Wrathbone and Other Tales, by Jason Parent

wrathbone-and-other-tales-by-jason-parent review coverGenre: Horror Anthology
Publisher: Comet Press
Published: 2016
Reviewer Rating: four and a half stars
Book Review by David L. Felts

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Wrathbone and Other Stories, by Jason Parent is a quick and very enjoyable read. It’s comprised of five tales. The title piece, Wrathbone, is a novella length period piece starting with the assassination of Lincoln in 1865; the remaining (and shorter) stories take place in the modern era.

“Wrathbone” is a Gothic-flavored piece that reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe. Through what was initially a happy circumstance, Major Henry Rathbone and his betrothed, Clara, find themselves in the box with Lincoln when he is shot. Henry struggles briefly with the assailant, who manages to escape after injuring Henry. Nevertheless, Henry is left with the nagging guilt that he could have done something to prevent the assassination. Is it his guilt that spawns the visions and voices? Or something else? And despite his stalwart constitution, and the love of his wife and growing family, will he be able to resist their murmurs and whispers?

“The Only Good Lawyer” is a fun story of justice served.  Bradley Walsh is a crooked defense attorney who’s willing to do anything to get his clients free, regardless of guilt or innocence. But the father of a murdered girl turn out to be more then Walsh expected, and has his own manner of justice to dispense. I had a good idea where the story was headed and I wasn’t disappointed.

Obviously a homage to The Portrait of Dorian Grey, “Dorian’s Mirror” was a sort of Wrathbone light, in that Parent presents another unreliable narrator suffering from (what might be) delusions. Dorian Clark is a model, reliant upon his looks and fitness for his living. He takes full advantage of the benefits of his irritable attractiveness. The mirror has always been his best friend, confirming his status, but when his reflection begins to betray him, he’s forced to face that implacable enemy named time much sooner than he anticipated.

“For the Birds” is a creepy tale about a pet who is definitely not man’s best friend. Nev lives alone with his pet Scarlet Macaw Joji as his only company. But Joji has a taste for raw meat. When Nev suffers a home invasion, Joji gets to indulge her tastes in a most morbid manner.

“Revenge is a Dish” is the last story. Maurice, chef and lady’s man extraordinaire, is a man of lose morals. When the young, attractive and extremely sex-starved wife of a rich retired doctor offers him a chance to be their private chef on a worldwide cruise on their yacht, he jumps at the chance. But the yacht doesn’t turn out to have all the privacy he and his frisky adulteress need, resulting a Bad Situation for poor Maurice. Sustained by thoughts of revenge, Maurice gets his chance in a most unexpected manner.

Strong writing and strong characters made this a compelling read. Although the destinations in each tale weren’t always a surprise, the travels to arrive at them were compelling.

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