Posts Tagged ‘Ugly Little Things’

Ugly Little Things by Todd Keisling

September 15, 2017 - 6:46 pm No Comments

Ugly Little Things by Todd Keisling
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 15th September 2017
287 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


Having not read anything by Todd Keisling, I didn’t know what to expect, but with titles like House of Nettle and Thorn and Saving Granny from the Devil, I wanted to find out. With 11 short stories to read you will encounter creepy dolls, an imaginary friend called Harvey and even a group of up and coming rock stars.
A Man in your Garden: Written from the 1st person POV, about a resident, that thinks there is a man in their garden. This story captured the person emotions after something catches their eye, ranging from doubt, anger, drunken ramblings and more. A gentle start to the book.
Show me where the Waters fill your grave: Jonathon spends his time watching the weather channel, waiting for news of a large rain storm. A widower of 4 years, he really misses his wife, but what happens when the land begins to flood. Throughout this story you can really feel Jonathon’s grief and the love he had for his wife and whilst the story concentrates on the current rainstorm, you learn more about their romance and the incident after Jonathon’s wife death. Throughout this story you know something is going on and that Jonathon is waiting for something to happen but what went on is not what I expected.
Radio Free Nowhere: Conrad and Ashley were on a road trip and like most of families cannot agree on the music for the journey. However; when Ashley hears a song, she cannot get out of her mind, it takes on an unexpected journey. Reading this story, I felt that Conrad was a bit of control freak, and on this journey Ashley found smalls way to defy him. When she heard the song for the 1st time, it reminded me of sailors hearing the sirens sing.
The Otherland Express: Gregory was running away after finally having enough of his abusive father. Meeting John Doe, he learns the secret of being invisible to others. Gregory teenage life was so sad and I could understand why he ran away and why he wanted to board the coach with John Doe. How he became invisible had an alien feel to it and it just shows how brave Gregory is.
Saving Granny from The Devil: Toddy’s best friend was his great grandma, spending most of his time with her, he would do anything for her. When Harvey a mysterious man rescues Toddy from bullies, it takes time for Toddy to realise who he is and when Toddy’s grandma falls ill, the deal he makes shapes his life. This was one of my favourite stories, and I enjoyed how a short story catalogued most of Toddy’s life, how he grew up, what he became and his regrets all because he loved his grandma and made a deal with Harvey.
The Darkness Between Dead Stars: Written by a member of the committee, this story tells us what really happened to Maxwell Foster on his one-man expedition in space. This story had the feel of a dying man’s confession and you could feel how guilty he was sending Maxwell into space. Reading how Maxwell was cracking up, I did keep wondering what was causing him to lose his mind.
Human Resources: Written in the style of an email, this is Alex’s resignation. The 1st paragraph was not what I was expecting for his reason for his resignation and I had to admit I did have a snigger when I read this. As he goes on explaining what else he had done, he does sound like a man possessed. The ending had me believe he was in some sort of cult and that he had gone mad. A different style of short story.
House of Nettle and Thorn: Jim and Nick have been invited to a party at a sorority house by a girl Jim had me online. They were typical hormonal lads, especially when they saw the girls at the house, think the brides of Dracula. Even when Nick sensed he was in danger he ignored it for a good time. Whilst there were hints on the identity of the girls from the start, their true form was not revealed till later into the story, this added suspense to the story and when it was discovered why they really wanted the boys, you just knew that Nick and Jim had no chance. A chilling story.
When Karen Met Her Mountain: Karen and Martin journey home soon turns into a matter of life and death. The story charts Karen’s recovery from depression, and whilst she was with Martin was vulnerable and relied heavily on him for support. However, when her life was in danger, she was a different person, strong, resourceful and focused on her task. I was surprised at how violent she could be and the unexpected twist at the end was graphic an a just ending.
The Harbinger: Felix a reporter for Toys in the Attic had an interview with the Miss Maggie Eloquence, a doll manufacturer. Renowned for their dolls, people travel far and wide to visit the town called Dalton. From the moment Felix arrived in the town, he knew something was wrong, a rancid smell and creepy dolls.
Porcelain dolls are one thing that creeps some people out and this story plays on those fears. The story had a slow build, a slight movement out of the corner of your eye, a head turned to watch, this really played on Felix’s mind and through all this was a terrible smell of pigs. The story intensified when Felix met Maggie. I had an admiration for Felix as with everything that happened to him, he never once turned back to alcohol. One of favourite scenes was when Felix fought against Noah and all I could think of was Chucky. This is one story I would like to know what happened when Felix drove away.
The last story is the novella The Final Reconciliation, previously released in February, this tells the story of an up and coming rock band The Yellow Kings. Johnny, Aidan, Hank and Bobby, all friends with a love of music. Embarking on a small tour, they quickly built up a dedicated fan base. After one gig they met Camilla, and from that first meeting, she took the band to a horrific high.
The story was written from Aidan’s POV as he gave an interview to a reporter 30 year after the tragic event. Reading this story, you could see how loyal Aidan was to his friends. Whilst he did not like the direction that Johnny was taking the band, he still stuck with them. Throughout the story there were hints to what Camilla is, but it was not until Aidan started having his dreams and the band started to record their album, that things start to get macabre. The secret gig was savage and a gory and when Aidan thought he had closure the reporter told him something that would make him lose his mind.
Whilst this story was gory in parts, the descriptive writing, made you live Aidan’s story. Carcosa even though a horrific place also had a beauty to it. The smaller details like the Chapter list, listed as song titles on an Album, and the reference to heavy metal made this a must read for horror and metal lovers. A great novella.
This is another book published by Crystal Lake that did not disappoint. Another great read