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review 2016-11-07 16:43
The Eighth - Stephanie M. Wytovich
The Eighth - Stephanie M. Wytovich

I like my horror much the way I like my whisky - high quality, straight up, excellent from the beginning to the end, and leaving me wanting more. I can be all over the board when it comes to horror that I like. The biggest thing is suspension of disbelief. If I'm not buying into the story, it's a struggle to get through. That's why dark fantasy is a tough one for me to choke down. Most of the stuff that I encounter is so comic book-ish, it's hard for me to swallow, like cheap whiskey. So, when I was asked to read and review Stephanie Wytovich's dark fantasy tale, The Eighth, I was apprehensive, to say the least, eyeing it with the same kind of scrutiny as if someone poured me a glass of whiskey made in Cleveland. This may be Wytovich's debut novel, but she's no rookie in the writing world. Poetry seems to be her calling and she's been nominated for Bram Stoker Awards in that area. You can see it in her writing which, by the way, is very good. Her descriptions are top shelf. The girl has quite the vocabulary and she's not afraid to use it. She paints a landscape of hell with liberal strokes of Dante's Inferno along with accents of Clive Barker and Neil Gaimon, for good measure. The tale itself centers around Paimon, Satan's top soul collector. Paimon has been assigned to harvest Rhea's soul. In an unusual lack of preparedness, Paimon goes about the task withouth reading her file first. Bad mistake. If he had, he would've learned that Rhea is a spitting image of Marissa, Paimon's long lost love who he killed so many years ago. He struggles daily with this decision and, upon seeing Rhea, he immediately falls in love with her. There's no way he can deliver her to Lucifer. He has to have Rhea for himself. Well, you can see how this can become problematic and to no surprise, it does.



Wytovich's elegant writing style breathes life into the story. You can feel Paimon's sadness and pain. She's also no stranger to the red stuff, which this book has plenty. The "rules" of hell are a bit jumbled, but that may also be something that I missed on the initial reading. And that's really my only complaint for the whole story. I feel like I was missing something to tie it all together. Now, that's more of a problem for me and not the fault of the writer. If you're a fan of dark fantasy, pour yourself a tall glass of The Eighth. The writing is excellent from start to finish.



4 1/2 Deadly Sins out of 5



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review 2013-11-03 00:00
Ugly Babies
Ugly Babies - Sydney Leigh, Dona Fox, St... Ugly Babies - Sydney Leigh, Dona Fox, Stephanie M. Wytovich, David S. Pointer, Matthew Wilson, Mathias Jansson, J.D. Isip, Daniel Ari, Joseph J. Patchen, K.Z. Morano, Carly Berg, M.E. VonBindig, Gary Hewitt, Bruce L. Priddy, Dave Dormer, Ben Arzate, Mark Slade, Neil Ba OK, I have a story in this anthology so I wondered whether or not I should write a review. :) BUT, since there are stories written by other authors--stories that I liked very much, I decided to go ahead and mention SOME of my favorites without giving any spoilers.

I thought "This is a Troll Free Call" by Randy Rubin was very entertaining. I loved the dialogue and the ending was quite refreshing. The creepiness in "Henrietta's Skirt" by Dan Dillard really worked for me (*shudder*) as did the weirdness in James Suriano's "The Alcombery Waystation". Timothy Frasier's "Daughter Mine" was one of the longer stories--a very satisfying read. Another standout tale with an awesome twist was Matt Kurtz's "Teddy".
There was also beautiful poetry by Maria Mitchell and Stephanie Wytovich's "Baby No Name" was definitely one of the scariest ugly baby there.

There's nothing scarier than a pregnancy/birth gone wrong. You'll find yourself fearing for, rooting for, sympathizing with the characters and sighing with relief from the knowledge that that damned thing didn't crawl out of your birth canal. :)

I'm glad that I had the opportunity to read (and be a part of) this eclectic collection of horrifying tales. The editor did a great job of selecting diverse voices to ensure that somewhere between these pages, every reader is bound to find the ugly baby of his/her worst nightmares.
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