For the first time in too long, I’m back with another book review. But this one is slightly different. While most definitely a wrestling book, it’s not an autobiography, biography or history book.
It’s a work of fiction.
In addition to my semi-regular columns here at Inside Pulse, I also write fiction. Flash fiction all the way through to horridly long novels; I’ve written too much. While I have only had one of my longer works published, I have had quite a few short stories appear in various magazines and anthologies. I look for anthologies with themes I like the look of, write a story for it, and then send it off (or sometimes I may have one in the files that fits).
This brings me to Lucha Gore: Scares From The Squared Circle. (It’s here in paperback, and here for the Kindle, thanks to the fine folks at Amazon.) It is a collection of 16 wrestling-themed horror stories, edited by Kevin G Bufton and published by Cruentus Libri Press. It felt like it was an anthology designed with me in mind – a horror writer who also writes about wrestling. So I sent off a story and, lo and behold, it was accepted. So I duly got my copy and read it.
This then, is Lucha Gore.
The book is well put together, and the story selection is generally really good. But some things do stick out. First, inside the copy I received, the title of the book is wrong on each page (though apparently this has now been rectified in subsequent printings), and there are some editing errors in spelling, grammar, etc. But the theme of the story is adhered to really well, the amount of stories mean it does not overstay its welcome, and there is no section at the back of the book giving author details. This is something common in small press publications. I don’t mind it as it lets you come to ‘know’ some of the authors, but when it’s not there, it stands out, and I feel it makes the book feel different in a better sense for the lack of it. Of course, if every anthology did this, then it would become such that having an ‘About The Authors’ section is a good thing. Finally, I feel this is one of the better anthologies I have appeared in, as the standard of writing is quite high, really.
So, on to the stories.
First and foremost, only one story stood out in the collection as one I did not enjoy. That left 15 others. 15 out of 16 is a pretty good strike rate. And the horror themes are encompassing enough to be different each time. Bufton clearly dictated that he did not want any cursed lucha libre masks, so we didn’t get anything like that, and he didn’t want fan-fiction, but I think we got everything else.
Here, then are the top 8 stories in the book in my own opinion. (Well, 7, plus mine, because free publicity is what we all live for as writers.) Before then, however, I should say that I have read too much zombie fiction lately, and I feel the zombie sub-genre of horror is being done to death, completely, utterly and wholly. I know there are fans of it, it sells to them, and that’s great, but I am not one of them. So to the authors who wrote the zombie stories, while they were actually quite good, they were zombie stories. Sorry.
So, the top 8 in the order in which they appear in the book:
‘Gig Marks’ by Ed Ferrera.
Yes, Ed Ferrera. That Ed Ferrera. Of WWE and WCW and TNA fame. This isn’t his first foray into the world of horror, and clearly the man is not a novice writer. This is an excellent story, well-written and with a perfect set-up. It was the best way possible to open the anthology. Just a simple, straight-forward horror tale. The best story in the book.
‘Lucha Lobo’ by Patrick MacAdoo.
Good story, with a perfect amount of pathos, but the ending felt a little confused. Still, a good tale.
‘Bo Wulf’ by Frank Larnerd.
A different voice and a classic retold. I liked this one, though it was quite short.
‘No Souls Barred’ by James Gardner.
An interesting way to explain a heel turn, it must be said.
‘The Legend Of The Silent Claw’ by Andrew G. Dombalagian.
An intriguing tale of wrestling as reality, and with an ending I did not see coming. Another really strong story.
‘The Shoot’ by Kevin G. Bufton.
The plot made this tale. I thought I knew what was going on but I was so completely wrong. Yes, it was well-written – as so many in this anthology are – but the actual twists and turns of the story made it a stand-out, and the second-best tale in the book.
‘Wrestling Gators’ by Steven Gepp.
Starts off too slow and exposition-heavy, but gets into a nice rhythm by the end. Maybe it is a little too similar to ‘Lucha Lobo’, but not a horrid story, and we writers have a thing for self-promotion (as I may have mentioned).
‘The Memory Hole’ by S. Carter Eberly.
A story I liked because the characters and writing style were all strong and really engaging, but I’m really not sure what it was about. Still, I read it twice because I was damn intrigued by it
So there you go. Not a bad collection if I do say so myself. So if you’re into your horror and your pro wrestling, you could certainly do worse than this anthology. Think of it as a nice stocking filler for the upcoming Christmas season.
Tags: book, pro wrestling, Review, steven gepp, view from down here, wrestling