What happens when an overbearing family drives a teenage girl into the arms of a mysterious, pale stranger? How can a high school junior explain having strange dreams of a Nazi concentration camp after being bitten by his neighbor’s monstrous dog? And who will win when two iconic creatures of the night clash on a desolate WWI battlefield? Dive into a world of werewolves and vampires with SKIN DEEP and ORDINARY MONSTERS, two standalone stories featured in a dual novella from author Frank Martin. And don’t forget to check out the bonus comic short HORRORS OF WAR found in both ends of this double-sided work of pulp and terror. – Goodreads
Skin Deep / Ordinary Monsters Review
First of all I would like to compliment the illustrators, Chris Winters and Loraine Van Tonder. I really like the cover. It has a very pulp, Weird Tales feel to it. I also really liked the comic short, Horrors of War. The black and white illustrations were nicely detailed art that told the stories without any use of dialogue.
I only wish that I could heap the same praise on the stories themselves.
As much as Skin Deep did have wrong with it, it did do a few things right. I liked the character of Jessica a lot. I liked her attitude to her situation. She was responsible and mature which is something that is sorely lacking sometimes. The other thing I liked in Skin Deep was that Laura’s group of friends were not the stereotypical ‘Mean Girls’ clique. They don’t want Laura to party with them because they know she’s a talented track runner and they don’t want her to blow it. When Laura complains her parents are always at her meets they tell her she should be grateful because their parents never come to theirs. Laura is a very unappealing character. She acts like her parents are restrictive, controlling and domineering. Even Skin Deep’s description describes them as ‘overbearing’. They are some of the most laid back parents I’ve ever seen.
It’s a bit hard to relate to Laura’s teenage ‘angst’ when her parents support her in track, buy her $500.00 running shoes to help her train and don’t even get that mad when she comes home wasted. Her argument with them that ‘drives her to her vampire lover’s arms’ is so stupid and inane that I think my eyes almost fell out of my head they were rolling so hard.
And now, the vampire. Skin Deep does have one giggle-worthy moment when the girls are at a club and encounter a band called The Sparkling Bloodsuckers who, musically at least, suck. I’m sorry, but you cannot poke fun at Twilight while saying in the next chapter that his skin seemed to ‘shimmer’. The vampire itself is basically Gambit from the X-Men. His name is Remy and has a strong Cajun accent (sort of). All that’s missing is a deck of cards and auburn hair. The author also has an annoying habit of italicizing Remy’s ‘Cajun’ speech.
An example: “Well, a long time ago someone showed me dat love is just more dan skin deep. Dat below the surface we’re all entirely different people, and it’s only once we accept dat buried inside dat we’re able to truly feel how strong love is.”
It gets very tiresome. The plot could be streamlined greatly to make it an actual short story with a punch. Unfortunately, any emotion that might come through is buried in an avalanche of words.The transformation is well done, as is the ending. The last chapter could have been far more bittersweet and moving if told a bit more plainly, instead of trying to pack in as many fancy words as possible. This seems to be a common problem with beginning writers. Sometimes an author can make beautiful. flowing, poetic sentences. However, most of the time plain prose is best.
On a technical note, there were a few misspellings and grammar issues.
This one was just an ok read. Again, though, the teens seem to hate their reasonable to the extreme parents. It makes Liam, the main character we’re supposed to be following and rooting for seem like an ungrateful jerk. The big conflict between Liam and his parents? His grades are bad and they’d like him to go to college. He’s happier being average. So far a normal conflict that I’m sure happens every day. Their concern is that his grades are suffering because he’s out getting wasted all of the time. Which, from the reader’s perspective is all that he does. So, yeah, it’s a little hard to sympathize with him on the whole ‘controlling parents’ bit.
There were a few grammar issues here as well but I didn’t notice any misspellings. The overuse of the thesaurus is present here as well with the added bonus of way too many italics. Italics can be a fine way to stress a point or indicate thoughts. Some of these italicized words would begin in the middle of a sentence and just keep going.
“The pain in my muscles settles through my blood, invigorating my body with agony.
I think the author is trying to denote how Liam’s thoughts are disordered after a certain event but differentiating between sentences would make it flow a little smoother.
I think with another proofread and edit to streamline some unnecessary details this does have the makings of two very good short stories. As it stands I’m afraid I can’t really recommend it.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Skulls