Review of “Portraits of Dread” by Michael J. Elliott

Portraits of Dread (72dpi 900x600)This collection is brilliant.  And I’m not British, so I feel the need to point out I actually mean brilliant.  Almost every single one of these stories starts out in a completely familiar, unassuming setting.  Then some weird, horrific, incredible bomb is dropped and you suddenly realize that something completely different is going on.   I alternated between laughing in surprise to making sounds of “Oh, ew, ugh!” whenever I read a twist.

The writing itself is excellent.  Elliott has a particular tone to his writing that is playful and serious at the same time (don’t ask me how that works, but it does), and the style of the writing feels simultaneously classic and fresh.  I honestly can’t think of one dud story in this collection, nor can I pick out a favorite.  …Okay, maybe “Reconstructing Teddy” for the sheer creepy factor of the twist and the great portrayal of quirky (to say the least) little boys.

It’s also worth pointing out that, horror stories though these may be, they also have moments of genuine warmth and SAY SOMETHING.  Too many horror stories go simply for shock value and can become laughable when trying to hard.  This book never feels like that, and you can tell the author constructed these stories thoughtfully.  “A Glutton for Punishment” in particular seems to be full of commentary on society.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough.  The stories are short and quick if you just want little bits at a time, or you can read the whole thing in a few sittings if you just can’t stop.  Which *might* have been the approach I took.

5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

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