ASHES: A novella of horror, gore and cannibalism by Matt Shaw

ASHES: A novella of horror, gore and cannibalism by Matt ShawI’d been curious about reading one of Matt Shaw’s books for quite a while. I’ve seen plenty of them with just a black cover and a disclaimer on the front. I know it’s a marketing ploy but it had me intrigued to sample his work. What forbidden delights might be housed inside? So, I bought ASHES which doesn’t actually have one of those covers daring you to read it, but the book had gore and cannibalism in the title, so call me an old romantic, but I chose that one.

Four twenty-somethings, Jack, Stuart, Corinna, and Holly are on holiday at an all-inclusive resort on a remote volcanic island, looking for a calm and relaxing vacation. Well, except for the adrenalin junkie, Jack, who convinces them to leave the resort for a day of exploring. As you might imagine, this is a terrible idea. The group runs into some native tribesmen and an homage to the Italian cannibal films of the eighties unfolds. You’ll definitely see some Cannibal Holocaust references.

The characters are great and you get pulled into their complicated relationships among each other. Stuart is the most likeable of the men.  Jack is uniformly a selfish asshole throughout and if anyone has it coming it’s him. Maybe that’s a bit harsh. I don’t think anyone has this kind of cruelty coming. One of my favorite aspects of the book is the interplay between flashbacks tying the present situation to one in the past. It could be with a sentence or an action, but it’s very cleverly done and repeated throughout to great effect. It’s plenty gory and, as the title suggests, there is cannibalism.  The dramatic disclaimer on the book is not altogether unwarranted.

All in all, this is a fun ride and an homage to the cannibal films of yesteryear. You get what you’d expect and that’s what I was looking for with this book. If cannibals are your thing, also be sure to check out Adam Cesare’s Tribesman.

7.5/10

Pick up a copy here: http://amzn.to/1L4wymi

Book Cover Blurb:

WARNING: THIS IS AN EXTREME HORROR NOVELLA. Although not as bad as some of Matt Shaw’s other titles, there is still gore. There is bad language. There are scenes of a sexual nature. But hidden underneath it all is also a chilling story. Please do not purchase this book if you are easily shocked, disgusted or offended. This book is not for you.

A throwback to the video nasties of the seventies, ASHES tells the story of a group of friends who go on a beach holiday with disastrous consequences.