As with my other recently reviewed books, I came across Matthew Tait’s collection of horror short stories Ghosts In A Desert World in the Facebook group Review Seekers. It was another “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” arrangement, but Matthew was much quicker off the mark to review mine than I have been to review his (sorry ‘bout that, Matthew).
Here is his bio:
Matthew Tait was born in Australia in 1977. Like many writers he has held far too many jobs, including co-managing a video store. And although it seems a prerequisite for any writer, he’s played rhythm guitar in a few bands as well.
From 2005 until its closure in 2011, Matthew was an assistant editor for the award-winning Australian news and literary criticism zine, HORRORSCOPE. He now writes for HELLNOTES.
The first story in his collection CAR CRASH WEATHER was awarded a recommendation from the Australian Horror Writers Association.
His latest novel is titled SLANDER HALL.
Among his influences are Clive Barker, and the late, great Richard Laymon.
Matt’s home page is http://differentmasks.blogspot.com
Few of the stories in Ghosts In A Desert World contain speculative fiction elements, which is neither praise nor criticism, but merely an observation. Who needs made-up monsters, Matt seems to say, when human beings are more than sufficiently monstrous on their own? And don’t look within these pages for much in the way of quiet horror; although seldom gratuitous, gore and bloodshed features prominently (I physically winced reading The Rink, and I don’t even have testicles). Matt is clearly highly familiar and comfortable with many common horror tropes, which he handles with a mixture of respect and originality and the occasional sly fun-poking.
Stand-out favourites for me were Broken Highway with its gutsy heroine who discovers the vein of ruthlessness in her soul necessary to save her life (I’m guessing this was inspired by true events) and Doll Steak. The latter story gives a masculine perspective on pregnancy and parenthood, fertility and loss and how you don’t always get to have as much control over your life and fate as you would like. I also enjoyed the edge-of-your-seat anticipation of Terrica with its oblique Stephen King reference and unexpected yet somehow inevitable outcome.
Ghosts In A Desert World is currently free to download on Amazon. You have nothing to lose except your time (and perhaps a little of your innocence…).