding, by Jim Horlock. A dystopia devastated, turned uninhabitable and hostile by the presence of egregious and gigantic deserts. In the endless war for this wasteland, only a few humans survived. And those that did have to deal with famine, fear, mourning and eternal uncertainty. Written as an intimate monologue of one of the survivors, we look through a life of unrelenting agony, as we see a mind taken by the mourn, as the narrator deals with the loss of his family. Within a surreal and haunting landscape, the importance of the trivial world and the trivial thought process gains weight, showing even the greed and the selfishness that can sprout of them.
Joint with illustrations by Shander Carrero, the works of Dawn Debraal, Cliff McNish, Marthan Everitt and Jim Horlock are a great fit for the Endless Ink roster of short stories collections. It
maintains the trait that for me is one of the major highlights of Endless Ink selections: harmony and mastery when crafting otherworldly yet familiar, intimate and thoughtful experiences of reality.