By Patrick R. McDonough
Andrew Freudenberg’s first-ever collection contains fourteen stories, published through Sinister Horror Company. One story didn’t work for me. Not due to the writing, not due to the character development, but due to the story ending sooner than I would have liked. That’s a personal preference, and others will disagree with me. That being said, Freudenberg knocks it out of the park with quite a few stories. This book comes out October 26th, so as usual, I’ll be brief and spoiler-free. These are my favorites:
Something Akin To Despair shows a future of space exploration through Warminster’s eyes. It tackles a few questions that many of us wonder about: space exploration and colonization, and robotics. This story is like vodka, you know what you’re getting into, but the impact of its effects sneak up on you with a bite.
Next up, A Bitter Parliament. A couple travels get away to a wooded area, away from modern tech and constant distractions. Just for a weekend. This isn’t a romantic getaway, however. Soon, our protagonists find themselves in a vortex of shit.
Milkshake is where Freudenberg ups the ante. I’m still in shock from what I read. It’s one of those stories that, when you play them back in your mind (it won’t leave mine, this one or it’s sequel Meat Sweets) it’s cut deepens.
It’s the story about a young man who is taken in by unfamiliar blood family. He discovers a jarring reality that sets him down a downward spiral.
The Cardiac Ordeal: Shane and Linda are your run-of-the-mill couple, husband and wife with a young one. A single phone call turns Shane’s world into a chaotic, confused, hell. When he hits rock bottom, he discovers lower layers of damnation.
Meat Sweets, the sequel to Milkshake. Starring Moses and Marylyn. Two familiar names that we learn a little bit more about. Since the events of Milkshake Moses has acquired a new facility, new equipment, and more knowledge about his craft.
But what happens when he puts all of those book-learning to good use? That’s exactly what you’ll find out.
Scorch is a pretty great title to sum up its events. It’s exactly what a title should do. Intrigue the reader. Define the tone. And sum up the story. It’s done with a single word. What rests in the hands of Toby and Lisa is up to fate. So far, they’ve gotten themselves tossed aside by their parents, stole a car, and found themselves living on the streets…until they come across a bricked-and-boarded house.
In The Teppenyaki of Truth, Turner is a bad guy. You know the type. Not a gangster, but not your normal civilian. He’s someone who messes with people, free of consequences…that is until he meets Koboyashi. He teaches Turner the points of fine cuisine and the ways of how the world truly works.
Hope Eternal stars Derek Chambers—an English soldier, surely with PTSD. Who wouldn’t be after the crazy shit he and his men are forced to deal with on a daily basis. He gets some horrible news, compelling him to find his little girl. What he finds instead opens his eyes to one certain answer. His path in life.
Beyond The Book had to be a strong story because it’s the last story of the collection. If it didn’t do a good job, then that’s the last thing the readers will remember. Luckily, Freudenberg nailed it. It was SO good! It raised questions, as the first tale did, about humanity, friends, family, and one question that never really crossed my mind. Will Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media matter or even be around when we’re old and gray? Even if it is, will any of it mater?
I’d read this book if it had another seven stories in it. I’d read it if it had thirty. Freudenberg has an interesting way of telling stories. Whether it be about military, underground bad guys, supernatural beings, and crazy backwood rednecks, he always writes a good story.
When I first approached Freudenberg to review this book, he offered it to me because he knew I’m a soon-to-be father. He knew that it would speak to me on that level (it can most certainly be appreciated by any and all that love horror, though). There were some stories that made me wonder how I’d handle the situation with Philip (my son). Freudenberg’s debut collection deserves a place on your (digital or physical) bookshelf. The more time that passes and the more I reflect on this book, I only come back to one conclusion. I smile and think: That was a good book.