The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Book of the Week!

Hardcover Honey's Book of the Week!

A Hardcover Honey Anthology Review

Forever, In Pieces - Kurt Fawver - Illustrations by Luke Spooner - Villipede Publications

Look, guys, I know I throw the "Twilight Zone" compliment around a lot - but I want you to know that when I use it, it's because I grew up on all of those old TZ eps along with Tales from the Crypt, Alfred Hitchcok Presents and the like.  So please be patient if you see that as my ultimate compliment in review after review.......OK, with that out of the way, I have to say, you know what would make a great Twilight Zone episode?  Several of the stories in Kurt Fawver's debut collection of short fiction - "Forever, In Pieces".  Things got off to a bit of a slow start for me with the first story "Prologue to a Phantasmagorical Tragedy" (a man who remembers the future but not the past), but I liked it enough to keep reading, and I'm so glad I did.  The second story, "The Waves From Afar" grabbed me like an undertow and will be staying with me - it reminded me a bit of the found-footage movie "The Bay", with people playing and frolicking in water without a care, to their everlasting detriment.  Narrated by a family man on a supposed-to-be-relaxing beach vacation gone wrong, this one had a new twist, with some vague zombie undertones (always appreciated!).  
Next up was "For the Unhaunted" a story about a block where every house is haunted, save one.  The young couple that lives in the house, Kat and Ryan Dixon, have tried nearly every avenue to conjure up their own unholy spirit, including chanting ancient incantations and beating a homeless man to death in their house, to no avail.  When Kat discovers she is pregnant, they come up with a new and horrible idea that they're sure will bring them a ghost.  This story made me shudder - and I have a feeling it will stay with me for a long time.  

"With a Ribbon On Top" introduces a corpulent intruder with a list of faults and foibles for every occupant of every house - I won't spoil this one for you, but suffice it to say that reading it with my Christmas tree lights blinking maniacally nearby made it extra entertaining.  "The Binary Must Prevail: A Brief History" posits a world where chairs become sentient and begin to speak to their owners, culminating in a "Great War of Things" - things get pretty absurd in an almost David Sedaris tone - I really loved this one.

A bit later in the collection, "May Old Acquaintance Be Forgot" uses the suspense of the last ten seconds of a year admirably, as the world waits for the ball to drop and one man waits for the world to end.  Some terrific visuals in this one.  "Birth Day" was the most Twilight Zone-y tale, as a young father struggles with unease in the face of a very strange hospital experience on his new daughter's day of birth.  Actually, in re-reading this one, maybe more something that, if done as a TV episode, would end with the Cryptkeeper's cackling laugh instead......that's a compliment.

In "Four is Enough" a young supplicant waits to sell his pinky finger, reasoning that four fingers is all he needs.  In this twisted world where physical ingestion of someone else's body parts grants you the knowledge that person already had, there are only Supps and Vores, and you definitely would rather be the latter instead of the former.  This one had a very Stephen King vibe but an original idea - winning combo for any horror writer I would imagine.

"Take All Your Troubles" is the story of a young girl who realizes she can absorb the pain and death of others and help free them, but learns in the end that can't tip the scales of the world indefinitely.  "Bolt" was probably my favorite of these stories - focusing on an up-and-coming baseball player, Derrick McCoy, who gets his call up to the major leagues at the same time as a zombie apocalypse is kicking in - now poor Derrick has escaped to the place he loves best, where he throws signed baseballs into empty stands every night and wears a variety of player jerseys as he waits for the world to return to normal so he can realize his MLB dreams.  In "Lessons" a father attempts to mold his son into his own terrifying image.  In the title story "Forever, In Pieces", geeky young Ben receives a mysterious package every year on Valentine's Day, each with a different body part in it, all seemingly coming from the same woman, imploring him to wait for her so that they can be together for all eternity.  Another lonely young man, Brian, is the focus of "A Nuzzle, Inverted", in which he meets a highly unusual dog who seems perfect for him.  

Hardcover Honey verdict: This collection really worked for me!  Four little bookworms out of five to this short-story collection.