Three years have passed between the publication of Orrin Grey‘s first story collection, Never Bet the Devil, and his latest, Painted Monsters, and I have to say this was one of my most anticipated reads of last year. In 2013 I called his first collection a Monsterghostoccultapalooza, and while that description could arguably also be applied to Painted Monsters, I think it’s perhaps more accurate to say that this book is a manual of monster appreciation.
This book is built around the monsters of film, from Caligari to kaiju. They are delivered in an Orrin-style bow, with a panoply of framing devices to enjoy while reading. That said, it strikes me as a pleasure for those who do or don’t go in for horror on film. I was mildly surprised to realize just how many of the stories here I’d read previously, and this was actually a happy surprise. I’m biased, but I do think Orrin’s work tends to stand out in anthologies where it appears, and I’m glad to have all these stories between two covers. It’s hard to pick out favorites in the bunch, as each is a delight, but for now I’d say my top three were the titular story, “Painted Monsters,” along with “Persistence of Vision” and “The Red Church.”
Do you like to read external-to-the-story matter? Orrin does a lovely job of this, writing stories about the stories that are themselves delightful, and I don’t want to spoil any of that for you, but I will say to read the general author’s note, and John Langan’s monsterful introduction. Orrin talks about the collection over at The Outer Dark, if you’re looking for more, and elsewhere. Word Horde did a nice job with this book, and I’m particularly delighted by Nick Gucker’s cover art, as it wonderfully evokes the tone of the collection, and it makes me smile every time I see it.
Painted Monsters is a dark love letter that should appeal to anyone with an interest in the creatures that have haunted our days and nights, our books and movies, games and televisions, for the last hundred years. Check it out. [Amazon|B&N|Publisher]