Categories
Horror

The Scent of Decay (2021) by Madison Estes – Short Story Review

Featured YouTuber Image of Madison Estes.

For those of you who don’t know Madison Estes, you’ve been missing out. She’s super multi-talented: Author, Creative Writing Instructor and BookTuber. Find out more about her by reading her interview as YouTuber of the Month for April 2021 by clicking here or on the image on the left.

The Scent of Decay (Short Story Review)

Originally featured in the 13th Volume of the horror anthology series Night Terrors edited and published by Scare Street, The Scent of Decay follows a guy who is haunted by the smell of his ex-girlfriend’s corpse after he kills her.

The Scent of Decay (2021) is a short supernatural horror-story written by Madison Estes around the events that follow after an argument between a couple ends up going horribly wrong. The tale is short and sweet, which makes it perfect to read in one sitting. Although the plot itself isn’t anything special, the effective writing, perfect pacing and a clever ending make it a very satisfying read.

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The plotline in the story is very simple and as a result there isn’t much unique about it which at times makes it seem slightly cliche (I’m looking at you creepy voice on the phone). You can pretty much surmise how things will progress throughout after a few pages. Additionally, a nitpick I have with the story was with the character Josh. I felt he was a little underutilized and that a bit more detail about his relationship with the main characters could have allowed there to be a better understanding of their emotions. The relationship between the couple also doesn’t entirely add up, because again, a lack of detail makes it a little hard to relate to them and fully understand their situation.

One of my favorite book reviews on Madison Estes’ YouTube Channel. She really dissects the plot expertly, compares the adaptation to the original, and that too in a short span of time. What’s more? She separates her reviews into two halves: Spoiler and Non-Spoiler. Her intros are one-of-a-kind as well where she often roleplays as one of the characters of the content she is reviewing.

The writing in the story is topnotch and to the point. There is no unnecessary amount of detail when it comes to description and the language is simple, which ensures that the story flows at a very good pace. It gets you hooked from the start, which is why I found myself unable to stop reading it until the very end. I was impressed by the author’s vocabulary use, especially in relation to the smells and how she was able to make me picture them in various ways, which also ends up doing a lot of justice to the title of the story. Her writing was even able to salvage a lot of predictability in the story, like for example, while the creepy voice on the phone was cliche, it still had me anxious and this was all due to how well she wrote the scene. The very clever ending just caps it off, tying up the story brilliantly and she does this just by subtly bringing up a little detail which I won’t spoil.

Overall, if you’re looking for a brilliantly written and quick read, then I would definitely recommend this story. However, you won’t find anything new or different from this tale.

Other Short Story Reviews

The Discontinued (2021) by Jessica Stevens

The Grownup (2015) by Gillian Flynn

Kindle Cover of the horror anthology series Night Terrors edited and published by Scare Street.

If you liked my review of The Scent of Decay don’t forget to grab a copy of Night Terrors Volume 3 by clicking here or on the awesome Kindle Edition cover on the left.

Categories
Horror

The Psychopath, The Cannibal, The Lover (2020) by Tejaswi Priyadarshi – Book Review

The Psychopath, The Cannibal, The Lover (2020) is a horror-thriller debut novel written by Tejaswi Priyadarshi that mainly follows a serial killer on the loose, while a writer who attempts to immortalize the gruesome story, ends up getting tangled up in the mess. The serial killer suddenly continues his killing spree years later, which sets off a chain of horrific events. I will be honest, the foreword by Mirzapur creator, Puneet Krishna, tempted me to read the story further but the prologue cemented my interest in the narrative. While the book does have some negative aspects, which could have been improved like the dialogue, and some of the best aspects include Aaina’s backstory and some of Tushagra’s backstory.

The descriptions are really vivid and Priyadarshi uses a very modernized writing style which I really appreciated. These illustrations allowed me to become even more immersed in the story. I am also positively shocked by the research the writer did on drugs and intoxicants, bringing realism into a fictional tale.

Secondly, the various plot lines make for a diverse experience. I have read many psychopath-related novels, and also seen a lot of shows featuring them like Mindhunter, but Priyadarshi’s psychopath is one of the most original takes on this character. The psychopath’s actions are completely unpredictable and this pushes the shock factor all the way to eleven. I also loved the integration of desi phrases in this mostly English-language publication, and as a native or even as an expat South Asian you’ll appreciate these sayings and they further raise the level of realism already prevalent in the story.

Going back to what I mentioned at the beginning of this review: The backstory of Tushagra was something that I found, for the most part, interesting and pleasant to read, giving me plenty of Harry Potter vibes with the way the dorm life was portrayed. This section was quite long which made the gory killing sprees feel that much more impactful and they were very creatively done as well. There were a minority of unnecessary details in this section but compared to some of the subplots of the book, the story in this case progressed much better. Additionally, Aaina’s backstory that follows later on is very short but has to be the best section. Her story managed to evoke pity, made sense since her thoughts were shown perfectly, and the deaths were gruesome and satisfying.

Overall, The Psychopath, The Cannibal, The Lover is one of the best horror-thriller novels I have come across since the last decade. The praise from Mirzapur showrunner, Puneet Krishna, was not unjustified. I cannot recommend this novel enough to lovers of all genres as it has this encompassing greatness about it which is likely to satisfy readers of various categories of literature.

Categories
Horror

Hollow House (2016) by Greg Chapman – Book Review

Hollow House (2016) is a horror novel written by Australian author and artist, Greg Chapman, that follows the residents of Willow Street and their experiences related to the deserted Kemper House that sits ominously on their street. One day, the smell of rotting begins to come out of the house and sets off a series of horrific events. To me, the story was in many ways similar to The Haunting of Hill House, and fans of the series who felt a tad disappointed by its lack of explanation will feel somewhat more satisfied by this one. While the author’s style of writing is one of the best I’ve seen (definitely Bram Stoker nod-worthy), there were certain aspects in which the story was lacking, particularly in its plot.

Second Poster for June 6th Interview with Greg Chapman.
Click the image above to visit Greg’s site, Darkscrybe, and check out his awesome books and covers.

The writing style that Greg Chapman employs is very skillful and particularly in the first half, where there’s so much mystery, he managed to evoke a lot of tension that made me very hyped for when the mysteries unfold. His descriptions are top-notch and make you picture exactly the colors he wants you to see and hear the sounds that he wants you to hear, and at times I felt I was watching a movie in my mind while I read this book. He manages to give each character a unique personality as he builds up their background, and with there being so many characters in such a short novel, it really does deserve credit. His dialogue use is, for the most part, done well but it has a tendency to be awkward at some points (most notably at the end of Chapter Eighteen). There is also some strange use of metaphors and similes, like ‘a wave of oil’ to describe a wave of darkness which I felt didn’t quite land the way he had wanted to. Overall, however, the writing is done very skillfully and deserves a lot of credit for carrying this book.

Second Poster for June 6th Interview with Greg Chapman.
Catch us on June 6th!

The plot in the story is interesting enough, and very good at times, but it suffers from a proper lack of structure which resulted in a lot of cliches and awkward sequences once the mysteries in the stories began to unfold. For example, later in the story, a murder weapon’s origins are suddenly discovered and it is hinted that it came from ancient times and is sacrificial in nature with no further elaboration, which is one of the biggest cliches in horror writing. Furthermore, there are also very awkward action scenes which made me feel that the author wasn’t really sure how to get the story moving quickly enough so he rushed them. This resulted in scenes that just did not make sense and they ended up messing with my immersion in the story.

Additionally, there are way too many characters in the story (which to be fair are well-written), and this resulted in me mixing up characters or even just forgetting them all together, and I’d find myself turning pages back just to remember who they were again. This made my experience with the story a bit more frustrating. I will give the author credit, however, for having a good satisfying ending which, unlike The Haunting of Hill House, gives a somewhat better explanation and yet, ends mysteriously enough for readers to come to their own conclusions.