I have been a fan of literature that challenges me from a young age. It was sometime during my sophomore year in high school that I decided to dip my toes in the obscure waters of philosophy and social sciences. I convinced myself that it was fun and made me look far more evolved than my fellow student body to be reading Nietzsche and Machiavelli rather than actually enjoying some Harry Potter. It wasn’t until my Humanities instructor pulled me aside and attempted to strike up a conversation about an annotated passage from my personal copy of Immanuel Kant’s Observations on the Feelings of the Beautiful and Sublime that I realized I had bitten off more than I could chew.
This is how Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt made me feel, initially. I started this novel how I start every other novel, fast and excited to tackle 100 pages in one sitting. After the first two stories (30 pages in), that familiar sophomore feeling returned and I had no idea what I had just read. I started over. These stories were abstract, strange, ominous and beautiful. The book forced me to slow down and spend time absorbing the words, as I have never read anything like it. This is humbling, especially if you go through phases where you secretly think you’re some sort of literary hot shit like I do. By the third story, Greener Pastures, I felt the inkling of an existential crisis and knew that we had hit our stride.
The story October Film Haunt: Under the House solidified this collection as a book that I guarantee you I will not shut up about for quite a while. The story is reminiscent of the found footage style of The Blair Witch Project, please hold all eye rolls, scoffs and comments about how the Paranormal Activity franchise became lame real quick, until the end. This story will make your skin tingle yet, you won’t be able to put your finger on the “why?” for most of it. As cliché as it sounds, this piece is deserving of the “edge of your seat suspense” title. I slowly found myself inching towards the edge of my chair and moving the actual book closer and closer to my face, as if reading through a fish-eye lens that has become extra murky.
This novel has a little bit of everything. Dark fantasy, horror, loads of the supernatural and yes, even angels. The writing is lyrical with enough desperation to make you question at times what it even means to be human. If you’re looking for a short story collection to become completely immersed in, Greener Pastures will do the trick. You will devour it, albeit more slowing, as every single story commands your undivided attention. If you’re a horror fan, this is an absolute must read for you. This book will challenge what you think you know about this genre.
5/5 little black hearts from me.
You can find Keely on Instagram @keelyfuse85