More from Al Sarrantonio – Moonbane, Toybox and Skeletons

A few months ago I read a book called The Worms by Al Sarrantonio on a whim. I really liked it, so I decided to read more of his stuff.

Moonbane
Spectra – 1989

A bunch of evil werewolves from the moon land on Earth and start attacking humanuty, eating most but turning plenty of us into werewolves too. After witnessing the transformation of his son and death of his wife, a sensitive poet finds himself tagging along with a crew of scientists on their way to a military base to perform some kind of drastic rescue mission, the nature of which the scientists are hesitant to discuss. All I’ll say is that it involves a really big rocket and some REALLY big bombs.

Honestly, if you don’t want to read this after hearing that and seeing this book’s cover, you’re a lost cause. Rockets and moon-wolves. Cool!

Toybox
Leisure Books – 2003 (Originally published 1999)

I had heard that Sarrantonio was a better short story writer than a novel writer, so I decided to check out his first story collection, Toybox. The person who told me that Sarrantonio’s stories were worth reading also mentioned a great likeness to the work of Ray Bradbury. Aside from Fahrenheit 451 and a couple of short stories, I hadn’t actually read anything by Bradbury when I started this. It often takes me a while to get through short story collections. I read one or two stories from different collections when I’m between novels. While I was dipping in and out of Toybox, one of the novels I read was Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. This clarified for me what my friend had meant with his comparison. I soon thereafter read a couple of collections of Bradbury’s creepier stories, and this further confirmed my impressions. Sarrantonio’s short stories are very, very Bradburyian. Nearly all of them involve children, Halloween and carnivals. Some of the stories in this collection use almost identical premises to Bradbury tales. ‘Father Dear’, one of the stories in here is about a kid whose dad keeps him inside his house and lies to him about everything. There’s a Bradbury story called ‘Jack in the Box’ about a kid whose mom does almost the exact same thing. Whatever though, it’s hardly a bad thing to be compared to Ray Bradbury. (I’ve been loving the Ray recently.) I enjoyed Toybox plenty. ‘Pumpkin Head’ and ‘The Corn Dolly’ were probably my favourites in here, but it’s all pretty good.

Skeletons
Bantam – 1992

This is an epic post apocalyptic novel in which the last remaining good guys on Earth are drawn together by dreams/psychic visions. (I mean epic in the literal sense here too.) It’s basically the same thing as Stephen King’s The Stand except the disease and bad guys in this book are the same thing. They’re skeletons. The skeletons of every human (and animal) that ever lived have risen from their graves and they are really angry with humanity.

There’s 4 narratives running throughout the book. The bulk of the story centers on a Cambodian politician stuck in Russia and an American girl who is unable to speak making their ways across their respective continents to meet eachother. The rest of the tale is told from the perspective of the risen Abraham Lincoln and Roger Garbage, a music industry cokehead who the skeletons keep alive for the purposes of arranging the biggest rock festival ever.

The novel is absurd, and there’s many little inconsistences and plot holes throughout the story, but there’s a scene in this book where the Beatles (in skeleton form) get back together to perform, so I found it pretty easy to ignore the problems and just go with it. I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be read for fun, so there’s no need to dissect it like a college professor. Although it’s about skeletons, the length and scope of the work make it more a fantasy than a horror novel, and while I enjoyed it well enough, it was probably my least favourite of the books I’ve read by Sarrantonio. (It’s not bad. I just really like short books at the moment.)

I can’t say that I was truly blown away by any of the books I’ve read by Al Sarrantonio, but I was entertained by all of them. They’re imaginative, fun and well written. I’ve read 4 of his books in the last 4 months, so I’ll give him a break for a while, but I look forward to reading more of his books in the future.

Half a Decade of Blogging about Creepy Books

I got a notification during the week informing me that this blog is now 5 years old. My first post, a look at Wade Baskin’s translation of Collin De Plancy’s Dictionary of Witchcraft, was published on February 27th, 2015. Since then, I have reviewed almost 350 books.

I’m a little bit surprised that I’ve lasted this long to be honest. I put a lot of work into this site, but I don’t see a huge amount of traffic. I have nobody to blame for this other than myself. Most of the books I write about are bottom of the barrel stuff that nobody will ever search for. I’ve thought about branching out and reading more contemporary fiction in attempt to draw more traffic, but while I certainly won’t rule out reading new books, I reckon weird old books will probably remain my focus. I think of this site more as a literary freakshow than a review site. I don’t really care if people want to read the books I write about or not, I just want you to know that these texts exist.

I write about famous books and popular authors regularly, but my favourite posts are always the ones about books that have an air of mystery to them. There have been a few posts on this blog where I have had the delight of presenting new information or theories on strange and mysterious texts. Here are a few posts that represent my best work. I beseech any lovers of peculiar literature to check these out if you haven’t already.

 

mmThe Autobiography of Saint Margaret Mary (March 2015)
This was one of my first posts. It’s about a Christian saint who had a shit fetish. I look back on it with a smile.

 

2015-12-28 02.38.38Did Aleister Crowley Create Strange Lifeforms? (December 2015)
This was my first post on Aleister Crowley. It’s a look at the different ways he was portrayed in fiction by those who actually knew him.

 

michelle remembers ross bayMichelle Remembers – Michelle Smith and Lawrence Pazder (March 2016)
I’m pretty confident in saying that at the time this post was published, it was the most comprehensive account of why this book is bullshit. It includes photos from the Satanic graveyard where the events in the book supposedly took place.

 

20160325_000821The Fiery Angel – Valery Bryusov (March 2016)
A look at the real events that inspired this peculiar occult novel.

 

robert anton wilson the sex magiciansRobert Anton Wilson, Sex Magician! (July 2017)
An exegesis of a book of pulp occult pornography. (It’s one of those ‘use the text to interpret the text’ situations.)

 

liber falxiferDeath Worship and Current 218 (November 2017)
An exploration of the link between heavy metal and Liber Falxifer, an infamous text of Black Magic.

 

spawn of the devil - aristotle leviSpawn of the Devil (Inpenetrable) – A Quaint and Curious Volume of Forgotten Porn (August 2018)
I still think this is the best post I’ve ever written.

 

dark gods - anthony roberts and Geoff GilbertsonDark Gods – Anthony Roberts and Geoff Gilbertson (July 2019)
It was a delight to be able to share information on this rare and curious tome of paranoid doom.

 

La Tronçonneuse de l'Horreur - nick blakeA History of Chainsaw Terror (Come the Night) by Nick Blake (Shaun Hutson) (February 2020)
There were histories of this book online before this, but this is the most complete one out there.

 

There’s lots of other good posts on here, but these few are special to me.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed a recent lack of posts on occult books. (The last non-fiction book I wrote about was Daughters of the Devil back at the beginning of December.) There’s a few reasons for this. I’m mainly just sick of wasting my time reading stupid spellbooks written by wankers. I have been reading other types of occult books over the past few months, but unfortunately, they have been extremely boring, long and difficult to get through. I’ve had a post about Nazi Grail Hunters in the works since early October and another on a horrendously stupid book about interdimensional sasquatches, but reading these texts has been so tedious that I have been avoiding them and breezing through enjoyable horror novels instead.

I have not abandoned occult books, but I have to be more picky these days. I don’t need to read any more books of love spells or nonsense about kaballah. I don’t want to read any more post-hypnotic accounts of alien abductions or any more books arguing that some cave paintings prove our ancestors were space people. I’m getting pretty jaded with Satanism now too. The more Satanists I interact with, the less interested I am in books about their hero.

 

Recently, I decided that I want to start writing more fiction. Between Nocturnal Revelries and my other blog, I write a lot, and I reckon that I’ve read enough books now to make a decent go at my own stories. I’ve posted my short fiction before (Kevin and The Compost Bin, two disgusting tales), and hopefully there’ll be more coming soon.

Blogging may be past its heyday, but I like doing it, so I reckon I’ll keep going for another few years. Thanks to everyone who reads this site. I really hope you enjoy it.