By Shane McKenzie
Publisher: Deadite Press
Pub. Date: December 8, 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Shane McKenzie specializes in extreme horror . Much of what he writes can be described as "body horror", that strange sub-genre that centers on the mutilation, transformation, and destruction of the human form. With Monsters Don't Cry I include in the many variations of that theme, the natural and psychological development of a grotesque person whose deformity influences her own terrifying way of interacting with the world.
Natasha was deformed and hideous from the moment of her birth. Her parents kept her imprisoned in her room. Her mother was physically and verbally abusive to the extreme. The only one who seemed to care about her was her timid and ineffectual father. Her only solace were the glamour magazines that told her there was a fairy tale existence for those who were beautiful and it was something she yearned for more than anything. When she finally escapes from her prison, she goes looking for that dream and her Prince Charming. She will destroy anything that gets in the way of her quest.
One of the things that keep bringing me back to the writings of Shane McKenzie is that he can mingle very explicit kink and violence with emotions and issues that affect us in the "real world". In Muerte con Carne there is an awareness of the throwaway status of illegal aliens and the lower classes in society. In Mutt he writes of the assumptions we make of appearances and ethnicity and the need to belong. Once you get past the immense gore and cruelty of Monsters Don't Cry there is an unmistakable message about the illusion of beauty in our culture. Natasha is a sympathetic "monster" . She is a naturally made Frankenstein who will always attract the torch carrying villagers. She is also an innocence, raised with everyday violence and abuse yet struggling to understand how she can obtain the same goals that her beautiful people in the magazine have. She wants to have love and caring shown to her but violence seems to be what follows her. When she escapes into the world, It is a revelation to her that beautiful people can be just as cruel as monsters as she thinks...
"She's a monster. She's a monster just like me. But she's beautiful.
I didn't know monsters can be beautiful."
It is that conundrum that sold me on the grotesque and alternating beauty and ugliness of Monster Don't Cry. But with all the exquisite mingling of horror and pathos, the characters seem to be a little too comic book at times. Natasha's potential Prince Charming is fairly pathetic when you get down to it. The villains are deliciously horrible yet no one really comes out as admirable. The only really likable person is the novel is ...well...don't get attached to her. Yet despite that, it is Natasha that rules the story with her underdeveloped understanding of the world and her narrowly focused and woefully childish need to be simply loved.
So Monsters Don't Cry manages to be a gruesome roller coaster of a horror novel yet also a look at the fragility of emotions and dreams. Does Natasha finally get her Prince Charming or is it dismemberments and bloodletting all the way ? You will have to read the book to find out. Either way I highly recommend this terrifying exercise in extreme horror.