I write short stories and screenplays mostly in the horror genre. Several of my short stories have been published including one about a Kumiho (Korean Werefox). I regularly blog about writing, the horror genre and reviews at https://www.facebook.com/davidjenkinswriter
Review of Weird Ales- short story collection edited by Theresa Darwin
This book features eleven short stories on weird ales and pubs and is probably the best anthology I have ever read. I enjoy less than two thirds of the stories in most anthologies I read as I feel the same theme gets repetitive, predictable and some stories fail to grab me anyway. But not this collection. I never realised there is so much to write about on the theme and apart from two stories featuring Cthulhu these were all completely original. I would happily read eight of the eleven stories which were all surprising, sinister and compact. Before talking about my favourites I would just like to reiterate the uniqueness of the plots- A magazine hack searches for a classic punk singer in a strange bar filled with fairies, an alcoholic becomes obsessed with a poisonous but enlightening drink and a businessman wants to sell a new beer in his nightclubs despite the misgivings of the beer club. These were just some of the stories I felt were good but not great. As for my favourites.
In ‘Hoary Protuberance Loves Craft’ we have an exciting young drinker as a narrator so I found it realistic both with its slang and viewpoint ‘after listening to the old man drivel on I felt I deserved another of his shots’. The old fashioned man slowly tells the young clubber why he feels so bad and you can sense the dread building but the clubber just keeps drinking. When the horror starts in the last five pages its well described from Cthulhu to the transformation of the young clubber. This story had a simple moral don’t take free drinks of strangers but the writing style was so enjoyable it transcended the simple story idea. In ‘Belly Buster’ again the first person narrative is realistic but more humorous this time with Bob declaring ‘I’m what you call out of shape- well I suppose a barrel is a shape’. Bob tells the story of how he killed a cat with the beer he was testing after not following the serving suggestion. The success of the author Hayley Orgill in this story is making you feel completely in Bob’s shoes as he realises his mistake, tries to get rid of the cat and then decides what to do with the last bottles of Belly Buster. ‘The Funeral’ is not a full on horror or fantasy story like the others it’s an emotional story of a young man who has just lost his wife. Everyone can relate to losing someone and that’s what makes this story so good. The idea that a drink can make you reconnect with your dead loved ones is again such a simple idea. However the strange circumstances Nathan gets the drink and the relief we feel that the drink didn’t kill him but help him sees his wife again is such an emotional rollercoaster that the simplicity doesn’t matter.
Overall, I would strongly recommend this book to drinkers and non-drinkers alike as it features many intriguing tales on a rather narrow subject- pubs and booze. The narrative style of many pieces are different as are the plots, making this my favourite short story collection.