REVIEW: Occasional Beasts

Short Story Collections allow writers to have a larger scope, in which they can mix a number of different genres into one overlapping work, giving the reader a taste of different kind of stories. John Claude Smith’s Occasional Beasts is an example of this. However, the one key aspect of Smith’s collection is consistency.

Too often have collections only have had a few decent stories with the rest leaving a lot to be desired. This isn’t the case with Occasional Beasts, with Claude-Smith crafting twisted tales that hit the reader hard. Smith-Claude doesn’t care for the reader. He doesn’t care how you’re feeling, and if you’re not prepared for the heavy hitting prose and horrifying images, then it will take you down a dark route.

If it isn’t the creepy, unsettling vibes throughout the story, Personal Jesus, it’s the intensity filled The Wounded Table, and so on. And that’s the important factor – intensity. There’s no let up. There is no breather story to calm things down. Claude-Smith doesn’t have time for that, and by the time each story finishes, readers won’t either.

Occasional Beasts is a relentless collection with wonderful proses and horrifying images sprinkled throughout. John Claude Smith is in such command of his craft, with each of the fourteen stories proving this.

****1/2 out of *****

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