- International Book Awards Winner: Best Short Story Collection
From the Back Cover
THE GHOST OF NAKED MOLLY
From Hellnotes: we are immersed in the scheming of Diego del Gilbrafaro as he attempts to become the main political player in old New Orleans. However, the ghost of a slave mistress (and Diego's partner in crime's obsession with her) makes these dealings harder by parading around his house in the nude. I winced at not only the treatment of slaves in this story, but also the descriptions of the owner's mindset, which to me as a Black female was all the more chilling. While it was harsh, it wasn't overworked. The ghost herself does not acknowledge the Señor at first, leaving first his sense of entitlement, then his sanity in shreds.
From Quiet Fury Books: The Ghost of Naked Molly' takes place in New Orleans in 1799, and has the feel of an old-fashioned haunted house tale. "How bizarre a turn could this conversation take? His hired sixty-year old smuggler wanted sexual intercourse with the ghost haunting his house!"
THE PENULTIMATE MR. NILLY
From Kirkus Reviews: [Mr. Nilly] visits the crew of a ship stuck in the Arctic ice over the bitter winter of 1859 as they slowly go mad from hunger. The ultimate solution - prompted by a stitched, velveteen toy wolf - gives a completely new twist on survival of the fittest.
From Dark Distractions (UK): 1859, set on an exploratory ship that becomes stranded in Arctic ice. Some crew are lost in the accident, but as the cold begins to set in and the rations become scarce, madness, paranoia and murder all play out against the uncorrupted white scenery. Being stranded with little or no help in sight brings about interesting interactions, madness and an unsettling conclusion.
THE FINGER PEOPLE
From Kirkus Reviews: a fine study of Civil War squalor and carnage - spotlights the Union attack on the Confederate stronghold Fort Henry, where a timid rebel cook discovers something even grislier than the usual horrors of war: the Finger People.
From Dark Distractions (UK): The Swamp Hive takes place during the American Civil War. It follows the tribulations of a rebel cook who takes great pride in his ability to fill the mens' stomachs with something to eat, but lacks any other real confidence or fortitude. Not taking part in the actual fighting, his eyes are open to the things on the periphery. It is with this open gaze that he discovers something far more scary than fighting the Union. Something...or things, that sneak through the destruction unseen, with stealth, speed and claws.
THE GOTHIC SHIFT
From Kirkus Reviews: a contemporary fable about a man who comes into a restaurant every day to gulp down vast quantities at the shrimp buffet, while his forlorn waitress seems to gain weight on his behalf. Here Bruns achieves a delightful balance of whimsy and the grotesque, with a glimmer of moonstruck romance.
From Hellnotes: Bruns makes this a dark fantasy tale more so than horror. By not being forthcoming with every detail, which I like, it becomes a dark fairy tale involving a beautiful girl that through no fault of her own becomes the focus of a strange magical creature masquerading as human. You don't know exactly what the customer is or is going to become, but you're glad you don't wait tables at that restaurant.