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Stories from the Plague Years Hardcover – September 1, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This feeble collection of nine horror stories opens with an untranslated chunk of medieval Italian, fair warning of Marano's fondness for self-conscious hyperallusiveness ("His voice was soothing and unsettling, like HAL's in 2001") that strains to impress rather than express. The two previously unpublished stories, "Displacement" and "Shibboleth," are the worst offenders: lacking discipline, the words run amok, a verbal wall against reader empathy. The others fare somewhat better. "Little Round Head" even makes an emotional connection thanks to its protagonist, a human child raised by animals. Mostly, the narcissistic narrators marinate in adolescent resentment and self-righteousness. Recurrent imagery and themes--eyes like stones, cigarettes, AIDS, monstrous women, abused children who grow up to wreak murderous havoc--dig a rut without ever gaining traction. (Nov.) (c)
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From Booklist

Few horror authors are better equipped to write about madness than Marano. With an expansive vocabulary, a tenacious commitment to poetic prose, and a willingness to follow whatever discursive paths his whim takes, Marano is an acquired taste—but without doubt possessed of a unique talent. He’s at his best when striving for clarity, as in “Displacement,” the novella that anchors this book of short stories. Dean is a serial killer describing the brutal justice he handed out to those whose emotional poisons gave him a deadly cancer. It’s a tale that takes several unexpected and delicious turns, somehow combining a Poe-like belligerence and a Clive Barker–like vividness with pop-culture touchstones as commonplace as Sex and the City and Dr. Phil. The other, mostly first-person stories are hit and miss, but when they hit, they hit big: “Burden,” about the ghosts of an AIDS-ravaged gay community, possesses an unusual power, and “Little Round Head,” about a feral child raised by subterranean beasts, is nothing short of a horror classic. --Daniel Kraus

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications; Limited Edition edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587672189
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587672187
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,936,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Shroud Magazine's Book Reviews VINE VOICE on November 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Stories From The Plague Years is the first fiction collection from award-winning fantasy author, Michael Marano. His evocative, unique voice gives us nine, terrifying yet tender tales; bridging the gap between a time when our world collided with evil and sickness, to the present--filled with the lasting scars we all wear... and can still touch... if we dare.

Every story is worthy of note--building upon and/or complementing the theme his elegant prose has constructed. However, these were the best:

"Displacement" - Dean Garrison has spent two years at a university, aspiring to be a graduate of Political Science, but when his Professor Dr. Molino questions his ability, his world is shaken. He seeks solace in his love - Karen - and their mutual friend Evan. The further Dean searches for help, the more complicated his life becomes. Is there a cure for Dean's problems? Easily one of the best stories in the collection, Displacement amalgamates subtle elements from literature of yester-year--while remaining unique, taking it to the next level.

"Changeling" is a very short tale, but packs quite a punch. "The Boy" lives in a world bereft of humanity. "The Mother" and "The Father" do their best for him--using their own, unique methods. Changeling explores monsters in principle, and therein lays the power of this tale; as well as the ambiguity--tantalizing, even as the story is finished. Or is it?

"The Siege" - Charleston is a town with a past so palpable; you can still feel the remnants of the past. Or is this illusion? Marano gives us people, not wooden characters, through whose eyes we see reality as they travel from work to home. The beauty of this short tale is perception, and the price that it comes with.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I like Mike Marano's writing style; his ability to start a passage with a sentence that instantly hooks you is great. I agree with a reviewer that I read awhile back that wrote that Marano is a writer's writer. I think it takes a bit of experience writing to appreciate his writing, and even then, you have to want to feel an oppressive weight when you're reading. The weight of the world is on you, and there's no way to escape, but somebody's amused at your futile attempts to find a way to be successful. :)
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