The Burning Boy and Other Stories by Denver Grenell Has Real Heat

Did you ever paint a room and discover that the room was now somehow transformed?  The room now felt different and just a bit better.  The room was basically the same — same dimensions, same furniture, same function, but the new color made the room feel fresh and new. 

That’s what Denver Grenell has done in his short story collection, The Burning Boy & Other Stories. Many of the storylines will seem familiar to readers of the horror genre, but Denver has managed to make them his own, and imbue in each his own voice. 

He has taken the often-used storylines and given them a fresh coat of paint.  

cover image for The Burning Boy and Other Stories by Denver Grenell

Grenell has a little bit of something for everyone here,

revenge that takes a horrific turn, evil entities, creepy killers, vampire-like beings, and some downright strange eerie speculative fiction as well. 

So there is plenty to feast on.  Yet, it is important to note that Grenell does more that just present some interesting premises.  He delivers some elegant prose.  For example, I particularly liked the following passage from the title story The Burning Boy

I got the sense that by the time they settled in Templestowe, Martin was content to float through the wide-open sea of teenage life, a lone buoy amongst the flotsam and jetsam, just waiting for the current to carry him on to the next port.

Or this from The Grave:

Stumbling into a darkened alleyway, the shadows welcomed him, bringing with them a sense of calm. The buzz in his skull subsided. He took a long deep breath of the darkness. He could taste the dark on his tongue; a damp, refreshing coolness that imbued the marrow of his bones with its touch. The darkness crept through him like a welcome disease, until it found its rightful place in his heart.

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In addition to some impressive prose and a diverse set of stories, Grenell gives the reader some interesting characters to follow along the way.  I particularly liked how Grenell handles the character of Lilith and James in the story Lilith.  

Overall this was an enjoyable collection.  There were a couple of stories that didn’t gel for me, and I will leave those unnamed because I wouldn’t want to taint the reading experience for someone else, but in a collection of 15 stories, some stories are bound to leave a more lasting imprint than others.  A final word about the story The Grave, which was far and away my favorite. It was well-constructed and creepy to the extreme.  I tip my hat to Grenell on that one.  Well played. 

Brad Center

Brad Center

Author

Brad Center lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Valerie and his two sons, Jeremy and Peter. When not in Northern Virginia, you can find Brad and Valerie relaxing in Ocean City, New Jersey. They are protected by Maxie the Wonder Dog and kept on their toes by their cats Zebulon and Loki who have come to earth from a strange alien planet.

Brad has worked as a Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill, as a consultant, and as an elected official in Fairfax County. This is Brad’s second book and his first foray into the world of speculative fiction. Brad’s first book, “God is an Elephant in Orthopedic Shoes,” is a collection of stories from his life interspersed with some fiction, poetry, and miscellaneous ramblings. It is available via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from Authorhouse publishing.

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