Hacked in Two by Daemon Manx and James G. Carlson
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!
A Disturbing Double Feature
- A wilderness adventure for a young couple quickly develops into a terrifying tourist trap with unspeakable consequences. Never has the rugged outdoors developed into such extreme hazards of horror. - A plague of lumbering undead has been released among the world’s population. This revelatory tribulation has given rise to true evil and genuine good, specifically a righteousness that was delivered to fight for the oppressed and punish the wicked. * Authors Daemon Manx & James G. Carlson have combined forces to create a disturbing double feature of novellas known as Hacked In Two. Red Falls by James G. Carlson captures a road-trip of ominous dark despair. His gritty tale of strange and diseased infestation has a primitive bite which doesn’t let go. Glossed with earthly and spiritual overtones, Carlson’s bloody brochure is laden with horrific hillbillies and parasitic surreal nightmares. Many forms of extreme terror await the reader within this unconventional story of creepy delirium. Deacon by Daemon Manx arouses slow moving ghouls better known as Grunts or Rotters. Desiring the taste of fresh meat, the collapse of civilization is inevitable. A man of the cloth, known as Deacon, imposes his justice on those in need with actions of brutal deliverance. Speargun, chainsaw and cleaver are just a few of the tools used for baptism of the flesh. An inventive inner struggle artistically bleeds onto this novella’s pages making it literally horror from the author’s heart. Extreme horror is served on a platter of vile raw meat prepared by two of the finest innovative splatter-chefs writing today. Stories like these bring readers together and praise that century-old conviction of “the night is long, and the gods are good.” Enjoy these five star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ morsels of the macabre.
Two Great Stories
I so enjoyed this book. A story each from James G. Carlson and Daemon Manx and each one was fantastic. Red Falls takes you into little backwoods PA town with two urbanites. From creepy locals to creepy things in the surrounding forests, this story pulls you along to an ending that is not what you are expecting at all. Deacon is a whole different story that blurs reality and fiction to the point you kind of wonder which is which. One part zombie tale, one part insight into a the heart of the writer; it grabs you and doesn't let go. This book was dark, creepy, but moments of humor, and sometimes touching. I can't recommend it enough.