I have been following this disturbing UK author David Owain Hughes‘ career for a while now and have sampled heavily from his impressive body of work. He has short stories in most horror anthologies that matter and has a few novels out as well. Recently I picked up his latest release which is a short story collection titled Psychological Breakdown. I love short story collections, always have. To me, they offer tiny fascinating glances into the mind and talents of the author.
In this case, that means a long slow walk through a very dark and demented neighborhood.
The author is fearless, ignoring all taboos and crossing the line often into territory that will make the reader squirm. He dances nimbly along the lines society draws and sometimes splatters so much gore that that line gets erased. The gore is never gratuitous, and the author’s ability to tell a story redeems any and all sins. A lot of bang for your buck here horror fans, you get nineteen stories in this collection. I won’t go through them all one by one but I will mention a few standouts for me….
ROOM FOR RENT- I will never be able to fully relax in a rented room ever again and neither will you after reading this gruesome tale. Go ahead, enjoy a nice warm bath..
A BOX FULL OF KINKS- Sugar and Spice and everything nice, yeah not so much for this twisted little piece of work with a nice smile and a dark soul.
SLIPPERY WHEN WET- You should always take satisfaction in a job well done, well maybe not so much in this case. I actually shuddered a bit when I read this.
PICTURE NOT SO PERFECT- Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder…..
For me, these were the standouts but I can honestly say that there isn’t a lame tale in this collection. That being said I offer the usual disclaimer that this won’t be everyone’s cup of bloody tea. This is splatterpunk/ Bizarro/unclassifiable and it is definitely not for the faint of heart. But if you are brave enough to look this talented bastard’s unflinching eyes you will get a whole new perspective on the human condition. That perspective will be challenging and disturbing which is what horror should be in my humble opinion.
I give David Owain Hughes’ Psychological Breakdown a full five bananas, read it and then gargle with Holy Water and scrub your hands with Purell and then sleep with all the damn lights on….