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Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black

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short stories and poetry

Book Review: Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

Like a voracious werewolf, Stephen Graham Jones tears into the lycanthropy legend, devours parts and digs into others. The result is a moody coming of age tale, Mongrels. Told by a young boy who has yet to show lycanthrope traits, readers learn of a mobile family group living on the fringes of society. The story has darkly humorous bits mixed throughout the horror and the often poignant explorations of ostracization and acceptance. The story comes in spurts, and I think that’s by design. It’s almost a series of short glimpses into their wacky, nomadic life, with an aunt and uncle who raise the young storyteller from the age of eight until eighteen. These vignettes keep the reading experience sort of chaotic, just like the life of this kind of wacky, dangerous monster family. For an original exploration of the werewolf legend and a glimpse into an non-traditional family with an abundance of love for one another, Mongrels is the book.

Festival of Books in the Alleghenies

I’m attending this weekend’s Festival of Books in the Alleghenies in Ebensburg, PA. The festival begins at 9AM and lasts until 4PM at the Veteran’s Park and promises activities for every age. There will be children’s storytimes, balloon creations, a graphic novel creating class, and glitter tattoos for the younger guests. Everyone will be treated to the live music, and there will be food trucks, vendors, and of course authors! If you’re in the area, please stop by and say, “Hi!”

Book Review: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix’s The Final Girl Support Group follows a group of women dealing with their survival of Hellish experiences involving killers. They had fought back and survived, but to deal with the emotional and psychological problems resulting thereof, they bond by keeping in touch monthly and sort-of looking out for one another. When one of their number fails to attend, the story begins.

The book is told from one of the final girls’ perspectives, and she, in truth, is not the most likeable person. She is a bit of a recluse and has a ton of issues. (Who wouldn’t, though? I imagine I might be in the same predicament if I endured such an experience.) I will say, though, Grady Hendrix writes women well. 

Although this book is more of a thriller, fans of classic horror will recognize lots of references, such as the intriguing “Dream King” (ie Freddy K.) Hendrix uses humor in his recreations, and this book has some truly lovely twists, too.

Book Review: The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

In The Palace of Illusions, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni retells the ages-old Mahabharata from Draupadi’s perspective. It is a vast tale with wars and gods and a mystical palace lost in a game of chance. The main character is handed over to not one groom but five, all while secretly pining for a different man entirely. A familiarity with the Mahabharata is recommended but not necessary. It’s interesting to compare and contrast the perspectives. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni obviously loves the cultural impact of the story and sets out to right the wrongs. She is a bit heavy-handed with the foreshadowing, though. However, some of the sweeping descriptions transports readers to a land where spices and a magical garden scent the air and war is overseen by the gods themselves.

For this week’s https://carrotranch.com 99 word challenge, Charli Mills wanted pigs to fly.

My drabble below found Biblical inspiration.

Also at Carrot Ranch, Buckaroo D. Avery provided a photo prompt which inspired this week’s second drabble.

Please let me know if you’ve participated. I’d love to read your stories!

Swine Song

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

We lived outside of Gerasene, a land where the Chosen never harried us. 

Or so we thought.

A man swathed in sunlight called to a madman chained in the nearby tombs. “What is your name?” 

The darkness within the madman growled, “Legion.” 

The glowing man sent Legion into our doylt. 

Cold settled into our bones. Acid ate our flesh. Demonic whispers infiltrated our thoughts.

We acted before Legion controlled us as it had the madman of the tombs. 

Together, we leaped from the cliff, truly flew, suspended in our divine act before gravity called us to the primordial sea.

Arlington Cemetery

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Like giants’ teeth, white tombstones jut from grassy gums, wise words carved into their backs serving as memorial tattoos. The land once belonged to the wife of Confederate General Robert E. Lee who found war to be uncivil in the end. But before the Custis-Lee family owned it, Native tribes called the land their home. Policies put in place to protect the trees surrounding what once was a home and now is a museum were contested and overturned, another upheaval on peaceful property. A corner was once set aside as Freedman’s Village, until the residents chopped the wood for fuel and heat. Who knew trees could cause disharmony in a land where warriors rest?

Stars in the Sand: A response to this week’s 99 word challenge

Charli Mills issued a new challenge and presented an exceptional and emotional 99 word story of her own. I do hope you’ll take the time to read it! https:carrotranch.com My response is below. I hope you’ll like it.

Stars in the Sand

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Lonely footprints in the sand marked her progress, footprints watered with her tears and the exuberant salt spray. She sniffed sadness with each step as she left her marital home.

The moon danced in the dark ocean’s waves and laughed at the woman’s consternation. This orb’s influence led the sea astray, pulling the waters along lunar whims. Likewise, it diverted the woman’s husband, enhancing his basest instincts. Like a madman, he romanced in moonlight with howls, dances, and gore.

In despair and fear, she fled, unaware with each resultant spray of her passage, she revealed stars in the sand.

99 Word Open Doors

At https:carrotranch.com , Charli Mills and her other guests contemplate open doors. She asked all interested to write a story about open doors in 99 words. I’ve included mine. If you’ve written one, please link it or include it below. I’d enjoy reading it!

Doorway to Adventure

written by Kerry E.B. Black

In Granny’s grand, dark house, Cleo was forbidden to enter the study, no matter how intriguing. Granny’d locked it and all of its secrets when Uncle Jameson died. 

However, Cleo longed to sneak inside.

The door breathed temptation. Its woodgrain spelled suspense.

Day after day, Cleo snuck to the door and pressed her ear to the warm wood. Night after night, she turned the handle. It remained unmoving.

One quiet evening, Cleo’s family left to run errands. 

Cleo crept to the door and turned the brass handle, expecting it to remain stable, as always. 

Incredibly, it twisted in her grip.

Hometown Haunted House

Charli Mills and everyone at http://www.carrotranch created a new writing challenge – write a story about “hometown,”

Hometown Haunted House

written by Kerry E.B. Black

Every town hosts a haunted house, a place kids cross streets to avoid, an imposing presence that exudes menace. I wondered where ours was. I inquired, but neighbors looked askance without answering. Undeterred, I visited the local library, but history did not point an accusing finger. I trudged home, hands plunged into my cardigan pockets. Our front gate protested its opening. Unseasonable leaves skittered. Abandoned toys littered the yard, sad as gravestones. The front door creaked open. I patted our stone gargoyle on the way in when I experienced an epiphany. My house was the haunted one in my hometown.

Book Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman offers a peek into the world of turn-of-the-last-century life for sideshow workers, immigrants, and everyday people trying to make a living in New York. This beautifully developed historic fiction uses as its catalyst two horrendous fires while exploring the budding relationship of a captive young woman and a young man advancing in his way through anger. There’s a shyster and an intelligent, compassionate gent with wolfram syndrome, an insightful hermit and his pet wolf, and a plucky, disfigured domestic. This book is a bit dark at times. Ms. Hoffman doesn’t shy away from the real-life horrors of the fires, nor does she flinch while portraying the working conditions endured by our forebearers. Of course, as often happens in an Alice Hoffman book, there are enchanting forays into magical realism, too.

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