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What Remains When The Stars Burn Out: a horror collection by P.L. McMillan Kindle Edition
"A gift of cosmic horror by someone who truly gets it. The imagination here runs the gauntlet across a galaxy of weird dread. Stuffed with delicious WTF energy and malevolent fates, McMillan's stories go the extra mile to mess you up."
— Hailey Piper, Queen of Teeth
"The best kind of horror—the kind that digs deep and forces you to confront your fears, to stare them straight in the face and overcome them—is a rare find indeed. With themes of anxiety, paranoia, love, and loss, What Remains When The Stars Burn Out by P.L. McMillan is an example of horror done right. This magnificent collection is a tour-de-force, gut-punch of the cosmic variety, wonderfully strange and intimately disturbing. Every story has hooks, every sentence teeth. Ones that, once they sink in, don’t let go. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time to come."
— Caleb Stephens, Wallpaper Man
“These pages are soaked in the ink-blood of ancient and nameless evils who caress with stinging tentacles that are equally horrifying and seductive. There is no escape from the vast hopelessness, which is good, because you may find yourself longing to sacrifice yourself to join with it. An inspired collection complete with beautiful, accompanying illustrations for each story, What Remains When Stars Burn Out is a cosmic horror triumph.”
— Angela Sylvaine, Chopping Spree
From the lips of a dying woman to the ears of an overworked nurse, a word begins to haunt her and the city in which she lives.
An office worker is convinced she has contracted something highly contagious, but no one believes her.
Earth is on the brink of collapse, when scientists discover a new plane of reality. Could this be the salvation people are seeking?
A company’s revolutionary method of travel promises instant teleportation across countless light years but at a price.
What Remains When The Stars Burn Out is a vivid collection of twelve stories ranging from the morbid to the macabre, the sinister to the supernatural, the unearthly to the uncanny, which are sure to send a shiver down your spine.
- ASIN : B09VNTB6JZ
- Publisher : Salt Heart Press (March 31, 2022)
- Publication date : March 31, 2022
- Language : English
- File size : 3670 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 266 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : B09WPT8DQY
- Best Sellers Rank: #57,001 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Before I dig into the stories, allow me a moment to gush about the aesthetics of this collection. It’s beautiful! Not only is the cover art gorgeous, but McMillan flexes her artistic sensibilities by opening each story with a captivating illustration. Throw in the fact that this collection is perfectly formatted for e-readers and I do declare that it’s one of the best looking, smoothest-reading collections of the year.
So, about those stories. There’s a lot on offer here. Most of these are tried-and-true short stories that range in length from 2k-7k words. With that said, “Planet of the Hungry” is a novelette and falls on the lengthier side. Yes, I just used the word “length”, but I really didn’t notice any length as one story slipped effortlessly into the next and before I knew it, my Kindle was telling me that I was on the last page. I won’t say that I unleashed a tirade of unrepeatable language at my Kindle in a fit of rage, but, yeah, I absolutely did.
Anyway. The real strength of these stories is the characters. Yes, McMillan packs each story with enough tension-laced atmosphere to give a toddler angina, and the collection is overflowing with brilliantly chilling twists and turns, but if I don’t know the characters, and if they can’t – at the very least – communicate to me how scared they are as their reality unravels around them, then it’s all a bit pointless, isn’t it? Thankfully, McMillan understands this conundrum better than most and peppers this collection with a wide-ranging cast of characters from all walks of life. Doctors, scientists, reporters; people with crippling anxieties, cheaters, victims of cheaters, prisoners, murderers, they’re all here! And McMillan meticulously molds each-and-every one of these characters with a careful hand, then feeds them all to the thresher.
A few standouts:
Despite only being the opener, “Sanitize” is an industrial-strength dose of terror and may be the strongest story in the collection. What seems like an anxiety-induced bout of irrationality for Paige overflows into a nightmare as a she begins to manifest disturbing symptoms of an unknown disease. No one can see these symptoms except Paige and are quick to try and convince her that it’s all just in her head. She almost believes them until whatever is “just in her head” begins ravaging everyone Paige touches. McMillan ensures that we feel every ripple of doubt and every twinge of terror racing through Paige’s veins as the world dissolves around her and her sanity is pushed to the brink. Brilliant stuff.
“Godmouth” is an unbridled one-two-punch of Cosmic Horror. A word (Godmouth) is spreading through a city like a virus, leaving violence and hysteria in its wake and heralding the arrival of something sinister. The characters are all quite relatable, ordinary people, who make a story like this much more agonizing to endure. It’s sort of like watching a car crash in slow motion; we know how this ends, but we can’t look away. McMillan won’t let us.
In case the rest of this collection’s offerings aren’t quite bleak enough to suit your tastes, “Gemini Syndrome” has you covered. Mara is an officer on a station named Omikron III and a family emergency spurs her to return home. The problem being that “home” is Earth and Earth is about two-decades worth of space travel away. So, Mara opts to use “DMT”, an experimental method of teleportation that will send her to Earth instantly. Problem solved, right? Well, sort of. “DMT” is rumored to have some nasty side-effects(like death), and although these rumors can’t be proven, advocates of the technology are a bit evasive when discussing the risks involved. Despite her reservations, Mara doesn’t have time to waste and goes all-in on using “DMT”. What follows is the grimmest ending I’ve read this year, but it’s so profoundly speculative that I haven’t stopped thinking about it in days.
In the end, stories are only as good as their characters. Yes, spectacle and theatrics can carry a story to great heights, but without compelling characters to ground them, they can fly too close to the sun and bring that story crashing back down in a fiery heap. Sure, that can be fun, but it isn’t sustainable and – more often than not – it isn’t satisfying. In case I haven’t been clear: P.L. McMillan discerns and applies this notion in a most profound way, and through her staunch unwillingness to sacrifice character for story or story for character, succeeds in releasing one of the most cathartic and unnerving horror collections of the year. Read it.
This book is a wonderful treat for those who like to chew and ponder on the weird stories long after reading them. They linger in your mind for weeks.
I'm friggin' glad I did. McMillan's fiction hits you in the face, hard, and then stomps on your head. This is not Extreme Horror. That would be too easy. Rather, McMillan creates immersive worlds, which act as portals, which draw the reader in. Her vivid, concrete writing possesses a "you are there" feel. And, believe me, you never want to be "there" in any of McMillan's horrorific worlds.
Please give this supremely talented author a chance. This book stands out.
Top reviews from other countries
The smoothness and flow of the writing is some of the best I've ever came across, so much so it is like watching a movie in my head, the stories are unique and dark, with excellent characters, with a similar feel to 'The Essential Sick Stuff' by Ronald Kelly and Clive Barkers Books of Blood stories.
There is some body horror, cosmic horror, dark science fiction, and a unexpected folklore creature in 'Planet of the Hungry' which I really really want to tell you about, but I don't want to spoil it
If you love cosmic and sci-fi horror, you have to check this out.