Candy Coated Madness

CANDY COATED MADNESS by Jeff Strand

Horror/comedy master Jeff Strand returns with a collection of twenty-six gleefully macabre tales!

A cheerful snack mascot who snaps under the pressure. The nightmarish effects of the most depressing holiday song of all time. A virtual reality environment that allows you to enact your most depraved fantasies…sort of. A cheerful snack mascot who snaps under the pressure. Giant mutant cockroaches doing battle with zombies in the Old West. An unnerving discovery in the Book of Revelations. The true secret of silent comedian Buster Keaton’s success. Plus a Halloween curse, a lot of psychopaths, and much more!

Often hilarious, frequently gruesome, and sometimes just flat-out wrong to the point where laughing at them presents a moral quandary, Candy Coated Madness is Strand at his demented best!

The IndieMuse Review

Richard Martin’s Review

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but when that book is by Jeff Strand, and the cover features a skull vomiting candy, then you pretty much know what you are letting yourself in for.

Jeff Strand’s fourth short story collection (preceded by the equally brilliantly titled Gleefully Macabre TalesDead Clown Barbeque and Everything Has Teeth) is crammed with 28 stories which include a murderous anthropomorphic pistachio, giant mutant cockroaches, shipwrecked faeries and an epic showdown between Buster Keaton and gargoyles. If you like your horror with a big side of sardonic wit, or your comedy with lashings of bloody axe murders, then you have come to the right place.

For anyone who is already a fan of Strand’s, there will be a lot of familiar faces in this new collection. Ivan the Werewolf, from the ‘Wolf Hunt’ series of books, makes a welcome appearance in a short prequel story to those novels. There is also a follow up story featuring the town of Spittin’ Hollow from ‘Them Old West Mutations’ featured in Gleefully Macabre Tales, as well as two shorts that have been produced as short films (including ‘Give up the Ghost, one of the highlights of this collection).

If this book is your introduction to Strand, then it is a great jumping on point. The stories range from the unapologetically weird (‘Captain Pistachio’s Charming Revenge’, ‘Lab Experiment Turf War’) to the more overtly horrific (‘The Last Thing You Want To Be’, ‘Hostile’) and as a taster for his novel length works, this is an excellent cross-section of the different extremes between humour and horror you can expect from his books.

While not all 28 stories are out and out winners, there are more hits than misses here, and there wasn’t a single story that failed to raise a smile. The best of the bunch are the closing story ‘My Werewolf Neighbor’, which is a joyously silly mix of Fright Night meets Bad Neighbors, and ‘Outpouring’, which begins as a straight body horror story and takes an unexpectedly biblical turn midway through.  I also have to give a special mention to ‘Green Suits’ which has the absolute best closing line in any story I have ever read.

Like a 312-page long sugar rush, this book demands to be devoured in a single sitting. In terms of pure, laugh out loud insanity, you can’t do better than a Jeff Strand short story collection and while this is unlikely to go down in horror history as a genre classic, it will thoroughly entertain, amuse, and disgust you in equal measure. After what feels like a year of living a real-life horror movie, this gleefully demented collection is absolutely the book that 2020 needed.

Mort Stone Reviews

Strand, Strand, Strand…what it must be like to have a look around in that messed up head of yours!

From killer songs to nutty nuts, from tomatoes to a really, really messed up fetish—and the incredible lengths to hide it, from parental instincts to going insane, from lawyers to being in denial…and don’t forgot the necrophilia, because dead chicks don’t say no.

I don’t feel so guilty for laughing at your humor anymore, but that probably says more about me than you.

Just keep ’em coming, and I’ll keep on buying.

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.

MORT STONE

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.

1 review for CANDY COATED MADNESS by Jeff Strand

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  1. Alica Farnsworth  

    I loved this book! It had a little bit of everything, and awesome characters. The storyline moved along flawlessly and kept me totally involved. If these characters were to appear again for another book, I would be along for the ride.

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