The mind is a terrible thing to waste. It is also a terrible place to live. Doubts, fears and paranoid thoughts lurk in the shadows waiting to pounce when you are most vulnerable. Those thoughts whisper words of no escape. But what happens when the mind settles on revenge instead?
From a boy who is bigger than most, but not quite like his father, to a young woman who is battered and untrusting after a brutal assault, to a man whose body is riddled with scars, A.J. Brown’s Voices shines a light into the dark corners of the human psyche. From the voice of the author who brought you Dredging Up Memories, A Stitch of Madness and Cory’s Way.
SCREAM MAGAZINE REVIEW
Few things are as terrifying or powerful as the human mind. It’s where our darkest secrets, phobias and most troubling thoughts reside, which could spell harm to ourselves or others if they’re allowed to fester for too long, unattended. While the mind motivates us to achieve our goals and form our greatest ideas, it’s also capable of inspiring dark deeds and taking advantage of our paranoias and fears when we’re at our most vulnerable. Every horrible atrocity in human history started with a sister thought or an impulse stemming from a damaged psyche after all. As such, the complexities of the mind has always lent itself perfectly to horror tales.
A.J. Brown’s latest. Voices, is a collection of short stories rooted in psychological torment and the horrors that can unfold as a result. Each story is rooted in the darkest elements of humanity that, when broken down, don’t seem too far fetched at all. These tales are inspired by domestic, sexual and mental abuse, as well as neglect, bullying, death, sorrow and the harm the can cause. It’s not a light collection by any means, but it’s certainly effective and deserves your attention if you’re willing to confront horror rooted in reality.
The first story, “In the Shadows They Hide” taps into a socially awkward teenager’s fear of shadows, coupled with the anxieties that arise from being bullied and unable to fit in with your peer group.
“The Scarring”, meanwhile, is concerned with child abuse and the harrowing effects which follows in its wake. “A Memory Best Left Alone” is about a woman who self-harms … you get the idea of the type of subject matter Brown is fascinated with. This isn’t poolside reading.
That said, the author handles each story with sensitivity and respect to difficult topics and themes while simultaneously mining the real horror humanity experiences to craft bold and devastating scare fare. In lesser hands, this anthology could be exploitative or schlocky, but Brown’s exploration is nuanced and all the better for it. By no means will this book be for everyone, but those who dare open its pages may find it rewarding.
DARK AND DISTURBING ON EVERY LEVEL (FROM BIBLIOPHILIA TEMPLUM)
VOICES is a collection of stories by A.J. Brown. These are dark, disturbing, complex tales of the inner voice, the hidden mind, that which drives us from within. These stories darkly and boldly illustrate the harsh realities of life when there are no safe places, not even in your own head.
Brown pulls no punches with his presentation of the horrors that go on around us. His characters will pull on your heart and mind and may even draw forth a few tears. Some of these stories left me physically tense even after completion and one left me feeling physically ill with emotional response. This is my warning to you. This is not light reading. It is true horror: deep, dark, and disturbing. While not extremely graphic in description, Voices is daringly extreme to the extreme in content.
Let’s address a few of these, shall we?
“In the Shadows, They Hide” is a disturbing tale of deep fear, bullying, and the decisions made in angst.
“Chet and Kay’s Not So Marvelous Adventure” addresses morality vs inner voice, the conundrum of stereotype role reversal, and visceral insanity.
“The Scarring” should perhaps come with a warning label, so here you go. Like some of the other stories, it deals with child abuse, exploring the dark voices of the inner turmoil that arises from this all too real horror.
“Claire the Movie” should, perhaps, also have a warning label. The building dread as the story unfolds was so consuming that it evoked a physical response. My chest was tight in anticipation and I am certain I forgot to breathe once or twice as the foreshadowing began to take hold of my mind.
“Black Storms” is a very well written story of one man’s experience with what could be the end times.
“Number” … because “…anger isn’t a real emotion.”
“Apartment 306 and Poor Jenny Harris” is the one that I find the most impactful. It is a dark and disturbing tale of tragic things that go on in the world. It builds steadily to a horrifying climax and conclusion. This one evoked both an emotional and physical response (tears and nausea) because of the realism it reflected and the incredibly vivid characters. I will see this one in my nightmares for a very long time.
Other stories in this gripping volume include:
“Not Like You”
“The Sad Woes of the Trash Man”
“A Memory Best Left Alone”
I also encourage you to read the Author’s Letter to Readers and Author’s Notes following the stories. Very enlightening. Like a little interview A.J. did with himself about the work. It’s a nice gift to one who has braved the disturbing horrors on the previous pages.
Get your intestinal fortitude in order and read Voices.
There is that old saying “The mind is a terrible thing to waste” and I’m sure some of these characters wished their minds would waste away to stop their thoughts and those horrifying voices. This is another emotionally charged, character driven book by the mighty pen of A J Brown.
This book is filled with excruciatingly painful yet compelling shorts that will send chills down your spine and make you break out in a cold sweat. I highly recommend this book and any other book by A J Brown as he sure has a way with words. If you love the horror genre this is a must read.
A.J. IS A FANTASTIC WRITER WHO KNOWS WELL HOW TO SET A TONE …
If you have the chance to purchase this book I suggest you do. AJ is fantastic writer who knows well how to set a tone and build real to life characters. This books is a collection of short stories and none of them disappoint. They are beautifully crafted, bubbling with atmosphere, often poignant, and even a little sweet at times. Once you begin reading you may very well find this one hard to put down.
THE NICEST AND MOST ARTICULATE TWISTED PSYCHOPATH
A.J. Brown has got to be the most prolific writer of American Gothic Horror stories at the moment. He is probably also the nicest and most articulate twisted psychopath writing stories at the moment if his latest collection, Voices, is anything to go by. It’s like he hears the stories as if they were urban legend, or as if someone was there reliving them and he jots it all down. All the stories are different and, I know its a cliche, but there really is something for everyone. It’s a bit like Netflix for the readers. If you loved the last story you’ll want to stay up to read the next one. If you didn’t love the last story, you know you will love the next one so you stay up and read it. Any way, don’t waste time reading my words, read A.J. Browns Voices … (or anything by this author).
FEAR MADE FUN
Great book with spooky stories in abundance, this is a great midsummer read when you’re pining for the colder months and some Halloween fun. If you like suspense mixed with your horror, grab Voices, You won’t be disappointed!
Great read, with a edge of your seat style that is hard to replicate.
LOVE THESE SHORTS!
Another hit for AJ Brown. Thank you for giving a voice to each of these characters. You have once again brought to life not only the voices in your head, but the ones on these pages. I love the short stories, keep them coming!
I picked up this book with absolutely no expectations. I hadn’t heard of the author and I am old and jaded. It takes a lot to creep me out these days. This book managed it, perfectly. Every story is a gem. Several kept me awake past my bedtime. A couple made me late for work because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I went from never hearing of this writer to being a die-hard fan. I won’t rest until I have all of his published works in my library. Need I say more?
HOOKED FROM THE FIRST STORY
I was drawn to this book because of the creepy cover. I was surprised to find out it was a compilation of short stories! The first story y’all was a monster; in a good way of course! It hooked me into wanting more. I thought each story got better as I read them. AJ Brown is a fantastic story teller who writes about some very intense and hard subjects. The real bonus to the book is the “Interviews” AJ Brown does with Lisa Lee Tone on her blog Bibliophilia Templum that accompany each story from the book. Voices is a must read in my opinion!