Thursday, March 24, 2016

But You Scared Me the Most: And Other Short Stories by John Manderino

This collection of twenty-six dark but often humorous short stories features a pantheon of disturbed and disturbing characters, human and otherwise. Many of the stories are modern takes on classic monsters crafted with twisted plots. For example, “Wolfman and Janice” is about a werewolf  who is doing the best he can under very trying circumstances, especially when confronted with eating his elderly neighbor’s cat. There’s an adolescent vampire-wannabe who is suffering badly: in love for the first time. “Frankenstein and His Mother” is a terrifying story of a grown man who wears a Frankenstein mask and lives with his mother watching TV and eating corn chips all day while being afraid of work.  “Dracula’s Daughter” turns a pretentious hippie into an honest ghost. And Bigfoot—lonely, sexually frustrated—tells all. Other stories feature characters who seem perfectly normal until they're alone. Phil, for instance, is never so happy as when he’s with his inflatable girlfriend Vanessa—until she tells him the devastating truth about himself. Elderly Ellen is running out of patience with her dead husband George, who’s turned prankish. “Bob and Todd” tells the story of a hitchhiking ride gone bad that will have readers squirming in their seats. More than just standard monster stories, the tales in But You Scared Me the Most reveal much more about human nature and will appeal to a wide range of fans of smart, funny short fiction.

This was a quick read, I believe just over 200 pages. I was able to finish it all in one night. It's hard to review each story individually without giving too much away but I will say the description was quite accurate and there is much humor in these odd ball characters. If you like short stories and dark humor I'm sure you will find something enjoyable in these pages. Some are disturbing, others thought provoking, and a few I must admit just didn't make a lot of sense to me. Several were quite good. My favorites were Too Old  To Trick Or Treat Too Young To Die, Otto and the Avenging Angel, Wolfman and Janice, Bigfoot Tells All, Self Portrait With Wine, The Mummy, and A Matter of Character, which was a bit longer than some of the rest.  I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received an advance copy for review

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