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Monica J. O’Rourke ‘In the End, Only Darkness’ Review


Written by: Matthew J. Barbour

Hardcore horror is having a renaissance within the genre. Authors, such as Ryan Harding, Wrath James White, and Bryan Smith, have pushed the levels of violence and sexual misconduct beyond their splatterpunk forefathers of the 1980s. In the 21st century, nothing is taboo. Nothing is off limits.

Horror has never been for the faint of heart, but hardcore horror has moved beyond the struggle between good and evil. Rarely are there heroes or happy endings. The only guiding principle among the authors writing within the subgenre is the notion that evil begets evil.

In the End, Only Darkness, by Monica J. O’Rourke, is a book that lives up to its title. It is hardcore horror by one of the forerunners within the subgenre. A collection of poetry, flash fiction, and short stories, In the End, Only Darkness is an uncompromising vision of evil in its myriad forms. The book includes the pieces:

Calliope

Armageddon

What She Sees

Jasmine & Garlic

Attainable Beauty

Huntin’ Season

Vade in Pacem

Five Adjectives about my Dad, by Nadine Specter

The Rest of Larry

Maternal Instinct

The Three Wishes of Henry Horgan

Not with a Bang

Oral Mohel

An Experiment in Human Nature

Asha

One Breath

Someone’s Sister

Dancing into October Country

Feeding Desire (with Jack Fisher)

Nurturing Type

Cell

Rape and self-mutilation are the tip of the iceberg, in a collection that directs much of the violence towards children and women. In stories, such as “Huntin’ Season,” O’Rourke moves beyond infanticide to describe the taste of “fried baby pecker.” “Jasmine & Garlic” twists the concept of abortion to include a doctor’s sexual perversity for amniotic fluid.

“Attainable Beauty” may be the strongest (and scariest) within the collection. It focuses on one woman’s obsession with Georgia O’Keefe’s White Camelia. In this tale, it is clear that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The woman will stop at nothing to achieve perfection both in herself and in her niece.

Another forerunner is “Nurturing Type.” The story examines what happens when a father is shipwrecked with his two children on a deserted island. He wasn’t going to win any father of the year trophies before being trapped in the Caribbean, but now he is getting hungry. The question is quickly becoming not how will they survive, but which of his children will taste better.

Perhaps most surprising to those unfamiliar with hardcore horror is the black comedy prevalent throughout many of the tales. It isn’t subtle. The author wants to shock you through your own laughter at such terrible deeds. The true horror in the collection is the reader’s own inability to turn away at the evil before them.

O’Rourke’s writing isn’t for everyone or even a majority of horror fans. However, if you enjoy hardcore horror, this collection is for you. In the End, Only Darkness is a celebration of the malevolent and immoral world we pray only exists in our nightmares.

Order it here.

Rating: 4/5

intheendonlydarkness-front-cover

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About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

1 Comment on Monica J. O’Rourke ‘In the End, Only Darkness’ Review

  1. Matthew J. Barbour // November 8, 2014 at 1:26 am // Reply

    I should be really clear. This book is evil. Also, it should be noted that the introduction is by Wrath James White. White has coauthored several books with O’Rourke but is a successful hardcore horror in his own right. It was his introduction which lured me into buying the book.

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