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Shock Totem 4: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted by [Totem, Shock, Thompson, Lee, Ochse, Weston, Wise, A.C., Sparks, Rennie, Busboom, David, Walters, Justin Paul, Ingold, Jaelithe]
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Shock Totem 4: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Length: 132 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"There is a fine array of stories, but what is perhaps most striking is the high quality of the non-fiction pieces. The interviews, essays, and columns, are extremely well done. They are mini works of art in themselves." --Sheila Merritt, Hellnotes

About the Author

Shock Totem is an American literary journal specializing in dark fantasy and horror. The debut issue was published on July 1, 2009. The publication's main goal is to promote and support new and established authors by focusing primarily on fiction, but also through nonfiction articles and interviews (called "conversations").

Product Details

  • File Size: 1357 KB
  • Print Length: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Shock Totem Publications (July 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: July 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006B1XG9Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #865,135 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like to read short story collections. I find a lot of new authors in this manner.
Shock Totem 4 looms large above the average collection.

Running down the stories that I liked the most:
Beneath the Weeping Willow- by Lee Thompson. I liked this one so much I bought some other offerings by Mr. Thompson. 5 Stars!
Full Dental -by Tom Bordonaro. This was his first published story and it was Freaking Awesome! Fun filled, tongue in cheek and creepy. 5 Stars!
Fade to Black-by Jaelithe Ingold. A different type of cemetery story. 4 Stars!
Weird Tales-by David Busboom. Super short, super excellent! 5 Stars!
Playlist at the End-by Weston Ochse. A short story with a music score. 5 Stars!
Dead Baby Day-by Michael Penkas. It sounds much worse than it is. 4 Stars!

A couple of other things you do not find in most collections of this type:
Bloodstains and Blue Suede Shoes by John Boden and Simon Marshall-Jones. This is a bit of a history lesson concerning horror and music. I loved it, especially the parts about Robert Johnson as I'm a big blues music fan. 5 Stars!

Living Dead: A Personal Apocalypse by the editor of this collection, K. Allen Wood. It is a touching, poignant story about an alcoholic father. What makes this story different is that it is true. 5 Stars

In short, I found this collection to be most excellent and unique. I will be looking forward to more of them.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Shock Totem 4 is the team's biggest and best collection yet. I say collection, not magazine. This is an important distinction. The term magazine would imply that ST is a periodical, but periodicals have shelf-lives. The bulk of each installment of Shock Totem is fiction--stellar fiction to be more precise--and fiction never goes stale.

My favorite selections of this consistently strong volume are Lee Thompson's melancholy oddity "Beneath the Weeping Willow" (which is narrated in second-person by its young autistic protagonist and never comes off as exploitative even given its difficult premise), "Playlist at the End" by Weston Ochse (which may be one of the very few serial killer stories that I've ever enjoyed, due in large part to its novel "playlist" structure and the sheer quality of the writing and characterization) and "Dead Baby Day" by Michael Penkas (a short-short story that perfectly captures what little jerks kids can be to each other). Also of note are the inclusion of some strong poetry ("Lobo" by Justin Paul Walters) and nonfiction ("Living Dead: A Personal Apocalypse" by editor K. Allen Wood, a true-life-horror story about watching a loved-one hitting bottom).

The paper edition is a sturdy digest-sized book (with numbered spine) and looks great on a shelf. The digital edition (which I picked up when the publishers offered it for free) is all the same fiction and poetry in an attractively-formatted file complete with a linked table of contents. Whichever one you pick up: you can't go wrong.
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Format: Paperback
Lee Thompson was charitable enough to give away a few copies of Shock Totem's latest issue and I was lucky enough to snag one. When it comes to periodicals, I buy the electronic versions exclusively because of shipping costs to Canada, so this was a real treat. I bought and read a Kindle edition of Shock Totem 1 not too long ago and was eager to read some more.

This time around there was a very diverse ensemble of authors from varying backgrounds, with established names like Weston Ochse, as well as first publications for authors like Tom Bordonaro. There's also a couple of interviews, one with Kathe Koja that turns into an opining on the state of publishing today, and a chat with one of this issue's contributing authors, Renny Sparks, that includes discussion about her music career. And one of the missing sections from digital editions is the book review portion, with some interesting looks on books, films, and albums by John Boden, Robert J. Duperre, and the witticisms of Ryan Bridger. There's also a brief essay by head honcho, K. Allen Wood, that provides a surprising punch to the stomach.

As far as the stories are concerned, this issue begins with a tragic gem by Lee Thompson called "Beneath the Weeping Willow," about Davey, a young autistic boy's ordeals within his family as he and his older brother, Jacob, cope with the break-up of their parents' marriage. The story is told in the rare second-person perspective, which is a hard nut to crack, but Lee seemed to have the perfect story in which to use it. As for the relationship between Davey and Jacob, it's heartbreaking and all too believable.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The dark and gorgeous cover art of Shock Totem's 4th issue is what first attracted me to the publication. On this basis alone, I purchased a copy - thinking, if the art is that gorgeous, the stories have to be as well.

And my assumption was correct. Each story had a murky beauty to it, a painful edge that reached out and grabbed hold of me. While each story was fantastic, The Many Ghosts of Annie Orens by A.C. Wise rocked me with its fascinating premise, its haunted nature and perfectly-worded prose. Fade to Black by Jaelithe Ingold, a story about ghosts and a cemetery that is far from the ordinary and cliche, made a close second for my favorite with its dark plot, its creepy setting and the twist on what you'd normally expect from a ghost story.

Even the layout and subtle artwork of this publication are beautiful. The print is just the right size, the stories well organized and well - I can't think of a single thing to say bad about Shock Totem's 4th Issue. I know I'll definitely be following this publication in the future, and meanwhile going back to their earlier issues just to get more of this dark and gorgeous magazine.
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