Book Review: To Wallow in Ash and Other Sorrows

To Wallow in Ash & Other Sorrows

To Wallow in Ash & Other Sorrows by Sam Richard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I read this collection after an entire month of reading almost nothing but Richard Laymon and Bryan Smith. Amid all that bloody good pulp, it was nice to read something meditative, personal and moody. The collection opens with an introduction that contextualizes the stories and lets us know upfront that it won’t be an easy read. Nearly all the pieces contained within this collection explore loss and its many dimensions. My favorite of the bunch is probably “Nature Unveiled,” though they all punch pretty hard. The tales also veer into pulp territory–there’s even a mash-up of Edgar Rice Burroughs and William S. Burroughs–and while a lesser author would let these genre trappings pull him away from his central theme, this isn’t the case here. As someone who’s time and again found solace in horror and transgressive art, I found these elements enhanced the narrative, existing as fantasies with which the narrator seeks to escape the true horrors of existence. Grief hovers over each paragraph. The too-huge void left in the wake of a deceased loved one dwarfs the antlered gods, Martians, and zombies found within these pages.



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