Review of After Death… An Anthology Edited by Eric J. Guingnard

The following review appears in Volume 9: Issue 1 of Tales of the Talisman. Tales of the talisman is available for purchase from its website or on Amazon.

After Death is available at Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

In After Death…Eric J. Guignard brings together 35 stories to demonstrate that there are as many different ideas about what happens to us after death as there are individuals to speculate on it. From tales grounded in familiar legends to the completely new and unique, After Death… considers an extensive assortment of possibilities based in mythology, religion, fantasy, and science. Not every story will appeal to everyone, but this anthology presents a variety of styles – horror, humor, bizarre, inspirational – that should attract fans from all genres of fiction.

Personal favorites include “Boy, 7,” by Alvaro Rodriguez, about a kidnapping with a violent end that results in a little boy’s wishes coming true; “The Reckless Alternative,” a combined effort by Sanford Allen & Josh Rountree about rock and roll and second chances; “Afterword,” by Ray Cluley, in which an author finds heaven populated by the characters of his novels; “Like a Bat out of Hell,” by Jonathon Shipley, where the mythologies of Cerberus, Bacchus, and the Furies combine in a demi-god’s amusing attempt to escape the afterlife; and “Cages,” by Peter Giglio, which considers what happens when God decides to transcend to the next level and leaves us all behind.

The best of the bunch was “With Max Barry in the Nearer Precincts” by John Langan. Explorer, Max Barry, travels to the afterlife and finds the remnants of a paradise destroyed by a great war between the souls of men (called ka) and the giant, beastly Children of Nun. It struck me as having the methodical voice of Edgar Rice Burroughs mixed with the lore of H.P. Lovecraft and the mysticism of Richard Matheson.

“…we ka are difficult to destroy outright. It is not utterly impossible, but it is beyond the power even of the Children of Nun. What the creatures could do was feed on their captives, suck and scrape every last vestige of everything that made those men and women who they were out of them, until all that remained was a husk, too tough for digestion. Emptied, the husks wandered the lairs, hungry for what they had lost.”

Guignard says in his editor commentary that he would like to see “Max Barry” developed into additional stories or a complete novel. I whole heartedly agree.

Some of the fiction was uplifting. Other stories were wonderfully strange, or dark and disturbing. Several included violence or mature content best suited for adult readers. All were high caliber contributions from a group of clever and prolific authors. As the editor, Guignard proves his talent by producing a professional and polished collection.

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