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OUR BOOKS • Mythic Delirium Books

OUR BOOKS

 

By Barbara Krasnoff
The History of Soul 2065

 

By Nicole Kornher-Stace
Latchkey

 

Edited by Mike Allen
Clockwork Phoenix anthologies

 

Edited by Mike and Anita Allen
Mythic Delirium
Mythic Delirium: Volume Two

By Theodora Goss
Snow White Learns Witchcraft

 

By C.S.E. Cooney
Bone Swans: Stories

 

By Mike Allen
Unseaming
The Black Fire Concerto
Hungry Constellations (poems)
The Spider Tapestries
The Sky-Riders
(with Paul Dellinger)


 


2014 Shirley Jackson Award finalist
2014 This Is Horror Award finalist

Unseaming

Mike Allen

introduction by Laird Barron

 


 

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Hear Morgan Scorpion read the short story “Let There Be Darkness

 

“Throughout Unseaming, reality is usually in bad shape right from the start-and from there things proceed to go downhill. Such is the general background and trajectory of life in Mike Allen’s fictional world. More could be said, of course, but there’s one thing that I feel especially urged to say: these stories are fun. Not ‘good’ fun, and certainly not ‘good clean’ fun. They are too unnerving for those modifiers, too serious, like laughter in the dark-unnerving, serious laughter that leads you through Mr. Allen’s funhouse. The reality in there is also in bad shape, deliberately so, just for the seriously unnerving fun of it. The prose is poetic, except it’s nonsense poetry, the poetry of deteriorating realities, intermingling realities, realities without Reality. And all the while that unnerving, serious laughter keeps getting louder and louder. Are we having fun yet?”
—Thomas Ligotti, author of Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe

Cover art by Danielle Tunstall

“Allen’s 14-story debut collection saturates alternate dimensions with literal horrific fleshiness. His unsettling Nebula-nominated “The Button Bin” is as disorienting as it is disturbing; it neatly sets the stage for the blood-soaked dreamscape vision of an overstuffed sin-eater in “The Blessed Days,” as well as the more direct but no less chilling creature that crawls onto the Appalachian Trail in “The Hiker’s Tale.” In prose both lyrical and unvarnished, Allen depicts haunting regret in “Stone Flowers” and disembodied shrieking rage and grief in “Let There Be Darkness.” When he combines both emotions in “The Quiltmaker,” a continuation of “The Button Bin,” he transforms that original tale in ways that resonate throughout the collection. Never obvious, sometimes impenetrable, Allen’s stories deliver solid shivering terror tinged with melancholy sorrow over the fragility of humankind.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The stories in this debut collection range from the sly to the splatteringly horrific, with every nuance of dread and menace in between … Allen leaves readers with nerves jangling.”
Library Journal, starred review

“Allen can write as lyrically and as viscerally as the best of them … an exceptional debut collection, and its stories show an imaginative writer with a very original voice working at the top of his game.”
Locus

“You just can’t turn your eyes away from the stunning cover by Danielle Tunstall: the seams of the skin coming undone and revealing the new flesh beneath. The image is a perfect introduction to the haunting world of Mike Allen, one of the most original practitioners of the body horror subgenre since Clive Barker’s Books of Blood.”
Rue Morgue

“Mike Allen’s ability as a poet is evident throughout this fever dream of a book. Brutal, elegant, and shocking, the stories in Unseaming are snapshots of a beautiful Hell. “
—Nathan Ballingrud, author of North American Lake Monsters and Wounds

“Mike Allen has put together a first class collection of horror and dark fantasy. Unseaming burns bright as hell among its peers.”
—Laird Barron, author of The Beautiful Thing that Awaits Us All

Everyone in the world awakens covered in blood-and no one knows where the blood came from. A childhood doll arrives to tear its owner’s reality limb from limb. A portal to the spirit realm stretches wide on the Appalachian Trail, and something more than human crawls through on eight legs. Words of comfort change to terrifying sounds as a force from outside time speaks through them. The buttons in the bin will unseam your flesh to bare your nastiest secrets.

Opening with “The Button Bin,” a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Short Story, and culminating with its sequel, “The Quiltmaker,” which Bram Stoker Award and Shirley Jackson Award winner Laird Barron has hailed as Mike Allen’s masterpiece, this debut collection gathers fourteen horror tales that, in the words of Barron’s introduction, “rival anything committed to paper by the likes of contemporary masters such as Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, or Caitlín Kiernan. This is raw, visceral, and sometimes bloody stuff. Primal stuff.”

More praise for Unseaming

““Mike Allen’s Unseaming is wonderfully, wickedly labyrinthine in nature — which is to say, where you start with each story is nowhere close to the destination he has in mind for you. Just when you think you have a handle on the journey he’s sending you on, Allen masterfully leads you down an entirely new path, just as wondrous and terrifying as the previous twist in the road. These are beautiful, complex, unsettling tales of love, loss and pain that will stay in your head long after you put down the pages, stitching their way through all the dark corners of your soul.”
—Livia Llewellyn, author of Furnace

“Mike Allen’s Unseaming confirms his status as a poet who writes in dread and awe rather than ink. His most recurrent themes are those of wrenching loss and transformative retribution, with a liberal helping of the literal fear of God(s); sowing out a hundred different apocalypses, personal and otherwise, these stories reap an unforgettable crop of nightmares, sketching a chimeric universe in which shape-changing is less a rumour or an option than a sad, simple inevitability. Not to be missed.”
—Gemma Files, author of Experimental Film

“Mike Allen blends a poet’s attention to language with a crime reporter’s instinct for the darker precincts of human behavior . . . these stories glow with demonic energy, and what they illuminate are the faces of our secret selves, screaming back at us from the mirror’s depths.”
—John Langan, author of The Fisherman

“Mike Allen is mostly known as a poet, and an editor for Mythic Delirium and Clockwork Phoenix, and up until now I hadn’t read any fiction from him, which is unfortunate because these stories could very well snag him an award for best collection . . . It is my belief that Mike Allen is about to grab a lot of attention with this book. The sporadic publishing of his fiction over nearly two decades has helped him fly under the fiction radar. This changes with his collection. This is where he crashes the party, strutting in like a rockstar, with the skills to back it up.”
Arkham Digest

“After you travel these often blistering and always fantastic, poetic nightmares with Mike Allen, the darkness owns your soul . . . and you rejoice in it!”
—Joe Pulver, Shirley Jackson Award-winning edutir of The Grimscribe’s Puppets

“Offbeat, gruesome conceits and expert delivery.”
Asimov’s Science Fiction

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Introduction: A Stitch in Darkness by Laird Barron
  • The Button Bin
  • The Blessed Days
  • Humpty
  • Her Acres of Pastoral Playground
  • An Invitation via E-mail
  • The Hiker’s Tale
  • The Music of Bremen Farm
  • The Lead Between the Panes
  • Stone Flowers
  • Gutter
  • Condolences
  • Let There Be Darkness
  • The Quiltmaker
  • Monster

 

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