Necro Files Two Decades of Extreme Horror

Necro Files: Two Decades of Extreme HorrorNecro Files: Two Decades of Extreme Horror by Cheryl Mullenax
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Necro Files is a collection of “horror” stories, written by twenty authors over a period of 20 years. Many of the authors have won or were nominated for awards, such as the Bram Stoker Award. I was thrilled when I found out I won a copy on Goodreads (as a first read giveaway), especially since Halloween was just around the corner and I was in a mood to be scared.

The book ended up being a total disappointment. Some of the stories had a twist at the end that was reminiscent of the TV series The Twilight Zone, except the twists in Necro Files were so telegraphed and poorly done that I could see what was coming in most of the stories, and in a few, in the first paragraphs. Only one story had an ending that caught me off guard and that is because the protagonist lived, and in the situation he was in it was totally unbelievable that he wasn’t killed. This ruined the story.

There are some “Extreme”, violent “sex” and graphic passages in the book, making this an ADULT ONLY book.

Gore and violence doesn’t equal horror no matter how “extreme” or detailed it is. In a few of the stories it felt that the writer was just trying too hard. Example: What is worse that having sex with a dead person? Having the dead person rotting and full of maggots! (Guess this type of writing is what justified the use of “Extreme” in the title of the book).

One of the stories had a torture passage that was hard to read, but the character development was so poor that there was no real emotional investment to make a true impact.

The two scariest parts of the book, for me, was when in one of the stories had a character describe the process of making hamburger (wasn’t scary enough for me not to want a meatloaf for dinner). The other was when a character was described as wearing what looked like a plaid fur coat.

I was wanting a book that left me wanting to leave the lights on and maybe give me a shiver or two. What I ended up with was a book that felt as if it was always over reaching and trying to shock the reader instead of trying to scare the reader. Sometimes less is more.

The worse thing about this book is that it took away my desire to read. Hope I get it back soon.

If only horror and horrible meant the same thing…

I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone!

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sarah on December 7, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Horror is a very diverse genre, and reading an extreme splatterpunk book expecting “a shiver or two” is definitely going to lead to disappointment. I’m sorry you had an unpleasant experience, but trashing the book all over the internet because you had unrealistic expectations isn’t terribly fair.

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    • All genres are “very” diverse. My main disappointment with the book wasn’t the splatterpunk aspect of the book. Telegraphed stories and overdone writing was my disappointment. All my book reviews (good or bad) are published here on my blog, my goodreads page, Amazon, and Barnes and noble. I feel the more diverse reviews that are out there the better choices people will be able to make.

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      • It’s totally fair to have and give your opinion of this anthology wherever you want. So let me give you my opinion of your review.

        It’s obvious you went into this one expecting purely suspense driven horror and came out disappointed at the lack of it. Fair enough. We know what your preference was, at least during the time you invested in reading this one. And you’re entitled to that. But while you acknowledge that there is diversity in genre, you also obviously didn’t keep an open mind because of your predisposed expectations.

        The main problem I have with your review of this anthology is that you’ve taken a tract of only concentrating on the negative. Considering the authors contained within, it’s a little hard to believe that somewhere in it all there isn’t at least some positive which you could have referenced. There are authors in here that wrote for Batman The Animated Series, another wrote the books which inspired Game of Thrones, another is a considered by the hardcores to be the best thing for horror since H.P. Lovecraft. Can those writers produce crap? Surely! But a collection from such writers full of nothing but total crap? That comes off a bit too unbelievable… and disingenuous.

        For an example let’s take your complaint of lack of poor characterization for one story whose title you didn’t even provide as a reference. Okay you didn’t like that one for that. I can’t compare my own opinion since using the description of a torture story is rather vague for this collection, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that it failed in that department. Since you were looking for good character development, then how could you have missed pointing out how that was deftly executed as the main premise of George Martin’s Meathouse Man from this collection? That whole story is a characterization. A coming of age story about a young man who wants true love, but ultimately realizes that there is something inherently and eternally wrong within him due to his sins. Did I find that character Trager to be likable? No, but he’s not meant to be. What works is that his story of rejection is one that connection most everybody can relate to and sympathize with. The repulsion attraction of the character is interesting. You certainly are entitled to your opinion and preference of what characters you may like or dislike, but it’s certainly not poor characterization.

        By only providing negatives, it does make your review seem as a slam piece rather than a fairly written critique. Consider that, constructive criticism.

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        • Thanks for the comment. When I won the book it was implied that a review would be written and shared.

          Necro Files may not have been what I was expecting but i did keep an open mind, I enjoy reading books that I don’t know much about it allows for a more enjoyable (and surprising) ride.

          I did mention the awards many of the writers received or were nominated for, which in my opinion means a lot.

          Meathouse Man did have good character development but after reading the first page I had a pretty good idea of how it was going to end (was very reminiscent of Twilight Zone). In my opinion most of the stories in Necro Files would make a better TV “series” or short film.

          Looking at the rating on Goodreads Necro Files rating is nearly 4 out of 5 stars. For those who read reviews before they read a book (or read reviews of books they are going to buy for someone else) I think it’s great to read reviews at both ends of the spectrum.

          I passed the book on so it could find a home with someone who may like it.

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