I discovered Bryan Hall through Armand Rosamilia’s website and decided to give him a try when I saw this short story collection. I was initially interested in Hall because he writes southern / Appalachian horror (one of my favorites to read and write since I’m from West Virginia) and I was exceptionally pleased with this short fiction collection as a whole.
One of the things that Hall utilizes and that works well in these short stories is the abrupt or unfinished ending, the kind of ending that leaves the reader guessing or using their own imagination as to the outcome. I usually dislike stories like this, but Hall employs it well for the most part. I say for the most part because in some stories, the greedy reader in me just wanted to know what happened.
Hall also utilizes subtle horror rather than in your face blood and gore. This kind of horror goes hand in hand with his use of abrupt or unfinished endings, engaging and drawing the reader in and leaving them wanting more. Hall’s type of horror is a refreshing change (a throwback to old school horror) and he proves his writing ability by being able to scare through his subtle use of language and setting. Even when Hall does get descriptive (as in “The Swim” when describing a dead girl), it is tastefully done and not grotesque just for the sake of shock.
Some of my favorite stories from this collection were “Secrets Beneath,” “There’s a Prize in the Box,” “Dirt Don’t Hurt,” “Valenchenko in the Dead City,” and “The Swim.” There is a nice combination in this collection of very short flash pieces and longer short stories, exemplifying Hall’s versatility as a writer. Some of the stories could use a touch-up on the proof-reading and editing, but the collection is nonetheless a very enjoyable read sure to send a chill up your spine.
Bryan Hall’s Website