Archive for November, 2013

Tales from the Glory Hole by Jeff O’Brien: A Book Review

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on November 27, 2013 by Alex S. Johnson

Tales from the Gloryhole by Jeff O’Brien, 218 pages, Dark Space Publications

So I am asking myself, what is it about Tales from the Gloryhole, a collection of short stories and one novelette by Jeff O’Brien, that made me power it down like a chocolate milkshake in one sitting and temporarily forget the queue of writing tasks set before me? O’Brien’s bailiwick is funny horror, and once I finished the first story in the book, I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist another one, and another one. Right down to the glorious cream in the center, “The Frankenstein Fairy.”

Gloryhole delivers pure reading satisfaction, with stories that run the gamut of familiar horror tropes such as serial killers and nightmare clowns, but with a twist that is all O’Brien. Not only does he clearly know the landscape of fear, his ironic sensibility lends the tales something extra. Much like the early work of filmmaker Peter Jackson, or Sam Raimi in the good old days, O’Brien mingles the shocks with the laughs and had me nodding, smiling, flashing mental metal horns and wanting more–living glory holes, vagina monsters, pretzels made of human intestines, vengeance demons, fish gods and babies tossed in wells. His prose is vivid, clean and unpretentious.

Capping off the collection, “The Frankenstein Fairy” reads like a cross between The Breakfast Club and The Faculty; it’s an allegory about the monstrousness of conformity and the power of love to overcome division. Beneath the Bizarro flourishes and the helicopter-spine blades, the mutants and hybrids and glow-in-the-dark Goth chicks, O’Brien makes an important point about honoring difference and celebrating those qualities that make us unique.

If you want a guaranteed good time in book-land, Tales from the Gloryhole is just the ticket. Get yours today.

–Alex S. Johnson