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Novella Review: Everything Is Beautiful and Nothing Bad Can Happen Here by Michael Wehunt

NOTICE: I received a free reviewer’s copy in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinions of the story. As part of Nightscape Press’ Charitable Chapbooks series, one-third of the proceeds go to the Southern Poverty Law Center. You can purchase a copy of the book here on their website.

Summary: Bea Holcombe loves her life in Fontaine Falls, a perfect little town tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. She has never thought to question that love until her next-door neighbor opens fire on a crowd of black demonstrators gathered in the city park to protest the town’s Confederate statue. Lester Neal has torn open an invisible wound in Fontaine Falls, and what festers inside of it will change Bea, her family, and the dimming mind of her mother forever.

As the national media descends and violence spreads, the town endures a conflict it is no longer insulated from. Bea is given a special sight so that she may witness how deep the rot has burrowed inside the postcard charm of Fontaine Falls. And she will be asked to turn the light of scrutiny and complicity upon herself as she is visited by horrors that won’t rest quietly. “This is a ghost story,” she tells us repeatedly. This unflinching, poetic novella is an examination of that claim—its layers of truth, of untruth, and the uneasy specters that inhabit modern America.

Content Warnings: Racism, Slurs, Body Horror

Review: Whenever a white author wants to talk about racism in their story, I get a little anxious. Not because I believe a white author shouldn’t write a story about racism. It’s because, when they do, the story rings hollow. Too often, stories about racism from white authors offer too many platitudes that simply are not true.

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Collection Review: Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt

Summary: In his striking debut collection, Greener Pastures, Michael Wehunt shows why he is a powerful new voice in horror and literary weird fiction.

From the round-robin, found-footage nightmare of “October Film Haunt: Under the House” (selected for The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror) to the jazz-soaked “The Devil Under the Maison Blue” (selected for both The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror and Year’s Best Weird Fiction), these beautifully crafted, emotionally resonant stories speak of the unknown encroaching upon the familiar, the inscrutable power of grief and desire, and the thinness between all our layers. Where nature rubs against small towns, in mountains and woods and bedrooms, here is strangeness seen through a poet’s eye.

They say there are always greener pastures. These stories consider the cost of that promise.

Content Warning: Body Horror, Incest, CSA, Rape

Review: Thus far, the best short story collection I have read this year has been the amazing She Said Destroy by Nadia Bulkin. But if I had to pick a distinct second so far, Greener Pastures definitely qualifies.

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