Monday 3 October 2016

REVIEW: Jason Parent - Wrathbone and other stories

Genre: Horror collection
Publisher: Comet Press
Publication Date: 3rd October 2016
Pages: 160


A copy of Wrathbone and other Stories was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Jason Parent in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Comet Press.

Nothing I like more than getting a request from Jason Parent to have an early look at one of his books. Be it a novel or a short story or as in this case, a collection, it doesn’t matter to me. He is one of those authors that I just cannot resist reading. I love his easy, relaxed style of writing, even when the story is going at one hundred miles per hour.

I was especially eager to read this collection because I knew that myself and my good lady wife Jo, feature in a story together. This triggers the usual disclaimer that including me on the outside or indeed the inside of a book does not garner any favours from me in terms of the review.

So let’s see what this little beauty has to offer!


Henry Rathbone and his wife to be, Clara, have been invited to the theatre as guests of the president. This is no ordinary trip to the theatre though. This is in the year 1865. This is in the Ford Theatre. The President is Abraham Lincoln.

The repercussions of that fateful night take a huge toll on the future lives of Henry and Clara. Sometimes a situation that is horrific for everyone affects one person in ways that no one else can see. Is this all in the mind or is there evil afoot?

This story is totally different from anything I have ever read before from Jason Parent. Set in the late 1900’s, this story perfectly illustrates the time setting.

The language used, the sights and the described smells all give you a wonderful feeling of hopelessness in a time that was both bleak and hard to endure.

This is horror of the mind at it’s very best. The whole story concentrates on the internal struggles Henry has in his mind. No one else can see what is happening. No one else is suffering with it. The one thing that this story does extremely effectively is to always leave you, the reader, with a huge doubt in your own mind as to whether any of what is happening is real, or just in Henry’s head.

This leaves you feeling as confused and afraid as Henry does.

Very dark, very atmospheric, very powerful writing. Excellent stuff.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Bradley Walsh is a lawyer. His latest case is just like the rest he has handled. He will probably win. He always does. Even though he knows his client is as guilty as hell, he has no conscience stopping him from defending him.

Until the victim’s father appears to testify. What is that strange doll he has? It kinda looks like Bradley.

We jump right up to present times with this one but the horror is connected to an ancient evil that many of us will have heard of but not necessarily believe in.

Again, Mr Parent masterfully drags you into the story and the lives of every character within it, carefully giving you all the information you need on all of the players. Again this one concentrates on horror of the mind. One man’s struggle to try and figure out what is real and what isn’t. He really is a puppet on strings that he cannot figure out how to cut.

Very powerful once again in the sense that the main character is totally helpless against the evil stalking him and for once in his life, he is on the receiving end of the sort of treatment he normally gives out.

Cracking stuff.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Dorian is twenty-eight years of age. He prides himself on how he has looked after himself. He sees himself as perfection. Perfect body, perfect face. Perfect in every way.

One day his mirror tells him differently. In fact, every mirror he looks into seems to want to show him what he will look like in fifty years’ time.

For one obsessed with such perfection, this is a disaster, but how does he fix it?

I’ve never had the problem that Dorian has. I have never been a mirror freak and never paid much attention to how I look that much but know a few people who do. I know how they would react if they were in this scenario. Their life would be over.

That is exactly what happens with Dorian. Jason Parent gets you right inside his head again to feel the fear he feels. When he gets anxious, you get anxious.

When he gets hot and sweaty, you get hot and sweaty. Mr Parents writing is wonderfully written to suck you from your seat and plant you directly into the head of the character that is suffering. Even though you might despise the type of person Dorian is, you can’t help but feel sorry for him in a way and feel his pain. When words on a page make your mind think like that, that is powerful writing indeed.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Nev is a bit of a recluse. His only friend and companion is his parrot, Joji. Nev spoils Joji like she was his very own human child. She isn’t supposed to get raw meat but Nev feeds it to her anyway.

There has been spate of burglaries in the local area and Nev fears that it might happen to them. When his worst fears come true, he needs to stay calm. No one could have expected the scene that would play out next.

Now, even though myself and my lovely wife Jo appear in this story (*snigger* she’s a parrot!) this will not alter or sway my opinion of this story in any way.

It is however bloody brilliant. It’s also very different to the rest of the stories in this collection. This is like old Jason Parent that most people would know. This is out and out horror with blood and guts and tension and fear. The sort of story that Mr Parent was born to write in my opinion.

Perfectly paced again this is a slow build-up story. It never really gets out of third gear but it doesn’t need to either. The build up to the climax, using the slower pace, gives it that little extra time for you to feel Nev’s pain.

Brilliant again.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Maurice is a chef and he has fallen on hard times. That is until he gets an invite to be the chef on a millionaire’s yacht that is about to sail around the world. Free board, free food and a wage. What could possibly go wrong?

Maurice and the millionaire’s wife. That’s what could go wrong.

Another change of direction in terms of the story but with the same general feel to it.

Again this is about one man’s struggles with his mind. A mind he needs to keep strong if he has any hope of surviving his ordeal. This one is tense. Very tense.

The build-up is quick and then you are left with the battle for survival that is frightening. For anyone who has a fear of open water (like me) this will scare the flippers off you big style!

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.

So there you have it. My take on Wrathbone and other Stories.

I don’t know if it was intentional or not but there is a general theme running through this collection. It is a collection of horror stories, but not the run of the mill slasher or monster type horrors. This is one is overflowing with psychological horror. Horror of the mind. It shows perfectly the inner struggles a human being has to go through to survive any given situation at any given time.

We travel through time and countries sampling many different personalities who all have to deal with horrific situations as best they can, with varying results.

Another constant throughout this collection is the strength of the writing. Jason Parent is a master of controlling how you perceive the characters and the events in these stories, making sure you read it exactly how he wants you to read it.

It’s like mind control. Powerful stuff!

To summarise: Five tales of psychological horror. All very different but all exceptionally well written. Only the second time ever that I have given every story in a collection five stars. This one is going to be hard to beat.

General rating:

★★★★★ perfect.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ and again.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Wrathbone or any other books from Jason. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

Terror follows those who let it into their hearts.


Guests of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris attend a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. On that fateful night, a great man falls, but he is not alone. For Henry and Clara, the night is only the beginning of lives wrought with jealousy, madness, and horror.

The Only Good Lawyer

Bradley is a savvy defense attorney with no scruples. Under his representation, many a guilty man has gone free. But when a voodoo priest takes the stand, Bradley soon discovers that he, too, is on trial, and the punishment for guilt may be more than he could bear.

Dorian's Mirror

Dorian loves himself, and why wouldn't he? Every guy wants to be him, and every girl wants to be with him. He would trade all he has to make his looks last forever, but bargaining with the devil may leave him short a soul.

For the Birds

Nev's best friend is his parrot. In fact, it's his only friend… and his only ally when his home is invaded.

Revenge is a Dish

Maurice has landed a dream job, chef for a rich couple on their yacht. The wife has carnal desires for him. Maurice has some carnal desires of his own.

"From the eerie opening tale to the grisly closer, and all of the wonderfully mean-spirited tales in-between, Wrathbone is a winner!" --Jeff Strand, author of Dead Clown Barbeque

"This is horror of the mind at it's very best . . . Very dark, very atmospheric, very powerful writing. Excellent stuff . . . Only the second time ever that I have given every story in a collection five stars. This one is going to be hard to beat." --Nev Murray at Confessions of a Reviewer and Scream Magazine

"Wrathbone and Other Stories is a hard-hitting collection that you can completely immerse yourself in. The title story is a beautifully written period tale of love and tragedy." --Mercedes M. Yardley, author of the Bram Stoker Award Winner Little Dead Red.

"Jason Parent channels the darkness. Wrathbone and Other Stories offers a glimpse into the twisted mind of a gifted storyteller, whose characters are every bit as vivid as the demons that haunt them. Parent's definitely an author to watch!" --Michael McBride, author of Sub terrestrial and Burial Ground

"An elegantly written novella of madness, murder, and demons, Jason Parent's Wrathbone reads like Edgar Allan Poe's take on 'Jacob's Ladder.'" --Adam Howe, author of Tijuana Donkey Showdown, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, and Black Cat Mojo


In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.

When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in on knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

And for more about Jason, visit his site or find him on social media:

WebsiteFacebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon Page

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