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review 2018-07-23 00:49
Welcome To The Show
Welcome To The Show - Matt Hayward

You've probably read anthologies in the past that have mixed horror and music but this one is a little different. Welcome To The Show includes 17 horror stories that are all set in a fictional San Francisco night club called The Shantyman. Edited by Matt Hayward and Doug Murano this book takes you from The Shantyman's disturbing origins right up to it's apocalyptic future. Demons, vampires, other dimensions and the end of the world, its all here under one roof.


One story I liked here was Parody by Jeff Strand. Showing that this anthology has it all this was a funny story about a Weird Al wannabe. Zany Chester was hoping to make it big by singing his own 80's song parodies and hopefully open mic night at The Shantyman will be his big break. Things don't go according to plan though but at the least everyone will remember Chester's performance. This is a simple fun story but what I really liked was the attention to detail in Chester's character. It's obvious that Chester is delusional but the fun part is trying to tell the difference between Chester's reality and the real world. Jeff Strand really show's he's a great writer with this one. 


Another good one was Running Free by Brian Keene. This one is about a man who is dying of cancer who takes up running in hopes of dying of a heart attack instead of cancer because if the cancer kills him his family can't collect on his life insurance policy. The problem is he is starting to have visions of dark clouds hanging over people and try as he might he can't seem to bring on his demise. You have to give this story points for originality, there is a lot going on here and I found myself loving the main character even though he's a real bad person. Most of all I like how this story blends real life horror with fictional style horror.


My favorite story in the book was We Sang In Darkness by Mary SanGiovanni. This one is different from the others in the book. It's set in a dark future world where music is banned and aliens are part of society. This was beautifully written a lot of meaning in this one that is left to interpretation. What I liked most about it though was how music gets used as a form of communication between aliens and humans who can't understand the other's language. There is also a great jaw dropping shock ending here that fit the mood of the story perfectly.


The stories in Welcome To The Show were kind of hit and miss. There were plenty of gems but a few of them left me rolling my eyes. That being said I loved how this anthology creates it's own mythology with each story adding something original to it. The mood seems to change throughout the book as well with some stories being funny while others were dark, The Shantyman is a place where anything goes. The editor's had a nice concept in mind and the way the stories were connected it almost felt like a novel. Crystal Lake publishing puts out some great horror anthologies and this is no exception.



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review 2018-05-08 23:33
What Do Monsters Fear?: A Novel of Psychological Horror - Matt Hayward

Matt Hayward is an author on the rise. Checking him out online, reading interviews and such, you get the sense that he’s one of those guys writing for the love of it. I don’t sense that he’s one of those writers concerned with the numbers or one that aggressively seeks out your attention. He’s passionate and genuine, and it turns out he’s a pretty freaking good writer, too.


I read and enjoyed his previous release, BRAIN DEAD BLUES (Sinister Grin Press, 2017), a really good collection of short stories that displayed Hayward’s massive potential in stories like, “That’s the Price You Pay” and “The Faery Tree” had me eagerly awaiting Hayward’s debut novel, WHAT DO MONSTERS FEAR? (Post Mortem Press, 2017).

This novel is about a group of addicts that sign up for a rehab facility of sorts, where unbeknownst to them, the end game might not be the promise of a clean and sober life, but that of something far more sinister.


There are definitely some cool influences here. I saw a review that mentioned One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest, and rightfully so, as the author also refers to the book and film in the story itself. There’s also a bit of John Carpenter’s The Thing, as well. Both movies that I love. As with both of those films, the characters here are real, and Hayward does a great job making them stand out from one another, something that some newer writers stumble over with a larger cast.


Peter and Henry’s relationship is the best in the book. Two guys trying to kick the bottle, one older, and the other in his early thirties, their initial meeting out on the front porch is a memorable one. From there, Hayward develops them even further and it really makes the horrors to come all that much more intense.


For me, although Hayward uses the front half of the book to get you acquainted with everyone, and does a great job, it is a little slow, but you feel there is definitely something horrible just around the corner. And believe me, when you get to the second half of this one, hold on to your seat!

Hayward delivers in the horror category with lines like: “…___’s innards slopped away from his sliced open stomach, like saliva dripping from the jaw of a pit bull.”

Also, his use of Phobos (the personification of fear in Greek mythology) is righteous and wicked fun. I really enjoyed this one, and so will all you horror fiends. Great characters, great blood and guts, and a fun story.


Overall, I give WHAT DO MONSTERS FEAR? 4 stars!

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