In this new collection, Patrick Barb explores themes of family found and lost, media consumption and the dangers of runaway nostalgia, the supernatural in our lives, and the impact of violence in both the long- and short-term.
- A young couple’s reunited with their lost son whose favorite fuzzy bear suit connects him to the ghost of a vengeful mama bear while he’s alone in the forest.
- A jaded screenwriter can’t escape the haunted screenplay that’s ruined his career.
- A man returns to his small hometown, where the people are gone and the trees have taken over.
- A Slasher and Final Girl brother-sister duo match wits and blades against a sentient, dimension-hopping apocalypse at a never-ending summer camp.
From rural backwoods to Park Slope brownstones, Barb’s characters face impossible, awful situations, testing their inner strength and understanding of reality. Covering quiet horror, weird fiction, supernatural horror, slasher horror, topical dark fiction, and more, these stories spotlight supposedly familiar terrors and fears in new and unexpected ways.
If there’s one thing Patrick Barb excels at, it’s taking premises that sound absurd and making them believable, emotional, and haunting. Above all else, Barb imbues his work with emotion and heart, which will shock nobody familiar with his fiction. After several novellas involving drone surveillance on children, vampire wrestlers, and ape ghosts haunting New York subways, Barb brings his trademark flourishes to his collection, “Pre-Approved for Haunting” is a gathering of tales both old and new to showcase Barb’s development and skill as a writer.
Opening with the disturbing “Lost Boy Found In his Bearsuit,” the tone is set with a macabre tale of a missing child. With few words, Barb paints a picture of a little boy rescued from the paws of a vicious bear. Or is he? Every word is well chosen and Barb showcases the prose he is known for. Smooth, with depth and richness that lures the reader in all the way.
“The Giallo Kid In The Cataclysm’s Campgrounds” showcases Barb’s love for the references genre along with cosmic horror. Never one to adhere to a singular convention, Barb weaves a story of a final girl who refuses to play her role. Unfortunately, this sort of thing has unintended consequences that might just bring about the end of the world.
But Barb’s writing is, above all, smart. “I Will Not Read Your Haunted Script” is a riff on a well-known turn of phrase from its protagonist: a jaded screenwriter who simply cannot escape the darkness related to his script.
Barb’s writing is lyrical, even playful. But never does he forget he’s here to scare the absolute dickens out of the reader. When one is Pre-Approved for Haunting, the scares don’t stop, and Barb cements his place as one of the premiere horror writers of the day.