The burning boy and other stories by Denver Grenell
This collection is the Debut collection from Denver Grenell, and straight off the bat, I can say it promises great things for Denver’s future work. The titular piece, The Burning Boy, is justifiably called out in the title of the collection, it’s a strong short that contains most of the elements that I want to see in a piece of horror – a break down of the inciting event – an accident – the aftermath of that incident – the revenge of the burning boy – and a lasting note of bittersweet unresolved psychological horror – it’s not over, and it’s getting closer. The story was well executed, the prose detailed enough – as I said, it deserved to be upfront in the title of the book. Great work, Denver.
The collection of 15 (I think) stories, running to some 158 pages or so, didn’t feel like it – it flew past – an indication of the flow of the book. Each short was different in theme and horror from the others, so the scope and breadth of the stories are impressive, as is the voice Denver brings to the table, easy to read, confident, he doesn’t shy away from graphic descriptions of death and suffering. On the other hand, he doesn’t illustrate what doesn’t need to be seen – deaths occurred off the page, and we were left to construct our own scenes of violence and demise in our own imaginations.
A couple of stories stuck out for me amongst the high-quality shorts on offer here – Tunnel was a favorite, loved the ending, the story begged the reader to stay and play, I finished that one in bed and drifted off to thoughts about that world after the ending. The Grave was another, psychological horror, easy to read and later tied into another short (from theme and actions of the character). The bus, though dealing with a horror trope I dislike nevertheless entertained, and The Burning Boy was the capstone, for the reasons I outlined above.
You get the feeling that Denver is sharpening his teeth here – he’s giving you a glimpse of the nastiness to come, that this is merely the tip of the iceberg, and that bigger, more horrific things are just around the corner.
Regardless of the potential of what is to come, to bring it back to this collection, I can say that this is a very strong showcase from Denver. The fact that it was so easy to read and the stories so different from each other was the thing that impressed the most, and the editing was wonderful – I didn’t find a single typo (and you know I look).
I’m giving this a 4 ½ out of 5 ⭐ ‘s – rounded up to 5 ⭐’s on Goodreads because this impressed me. Denver, I really want to see a novella or a novel. You’ve proved your craft in the short story, now give me something I can sink my teeth into and frighten myself witless. Great to have read you, mate.
You can buy The burning boy and other stories, by clicking on the Amazon store below that applies to you:
You can visit Denver's website, HERE.
You can find Denver on Twitter, HERE
You can find Denver on Instagram, HERE.
You can find Denver on Facebook, HERE.