Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Matt Shaw is a relative newcomer to the horror genre, but is incredibly prolific. Since beginning his career in 2004, Shaw has written more than 50 stories. His most widely praised works have been in his extreme horror collection. All of the novels within the collection are instantly identifiable by their unadorned black covers and graphic content. Sick B*stards is among these titles.
Sick B*stards follows a family of incestuous cannibals living through the end of days. Exactly what has happened to the world is anyone’s guess. The family resides in a boarded-up two-story house in the country. They remember nothing of their former lives and only wish to survive by whatever means possible. Looters and mutants roam the British countryside. The family preys on any traveler unfortunate enough to arrive at their doorsteps.
They do not even remember their names. Mother is mother. Father is father. Brother is brother. Sister is sister. The tale is told through the point of view of brother, who is carrying on sexual relationships with both mother and sister.
All is going well until brother finds that he can no longer live with his actions. He chooses to leave his family and the house. Exploring the British countryside, he finds a world that is many ways more disgusting and repugnant than the one he has left behind. Nothing is as it seems. Perhaps, he isn’t a sick bastard or perhaps there are others just far worse than him?
Sick B*stards is disturbing on so many levels. By writing the narrative from the first person perspective of brother, Shaw forces the reader to get intimately involved in acts of cannibalism, murder, and rape. It leads to a very uncomfortable read. It is from this discomfort and disgust the horror derives. The reader never sympathizes with brother, but by the end, the reader understands the decisions brother makes.
Sick B*stards is arguably Shaw’s best work to date. It is precisely what is expected from a modern day splatterpunk novel. The writing is straight forward and does not pull any punches. There are numerous graphic depictions of sex and violence meant to repulse and terrify. It is a must read for fans of extreme horror. Then if you decide that you like it, check out the sequel, Sicker B*stards, recently released in December 2014.