Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black


short stories and poetry

Book Review: “Wanderers” by Chuck Wendig

At about 800 pages, Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers is a hefty investment of time – and time well spent! Filled with excellent writing and engaging, memorable characters, Wanderers takes on an apocalypse. It begins as a young girl “sleep walking,” It grows into a flock of unwakeable “afflicted.” Many worry the “walkers” might be demonic. Others feel they’re weapons. However, the wanderers and their protectors will not be deterred from their destination.

This book questions current events such as political and religious extremism, scientific responsibilities, artificial intelligence, and race relations. There are even nods to pop culture, including a Gaiman reference. (I do wish I’d have known about the rape, if only to prepare myself mentally. However, it could be argued that it was necessary to establish the evil nature of the villain and further humiliate the other character.)

Of a necessity, many characters inhabit Wendig’s troubled world. There’s an especially repugnant bad guy and a character who unwittingly falls into his scheme. Teenaged Shana’s cynical love endears. Benjamin always tries to do the right things, sometimes in the wrong ways. But the most intriguing characters were a bad-butt ex-cop and a rascal of a rock star. 

Certainly, Chuck Wendig inspires thought as readers follow in the footsteps of Wanderers.

“Mother Nature’s Fingerprints” for Carrot Ranch’s 99 words

For the weekly 99 word challenge, Charli Mills asks Carrot Ranchers to present what it means to protect nature. I’ve asked for a bit of help from a famous “neighbor.” Check out the challenge here:

My response:

Mother Nature’s Fingerprints

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Biological systems are dynamic and interconnected, she realized. Each aspect leans into the next to build an overall structure. Mother Nature’s fingerprints.

She boosted social consciousness using her amassed science. Mankind, she asserted, needs to question “who speaks, and why?” Sometimes, the loudest voices preserve the wrong things. After all, people can not eat money or gold.

She became a Mother of the Modern Environmental Movement and gave voice to a Silent Spring. Her words acted as harbinger of the dangers of treating plants with pesticides.  

Rachel Carson was not only my neighbor. She was a good steward to the world.

Book Review: The House That Fell From the Sky by Patrick R. Delaney

I received a physical ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Let’s begin with the cover. I know, I know. Don’t judge a book by its cover. However, this cover captures the imagination. Red with silhouettes of people falling toward the menacing house. It’s impressive!

Moving on to the basics. In a depressed US town near Halloween, a huge, ominous house seemingly falls from the sky. The place defies investigation by law enforcement or the military. Only a few unlucky souls enter the place for a scant few minutes, but they leave without their mental faculties. Spin forward a year later, and a mysterious corporation holds a lottery offering citizens of the town an opportunity to spend a night in the Sky-fallen House. 

Next, I’ll distill this long book into a simple description. The story follows four disgruntled Millennial friends and a famous-but-largely-retired magician who win entrance into the fateful house. This portion reminded me of the golden ticket from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. In truth, the book nods to many great works and pop culture, from Lovecraft, Jackson, and King to horror video games and music. Inside the house, the group explores the surreal environment. 

Don’t expect story lines tied up with black and red bows. Many causes, mysteries, and motivations remain unsolved in this book, so fans of spelled-out conclusions are in for a disappointment. However, fans of the genre might enjoy picking out the references throughout this novel. 

Dust Daggers and Cobweb Cudgels

At, Charli Mills and her Rough Writers and their friends have a new prompt ready for interpretation. Can you tell a story about “Screaming in your head” using only 99 words? I’d love to see your interpretations if you give it a go, so please tag me!

This is my 99 word interpretation of the “screaming in your head” prompt:


Written by Kerry E.B. Black

She smiled with false calm. “Welcome.”

The couple’s pinched expressions stretched in disingenuous smiles. They searched over her shoulders for anything to weaponize – Dust daggers and cobweb cudgels their favored weapons. 

She had anticipated their assaults and waged war on household debris. She deep cleaned and purged. This once, she hoped to impress her inlaws.

“Where’s our son?”

She led them outside.

Then she spotted it. One area had escaped her ministrations. 

The shed, with gardening tools piled atop horticultural accoutrement. 

Despite placid demeanor, her insides roiled with indignation as she led her adversarial inlaws along her garden path.

Book Review: “The Cabin at the End of the World” by Paul Tremblay

From the start of “The Cabin at the End of the World,” Paul Tremblay captured my attention, and my emotional responses were on high alert. The setting is an idyllic, secluded cabin in New England, with a great view of a lake. A couple rents the place with their adopted daughter, Wen, who is introduced on page one, examining grasshoppers that she names and studies. Along comes a friendly bear of a man, Leonard, who helps her capture insects for her study. She knows she shouldn’t talk to strangers, but Wen finds an openness in the man’s face and a gentleness in his voice. However, she soon meets his three friends and learns why they’re stopping by the cabin.

Face-paced, evocative, and beautifully written, Paul Tremblay’s “The Cabin at the End of the World” will unnerve even hardened horror readers. This is not a formulaic “invasion” story, and by telling it from several perspectives, Tremblay expands the reader’s insight with all its psychological impact. Certainly it will leave many deep in contemplation well after closing this excellent book, and many will wish for fellow readers to discuss the ending with its many possible ramifications.

Book Review: “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson

I read the 20th anniversary edition of “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, with its striking cover art, unprepared for how strongly I’d be impacted by its award-winning words. It features a poem by the author, a forward and a post script, and shares some important information about rape. “If you’re old enough to do the deed, you’re old enough to know your state’s laws concerning age of consent. 

This is Melinda’s story of entering High School after being raped. Melinda experiences selective mutism as a result. Her friendships and grades suffer. But Melinda finds an outlet through art, She makes an acquaintance who’s more interested in garnering popularity than in friendship and another who explains the importance of sharing her voice. 

This is not an angsty, depressing book, though. It explores empowerment, responsibility, and healing. It focuses on friendship and bullying, too. Although horrified by what happened to her and the resulting guilty feelings, Melinda’s a witty, thoroughly likable character who grows into and uses her voice to advantage. 

I wish I’d read this book when I was young, and I am glad it is available to modern young people.

Book Review: “The Blue Girl” by Charles de Lint

Urban Fantasy at its best!

“The Blue Girl” has a tough lead, the street-wise daughter of hippies, Imogene, who’s the new girl at high school. Despite her attempt to avoid trouble, Imogene ends up the target of the local bullies, becomes acquainted with the school ghost and re-acquainted with her childhood imaginary friend. Fairies, angels, and shadow creatures present complications to the real-life problems of teenage life. This is part of a larger “Newford” series, and other characters from this rich universe of stories make cameos in Imogene’s gritty world. It’s difficult to go wrong with a book by Charles de Lint, though. He’s an excellent writer whose stories outlast the reading of their books.

Book Review: “The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein” by Kiersten White

Although it has been an age or two since I’ve read Mary Shelley’s book about the “Modern Prometheus,” when I read Kiersten White’s The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, I felt the Gothic glory and remembered.

White’s Young Adult story is told in first person from the perspective of Elizabeth, the “cousin” or “ward” of the Frankenstein family. Put in the precarious position of “friend” and “intended” of the volatile and mentally ill Victor, Elizabeth arms herself with charm and uses her beauty and perceived innocence to become invaluable. Many of the characters present themselves in false ways to survive. Elizabeth connives and charms and takes a very personal part in the story. She uses intuition and intellect to ultimately become a more understanding and empowered person. This book is a story of co-dependence, violence, and misjudgments, told with obvious love for the original novel by a skilled writer.

A reader can enjoy Kierten White’s book without previously reading the 1818 Mary Shelley classic, though it was fun recognizing all of the references to the original in the modern novel.

Herd of Nightmares wins a TAZ award!

Herd of Nightmares won a 2019 TAZ (The Author Zone) award for short story compilation/anthologies!

I am honored and excited!

A huge thank you goes to my editor and fellow author at Tree Shadow Press, Deb Sanchez, and to my cover artist, Chris Blickenderfer!

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