Amaranthine and Other Stories by Erik Hofstatter
Amaranthine and Other Stories serves up nine schlock horror slices, sprinkled with quirk and humour.
Forget vampires. Forget werewolves. Forget ghosts. Humans are the ultimate grotesques. Variant flavours of woe sift through these pages. The results are sometimes hilarious, sometimes outright hair-raising!
From time to time I like to dip my toes in the waters of short fiction. Horror always lends itself well to this particular format, so when the latest collection from Erik Hofstatter arrived in my mailbox who was I to refuse? So sit back and relax as we enjoy nine different interpretations of the purest evil.
The Birthing Pool – Sean suffers a horrible break up. He becomes obsessed with filling the void that has been left behind. First story in the collection and were already in utterly gross territory. Those with a delicate constitution, beware. This one is proper nasty! You’ll never look at undercooked food in quite the same way again, I can guarantee it.
Tristan’s Equation – More obsession, but this time it is a mathematical problem that plagues Tristan’s every waking moment. What does it all mean? Where are his family and why has he been left utterly alone?
Amaranthine – How best do you change/reverse the fortunes of a failing independent bookshop? It turns out the answer is some creative lateral thought and specialising in a very particular type of tome. I’m impressed that this story manages to be both horrific and educational at the same time. I’ve just learned what anthropodermic bibliopegy is. Thinking about it I’m pretty sure part of me never wanted to know!
The Wandering Pilgrim – . Ra, Ra, Rasputin lover of the Russian Queen (oh yeah, I’ll channel my inner Boney M appreciation when it comes to a review). A short, sharp and decidedly sleazy look into the political manoeuvrings of “The Mad Monk”.
The Deep End – Eva learns the hard way that you shouldn’t ever go swimming in the deep end of the local pool. What can I say, jealousy can be a terrible and deadly thing.
Eucalyptus Grove – James, Jason and Randy want fame, and perhaps something just a little bit darker. This is undoubtedly the most gruesome story in the collection. Probably because it is the most likely it could actually happen. Disturbingly real and shocking, this was the standout tale for me. Be warned This is dark with a capital D.
Akona – Giant snake eats baby. If that’s not a tabloid headline right there I don’t know what is?
The Green Tide – I’ve always struggled to adequately define why I don’t like to swim in the ocean. I always thought it was a fear of sharks. Turns out I’m wrong. It’s the murderous toxic seaweed, that’s the reason why I’m not a fan of the beach.
Pins and Needles – This final tale seems eerily topical due to current events in the UK. Small minded bigots are given a dose of their own medicine. Good news everybody – voodoo vengeance can be fun! Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.
Dark and often downright devilish, this latest collection by Hofstatter is sure to be a winner if you like your shocks hardcore. I’ll happily admit that I’ve enjoyed all this author’s work I’ve read so far. I’m looking forward to the day when we get a full length novel and we really get to experience him flexing his creative muscles. The nine stories in this short anthology deliver exactly what was promised – conclusive evidence that humanity, when it chooses to be, can be capable of great malevolence.
Amaranthine and Other Stories is published by the author and is available now.