The Agony of After by Scott Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm willing to go out on a limb here and say that Mr. Hale is one of the most compellingly disturbing masters of horror to have come out of nowhere in the last few decades.
The rest are just piddling around with character studies of people who have lost a little here or there or people who like to cause a little misery. Some just have monsters to survive or monsters to be.
Mr. Hale takes everything much further than that. He goes epic. Great characters, deep imaginings, fully connected worldbuilding in every single story and novel, and more blood and tentacular horror than I've seen in any book.
I've read a lot. A lot. My guilty pleasure has always been horror in all its breeds, but I have a very soft spot for the over-the-top stuff. As in... you've become super comfortable in this life of genres, have you? Loving the social message, the complicated family life, the career? It sucks you in... and then the worst horrors of anyone's imagining crawl out of the walls, the ground, the trees, even time, flipping everything you think you know on its head.
And the greatest thing about Mr. Hale's work? It's consistent, it's freaking horrific, and he's only getting better.
These four long novellas have probably gone to the top of my list of favorites.
Where the Dead Go to Die - A social worker gets a lot more than he bargains for with the remnants of the Ashcroft family.
Augurs - My personal favorite, a complicated LGBT community tweets itself into a nightmare of epic proportions, but first it does a damn awesome job of exploring its own issues.
A Child in Every Home - A place where families are the causes of their own misfortunes. A missing child case goes horribly, horribly awry.
Trauma - Mr. Haemo is back and we explore behind the scenes of so many of the happenings in the novels after the Trauma, where black is white and graves are the birth canals.
Welcome to the Wormverse.
I can't recommend these enough. There's more blood in these than you can fit in a stadium pool.
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