31 Days of Horror – Day Three
I’ve always been a fan of taking a familiar genre trope and turning it on its head. Of shattering an audience’s expectations and delivering something that’s instead wholly unique.
There are thousands of books about werewolves, for instance, and it’s probably not all that difficult to add another one to the pile, full of blood and gore and everything you’d expect to see in a werewolf book. But then there are the Stephen Graham Jones’s of the world, who take a concept we’re familiar with and turn it into a coming of age tale that may be about werewolves, but really is about life and unrealized hopes and how to be okay with the fact that things are simply not okay. (And if you haven’t yet read Mongrels, do yourself a favor and pick it up.)
So Day Three of 31 Days of Horror leads us to a concept turned not only on its head, but completely inside out. Imagine you die and are greeted by a friendly demon in a suit who explains the one true religion is something you’ve never even heard of. But it’s okay, because this god is lenient and will give you a way to escape purgatory and return to his presence. All you have to do is find the book of your life in a library that contains every book that could have possibly been written.
A Short Stay in Hell, by Steven Peck, isn’t a widely known novella, but it’s one that will stick with you long after its final page is turned. Really playing with the concept of eternity, it’s a mind-twist of a story, and may make you reconsider whether the idea of heaven and hell or living forever is something to even be desired. Check out my review for the book here, or pick up the audiobook version for just $1.99. Two bucks you won’t regret spending.