I’ve been lucky enough to be reading quite a lot of Gerard Brennan recently (for example the previously reviewed Fireproof). I’ve realized that Gerard likes to launch his stories with an eye-opening bang and none of these little gems disappoint. Each story is short (the entire book is under 11,000 words in length) so the author hits hard and hits fast.
For example there’s the opening short called Blood Bath which it literally is. The Devil likes to bathe in, yes, blood. He says:
The best bathing blood had to be extracted from frightened accountants. The easy part had always been scaring them; you just told them there was a problem with the bottom line or gave them a debit-heavy Balance Sheet. The tough part was catching them…
The other stories are about an obsession with rock ‘n’ roll, a possessed car (with a hilarious Thelma & Louise take), a ‘trip’ down memory lane, a deal with the devil and my personal favourite, An Irish Possession. The latter regards a boy possessed by an imp and his exorcism. This example describes the Irish priest carrying out the extraction process:
Aye, I know he had a mouth on him like a sailor. Well, compared to other priests, I mean. I never heard him say the F word, but he always said bastard and shite and all the not-so-bad curses. Plus I saw him hit wee Fra’ McGuinness from Dunville Street when he caught him smoking in the Chapel car park. It wasn’t a wee tap to embarrass him either. It was a right hook, and the wee fellah fell on his backside.
All the stories are based in Ireland with varying degrees of local dialect. This creates a strong sense of place. The dialogue is tight. The challenge in a good short is to use every word to its fullest effect. Gerard does this brilliantly.
Rating? Five Stars
Would add this to my bookshelf? Yes
Originally reviewed for Books & Pals blog.