James Robert Smith's A Confederacy of Horrors was published by Hippocampus Press in January 2015.
Information about James Robert Smith:
James Robert Smith lives with his wife, son, and two requisite cats near Charlotte, NC.
He has made more than sixty short story sales, has had his comic scripts published by Marvel Comics, Kitchen Sink, Spyderbabies Grafix, and others. He is co-editor of the Arkham House anthology, Evermore. The Flock is his first novel.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about A Confederacy of Horrors:
In recent years, James Robert Smith has emerged as a distinctive new voice in contemporary weird fiction. Melding a smoothly flowing prose style, powerful horrific conceptions, and a keen sense of character and locale, Smith has written dozens of stories that expand the boundaries of the weird tale and take it into new and dynamic directions.
This first collection of his short fiction displays the many virtues of his work. Several of his tales are set in the South, a region he knews well through long residence. Whether it be the alienated youths in “Toke Ghost,” the ruthless plutocrat of “Moving,” or the comic terror of “The Reliable Vacuum Company,” Smith depicts a South where the lush, kudzu-choked landscape breeds horrors both earthly and unearthly.
Monsters from the depths of space are the focus of “On the First Day,” while rats of a more than usual malignancy are featured in “Dope.” “Translator” tells of mysteries emerging out of World War II, while in “Love & Magick” a man battles occult creatures with magic of his own. The ecological horrors of “Symptom” are matched by the existential horror of “Wet.” The end of the world appears imminent in “One of Those Days,” and a vampire of an unusual sort stalks through the pages of “Just a Gigolo.”
With this collection, James Robert Smith presents a rich and diverse smorgasboard of weirdness and terror that will delight his many devotees and bring new ones into his fold.
A REVIEW OF JAMES ROBERT SMITH'S A CONFEDERACY OF HORRORS
James Robert Smith is a relatively unknown author to me. I've heard of him and I know who he is, but unfortunately I haven't had a chance to read many of his stories yet. It was interesting for me to read this short story collection, because it was an excellent introduction to his stories.
In my opinion James Robert Smith's A Confederacy of Horrors will most likely be the best weird fiction collection of the year, because it contains diverse and beautifully written stories. It's an exceptionally good and original collection that will please fans of horror and weird fiction stories. It's a bit difficult for me to imagine that another collection could somehow be better than it.
A Confederacy of Horrors has been divided into four sections and contains the following stories:
A Confederacy of Ghosts:
- Through Becky's Eyes
- Of Rodents and Sinking Vessels
- Toke Ghost
- The Pool
A Confederacy of Vengeance:
- On the First Day
- The Jawbone of an Ass
- Love & Magick
A Confederacy of Obsession:
- At Last, Longing Look
- One of Those Days
- The Call
- Just Like Jesus, He Said
A Confederacy of Blood:
- It's Not a Blessing, She Said
- Just a Gigolo
- The Old Man's Final Visit
- Ice Bounty
- The Reliable Vacuum Company
- Pure Southern
Here's more information about the stories without spoilers and my thoughts about them:
- The protagonist in this story is strangely captivated by a house and its occupant.
- A well written ghost story.
Through Becky's Eyes:
- A story about Becky who has taken in boarders from the VA hospital to her house.
- A beautifully written story that has touching bittersweetness in it.
Of Rodents and Sinking Vessels:
- A well written story about Erwin Moody Enwhistle who once professed to be an expert in supernatural matters. He has taken objects (trophies) as remembrance from each case.
- An intriguing story in which the author writes well about the protagonist and his life.
- One of my favourite stories in this collection.
- Bryan goes to see his marijuana garden and meets a girl there with unexpected consequences.
- An excellent and powerful story.
- In this story Harry's son, Tommy, has been in an accident and is hurt badly.
- A well written and interesting story about father's feelings.
- An intriguing story about Gordon who is used to getting what he wants. He wants to buy an old church and replace it with his new house.
- This story is interesting, because Gordon's plans don't work out exactly as he had planned.
- A well written story about Frank who goes swimming and watches ladies.
- A short, but memorable story.
On the First Day:
- A story about Norris whose daughter tells him that he can't go outdoors anymore because of a disturbing dream about spiders.
- An excellent story with a perfect ending.
- This is one of the best stories in this collection.
The Jawbone of an Ass:
- An interesting story about a half-Jew Ed and racism.
- This is an exceptionally good story about a difficult theme.
- In this story the protagonist has problems with rats.
- A good and well written story.
- In this story the author writes about Japanese POW camps in the USA.
- The author has chosen a challenging and interesting subject for the story.
Love & Magick:
- An intriguing story about magic.
- It's been a while since I've read about magic in this kind of a way.
- In this intriguing story Craig has trouble finding work.
- In my opinion this story was very interesting.
At Last, Longing Look:
- A fascinating story about a wandering soul who isn't actually human. The soul has fallen in love with a woman.
- This story is one of my favourite stories in this collection.
- A fantastic story about what kind of effects a mosquito poison has had on people.
- A well written story.
- Walter has a bit of problems with moisture and mildew, because he has noticed that the house isn't in a good condition.
- A short, but very effective story with a good ending.
One of Those Days:
- An interesting story about something weird that has spread around the country.
- The ending of this story is simply brilliant.
- A fascinating story about a young man who's obsessed about the sea.
- There was something wonderfully Lovecraftian about this story that appealed to me.
Just Like Jesus, He Said:
- A stunningly effective and strong story about violence and retribution in a rural community.
- This is one of my favourite stories in this collection.
It's Not a Blessing, She Said:
- A story about Ty who has a hole in him. He tries to fill the hole with various things.
- An interesting story.
Just a Gigolo:
- This is an exceptionally fascinating vampire story.
- I've read many vampire stories, which have been good, but this story is clearly among the top three stories I've ever read, because it's something different.
The Old Man's Final Visit:
- I'm only going to mention that this story is a fascinatingly touching and a bit different kind of a story, because I don't want to reveal too much information about this excellent story. It's good to know as little as possible about this story, because it's one of the best stories in this collection.
- A beautifully written story.
- A bit different kind of a story about bounty hunters who hunt a Chinaman.
- The author writes well about the hunters and what happens to them.
The Reliable Vacuum Company:
- A fun story about a couple and a vacuum cleaner salesman.
- Perfectly written comic horror.
- An excellent story about a World War II soldier and his love for killing.
- A well written and memorable story.
These stories have been written over a span of several decades. Some of them have been published before, but there are many new stories.
Here's a few extra words about some of the stories:
In "Of Rodents and Sinking Vessels" the author writes well about the protagonist's life and the ghosts that he sees. The descriptions are atmospheric and beautiful. The ending is perfect.
"On the First Day" is one of my favourite stories, because the author writes powerfully about what the protagonist has to endure when his daughter tells him not to go outdoors. This story is a good example of how well the author builds up tension bit by bit towards a perfect and satisfying ending.
"Just a Gigolo" is a beautifully told vampire story that is something different. It felt refreshing to read this story, because the author had written a totally different kind of a story. I have to mention that this story is one of my all-time favourite vampire stories.
"Just like Jesus, He Said" is a strong horror story about a rural community. In this story the author addresses violence and retribution in a memorable way. This is one of those stories that are difficult to forget once you've read it. It will linger on your mind for a long time.
James Robert Smith's prose is exceptionally good and descriptive. These stories are wonderfully literary and descriptive stories. This kind of well written weird fiction is, in my opinion, the best kind of weird fiction, because good literary prose deepens the reading experience on many levels.
In my opinion James Robert Smith's contemporary weird fiction is stunningly effective and powerful, because he has his own voice and he seems to love writing weird stories. The driving force behind these stories is clearly love for horror and weird fiction.
I'm sure that everybody who reads this collection will agree with me when I say that James Robert Smith is a talented horror author. There's no doubt about his writing abilities, because he writes excellent stories. He writes all kinds of stories and uses different elements in his stories in a good way. He writes his stories carefully and adds supernatural elements in an effective way to deepen and enhance tension.
What makes these stories special and unique is their diversity and also complexity. The author expands and pushes the boundaries of weird fiction into interesting directions, but never strays too far from its core concepts. It's great that he stays true to what weird fiction is, but isn't afraid of adding something new to it. His stories range all the way from ecological horrors to existential horrors.
James Robert Smith writes about sex and violence in an excellent way. It's great that he doesn't shy away from difficult material. In my opinion his descriptions of sex and violence are effective and powerful in the best kind of way.
The characterization in these stories is surprisingly powerful and complex. It is often difficult for authors to write good characterization in short stories, but James Robert Smith does it well. He doesn't have any kind of problems when it comes to creating good characters, because he manages to make his characters realistic and interesting.
Many of these stories are set in the South where that author has resided for a long time. The author writes beautifully about the South and brings it to life in his stories. His descriptions of the different places are beautiful and you immediately get the feeling that he knows how to create an evocative sense of environment and locale.
The cover art by Pete Von Sholly looks menacing and beautifully surreal. I liked it very much.
I sincerely hope that as many readers as possible will find James Robert Smith's A Confederacy of Horrors and spread word about it. It's full of beautifully written stories that will appeal to quality-oriented readers who appreciate good stories, beautiful prose and originality in their weird fiction. It's a stunning collection that deserves to be praised by horror readers (if you're a fan of horror and weird fiction stories, you should read this collection immediately).