Book review by Logan Noble
Orrin Grey has a knack for cruel stories.
Contes Cruel, to be exact.
Sardonic Tales like the fourteen collected here, ready to wrench the reader’s emotions, tantalize, and terrify. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Roger Corman, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, the Theatre de Grand Guignol, Universal’s monster movies, Hammer horror, kaiju flicks, and more, all while creating something unique, intoxicating, and, yes, cruel.
Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales has something for everyone… even the most jaded readers.
Plot summary taken from Amazon product description.
I read Orrin Grey’s newest collection smack-dab in the middle of October. My street was decorated with pumpkins and blow-up versions of Halloween’s greatest monsters. It was the perfect time to dive headlong into this stunner of a collection. Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales has a little bit of everything in it. Many of the stories look to the past to find their horrors, which is one of the quintessential themes of this genre that we love so much. Frequent film and video game references run through the stories, ranging from the beloved to the obscure. The reverence and references give Orrin his unique style and set him apart from his contemporaries in the field.
I want to talk about some of my favorite stories in the collection. ‘Dream House’ and ‘Baron Von Werewolf Presents…’ explore the evils and allure of classic film/television. ‘Invaders of Gla’aki’ turns our childhood gaming obsessions decidedly Lovecraftian (Campbellian?). My favorite story in the collection (though it’s not horror per say) is ‘A Circle That Ever Returneth In’. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure story set in a dark fantasy world. I read through every path in the story, and I want to see more of this world. Maybe a novella or an anthology?
Orrin Grey loves every facet of the horror genre. You can see it in the D.N.A of his stories, carved into the cave walls all around us. In a market where nearly every horror short story is dark as dark can be, it’s refreshing to read a collection that tries something else. Horror is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some come for the blood-letting. Others pay their fare just to gawk nightmarish creations from beyond. And others strive to provide entertainment. While Grey’s stories dip their gnarled toes into all these areas, his stories never fail to entertain.
Logan Noble is a horror and science fiction writer who lives in Ohio with his wife and his two dogs. His short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines, including Pickman’s Gallery, Miskatonic Dreams, Déraciné Magazine, and Sanitarium Magazine. He is the writer of the horror slasher screenplay Hunter. He can be found at his website, logannobleauthor.com.