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Madness & Monsters Paperback – August 7, 2014
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All in all, though, this was a great collection--well written, smart, and satisfying.
The individual stories were mostly good, though there was a miss or two (for me). I really enjoyed the opening "When Cometh an Angel," which was an entertaining spin on common summoning stories. "Sold" was daring because it was daring enough to make a young kid subject to horror, and didn't ask the kid to perform at an impossibly adult level to work his way out of the mess. "Snatched Away" was another interesting look into the (not so) Divine.
Overall, I enjoyed "Madness & Monsters."
Lee is a strong writer, with a style that carries you through each story. He trusts his characters and plots enough to let them proceed on their course without having to force their hand, and he's right to trust them—he has a strong batch of original ideas here, the type of stories you're not going to find in too many other places.
The chief complaint I have is not a terrible one, and it's that many of the stories could stand to be longer (the final story in particular would probably be well served by being at least a novella in length to allow it's setting room to stretch). Sometimes they speed they move toward the finish does not give them the room to breathe they need, which can dilute the endings' impact.
Still, to be left wanting more is not a bad thing for a story collection to do. If you like your fiction two demented steps away from the reality we live in, this collection is well worth your time.
I first encountered Mr. Lee's writing through his science-fiction stories, and was delighted to see that his talent for character and detail has served him in this genre as well. Lee's tales are well written and imaginative, referencing myth, urban legend, and primal shared fears, but take special effort to flesh out the characters and settings. Horror is amplified when a touch of wrongness is blended into a thoroughly believable mundane setting, and Lee does this quite well.
I particularly enjoyed the final story in the collection, told from the monster's point of view.