Reviewed by Paula Limbaugh
Terry M West’s Gruesome: A Gathering of Nightmares should be subtitled The Best of Terry M West! This is a hefty tome containing some of West’s best stories to date! Some of the stories have been re-edited and expanded upon and we find one tale that is exclusive to this book. These tales range from down-right gruesome to comedic horror. There is enough variety in the tellings that I don’t think anyone will walk away disappointed.
Don’t the Monsters All Get Scarier at Closing Time opens the collection with a nasty little short tale dealing with one misguided woman’s guilt. Yep, Violet can come across sweet as pie but don’t let that fool you! She’s been atoning for her sins for a long time.
Honger is both a sad and cruel story. Willem has given shelter one cold wintry evening to a half-dead man appearing at his doorstep. Ah, but that one act of kindness cost him his family and life as he knew it. Now cursed with a hunger that will never be sated Willem has a long time to contemplate his lot in life.
Ready for something more extreme? In Morsel we find a man bored with life. A milquetoast, John has found a way to make his fantasies become his reality.
Hmm, what happens to one born of demons but raised in the midst of humans? Turning Face is the story of one such creature. Raised to stir up hatred amongst humanity, Tojo Smith finds himself at odds with who he really is.
Picaro is a bittersweet tale with gore aplenty. Binh is on the run after finding his lover mutilated and left for dead in the apartment they share. Anxious to get out of town, Binh hitches a ride with a trucker. Dropped off at the next truck stop, he goes in to grab a bite to eat and secure his next ride. Instead, he finds someone willing to take him on a journey with dire consequences.
Oh my, It Makes You Sad almost make you feel bad for poor Kevin. Almost, I said!
The Rose Man reads like an acid trip gone bad. A simple good deed lands Dane in his own private horror show.
Southern-Fried Hex is actually 3 separate stories. Included in this trio is Cecil and Bubba Meet a Drunk Gypsy which is exclusive to this collection. These stories are a fine mix of good ol’ boy humor along with a bit of the dark side. Think… Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Totally entertaining!
Hair and Blood Machine was an interesting read. Johnny lost the handle of his reality after mom and dad died. Psychotic thoughts fill his head while he carefully maintains a semblance of sanity. But… what could have been a really good story became instead a great one. Ah, that twisted end is one I didn’t see coming!
Just in case you were wondering what more could go wrong for Willem, Honger 2 fleshes out the first story and continues on with more current events. Perhaps a bit gorier but just as good!
And, the final entry… All of the Flesh Served is a Sci-fi eco-horror treat. So different than the other stories this one makes you think. In the not too far future, the world has become overpopulated and resources depleted. The fate of mankind lies in the hands of an engineered man. A bit like Soylent Green in the Twilight Zone.
Truly, this is one collection of nightmares that you won’t forget anytime soon. Yeah, there are a couple of stories with some pretty graphic horror so be warned those of you that are easily offended and for the rest of you… you can pick up your copy HERE!