The Horror Zine Review
Edited by Anne C. Petty
|Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: JournalStone Press (April 26,, 2013)
Product Dimensions: 9.0 x 6.0 x 0.7 inches
Edited by Anne C. Perry
Review by Betsy A. Riley
The first thing that got my attention about this book was the name, Limbus.
The Foreword says it is Latin for limbo, but I didn’t know that when I agreed to review this book. For me the name conjured up associations with nimbus—rain clouds that threaten a storm. But the first meaning is a cloud of light around a god or goddess setting foot on Earth, always a recipe for drama.
Maybe I should have read the fine print. Limbo is also the nebulous realm for souls that don’t qualify to enter heaven because they are unbaptized. It can also mean a place of confinement, neglect, or uncertainty. All of those are apt descriptions of the shadowy corporation known as Limbus, Inc.
This is a clever book-within-a-book plot which sets the framework that allows stories from five different authors to share the same reality. We start with the plight of Matthew Sellers, a bookseller who is handed a mysterious manuscript to read. Like Matthew, we are drawn into its spell and left with an ending worthy of The Twilight Zone.
From the short blurbs describing the book, I was expecting it to fall more in the sci-fi genre, borne out by the cover depicting a man on a lunar surface with Earth rising in the background. I had read the first two stories before I noticed that the shadow cast by that man was the shadow of a wolf. That was the first clue that Limbus, Inc. resides firmly in horror, even though the stories may include spaceships or time travel.
In “The Slaughter Man” by Benjamin Kane Ethridge, we are dumped into a charnel house for a baptism of blood that spans galaxies. I’m not a fan of gore, but Ethridge made me care about his main character so much that I could not put down the book until I found out what happened to that unlucky employee.
Next up is “The Sacrifice” by Brett J. Talley, a classic tale of devil worship and cult sacrifice, complete with a foggy cemetery, gothic church, and distressed virgin. Talley gives the tale a twist I was not expecting.
“One Job Too Many” by Joseph Nassise takes time travel to a new level of complexity with a veteran who knows too much for his own good. I see more adventures ahead for his characters.
In “We Employ” by Anne C. Petty, the job is walking a dog. Sounds simple, right? The hazard pay should be a clue that nothing in the world of Limbus, Inc. is simple.
“Strip Search” by Jonathan Maberry is a joy to read. I’d love to read more stories about this main character. Maberry’s prose delights with descriptions such as: a summer so hot “even a Buddhist monk would lock and load and go looking for someone to shoot.” He has the film noir detective patter down pat, but his detective is anything but standard.
We end back in the world of the bookseller who was handed the manuscript. Now I’m stuck with the same secret and the choice of how to describe Limbus, Inc. to the world. Let’s go with “There is nothing behind the curtain, really—it’s an inventive piece of fiction that will haunt your dreams forever.” And remember, always read the fine print.
You can buy Limbus, Inc HERE.
About the editor
Anne C. Petty
Anne C. Petty is the author of three horror/dark-fantasy novels( The Cornerstone, Thin Line Between, Shaman’s Blood), a Florida Gothic suspense series co-written with P.V. LeForge, three books of literary criticism, and many essays on the craft of writing, mythology, and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Recent short fiction includes her award-winning story “Blade”; “The Veritas Experience” published in The Best Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction of 2009; and “The Real Deal,” included in the anthology Slices of Flesh from Dark Moon Books. Anne is an active member of the Horror Writers Association, the International Thriller Writers, and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. She is a founding member of the Tallahassee Writers Association and has been a presenter at writers’ conferences and pop-culture conventions such as Dragon-Con in Atlanta. In 2006, she founded Kitsune Books, a small press specializing in literary fiction and book-length poetry collections. She has a Ph.D. in English from Florida State University (specializing in Mythology & Folklore), and has been in the publishing/editing/writing business for over thirty years.
About the reviewer
Betsy A. Riley
Betsy A. Riley is a multi-genre author/poet/artist living in Maryland. By day she works on the bleeding edge of supercomputing technology with scientific researchers, by night she writes about a different sort of bleeding edge in her poetry and fiction.
Betsy’s poetry has appeared in publications such as Empirical Magazine, the Latitude on 2nd anthologies (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), and online venues such as FictionAndVerse.com. Her short fiction is often under the pen names of Cassandra Hex, Delfina Hex, or Desdemona Pike. For more about Betsy’s work, see HERE or HERE