Beautiful/Grotesque Edited by Sam Richard

Five authors of strange fiction, Roland Blackburn (Seventeen Names For Skin), Jo Quenell (The Mud Ballad), Katy Michelle Quinn (Winnie), Joanna Koch (The Wingspan of Severed Hands), and Sam Richard (Sabbath of the Fox-Devils) each bring you their own unique vision of the macabre and the glorious violently colliding. From full-on hardcore horror to decadently surreal nightmares, and noir-fueled psychosis, to an eerie meditation on grief, and familial quiet horror, Beautiful/Grotesque guides us through the murky waters where the monstrous and the breathtaking meet.

They are all beautiful. They are all grotesque.

The IndieMuse Review

Beautiful/Grotesque brings together five authors of strange fiction.

The first story (“God of the Silvered Halls” by Roland Blackburn) and the fifth story (“The Fruit of A Barren Tree” by Sam Richard) are good and solid stories.

The third story (“The Queen of the Select” by Katy Michelle Quinn) is by far the highlight of this anthology for me. While it gives a rather strong message about trans women and their bodies, it never lost sight of the actual story being told.

The second story (“Threnody” by Jo Quenell) is a rather difficult story to rate. It sends a clear message about grief and loss, but it becomes problematic with all the hints to more of a back story which never gets explained or resolved.

While I am a fan of open endings and, to some extent, room for interpretation, this story gives you such a small view of the actual picture, it is difficult to decide whether you would like the picture or not. There’s just too much that’s not being said, and, in my opinion, it leaves the reader feeling cheated for wasting their time by getting clues to a puzzle, but never the answer.

I will also say that I reread this one, especially after reading some of the glowing reviews on Goodreads, but it is not something I can wrap my head around. This story failed to entertain and frustrated me in the end.

The fourth story (“Swanmord” by Joanna Koch) is the first story in a very long time which I actually hated. I don’t use that word lightly. I could not make heads or tails of what was going on in this one. If it is an extension of something I am not familiar with, I will apologize for my ignorance, but nothing made sense. I was as lost from the start on the fourth reread of the first page as I was initially.

Here’s how I try to look at it: while I may not be the brightest Skittle in the packet, I do read a fair amount and consider myself a fairly free thinker. I love art, especially darker, Gothic art, but for the most part I prefer realistic art. There are few things as beautiful as a pencil-sketch which looks like a photograph. And while I can appreciate something surreal like a Salvador Dali painting, abstract art does very little for me. If someone took a hand full of paint, held it up to his face and sneezed, I would probably believe them if they told me it is a Pollock.

Is that the problem? Am I just too dense to get this kind of writing?

Whatever the case may be, I almost felt offended that this story managed to make me feel stupid. Like I said, I had no idea what was going on in this one.

With that said, there may be others who like this, but as a reviewer I am unable to give this book more than one and a half star, considering I greatly disliked 40% of this product.

I wish the authors luck and hope for their sake others are more open to these stories.


Mort Stone lives in untamed Africa, where he rides his lion to work every morning to slave away as a scientist who learned how to fake competency.

Reading is his passion…well, the one he can admit to, anyway. As an aggressive pacifist, he chooses to fight vicariously through stories which can bring him no physical harm.

While he is almost confidant that his IQ is in the top 50%, his wife regularly reminds him of all the stupid things he does. He will neither admit nor deny the accusations of sarcasm, but he can act like he cares. Most of the time.

As an avid reader of horror and thrillers, and somewhat of a movie buff in those genres, he still blames his insomnia on Global Warming. Because he can.

He would also like to apologize in advance for any swear words which might slip through…he will blame that on the insomnia.


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