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Midnight in the City of the Carrion Kid by James G. Carlson
Midnight in the City of the Carrion Kid by James G. Carlson
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Midnight in the City of the Carrion Kid by James G. Carlson

James G. Carlson

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There is a city that occupies the space between life and death. Once a wondrous realm, it has been corrupted by a malevolent presence known as the Carrion Kid—a demon that crossed over on the soul of a young boy. Now, guided by a talking cat, a chosen few must come together to restore light, safety, and sanity before it’s too late. This includes Alistair and Eden, a newly arrived couple, and a ragtag group of survivors who reside in a subterranean lair called Haven Below. But bringing about a new dawn in this strange and terrifying place is an undertaking that will test their bonds and cost some of them dearly.

“A fast-paced and wonderfully weird journey! Highly recommended!” — Jeff Strand, author of SICK HOUSE
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JW
01/13/2022
Jack W.
United States United States
I recommend this product

Poetically perverse tale that marries beauty with the bizarre.

One of the absolute joys of being an indie author has been discovering the greater writing community at large, both locally and across multiple social media platforms. Folks from pretty much every genre have been ridiculously warm and welcoming to this new face. But the thing that surprised me the most (though it really shouldn’t have) is that the indie authors in the horror community have been the most inviting and helpful of all. This group of folks may have the most twisted and perverse of imaginations, but horror writers genuinely do have the biggest hearts. Which brings us to Midnight in the City of the Carrion Kid. I’ve been following Gloom House Publishing for a couple of months now, ever since spying their skull-motif logo. I’m kind of a skull-head as it is, so I naturally gravitated towards their imprint. So, imagine my surprise when the founder of Gloom House, Mr. James G. Carlson, asked if I wanted to review his newest short in exchange for an honest opinion. Reviews bring in the views, and I’m all about supporting the underdogs. So far, 2022 has been the year of the short story for me, and needless to say I leapt at the opportunity to support a fellow indie. And, dear readers, I have to admit that MitCotCK is arguably the most beautifully ugly thing I have ever read. This is no backhanded compliment. I am absolutely enamored with this short, even though it is brutal, unflinching, and unforgiving. A literary kick in the nuts…but somehow the pain is exquisite. As with all of my reviews, I will attempt to keep spoilers to a minimum. This would be a difficult story to explain regardless but going in blind is certainly the best choice. If it’s not mentioned in the official synopsis, I will do my best to avoid mentioning it here. There are, essentially, three major reasons why MitCotCK impressed me like it did. First, the writing is absolutely on point. Mr. Carlson has a mastery of the English language akin to heavyweights like Joe Hill and Patrick Rothfuss. He is incredibly skilled at describing people, places, and things, but his writing also has an occasional poetic quality about it. It skirts the edge of purple prose at times but never actually crosses that controversial line. When an author can take lesser used words and assemble them into a sentence where their meaning is inherently clear…that’s talent. He brings the blasted remains of the In-Between, the location where the story transpires, to vibrant life, imbuing a sense of familiarity; every reader will be instinctively familiar and wary of such a locale. Second, the size of the story is like the Three Bears’ porridge - just right. The tale never overstays its welcome, ending right when it needs to. And believe me...there's an art to this. Not every writer can, or should, tackle the short-story format. But the more I delve outside of my comfort zone, the more I am discovering an immutable fact: There is an inherent strength in shorter stories; a power in parsimonious prose. Mr. Carlson understands this, allowing his creation to unfold at the perfect pace. There were no skimmable segments. I was never bored. Everything just clicked. Third, there is an incredible amount of imagination on display here. Coupled with his descriptive style, the desolate locations and disgusting denizens of MitCotCK came very much to decrepit and repulsive life. The various creatures are most certainly nightmare-fuel. And the entire concept of the In-Between, and its reason for existing, were unique and engaging. I fully expected to not be able to identify very well with the main character, but by the end of the story I was completely invested in his plight, his emotions, and his catharsis. The supporting cast shine as bright as they can given the shortness of the tale. But by and large, they were entertaining and varied. My nitpicks, if they can be called that, are few. The climax of the story is appropriately awesome, but I feel like I missed exactly why this one person (they who shall not be named) was the one to confront the chaos. It’s entirely possible that I missed their import…or maybe Mr. Carlson was intentionally leaving their identity vague. I wanted ever so slightly more of a “why” for them. And that’s it actually. Soooooo…yeah. Color me impressed. VERY impressed. I can actually see myself going back and re-reading this one a few times. And that, my friends, is the mark of a good story! If you’re in the mood for something dark and twisted yet short and sweet, look no further. Midnight in the Garden of the Carrion Kid will scratch that itch (with clawed and diseased fingers, but I digress) most heartily!

LL
01/10/2022
Lisa L.
United States United States
I recommend this product

A Powerful Read

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Midnight in the City of the Carrion Kid by James G. Carlson, it’s my first by Carlson, but I soon discovered this is one of those reads where every interruption, no matter how important, inspires a knee-jerk reaction of “Oh my gosh, WHAT?!” I was originally going to just read a few pages to get a feel for the story, but then I didn’t want to stop reading. On Carson’s writing … The daring first person, present tense is done beautifully (and that is no easy task). I heard the guy’s voice, saw what he saw, experienced what he experienced, felt, smelled, touched. It’s immersive. The reveal of who he is and what he became and where he is now, the contrast, the juxtaposition of inherent human duality … the irony and horror and sorrow. Carlson’s writing style is incredible. And let us talk about the story itself. Midnight is much more than the synopsis suggests. At its heart, it’s about life, death, and what lies between. But it is also about choices and consequences, love and fear … regret. It flows with action and terror and suspense, and Carlson weaves all these things into a gripping tale like a master. Carlson calls Midnight in the City of the Carrion Kid bizarro meets paranormal adventure, and that is pretty apt, but I would add supernatural terror in there as well because this powerful and evocative tale transcends labels. Highly recommended.

M
11/10/2021
M
I recommend this product

Original, disturbing, bizarre

Checked this out on the strength of the cover art and synopsis. Let me just say, Jeff Strand's book blurb for this one is spot on -- it's fucking weird! But it's also well-written and entertaining. Not to mention the illustrations are awesome. Finished reading the book in two sittings, and now I am off to find other titles from this author.