Paths best left untrodden - by Kev Harrison
There’s a specific feeling I got upon reading Kev Harrison’s collection of Horror shorts, collected under the umbrella title of “Paths best left untrodden” – Unclean. Dirty. Queasy. The stories themselves provide no closure, you go from one unsettling story to the next, each leaving a slightly bitter taste to your palate – as if Kev has cleverly concocted a set of amazing dishes, and spiced them all with something quite rotten, a note of discord that even though it’s presence can almost be ignored, it sours any happiness in the meal you might have had, and turns each one into this thing you know is going to curdle your stomach, only after you’ve eaten every last word up.
Every one of his stories here has, at some point, gone nasty.
How cool is that!
It’s a collection unlike any other I’ve read. There’s this perennial gloom Kev has injected into each of the stories, like a medieval fog that gets everywhere, douses any hope of a happy ending, and leaves you in no doubt that things are going to go bad in all of the tales. It’s a touch gothic, a touch Lovecraft, a touch folklore. Yes, there are modern tales, but you just know that an element of nastiness is around the corner. A couple of the stories were stand-out winners for me, prime amongst them being Contamination – there’s something sinister about mold at the best of times but seeing the words “creeping death” just nailed it for me.
Big Game, the opener, is fluent, well thought out, upfront sudden violence, Snap, similarly has a wonderful tight section of body horror that cuts magnificently. The waiting game was also a great one for me, I liked the premise and I liked the execution of the story.
This collection left me feeling dirty, inexplicably, like I’d just read something psychologically scaring, that was going to contaminate the rest of my books. It’s unforgiving, bleak, yet easy to read. I’m almost wary of it, like I expect it to go rabid on me at any moment, feral at the very least, and I have no clue at all who it is going to bite next. It’s fantastic. I want to pass it onto the next person and watch their face as they read it. Watch them as it bites their fingers off. Watch them as they discover the mold…
5 out of 5 ⭐’s and I think I need to lock the book up somewhere in the cellar before it contaminates the rest of the bookcase with its creeping mold death and finger-snapping nastiness. Kev, you made me squirm. Bravo!
You can buy Kev's book (American Amazon) HERE.
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