Boys, Beasts and Men by Sam J. Miller is a horror anthology of stories. Each story is woven into one another in a horrifying and interesting way.
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.
Despite his ability to control the ambient digital cloud, a foster teen falls for a clever con-man. Luring bullies to a quarry, a boy takes clearly enumerated revenge through unnatural powers of suggestion. In the aftermath of a shapeshifting alien invasion, a survivor fears that he brought something out of the Arctic to infect the rest of the world. A rebellious group of queer artists create a new identity that transcends even the anonymity of death.
Sam J. Miller (Blackfish City, The Art of Starving) shows his savage wit, unrelenting candor, and lush imagery in this essential career retrospective collection, taking his place alongside legends of the short-fiction form such as Carmen Maria Machado, Carson McCullers, and Jeff VanderMeer.
“Loving something too much is dangerous.”
Characters: 9 | Atmosphere: 9 | Writing: 8 | Plot: 6 | Intrigue: 7 | Logic: 5 | Enjoyment: 9
Boys, Beasts, and Men was an interesting anthology of stories. Each story is somewhat tied into one another with the moments stuck between chapters. Each of them addresses a different aspect of men, boys, and queerness even. Conversations around the relationships between men and their mothers, lovers, and friends fit evenly within horror tropes that I haven’t seen played out quite like this before.
“When your child strays from God you should praise Him, for putting a mirror in your hand so you can hold it up to yourself— if you have the stomach for it. When your child strays from God you should thank Him, for giving us the freedom to make our own mistakes, and the strength to maybe one day find our way back.”
This look into interpersonal relationships with a horror twist was interestingly well done. There were times, though, that the short story format didn’t do the writing or stories justice. This did limit the logic of some of them, especially when they aimed to be more vibes than understandable. Unfortunately, I feel as though that style only works in longer prose rather than a short story.
“Desire was dangerous, something I fought hard to keep down, but the moment I met Case I knew I would lose.”
Regardless of that, this collection of stories is a fantastic set of horror. I recommend it to anyone looking to get some snack-sized stories with underlying messages and overt paranormal concepts.
“Fear keeps us separate.”
Thank you to the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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