By Scott J. Moses
When I first spoke to Scott on Instagram two months back, we found that we understood one another’s hunger to rewrite and improve our work over time. As we discussed the process of giving stories new polishes years later, Scott said, “It’s like the work is never truly finished. We could edit ourselves into eternity.” He’s absolutely right. That being said, I can’t imagine this collection needing much of an edit moving forward. It’s already so damn good.
It is rare for me to read a book in a single day, but that’s just what I did with Hunger Pangs. I started it in the morning while my car got fixed, and finished it by that night at home in the midst of formatting an interior file. I frequently found myself lost in its pages, not wanting to stop. As such, I decided to design this review around the notes I took throughout the day, only editing them a bit for structure:
1 – Nowhere, Louisiana – This was my proper introduction to Scott’s fiction. He’s got a proficient style of narration, all the while creating an uneasy atmosphere for what’s to come. I rather enjoyed this story and its setting.
2 – A Haunting – This piece of microfiction was too familiar.
3 – Cruel, Baying Adolescence – I liked the mystery underlying here. I wanted to know more about the curse and the family. I wanted to know if the sister changed into a monster, how it worked, and why they seemed to have a time limit to hurry her death. I wanted a book out of this one.
4 – Blues Exorcist – Great story. Want more again. I hope this character returns elsewhere. Moses could do a series on him.
5 – Questioning the Professor – I’m all for mental masturbation in trying to express the turmoil in our heads (this one being about God and how shit that happens in the world makes little sense), but I didn’t feel like this worked as a story. As such, it seemed a little out of place in this collection. Well-written and provocative, though.
6 – Adelaide – Again, I want to know more. I need some full-length Moses stories, it would seem!
7 – She Walks – Not my sort of thing, but well-written.
8 – What’s in Your Name – Fantastic novelette. I loved how the power of your name acted as a repellent against the demon. I liked how the character was stuck where their ashes remained, and had to haunt the house to scare off people in order to protect them from the demon looking for a body to possess. Emotional and gripping. Top shelf story.
9 – The Scent of Souls – Entertaining and strange, but I didn’t follow it all that clearly.
10 – Of Turbulent Seas – Though this one didn’t do it for me – maybe I was just in the mood for something exciting – it was still wonderfully written.
11 – There’s No Going Back to Absit Gorge – Haunting. Works as a short, but I would love it revisited in longer form.
12 – Waning Plumes of Frostbitten Air – Revolving around depression – a very familiar piece of my life – this short reads like a dark poem that, in its final moments, blooms with hope.
13 – Hunger Pangs – I could read a novel on this character, no problem, and I don’t even like vampires.
As you can see, I had little to complain about during this ride. Hunger Pangs had me hooked right out the gate. I sat down at four different stations of the day to read this, and each time I was left thinking, Damn, Scott can write. I think I’ve found a new favorite with this release. Hunger Pangs is an emotionally charged, thoughtful, and gripping collection of stories. Though horror-based, it is also speculative and literary throughout. I highly recommend this one – this is the sort of fiction I want to write.
Review by Aiden Merchant