Reviewer Praise for SHOOT THE DEVIL

A reviewer is very generous with his applause for an Anthology where I am honored to appear next to friends and fellows, called SHOOT THE DEVIL in which my short story ‘Fell Beasts’ appears.

Critical Blast posts the following review:

Crucifixion Press Resurrects Pulse-Pounding Pulp Action In The New Anthology, ‘Shoot The Devil’

In the August, 1928 issue of seminal pulp fiction publication Weird Tales (the same magazine responsible for first popularizing the material of cosmic horror pioneer H.P. Lovecraft), a story by legendary Conan creator Robert E. Howard appeared featuring a somber and gloomy 17th century Puritan wanderer whose sole motivation was the destruction of evil in all its unearthly forms. Solomon Kane’s inaugurate adventure, ‘Red Shadows’, set the tone for much of the character’s later excursions–deeply religious, Kane sported all-black attire and boldly confronted his infernal enemies with rapier, dirk and a brace of flintlock pistols. Readers of the era lapped it up, and multiple stories in the series were released before Howard’s tragic and untimely death.

Nearly a century later, Solomon Kane’s two-fisted spirit lives in an army of movies and television shows. From Hammer Films’ katana-wielding Captain Kronos, to Blade, Buffy and Dylan Dog, The Witcher, the Winchester brothers and Ash Vs The Evil Dead, to Exorcist Vengeance, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and everything in between, the never-ending war on the forces of darkness continues unabated. Yet in its medium of origin that same combative essence has waned through the decades. Now Crucifixion Press has resurrected blood-pumping pulp intensity in prose with their new multi-author anthology, Shoot The Devil. Subtitled as ‘Ten Double-Barreled Tales of Humanity Defeating the Demonic’, editor Eric Postma has successfully assembled a roster of top-tier indie talent who revel in giving the horned one his long due defeat.

Though its specific genre is debatable (Weird Western? Steampunk?), N.R. LaPoint’s ‘Phantom Ridge: From The Case Files of Virgil Everness’, unleashes an unquestionable amount of thrilling mayhem as a husband-and-wife duo comes face-to-fang with an invading force of galactic beasts.

‘Who Rules The World?’, by L. Jagi Lamplighter gives readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of Cornelius, the blind leader of the all-powerful Illuminati, and Ida, the woman who loves him despite her secret vow to crush his clandestine organization.

An indisputable horror-western, James Pyle’s gripping ‘Wolf In The Wind’ focuses on a haunted lawman who reluctantly pairs with a spiritualist to stalk a most unusual lycanthrope.

Fiery angelic swords, elf lords, teleportation and yetis (yes, yetis), figure into Russell Newquist’s ‘Game Warden: A Tale of Peter Bishop’, an amusing romp that heralds the book’s second half and whose unconventional titular hero happily skews every ‘Chosen One’ trope when he must protect a group of Boy Scouts from some decidedly high-fantasy poachers.

That’s followed immediately thereafter by Steven G. Johnson’s similarly magical ‘The Silver String Job’, a taut tale that paints elementals and wizardry with glistening noir polish.

‘Last Chance Lane’, Michael Gallagher’s wry yarn about a demonically-infected plot of ground and the childhood friends who battle the fiend responsible for it, showcases the author’s trademark humor and rapid-fire wit to electric effect.

And a practitioner of the black arts who’s traded everything for a pair of spectral spectacles looses part of his sight but regains his soul once he crosses paths with the Divine in Corey Comstock’s redemptive ‘Eye Hath Not Seen’.

As a complete work Shoot The Devil is more than the sum of its many parts; it’s fun, entertaining and robust with memorable characters. There are, however, minor pitfalls. As with most anthologies, not every story will satisfy themselves among all audiences; given the singular theme an understandable repetition exists among the chosen tales, and irksome times arise when certain entries feel less like fiction than proselytizing sermons or poorly disguised political screeds. Any trifling complaints, though, are quickly forgotten amid the pulse-pounding fury of these pages: fisticuffs, gunplay, sword fights, sorcery and psionics–there’s rarely a dull moment, and at times the reader must step back just to catch their breath. But that crackling kinetic energy is exactly what sets this compilation apart from the current crop of terror-tale tomes; these aren’t woe-begotten stories wallowing in existentialist misery, nor nihilistic exercises in brutal torture porn excess–this is about re-establishing the genre’s endangered Good-Triumphs-Over-Evil motif, and to that end three efforts within Shoot The Devil deserve outstanding mention above their peers.

Tense from first line to last, the volume’s very opener, Daniel Humphrey’s ‘An Exorcism For The Demon’, kicks the anthology off on a strong note as a paranormal investigator with a commanding psychic ability called the push is summoned to purge ghosts haunting the house of a man who might be a serial killer.

And ripping action highlights Declan Finn’s wonderfully clever ‘To Catch A Monster’, whose mysterious-yet-vaguely-familiar demon slayer may have been more monstrous than any devil in his day.

But of all the tales, none is more worthy of unabashed praise than John C. Wright’s chill-inducing masterpiece, ‘Fell Beasts’. Digging deep into his characters’ psyche, this simple yet powerful narrative straddles the thin line examining precisely what it means to be alive, dead, and undead, then deconstructs that overdone vampiric archetype into something genuinely new, thought-provoking and frightening. Wholly unique, ‘Fell Beasts’ is not only the valedictorian of Shoot The Devil, but one of the most original pieces of vampire fiction in recent memory.

With its congress of kick-ass leads intent on delivering a bullet to the skull of Satan’s many earthly minions, Shoot The Devil will undoubtedly provide readers hours of vicarious demon-dispatching enjoyment and allow the faithful soul of Solomon Kane to exist well into the new millennium.

I hereby bestow Shoot The Devil a well-earned 4 (out of 5) on my Fang Scale. Will Crucifixion Press reload their literary six-guns to Shoot The Devil again with a sequel? I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is yes.

4.0 / 5.0