Even now, months later, there are still many moments during the day that I am caught completely off guard, overwhelmed with sudden grief or confusion, frustration or — most of all — a kind of gut-wrenching, teeth-grinding anger.
Bloodybones by Paul F. Olson is a ghosty, boogey-man-y, horror tale. It can be found in the collection Whispered Echoes.
I don’t read a lot of horror these days, although it used to be one of my reading staples. Every book fair, I’d buy a book from the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series (or something like that) and be freaked out and have nightmares for a few days. It was great. But I stopped chasing that kind of feeling of creepy danger as I got older. The real world sets me on edge enough.
Bloodybones is scary. I had a fight-or-flight reaction while reading it. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I got goosebumps. I shivered from internal chills, although it was 100 degrees outside. I had forgotten the physical reaction you can have to your own imagination while reading an engaging, scary story! I had forgotten how much fun that can be.
There are, of course, different kinds of horror. For example, The Exorcist, Cujo, Halloween, Saw, and It Follows are all horror movies, but they all have very different styles. The style of Bloodybones felt somewhat similar to The Ring, although the subject matter is different.
It is the final entry for this series of reviews of the World Fantasy Award for Best Long Fiction. Unlike the other nominees in the Long Fiction category, Bloodybones was not nominated for a Nebula or Hugo Award. It’s not as “literary” as the other World Fantasy Award nominees. It occasionally tries to involve weightier topics like grief, but that doesn’t really work. The protagonist is too self-centered and the language is too unsubtle for the book to be an effective exploration of that kind of an emotional journey. Those aspirations for greater literary meaning also occasionally slow down the narrative. Put simply, fans of fast-paced pulp horror might think it’s too boring.
It’s still pretty fun, though.