Dallas' Book Report: Under Rotting Sky by Matthew V. Brockmeyer (2019)
Twisted re-tellings of Where the Wild Things Are; snuff porn shoots; social media gone wrong; horny killer werewolves, and an evil druggie Rumpelstiltskin. These are just a few of the white-knuckled, terror-inducing things in Matthew V. Brockmeyer's horror anthology—Under Rotting Sky.
I loved every moment of it.
This book report is brought to you by Brockmeyer himself, who was kind enough to give me a copy to review, and he did not disappoint! For anyone reading this now, stop and go pick up a copy and read it now. I'll wait. Are you done? Wasn't that messed up! For the longest time, I was not the biggest fan of anthologies. They were akin to buying an album only to end up enjoying three or four songs on a sixteen song playlist. I always felt bummed out. Unlike that, Under Rotting Sky felt like every new story was an exciting excursion into the realm of the contorted and profane.
One of the biggest strengths of this book is that Mr. Brockmeyer did not fall back on purely paranormal horror or traditional tropes. Some of his most frightening stories came from tapping into the twisted nerve of the mundane and shedding light on the fears of everyday existence. It's as I say—the truth is scarier than fiction. The writing oozes uneasy depth, juggling a range of emotions. Fear is the main course, but the appetizer of comedy is also on display. Call me messed up, but I found dark humor in the story Mall Santa. It points an accusatory finger at the ridiculous and dangerous lengths people will go for a simple "like" on social media.
Speaking of likes, I cannot help but give this book one. I am one of those people—call it the critic in me—who strategically looks for things to dislike in a work of art. Under Rotting Sky, I could not find one. The effectiveness of horror is to evoke fear and, sometimes, disgust. This book did both. But if any criticism were to be given, it would have to be that—even for myself—I could not marathon read it. Some of the stories made me want to put the book down and watch a video with some kittens in it, for levity's sake. For more sensitive readers, this might not be the kind of reading material for them.
Picking which story is my favorite within is like trying to decide which Final Fantasy game I like the most. Some are better than others, but if my arm was to be twisted with the threat of sinew ripping and bones breaking, it would have to be the opening story of MINE. Imagine Max from Where the Wild Things Are actually being a murderous little bastard instead of just throwing a temper tantrum. Some might call that a bastardization. I call it a cynical and fun reimagining. For crying out loud, he's on the front cover, so you know it has to be good!
In conclusion, pick up a copy of Under Rotting Sky if you're looking for horror, which takes a walk down different paths. If you're not a fan of horror, pick it up anyway; we need fresh talent like Matthew V. Brockmeyer.