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The Bitchfight / Michael A. Arnzen

thBitchfight165x248.gifBad Moon Books / February 2008
Reviewed by: Jeff Burk

Bad Moon Books has released yet another memorable, if not confounding, tale. I'm not sure whether to fall over in a fit of giggles or sit crying in the shower after reading The Bitchfight by four-time Bram Stoker Award winner Michael A. Arnzen. Child abuse, the mob, bestiality, and a very sick sense of humor await those twisted enough to venture into this short novelette.

A veterinarian in debt to the mob is called upon to make a very unusual house call. The animal in question is a little girl who acts like a dog, complete with barking and walking on all fours. To make matters worse, the vet is expected to stay and provide medical assistance for that evening's "dog-fights," a savage event where similar children will maim and gouge for a cheering, gambling crowd.

Clocking in at a mere 14,000 words, Arnzen wastes no time plunging the reader into a world of sickness and never lets up. There are no great metaphors at work here, no insight into the human condition, just shock and horror. Each turn of the page presents a new perversity. It may be for the best that the story is so short.

Some readers may be put off by how far Arnzen stretches the plot here, and not just in terms of violence and gore. While the story starts out believable enough, it abruptly veers into the realm of the fantastic. Readers who prefer their horror reality-based are cautioned: While the story sounds like a gritty, realistic tale, its tone is too light-hearted and the events too absurd to be taken in earnest.

For those looking for something completely different in their horror fiction, Michael A. Arnzen has the perfect little story for you. Take one part splatter, one part mob tale, add a dash of sex and violence, and throw in a whole lot of weirdness, and one has The Bitchfight. Recommended only for those with a strong stomach and an open mind; everyone else may feel some extreme discomfort. You have been warned.

Purchase Michael A. Arnzen’s The Bitchfight.

Posted on Friday, April 25, 2008 at 11:18AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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