A Season of Loathsome Miracles

A Season of Loathsome Miracles by Max D. Stanton

A vengeful witch twists time and space on her way to the pyre, and hundreds of years later, a woman loses everything to the addictive lure of omniscience. A Season of Loathsome Miracles has begun, a season untethered to the sun and spanning across centuries. A World War I flying ace is conscripted into war on a cosmic scale, and a musician of the distant future travels beyond known space to play the ultimate concert. A vice cop scours the streets of Manson-era Los Angeles in search of a sentient snuff film while, in our own time, a yoga student learns a new practice that transforms her, body and soul. Max D. Stanton’s debut collection assembles thirteen short stories of gruesome horror, bleak ascensions, and gallows humor.Max D. Stanton’s debut collection assembles thirteen short stories of gruesome horror, bleak ascensions, and gallows humor.

The IndieMuse Review

This debut collection from Max D. Stanton collects thirteen tales of horror that feature:

  • A young researcher whose investigation into a controversial anthropologist unveils a deadly ritual, decades in the making
  • A dangerous new drug that takes its users beyond the veil of reality, to a place that they may never return from
  • An ill-fated voyage to the edge of space where a horror beyond imagining lies in wait
  • A Victorian-era automaton that can predict the future, and a young couple who are willing to kill to keep their pasts hidden
  • A roadside wax museum hiding a terrible secret within its doors
  • A Catholic soldier who flees into a forest to avoid his enemies, and finds something far more dangerous waiting for him inside

It is always a joy to discover a new author whose work you really connect with and I was absolutely blown away by how much I enjoyed A Season of Loathsome Miracles. Every single one of the tales collected here could have been the standout in a lesser book and the fact that this is Stanton’s debut collection just makes the consistently excellent quality of the stories all the more impressive.

A lot of the stories have fun nods to classic authors. The Lovecraftian style of stories such as “The Hargreave Collection” is very overt, and I also spotted more than one reference to Robert Chambers seminal “The King in Yellow”. I enjoyed picking up on these fun little nods and it added an extra layer of engagement for me.

What also impresses is how varied the stories are. The book opens with a period piece about a witch who has been sentenced to death and closes with a fantasy-inspired epic with an uncomfortably sinister undertone. Between those stories, there is the psychedelic (“The Enlightenment Junkies”), cosmic sci-fi horror (“The Voyage of the Jericho”), a World War I epic with a twist (“Flying Machine”) and blackly comedic body horror (“Hekati Yoga”). There is truly something to suit every taste on offer here.

Selecting a favorite is nigh on impossible. The stories were all so memorable and unique, and the execution so assured, that it is one of those books where every story would no doubt be somebody’s favorite. My personal highlights were “Pigman”, an all-out horror tale which had echoes of early Clive Barker and “Following Bebe Astara”, a fun and unpredictable cautionary tale of the power of celebrity, which boasts one of the best (and most disturbing) endings of any horror short I have read in a very long time.

A Season of Loathsome Miracles is, quite simply, one of the best short story collections I have ever read. Each story differs from what preceded it and the breadth of subject and genre that Stanton tackles without sacrificing one iota of quality is breath-taking to read and cements him as a horror author to watch.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

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