Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Book reviewe: You Will Grow Into Them by Malcolm Devlin

Title: You Will Grow Into Them
Author: Malcolm Devlin
Publication date: 12th June 2017
Publisher: Unsung Stories
Genre: Horror
Source: E-copy for review from publisher

Description: The world is a far stranger place than we give it credit for. There, in the things we think familiar, safe, are certain aspects. Our fears and desires given form. Moments that defy explanation. Shadows in our home.
In Malcolm Devlin’s debut collection, change is the only constant. Across ten stories he tackles the unease of transformation, growth and change in a world where horror seeps from the mundane. Childhood anxieties manifest as debased and degraded doppelg√§ngers, fungal blooms are harvested from the backs of dancers and lycanthropes become new social pariahs. The demons we carry inside us are very real indeed, but You Will Grow Into Them.
Taking weird fiction and horror and bending them into strange and wondrous new shapes, You Will Grow Into Them follows, in the grand tradition of Aickman, Ligotti and Vandermeer, reminding us that the everyday world is a much stranger place than it seems.

My thoughts: I read the occasional short story online, but don't buy them very often, but since I'm trying to step out of my reading comfort zones this year, I thought I would give it a try when Unsung Stories offered me a copy of You Will Grow Into Them to review. It's a collection of horror stories with a fantasy element to them, which varies in strength from one story to the next.

I have to say that as a whole, I didn't enjoy the stories all that much, and it was for the same reason with most: the endings. I felt like most of them left the endings on far too much of a 'draw your own conclusions' note, and I would have preferred to have some more concrete answers to what was going on. Let me quickly hop through each of the stories.

Passion Play - A girl acts out the last steps of her missing friend for a TV appeal. I really wanted to know what had happened to the friend, and how many of the things friends & neighbours thought they had seen were actually true, but the conclusion you get is a bit vague.

Two Brothers - The older brother goes off to boarding school, when he returns for the holidays his younger brother knows something's not right. Again, I wanted concrete answers, and in this one the reader is very much left to draw their own conclusions.

Breadcrumbs - Magic takes over a city tower block and affects all the residents. I think this was the one where I was happiest with the ending, I did quite enjoy how you see the attitudes change over the course of the story, and the gradual acceptance and adaption of the people.

Her First Harvest - on a colonised planet, crops are grown on the humans themselves. This one icked me out a bit, so I skimmed through it - no strong thoughts about it other than the slightly gross factor!

Dogsbody - A few years ago, some people turned into werewolves for a few hours but it's never happened again. I liked this story a lot, seeing the prejudices the main character has been facing and also how his attitude is affecting his whole life. I wanted to know where they would turn into werewolves again but that isn't where the story goes. I guess my own expectations and hopes got in the way a little bit with this one.

We All Need Somewhere To Hide - This had the most promising set up for me. It's an urban fantasy-type story, with a demon hunter as the main character. I feel like there's so much potential in this story for it to be bigger - novella length at least - and obviously in a short story those avenues couldn't all be explored and not all questions could be answered. My favourite story in the collection.

Songs Like They Used To Play - I don't know how to summarise this in one sentence. At one point I thought a cool time travel thing might be happening, but it turns out no. This story was just too weird all around for me, and there are no explanations at all of what was really going on in the spooky house.

The Last Meal He Ate Before She Killed Him - I don't want to give away the twists in this one, because a lot happens in a small space. It was ok, a bit creepy, but not overly memorable or special.

The Bridge - I didn't really understand what was going on in this story that was spooky, or what the story was trying to get at. A bit meh, unmemorable.

The End of Hope Street - Houses on the same street gradually become 'unliveable', killing anyone inside, and the story looks at how the residents adapt. Interesting, but once again, no whys, which was frustrating.

All around, the stories are interesting and have potential, but left me feeling
unfulfilled & frustrated. 5/10.


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