The End Is All We See contains two horrific stories from M.F Wahl and A.J. Brown. The book begins with intros from each author saying that when they met they wanted to try an experiment together. This book became that experiment. Both authors felt that their writing style complimented each other nicely and they both had story ideas which happen after an apocalypse.
The first story is Purple Haze by M.F. Wahl. It follows a band of survivors who left Earth in a spaceship in order to find another Earth-like planet to live on. The ship crash lands on a beautiful looking planet but there are only three survivors. The crew realizes their situation is bleak and things get worse as they explore outside the ship and discover something in the air is making them want to harm themselves and each other. Purple Haze becomes a blood bath with a shocking ending. M.F. Wahl uses vivid imagery to describe her characters situation and the planet they are exploring. What happens to the explorers is described so well that it’s enough to make you thankful for the air you breathe.
The next story is Run For The Flame by A.J. Brown. It starts simply enough with a bunch of teenagers behind a protective wall, about to race up a snow covered hill. There is more here than meets the eye though, they are living through an ice age and the wall they live behind is breaking down, their only hope is a tower on top of the hill. The teenagers have a short period of time to retrieve a flame in the tower before they freeze to death. The problem is nobody has ever survived the run and without the flame, the community will die. This was an excellent story, the ending was a little confusing but I love all the characters. They are in a race against time, facing an impossible task but each one has a different emotional reaction to the situation. You feel for all of them and watching them go through what they do is excruciating.
What both of these stories have in common is a fresh spin on an old idea, they both take place after a catastrophic event and what transpires next is something that I haven’t seen in Science fiction or horror. Both authors tell an excellent story and the length of each one can be described as perfect. They’re short but pack a punch that you might not recover from. To say their experiment worked is an understatement and I hope this isn’t the last collaboration between these authors.
What do you get when you have a man driven to madness by an old urban legend, a girl who owns a rag doll that might contain the spirit of her dead mother and a man who may have just gotten a visit from the devil? You get A Stitch Of Madness by A.J. Brown. This anthology contains three stories that all have to do with someone going insane and having to deal with the consequences.
The first story and my favorite in this book is Catherine’s Well, it deals with a man named Johnny who goes to prison after being accused of killing his best friend Buster. As Johnny tells his story we see that the truth behind the murder is much more complicated. What I liked most about this story is seeing how Johnny reacts to Buster’s decent into madness. At one point Johnny asks himself why he can’t leave his friend as he goes insane and he remembers how Buster was always a good friend through good times and bad. The tragedy in this story is Johnny is punished for his loyalty and witnesses something so horrible that he will never forget it.
The second story is Stitches which is about an abused girl dealing with the death of her mother who owns a rag doll that speaks in her mother’s voice. This is psychological horror at its best because there is a mystery to what is really going on in this story. The imagery in this one was great with the description of the doll’s eyes and her stitches. I also loved the dark mood of this story as it shows what a history of abuse can do to a person. One line in Stitches which describes the main point of the story is: “It’s hard to fix torn material.”
The last story is called A Sickly Sweet Scent which deals with a man who may be the devil looking for work on a farm and maybe a soul also. This story had a Twilight Zone feel to it. I liked the dialogue between characters and the way the story gets more complex as it moves along. In the beginning I thought this was going to be a story of good versus evil but the author took a different approach with it. This tale might make you hate grapes when you’re done reading it
I listened to the audible version of this book read by John Malone and I felt that John’s narration added a lot to each story. John’s deep voice added a sense of menace to the scarier parts of the stories and his delivery was perfect. Each story here reminded me of Stephen King because they are all character driven tales. You feel for all the characters here, when bad things happen to them it’s terrifying, even though the characters are flawed and might have deserved what was coming. A Stitch Of Madness is an example of great horror storytelling that you should put on your to be read list.