Geoffrey Girard collected together several of his published short fiction and added in a original content to deliver first communions, the latest short fiction collection from Apex Book Company. I had the privilege to meet Geoffrey Girard and purchase a signed copy of this book at ConGlomeration in Louisville. I've encountered one of the stories inside previously in the Dark Faith, a collection of religious horror short stories, and another in the recent issue of Apex Magazine. I enjoyed every story in this book as each had its own merits and a unique style.
The stories range from haunting to comical to fantastical with disturbing images abound. There is Translation floating mind-controlling aliens with a family tearing each other apart while the writer father has to listen to Collecting James and skull fragment collecting serial killer. Girard does not hold back on the violence and seems to find the best words to describe the horrifyingly disgusting things that happen. He even includes a YA sample in the form of H. E. Double Hockey Sticks, which shows how horror can still be fun and humorous.
The setting range from an old Indian land with a horrible secret in Release Me to curse pirate ships in Dead in the Water. The future is mainly bleak in Girard's stories with zombies over running the world and used as choral instruments in Unto the Lord a New Song or a nursing home that has to finally be demolished after the residents have gone on living for centuries in For Restful Death I Cry. His research pays off for stories like Pyschomachia about a strange occurrence in coal mines and Misdirection telling the tale of a French musician in Algeria.
Girard plays with narrative styles whether it is second person, stream of conscious, or a mix of several perspectives like the brilliant and chilling title story First Communions. Even when the author goes more literary like Crawl, the images will get under your skin and make you itch. My favorite story was Dark Harvest about a small town that discovers an injured Ringwraith that has fallen from its flying steed.
For fans of horror, zombies, and well-used gore, I would highly recommend this collection of sixteen stories. It is also very cool from a writer and reader's perspective to see the inspiration and publication history of these stories, which Girard includes at the end. I felt the whole book came together nicely to give me a nice dose of horror in each story that made me continue reading on to the next one. Girard also has several cool novels out that hope to read soon.