Wednesday 26 February 2020

Dark Book Review – Deranged

Dark Book Review – Deranged

Review by Casey Douglass


Deranged is a bizarro / horror anthology stuffed to the gills with ten explicit tales of sex. These aren’t your usual, run-of-the-mill sweaty encounters though; these particular ones feature a variety of subject matter, from supernatural copulation, to the taboo of finding corpses more than a little attractive. A common thread amongst many of the stories is the characters’ discovery that ‘vanilla’ just doesn’t cut it any more, and that their actions take them onwards, into the darker extremes of human sexuality.

One character embraces the culture of wax-play. Another enters a strange sex-club where more is at stake than meets the eye. A “Slasher Slut” revels in the lives of two serial-killers, conducting tours around their home by day and forcing her boyfriend to mistreat her at night. A dedicated worker engages in necrophilia. A poor soul ends up in a strange reality, one in which he is regularly raped by a strange furry female dog-person. These are just some of the storylines to be found in Deranged.

After reading the above, you’ll know if Deranged is likely to be a book that would interest you. It’s extreme, taboo and gross, yet contained in each tale are characters that are well-written and for the most part, “everyday people”. This is one of the book’s charms. A “normal” person accidentally finding their fetish, maybe by the accidental spill of candle wax on skin, or a chance encounter at a club. Or they might give into a gross or bizarre desire just once, and that is enough to send them down the rabbit hole. Disclaimer: There are no stories about characters fucking rabbits. Just FYI.

My favourite story is Drippings by Sarah Cannavo. This features Alison, someone who engages in the aforementioned wax-play activities. She finds a kindred spirit who also shares this kink, but their coupling creates something that ends up terrorizing their lives, and I don’t mean a baby! It wasn’t the most extreme story, and it actually ends quite happily, which is a rare thing for me to enjoy. I liked the tempo of the tale, the “thing” that pesters the two lovers, and the rich descriptions of what it does.

A close second favourite of mine is The House of Tears by John Paul Fitch. This story is that of a rich guy who is a regular at a sex club called The Sanctuary. As with many things in life, this can and does lead him to a more extreme version, a place where reality seems to bend and a hellish power holds sway. I enjoyed this story for the strange situations the main character witnesses, the way the horrific scenes unfolded and the inventiveness and otherworldly feeling to things. I got a bit of an Event Horizon vibe from it, although it isn’t a tale set in the darkness of space.

A special mention has to go to Filthy Secrets by Jonathan Butcher, for being the grossest tale amongst the stories in the book. Let me just say that he makes excellent use of so many bodily secretions and excretions, it left me feeling a bit queasy. That being said, the main thrust of the tale, the thrill of the main character knowing something that no-one else does, was very well conveyed, and I felt like I was along for every bump of the nauseous ride.

I was very impressed by the quality of the writing in Deranged. Crafting explicit sex or horror scenes takes skill, and having well-written characters that you can follow through the course of their personal discovery, in whichever way that manifests, is pretty much nailed by every tale in the collection. I finished reading it more than a week ago and I can still picture certain scenes so clearly, which is a testament to the authors’ talents. If you enjoy bizarro sexual horror, you'll enjoy Deranged.

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Book Title: Deranged
Book Authors: Antonio Simon, JR, Sarah Cannavo, Jonathan Butcher, Colleen Anderson, Sidney Williams, John Paul Fitch, W. T. Patterson, Annie Knox, C L Raven, Suzanne Fox
Publisher: 6K Press
Released: 16 Dec 2019
RRP: $3.02 (Kindle), $9.99 (Paperback)