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Review: Split/Scream Volume One

Split/Scream Volume One

Genre: Horror

Reviewer: Eliza

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About The Book

Dread Stone Press presents SPLIT SCREAM, a new Horror Novelette Double Feature. This is Volume One. Grab some popcorn, turn the lights low, and don’t be afraid to scream.


“The Guts of Myth” – Carson Winter

It’s 1973. British-American thug Byron is tasked with finding the occultist Allosaurus D’Ambrosere, given only handwritten instructions and two hateful associates. Where they’re going, they’ll find blood red skies, obsidian towers, and a deep thirst for violence. But will they find the man who calls himself the Golden King? “The Guts of Myth” is Weird horror that snaps like hardboiled noir with vistas lifted straight from Beksinski.

“The Mourner Across the Flames” – Scott J. Moses

The world is a salt-ridden dystopia. Bharath, an exile given to hallucinations, is ordered to escort an emaciated mourner across the barren flats. The journey reveals the existence of a monster, evolved to live in the After among the remaining humans. But which is worse-the monster new to Bharath, or the humans who robbed him of his love? “The Mourner Across the Flames” is a grief-stricken tale of spiraling delusion held afloat by enduring love.

The Review

Dreadstone Press had a great idea: novelettes (anything from around 10-15K words) are notoriously hard to place. But stick two of them together, and they make a great manuscript. And so was born their Split/Scream series: one book, two novelettes (each by a different author) that play nicely together. It’s one more way indie horror presses are experimenting with form in ways that trad presses won’t—and one more way that trad presses are losing, losing, losing. Dreadstone’s experiment isn’t just a good one. It’s a great one. Split/Scream 1 gives us two lovely morsels of story, both deliciously wicked.

Carson Winter writes a nasty bastard of a main character in “The Guts of Myth,” the first novelette in Split/Scream 1, which I devoured in one sitting. “I always thought I looked a little like Roger Moore,” says the guy, who’s living the gangster life in 1973 London when he’s asked to, well, find a guy. They give him some extra goons to help out, and send him on his merry way, which becomes less and less merry as that dickhead becomes more and more sympathetic. You finally root for him, you really do. 

It’s a quick read, with a whiplash of a plot and an unforgettable narrative voice: “London was alive with shit and smog” just about clinches this guy. Cringity cringe cringe of an ending, oh dear Lord—and while the narrator’s queerness always hovered in the background, it’s suddenly and starkly there. For no reason I can properly pin down, reading this reminded me of reading those first few horror novels I scrounged as a kid—mainlining that really good stuff, that Stephen King in the years he was really on, on a lonely-cold rainy day in my attic bedroom—and realizing I’d stumbled across something I’d never imagined. 

Yeah, it was like that.

Then came Scott J. Moses’s “The Mourner across the Flames.” 

I am going to hand you the same gift I was given: walk into it blind. Figure out what in God’s name is going on piece by deliciously confusing puzzle piece, put them together into a vision of hell, then blow it all to pieces again. No, that’s not a criticism. Like I said: it’s a gift. If I told you anything about this narrative, I’d ruin it, because its sheer otherness is one of its strengths. If I explained it, I’d bring that otherness back to Earth, and that’s no fun. 

Let me assure you: it’s really, really good. Moses writes a great character. The plot twists and twists and twists again. The setting is wildly unsettling. Hell, all of this is wildly unsettling. It’s horror at its best. 

And that’s what Split/Scream 1 delivers: horror at its visceral, wicked best. Full stop. This series is a must-read for any horror fan, but especially for fans of queer horror and for those into horror with a more literary bent. There’s a place for splatterpunk, but there’s also a place for creeping dread that finally explodes into something truly awful to behold. 

As always, they gave it to me, but they never said I had to like it. 

The Reviewer

After earning a master’s degree in creative writing, Eliza swore, like Lev Grossman, “I’ll never write anything without breaking the rules again, because now I understand that’s the whole point of everything.” To the dismay of her literary fiction professors, she spent six years as a staff writer for Scary Mommy. The author of several LGBTQIA YA novels and numerous speculative short stories, Eliza has a mainstream literary novella publishing this spring; she lives the South with her children, her dogs, her very patient partner, and a hell of a lot of Talking Heads records. Only one of her five tattoos is a David Bowie lyric.

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