For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I’m posting my review of a short story anthology published by J. Ellington Ashton Press (the publisher of my The Last Bucelarii series). I’d say it’s definitely worth reading!
Doorway to Death
The doorway stands beyond man, at the end of a long hallway filled with sights beyond reason. It is a place where the universe begins and ends, where we begin and end, and deep down within our hearts, where we keep our secrets and imagine our stories, it lives there too. Come, join us at the Doorway to Death, enter and claim your end!
From the minds of Essel Pratt, Toneye Eyenot, Roy C. Booth, Axel Kohagan, Kent Hill, Michael Fisher, Coralie Rowe, Brian Barr, Lemmy Rushmore, Michael Noe, D.S. Scott, Kevin Candela, Jeff O’Brien, Magenta Nero, Howard Carlyle, Ts Woolard, Dani Brown, Magan Rodriguez, Jim Goforth, Alice J. Black, Dona Fox, and Brian Glossup
My Review: 5 Stars
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I’m not usually a short story collection/anthology reader, but I found this one a pretty fascinating read. Some of the stories were light-hearted and amusing, others cynical and cutting, and still others chilling and creepy. Not every story was perfect, but I enjoyed most of them.
What I liked best about this collection was that the stories were fairly short. As a busy person with limited time to read, it was nice to pick it up and get through a story or two at a time. The shorts held my attention and kept me turning pages, so it’s a collection I’d recommend to anyone.
Here’s a Taste:
There were no lights on in the nursery when the new family arrived home, and the altar that covered the gigantic pentagram on the floor would have to be moved before the ritual. Laura entered the house carrying her newborn twins tightly to herself. She went straight to the boys’ room and tucked Josh into his cradle. He was fast asleep and rolled over on his side immediately, dead to the world. His brother, Sean, who was literally dead to this world, was tucked away in his cradle by mom. She lit the candles that lined the walls. Their flames flickered, then brightened as a sense of ancient magical presence was growing within the confinements of the little nursery.
Preparations for the ritual would have to be made now. Laura knew the rules of the Black Arts. There were books upon books about them. She owned many. What she hadn’t learned from the countless tomes she obtained throughout her life was taught by an elder in the coven she was once a part of. Many lost rites were passed down to her. Everything from incantations to summoning of good luck demons who would grant any wish you so desired. Her witchmother claimed Laura was her best student. In time she was surpassed, and lost her value to the young pupil. At twenty one Laura became witchmother to her own coven of witches and a self proclaimed prodigy.
First, she must purify her body, starting with a hot bath and her prescription of placenta pills. It was time to begin her ritual regime.
Laura undressed in her bedroom, watching her body move in the vanity’s mirror. Slithering out of the wrinkled, stretchy maternity pants and removing the hospital gown she hadn’t bothered to change from for the ride home. Pulling the soft, velvet chair out from the vanity, she sits, placing her medications and baby bag next to her socked feet. There is a silver hair brush in the drawer that she brushes her hair with. She does this for an hour, one thousand strokes and no less. Placing the brush back in the vanity’s drawer, she takes a painkiller and a placenta pill, chasing it with the last glass of blood wine she had been saving for such an occasion.
In the stone worked bathroom of the home, Laura has a claw foot tub, centered directly over the drain in the middle of the room. A pump was attached to a rise in the rock floor, and hoses and tubes ran from it to the tub. The hot bath must be prepared before the ritual as well as her body. She enters the room and clicks the on switch to the pump. The motor buzzes, then begins pumping hot water and a mixture of illegally obtained amniotic fluids and nutrients into the tub. Once it was filled to her desire, Laura removes her socks and climbs into the sparkling potion to relax.
There were memories cascading through the dim lit stone decorated bathroom and Laura was drifting, calming herself into a trance-like state. She could feel the pills in her system, as they were absorbed by her craving body, feeding on their giving selves. Their nourishing matter mending all the broken parts, the stretched pains and pulls of the skin, healing the body, carrying it, lifting it.
There was a subtle invasion on all sides of her, beginning with a sound, and Laura listened, slowly rising through her senses. In her ears. On her skin. In her mouth. Through every cell within her wholeness, she could felt it with her soul.
“Mommy….” It said.
In an instant the pool of warm amniotic fluid quivered and held her motionless for what only measured eternity in Laura’s mind. She saw the slow swell in breasts and spirits as a dark realm arose. With her eyelids bleeding, split at the corners, and being peeling away from her field of vision, forcing her to witness the ghost of her dead son, Sean.
“Mommy….” It repeated in a whine, deep and guttural with death. It was doubled; the word was, almost like an immediate repeat, or a shadow of itself. The noise along with its own scent of decay, trailing. The eerie, shrill pitch was a continuous buzz in Laura’s head.”….Mommy.” It growled quietly.
The hold was unbreakable. Lifting Laura up out of the tub, fluid webs pouring around her body, flowing in some uncoordinated, contained manner. Not one drop spilling to the stone tiled floor, nor a splash, nor mist. There was intellect in this gathering of electrolytes and urea and proteins. This was an old entity, one that has existed in this realm, and many others. Long before man was even a glimmer in his God’s eyes, long before anything was, for that matter.
Laura was floating in a hardening amniotic sac, which was rotating around her like the universe to the sun, in an eternal continuation of the dance of life and death. And her Dead fetus Sean was speaking to her from between the worlds, from the jar of formaldehyde gel in his vacant crib, to the Dead Realm.
“Mommy…..you know what you musssst do.” Dead fetus Sean whispered, detached and dryly. The rising and falling of its ghastly words were almost unintelligible, but Laura knew what they meant, understood them clearly. She could hear her dead son’s thoughts. Feel his presence. “You musssst perform the ritual soon. Your doorway will clossssse within the day.” It gurgled from the crib.
“I know, my son.” She told him. “The preparation must be completed first. Then I will begin the ritual, and be with you both soon.” Laura was in tears. “I love you, Sean. You and Josh. I will not live without either of you this time!”
For more information:
Visit the publisher’s website (http://www.jellingtonashton.com/) to read about the authors contributing to the anthology.
Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015VLG1GY/