Author: Guy McBryde
Published By: Amazon Digital
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Recently, G-POP.net received an invitation to check out Dead Face, a horror anthology from Guy McBryde. The offer came at just the perfect time as October is horror month here at G-POP. I couldn't wait to check the book out, especially when I learned how Mr. McBryde wrote these tales.
For Dead Face, Guy McBryde took suggestions from Twitter fans about stories they would want him to write. Having a passion for horror and dark fiction, these ideas eventually became short horror/dark fiction stories. Featuring twenty-five tales in all, Dead Face is available at Amazon.com for the low price of $5.99.
As I began to read this anthology, I was impressed by the content. The book opens up with the story Paper Pen Pal, featuring an ominous version of Flat Stanley. You may not have heard of Flat Stanley - he's a little boy that somehow gets flattened and finds he can travel anywhere as he is slim enough to fit anywhere. Eventually he is returned to full size boy status. A clever teacher had her class perform a project in which paper doll Flat Stanleys were cut out and children took photos of their Flat Stanleys on various adventures. The idea is similar in Paper Pen Pal, though this Flat Stanley has a mind of his own. In fact, he is very certain of himself and his likes and dislikes. Coming to the Marks family at a stressful time in their lives and presumably sent by her autistic nephew, Bonnie thinks the project will be good for her hard to manage daughter Jenny. She could never imagine what horror a paper doll could bring upon her household.
I was thoroughly entranced with this tale, telling people about it as I delved deeper, only to have it end rather abruptly. I don't want to give away the ending and I know it is supposed to be a short story, but I think this tale could have been a bit longer. It seemed like the build up was spread out well, but the lead up to the dramatic end was rushed. Unfortunately, that tended to be the case with a lot of the stories I liked in this anthology. Sleep Baby Sleep was a ghost tale that I found engrossing, only to have it end rather quickly. Molly was a really spooky tale that hinted at ghosts but is more about haunting memories that come back to bite you in the end. Now that tale was just the right length and kept you guessing what was going to happen until the end.
Apparently Mr. McBryde's Twitter fans have an obsession with man-eating mutant worms as there are three stories featuring them. Alone, they are okay, but I believe that if you joined Cedric Quilly, Magic Man and Glass Palace together, you could make quite an interesting horror novella. The Door was another one of those tales that was built up nicely - a story about a door that possibly brought some ill tidings along with it - but ends too abruptly for my taste. Never Kill A Clown and Penny for Your Thoughts have that Stephen King sort of flare for torturing kids with horrific events. And I loved the Peeps-turned-horrific-monster tale of Pop McCoy.
You see, there is a lot to say about the variety of horror in Dead Face - actual mutant monster horror, subtle mind play horror, slasher horror, ghost tales, tales of revenge and more. I loved the variety in this anthology. Unfortunately, there is a lot to say about the problems with these tales. Longer tales started off well, but sort of got rushed at the end, as if the author had a word count to keep to or perhaps ran out of ideas or got bored with the telling of the story and decided to go for the gusto. Some of the shorter stories really had no substance - you just didn't care all that much about the characters.
But the real horror to be found in this book is in the typos - grammatical, spelling, you name it, it can be found here. The typos actually were so plentiful that they took away from the reading of this anthology and made it way less enjoyable than it could have been. Shame on the editors of Dead Face for allowing it to be published in this state. To pay $5.99 for an eBook isn't all that much, but to pay for one with so many typos in it is a travesty.
It's a shame, really. I would have enjoyed Dead Face so much more had it not been for the number of grammatical and spelling errors found in the book. Guy McBryde has an excellent mind for horror and dark fiction, this much is evident from what I have read. I would love to see him expand upon some of these short stories and make them actual novels - tales like Flat Stanley would work well or a tale combining the monster worms or the clown and the monstrous carnival barker would make for excellent novel ideas. But I would recommend a better editor should he go that rout. Dead Face was an anthology that could have been great, but in reality had me muttering to myself over the lack of editing and the seeming need for speed in some of the tales' completion.