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on December 11, 2012
There is always something in an issue of Shock Totem that enthralls me, and for two issues now Mercedes M. Yardley has been the deliverer. Her trips down memory lane have twice led me along a path where something with very sharp teeth greeted me at the end. I don't always go for nonfiction, especially when I'm on the hunt for short stories--which ST provides with great proficiency--but if Mercedes is writing it, then count me in.

Okay, on to the fiction.

With this third issue of ST, they managed to pack even more stories in its pages than the two previous editions. Things kick off with a nasty little road story from Tim Lieder called "Bop Kabala and Communist Jazz." It's an unsettling little tale with a wheel man a self-styled preacher--of sorts--and a pretty little hitchhiker. From there, things got pretty grim. John Haggerty's "The Meat Forest" is a prison break story set in a Russian landscape that is about as unforgiving as any inmate's nightmare. The characters try to traverse a forest that requires them to always move, never stop, or else they will wind up like the rest of the poor souls who stopped along the way and became just another piece of the Meat Forest.

"Drift" by Amanda C. Davis is another standout story, a child's fear of the snow outside. "The snow is made of bugs," said Caden: that's how the story starts, and by god, the creepiness just ramps up and up as the mother tries to console her child and ease her own paranoia. Aaron Polson's "Wanting It" is another one that does a good job of squeezing every bit of atmosphere out of a story idea, with two friends and their obsession with ghosts and local legends, and wanting them just a little too much. I also liked the funhouse mirror that was Joseph Green's "Stitched," though I thought the title was a little on the nose.

I don't really have to press on in my praise for ST, do I? If you've read any of them, you ought know already, and if you haven't then you're missing out. There's thirteen stories, two interviews, Mercedes' essay, and more. There's bound to be something you horror fans enjoy.
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on September 26, 2014
I have the whole collection of Shock Totem buried in my kindle want to-reads. I'm glad I opened another one of these books. I found another book added to my shelves. Digging Up Donald (Yeah that's my name) by Steven Pirie. I will probably be reading that real soon. Bloodstained & Blue Suede Shoes I found to be an interesting research piece and Ruth by the Sea by the flash fiction winner of 2010. Was great. Below are others I enjoyed with a small review.
Drift by Amanda C. Davis
"The snow has eyes" another reason I hate snow. A little boys cry for help during the beginning of winter. Beware! Awesome tale of disappearance.

John Skipp's "Worm Central Tonite!" A story from a worms perspective on how he and his fellow creepy crawling friends feast on the dead. Skipp definitely puts the nail in the coffin.

"Duval Street" by Mackenzie Larsen
A tour of the bleached white teeth. Hollywood's finest homes. What could possibly go wrong? Great Read!

"Mr. Many Faces" by S. Clayton Rhodes. A man loves his alcohol more than his family. A very awesome twist that will leave you wowed.
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on June 27, 2012
After reading Shock Totem 4, I had high expectations for Shock Totem 3. And yes, I seem to be working my way backwards! My expectations were completely justified and Shock Totem 3, for me, provided yet another set of wonderfully crafted stories under yet another gorgeous cover.

Midway through Shock Totem 3, I read "Drift" by Amanda C. Davis. This story captured me with its very natural, very realistic portrayal of a child. The descriptions brought to mind images of my own little brother and so when tragedy struck (as it always does), it was doubly painful. Amanda managed to take what seemed like a normal winter day and just bury me in her imagination, wording and originality.

"A Birth in the Year of the Miracle Plague" by Jeremy Kelly also fascinated me. It had such a subtle and original take on a well-known fantasy subject (I don't wish to spoil it, so I will not say more) and strong, meaningful characters.

All in all, I found nothing to displease in Shock Totem issue 3. I look forward to reading #2 next!
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on August 30, 2011
As a loyal reader of Shock Totem since its first issue, I figured it was about time I gave them a review. This magazine is a great bargain for anyone who has a taste for the darker side of fiction, not always out & out horror or gore, but definitely dark. It's also perfect for those of you who are fans of "WTF Art", any type of art that leaves that particular American colloquialism as your very first reaction. Now, it is a magazine, a collection of several short stories, interviews, book & movie reviews, with an occasional poem or two, AND, as with all magazines, you may not absolutely love, or necessarily like-a-lot EVERY piece within its covers. However, I GUARANTEE you will find at least one feature you will never forget.

In Issue 3, for instance, there's a little gem titled "The Meat Forest" by John Haggerty. Wonderfully surreal in verbal imagery & saturated with originality, this is both a great horror story on the surface & a cutting commentary on the nature of life, including human life. I can imagine the directors & special effects people at Showtime network having a ball turning this piece into an episode for their *Masters of Horror* series. Simply creating 'the meat forest' itself would be an Fx person's wet dream!

Issue 3 has another treasure too, a little story called "Drift" by Amanda C. Davis. It's a lovely story of a small child's fascination with snowflakes. Remember, we ALL loved making snowflakes out of cut paper in school. Let's just say little Caden's fascination with snowflakes turns into a preoccupation, then a fear. Caden's mother & father take him out to play in the snow in an effort to address the fear before it becomes problematic. I'm going to leave the story there. Let's just say that I'm not at all sure I'll ever look at snow the same way again--- AND I live in a very snowy area! I may stay inside each & every time the snow falls.

So, go ahead; splurge & buy this mag. You won't regret it--- in fact, I'll bet you come back to pick up the back issues!
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on December 9, 2014
The byline for Shock Totem is: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted. What you get is a collection of stories (and more) that don't fall into the standard horror mix. These are tales that Vincent Price might regale you with, or Lovecraft would nod at with approval. If you're looking for guys with chainsaws running around, you're in the wrong place.

I don't think I've mentioned this before but the cover art always sucks me in. This issue, featuring a house of surreal, menacing architecture is no exception.

This issue opens with "Bop Kabala and Communist Jazz". It was the only story that I didn't enjoy so I'm glad that it was first. I can't offer a reason other than to say it didn't grab me.

"The Meat Forest" was next and it was great! The story takes place in a gulag in the Siberian wilderness surrounded by a forest. While the camp described by John Haggerty was bad enough, it was the forest where the real horror began. If I say anything more, I'll spoil it.

The first interview was next. This one was with author D. Harlan Wilson. I enjoy the interviews as they give you a peek inside the author's mind. Later, there's an interview with Count Lyle of the band Ghoultown. There's also many reviews of books, movies, and music. The subject of Mercedes Yardley's "Abominations" column in this issue is mines. The fact that it's titled "Voracious Black" should give you a clue.

"Worm Central Tonite!" was yummy goodness from John Skipp. "Day Job" imagines how the day-to-day grind of watching over humans can wear on an angel. "Wanting It" is a solid ghost story.

"Eye, You" is a rare second person tale that mixes social media narcissism with a dash of Lovecraftian flavored madness. "Stitched" begs the question, "Who gets to decide what is normal?" I'm not sure what was going on in "Duval Street", but I liked it.

"A Birth in the Year of the Miracle Plague" offers a glimpse into the life of children in a zombie apocalypse. It was my third favorite story in the issue.

Stories involving children who see monsters only to have their parents disbelieve them (until it's too late) is a common theme in horror. This issue has two stories that fit that theme: "Drift" and "Mr. Many Faces". The former involves snow, and it reminded me of that Robot Chicken episode where snowflakes are falling from the sky and screaming because they can't move once they hit the ground. They're just stacked on top of each other. Only this story is more sinister. "Mr. Many Faces" starts off with the proverbial daughter complaining there's a monster in her closet. But author S. Clayton Rhodes twists everything around and breaks out of what could've been a cliche. It wound up being my favorite story in the collection.

I look forward to what K. Allen Wood and company have in store for volume 4.
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on May 4, 2013
I loved it! Shock Totem is one of the best horror magazines out there and this issue made me happy.
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on February 16, 2011
I am an avid reader of Shock Totem,three publications in and it IS an addiction!Please take the time to get to know this magazine, it's well worth the low price.Each magazine is a jewel and is bound to make you view the world with a slightly skewed perception.
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on April 15, 2013
I like some good stories..of all types honestly. But these stories seemingly tried to push morals upon the reader and I contributors is the job of a writer. Skip this one.
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