Amber, a young woman working in a small retail store on Christmas Eve, finds herself amid chaos when the hot holiday toy, Scurry Furry, comes to life and begins wreaking havoc. The once-adorable creatures become a horde of vicious monsters, leaving a trail of destruction and gore in their wake. With no outside help, Amber and her employees must take matters into their own hands and fight against the Scurry Furry army. The situation is darkly humorous, as Amber and her team wield anything they can find as a weapon, from baseball bats to candy canes. The battle is gory and intense, but Amber refuses to back down. Will she be able to save the store and survive the night?
As these three are two novelettes and one novella, my reviews are kind of shorter as well as there is less to dissect. I thought I’d give y’all a little triple action to make it worth while! All three can be read as standalone, but the author does mostly write within his own shared universe. E. Reyes is an awesome indie author, a cool guy, and horror obsessed.
Second I saw this was announced I had to grab one. The scurry furries, which first appeared in a short from Christmas in the Empty Cabin, are just such good creatures for a horror story. I’m glad Reyes brought them back.
Amber needs the money, so sadly she’s off to work on Christmas Eve, even with her entire family on the way over. The author yet again gives us diverse characters, bringing Hispanic culture with Amber and her family’s celebration. It adds authenticity to her as a character right away.
Sadly, when Amber gets to works, her boss Eddie immediately asks her to help a coworker with a last minute shipment. This shipment happens to be a big ol’ pallet of scurry furries. The descriptors of retail work, the way the store is set up, as well as the temperament of holiday shoppers, are spot on. I have worked some form of retail for the last sixteen years, and Reyes doesn’t miss a beat. Especially because the scurry furry is a holiday hit. The Black Friday-esque need to push, shove, and name call for last minute items are all things I’ve seen in person.
Reyes hits us with some of his best descriptors during the chaos that ensues. Bringing this creature feature novelette to life for the reader. Not just the gruesomeness of scurry furries chomping on unsuspecting shoppers, but also the way he described the smells in the store. “Unkempt ass” most definitely being my favorite.
I’ll be honest, I feel like these recent novelettes are just missing the slightest bit. If Amber had gotten into work, and perhaps we were given more of her day, and then as it neared closing the scurry furry pallet came out? It could have given more atmosphere to the story, as well as lengthening it a bit, so that the surprise is leveled up. Or perhaps I just really think the horror novella is where things hit their stride the best?
Regardless, Reyes does a great job here. I loved that there ended up being a deluxe edition of the scurry furry, so we did not get the exact same story as the previously released short. I love that it remained in the same universe of the short, with the OG store getting name dropped, and I really liked that Reyes also shouted out his forthcoming slasher novel. Personally a 4/5*, a quick read for Gremlins fans.
First, it was the UFO sightings. Then the monsoon began. And then residents of a shady neighborhood got what they never expected…
Evening of the Mutated Undead is a heart-pounding survival horror novella centered around Jeff, a small-time drug dealer in Arizona. Chaos ensues on a seemingly ordinary evening as a horrifying zombie outbreak strikes during a relentless monsoon. To Jeff’s horror, these undead creatures don’t just eat their victims but mutate their bodies, leading to a gruesome blend of unworldly mutation and decomposition.
Grabbed the paperback to give a go, as this is perfect for Spooky Season.
Reyes delivers exactly what his blurb promises. UFOs, a monsoon-style rain, and zombies covered in mutated eyes. The zombies seem to have been created by the UFOs, but they still act, eat, and spread like a normal apocalypse zombie. The story centers around Jeff, a drug dealer, which may speak to some of his zombie-fighting mettle, but I did find his concern for others to be a bit surprising given his dangerous profession.
The story is short, easy to read, gruesome, but a lot of fun. The eye covered zombies adds an additional layer of creepy as well as some incredibly gross descriptions. I like that the story features the backyard hopping, house ransacking tropes even though the outbreak is so fresh. Plus a quick soda break. Personally a 3.5/5*
In the gripping novelette Jack Forest, Soul Collector, the town of Devil’s Hill, Arizona, becomes the stage for a chilling and morally complex tale. Jack Forest, a man returned from the dead on Halloween night, is compelled to serve as a soul collector for Hell. Tasked with branding the souls of woman abusers, he embarks on a haunting mission.
As Jack navigates the shadowy realm between the living and the dead, he is torn between the ruthless directives of Hell and his own sense of justice. The line blurs when faced with a momentous decision that challenges his very nature. This gripping narrative explores themes of redemption, the consequences of one’s actions, and the power of individual choice. Jack Forest, Soul Collector delves into the darkness of the human soul and the depths of compassion that may yet emerge from the most unlikely circumstances.
Grabbed the paperback to give a go, as this is perfect for Spooky Season. I love the author’s shared universe of Devil’s Hill, so I always come out and support, as I am doing (trying) similar with ‘Cemetery.’
This novelette has some heavy content material and is deserving of a contents warning, although the dedication is a clear indicator of what’s the come. Domestic disputes, trafficking, and assault against women. Due to the loss of a loved one, Jack Forest takes the law into his own hands, both for retribution, as well as his own sanity. This choice leads him to work for Satan. He dishes out judgment to those that seek to cause harm, and brands them for judgment.
Even with this being a heavy read, it’s also fun, at times even funny. As the afterward states, Reyes has created this Deadpool/vigilante/red dead redemption looking/acting-esque character. There are some laugh out loud, almost cartoonish comments made by the soul collector.
Personally a 4/5*, I will read more when it comes out, and I wish this one was longer.
All images from the covers were grabbed with the silly iPhone feature (because I thought they looked neat). Cover rights held by the author.