First published back in March 2023, US Author Robert Essig’s novella ‘Baby Fights’ offered up a tantalising cocktail of shocking, gory, violent bizarro with a story that completely lives up to what the title and cover art suggest.

DLS Synopsis:
Madison Holzer was outside Wal-Mart and, just about to put Hunter into his car seat when a chloroform-soaked rag is slammed across her mouth and nose. The last thing she sees before losing consciousness was another man grabbing her beloved baby and pulling him from the cart. Then all went black for her.

Hours, possibly even days later, and Madison wakes up in an unknown place. Her mind is a mess. She feels groggy and confused. Whilst trying to make sense of it all, Madison feels the gentle suckle of a baby on her lactating breast. It’s not her baby, not her Hunter, but someone else’s. It makes no sense to her. But it will soon. And there’s nothing that could prepare her for the abhorrent horror that awaits her and her baby.

Francis “Ducky” Winchester is the mad bastard behind Baby Fights. After his wealthy parents passed away in a freak accident – due in no small part to Ducky’s own actions – as an only child Ducky had been left with everything…and the Winchester’s were wealthy! Ducky now had enough money to mean he never needed to get a job, along with a huge house within the ritzy east San Diego neighbourhood of Blossom Valley.

It would be fair to say that in San Diego, if you were wealthy, you lived in Blossom Valley. This included celebrities like the pop sensation, Justin Dudar. In fact, Ducky knew a tad more about the personal life of the much-loved pop singer than most. For example, Ducky knew that Dunbar was into Baby Fights. That the pop artist got his kicks from watching babies fight to the death in a drained down indoor swimming pool. A little hobby of Ducky’s which he put on at his home for the enjoyment of the exclusive members of his little Baby Fight soirees.

Ducky was now planning another one of his gatherings. Ryan and Chance had just brought him another prime fighter. A mother and her baby boy who they’d snatched from outside Wal-Mart. The baby was a fine example of a fighter, prime for his gruesome underground bloodsport. A microdose of Angel Dust injected into the two infant fighters, and they’d soon be tearing each other limb from limb.

Oh, how he loved the sport. The thrill of the fight. The buzz he got for the brutality of it all. And of course, how he revelled in the abhorrent nature of this ultimate in sicko sports…

DLS Review:
To start this review off, I refer you to the book’s opening statement:

“Warning – This book is every bit as fucked up as the title suggests. You have been warned. For the sickos out there, proceed and enjoy.”

Essig’s warning is absolutely bullshit free. This novel is as nasty as it is depraved. The title and the books cover depict exactly the nature of what the book contains. There’s no false advertising. No pretence at being something it’s not. This my friends, is fucking Baby Fights!

So exactly what have we got here? Well, it’s a relatively short novella that doesn’t hang about too long before it’s getting into the twisted-as-fuck nastiness of the plot. Essentially, we have a sort of millionaire’s version of Bum Fights, only with the victims being babies and the fights are to the bloody death.

But babies can’t fight I hear you say?! Well, whack ‘em up with a microdose of Angel Dust and they’re literally battering the shit out of each other within seconds of receiving the stingy injection. At least that’s what happens here. And good ole Ducky has perfected the art. Gotten the dosage down to a tea.

As the above synopsis suggests, the story then follows the plight of single-mum Madison Holzer as her and her baby are dragged off the street and brought to Ducky’s mansion for the next big show. And these shows are twisted as hell. There’s a handful of fights put on each time, the patrons at the events bet on every aspect of the fights, and then the loser’s corpse is bagged and binned, with the victorious champion carted away for preparation for their next fight.

That’s pretty much the plot of the piece. A fucked up nasty one, sure. But hell is it entertaining. Furthermore, Essig has absolutely gone to town on the details. This isn’t a sloppy, jokily put together storyline that’s just going for the headline shock factor of the premise. Nope, Essig’s put quite some thought into how this whole thing could work. The practicalities of it. The audition process for the sicko patrons. Stuff like pacifying the babies with an LSD infused mist between matches. And of course, the Angel Dust injections.

Obviously, the fights themselves are wildly over-the-top. In fact, Essig doesn’t hold back one iota. These babies go fucking mental. Literally ripping each other apart. And Essig describes the whole thing in graphic and gruesomely visceral detail. The scenes are savage and outrageously gory. However, Essig still manages to deliver the action in a similar way to how one might commentate upon a wrestling match. It’s oddly perverse, and all the more sickening because of it.

I’m not gonna lie, I bloody loved this short tale. It’s depraved, but only in a bizarro kind of way. Not in the way the likes of ‘Hogg’ (1995) or ‘Last Exit To Brooklyn’ (1966) are written. Instead, it’s the sort of tale that just entertains you, but makes you wonder why the fuck it does?! Questions we probably should be asking ourselves…but…nah, let’s not pull at that thread just now.

The novel runs for a total of 99 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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