Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Review: Monsters of LA by Lisa Morton

Monsters of LA by Lisa Morton

**** Bad Moon Books 320 pages

Lisa Morton is becoming the horror author’s version of Meryl Streep, I mean she keeps writing books worthy of award nominations and wins. She has done it again! This woman is making a name for herself for a plain and simple reason. High quality works of horror fiction like her first novel “The Castle of Los Angeles,” Numerous strong appearances in in anthologies with the most high profile authors, and now this strong themed collection of short stories.

I have been chasing down her stories across a slew of high profile anthologies like Dark Delicacies and the Bleeding Edge. She had a great award winning story in one of my favorite magazines Cemetary Dance. So I have been calling for a collection of Morton stories for a while but I was pleased to learn that we got a bonus – all new stories.

Monsters of LA is a concept collection. Lisa Morton is a creature of LA and her work is as firmly place in LA as Early Stephen King was placed in Maine. This is an excellent and diverse collection of horror, dark humor and weird fiction. It is also an informative love letter to the city Morton calls home. Each story comes with a short explanation that has insight into the ways that the city inspired each story.

The book includes several pictures taken by the author of the many strange locales around LA over looked by tourists and wanna-bes who think all there is in LA is Hollywood. Morton certainly doesn’t ignore Hollywood, but has a focus of the strange and cool weird-ness that tourists will never see.

Each story is simply named for a classic movie monster and each story takes a real LA spin of each one. It kicks off with Frankenstein and Dr. Jekkel and Mister Hyde. I liked these stories but I felt the first two stories were the ones that were stretched the hardest to bit the theme of the book. In the case of Frankenstein I found the explanation actually added strength to the story and helped me understand how the story fits the theme.

The strongest story in the collection for me was the “The Phantom.” The darkly funny bizarre piece for Dracula will probably be very popular and is the tale that dips most in Hollywood satire. I also enjoyed the novella “Urban Legend,” which is a prequel to an unpublished novel. Crafty Morton, you have me dying to read that as yet unpublished novel.

Monsters of LA is a good read for horror short story fans but is also a neat read for people interested in seeing a side of LA that you don’t see in the movies.

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