“Working for Bigfoot” by Jim Butcher (Subterranean Press, 2015)


Jim Butcher, author of the bestselling Dresden Files, released his first short story collection, Side Jobs, in 2010, but he continues to write stories set in the Dresden universe for various anthologies, and it’s probably going to be a while before he releases his next collection. Thankfully, he is releasing his collected bigfoot stories with Subterranean Press.

Working for Bigfoot features the three stories (so far) where Harry Dresden helped out a client he clearly respects, the bigfoot Strength of a River in His Shoulders. In each of the stories, Dresden ends up having to help the bigfoot’s son, Irwin, whose mother is human. So while he looks like a normal person – albeit very big and muscley – as he grows through his teenage years he begins to develop his “abilities” as the son of a bigfoot. Naturally, there are those who can sense the power and ability within him and wish to prey on that. It’s up to Dresden to help keep the kid out of trouble.

The stories are classic Dresden Files, but also about Harry’s growing respect for young Irwin, and the world of magic that is the bigfoot.

Originally written on April 16, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

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“Tortured Souls: The Legend of Primordium” by Clive Barker (Subterranean Press, 2015)


For those who have wondered about one of the great horror writers who goes by the name Clive Barker, but have never read any of his work, they would do well to sample the novella Tortured Souls. It encapsulates this talented author in a limited number of pages, showing his skill at revealing a short story, with memorable characters, and some dark and bloody plot that will leave you gasping.

The “first city” of Primordium is renowned throughout history for its upheavals and political changes and at its heart lives a being whose origin is unknown and whose existence is enigmatic to say the least, known by many names, but most commonly Agonistes. If you wish, he will transform you to your heart’s desire, whether it is for love or revenge, but know that it will be an agony you have not felt before.

In this novella we learn of the wondrous city of Primordium and some of its inhabitants and their desires and hates, as well as the power that Agonistes wields and how once you are transformed by him, there is no turning back, whether you wish to or not.

Originally written on November 14, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Tortured Souls from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Rolling in the Deep” by Mira Grant (Subterranean Press, 2015)


Mira Grant, of Feed and Parasite, is back with a great novella about mermaids, except these aren’t the beautiful sirens of the sea, but more the demons of the deep type.

The Imagine Network is known for producing quasi-documentary shows that are more a blend of fact and fiction, with some impressive special effects that viewers have come to expect and enjoy. And now they’re going to start filming their biggest and most expensive project yet: to find a real mermaid. Along with the standard film crew, there are a number of scientists, a full crew to pilot the mighty ship Atargatis, and a group of professional mermaids who pretend to be these fabled creatures. The Imagine Network isn’t going to stint on any facet of this production, and the entire group will be heading to the Mariana Trench, located in the extreme emptiness of the Pacific Ocean, at the deepest hole on the planet.

It is here each of the scientists will be conducting their studies and research, while the group of fake mermaids frollick in the waters, and the film crew does their thing. Only no one is really sure what that green light is deep in the water and when something comes up to say hi with all its teeth, everyone starts to become a believer.

Rolling in the Deep is Mira Grant at her best, turning a conventional story completely on its head and giving you some great horror to boot, along with some fun scientific research that will make the reader think. While Grant seems a little fancy free with some of the nautical research, overall the story is just a lot of fun with great characters and a plot that will keep your interest piqued until the last bloody page.

Originally written on January 1, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Rolling in the Deep from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Phases of Gravity” by Dan Simmons (Subterranean Press, 2012)

Phases of Gravity
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The great Subterranean Press continues with its limited edition releases of Dan Simmons’ work, with his early bestseller, Phases of Gravity, originally published in 1989.  In Simmons’ classic style that has gone on to create many a fan and reader, as well as win multiple awards, Phases of Gravity seems to be a simple, straightforward story on the surface, but as the reader plunges deeper into its depths, it becomes something much larger and meaningful.

Phases of Gravity is a change from what fans might be used to with Simmons, as it features little of the horrific or science fictional, but is the story about what a man does when he has achieved the greatest pinnacle; how he lives his now very ordinary-seeming life.  Richard Baedecker has done what very few people on this planet have done: walked upon the surface of the room.  A former astronaut, Baedecker is now traveling around, wondering what to do with his life now that he has done what so few have.  He has a failed marriage and a son that hates him.  The book takes him to an unusual location in Poona, India, where he meets the beautiful and unique Maggie Brown who will help him in his personal quest to find his “places of power,” the locations that have had meaning to him in his past, and make him realize the importance of what he has.

Originally written on January 24, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Phases of Gravity from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine” by Peter Straub (Subterranean Press, 2012)

Ballard of Ballard and Sandrine
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In this new and short release from bestselling author Peter Straub, it’s a story that seems ordinary and tame at first, as the reader gets introduced and interested in two unique characters, but eventually becomes dark and scary and despairing.  By the end of the 96 pages of The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine, it is quite a different tale that the reader may want to hide away somewhere.

The story of these two lovers, Ballard and Sandrine, takes place over a period of 25 years, as the reader learns of their relationship at different points in time from chapter to chapter, which takes place in the same setting: a trip by riverboat down the exotic Amazon.  While there is a large gap in age between the main characters — they apparently fell in love when Ballard, in his twenties, saw Sandrine, when she was fifteen, for the first time — they are besotted with each other and get up to lots of fun on these boat trips.  But then the dark side begins to creep in, with a story of blood and murder.

Overall, the story is somewhat disappointing, as Straub plays a little too much on the “exotic” nature of the Amazon and the natives, while the horror aspects of the story come as kind of surprise.  A longer novella or even novel might’ve allowed for more development in these areas, nevertheless The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine is an interesting experiment in what Straub was trying to do.

Originally written on December 18, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.