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Monkey Love / John Paul Allen

MonkeyLoveThumbnail.jpgBiting Dog Press / December 2007
Reviewed by: Jeff Burk

Biting Dog Press concludes its successful three-novella series, which included Kealan Patrick Burke’s Midlisters and Jeff Strand’s Disposal, with Monkey Love by up-and-coming dark scribe John Paul Allen. When Professor Sandra Rixx’s husband, Richard, dies in a terrorist bombing, her life falls apart. She travels to Uganda to throw herself into her work studying gorillas. One gorilla in particular catches Sandra's attention, one that has a familiar marking on its fur that bears a remarkable likeness to her dead husband's tattoo. This inspires her to concoct a plan to bring the love of her life back.

Sandra's story makes for a gripping and disturbing tale. Allen cruelly toys with a character whose sense of purpose has been shattered. As Sandra begins to find meaning in life again, various forces converge to unwittingly send her down into unfathomable darkness. Her downward spiral is sure to shock, and what Allen has in store for her made this reviewer gasp aloud on more than one occasion.

As a bonus, the book includes the short story "House Guest", an equally disturbing psychological drama about a couple whose daughter is brain-dead and being cared for at home. Unbeknownst to them, their daughter's boyfriend is living in her closet and has a few ideas on how to make the family happy again.

Both stories explore a very dark world in which individuals attempt to find love through whatever means necessary. Allen places the reader forefront in the characters’ heads in unnervingly clear fashion. While readers can see the terrible fates about to befall the characters, they are able to empathize and understand the desires (as twisted as they may be) that blind the stars of Allen's tragedies. Reader be warned: the book contains very graphic scenes of sexual horror. To Allen’s credit, these scenes come across less exploitative than filled with a genuine sense of emotional torment.

John Paul Allen has not yet received widespread attention in the horror community; if Monkey Love is any indication, then that is certain to change. His prose is lean and tight, and each of his characters is written with a distinctive voice. At his best, Allen possesses the rare ability to combine genuine emotional drama and graphic horror. Readers are likely to be smitten with Monkey Love, and will undoubtedly seek to turn this one-night stand with the talented Allen into a long-term relationship.

Purchase John Paul Allen’s Monkey Love.

Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 at 11:50AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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