Epeolatry Book Review: New World Monsters by Chris McAuley & Jeff Oliver
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Title: New World Monsters
Author: Chris McAuley & Jeff Oliver, with illustrator, Dan Verkys
Publisher: Hellbound Books Publishing
Genre: Dark Poetry
Release Date: October, 2022
Synopsis: Step into a world unlike any other. A world that is not your own.
Or is it?
Here you will find monsters you can see and monsters that you cannot. At the ready to rip your soul apart and open doors that you should have left closed. New World Monsters are coming… RUN!
New World Monsters by Jeff Oliver and Chris McAuley is a disturbing and startling set of poems, whose darkness is reflected and reenforced by the accompanying artwork of Dan Verkys. Split into two parts: Dark Lovecraftian poetry by Jeff Oliver and Dark Cosmic Poetry by Chris McAuley, the two poets complement each other well. Within their poems, the essence of Lovecraft’s work and worlds feed into both sections with their overarching atmosphere of madness, isolation, and fear of the unknown.
Whilst I enjoyed this collection, I will admit that I found one thing difficult – reading the poems in silence as the words fought for their freedom. The structure of Oliver’s verse in particular builds up both rhythm and pace to the extent that the words seek to escape, to make the noise they express on the paper, a reality. Oliver admits this need for his work to be treated as spoken word or performance poetry in “Flatlined”— ‘I write poetry within verse/A never ending symphony as my lyrics sing my curse.’ The curse is of rage and chaos throughout, the Lovecraftian ‘I never know what my eyes will see’, leaves the poet ‘drowning in the chaos’(“Damn”). Noticeable was Oliver’s use of repetition as a device to spiral the emotion of his work, most obvious in “Relentless Illusions” where lines cycle through the form, mirroring the relentlessness of the message of suffering; it is used with similar effectiveness elsewhere. This repetition driving emotion is an elegant extra layer which adds to the pulse of the poems.
McAuley’s verse, though more structured in appearance, continues the use and placement of rhyme to give his work a similar lyric quality. Here are the Old Ones of the cosmic world, ‘awakened from the deep’, in “The Ancient of Days”, here is Innsmouth mingling past and present horror, here are narratives which disturb, as in A Demon Summoned, ‘Leather sewed into flesh/An opening gashed into its waist/Steel gauntlets like rivets driven through his hands.’
These latter lines are very much in keeping with the horrifically gorgeous artwork which intersperse the poems – monsters tentacled, misshapen, demonic.
An enjoyable work to dip in and out of.
Available from Hellbound Books Publishing.
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel and Reborn, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused. Her novel, The Woodcutter, is due for release via Brigids Gate Press in 2023. Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org, on Twitter at @el_stevie, Instagram stephanieellis7963 and also somewhere on Facebook.