Patrick Freivald has released a new short story collection from Barking Deer Press entitled In the Garden of Rusting Gods. An established novelist, Bram Stoker Award-nominee (and, with Andrew Wolter, winner of the Richard Laymon President’s Award in 2015), he writes horror for both young adult and adult audiences alike. His short fiction has mostly tended toward science fiction horror, which he excels at, so for readers wanting their fix, his collection will fit the bill.
I enjoyed the illustrations that started each story, including the inaugural entry in the volume, “In the Garden of Rusting Gods.” It builds a steampunk atmosphere in a post-apocalyptic landscape that called Blade Runner to mind for me.
Standouts for me included “The Star,” about a down-on-his luck rock musician, which readers who enjoyed The Dirt series about Mötley Crüe will particularly like. My favorite was “Well Worn” about a seamstress with a history steeped in New Orleans, mixed in with ghosts and revenge for good measure. As well, “The Extermination Business” has a very detective procedural feel to it, drawing influence from Dashiell Hammett/Raymond Chandler mixed in with more horror elements.
Freivald’s stories are tightly-plotted, violent, and action-packed. The forces waging within his characters, particularly anger, jump off the page, lending his writing a vivid, cinematic quality. For readers who like science fiction in their horror, or for those who want high-octane intensity, pick up Freivald’s collection.