Clowns: The Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix
Edited by Bernie Mojzes and A.C. Wise
Cover Artist: Linda Saboe
Review by Sam Tomaino
Unlikely Story Paperback / Kindle ISBN/ITEM#: 9781944597009
Date: 12 January 2016 List Price $10.95 / 3.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Unlikely Story Presents: Clowns: The Unlikely Story Remix is an anthology of stories about clowns and/or the fear of them with stories by Derek Manuel, T. Jane Berry, J.H. Pell, Jeff Wolf, Kristen Roupenian, Caroline M. Yoachim, Mari Ness, Evan Dicken, Carlie St. George, Line Henriksen, Virginia M. Mohlere, Dayle A. Dermatis, Jason Arias, Joe Nazare, Karlo Yeager-Rodriguez, Sara K. McNeilly, Chris Kuriata, Cassandra Khaw, Cate Gardner, Charles Payseur, Chillbear Latrique and Holly Schofield. Unlikely Story Presents: Clowns: The Unlikely Story Remix is an anthology of stories about clowns and/or the fear of them.
NOTE: This was a crowd-funded group and this writer was one of its supporters!
The stories begin with "Five Things Every Successful Clown Must Do" by Derek Manuel. -+- This is five sections of advice. It starts out normal enough, but the last paragraph in the first section mentions "tentacle" and "ichor" and the others get more and more bizarre. Amusing with a dark undercurrent that is entirely on the surface at the end.
"Gags Bits and Business" by T. Jane Berry -+- A coroner starts an autopsy on a dead clown and finds anomalies that seem to make some kind of sense. Nice build-up to a good ending.
"Mr. Boingo Saves the World" by J.H. Pell -+- A clown battles an alien invasion. Heroic clown makes for a good change of pace.
"An Argument for Clowning on the Sabbath" by Jeff Wolf -+- What sounds like two Talmudic scholars discussing the subject contained in the title. Both amusing and philosophically interesting.
"'Thou Antic Death'" by Kristen Roupenian -+- An introduction to a Master's Thesis on Killer Clowns that took ten years to complete at great cost to the writer. Starts academic and ends with a perfect chill. Nicely done.
"Everyone's a Clown" by Caroline M. Yoachim -+- The narrator takes her daughter, Amelia, to the circus when she's six years old. The clowns have an immediate and serious effect on her. She learns to deal with it. Unsettling horror.
"The Game" by Mari Ness -+- A clown plays chess with death. But why was death there? Nice sting at the end.
"Melpomene's Heirs" by Evan Dicken -+- Clowns try everything to cheer a couple up to comfort them when their child, Charlie, dies. It doesn't help but it sure gets bizarre. More of those bizarre chills.
"Break the Face in the Jar by the Door" by Carlie St. George -+- Our narrator's child is suffering from coulrodermatism, "that creepy clown disease". She learns to deal with it. Imaginative but very creepy.
"Stilts" by Line Henriksen -+- Our narrator sees faces in the window of her fourth floor apartment. She learns things on the Internet but that doesn't help. Effectively done!
"A Million Tiny Ropes" by Virginia M. Mohlere -+- JennyAnne's act involves falling from a great height and being caught in a net. They promise they'll always catch her, but what good are those promises. Good story.
"Queen and Fool" by Dayle A. Dermatis -+- Arlecchino is forever in love with Columbina and forever rejected. The audience is amused. Can he find any form of happiness? Sad and poignant.
"God's Children" by Jason Arias -+- Clown Sub is worried about his buddy, Jinx. But things are much more nasty than you think at first. Really horrific!
"Clown's Syndrome" by Joe Nazare -+- Val Kearny's Bizarre Sideshow is a very twisted circus and the clown car is the most twisted act of all. Another one of those bizarre stories that chill. Just perfectly done.
"Clown Car, Driven Once, Never Emptied" by Karlo Yeager-Rodriguez -+- Dan had been assured the clown car he bought was clean. He needs it to get his daughter, Emily, away from her mother. But the car is NOT clean! Great story!
"Perfect Mime" by Sara K. McNeilly -+- A woman is in an abusive relationship but this one is a mime act. The audience loves it. Truly nasty!
"Whaling with Clowns" by Chris Kuriata -+- The crew of the Jungfrau is using the clown Sew-Toes to kill whales for them. But there are dangers in that. The nautical theme provides another great change of pace. Good ending.
"Clown Shoes" by Cassandra Khaw -+- This one's a horror story based on the shoes clowns wear. Our narrator's son, Jameson, notices a clown does not have any shoes and pays a heavy price. Amazing a tale this far into the anthology still provides something different and unsettling.
"A Silent Comedy" by Cate Gardner -+- Another mime horror. These can steal your voice. Rita tries her best not to give her voice to them, but they are persistent and clever. Another one with a great stinger ending.
"Pushpin and Pullpin" by Charles Payseur -+- The eponymous duo are "born in their sixteenth year of life" and are complimentary twins. The act is that Pullpin does bad stuff but Pushpin gets the punishment. The crowd loves it. Just perfect!
"Clowns of the Creosote Plains" by Chillbear Latrique -+- A post-apocalyptic tale with a clown car. This book is still trucking on all cylinders with this great story
The stories end with "A Distant Honk" by Holly Schofield. -+- Our narrator is a doctoral student studying wild clowns but are they becoming extinct? Maybe not yet. The final story is as good as the rest!
The anthology ends with "Postscript: First and Last and Always", unsigned but, one assumes by the editors. It provides a great coda for the book and the whole Unlikely Story series. If this is the end, I will miss it.
Interspersed throughout the books are "Clown Facts" which are anything else but! They are a great hoot to read, though! This is an excellent anthology with the quirky but brilliant quality we have come to associate with Unlikely Story!