The Meaning of Blood and Other Tales of Perversity by Chuck Caruso is a horror anthology from Cloud Lodge Books. This collection has a strong Southern feel too it, with some of the stories expressly using characters who speak in very specific drawls or who happen to have nicknames that fit within the paradigm of a Southern setting. Each of the stories draws on elements of the horror genre and creates vignettes of mayhem and destruction for the reader. I will note that the image being used as the header for this article is not the book cover. At the time of review no book cover was available for use.
A number of stories included within The Meaning of Blood focus on someone being murdered or acting as a murderer. This leads to some very interesting examinations of human character and what it means to truly be evil. Of the murder connected stories my favorite is “Get Off My Cloud.” In this story a young woman invites her older lover over and asks him to help her dispose of the body of her boyfriend, who recently hit her in the face when he learned she was sleeping with another man. As the professor, which she frequently calls the lover, plays out how to quickly and easily get rid of the corpse the plan begins to make a sudden turn. I wasn’t expecting the twist in this one at all. There is one story that feels very Lovecraftian in scope, “Snapshots From a Family Album.” The story itself is told through images, which are described to the reader by the oldest child in the family, who is at least in their late teens. He describes how the new house that his family moved into seems to behave strangely. His youngest sister insists that something slimy bit her in the bathroom and when their mother hears her say this she threatens the toilet. There are also strange sounds in the walls, rooms that seem to be alive, and at one point the mother seems to have a nervous breakdown. The way this story is told is interesting and the house itself seems frightening.
Outside of those two stories that I’ve highlighted there are zombies, gangsters, and more tales of love and betrayal. I will say that some of the stories feel more suspenseful, a bit like a Twilight Zone episode than they do horror specific. In many of the stories there is some sort of lesson or turning point for a character where they either learn something or receive their comeuppance, which feels distinctly like many Twilight Zone episodes. Those that are specifically horror connected are strong and do involve some sort of monster, be it creepy being in a wall or zombies attacking people. The Meaning of Blood and Other Tales of Perversity is something I would recommend to those looking for some suspenseful reading on a chilly fall day. You can find it on sale now.
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