I was recently contacted by Michael Thomas-Knight from Parlor of Horror, which is a blog I follow on wordpress.com. He e-mailed me to inquire if I would be interested in writing a review of his novella, “Car Nex: Skin Job,” which was published on June 17, 2016 by Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc, in “The Car Nex Story Series Book 7.” I was more than happy to oblige. Additionally, I would like to mention that Michael didn’t ask me to hold off my review if my opinion of his work wasn’t positive, as with several other blogger’s who have reviewed his novella, he was seeking, nothing more, than honest feedback.
What if you were struggling financially? What are the lengths you would go to in order to rectify the situation? I am not talking about the common problems that most of us, during the course of our lives, have experienced, at one time or another. For example, a missed credit card payment, or being late with the phone bill. I mean serious hardship? Let’s now take it a step further, as the author did in his story. If thanks to the actions of an unscrupulous individual, the chances of your being able to become financially solvent once more, were radically altered, to the point where it was near next to impossible – what would you do then? Would you turn, out of sheer desperation, to a life of crime? Perhaps you would ask to borrow money from friends and loved ones, or hope to get a loan from the bank. Would you engage in outside the box thinking, and take part in actions, that under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t give more than a passing thought to? Lastly, if there was a book that you could use, that you felt would serve as a panacea to your problems, by performing rituals that would release a supernatural creature – a Car Nex demon in this instance – would you take that step? What dire consequences might result from taking such an action?
Those are some of the type of questions that plague the mind of Michael’s main protagonist, Alex. He is a talented tattoo artist residing in Queens, New York, who owns his own business. For how much longer, he doesn’t know. His livelihood is being threatened by a legendary ink artist who goes by the name of Johnny Needles, a man who has strong ties to dangerous members of society’s underbelly. Needles has opened up his own tattoo parlor on the same block as Alex’s business, for the sole and whole purpose of forcing Alex to close up shop. Further hindering Alex’s situation is his addiction to meth, and he finds himself spending what little money he does have on the crystal to feed his addiction. One of the few positive forces in Alex’s life is the Chinese take-out owner, Mrs. Sing. She is really Korean, a secret which Alex is privy to. The reason for her hiding her true ethnic background, as she states to Alex in the story, is that no one buys Korean food. Mrs. Sing, not only returns the favor by keeping Alex’s secret, that his real name is Alfonso (which he felt would be bad for business), but she frequently gives him free food from her take-out place, and is a good hearted person in his life.
Michael demonstrates an enthusiasm and passion for writing which is clearly evident on every page of his work. The novella initially begins at a slow pace, but doesn’t take long to escalate into all out chaos, which is proper given the purpose and length of a novella. Michael writes well conceived descriptions, making it a pleasure for me, as a reader, to continue from one page to the next, without having to stop to ask myself the author’s purpose, or fill in missing details in order to have the story make sense. The parts of the novella after the arrival of the Car-Nex demon, its description and actions, will be better served by taking the time to read Michael’s worthwhile story, as opposed to me describing what unfolds.
In closing, there was nothing in the story that I considered filler. Everything Michael wrote helped to advance the narrative. One thing that I genuinely appreciated about Michael’s prose is that he clearly understands the fact that not every character shares the same patterns of speech, or has similar points-of-view as all the other characters. I’ve read numerous creative works written by my students over-the-years, and one of the frequent comments I’ve written on their papers is that the majority of their characters lack an authentic voice. I’ll receive thirty papers, and in many of them, all of the fictional characters will be speaking and responding to one another in the same manner, which given numerous factors, for instance the age and level of education of a given character, is simply not real life.
Below is a link to where the story can be purchased on Amazon. Please help support a writer, who has crafted an entertaining story. There is no need to have read the other stories in the series in order to enjoy Michael’s work. Furthermore, for those of you interested in various aspects of horror and science fiction, I have included a link to Michael’s blog; please check it out and give it a follow.
Skin Job for kindle only $.99