Edited by Neil Baker
Publisher: April Moon Books
Pub. Date: December 24, 2014
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Stomping Grounds (Short Sharp Shocks #2) goes back to that time of mutant scaries. Its seventeen stories are all about monsters attacking the poor humans in one way or another. Even those that are not all about giant mutants, there are a couple Lovecraftian influenced tales wedged in, still harbor a fondness for the big and campy. Most have a tongue in cheek quality and could be classified as “Monster Slapstick”. The best ones are enjoyable and fun.
I just wish there were more that were enjoyable and fun. Overall the quality is uneven fringing on Four Wheel Drive only territory. Some read like a good idea underdeveloped and others just never take off. The good ones stick to the humorous idea of mutants. One of the exceptions is “Juggernaut” by JC Henderson which comes off as a rowdy parody of Lovecraftian terrors. Christine Morgan in “The Humming” deserves credit for tackling a hummingbird as a giant monster. It didn’t scare me but I did giggle. From there on, it is a bit of a drought until you come to Amy Braun’s “Bring Back the Hound”, a creative tale in which Hermes and Charon venture to capture an escaped Cerberus and deliver him back to Hades. It may be the best of the lot.
But my favorites were still the ones that seem to feed off the 50s monster movies and celebrate the silliness. “Avanc” by DJ Tyrer catches the idea of radiated 50s style terror well and adds a nice moral: Don’t frack near a nuclear plant. Peter Mesling’s “On the Strangest Sea” has a Captain Ahab leviathan ring to it. But the weirdest, almost “Bizarro” story is “Blood Run” where our nearly suicidal heroes tackles a herd (“tower”?) of 30 foot giraffes. It is a bit of a blood fest that will leave you laughing and gagging at the same time.
I really wish there were more tales that caught my fancy. Over all it was not really that entertaining due to so many misses. It is a cute idea but not one that was fulfilled in the final project. Unfortunately, despite a few cute stories, I would have to give this collection a miss rather than a hit.