Happy release day!!!!
“Todd Keisling is a born storyteller, drawing the reader into artfully constructed narratives that scout the darker end of the literary spectrum with skill and bravado. A pleasure to read, his stories linger well after the last page has been turned. Excellent stuff.” –John Langan, Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Fisherman
“Keisling writes in the shadows, his words like that first long drag on a cigarette after work. I couldn’t help coming back for more, and before I knew it, that one story, that one cigarette, turned into the whole pack.” –Stephanie M. Wytovich, Bram Stoker award-winning author of Brothel and The Eighth
“In Ugly Little Things, Todd Keisling ventures deep into the dark abyss of cosmic horror. What he finds there–or what’s found him–will terrify you. This varied collection is tailor-made for fans of existential dread. Prepare to face the void. Try not to scream.” –Brian Kirk, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of We Are Monsters
“Todd Keisling’s promise delivers with Ugly Little Things. The only time you will dare to look away from the page is when you stop to look over your shoulder. He’s earned his right to sit on the shelf alongside King, Koontz, and Ketchum.” –Eryk Pruitt, author of Dirtbags and What We Reckon.
“The author has a keen, lucid understanding of suffering, which lends each plot-line extra heft and depth. These stories contain tenderly and humanely rendered characters who are drawn towards various forms of uncanny annihilation. After reading this excellent collection, I’m eagerly awaiting whatever Keisling produces next.” –Jon Padgett, author of The Secret of Ventriloquism
I give it an overall rating of 4.5 stars.
*Note: I read most of these stories in their original, singular release.
Here are some notes about a few particular stories in the batch…
SAVING GRANNY FROM THE DEVIL 5/5
Little Toddy loves his Grandma. And he should have listened to her when she said not to play down the street. He should have listened to her when she warned him of the devil’s trickery. When Toddy roams too far from Grandma’s yard and runs into the bullies down the street it’s a curiously dead dog that comes to his rescue. If he saves your life, he’s gotta be your friend, right? And so it begins.
Keisling spills a lot of his own blood on the pages of this tale. Toddy and Grandma, and later on, Toddy’s girl, Erica, all come from a place not so untouchable, but from the author’s life. To incorporate such truths with such seamless ease into a fantastically dark vision is both scary and quite honestly, inspiring.
The fact that Keisling’s dark walk with the devil is as full and heavy hitting in such a relativity small piece is yet another testament to his storytelling ability.
He hit it out of the park with his last piece, When Karen Met Her Mountain, and he does so again with Saving Granny from the Devil. I absolutely loved this story.
RADIO FREE NOWHERE 3/5
Nice short piece here. I always like a good siren story. I know it’s a short story, but boy I wanted more. I didn’t get enough here to love it, but the fact that I want more tells you that what is there is pretty fun.
THE HARBINGER 4/5
This is the new story in Todd Keisling’s fantastic Ugly Little Things short story series. “The Harbinger” bleeds creepiness. Shades of Halloween III and Village of the Damned (a great mix IMHO), stirred with Keisling’s own demented imagination, bring this frightful tale of a strange little town to life.
WHEN KAREN MET HER MOUNTAIN 5/5
You want a prime example of how a short story should go? “When Karen Met Her Mountain” is what you’re looking for. Todd Keisling spins this little number like a seasoned pro (that’s right, your King’s, your Silva’s). Creating a complex character like Karen is not something every writer can do. From the pain of her past–her mistake, and her miscarriage—to the strained relationship with her husband, Martin, to her intertwined therapy sessions, Keisling’s “Karen” is one powerful package.
All of this and I haven’t even gotten to cult and the killings!
Building on the promise of the first story in his Ugly Little Things short story collection “Radio Free Nowhere”, Todd Keisling hammers it home with “When Karen Met Her Mountain”.
Seriously, if you dig the short fiction of King, David Silva, or Robert McCammon, Mr. Keisling’s “Mountain” is waiting to be your next great discovery.
THE OTHER LAND EXPRESS 4/5
The Other Land Express (Ugly Little Things # 5) by Todd Keisling is a fantastic little piece. Keisling builds a portrait of a boy (Gregory) who can’t be comfortable in his own skin. After his abusive father catches Gregory with his pants down during a video chat with another boy, Gregory takes a beating that serves as the last straw. Gregory packs up and heads west. He is leaving his father in his rear-view mirror. But is Gregory also leaving himself?
Enter John Doe. Enter the tribe of the Nobodies.
Welcome to the Other Land Express.
Shed your skin. You can be anyone you’d like.
Keisling’s tale takes a turn here, and I dare say it felt a bit like a Clive Barker joint.
I won’t give away anything, but you should definitely give this short story a read.
Keisling’s ability to inject such depth into his short fiction work is inspiring. My only gripe was that it ended before I was ready. I wanted to see more of the Other Land.
All in all, I give The Other Land Express a strong 4 stars
THE FINAL RECONCILIATION 4/5
Todd Keisling’s THE FINAL RECONCILIATION is a rock and roll nightmare set to the soundtrack of the end time. Take off your mask and rejoice!
This novella is strange, creepy, and filled with rock n’roll. What’s not to love?
Another feather in the cap for Mr. Keisling.