Monday, 6 August 2018

Book Review: We Should Have Left Well Enough Alone by Ronald Malfi

20 short stories exploring the dark underside of religion, marriage, love, fear, regret, and hunger in a world that spins just slightly askew on its axis.

"I made a mistake."

Holy cow. First of all - Ronald Malfi can WRITE. Make no mistake about that. The stories themselves may have ranged in quality throughout this collection, but the standard of writing remained HIGH. He's definitely an author I will be reading more of - potentially starting with his novel December Park, which I ordered within reading about 50 pages of this collection.

Malfi grabs your attention from the get-go with an absolute scorcher of a story in The Dinner Party. One you won't forget in a hurry, The Dinner Party is one of the craziest and most shocking stories I've ever read. Malfi is not afraid to go DARK, and that's something I look for in my favourite horror books. As Clive Barker says, "Good horror fiction deals with taboos. It must always go to the limits of what is acceptable."

After this crazy opener, the next number of stories continue to be quite strong , it's just towards the end of the collection that I feel they become a bit weaker. The majority were still enjoyable in some regard, but there are a few forgettable ones that just didn't do much for me. I had been keeping a note of the rating for each individual story, and there were a LOT of 4 and 5 star stories, which lends to how good Malfi can really be when he's at the top of his game.

Particular highlights for me were as follows:
  • Learned Children - this one was quite unsettling!! There's a scarecrow...what more can I say. We all know scarecrows are fucking terrifying!
  • Knocking - creepy occurrences in a slightly unusual house
  • Under the Tutelage of Mr Trueheart - a young kind teams up with an old man who thinks people are being replaced
  • Painstation - this one was FUCKED. UP. And awesome. Right up my street
  • The Housewarming - this one reminded me of the movie MOTHER! Made me feel so anxious and claustrophobic

This collection also reminded me a lot of Barker's Books of Blood in terms of the diverse rage of stories we got in here. It's mostly horror, but there's no real theme or connection between each story. We even get a little bit of romance thrown in at the end! It's really a mishmash of everything and I love that - each story is so uniquely different from the next.

Recommended if you enjoy horror short stories and collections like King's Night Shift and Barker's Books of Blood!

My average worked out at about 3.75 out of 5 for the stories in here!


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