First published back in June of 2017, Matt Shaw’s extreme horror novella ‘Sick’ was the author’s first offering from his ‘Banned Book’ range – a collection of extreme horror stories designed to push the boundaries of decency and taste.

The original intention for the ‘Banned Book’ range was to be sold outside of Amazon, so as to avoid any further issues of censorship or potential banning on the retail outlet.  As such, the original cover art (by Michael Bray) for these books were all pretty damn explicit.  However, since their original publication, Shaw has started selling the books via Amazon, although utilising his signature ‘Black Cover’ style cover art instead of the explicit cover art of the original explicit non-Amazon versions.  However, the content in both remains the same.

DLS Synopsis:
Mike was getting increasingly pissed off.  He’d been waiting on the phone for what felt like an age already, and when he’d finally spoken to a so-called customer service representative, the fucker had hung up on him.  Now he was phoning the company back.  Not only did he want the money back that they’d incorrectly taken from his bank account, he also wanted to give them a proper earful.

He knew exactly how he was going to handle the call.  He’d not allow them the opportunity to hang up on him again.  He’d start off calm and civilised, before getting to the nub of the matter – their complete and utter incompetence.

Yeah, so his language would get a tad colourful.  To hell with the kid playing in the garden next door.  The little fucker should be in school anyway.  Besides, no one had the right to tell him how he should or shouldn’t speak in his own backgarden.  He’d say what the hell he liked.  And if his neighbours didn’t like it, then they should just go back inside.

Still, the kid’s mother was a bit of alright.  Mike had enjoyed more than a few moments in his bathroom thinking about her.  Why she was with that pussy of a husband, Mike would never know.  The guy probably didn’t even know how to please a woman like that.  Mike on the other hand knew alright.  He’d had his fair share of pussy in his time.  Admittedly, most of it was paid for.  But the way Mike saw it, pussy’s pussy.  So what if it was some cheapass whore he was getting it from.

Although ever since his girlfriend had left him, Mike had found his fantasies had taken on a decidedly darker tone.  The imagery he used to get himself off with these days was getting pretty fucked up, even by Mike’s standards.  And it wasn’t just one messed-up fantasy he seemed to have a twisted desire to try out.  He had a whole multitude of them, and each one was just as disgusting as the last.  Such as the time he fantasised about ejaculating into a whore’s brain.

If people knew half the shit that went around in his head they’d have him locked up.  Although even without knowing about his violent fantasies, they still called him sick.  But were they right?  Was he really the one who was sick in the head?  But if he is sick, then why fight it?  After all, if he really is the deranged one, then fuck it, he might as well just embrace the sickness…

DLS Review:
Shaw doesn’t try to shy away from the motivation behind penning this particular story, or indeed, the reasoning behind beginning a ‘Banned Book’ range.  In fact, he spells it out in black and white within the humorous rant that is his ‘Word from the author’ which serves as a short introduction to the book and indeed the Banned Book range as a whole.  You see, Matt Shaw’s a tad pissed with online retail giant Amazon.  Just prior to Matt writing this delightful little ditty of a tale, Amazon well and truly fucked him over.  Everything got sorted out in the end.  But Shaw’s clearly not the kind of guy to let them just get away with shit like that.  So this here novella’s his response.  His venting of anger at Amazon if you like.  Sticking a literary middle finger up to the online retail giant.

So, that’s the motivation behind the story.  To push the boundaries of decency and taste.  To be one of the sickest, vilest, most nauseating extreme horror novels that he’s ever written.  And fair do’s, Shaw’s written more than his fair share of nasty-as-hell horrors.

If the above warning, or original ultra-explicit cover art, or the huge ‘Banned on Amazon’ statement emblazoned on the backcover of the book weren’t enough to set the tone of the tale, then the opening page or two of the story will well and truly seal the deal.  In fact, the opening sentence just eases you into the tale with textbook Matt Shaw penmanship…”The puckered arsehole opened up and stretched wide”’.  Yeah, you get the message?  This is going to be one rough, utterly depraved, shit-stained and offal-caked bareback ride.

But of course it’s not simply a case of chucking every depraved thought that springs into the author’s mind down onto paper and being done with it.  Let’s face it - that would make for a pretty goddam boring read after the first page or two.  If you want that sort of crap then I recommend you just get your ass on the internet and search the depths of the web for all the weirdo pervert blogs that are out there.

You see, even though Shaw’s numero uno mission with this particular tale is to sicken his readers, its still gotta have a solid plot and narrative behind it.  Its still got to be a fucking story!  Of course, Shaw’s been in the game long enough to more than appreciate this.  He’s a veritable master of twisted as fuck extreme horror.  It’s nasty and vile, but it’s still a damn good read, full or its own merits.  Anyone who dismisses extreme horror as just violence and gore with nothing else of merit in there, without actually giving any of the stories a read, is in my mind the ignorant fool.

Anyway!  What we have with ‘Sick’ is exactly what it says it’s going to be.  A vile, sick, twisted and downright depraved extreme horror.  It’s all in there.  Murder (of all ages), rape, truly depraved scenes of pornography, cannibalism, and the epitome of sadistic torture.

Furthermore, there’s no hanging around with the delivery of such depravity.  From the outset Shaw unleashes a veritable onslaught of graphic extremity that doesn’t let up until the very last page.  Much of this is laced with the very blackest of comedy, mirroring Shaw’s own sense of humour as well as our principal antagonists.   It all feels somewhat akin to the darkest, most offensive memes that you find littering the internet forums these days.

The gruesomeness exhibited in the story is as imaginative as it is visceral.  Whether we’re reading about the shit that’s going on in Mike’s head, or what he’s actually up to behind closed doors, for you dear reader it’s all one big twisted as fuck melee of warped depravity and sickening violence.  Admittedly, Shaw does draw inspiration from the notorious ‘rat scene’ from Bret Easton Ellis’ ‘American Psycho’ (1991) for one of his more disturbing sequences.  Although Shaw, being the man he is, pushes the visceral qualities of said sequence that bit further.

I guess what I’m saying is you have to go into a novel like this with an open mind.  If you want to be offended then you will be.  But it’s not like you weren’t warned.  It’s sick, it’s vile, it’s in bad taste, but by Shaw’s short and curlies isn’t it just a damn entertaining read!

The novella runs for a total of 80 pages.

Bonus Short Stories:

Letter From Hell - 10 Pages
The letter had been delivered by hand.  The writer of the letter – one Laurence Tope – wanted to offer the family his deepest sympathies.  Losing a loved one, especially if it’s a young child who’s been snatched away from you, must be a living hell.  The not knowing.  The emptiness.  The longing to see their beautiful face once again.  It must tear you apart.  Seventy-three-year-old Tope knew this.  He pined for their loss as well.  Which is why he felt compelled to write to the mother of eight-year-old Hayley.  To offer his sympathises and tell his story, in the hope that through it she would manage to find some kind of peace.  Maybe…

Spoiler alert!  Reading this section of the review may well lead to the twist being ruined for you.  So if you’ve not already read Shaw’s ‘Letter From Hell’ then I’d advise you skip this paragraph.  You have been warned.  Anyway, on to the review.  Here we have a story that’s told through a letter to the distraught mother of an abducted child.  Because of this format, the story seems all the more harrowing for it.  What’s more, knowing how true-to-life it is, is like a cold blade being pushed up into your gut.  If you’re not altogether familiar with what depraved serial killer Albert Fish did then you might want to read up on him.  The horror revealed in Shaw’s short story, is undoubtedly based on the letter Fish wrote to the mother of Grace Budd – the ten-year-old girl he kidnapped and murdered before dismembering and consuming her flesh.  Shaw makes numerous references to Fish’s disturbing letter – such as the immortal line “she died a virgin”.  It’s cold and hollow.  A terrifying insight into the mind of what is surely pure evil.  A madman.  A vicious killer.  A sadistic, perverted cannibal.  And with his expanded letter, Shaw’s captured this perfectly.

The short story was first published in the ‘Masters Of Horror’ (2017) anthology.

Ink - 23 Pages
Until now Suzanne had no idea her daughter, Chloé, even had a favourite author.  But it appeared she did and that this particular author was flying over from Britain to attend a convention in the States.  The convention was a good four hour drive away, but Chloé was determined to go.  Not that her mother had all that much of a choice with what her twenty-one-year-old daughter did, but Suzanne felt much better about the trip knowing Chloé’s friend Carly would be going with her.  Although she knew her friend would be all that interested in such a convention.  But they could have a nice girlie weekend away.  Suzanne just hoped that this author of Chloé’s didn’t turn out to be a disappointment.  After all, Suzanne knew all too well how much of a disappointment meeting your idols could be…

So yeah, this is an interesting one.  Around the same time as this cheeky little story would have been penned, Matt Shaw had gone over to the US for a convention.  You can see where this is going yeah?!  Unless I’m very much mistaken, the quick-witted author in the story is based on Shaw himself.  In fact, if that is the case (and I’m pretty fucking sure it is) then he’s depicted himself really quite well.  Of course, the moment twenty-one-year-old Chloé meets said author, she’s hanging on his every word.  What follows is what you’re no doubt expecting to happen.  But of course there’s got to be a twist ending.  There’s no horror per se, and you’ll probably see the twist from a veritable mile off, by it’s no less grin-inducing when the twist happens.  Humorous and damn entertaining.

The book runs for a total of 119 pages.

 © DLS Reviews

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