Skull Full of Kisses by Michael West: A Short Story Stradivarius

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Skull Full of Kisses is a ten story collection of Michael West’s short fiction. I can tell you know, that if you go to read this collection, you will find no two stories alike. Each and every one is different, unique and damned scary.

There is a short story in there for everyone.

Interested in Japanese culture? Fascinated by the Yakuza and Japanese Demons? Well Jiki will be right up your alley or basement, in this case.

West gives us glimpses of the horrific haven of Harmony, Indiana and a look at the Lovecraftian village of Colonial Bay; where you definitely don’t want to ask the question – What’s a nice girl like you, doing in a place like this?

There’s a great little place that’s just out of reach in the desert unless you take Einstein’s Slingshot; a one-way ride into the realm of nightmares and things that like human flesh.

If you ever dreamed of being an astronaut, you’ll want to avoid the story To Know How To See, which feels like a Twilight Zone episode with tinges of The Outer Limits.

While I’d love to set here and give little “teasing” clues about what is in the book and the themes of each story, I won’t.

What I will do is urge you to read these…quickly…while with friends…and in the daylight. If you attempt to read these alone, slowly, or at night, you might just have bad dreams. Or more correctly nightmares.

When Michael West tells a scary storynothing can be considered safe. Not even your loving girlfriend who never wants to let you go (For Her).

At the beginning of this post, I said that all the stories were scary. I will hold my hand up and  admit that this is a lie. I will not divulge the title of this particular tale. I’ll let you stumble upon as I did, by reading this collection. It is, I think, my favourite and no, it is not scary in the traditional sense, but is it very good.

West has a little “afterward” in his collection where he talks about what gave him the idea for each story and when it was originally published. It is a fascinating look into the mind of a horror writer. He warns about not reading this section before you read the stories as there could be spoilers hidden there.

I would listen to him. If you skip to the back, he might find out. And, I don’t know, you could wind up in one of his stories.

Now where I might find that entertaining (there’s nothing worse than one of those people who jump to the back of the book) if you are one of those people, I cannot think of a better punishment. Because as much as I love being scared by West’s scary denizens in his stories, I’d hate to have to deal with them.

Another great addition to the Michael West collection I already own and I will now wait (not so) patiently for his next offering of terror.

A real 5 out of 5 for creative and non-repetitive horror. If this collection was a musical instrument, it would be the Stradivarius of its peers; playing with a deeper and more resonant sound than other stories in the genre.

Read it.

Author Michael West and a fan.
Author Michael West and a fan.

Poseidon’s Children by Michael West: Lovecraftian Lunacy

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I know that I’ve now done three straight reviews on Michael West’s novels, with a small break for a review on an Evans Light novella, but I tend to really get into a new author who’s been included in my stable of favourites.

Poseidon’s Children is a brilliant Lovecraftian horror story that pays homage to the man who invented horrors that climbed from the sea. Of course the best thing about a Michael West Lovecraftian story is that his characters dialogue will sound real and natural, not like the original H P Lovecraft’s constant problems with dialogue.

The book starts with a young collegiate couple who fall victim to some evil and hungry monstrosity from the sea surrounding the island community of Colonial Bay. After the young man is devoured, his girl almost escapes with the help of a hotel resident who heard her screams.

The hotel resident is named Larry Neuhaus and he is on the island with his girlfriend Peggy trying to save their relationship which is struggling after an ex-girlfriend kills herself.  When he tries to save the girl on the beach, he sees something that looks like a man behind the girl just before she is pulled beneath the waves.

It turns out that the young man who was killed first is the only son of  billionaire gangster Roger Hays who now wants revenge for the death of his only child.

Meanwhile two archeologists have discovered what they believe to be Atlantis. Dr Miyagi and her lover/assistant Alan Everson are being financed by Roger Hays and when their funding is halted because of his personal tragedy they go to offer their condolences and to get the latest check signed so they can continue their exploration.

Once there they find out that Colonial Bay, where Hays’ son was killed, seemingly has links to their discovered underwater metropolis. Miyagi and Everson accompany Hays to the island to find out more about this connection.

We also get to meet Earl L. Preston (who was working for Homeland Security in Spookhouse) and we find out how he made the transition from Coast Guard Officer to law enforcement. He also winds up on the island as part of a murder inquiry.

When this disparate band of people get together on Colonial Bay, they arrive in time to discover the ancient evil that has risen on the island with the express purpose of killing all of humanity.

One of the Lovecraftian creatures in Colony Bay.
One of the Lovecraftian creatures in Colony Bay.

Poseidon’s Children is the first in a series of the Legacy of the Gods stories. I hope that despite his detour to Harmony, Indiana that Agent Preston will be a constant in this new series. He is a great character and one that I really like. I’d also like to think that Larry Neuhaus and his girlfriend will feature in future stories.

I can well imagine that this new series will be quite broad in scope, considering the clues that were revealed at the end of the book, so we may never get the chance to revisit Larry and Peggy as well as their new “family.”

As I wait eagerly for my copy of The Wide Game to arrive from Amazon.co.uk via the post, I’ll keep reading Michael West’s existing books and re-enjoying the great roller coaster rides that his stories take you on.

A welcome addition to any bookcase, whether it be a real or computerised one and a another 5 star book from a 5 star writer.

Author Michael West and a Colony Bay resident.
Author Michael West and a Colony Bay resident.