I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Monster Double Feature: River of Nine Tails and Reanimation Channel by Mark Cassell
Published by Herbs House on August 16 2020
Genres: Horror, Monster Horror
Buy on Amazon
From the author of the Shadow Fabric mythos comes Monster Double Feature, a 78-page chapbook featuring two stories - a duo of abominations.
A British traveller desperate to escape his past finds himself at the heart of a Vietnamese legend, and learns why the Mekong Delta is known as 'River of Nine Tails' (originally published in In Darkness, Delight: Creatures of the Night anthology by Corpus Press, 2019).
And a regular parcel collection from a neighbour becomes a descent into terror through the online game, 'Reanimation Channel', (originally published in The Black Room Manuscripts, Vol.4 anthology by The Sinister Horror Company, 2018).
You know that feeling when an author just has a massively high standard right from the off? Ah you do, excellent…you will bear with me while I go off on a tangent about the sheer quality of writing and scare tactics employed from Mark Cassell. I will need to read more of his work sharpish to gauge just how high his bar of excellence stretches to.
Whilst reading Monster Double Feature I got an insight into just how far Cassell is willing to go. The research and passion for his stories is obvious right from the kick-off. Each story delivered a swift kick to the genitals, but while wearing steel toe caps, I might add.
The first story contained within Monster Double Feature is a short story called River of Nine Tails. This story was originally contained in Corpus Press’ In Darkness, Delight: Creatures of the Night Anthology. A story of a trip down a monstrous river in Vietnam. It’s a story that catapults you onto a rollercoaster with no sick bag in sight! It’s a breeding ground for some of the societal themes that plague it. The story gave me the willies! The descriptions, the fear of being in a foreign country and not being able to speak its language but if this story conveys well, it is that fear and terror is a universal language all on its own.
Monster Double Feature, particularly River of Nine Tails deals with the human condition and just how it seems obsessed with social media. Are we so glued to our phones and portraying a life so sublimely perfect that we forget to not only live our lives but to care more about what others think of us online than the ones that we care about? It was an interesting concept and definitely food for thought.
Reanimation Channel, wow, what a mind-bending concept. The violence, the gore added its own level of intensity, a perfect retelling of Frankenstein’s monster if you like. The story constantly feels like a claustrophobic presence, a shadow in your peripheral vision, its ominous form hovering for all to see and feel. The genres cross paths, we have monster horror and body horror making themselves known. Another story with substance, shocks and bucket loads of darkness.
Monster Double Feature was incredibly well written with a haunting sense of atmosphere. Devoured in under 2 hours.
His jobs have included a baker, a laboratory technician and a driving instructor, and 2018 saw him act in the horror movie Monster directed by Matt Shaw. As a familiar face on the UK convention scene, Mark sells his books as well as his photographic art, and doesn’t charge for selfies.
Primarily a horror author, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and sci-fi stories have featured in numerous reputable anthologies and zines. His best-selling debut novel The Shadow Fabric is closely followed by the short story collections Sinister Stitches and Terror Threads, all of which are a fraction of an expanding mythos of demons, devices, and deceit. The novella Hell Cat of the Holt further explores the Shadow Fabric mythos with ghosts and a black cat legend.
The dystopian cyberpunk collection Chaos Halo 1.0: Alpha Beta Gamma Kill is in association with Future Chronicles Photography where he works closely with their models and cosplayers. He’s often alongside these guys at UK conventions, and one of their shoots inspired the creation of his Lovecraftian steampunk horror universe that begins with the novelette In the Company of False Gods.
Mark Cassell’s work has been compared with British horror authors such as James Herbert, Clive Barker, Dennis Wheatley, and Brian Lumley. Also, his influences spread over to the US where he admits to having been first inspired by Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Dan Simmons, and H P Lovecraft.