Title: One Bite at a Time
Author: Brandon Faircloth
Genre: Horror / Short Story Collection
In One Bite at a Time, Faircloth showcases a collection of twenty-five short horror stories ranging from creepy to spine-chilling. The first in the collection centers a little girl whose new obsession with drawing takes a sinister turn. A deadly popular app, a haunting childhood toy, a scarecrow that’s come to life–the diverse stories that follow continue the theme of life reimagined through frightening tales of the ordinary gone odious.
Some of the stories in the collection were ones that featured bugs and other creepy crawlers that were the ideal culprits of evil. Faircloth’s creative use of imagery transforms the common house cockroach into a mystical, yet horrifying force of nature. The detailed descriptions of the bugs activate the five senses to create a reading experience that will make anyone, even those with the strongest stomachs, queasy.
Tapping into children’s biggest fears or twisting the best parts of childhood were the framework for many of the collection’s most haunting stories. “On the Rooftop” presented a second-person narrative of a dark, and disturbing, take on the merriest day of the year. Narrated by a beloved children’s icon, the jarring nature of the story and its originality made it one of the most memorable of the collection.
One of the lesser successful stories of the bunch was Everyone in My Town Has Vanished Except For Me and the Demon. Though the concept had potential, it became a bit confusing with the constant flashbacks. The ending, unfortunately, also fell flat when a “report” document was used in an unsatisfying way to explain and justify the events in the story.
With twenty-five stories stacked back to back, the collection felt as though it lacked cohesion at times, and this especially affected the stories that overlapped and had connections to each other. Dividing the collection into sections or reorganizing it by theme, subject matter, or even scare-level, would have helped transition the stories into each other more seamlessly.
I Found a Serial Killer’s Cellphone was easily the star of the collection and the perfect horror story. It was fast-paced, equally realistic, and imaginative, featuring character development that spiraled the story into darker, more dangerous places. Faircloth skillfully weaves in details from preceding stories to reveal the mastermind behind the mass terror that has wrecked these characters’ lives.
I Found a Serial Killer’s Cellphone was followed by two stories, which concluded One Bite at a Time, and though unique and interesting, they were not as complex nor as intricate as their predecessor. Given the opportunity to end the collection with a powerhouse like IFaSKC, these final two stories were unfortunately overshadowed and read as a bit anticlimactic to end the collection as a whole.
One Bite at a Time delivers nothing but the best of our worst nightmares. Not for the faint of heart, these frightening, engulfing stories will remind readers why they once slept with a night-light and checked for monsters under the bed. Faircloth presents evocative writing and an innate gift to create fear from the familiar in these addictive slices of horror that will keep readers coming back for more than just a taste.
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