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Satan's 3-Ring Circus of Hell
Words by Robert Steven Rhine - Art by various artists - Published by Asylum Press - First published 2005
With a name like Satan's 3-Ring Circus of Hell there's little chance you're going to stumble upon this book without hazarding half a guess as to its subject matter. Writer Robert Steven Rhine has wedged his book with 40 or so short stories featuring freaks, gore, sex, more gore, zombies, people without skin, people eating other people alive and more than a splattering of tongue-in-cheek humour. It would make for grim reading if it weren't for the sick streak of chuckle-worthy moments that Rhine somehow manages to permeate throughout his gruesome storytelling style.
To complement his writing, Rhine has summoned a dark army of horror artists, many of whom are exceptionally talented at recreating gut-wrenching scenes from his deeply disturbed imagination. Each story features a different artist and the styles vary wildly, but on the whole, the quality is well above average.
The end result is a strange beast. The stories are inventive but short, with plot kept to a minimum, leaving little to most of the stories except a rapid build-up to the inevitable shock ending. The humour helps keep the book buoyant but don't think this is any kind of cross-genre title: the imagery varies from horrific to downright sick and should be reserved for those with a taste for the deeply disturbing.
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