Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
Primogen: Origin of Monsters
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Monday, June 25, 2018Review: Broken on the Inside by Phil Sloman
Imagine it's a normal day. You're on the bus heading to work, in a cafe slurping on a coffee, or even sat in the dentist's. You look around at the other five people on the bus, or in the cafe, or in the waiting room. Five people; all very different in age, sex, weight, how they present themselves. On one side, a trim older man, immaculately groomed and dressed, while on the other, a slightly over-weight girl in her early twenties, wearing the uniform of a fast food restaurant.
I recall my favourite contemporary psychoanalyst (what, you don't have one?) Darrien Leader in a presentation, telling the tale of a young clinician who was required to assess a well-dressed, affluent lady. She doesn't look like someone undergoing a psychosis, the trainee had said.
So which of these people are suffering an acute psychosis? Which of these five are in the grip of terror and confusion as delusions cause hallucinations and vice versa?
The cover of this book by Phil Sloman gives a slight hint.
I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this, as I rarely read blurbs and (sorry, Kendall Reviews!) reviews in-depth before starting a book. I don't want to know a thing. From the page count, I expected a novella, so was surprised when the first story ended and the next began. Following the second piece, I was onto the theme, and I was keen to see if Sloman could pursue this through to the end of the book without the idea going stale. I believe he does this with a cracking sense of characterisation, which is absolutely top notch, and by catering to different tastes with each tale.
Like horror stories of technology gone awry?
Like dark humour?
Like psychological horror?
How about some gross out body horror? That float your boat?
Finally, what about...more technology...that's gone awry? But completely different from the first one?
Something for everyone indeed. I have to disagree with Kendall Reviews (see, I did read it) and hang my #1 ribbon onto the last story. The previous four resolve incredibly well but the final piece steps out from the pack by remaining ambiguous right to the end. It keeps the reader guessing in the best possible way, and leaves you wanting more.
In summary, goddamn this Phil Sloman and his book. It's a perfect example of how strong the horror game can be, particularly on reaching levels of characterisation other authors may require chapters to reach. Goddamn him.
I give it 5/5 individuals suffering due to Government cuts to local mental health services.
Broken on the Inside should be available by clicking on the cover, if I've done my HTML right.