Aftermath of an Industrial Accident by Mike Allen
Mythic Delirium Books (July 2020)
238 pages, $15.95 Hardcover
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
Anyone familiar with horror and dark fantasy knows the name Mike Allen. He’s been a Nebula, Shirley Jackson, and World Fantasy Award finalist. He’s won three Rhyslings from the SFPA. He’s edited a number of award winning books and anthologies. It’s no surprise, therefore, that his newest collection, Aftermath of an Industrial Accident, is an incredible read. This collection of horror and dark fantasy poetry and short fiction needs to be on the shelf of any horror reader.
While Allen is known for his fiction, he has won the most awards with his speculative poetry. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the poems in Aftermath of an Industrial Accident stand out. “The Paper Boy,” the first poem in the collection, uses a basic ghost story to make some really haunting social commentary, using the tropes of horror to speak to the bigger evils in society. Allen also collaborates on poems with award-winning poets Christina Sng and C. S. E. Cooney. Arguably, the prose in this collection outweighs the poetry in terms of quantity, but certainly not quality.
Allen’s fiction is the real star of this anthology. There are too many really solid stories in this collection to pick favorites. A few highlights for me: “Puppet Show,” in which the band Bloodbath Jubilee puts on an epic, horror themed stage show for crowds that some fans and reviewers think is a bit too real for comfort; “The Ivy-Smothered Palisade,” an epistolary tale which takes some basic folkloric and mythic elements, but twists them into new, dark machinations; and “Drift from the Windrows,” which is a very tone-oriented piece that deals with the horrors of corporate greed and its affect on workers and minorities. Still, a reader could pick any three or four stories in this collection and they say were favorites or highlights because the stories in this book are just that good.
Mike Allen is a master of horror and dark fantasy. His accolades and publishing credits are legion, and the poems and stories in Aftermath of an Industrial Accident prove that they are not without merit. This is a really powerful and dark collection of short stories and poetry, and any reader of horror will enjoy it immensely.