Hacked in Two by Daemon Manx and James G. Carlson
Two worlds collide—a post-apocalyptic place of harsh survival and awful violence, and a tortured author whose reality is coming apart one line at a time. Does any story ever truly end? There is life in the words and in the spaces between them, somewhere in the invisible ink. Deacon is the fusion of at least two stories—one playing out in the barbaric ruins of a fallen world, and the other in the mind. This psychological twist of perception will leave you wondering where fiction ends and reality begins.
Two Stories One Vision
Ok so let's dive straight in with James G Carlson taking over the first part of the book with his story Red Falls. First chapter goes straight in with an abduction scene, four hikers in the wrong place at the wrong time. This sets the scenes for what is to come, gearing the reader up for what will be a hell of a ride. I mean, you sit there and realise wow if this is just the first chapter I can't wait to see what happens next. Introducing us to June and Ezra, out on the road to a wine festival taking place in the very same place our unfortunate hikers were being held, Red Falls. So yeah imagine two young people, who are open-minded against racists, fascists, and all forms of religion. That is this couple, now stick them in a backwater town. Run down to the ground and look nothing like the images they were shown. So that is the town, add in some deliverance vibes and you have one hell of a setup. They bump into another couple Marcus and Nigel, who are damn near my favourite characters. By this point, I've gone quite fond of the couple, but also pretty fearful for them as I doubt the town's folk appreciate the kind of love they share. I am already more than aware that the four of them have ruffled all the feathers. But have no idea what fate awaits them, especially with the way the story started. But as the story pace quickens and the violence ensues, I had no idea that the story would take the turn it did. If you hate lice, ticks, and leeches, well I am sorry won't be changing your mind anytime soon. It was a bloody good read! (hehe pun intended). I enjoyed the journey it took me on, the characters and the backstory of the town, and how it became Red Falls. Then we move on to Deacon by Daemon, now I have read his work before. So I was prepared for a hell of a ride. As always he never disappoints with this story of a zombie-killing priest called Deacon. Which morphs into a Mouth of Madness-style story, where reality and fiction start to meld. As we flip between Daemon's story and his own life as an author. This fascinating read opens the door to how confusing and complex writing can get. I know I have had many times where I have questioned my own sanity, especially when you have characters that walk in and out of your dreams. This also sheds light on the hard uphill journey against addiction, starting a new life, and trying to maintain control against temptation. Both sides of the story will suck you in and keep you fully invested. I like that both authors went with a similar theme of Hill Billy's and those stuck in their ways warped by tradition and the social environment they grew up in. But Daemon shared his soul with the reader, his story was an emotional ride from start to finish. Whereas James shared his intellect and raised some interesting social topics. Put these two together and you have a book with some deep context behind it and an intense horror experience for the reader.
5.0 out of 5 stars Two very different, but great stories.
Enjoyed both stories in this book, creepy and imaginative. If you are into horror, definitely worth checking out.
Two superb tales
Two very different stories but both were equally enjoyable. Red Falls was a kind of a culty creature feature. You knew something weird was going on but you would never have guessed what it turned out to be. Deacon was a mind bending apocalyptic gross fest that left me questioning reality.
A delicacy of delightfully dark and deviously diverting dispatches from a decidedly disturbed duo.
What is better than reading a book by one of your favorite authors? Reading a book featuring TWO of your favorite authors, naturally! I was lucky enough receive an ARC copy of Hacked in Two in exchange for an honest review, and was pretty stoked for the stories within just based on the excellent cover alone. Yeah, yeah, we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover. But we all do it. Each. And. Every. One. Of. Us. So cut me some slack. Or, to hew closer to the book in question…hack me some slack! But I digress… Hacked in Two features a short story apiece from Daemon Manx and James G. Carlson, two authors who came up through the indie-horror trenches together. They both, quite ironically, also forged very similar paths in their literary ascension, creating their own publishing houses; Mr. Carlson starting Gloom House and Daemon establishing Last Waltz. And while both imprints are attracting talent from across the indie scene, gradually filling out their stable of published works, Mr. Carlson and Mr. Manx are still, first and foremost, gifted authors. Neither of whom are content to rest on their laurels. Thus, Hacked in Two was born. Weighing in at 180 pages, and published on the Gloom House imprint, these are some meaty short stories. As with all of my reviews, I will attempt to keep spoilers to a minimum. I fully believe that books are more enjoyable when going in as blind as possible. I also respect the effort that writers put into their works, and therefore want to minimize preconceived notions altogether if possible. Mr. Carlson’s tale Red Falls, the first story in the collection, is the longer of the two offerings. As I have learned from previous experience with his tales, Mr. Carlson likes to take tropes and concepts from established horror conventions and combine them into something new. Red Falls is no different, bringing together snippets of the “city slickers vs country folk” and creature feature genres, stitching them together into a cohesive and nasty whole. What I really appreciated about Red Falls, and really all of James G. Carlson’s works in general, is that regardless of how depraved or disgusting his subject matter might be, there is an elegance to his writing that elevates the material. There is nothing wrong with extreme horror (more on that later), but many of the authors in that genre tend for more explosive writing style, maximizing the shock they deliver. But while many of the events that transpire in Red Falls are shocking, they are professionally and pristinely delivered, resulting in a polished package. I have mentioned before in reviews how a little bit of restraint goes a long way. The fact that Mr. Carlson manages to beautifully narrate the ugliness that transpires, by showing just that little bit of restraint, speaks to what a consummate professional he is. Mr. Manx’s tale Deacon is both everything and nothing that I expected a Daemon Manx tale to be. What begins as a (seemingly) extreme-horror zombie tale quickly veers WILDLY in a different direction entirely. From the various pieces I have read from Daemon in the past, I can unequivocally state that, more so than any other author I have read, many of this tales have a very personal bent to them. And that is one of the most appealing things for me; getting to know the author through his writing. With Deacon, however, Mr. Manx has given us the most unfiltered glimpse into his life yet. But instead of adding additional color to the story, with Deacon, the glimpses into Daemon’s life ARE the story. To go much more into why would be venturing heavily into spoiler territory. Needless to say, the lines between author and creation blur in the most exciting and visceral of ways. And, in doing so, Daemon asks the fundamental question for an author; do we rule the stories we create, or do they rule us? From my own experiences with my own creations, I can attest that it’s a constant tug-of-war between the two. And Daemon explores that tug-of-war in a grand fashion with Deacon. I also love that he tackles the nature of extreme horror (from his perspective at least) head on and without pulling punches. Is it a road he wants to go down? Is it a road he SHOULD go down? What does it say about him if he does or doesn’t? Deacon is heady stuff through and through. The kind of stuff that separates an author from a writer. Plus, I just love Daemon’s use of humor in his tales. Some of it is ironic, some of it is raunchy, but it all serves in enhancing the story. Nitpicks are few and VERY far between. I only noticed a couple of instances of misspellings or word repetition. Outside of that, I have no complaints. The stories were exactly as long as they needed to be. The writing, as expected, was top-notch. Pacing was perfect. And neither ends with a traditional bow tied neatly around them, which was greatly appreciated by this reviewer. Providing two great stories for one low price, picking up Hacked in Two is a no-brainer for any lover
Great Team Up
Both authors deal out a macabre story. Awesomeness!