Quintessence of Dust by Craig Wallwork

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I have read Wallwork once before with the horror collection Gory Hole. While I enjoyed that one, I am honestly pretty blown away by Quintessence of Dust. The stories will be with me for a long time, to be sure. Some were romantic, some were weird and disturbing (often with body parts being utilized for several things beside their intended functions), and others made me laugh while stressing some important life lessons. This is no doubt one of the best collections I have had the pleasure of reading.

Night Holds a Scythe: An urgent and touching post apocalyptic story involving a father and his four year old daughter, with a unique catalyst for the end times. I thought that this was a great opener for the book.

Railway Architecture: A husband who puts his desire into someone other than his wife will soon have the scales tipped. The railway as a metaphor for our choices in life and where they take us applied so well to what was going on.

Skin: The origins and exploits of Freakshow performers Sam-Hung and Delabia. Their unique talents give them an interesting way of earning a living. The end of this one will be one I do not forget.

Morning Birdsong and the Hell Demons: A medical student falls in love while delivering a baby amidst a demon attack. The descriptions of the female character were so vivid and the author nails the full experience of love at first sight.

A Neck That is Not Thick: While this may sound like a small problem, the protagonist is so hung up and affected by his neck that he cannot take it and goes to drastic measures.

Anal Twine: I am tempted to say that the title says enough, but I will say that I was shaking my head after this one, grinning at the execution of such a crazy idea. Well done.

The Hole: A neighbor suspected of foul play in a small town is digginga hole. His intentions for doing so and what the hole actually leads to is pretty surprising.

Men of Blood: A tale of a man and his lifelong friend the minotaur. I was not sure where this was headed, but the ending did not seem to fit with the rest of the story, and it was my least favorite of the bunch for this reason.

180 Degrees Shy of Heaven: A man desires a hornier wife, as many men have at one time or another. This was a clever and entertaining twist on the “be careful what you wish for “ message.

Gutterball’s Labyrinth: An unattractive and rejected man learns of the beauty he holds within.

The Whore That Broke the Camel’s Back: A love story involving a bestiality porn star, a camel and unconventional plastic surgery. This was actually touching as well, if you can believe it.

At times I feel that maybe I use the term “all time favorite” a bit too much, but right now, I don’t care. This book is one of them.​The writing was gorgeous and well done. Even within the most disturbing tales of the collection there was an intimate and touching quality that had me feeling for the characters. I am anxious to get to Craig Wallwork’s other books.

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