Book Review for Serial Killers Iterum
Edited by James Ward Kirk
Serial Killers Iterum is a collection of poetry, flash fiction pieces and short stories, all edited by James Ward Kirk, under the umbrella of his publishing company of the same name. Kirk has brought together some of the darkest works I have encountered in a very long time and many of the pieces, can only be described as sinister and taboo.
From the first poem, which is The Rebel, by Brian Rosenberg, the reader fully understands what is at the heart of this anthology. Rosenberg brings us the facts, fast and honestly; a serial killer, a successful one that is, will hide in plain sight. He will be in the cubicle next to our, and be the model employee until he goes home and removes the mask of John Q. Public, to become a killer with multiple victims;
Of the twenty-six poems in the anthology, my favorites were Rosenberg's The Rebel, William Cook's Killer, A. B. Stephen's Serial Killer's Ditty, and Three in Me by David Frazier. All the poetry ranged from good to great and all are worth your.
Flash Fiction Pieces
Like the poetry, the Flash Fiction is dark and menacing in its tones and variety. Being the father of an 8 year old daughter, I could identify with the main character and his motives, right up until the end in Stephen Alexander's Grey. But the ending does leave the door of uncertainty open, just a crack.
There are 9 pieces here and Grey is one of the best. Brian Barnett's Business is Murder, and Allen Griffin's Pretend Pain are also excellent reads that weigh on the mind, long after consumption.
As for the short stories, William Cook's Return of the Creep, a tale of a sadistic cabby and his slow torture of a beautiful young girl, was by far the fullest, most well rounded story. Many of the other pieces read like flash fiction, but here, Cook offers the reader one of the best stories I have read in to this point in 2013. Zach Black's His Father Before Him, is another fine tale about a second generation serial killer who wants to be just like his dad, in every way but one. Also good is Mark Fewell's Amy's Last Dance.
After reading the material here, I felt as if I'd been given a different view of the psycho serial killer than can be found anywhere else. This isn't true crime fiction, and it isn't Investigation Discovery, this is a group of writers taking on one of the most difficult sub-genres of speculative fiction, and doing an excellent job at it!
Overall, I'd call Serial Killers Iterum a winner! After reading the material here, I felt as if I'd been given a different view of the psycho serial killer than can be found anywhere else. This isn't True Crime Fiction, and it isn't Investigation Discovery, this is a group of writers taking on one of the most difficult sub-genres of speculative fiction, and doing an excellent job at it!
It's one of those anthologies you should not read in one setting, but over a long period of time. Theme fiction can sometimes be overwhelming when read straight through and, each Poem, Flash Fiction Piece, and Short Story deserves its own moment in the dark...
David L. Russell, strangeweirdandwonderful.com
I love themed anthologies. I’ve written stories for themed anthologies and I’ve compiled and edited themed anthologies. THE INANIMATES I offers stories from the point of view of, of course, inanimate objects. Who knew a teapot could be so petulant? Editors D. L. Russell and Sharon Black have put together something special. I wear eyeglasses. My eyeglass made it known that I’d better not stop reading this anthology until the last page was devoured: I think you know what I mean. I’ve commented below on some my very favorites from the anthology. Enjoy!
Amanda Northrup Mays
This is easily the best story in the anthology. Amanda Northrup Mays writes a love story like no other I’ve read. The prose is tight and smothering. Point of view starts with first person, then in a very special manner becomes second person and ends in horrific fashion with first person. Mays expertly created tension with subtlety. The gruesome climax arrives like a hammer to the head. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Mays.
“Behind closed doors”
T. A. Rathke
I enjoyed Rathke’s story. I’m not sure which was more evil, Wardrobe or the story’s narrator. And the narrator switches sides at the end of the story, when the little girl gains the upper hand! “Her lips touched his flesh, her breath soft upon him. ‘And to think summer has only begun’.” The narration, quite suffocating, is the star of this story. There’s some violence against children in this story, but certainly not gratuitous. “Behind Closed Doors” was a brave and smart selection for the anthology by Russell.
“The Recycle of Life”
This is excellent work by Dutkiewicz. “The Recycle of Life” fits into the anti-literature genre. Fernando Alegria writes this about anti-literature: “The anti-literature to which I refer is a revolt against a lie accepted socially and venerated instead of reality. The creator who is seen in the act of creation self-analyzes and self-criticizes: discards the false, that which would bring him to perjure the true human condition.” Dutkiewicz manages this with a sense of humor too—perfect for the story’s theme and genre: is there life after death? Eat you peas, dear reader.
Robin Van Ek
Van Ek manages to write a horror story both brutal and beautiful. Her method of description is excellent from the most mundane to the most horrible: “He smiled and helped her into the long sleeves. The tag scratched her neck,” and “Blood and gin trailed down the green porcelain, disappeared down the drain. Acid seared its pipes. The Motel swallowed” are perfect examples. The prose is taut. Upon first glance, I thought choosing a motel for an inanimate object was a bit lazy but by the end of the story I felt empathy for the Motel. If you read this review before you read the story, pour some wine, put “Hotel California” on to play, sit back and prepare to be brutalized—in a beautiful way. I see Poe’s influence in Ek’s writing—study the female characters. Robin Van Ek has a bright future.
“MIRANDA, IN PIECES”
GEOFFREY W. COLE
Cole does a brilliant job making madness. His style is as suffocating as the tunnels Miranda must travel: if you enjoy metaphor, this story is for you. Cole’s madness is quite logical, the exact opposite of the persons buried beneath it. Cole’s piece approaches grief and is, therefore, an account of the human condition. To write of the human condition is to create literature. This is classic literary horror. Like Van Ek, I see Poe as an influence in Cole’s writing. A mind fractured is a horrible thing to waste.
James Ward Kirk