Review: You Shall Never Know Security / Author: J.R Hammantaschen / Publisher: CreateSpace Independent / Release Date: Out Now
J.R. Hammantaschen puts the dark in 'dark tales' with his You Shall Never Know Security, a collection of stories so relentlessly black that they make HP Lovecraft look cheery by comparison.
A cross between Lovecraft and Chuck Palahniuk, this book of short stories is as memorable as it is terrifying. The Palahniuk comparison doesn't end with a name that's impossible to spell – we haven't been this horrified by a collection of short stories since Chuck's own Haunted. While there's nothing to beat Haunted's 'Guts', Hammantaschen certainly gives the American Psycho author a run for his money.
The unknowable evil of Lovecraft meets the human and the mundane in the majority of Hammantaschen's tales. Its evil is almost indescribable, very subtle and always depressing. Unhappy endings are par for the course in horror fiction, but Hammantaschen raises misery to an art form. “Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark,” The mighty William Wordsworth says in the book's preceding quote, and rarely do a set of characters suffer quite as much as those in You Shall Never Know Security. “Life,” says the blurb on the back of the book, “is a losing proposition.”
Well that killed the mood, didn't it? There's the perpetual rape victim, the... thing... about the new-born baby, and then there's the spiders. Those with a phobia or even mild dislike of spiders are advised to give A Parasite Inside Your Brain a miss. It's an old urban legend, but Hammantaschen puts his own spin on it. It's bloody depressing, just like his spin on everything else. And if you think that's a catchy title for a story, just wait until you reach There Is A Family of Gnomes Behind My Walls, And I Swear I Won't Disappoint Them Any Longer (spoiler: also gloomy).
The most memorable, terrifying story is Wonder, which is difficult to describe but the most nightmarish of the collection. To describe the nature of the evil would be to spoil some wonderful ideas, but suffice to say it's every new parent's worst nightmare.
You Shall Never Know Security is a wonderful collection of short stories from a dark and original genre voice. That title – it's a promise. Go away spiders, I'll be sleeping with my ears plugged shut tonight.