GREENER PASTURES by Michael Wehunt (Shock Totem Publications)
I read before I go to sleep, collections are my favorite books to unwind with and slip into dreamland. You can read a few stories and pick it up the next night at another set of tales all together. I prefer horror to put me to bed, to fill my head with strange dreams but rarely do I experience nightmares…note that I said rarely.
I have been hearing a buzz about GREENER PASTURES from many people, so I decided to give it a go and what I discovered was something truly wonderful, it was beyond horror, from the first few sentences I could tell that this book was really something else. Wehunt binds together feelings of darkness, dread and unease seamlessly and makes it all feel so effortless and natural to him by the way his prose flows. At moments his stories tread into magical territories that could be considered beautiful in an unsettling kind of way, men sprouting feathers and women falling from the sky. His offering is not gore for gore’s sake or heavy handed, the tales seep into your mind like truly dreadful things should. The first story I read holds a special place in my heart for having a set of twins in it, sisters that lead unnaturally long lives after drinking blood from a mountain.
Michael Wehunt knows just how to invoke scenes of heart ache and loss, a particular story about a man in a desperate search for his missing child really tugged at my emotions being a mother, the ending left me feeling as if I had stepped into the twilight zone and I say that in the best possible way, being a lifelong horror fan it’s hard to shock me, carnage and brutality aren’t anything that bother me, so when a story feels like a punch to the gut I know this writer has truly mastered drawing me into their work.
Another of my favorites is, “Greener Pastures”, a story I could imagine being told around a campfire, it’s one of those that build that sense of dread at an expert pace until you are left absolutely freaked out. It’s about a trucker who has an unwanted conversation with a fellow driver, he tells the main character of hearing voices coming through his radio, how they tell him to park his truck on the roadside and come into the darkened wilderness beyond. You get the true sense that whoever or whatever these voices are disguised as loved ones, they want to lead you to your doom like the will-o-the-wisps of olden tales. It is here that I recant my boasting of never getting nightmares from reading because one night I awoke after dreaming of hearing my son’s voice speaking through my car stereo. I immediately went to check on him but was a little frightened as I walked down the dark hallway to his bedroom. I believe this came from how the story inspired true fear, it was not a blood bath that relied on gore and violence to scare its audience but instead it created a feeling of engulfing darkness and the hopelessness of having nothing to stop it from swallowing you up.
Wehunt has a true gift of storytelling, a unique voice and a talent for words and all of those things equal a five-star rating in my book. I can’t wait to read more from him. (Michelle Garza)