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Elvisland
John Farris
Babbage Press, 321 pages

Elvisland
John Farris
John Farris sold his first novel the summer after he graduated from high school, in 1955. By 1959, he had his first million-seller, at age 23, with Harrison High. He is perhaps best known for his novel, The Fury (1976).

John Farris Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox

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Dark, foreboding and a frightening insight into man's darker nature, words that can certainly be used to describe Elvisland, a new collection of short stories from horror writer John Farris. The collected stories all contain a similar setting, the American Deep South.

Author of over thirty novels, this is Farris' second collection and it's a fine piece of work, presenting four never before seen tales as well, "Waiting for Mr. Gilroy," "Talking Heads," "Storytime with the Bluefield Strangler" and "Hunting Meth Zombies in the Great Nebraskan Wasteland." Time travel, the future of overpopulation and psychic ghosts are all covered in these additions.

As far as horror fiction goes, Farris is a big fan of ethereal things happening to average people. The stories have a distinct Southern flavor to them, each tale beginning with the lead character's name and then following them through their tale of terror.

But that's where the formula to Farris' writing style ends. In some stories, the hero beats the evil menace. In others, the evil triumphs. There's death, gruesome murder, frightening surprises and monsters. But through them all, there's an element of mankind's own repressed evil that has spawned these demons. A chilling thought, really.

In total, there are thirteen short stories collected in the book. Of note, "horrorshow" is particularly compelling, a "keep-you-guessing" murder mystery that features wanderer Hieronymus "Hero" Flynn, the most unlikely of heroes and a character that just begs to be brought back for further adventures.

"Elvisland," the short story that the collection is named for, finishes off the book and presents a poignant tale of worshipping false idols. One must wonder what Elvis Presley himself would think of the "religion" that has built up around his own legacy. After all, all he wanted to do was record a song for his mother.

The stories fly by, leaving you anxious for the next one and wanting more. The collection is a great, late night with the lights down scary reading adventure.

Copyright © 2004 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories, acting on stage and screen and giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood.


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