Fell Beauties: A new Bizarro-Horror Novel by Leigham Shardlow

Fell beauties is a new novel from the new bizarro authors series line published by Eraserhead Press (one of the leading Bizarro publishers). It’s Leigham Shardlow’s first book and in this critics opinion, a solid first entry.

I am still new to the Bizarro genre, but I know what I like and I like this. The first paragraph hooks you in, and keeps you interested throughout. It begins with beauties – actually beautiful people falling from the sky. A beautiful Adonis is rocketing towards earth and dies in a mixture of orgasm and crunching bones. The bodies continue to rain on Disfigure-Berg “the last ugly city on the planet”. Anyone out in the street is killed by a body slamming them into the pavement or bone shards impaling themselves on their arteries. Even children are not spared (bravo!) in the vivid imagery described in this novel and this is only the beginning.

Fat Janet or “Obese Janet to her friends” is our heroine in this journey.  She’s a highly relatable character, an introvert whose friends include her multiple cats, her stories, and mass quantities of comfort food. As the bodies are piling up and she’s seeking shelter from the devastation she is rescued by our hero Isaac. Isaac is a tragic character having lost his husband, he’s still coming to terms with his death when he comes to Disfigure-Berg on a mission to take down the Church of Skin.

Our villain Cardinal Slice was a former Doctor, a leading plastic surgeon to the beautiful people until botching too many surgeries including Isaacs husbands resulting in his death. Banished to live among the ugly people as a homeless man, he seizes the opportunity to take back his position of power when the bodies start to hit. He holes up in the Church of Skin and starts to transform it’s inhabitants, promising them beauty. He deceives them and  instead creates unholy, awful creatures.

I see the Church of Skin as society itself. It’s the need for people to conform to social standards of beauty and sameness. The Church of Skin (just like any other) is judgemental and expects that you conform to their notions of rightness even if it means your own personal suffering.

Poor Fat Janet gets the worst of it, having to traipse through tunnels of dead bodies and swim through a lake of innards. She steps up though  and becomes an unwilling model of human strength. Her friendship with Isaac is a heartwarming tribute to humanity, a friendship we all hope for. Despite the ugliness of society in the end Fat Janet becomes something beautiful.

I liked this book for the disgusting horror aspect, but more importantly the social commentary. It’s subtle so as not to be preachy, but obvious enough to get it’s point across. Enjoy it for the gore or dig deeper and get woke, either way it’s a solid read. buy it here:https://www.amazon.com/Fell-Beauties-Leigham-Shardlow/dp/1621052591

Posted by Candace Stone

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