From the devilishly inventive mind of Sawney Hatton comes this twisted collection of 12 Dark Fiction tales featuring a magical finger, a cannibalistic memorial, an extreme piercing parlor, a Space Age monastery, a budding serial killer, and more. Presenting three new, never-before-published stories, as well as re-mastered versions of earlier works, this collection is sure to disturb and delight readers who like to play in the dark.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Words like strange, weird, and twisted get thrown around a lot when searching through the realms of dark fiction. Sometimes they mean the characters are in unusual situations, other times they’re describing the characters themselves, and in rare circumstances they mean the plot and the characters will disturb you to your emotional core. Everyone is a Moon: Strange Stories by Sawney Hatton fell into the latter category for me.
The twelve stories in this collection range from satire to science fiction, from ghost stories to extreme horror, but the commonality throughout was that I finished each tale feeling shaken. I’m not talking about being scared out of my mind, but rather a slow build of unease that gets deep under your skin, which leads you to contemplate things you’d rather leave alone.
Even in the two of the funnier stories, “The Good Touch” and “The Lord Is My Rocket,” there’s underlying, engaging themes. The first deals with a couple of friends, living in a trailer park, and the jealousy one of them feels after the other is visited by an angel and grows a magic healing finger. While there are great moments that made me chuckle, what comes through most is the desperation of the main character trying to maintain the status quo. His lack of faith and insecurity over his friend’s sudden good fortune drives him to act in ways that become his own undoing.
On the flip side, “The Lord Is My Rocket” tells a story through the lens of religious zealotry. Ruth is a caregiver to terminally ill Floyd and believes his salvation lies inside the Monastery of the Celestial Christ. This story made me laugh out loud with information like the “four-cross rating” given to the Monastery by a Christian travel site, claims that Jesus was the first astronaut, and a rock song/laser light production called “Shout and Twist with the Eucharist.” But the deeper we go into the story, learn of how Floyd became Ruth’s charge, and hear an announcement that the end of the world is nigh, the more disturbing the events become. Here, Ruth’s absolute faith leads to her downfall.
“The Beholder” was one of my favourites in the collection, following homeless man Alex. He doesn’t see the world in the same way most of us do, finding beauty in the mundane. As the story began, I thought it was going to simply be a story trying to challenge the readers view on life, but then there’s a turn at the end that was absolutely chilling. I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll simply say that not everything that Alex finds beautiful should be used for inspiration.
But these stories aren’t all just contemplatively disturbing, as author Hatton isn’t afraid to explore graphic violence either. In “FYVP,” Steve, a body modification enthusiast, is on his way to get a Prince Albert piercing. However, the shop owner Mr. Holland has his own twisted ideas for a complete transformation. As a fan of extreme horror, I wished this story had gone on just a bit longer, laying out all the gory details, but the author wisely chose the perfect ending to this tale, allowing the reader to construct brutal images in their imagination.
The last story of the collection, “Suitable for Framing,” evokes a different kind of horror, putting the reader in an uncomfortable position of self-reflection. The unnamed first-person narrator is an acclaimed photographer, with previous collections with titles such as Hit and Run, Stains & Blights, and Screaming Heads, all focused on the ugly side of humanity. In his new series, tentatively called Peep Show, the character’s inspiration is the apartment building across from his own. Unbeknownst to his neighbours, he photographs them in their most vulnerable moments, but his actions after witnessing a brutal crime are shocking. The crux of this tale is the lengths artists will go to in creating new work, and the macabre fascination of art patrons.
Everyone is a Moon: Strange Stories as a title was inspired by Mark Twain’s quote, “Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody,” and author Sawney Hatton deftly explores the dark side of humanity throughout the book. And, more than merely presenting twisted stories, he forces the reader to confront and contemplate several taboo subjects, including cannibalism and bestiality – so, reader discretion is highly advised. But for those of you willing to plunge into twisted psyches, this book is a fascinating, entertaining, and thought provoking read.
About the Author:
Sawney Hatton is an author, editor, and screenwriter. His published credits include the Dark Comedy novel Dead Size, the YA Noir novella Uglyville, and his Dark Fiction short story collection Everyone Is a Moon. His most recent novella The Devil’s Delinquents appears in the Noir-inspired anthology Murder in Montague Falls. He also edited the Sci-Fi Horror anthology What Has Two Heads, Ten Eyes, and Terrifying Table Manners?
Other incarnations of Sawney have produced marketing videos, attended all-night film festivals, and played the banjo and sousaphone (not at the same time). He fancies himself as somebody you can relax and have a beer with, and encourages people to buy him beer in exchange for his company. As of this writing, he is still very much alive.