Zachary Walters from the horror podcast The Mouths of Madness posted reviews of the ULT stories on Amazon last week, but I didn’t get a chance to call them out due to other pressing matters. Today, he posted this full-fledged review of all four stories on the podcast’s Facebook page (which you should all go follow right now):
“I know a lot of names, kiddo. I speak a language of them, but right now, yours is my only tongue.”
In January 2014, Todd Keising (author of the Monochrome trilogy) dropped the first of his “Ugly Little Things.” The beginning of an ongoing series of short and unsettling stories aimed at taking you, the reader, out of your comfort zone and quite possibly tampering with your quality of sleep. There are currently four entries in the ULT lineup with promise (or is it a threat) of more on the way.
Dark, dirty, captivating and each with a varying degree of nasty, I had a great time playing with these ugly little things and had them all devoured within the course of 36 hours.
First up is “Radio Free Nowhere,” a siren’s song broadcasting though the mountains of West Virginia calling to passers through. This quick tale is a primer, getting you, acclimated for the darkness that you are about to get your self into.
Next is “When Karen Met Her Mountain,” a woman dealing with personal demons is ambushed and kidnapped along with her husband while driving home from her fathers funeral. She must choose if and how she wants to survive. This tale is nasty and viscous.
Third up is “Saving Granny from the Devil,” young and bullied Todd makes a pact with Harvey J. Winterbell for the well being of his grandmother. Emotional and heavy, this tale hit me hard on a personal level. I fell into it immediately and spent the next hour and a half, in equal parts, concerned for Todd and charmed by the smooth as a breast Harvey (the Devil).
Lastly comes “The Harbinger,” a reporter travels to a economically decaying town to interview doll maker and town savior Maggie Eloquence. Gnarly, heavy and a little sexy (wink-wink). This ditty kept me awake for a little bit, and that doesn’t happen often.
I kept the synopsis brief because really, the less you know going in the harder these tales will hit.
I haven’t yet read any (two have been published so far) of Mr. Keisling’s Monochrome books (strong emphasis on yet), so I can’t say if these tales are out of character for him or not. What I can say is that these four tales prove that he is perfectly capable of bringing the tension, pulling on your heartstrings and splattering the gore. Whatever is next for Mr. Keisling’s “Ugly Little Things,” I am fully invested and I will gladly pay with my sleep. For what better way is there to spend a few hours in the dark, more than likely with all four appendages tucked safely under a tight blanket, than with some truly enjoyable tales that are assured to linger in your skull, stain your psyche.
Favorite Story of the Collection:
Now that’s a tough call. It’s a toss up between “Saving Granny from the Devil” and “The Harbinger”.
“Granny” hit hard on a personal level. My granny, whom I was living with, had a couple of devils. I wasn’t able to save her from either. One being Parkinson’s Disease, was tough to see set in and chip away at her well being. Her second devil, a physically abusive husband, I wasn’t aware of until it was too late. Like Toddy (main character of “Granny”) I had left home, and left her with her devils. Her loss still weighs heavy.
“The Harbinger” nails one of my deepest primal fears, creepy and eerily realistic collectible dolls. And that’s all I’m going to say on that ’cause the less you know the harder this will hit. Just know that this ugly little thing is the nastiest and it will haunt your dreams.
I Would Recommend This To:
Those readers who are not interested in sleeping.