Tentative release date: June 24, 2021
Preorder it here: Amazon
In this collection of stories a sadistic blogger gleefully documents the murders of Hollywood celebrities. A journalist infiltrates a sex club for the physically impaired, finding he has more in common with them than he first assumed. A soon-to-be-dad gets seduced by a water spirit, which questions everything he thought he could impart as a father. And a primary school teacher meets his most difficult class yet: a horde of undead children.
In these stories, ordinary people must confront their biggest flaws and deepest fears in worlds eerily similar to our own. Because the worst horrors are the real ones we create for ourselves.
Unnerving Books and Leo X Robertson have had a long history together, starting in 2017 with their release of his novelette, Bonespin Slipcase. After the success of the Unnerving’s Rewind or Die series of novellas (every single one of them worth reading), they are set to release Robertson’s short story collection Unfortunates, and hopefully more readers will read it due to attention Unnerving is receiving for publishing great books.
Unfortunates is a collection of nine stories, all of them giving a different feel. Some of them, like “The Art is Absent” and “A Sensational Star-Studded Blood Feast!” push against the borders of extreme horror, whereas others range from revenge, serial killer mystery, and the title novella, “Unfortunates”, which could have been written into a Stephen King collection. Each of these stories bring variety, but there is a common thread through all of these stories. The main characters in each of them are haunted, are trying to find or escape from something, and whether it be revenge or smoking weed and playing video games, all of them are trying to find a solution. The mood of many of these stories and characters is heavy with grief, anger, and frustration. At the end of many of these stories, Robertson’s conclusions are more interested in the development of the character and heart than in jump scares and horror, and this makes Unfortunates one of those collections that should not be lumped into genre horror but will be.
Of course there is some great horror in here as well. One story that sticks out is “Lackers” a reprint of his contribution from The New Flesh?: A Tribute to David Cronenberg. This story is about a report who is going to a secret sex club where everyone is deformed in some manner. The idea alone is enough to make me talk to my friends about it, but again, the heart of the story is about longing to belong and to be understood.
All of these stories are impressive, and this collection is one that will make me seek out more of Leo X. Robertson’s works. He is definitely writing horror that is loaded with emotion and feeling, and when someone can make you cringe and make you empathize with the attacker at the same time, then this is writing that deserves our attention.
I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.