Monday, March 7, 2011

Scales and Petals

By Michael Bailey
CreateSpace (March 25, 2010)

This disturbing collection is aptly titled. The Scales are the thirteen speculative horror tales and the Petals are the thirteen poems interspersed throughout. I cannot, alas, comment authoritatively on the poetry in this book. If it isn't Frost, e.e. cummings, Poe, or Spike Milligan, I don't really "get" poetry. If that makes me soulless, so be it.

The arrangement of this slim volume (208 pages) is intriguing in and of itself. It's very like a thirteen-course meal (if there is such a thing), with a single poem appearing after each story, much like a palate-cleansing sherbet before the next dish is served.

And these are some dishes!

"Plasty" is a cosmetic surgery nightmare.

"Habit" is a witness statement from a most unusual young lady.

"Defenestrate" isn't what you think. It’s a tale of cooperative domestic violence.

"Wilted Flowers" casts an ancient wooden trunk as the monster, found by an 11-year-old.

"Without Face" How do you describe someone to the police who doesn't have a face?

"The Shower Curtain Man" When the old guy holding a 'Need Help' sign is gone from his usual spot one day, a curious driver wonders what happened to him. He finds out.

"Fix" is an ultra creepy story of one bastard of a screenwriter. You won't even feel sorry for him at the end of it.

"Golden Rule" Probably my favorite of these, because I am such a fan of justice, no matter how long it takes to be served.

"Empty Canvas" Is the art of oil painting dead? You tell me.

"Unstitched Love" Cinderella gets even.

"The Girl in the Red Flower Pattern Dress" The horrors of Iraq.

"Brick House" A teenage coming out story and the intolerance that inevitably follows.

"The Trial Chair" A writer finds himself at the mercy of one of his beleaguered characters.

Bailey's style is captivating. He has a wonderful way of integrating really over-the-top, out-there horror with mundane, every-day events; so that by the time the reader reaches the end of the story, he/she is entirely off-balance…but in a good way. The man has a powerful hand with a plot line.

That being said, the book would have benefitted from the skills of a good editor. There were a few misused/incorrectly spelled words that a sharp-eyed editor would have caught and corrected.

However, don't let that discourage you from securing your own copy of Scales and Petals as fast as you can. Michael Bailey is going places. And once you read his book, you'll be glad that the places he's going are in the horror-writing world and not to your house!

Buy it here.

Reviewed by Carson Buckingham

Carson Buckingham is a writer living in the great American Southwest and she reviews horror/paranormal suspense novels.

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