Short, sweet and to the point. This description is usually counted a good thing, and it certainly applies in this case, but there is such a thing as too
short. Possession, Obsession and a Diesel Compression Engine
is a chapbook from Baysgarth Publications featuring new and reprinted stories from Gerard Brennan, a horror and crime fiction writer from Ireland, and my only real complaint is that it's just too damn short.
After vampires and zombies, one of the biggest tropes in horror fiction is deals with the devil. And of course the problem with these old tropes is that it's extraordinarily hard to find anything new in them, but Mr. Brennan makes it look pretty easy. As the title suggests, we have some dealings with the devil in this collection, ranging from well, possession, to selling of the soul, to some rather unusual deals.
The freshness of the voice in this collection of stories is very welcome, as is the cut-throat pace with which the action happens. These are not sprawling tales of morality and comeuppance, rather these are punch to the groin (in some cases literally) bits of story where everybody needs to be on their toes, the reader included. Rather than give a description of each of the six stories, let me just suggest that among them you will find a most unusual exorcism, an inspiring tale of friendship and manly love, a preacher's daughter with a wicked guitar, and my personal favourite, a beating the devil at his own game type story, par excellence.
As I mentioned, the biggest disappointment in reading this collection is that in 44 pages, you're done. It's certainly worth the price, but that doesn't make it any more satisfying when you've come to the end. The reader who enjoys short, action-driven fiction with a smart-ass sensibility will love this book, brief though it is, and any reader looking for a new twist or two on the devil motif will most certainly benefit from a reading.
Available from the publisher, Baysgarth Publications