by Robert Dunbar
January 24, 2011
by Robert Dunbar
July 25, 2011
There is something eerily real about the stories brought to life by Robert Dunbar. He takes so much from real life that long after you are finished reading, you will find yourself checking the shadows or turning around to watch your back. Dunbar has a very astute way of taking things from everyday and putting a macabre twist on them, much in the same vein as Poe and Lovecraft. Today it is difficult to find a horror writer who is not obsessed with vampires or other mythical beings, but rather enjoys focusing on a realism that lingers long after the story is told.
Willy is about a boy who is sent to a home for troubled youths and finds companionship with another boy at the home, Willy. After he meets Willy, nothing is ever the same. It is written as though the boy is telling us in his own words, with sometimes rushed run-on sentences and sometimes fragmented thoughts, which serves to draw one further into his mind and the madness and confusion that is happening. The main character never reveals his name, thus making it feel as though it could really be any adolescent that one may know, revealing that anonymity is perhaps what too many people feel in his situation. It is about his struggle to survive adolescence as much as it is about surviving his situation in life.
In the intense psychologically twisting Willy, Dunbar creates a story that builds more and more suspense the further you read,. You almost feel on edge while reading, but you have to know what happens, so is it integral to keep reading. In the end, it is not really clear whether it is a happy ending, or perhaps a more disturbing ending. You will find yourself thinking about this book and what exactly it all means long after the cover is closed.
Martyrs & Monsters continues Dunbar’s uniquely dark storytelling with a collection of short stories based mostly on urban legends and other tales. We get his take on zombies, the serial killer down the street, and other such often told stories- but of course they all seem a little darker than your run of the mill campfire lore.
In ‘Red Soil’ and ‘Grey Soil’, Dunbar recreates the birth stories of vampires and zombies, but without giving us the repetitive feeling that so many are apt to give us recently. A gothic tale of a young man saving his brother from a succubus is told in ‘High Rise,’ while other stories give us a touch of dark humor while also managing to send chills through our bodies.
Robert Dunbar is an author who should be given attention, especially if you are a fan of dark fiction and macabre twists on life. Although it may take a bit to get into his particular writing style at times, it is well worth it in the end, as you will be left wanting more but being too afraid to find out what comes next. In a genre that tends to be methodical and often repetitive, Dunbar is, oddly, a light in a world that is all about the darkness.
This book can be purchased at Amazon.com, as well as your local independent bookseller.
For more about Robert Dunbar, visit his website here.
[This review is also published at LLBook Review]