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Fiends By Torchlight / Wayne Allen Sallee

thfiendscover2.jpgAnnihilation Press / August 2006
Reviewed by: Martel Sardina

Fiends By Torchlight is the first offering from start-up publisher Roger Dale Trexler of Annihilation Press. This fledgling publishing venture's goal is to reacquaint horror and dark fantasy fans with authors whose stars may have faded in the wake of the publishing downturn that occurred in the mid-1990’s. Wayne Allen Sallee was the first author that Trexler felt deserved to be thrust back into the limelight.

The result is a collection of twenty-two short fiction pieces, featuring a mix of classic reprints in addition to a handful of new stories. The introduction was written by fellow horror author Charles Gramlich. There is also one non-fiction piece entitled “Send In The Clowns: The Execution of John Wayne Gacy,” where Sallee recounts his three-year written correspondence with one of the country’s most notorious serial killers.

Sallee’s writing is bold and honest. His characters are nasty people who you would never want to know in real life, but somehow you can’t deny yourself the pleasure of knowing them in this fictional world. Many of his stories are set in Chicago, and Sallee’s descriptions of the various backdrops often make the city an actual character itself.

The overall theme of the collection is coping with loss. Many of the stories are about serious topics such as loss due to cancer, drunk driving, terrorism, and domestic abuse. Sallee also gives us a handful of classic horror tales featuring werewolves, vampires, and serial killers for good measure. And then, he pushes readers to the edge with deeply disturbing tales such as “Elviscera” and “What Would Mamaw Say?”

There were a few stories that I felt could have been resolved differently. Some of the stories appear to stop rather than end. “The Ramp On Trumbull St.” comes to mind as a piece that, in my opinion, could have been taken further to give the reader a more satisfying ending. But other fans of Sallee’s work that I’ve talked to chalk this up to a “style” versus “substance” issue.

As far as the production quality of the book itself is concerned, astute readers will notice some typos in the text, but these should not detract from the overall enjoyment of the collection.  Fiends By Torchlight ends up a great sampler that gives new readers a chance to see why Sallee is a five-time Bram Stoker Award nominee while thrilling the author's long-time fans with previously unpublished works.

Purchase Wayne Allen Sallee's Fiends By Torchlight

Posted on Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 02:30PM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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