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Thursday, March 1, 2012

eBook Review: Gargoyle Girls of Spider Island by Cameron Pierce

The Bizarro genre has to be one of the most polarizing trends in horror fiction. Readers either love it or hate it (unless they simply don't get it), and are either eager pull new readers in, or to push them far away. These are stories that are rude, crude, vulgar, obscene, and disastrously imaginative - the literary equivalent of passing by a brutal car crash, feeling compelled to slow down for a better look, and then feeling guilty afterwards.

Cameron Pierce's Gargoyle Girls of Spider Island is probably the most immediately accessible of the Bizarro books I've read to date, and also the easiest to enjoy. It's a very straightforward contemporary tale, told in a linear fashion, by a comfortably reliable third-person narrator. Actually, if you ignore the sexually mutilated corpse in the closet of the pirates' boat, the first half of the story is pretty standard horror fiction. With coeds on a stolen boat, depraved (if somewhat inept) pirates, sharks in the water, and a tropical paradise that you know must be too-good-to-be-true, it reminded me in many ways of Richard Laymon's Island.

Of course, when it goes off the rails into the extreme darkness of the Bizarro world, it does so quickly and without reservation. Like any truly great slasher story, where the dirty sinners must be punished, it all begins to go wrong with a bout of drunken, illicit sex, preceded by some rather bloody foreplay. Afterwards, Oscar heads down to the beach to take a leak, where he is promptly ambushed by (you guessed it) one of the gargoyle girls. A monstrous blob of writhing flesh, with as many tooth-filled sexual orifices as bugged-out eyes, she rapes the young man in more ways than one, at both ends, and all at once. The moment she's done, however, she transforms into an Amazonian beauty who looks as though she just walked off the set of a glossy porno movie.

From there, it all descends into a hell of sexual slavery, inhuman depravity, and very human cruelty. You know it's not going to end well, but Pierce offers up some truly inspired scenes of punishment and revenge that are guaranteed to make your toes curl and your stomach churn. Rectal dynamite plays a significant role - not once, but twice! - and the sharks make a final cameo appearance before Pierce pushes the story completely over the edge, giving Oscar the kind of happy ending that only the most brutally perverse could ever appreciate.

Twisted, warped, and just wrong on so many levels, it's also a story that is one hell of a lot of guilty fun.

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