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Paperback Shock Totem 1: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted Book

ISBN: 1448621747

ISBN13: 9781448621743

Shock Totem 1: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted

(Book #1 in the Shock Totem Series)

The debut issue. A hundred pages of dark fiction, featuring T.L. Morganfield, David Niall Wilson, Jennifer Pelland, Kurt Newton, Don D'Ammassa, Mercedes M. Yardley, and more. Conversations with William Ollie, Alan Robert (Life of Agony, Spoiler NYC), and the legendary John Skipp.


Format: Paperback

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Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A stellar first issue

A stellar first issue; their tagline is "CURIOUS TALES of the MACABRE and TWISTED", and they're angled as a horror mag, but don't let that shake you if you're "not excited about horror". They've got strong literary sensibilities, while keeping true to stories with full and proper arcs so you're not left going, "So what?" at the end. Great writing, great presentation, great production values--they're on my hit list, and I expect I'll be reading them for some time to come, presuming the readership is there to keep them going. Generic excitement doesn't translate so well, so I'll be a touch more specific on two pieces: T.L. Morganfield's "The Music Box" is a delight of a childhood-toy-gone-wrong--but it's a much deeper and more human wrong than Chucky. The toys are adorable and it's hard to believe how far things will go, except the writing and the characters take you there without any doubts. "Murder for Beginners" by Mercedes M. Yardley is a cheerful, quirky piece, that reached somewhere inside me I haven't quite figured out yet. I would have sworn I've read it before--not in a sense of it being trite or common (the characters are all the in the details), but in a sense of "coming home" to it, somehow. I hope that doesn't make my wife start looking over her shoulder. ;) And even though it's only 100 pages, there's plenty more there! (review cribbed from a blogpost I made a while back, so if it seems a touch disjoint, apologies)

Well worth the money

How often does one get lucky enough to snag the FIRST print issue of a great magazine? Well, this time, I got lucky. Shock Totem is a bi-annual dark fantasy and horror magazine. But calling it magazine seems a little understated. I pulled it out of the package and my mom immediately said "That's the magazine you were waiting for? That's gorgeous!" And gorgeous it is. 100 pages of high-quality paper, bookended with a lovely glossy cover, it's more like a mini-book than a magazine. This is a publication that belongs on the bookshelf-or the coffee table. The cover itself hints at a fascinating story, artwork contributed by Robert Hoyem.Tasteful gray-scale photos add to the mood and help break up the print. The fiction is particularly well-rounded. The mood is cohesive enough to tie everything together, the theme makes each piece stand out. To me, the fiction in this issue felt very quiet, perhaps understated. Even the gore and death was done in a tasteful, soft manner that made it all the more memorable. Les Berkley's First Light has to be my favorite for setting. The blend of old and new, of technology and magic is what I am always looking for in my reading and almost never finding. For the story itself? The Music-Box by T.L. Morganfield. I just keep coming back to that one, although it is the most mundane in setting. There isn't a single weak link in Shock Totem's first issue. Book reviews, interviews and fiction are all strongly-written and memorable. Although there are certainly many elements of fantasy in the stories, there are also stories where there is no fantasy. A little bit for everyone who likes a good twisted tale.

Dark, Varied, and Fun

I picked this up when they were having a sale to check out the new pro paying horror market and I am very glad I did. First off, the cover art is amazing and I wish I had a print of it to hang on my wall. The stories in the beautifully bound mag run the gamut from laugh-out loud hilarious to deeply contemplative, and they're short too, easily read in just a few minutes. Throw in the odd interview, book review, and poem, and you have the beginning of something great. Here's to consistency. Keep up the good work Shock Totem!

Excellent collection of stories - fantastic debut

It's taken me a few weeks to get through it, but I finally finished Issue 1 last night, and I thoroughly enjoyed. The quality of the hardware was tough enough to endure weeks of being slung in my bag, thrown on the floor, being bent this way and that. As of last night, the magazine's spine remains intact, the actual magazine is still flat, and the only mark is a crease on the back cover where it got trapped under a laptop. Delivery: I was expecting to receive the magazine some time in late September, but it turned up within a fortnight of ordering from the States. Stories (and poem): excellent choice of submissions. Every story I enjoyed and it gave the feeling of reading something that had received a lot of time and attention. Some of the stories stand out as amazing pieces of work, original and shocking. Interviews and reviews: Not expecting these, I was pleasantly surprised - well written bits of journalism amongst the weirdness. The artwork was perfect for the tone of the magazine - dark and subtle. All in all, this is an excellent debut, and definitely worthy of a place on your shelf.

An excellent - and interesting - start

For a first-time publication, this was sure one hell of an experience. SHOCK TOTEM is a splendid new venture into the world of dark and psychological horror. I recieved my copy of the magazine two days before a camping trip, and it proved to be quite enjoyable, laying in my tent by lantern-light and entering the strange new worlds exposed within. As a whole, all but one story gripped me - and this one tale, it seemed to me, was horribly out of place and cliche, but I will not mention the title out of both respect for the author and the fact that this is most likely the result of personal tastes clashing - but that is all right. Not EVERY story in a compilation will resonate with every reader. But I WILL mention what I found to be my two highlights. COMPLEXITY by Don D'Ammassa is a strangely hypnotic tale that folds you inside its claustrophobic web and makes you question the little quirks that happen each day in the world around you. Totally engrossing. 32 TALES FROM A DEAD HOOKER'S MOUTH by Kurt Newton is an original and creepy story that takes you down an unexpected path through the life of one unfortunate woman. The interviews were also intriguing and informative - especially the one with John Skipp. An added bonus is the last section of the magazine - HOWLING THROUGH THE KEYHOLE - in which the authors discuss the inspiration and process of writing the stories published. It was an unexpected pleasure to look into the minds of the writers, if only for a moment. Overall, this was very well done. The only complaint I had was that the binding began to break a few pages in, but this is a problem I see no real solution to. It's still a great new venture that offers struggling writers a new and (hopefully) long-standing market to distribute their until now unseen works. The world, and the floundering publishing market, needs this. A world without fiction, without DIVERSITY of IDEAS, is a world without a future. SHOCK TOTEM is one gigantic leap in the right direction.
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