Alex Wolfgang’s debut collection of horror shorts features ten tales of terror that focus on everyday people and the weird and larger-than-life situations they find themselves in. In Splinter you will find stories of;

• A young insomniac who thinks he’s found relief in a revolutionary new clinic owned by a secretive doctor, finds that there is a terrible price to pay for his restful slumber.
• A teenage boy living in the woods with his family begins to question his memories as aspects of his life that were once kept secret begin to come to light.
• A down on his luck junkie is offered a second chance when he is offered a job at an exclusive hotel, where he soon finds that the clientele of this particular establishment are not your typical tourists.
• A devastated couple move to an isolated cabin in an attempt to escape their grief but find themselves the centre of a miraculous event with seemingly unexplainable origins.
• A planned burglary goes horribly wrong when a pair of wannabe thieves find more than they bargained for at a religious leader’s remote home.

From the books opening tale of a body horror romance to the closing story of a mind-bending cosmic hellscape, ‘Splinter’ is not a book content to serve up the predictable. Each story is distinct from what precedes it and the tones, subjects and themes of each tend to be unique to that story. It makes for an unpredictable and engrossing read and, despite the variety on offer, there isn’t a single story that stood out as a weaker link. Diversity is a great quality for a collection, but a diverse offering of stories that is also consistent is not an easy thing to pull off, but Wolfgang manages it in style.

Stories like ‘Travel Bug’ and ‘Splinter’ offer a fun but contained reading experience while others (‘Faces in the Darkness’ and ‘The Desolation Gardner’ to name but a few) hint at a wider unexplored world, one which we are just being granted a glimpse of, leaving much unsaid. My favorites tended to fall into the latter category. ‘Vegetation’ keeps the reader on their toes, presenting an idyllic and tranquil setting that soon turns surreal and nightmarish whereas ‘Rainfall’ is more downbeat and contemplative, focused on the characters even as incredible things are happening around them. Picking a favorite short is impossible when every single one resonated with me and while all ten offer a very different reading experience, each one is a potential favorite in its own way.

Alex Wolfgang is an undeniably talented writer and ‘Splinter’ evidences a strong and distinctive voice and style that is made all the more impressive for the fact that this is a debut collection.

 

Every story is a stone-cold winner, many of which leave tantalizing questions unanswered, giving them free rein in your head as you complicate the unsettling suggestions long after you’ve put the book down.

Richard Martin

Richard Martin

Reviewer

Richard Martin started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatized himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner and an inappropriate amount of books. 

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