by Brian Keene
Review by Mario Guslandi
Delirium Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781934546109
Date: 07 April 2009 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Author of novels such as Castaways, Ghost Walk, Dark Hollow, Ghoul and The Conqueror Worms, Brian Keene is one of the most respected horror writers, twice winner of the Bram Stoker Award.
Unhappy Endings is a massive collection reprinting eighteen of his previously published short stories plus five original tales.
Keene is known -- and justly praised- for his graphic, vivid narrative style, and his daring attitude towards themes of epic dimension and apocalyptic nature.
Typical examples are the awe-inspiring "Jack's Magic Beans", where in a world suddenly gone berserk two people (survived thanks to the medication they were taking) try to remain sane, "Take The Long Way Home", a flamboyant novella about Rapture providing an unusual mix of religious fears and standard horror, "The Waiting Is The Hardest Part", a sad zombie story in which a little boy waits for an impossible rescue while the world is falling apart and "The Black Wave" , a compelling, tense war story where worst horrors than the Japs lurk into the ocean waters.
But Keene is equally at ease with more intimate and everyday subjects as shown in the splendid "Burning Betsy", a vignette about the dangers of pedophilia with a nice twist of the tail, or in the touching "Bunnies In August", featuring an unfaithful husband who gets rid of his mistress but loses his son.
The surreal and delightful "Golden Boy" revolves around a boy endowed with an uncommon and profitable gift, while the terrifying "Fade To Null" is a classy fragment of fiction portraying a woman affected by Alzheimer.
The most impressive piece in the volume is by far "The Resurrection And The Life", the fascinating and deeply disturbing retelling of Chapter 11 of The Book of John, where Lazarus almost resurrects from his grave, but not quite...
For those unfamiliar with Keene's favorite characters , some references to events taking place in some of his previous books may remain obscure, but the stories are fully enjoyable even as standalone tales.
Although, obviously, not all the stories included are of top notch quality, this volume is a must for any horror fan but especially for anyone who's fond of strong, captivating fiction