Halloween Extravaganza: Kyle Alexander Romines: Guest Review of Something Other

Book review:
Something Other: A Collection of Horror Stories by Jacob Romines

It’s not every day your cousin writes a book. So when mine began working on a collection of horror stories, I was intrigued.

I eagerly read each story over the year or so it took him to complete the project. I knew at the time the book would be something special. I just didn’t realize how special it would be.

Something Other: A Collection of Horror Stories, was released earlier this year, and the reception has been nothing short of breathtaking. Phrases like “I can’t stop” and “this is the best one I have ever read” continually appear in the reviews. With Halloween just last month, and this celebration making it last even longer, I thought it would be the perfect time to dust off my copy and write a proper review.

Everything you need to know going in is right there in the title. Something Other is a horror anthology themed around otherworldly, existential horror. While each piece stands on its own, the stories weave together to create their own mythos. Although Romines claims inspiration from the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Thomas Ligotti, this mythos is as unique and distinctive as you’ll find in contemporary horror.

The book itself is a work of art. The cover depicts a monstrous eye underneath a moonlit pond. The sinister red lettering for the title and author’s name creates an unsettling atmosphere even before opening the book to the first page. Then there’s the blurb, which hints at terrors to come.

Shadowy hints of titanic monsters. Humanesque voices, even faces, that almost seem real.Lures into ancient and incomprehensible jaws. The twisting of human minds and bodies for insidious purposes.Biological corruption and chaos. Encounters with the unknown.

The anthology includes 19 horror stories. Three unnerving poems placed at key intervals add flavor to the book. There is a surprising amount of secret content in the book as well, which I won’t spoil here.

Beneath the Swamp

The narrator recounts a harrowing trip to the Everglades two days before a catastrophic disaster. This excellent, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it short is the perfect story to kick off the book and is a great example of Jacob’s unique voice. Many of Jacob’s stories are told from a first-person POV, which drops you directly into the story’s events in a visceral way. Once you read this story, you’ll find yourself turning to the next.

The Nightstrider

A college student thinks something sinister stocks her campus. What follows is one of the most gripping stories in the entire collection, and one of my personal favorites. Nadia is an incredibly compelling protagonist, which ramps up the tension you feel for her all the more.

A Fable of Crickets

This short aside might seem like an opportunity to let your guard down after the preceding story. Don’t be fooled. It’ll make your hair stand on end once it sinks in.

The Puppeteer

After losing her only son, a widow returns alone to their country farm only to discover that she is very much not alone. This is one of the most unsettling stories in the entire collection. It’s another of my favorites. The entity depicted in the story is something only Jacob could’ve concocted, and he tells it so well, you’ll find yourself imagining the story’ events long after you’ve read it.

The Bad Tree

A young mother with crippling anxiety worries for her young son’s safety in a tale that reads as a companion piece to the previous story.

Contortion

A camper goes off on his own and discovers something eerie on a lake. Something very eerie.

God’s Prison

A reporter investigates something shady at the Vatican and discovers… well, that would be telling. This story will mess with your head. Jacob has a unique philosophy and perspective on life and man’s place in the universe. This piece blends that perfectly with the distinctive brand of existential horror he has developed over the preceding chapters.

The Threshold

It begins with, “There is a space between wakefulness and dreams, a gray land we must pass through to rest each night,” and ends with, “And the thing laughs.” Another short aside that also serves as a perfect bridge between what has come before and what is yet to come. Jacob’s stories can be read on many levels, and this is another one that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it.

The Soul Eater

An individual suffering from sleep paralysis encounters something called the Soul Eater. This story is as much philosophical and psychological as it is horror. In fact, I’d call it a tale of existential dread. I’ve mentioned a few times already that Jacob’s stories are thought-provoking. That’s true of this story even more than any of the others, which is one reason why it’s generated such a strong response from readers.

The Man on the Tower

Every night, the protagonist watches a man throw himself off a tower, only to do it again. Trust me, you’re going to love the ending.

Siren

A man who lost the love of his life encounters her again under a storm drain, only… He’s not quite sure it’s her. This story will hit you where it hurts. It’s a visceral, emotional story that packs a punch. One of my favorites.

Listen to Your Ma

This dark poem shows the true breadth of Jacob’s skill.

They Don’t Lurk Anymore

A college student explains his theory about the DNA of fear. The implications will leave the protagonist, and you, reeling.

Quarry

A man makes the most dangerous swim of his life.

A Maze

In this short aside, a child discovers a hidden underground maze.

The Praying Fungus

The story begins with: “I killed Jaqueline. I killed my girlfriend. But I killed her because she was going to kill you.” What follows is absolutely horrifying and grotesque. It’s also one of the most well-written stories in the anthology.

With the anthology nearing its end, Jacob hits the gas at the exact point other authors might let off steam. The Praying Fungus, and the stories that following, lower the veil to reveal the true scope of the mythos he’s constructed over the course of the anthology.

Entities of Predatory Consciousness: Introduction

At first, this aside seems disconnected from the previous story. But once you read the next three short stories, you’ll look at The Praying Fungus in a whole new way, which is one reason I recommend reading the anthology at least twice.

The Fungus King

An intelligence officer makes a horrifying archeological discovery in the Middle East. I refuse to say any more than that. It’s another of my favorites.

Out There

This chilling story initially appears to be a simple 4chan post. Instead, it’s the most explicit look behind the curtain of Jacob’s mythos contained in the anthology.

The House in the Middle of Nowhere

Jacob saved the best for last. Quite possibly the most disturbing story in the entire collection. I won’t tell you what this one is about. You’ll have to discover it for yourself. The anthology is worth buying for this story alone.

Now that I’ve finished hinting at the book’s contents, a word about the author. Jacob is a college student. In fact, he was only 18 years old when he started working on this book. Reviewers often mention their surprise that someone so young can be so talented in their reviews. Several have said he is “wise beyond his years.” It’s true. Jacob has a first-class mind and a deep-seated love of learning. His desire to unravel life’s great mysteries couple with a unique perspective on life to create the voice of Something Other. And his talent and skill only continue to grow with each new story. This is your chance to discover greatness before everyone else.

If you’re looking for something spooky, give it a read. You won’t be sorry.

Kyle Alexander Romines is a teller of tales from the hills of Kentucky. He enjoys good reads, thunderstorms, and anything edible. His writing interests include fantasy, science fiction, horror, and western.

Kyle’s debut horror novel, The Keeper of the Crows, appeared on the Preliminary Ballot of the 2015 Bram Stoker Awards in the category of Superior Achievement in a First Novel. He obtained his M.D. from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. 

You can contact Kyle via email. You can also subscribe to his author newsletter to receive email updates and FREE electronic copies of his Warden of Fál prequel short, The Path of Vengeance, AND his horror/science fiction novella, The Chrononaut.

The Keeper of the Crows

No evil can remain buried forever, as disgraced journalist Thomas Brooks discovers when a wave of death grips the rural Kentucky town of Gray Hollow in terror.

Following a very public humiliation, Thomas is looking for a story to get him back on the map-and free of the small town newspaper where he serves out his exile. The apparent murder of a stranger seems to be just what the opportunistic reporter needs, until he discovers the death is merely the start of something bigger.

Also investigating the murder is Sheriff Jezebel Woods, who doesn’t approve of Thomas’ sensationalist intentions. Mounting deaths force the pair to set aside their differences to confront a force that threatens to destroy the entire town.

At the center of the mystery is the disappearance of a boy named Salem Alistair, who designed a series of grotesque scarecrows for his parents’ farm-scarecrows that are turning up at each subsequent crime scene. Thomas begins to doubt his uneasy alliance with the sheriff when he realizes Jezebel has her own secret history with Salem Alistair.

Thomas and Jezebel are completely unprepared to face the supernatural force at odds with Gray Hollow. As the killings continue, and the town slowly begins to yield its dark secrets, the truth will pit Thomas and Jezebel on a collision course with true evil.

The Chrononaut

The future. Millennia of scientific discovery have led to mankind’s greatest feat: the invention of time travel, a technology with a potential for learning and scientific advancement rivaled only by its potential catastrophic consequences. To prevent such outcomes, the world government has carefully restricted the technology, limiting its use and study to a selected few. 

Dr. Amelia Lewis is a temporal historian charged with uncovering humanity’s greatest unsolved historical mysteries during her voyages into the timestream. It is on one of these missions that she witnesses something more terrifying than anything mankind has ever encountered—a monstrous entity that exists outside of time itself. Amelia’s journeys into the past have drawn its gaze, and now it seeks to devour her. 

As she desperately seeks a way a to save herself, Amelia discovers that everyone she cares about is being erased from existence. The fabric of her life is beginning to unravel. Soon, there may not be anything to go back to.

A Sound in the Dark

For Zack Allen, it was supposed to be a chance to get away and relax. A weekend camping trip with a small group of friends seemed like the perfect distraction from a messy personal life, but as Zack and his friends made their way to the camping ground at Drifter’s Folly Memorial Park, he couldn’t shake the feeling something was terribly wrong. 

Zack should have listened to his gut, because he and his friends aren’t the only ones in the forest. Someone else is watching—someone with dark intentions. And he wants to play a game…

Bride

The year is 1795. Frankenstein’s monster has given his creator an ultimatum: Victor must build the creature a mate, or watch as the monster destroys everything and everyone he has ever loved. 

You know their story. 

You don’t know hers.

She is born into darkness, her destiny entwined with an unspeakable evil. Her sole companion is her creator, the inscrutable Victor Frankenstein, gatekeeper to a life she has never experienced. As her understanding of humanity takes shape, she must contend with the horrific nature of her intended mate and conflicting feelings for her creator. 

She wants more from life than to be the bride of Frankenstein’s monster, but will she seek freedom, vengeance, or something else entirely?

Atonement

In the years following the Civil War, lawlessness and corruption reign across the United States and its territories. 

The West is the most dangerous place of all. 

When a deadly gang overruns the small community of Casper, Wyoming, the townspeople find themselves forced to live in constant fear. 

Then a stranger named Christian wanders into town with nothing but a horse and a pair of pistols to his name, and everything changes. Wanting nothing more than to restock on supplies and leave, he soon finds himself reluctantly drawn into the conflict between the outlaws and the townspeople. 

Christian will be faced with the choice to continue running from his past, or to stay and fight and confront his demons.

Drone

After the emergence of the destructive, godlike Titans, the world is more dangerous than ever. 

When drone pilot David Hunter is recruited to join a top-secret military program, he learns the government has captured the Titan Prometheus. Once considered a hero by many, Prometheus is now an empty shell, retrofitted with technology to serve as a new kind of drone—and it’s David’s task to use the Titan’s powers on the government’s behalf. 

David has his own reasons to distrust Titans, but when he discovers some vestiges of Prometheus’ consciousness remain, it sets in motion a course of events that will cause him to learn what it means to be a hero.

Warden of Fal 1: The Wrath of Lords

The job sounded simple enough.

Rid the village of an ogre and rescue the girl. In return, the local lord would overlook that ugly business in the church.

It was nothing he hadn’t dealt with before.

That was before he heard the howls coming from the Bog of Móin Alúin. Before he crossed paths with the headless rider. Before he woke to find the witch’s crooked fingers on his face.

Now Berengar must unravel the labyrinth of secrets and lies surrounding the village before a deadly curse claims his life, all while a darker evil looms in the shadows…

Warden of Fal 2: The Blood of Kings

Being a warden is tough work at the best of times. Keeping the tenuous peace between the five kingdoms of Fál is a difficult business, especially in a land of monsters and magic.

Esben Berengar, the realm’s most feared warden, relies on his wits and his axe to deal with unscrupulous rulers, bloodthirsty outlaws, and the occasional witch.

When the king of Munster is murdered, Berengar is called upon to investigate. Many had cause to want the king dead, and treachery lurks behind every corner.

As tensions between humans and all others threaten to boil over, the warden finds himself reluctantly partnered with Morwen, Munster’s court magician, to solve the murder before the killer strikes at the royal family again.

Waden of Fal 3: The City of Thieves

Years ago, when violent purges plunged Dún Aulin into chaos, Warden Esben Berengar was sent to restore order by any means necessary. He did so with such brutal efficiency he became known throughout Fál as the High Queen’s Monster.

All is not forgiven.

When the hunt for a mysterious enemy leads Berengar back to Dún Aulin, an old friend’s request thrusts him headfirst into danger. In the Ceremony of the Cursed Blade, the sword used by the Lord of Shadows in his conquest of Fál will change possession, and it’s up to Berengar to keep the blade from falling into the wrong hands.

To do that he’ll have to survive vengeful goblins, bloodthirsty monster hunters, Leinster’s powerful Thieves Guild, and worse.

Much worse. 

Warden of Fal 4: The Will of Queens

For Esben Berengar, the road home is paved in blood.

Twenty years ago, Berengar left the Kingdom of Ulster and never looked back. But when another of the High Queen’s Wardens vanishes in the icy reaches of Fál’s northernmost realm, only Berengar can find him—even if it means returning to a place he thought he’d left behind forever.

But Ulster is more dangerous than Berengar remembers. Outlaws roam the countryside in open rebellion against the Ice Queen’s reign, while neighboring giants and trolls stand on the brink of war. It isn’t long before Berengar finds himself ensnared in conflict, even as the hunt for his missing friend leads to a far greater threat—one that could mean the destruction of Fál itself.

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