Book Review: Departures
It’s exciting to read a story and have no idea where you’re going or where you’ll end up. A story that hooks you in and keeps you guessing with its twists and turns, that populates its prose with believable characters and places them in increasingly outlandish scenarios. I’m pleased to say that Scott Cole’s latest collection Departures is full of exactly these types of stories.
SUMMARY: A new homeowner finds a large, inexplicable egg behind a door… A traveler seeks a bizarre creature from folklore… An abused spouse takes matters into their own hands… A stranger tempts passersby with a mystery in the trunk of his car… A man discovers a cemetery walled off from the rest of town… A family finds out what the vacation of a lifetime really entails… And a sleep aid wakes up. These are just some of the strange tales within, as Scott Cole returns with a new collection featuring his unique brand of unusual horror stories.
The collection opens with “Egg House”, a story about a man who buys a new house and discovers a giant egg hiding behind the bathroom door. The egg looks and smells strange, but the real horror kicks in when it finally cracks open and reveals its mind-bending interior. This story sets the tone for the unique and imaginative storytelling that Cole does so well.
Each of the ten stories here fall under the brand of dark fiction, but they are nicely varied in their plots and horror influences. “Cold Hands” reads like early gothic fiction and tells of an abused spouse who takes matters into his own hands. “The Trunk” is like something Roald Dahl might have written, with its mysterious stranger offering a deceptively simple challenge. “The Noise Machine” has a blend of terror and sci-fi that feels like its from Bradbury or Ellison. And “Only Bad People”’ comes across as a modern day version of the stories Poe and M.R. James used to write.
Some stories, like “Clown Noses” and “The Noise Machine”, are deeply unsettling without resorting to abundant gore. Other stories, such as “Gourds” and “Can’t See the Forest”, revel in their body horror trappings and gross out moments. “The Penanggalan” features a creature from Malaysian folklore and reads almost like travel writing. Regardless of the type of horror, all the stories here are a lot of fun!
Scott Cole writes with a clear and engaging voice, and there’s often an undercurrent of dark humor running throughout. I like that each story focuses on ordinary people who, usually through no fault of their own, find themselves in bizarre and unfortunate situations. With its boundless creativity and variety of frights, Departures is an easy recommendation for those who like their horror with a side of surrealism.
If you’re interested in buying a copy of the book, go HERE. If you read it, even if you didn’t love it, please leave a review on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. It really goes a long way in helping the author’s gain exposure/future readers!
About the Author
Scott Cole is the author of Crazytimes, Triple Axe, and SuperGhost, as well as two collections of short fiction, Departures and Slices. He is also an artist and graphic designer. He lives in Philadelphia.