NEST OF SALT
By Matthew V. Brockmeyer
Published by Black Thunder Press
Last year, Brockmeyer blew me away with two of my favorite books in years: Under Rotting Sky and Kind Nepenthe. Granted, Kind Nepenthe was a hardcover reissue by the time I was reading it, but damn did I love both of those books. At some point soon, I will go back and reread them (which is something I don’t generally do – too many books, so little time, you know?); they generally come out first when people ask me for horror recommendations.
The reason I preface this review with that love is because I didn’t care for Brockmeyer’s latest collection, Nest of Salt, quite the same way I did Under Rotting Sky. I think there are two primary reasons for this: (1) I was anticipating this book more than anything this year, which meant I had self-hyped the hell out of it for myself. (2) The stories feel more in the vein of graphic horror and relying on action, whereas Under Rotting Sky was more unsettling and atmospheric.
When I finished Nest of Salt, I checked my notes against the publishing history provided in the back of the book. It seems I preferred the more recently written stories to the older ones previously released elsewhere. I don’t know why this would be – maybe it has something to do with the fiction Brockmeyer was favoring at the time of writing those stories? – but I thought it was an interesting discovery.
Of the stories I really enjoyed, either “The Witch’s Yule” or “A True Child of Woden” came out on top. It’s hard to decide between the two. “The Witch’s Yule” brings back Max from Under Rotting Sky and sets him up for a bloody and magical future. I really wish Brockmeyer would do a novel about this wild boy! He needs it! As for “A True Child of Woden,” I really enjoyed Brockmeyer’s use of music in the story; like with the main character, I was lured by the metal and taken down a dark path.
I also liked “The Gyppo’s Clothes” (with its old-time lingo/language and narrative), “Charybdis” (which made me chuckle), and “Noel in Black” (which held a lot of potential for a longer story). I really just hate the horrific deaths of children, though.
While Nest of Salt may not do wonders for me like Brockmeyer’s other work, it still features several golden entries, each of which could easily spawn additional stories or expanded versions. Brockmeyer still knows horror better than most!
Review by Aiden Merchant – This book was provided as a paperback by the author for review consideration.
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