Midnight In The City of The Carrion Kid
James G. Carlson
Gloom House Publishing
November 2, 2021
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello again dear readers, it’s your old pal Skull with a full review of the great new speculative novella Midnight In The City Of The Carrion Kid by James G. Carlson. As I mentioned in my New Year’s post, this is so good that I couldn’t wait to finish reading it, so I won’t keep you in suspense. That way you can grab a copy of your own and enter this terrifying and magical city yourself!

Carlson’s story begins with a down and out couple sitting in a neglected sedan. They’re waiting for their heroin dealer to show up so they can turn on and stop being so miserably dopesick. Alistair the narrator and his girlfriend Eden are about as far away from paradise as people can get. Especially when their only “relief” is to hop aboard the drug train until it stops moving again. However, the trip they take this time is much different from others. Alistair awakes to find himself alone in the car and that his environment has changed, but it also hasn’t. Despite being an addict and a criminal, Alistair is a good guy deep down, so his first thought is to find Eden and make sure she’s okay. But as he ventures out into a city he thought he knew, Alistair realizes that the changes haven’t been for the better. Usual things of relative safety or goodness are now entirely evil.

After nearly being killed in a laundromat, Alistair is rescued from a bunch of evil nuns by two dudes in a van. Because when a couple of guys in a van offer you a ride, it’s always a wise idea to hop aboard, right? But since everything’s topsy-turvy, Nico and Miles are actually good people who want to help. They take Alistair home to their safe space called “Haven Below” to grab a little rest and get their thoughts together. The journey to Haven Below is one of my favorite things in the book. Carlson uses existing city structures like parking garages, maintenance tunnels, and sewers to create epic urban wildscapes of a dangerous concrete jungle. Nico explains that they’re existing in a place called the In-Between, where souls go to hang out while their bodies’ fates are decided. A long time back, The In-Between was a really nice place to chill, everything safe and lovely. Then The Carrion Kid arrived and changed all that, turning a safe space into a dangerous hell. Alistair might want to go blasting through the city to find his love, but without help he’s more likely to end up as another miserable puppet of the Carrion Kid.

Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer rates Midnight In The City Of The Carrion Kid 5 STARS OUT OF 5 and also gives it a home on the Wall of Fame! James G. Carlson is a great writer who delivers a powerful, fast-paced story that’s populated with characters you’ll be rooting for. There’s two love stories, talking cats, terrifying monsters, and maybe even a few chances at redemption. Seriously, this is a boss read that everyone can enjoy and take something away from. Carlson writes in the tradition of many of our favorite speculative authors, giving us many stories to follow within the larger one. A few bonuses: Nico and Miles are not only a couple of nice guys, they are a couple. The residents of the secret hideaway Haven Below might seem lacking at face value, but as the story progresses you’ll be delighted to see their secret superpowers unleashed. Our world is often too quick to judge people and sadly, think them the lesser for their differences. But even a brain damaged elderly man is capable of great bravery to save those he loves.

Incidentally, I wanted to mention here that this author and book deserve nominations for the annual Splatterpunk Awards in the novella category. Could you please do your old pal Skull a favor and send a quick email to: splatterpunkawards@gmaail.com and say your version of this sentence? “I’d like to nominate James G. Carlson’s novella “Midnight In The City Of The Carrion Kid” for the splatterpunk novella award.” It costs nothing and no salesman will call, but it will help James to keep moving forward as a horror writer. This tale definitely meets the requirement with its laundromat creature made of vermin, a monster that guards the meat fields, and nuns so disgusting you’ll be scared for Alistair. Those are just a few of the splatterpunk elements, and there are plenty more.

Thanks again for stopping by to hang out with your old pal Skull. It’s always nice to see some friendly faces at the Skullcave and I’m always looking for more followers of my blog! James G. Carlson is also in charge of Gloom House Publishing. For more information about that check him out at : gloomhouse@yahoo.com See you soon!

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