Vastarien Vol. 5 No. 2



Jon Padgett, Editor-In-Chief

My previous reviews of this literary journal:

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

Work by Romana Lockwood, LC von Hessen, Amelia Gorman, Steve Rasnic Tem, Aleco Julius, Venezia Castro, Michelle Muenzler, John Brownlee, John Paul Davies, Scott McNee, Dyani Sabin, Sophia Ashley, Alina Măciucă, David Rees-Thomas, Charlene Elsby, Agwam Kessington, Shawn Phelps, Matt Sadowski, Shaoni C. White, Sara Wilson, Charles Wilkinson, Sofia Ezdina, Barbara A. Barnett, Stephen Hargadon, Marisca Pichette, Aaron Worth, Sarah Walker, T.M. Morgan, Anzhelina Polonskaya, C. O. Davidson.

The Sire — Steve Rasnic Tem


If Jonathan Swift ever wrote an Immodest Proposal, this would be it.  It is beyond shocking, and I shall have to be very careful what I tell you about it, and not only  because of the fear of normal  plot spoilers to which most reviews are susceptible, but also of a series of multiple  false Braxton Hicks. Natural childbirth alone. Moments of pregnancy’s hatching that would trip you up or diminish the healing shocks and leave you only the destructive ones. So this review hides things from you. Otherwise you would miss out on its full effect as Paula takes to living in her new rented abode as hung with folk horror omens,  and she is bearing the pent-up ripening fruits of a one night stand with the eponymous-sired man, and we end up with the severest possible polarity of Natalism and Anti-Natalism: “…the insatiable appetite of nature as mothers delivered both life and death into the world.” — being the only quote I shall dare give you from this work’s transcendence versus horror-apotheosis.

But, suddenly, I feel another quote from it is shortly to drop upon your reading care or scare, before I can stop it, as the father’s return-to-cull for a metaphorical Irish famine, and he  leaves one of them that might have fallen off (Paula wasn’t sure): one who, I think, grows faster than even the utter polarity I have already described above grows, if with a mouthless speech like these printed words tend to be. Balanced within the polarity, I guess, by almost a cartoon glimpse of a Watership Down type thing, where any happy bits may be embodied by a Mr Rabbit. Review avoidances of my responsibility aside, I can say without hesitation that this story has a truly truly unmatchable “scythe of arm” in its sweeping prose. Can’t say more.


This story can be found here: Mother: Tales of Love & Terror, eds. Christi Nogle and Willow Dawn Becker, October 2022

My reviews of Steve Rasnic Tem’s multi-hatching fictions over the years:

My ongoing reviews of such recent stories, one by one, by living writers:

Best New Horror #31


Edited by Stephen Jones

My previous reviews of the publisher HERE and the editor HERE

Stories by Scott Bradfield, Maura McHugh, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Jonathan Carroll, Alison Littlewood, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Bacon, Don Webb, Ron Weighell, Angela Slatter, Richard Gavin, Michael Chislett, Mark Samuels, Richard Christian Matheson, Dale Bailey, Simon Strantzas, Kristi DeMeester, Steve Rasnic Tem, Reggie Oliver, Tanith Lee, Glen Hirshberg, D.P. Watt, Michael Marshall Smith.

As I had the honour of my stories being included in this series (1, 2 & 6), I felt I wanted to review this last one, as a heartfelt note of gratitude to all concerned, and to express my congratulations to Stephen Jones in particular…

When I read this mighty book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

Oculus Sinister


Edited by C.M. Muller

My reviews of works edited by or containing this editor: HERE

Stories by Seán Padraic Birnie, Brian Evenson, Elana Gomel, Douglas Ford, Shannon Scott, Timothy Granville, LC von Hessen, Mark Howard Jones, Rhonda Eikamp, Charles Wilkinson, James Pate, J.A.W. McCarthy, Christopher K. Miller, Selene dePackh, M.R. Cosby, Michael Kelly, Rebecca J. Allred, John Langan, Steve Rasnic Tem, Sam Richard.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

Shadows & Tall Trees #8



Edited by Michael Kelly

My previous reviews of this publisher:

Stories by Seán Padraic Birnie, Rebecca Campbell, Kay Chronister, Kristi DeMeester, Brian Evenson, James Everington, Kurt Fawver, Carly Holmes, V.H. Leslie, Alison Littlewood, C.M. Muller, KL Pereira, M. Rickert, Simon Strantzas, Steve Rasnic Tem, Steve Toase, Charles Wilkinson, Neil Williamson.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…