Title: Gristle & Bone
Author: Duncan Ralston
Genre: Horror, Short Story Collection
Short and novella-length dark fiction from the twisted imagination of Duncan Ralston.
After doctors tell her she can’t be pregnant, Candace learns that not every child is a gift.
BEWARE OF DOG
Disgraced soldier Dean Vogel returns to his hometown and confronts the bullies, and a horrifying event, from his past.
A reporter uncovers what really happened to the latest internet sensation, a troubled girl who disappeared on camera.
Gonzo pornographers learn a brutal lesson following a tragedy they inadvertently caused when life imitated “art.”
Anti-social conspiracy theorist Mason Adler’s life is turned upside-down when he begins receiving eerily personal and prophetic spam that could be heralding the Apocalypse.
FAT OF THE LAND
A couple discovers the secret of a tourist town’s prosperity may lie in its sinfully delicious cuisine.
When successful restaurant owners Jim and Leanne Taymor confess to a grisly series of small town murders, their neighbor learns the gruesome truth that led them to kill. In Knee High, Nebraska, someone–or something–has been stalking household pets in the dead of night… but would they rather be hunting us?
With seven short horror stories, Gristle and Bone offers a little something for everyone; creatures, shifters, disappearances, ghosts, the Apocalypse, cannibals and frugaltarians round out this collections. For every story in here, I really enjoyed Duncan’s build of suspense, pacing and characters. I was very impressed with all of the different types of horror included from subtle to downright terrifying and gory. I also loved some of the twists that I never saw coming.
My absolute favorite story of the bunch was the last one, Scavengers, which is novella-length. So, you’re probably thinking ‘what’s so scary about frugaltarians?’ Well, they are not what they seem at all. This story had me from the beginning, when a neighbor is recounting restaurant owner’s Jim and Leann’s dealings with scavengers from their dumpster and why it turned into murder. There was a lot of suspense building, characters that I got a good feel for and more weirdness that I could imagine with the frugaltarians; and not to mention a twist at the very end.
Another favorite for me was Beware of Dog. Veteran, Dean returns to his home town and under the care of a psychologist, he is told to come to terms and apologize for an event with a classmate from his past. This story didn’t have the typical horror feel, but there was plenty of suspense and violence. Most of the story deals with the typical and mundane overcoming of the past and confronting a bully. However, Dean’s issue with dogs doesn’t become clear until he finally takes the advice of his doctor and confronts his past tormentor. This one was unsuspected and atypical, but I loved it.
Overall, a great short story collection for someone who wants to check out a new author.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Duncan Ralston was born in Toronto, and spent his teens in a small town. As a “grown-up,” Duncan lives with his girlfriend and their dog in Toronto, where he writes about the things that frighten and disturb him. In addition to his twisted short stories found in GRISTLE & BONE and THE BLACK ROOM MANUSCRIPTS, his debut novel, SALVAGE, will haunt various booksellers in the fall, 2015.