First published back in November of 2017, British author J.R. Park’s short story collection ‘Death Dreams In A Whorehouse’ offered up nine blood-soaked tales of terror, showcasing the remarkable diversity of the author.
Treats - 1 Page
Sam’s experience with the whore would prove to be far from the exquisite pleasures he’d hoped for… 

To kick start his collection off, Park rather ambitiously attempts a horror story consisting of just two sentences.  And hats off to the smug little son of a gun, his two-sentence-slice-of-horror not only starts off with a touch of mystery, it also somehow rustles up a second or twos worth of suspense, all the while frolicking in some sordid misadventure, before ending with a quick stab of a twist ending.  A whole heap more than you’d expect from just two sentences.  In fact, this review of the story is twice as long as the story is!

Mandrill – 12 Pages
Kieran had just come out of the shower, getting himself awake and ready for his flight, when he found himself being confronted by a three-foot-tall mandrill monkey, bearing its lengthy canines at him from the kitchen worktop.

Unsurprisingly Kieran had no idea what was going on.  Why the hell was there a red and blue faced primate snarling at him from within his own kitchen?  The beast didn’t look friendly at all.  One-hundred-and-twenty pounds of muscle, teeth and testosterone.  Kieran didn’t have many options.  His small flat didn’t afford him a multitude of escape routes.  And time was quickly running out for him…

Abso-fucking-lutely incredible!  If you enjoy a good ‘when animals attack’ style pulpy horror, then you’re going to frigging love this one.  It’s high-adrenaline, high-pressure, fast-paced and tense as holy hell.  Think Richard Stanley’s ‘Hardware’ (1990) only with a pissed-off savage-as-fuck monkey terrorising our protagonist from the comfort of his flat, instead of a psychotic maniacal machine.  This is adrenaline-pumping, edge-of-the-seat shit.  Properly tense.  Perfectly paced.  A one-hundred-and-ten-percent rip-roaring pulse-pumping pulp thriller read.

The short story was first published within the ‘Beasts: Genesis – A Dark Ethology Volume One’ (2012) anthology.

Connors - 14 Pages
It was nothing short of a worldwide catastrophe.  So much so that it would more than likely mean the end for mankind.  Ever since the corpses of the dead had crawled up through the earth and embarked upon a seemingly endless assault of bloodthirsty violence, the number of survivors had been dwindling by the day.  It was Hell on Earth.  But there those who’d found something amongst the death and violence.  Those who’d made a new life for themselves.  Connors was one such individual.  Before the proverbial rotten-shit hit the fan, Connors had been a nobody.  An unemployed waster with no future.  Now he was someone.  Now he was a hero.  A legend with over six hundred confirmed kills and counting.  But sometimes, even the best can fall…

This is a good ‘un.  Here we have Park’s take on the zombie apocalypse.  It’s a quick-fire, no fucking about offering that gets straight to the rotten heart of the matter, and from there, drags us along into a tense and suspenseful quagmire of post-apocalyptic grittiness.  It’s a sort of David Moody-esque take on the whole subgenre – with the human element being the focal point of the entire tale.  In fact, the flesh-hungry dead are more of a tool that’s utilised to bring out the jagged-edged learning curve of how to exist in this terrifying new world, rather than being the focal threat for the tale.  People die.  They’re lives are replaced.  It’s a tough new world where survival is learning on your feet.

The short story was first published within The Sinister Horror Company’s free promotional ebook ‘The Offering’ (2015).  Interestingly the story was not included in the re-release of ‘The Offering’ (2017), which incidentally contained considerably more stories than the original giveaway ebook.

Clandestine Delights - 27 Pages
Ben Varrey was a very wealthy man.  In fact, thanks to some shrewd business decisions, he’d become one of the richest men in the world.  But, as a single man, he still craved something more out of life.  And as he pursued life’s discreet passions, exploring the temptations of the flesh, he’d heard whisperings of something more.  Something that the luxurious hotel - The Maid of the Wave - could offer.  He’d spent months quizzing the high-end prostitute, Lorelei.  But no one dared speak a word about it.  Until now.  His time had finally come.  After months of waiting, he’d finally get to experience the ultimate in clandestine delights…

I might as well get straight to the point here - this is a frigging superb short story!  Think Eli Roth’s ‘Hostel’ (2005) meets Edward Lee’s ‘The Chosen’ (1993), crossed with a Clive Barker style search for the ultimate sensual thrill.  Wrap that all up in a fast-paced, tightly-written and incredibly atmospheric short story – and you’ve got yourself one hell of an entertaining read.  At a mere 27 pages, somehow Park’s managed to cram so damn much in here.  There’s intrigue and mystery and bucket-loads of tension-rich suspense.  Literally from the first couple of sentences you’ll be sucked right into this darkly seductive tale.  Quite simply superb.

The short story was first published within The Sinister Horror Company’s ‘The Black Room Manuscripts: Volume One’ (2015) anthology.

Head Spin - 16 Pages
Craig Masterton didn’t know exactly how long he’d been stuck in there, going round and round within the revolving glass door at the entrance to Wingfield Insurance.  The receptionist was clearly getting quite concerned.  But Craig couldn’t stop.  He was trapped.  Trapped in an endless spiral.  It was a strange predicament to be in.  But then, nothing had seemed quite right since the weird explosion in the sky last Friday night.  Not that anyone had mentioned it.  As if everyone was pretending that nothing had happened.  But Craig knew it had.  And ever since then things had been getting stranger by the second…

Don’t do drugs kids, or you might end up dreaming up frigging weird shit like this!  In all seriousness, what we have here is another prime example of Park experimenting with his writing – playing with the written format and the way in which a story can be told.  You’ll see exactly what I mean when you turn to the first page of the tale.  It’s damn clever.  And it works.  Through the way the story is delivered you’ll literally feel like your spinning in the revolving door with our hapless protagonist.  A head spin indeed!  And accompanying that you have a classic sci-fi horror story that toys with paranoia in a wonderfully David Icke conspiratorial kind of way.  Excellent stuff.

The original version of the story was first published within Park’s rare giveaway collection ‘Fear Is Seldom Silent’ (2016) which was created as a gift to friends over Christmas 2016.

The Svalbard Horror - 30 Pages
Winter, 1881.  The waves had washed them on an unsteady and meandering course somewhere between Iceland and Norway.  However, Alex Hadcock now found himself alone, save for the last souls of the slaughtered aboard The Four Leafed Clover.  He would have thrown the dead overboard but for his fear that he might wake the beast.  He now fears any rescue attempts will result in his would-be saviours meeting the same fate as his crew.  That’s because he knew it was still there.  He could feel it.  It was best he, and the ship, just drift endlessly upon the waves.  The song of the Sirens, left to float away with the churn of the waves.  Only time would tell his fate.  And that of the beast…

This one’s about as creepy as they come.  Set in the late nineteenth century, Park’s prose encapsulates the mournful mood of the era with a seemingly effortless ease.  The story is shrouded in a foggish cloak of mystery, only really revealing the terrifying reality in its final few pages.  Before this, there’s a wealth of cloying suspense brought into the story, smothering the reader as we try to fathom any sort of understanding of what the beast that is terrorising the crew is.  The sheer feeling of dread that Park projects in his story, especially once we’re on Svalbard, is astonishing.  You’ll feel like you’ve been plunged into the icy sea itself from the chills that you’ll feel victim to.  And that sudden, bludgeoning, twist-ending.  You’ll never see it coming.  And when it hits, it seems to rip the air from your lungs.  Superb stuff.

The original version of the story was first published within Park’s rare giveaway collection ‘Fear Is Seldom Silent’ (2016) which was created as a gift to friends over Christmas 2016.

Screams In The Night - 10 Pages
It had been two months now and there’d still been no sign of a let up.  Daryl was getting to the very end of his tether.  It was the middle of the night.  He’d barely slept a wink and now the screaming had started up again - just as it had done every single night for the past eight weeks.  The sound reverberating through the walls.  The screams of his Eastern European next door neighbour’s young child – Roman – pulling at his sanity.  It had gotten too much for him.  He’d finally reached his limit.  Half-asleep, half in a daze of mind-crushing weariness, he’d gone out of his flat an made his way to his neighbour’s front door.  But when he got there he found the lock smashed and the door sitting ajar – broken and forced.  Suddenly all that ear-piercing screaming took on a much more sinister tone…

Is there anything more nerve-jangling or teeth-grindingly grating, than an infant screaming its little lungs out?  That ear-splitting screech that pierces right through your eardrums.  The way it seems to pummel your brain and cause your jaw to ache with helpless frustration.  Now then – couple that with unrelenting tiredness and you’ve got the backdrop for an instantly jarring story.  Park knows this well, and uses this air of rising irritation to its full effect.  In fact, the atmosphere that Park lays down is so palpable that it’s hard not to feel that little bit on edge as you read on.  And then all of a sudden Park derails the rising tension with the sledgehammer effect from the discovery of a forced door in the middle of the night. From here its heart-in-mouth tension, followed by the sort of brazen-faced horror that these anthologies are all about.  Park’s one of those authors who knows how to build upon an atmosphere and then capitalise on it perfectly for its full effect.  He also knows his audience.  Put the two together and you get stories like this.

The short story was first published within The Sinister Horror Company’s ‘The Black Room Manuscripts: Volume Two’ (2016) anthology.

The Festering Death - 27 Pages
Curled up in a shadowy corner of the old outhouse, if you looked closely, squinting into the darkness, you could just about make out the rotting mess of the once handsome forester – Tabor.  The man was little more than a bubbling mass of festering flesh, oozing thick pus from the multitude of weeping boils across his body.  A highly contagious infliction which Tabor had contracted after leaving the small village of Garth for the hustle and bustle of London.  There he’d worked the midnight streets of the country’s capital city, raking dung off the roads from the horses and bedpans, cast out the windows of the tightly packed houses.  Not the sort of environment one would expect to meet a beautiful young woman in.  But that’s exactly what happened to Tabor that fateful night.  Her name was Cicell and their chance meeting would change Tabor’s life forever…

And all of a sudden the collection takes a dive into the utterly grim and nauseatingly revolting.  Of course it’s no surprise that Pulp Master General J.R. Park’s the man behind this pus-soaked smoking cannon.  But trust me it’s all good stuff here my dear friends.  Based on Guy N Smith’s ‘The Festering’ (1989) Park’s taken us back to the initial chapters of the book (17th century era) where we first witness the festering plague doing its nasty work on Tabor’s flesh.  We’re told he contracted this particularly aggressive disease from his visit to the Big Smoke.  How did Tabor contract said plague?  Well…through this delightfully dark and weirdly erotic tale we get to see exactly what dear old Tabor got up to.  Almost Barker-esque in places, this twisted little offering goes from dark and messed up to just plain grim.  Park’s done us proud.  This is horror.  This is pulp.  This is making me feel fucking queasy.

The short story was first published within the ‘Hell Of A Guy: Fans On The Rampage’ (2016) anthology celebrating 25 years of the Guy N Smith convention and was later published again in Park’s limited edition chapbook The Festering Death & Contacts’ (2016).

I Love You – 10 Pages
For as long as he could recall he’d watched impassively as the faces presented themselves to him.  He watched as they came.  And when they left, he would look on at the empty room.  He never got bored.  He had no concept of boredom.  Up until recently he didn’t even know he was alive.  That was until Eliza.  The sight of her brought him back.  Made him realise he was there.  Existing behind the glass.  Trapped, as he had been for centuries, within the mirror.  But now he knew.  Now he realised.  And he wanted out.  For love…

Ending the collection we have a weirdly enchanting short that keeps us guessing from the very beginning.  It’s a reasonably clever little idea – one of being trapped for centuries within a mirror, but of having no knowledge of being so until the spell is seemingly broken.  I’ve probably said too much already.  Hopefully not.  But there’s one meaty, in your face twist you’ll not see coming.  The story spends its time laying down the groundwork for this final revelation.  It’s all about catching the reader off guard.  And when it hits, it’s like a shards of mirror stabbed in your face.  Exceptionally imaginative.  Executed to perfection.  But that’s Park all over.

The short story was first published within Mark Lumby’s ‘Dark Places, Evil Faces’ (2017) anthology.

The anthology runs for a total of 148 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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