Jessica B. Bell
October 3 2016
Sirens Call Publications
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis
If you like horror and love weird, you are going to want this collection of scary, creepy, funkiness from Jessica B. Bell! For those of us who are looking for maximum bang for the buck, Viscera is the answer to your prayers. This collection is HUGE! I mean, seriously, this review is only going to be a taste of the delights that await you upon purchase of this awesome collection. The book opens with the famous Stephen Crane quote about the beast eating its own bitter heart, which to me, is usually a signal that some great reading lies ahead. I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed the unique titles and the writing that went with them. Unfortunately, since JournalStone has such a wide reach, we’ve had to censor ourselves a bit so that we can reach all of our readers in their comfort zone, so don’t be mad if we can’t write something exact. We want you to have the widest market possible.
Let’s get to the stories, shall we? “Morbo’s Threat” is a fun and slightly terrifying tale about how magicians get the animals they use in their act. In the weird vein we have some twisted takes on the whole princess and prince deal. What if a girl desperate for love goes to the pond and starts kissing frogs to find her prince, only to find she really digs frogs? Then you’d have You Have to Kiss a Lot of Frogs. If the reverse happened, you might have You Can Take the Boy Out of the Swamp… Good stuff! The collection begins with “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before” which feels like total old-school horror. Explorers in the jungle contract illnesses and are saved by natives, only to contract an even more serious disease which is fatal and has bizarre symptoms. I felt like I was reading an Edgar Rice Burroughs piece! Until the joke at the end.
Werewolves…Hey, been there, done that! Right? WRONG! Try “Territorial Pissings” on for size. It is not the same old boring jive. This story is irreverent and funny to twisted people like us. To picture in your head what the author is describing is entertaining to say the least. There are also larger pieces like “The Best Medicine” where technology and medicine, that big pharmacological machine, screws the world up on a major scale. Apocalyptic, frightening, and tugs at the heart strings until you scream. Maybe the most scary thing is, how can we be sure that’s not happening right now? We can’t!
There are also very short pieces like “Banshee” which also features the beautiful and frightening sketch of a banshee by Nika Davitashvili which I really love. She is beautiful, with needle-sharp teeth and screaming curses. My favorite illustration in Viscera! I would frame it and hang it on my wall if I could!
The last story I’m mentioning in this review is “Paraxogenisis,” which is one badass horror tale about a very unusual birthing during which the husband dies and an interesting baby is born. I’ve tried, but I can’t forget it!
Once again, this collection shows off the benefits of being published by an independent press. Unless you’re a huge star writer, you can’t do this kind of thing with big presses that have to answer to uptight corporate heads that just don’t get it. Viscera feels so fresh, startling, and oddly delicious, that you might just miss your train in the morning. Or you could maybe read it on the train as well! Just don’t miss your stop.