cover image Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell

Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell

Nathan Ballingrud. Saga, $15.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-5344-4993-0

Ballingrud (North American Lake Monsters) offers six skillfully created, deeply disturbing stories in this collection of the uncanny. In “The Butcher’s Table,” original to this volume, a 19th-century ship bears diabolist Martin Dunwood of the Candlelight Society and his bodyguard, Rufus Gully, on a journey to the borders of hell. The title is the name of the ship, and also refers to the sacrifices Dunwood and Gully’s fellow Satanists plan to offer upon arrival—if they can evade supernatural pursuit and survive infighting long enough to reach their destination. “The Diabolist,” a short, sharp, nasty story of metaphysics and monstrous relationships, is a standout. “The Visible Filth,” the basis for the forthcoming film Wounds, is a contemporary tale of a slowly creeping, inevitable surrender to horrors discovered via a forgotten cellphone in a New Orleans bar. “The Maw” is an even darker vision of a metropolitan area lost to unnatural denizens. Ballingrud occasionally includes horrific actions simply for their own sake, which may frustrate readers looking for deeper meanings, but his evocative and strangely beautiful descriptions of the grotesque and terrible are sure to linger long after they are read. (Apr.)