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At this point you may be panicking because the presents you bought over Labor Day still haven’t arrived yet and you’re just about willing to brave the closest COVID-infested mall to acquire some last minute gifts.  I’m not here to tell you not to go out and risk your life for some last minute fuzzy socks (but seriously, don’t).  I’m here to tell you what you shouldn’t waste your money on, and that’s Max Brooks relatively new book Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre, about a bunch of millennial hippies tangling it up with bigfoot (bigfoots? bigfeet?) in the Pacific Northwest.

But wait, isn’t Max Brooks that the son of Mel Brooks who wrote the highly entertaining The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z?  Yes, he is.  But I would point out he also wrote the screenplay for The Great Wall starring Matt Damon, so let’s not act like his writing past isn’t at least a little bit sorted.  So why is Devolution a gift you would only get your worst enemies, or at least the annoying coworker whose name you got for Secret Santa this year?  Well, let’s just say this book is a bit lacking; as in, lacking plot, characterization, sense, or any kind of suspense.

Let me explain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

No complaints about the cover of the German version though. That’s pretty badass looking.

Devolution is formatted in a rambling series of journal entries, fictional interviews that may or may not have anything to do what’s going on in the main storyline, and bland excerpts on the behaviors of chimpanzees in the wild, which is what Brooks apparently thinks bigfoot are.  

Our main character who’s journal we follow is Kate Holland- a complete doormat who does whatever she’s told, never questions anything, and who’s main skill set seems to be using a phone app to count calories.  With her is her husband Dan, who I think may have been a zombie with how little personality or presence he had.  


Katie and Dan have just moved to a purposely cut off from the world small wilderness eco-friendly village of Greenloop near Mount Rainier. And here’s where the problem comes in, because Greenloop is populated by nothing but clueless liberal stereotype characters.  There’s the lesbian couple with their non-speaking foreign adopted daughter, the fat college professor who thinks he knows everything, the rich tech start up guy and his vegan yoga instructor wife, and the oddball glass artist war refugee lady who everyone thinks is a little crazy because she’s the only one with any sort of survival skills whatsoever.  There might have been more, but in the end none of them really mattered as characters because they were merely shallow sitcom stereotypes of what Fox News would call liberal elites. 

The gist of Katie’s story is that, almost as soon as she and Dan move Greenloop, Mount Rainier erupts, causing mudslides that cut off Greenloop from the outside world or from any escape by the residents.  That’s when things start going downhill, and boy do they go downhill FAST. I should point out that the course of the entire story takes place over approximately two weeks.  Not two months, or even two years, two WEEKS.  Because that’s how fast a bunch of liberal elites would fall apart if left of their own, according to the author anyway. 

Almost immediately people are panicking about rationing food, how long before they might get rescued, whether or not they can host their yoga classes, etc.  And of course they have no emergency supplies because, why would they?  At one point Katie even points out that there isn’t a hammer in the whole village.  I mean, really?  Really?

“How many people in L.A. have earthquake kits?  How many Midwesterners are ready for tornadoes or northeasterners for blizzards?  How many Gulf Coast residents stock up for hurricane season?” – PAGE 79

Obviously way more than you’d think, lady.

If you’re wondering where bigfoot fits into all this, so was I for over half the book.  In fact, you could probably just skip the entire first half of the book and not really miss out on much.  Bigfoot does eventually show, and then immediately proceeds to go on a murderous rampage with some sort of loosey-goosey survival of the fittest trite thrown in for good measure.  


Considering how clueless and inept these people are, you can pretty much guess what happens.  There’s no real satisfaction in watching them band together because it’s like giving a group of babies pencils and telling them to defend themselves against a rabid dog. Only in the babies case, you can sort of forgive them for being so helpless and inexperienced.

The very bottom line.  Like, it’s way down there.

If Max Brooks was trying to make some kind of point with this book about how technology is making us all soft, he failed spectacularly.  Instead he’s written a book about some unbelievably stupid characters that mostly get eaten by giant chimpanzee due to their own incompetence.  So much of this book just felt lazy in the extreme, from the setup to the timeline to the depictions of a historic cryptid.  It’s kind of telling when the most interesting parts of the book were actually excerpts from Teddy Roosevelt’s 1923 book The Wildness Hunter about bigfoot.

If this had been a book about some average people that were trapped in the middle of a natural disaster with bigfoot, imagine how great that would have been.  Unfortunately, that’s not this book.  One out of five Cthulhu.  You’re probably better off watching Suburban Sasquatch and having a laugh.  1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sarah Moon

    January 6, 2021 at 8:22 am

    I am so glad I’m not the only one that feels this way about Max Brooks!

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Book Reviews

The Roots Grow Into The Earth



Launching next month The Roots Grow Into The Earth was a delightful read. It’s the premiere novel by horror author Bert S. Lechner. And after reading it, I hope it’s not his last. 

The stories

The Roots Grow Into The Earth is a collection of nine short stories and novellas, including three previously published stories. The tales are all part of one larger story. A story of darkness, and madness. A story of a creature released that should never have been. That begins then to sink its roots into the Earth and infect innocent people far and wide. 

One such example is The Wall. This is the story of a man named Sam and his wife Nat. They have a lovely normal life full of morning coffee and weekend pizza nights. Until Sam notices something on the wall of their home. While it appears to be nothing, a vision starts taking shape. With Sam’s help.


Another story that really moved me was The Orchestra. 

Let me first stay that this was not a particularly fleshed out story. We do not see The Conductor before she’s infected. We don’t see the fallout. No real picture is painted for us, it’s more like a sketch. 

In the case of The Orchestra, though, this is exactly the right choice. We don’t need to see the whole picture in gruesome technicolor to get what’s happening in this ill fated concert. We understand perhaps too well what’s occurring. And I thought that was brilliant. 

What worked

I just want to start by gushing over this storytelling style. Short story collections always have a soft spot in my heart. In the case of The Roots Grow, all of the short stories come together to create one truly dark tale. 


I also loved the clear Lovecraftian influence of this story. It’s clear that this was something that the author was going for, from interviews and social media comments. But I could tell before I saw any of that. 

The story in The Roots Grow is one of madness. But more than that, it’s one of madness and destruction that the victims could not have avoided. There was no being clever enough to avoid these dark roots that touched them. There was no being strong enough, or selfless and good enough. If the roots reach out and touch you, you’ve already lost. 

Finally, I want to extend some praise to my favorite character, Joanne. She is dealing with her own madness, her own demons. But she still finds kindness and strength to help others when they need her. Even against some truly dark odds. 

What didn’t work

All that being said, I will say that some of the short stories felt incomplete. One prime example is What Lies In The Icy Soil. This appears to be nothing more than the tale of a person possessed by the need to dig. He digs up something that for sure shouldn’t be dug up. But there’s nothing more to the story. We don’t know who this person is. We don’t know who might be missing him, or what might come of this thing he dug up. As a part of the whole story, it fits. But if we are to consider every tale by its own merit, this one doesn’t have much of anything going for it. 


That being said, this is one story in a round ten that wasn’t much of anything. The rest of the stories were wonderfully eerie, both on their own and as part of a whole. 

The Roots Grow Into The Earth comes out on October 7th. And I think it would be a perfect addition to your Halloween reading list.  4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Book Reviews

Strange Eons Review: Cornfields and Eldritch Gods



“The elder gods arrived in the sky in early September, like an unholy aurora borealis stretching across a midnight sky. Their vastness blocked the sun, an unending eclipse, a liminal state, a breath that was inhaled but never let go. Lovecraft got it wrong, I think. It was not the sight of the gods that made humanity go mad. It’s what they destroy that hurts us. Somehow, these elder gods, these aliens, had killed time itself.” – Strange Eons by Keria Perkins

Strange Eons is a short story published in Bourbon Penn Issue 30 by Keira Perkins. Perkins, is an Indiana writer of short fiction and poetry that has also appeared in Non-Stalgia and The Heartland Society of Women Writers. Bourbon Penn is an online and print journal that specializes in speculative, odd, and surreal fiction. All issues are available to be read online for free or can be purchased as a paperback from

Strange Eons follows a young woman struggling to adjust to a life post-Lovecraftian apocalypse. This is a cozy story, the majority of which takes place as the woman lays in a cornfield and hides from well-meaning but unhelpful family members. While cozy, the piece is ominous, tackling the terror associated with pregnancy. Specifically, the terror that comes from living in a Red State and finding a significant lack of resources or options.

As a Hoosier capable of becoming pregnant, Strange Eons resonated with me. The imagery of cornfields and cicadas were very Indiana. However, so is a young woman covertly asking her sister to drive her to Illinois to receive healthcare. I loved how Perkins merged cosmic horror with the horror of receiving reproductive healthcare in Indiana but also the United States as a whole. All that was missing were predatory billboards advertising fake pregnancy centers! Talk about maddening and terrifying! Throughout the short story, the most horrific part of the young woman’s ordeal is not the eldritch gods appearing but her rather typical, hellish circumstances.

Aside from content, Strange Eons is well-written. It keeps you guessing where the story will go next. If you like a non-tropey cozy take on Lovecraftian horror or have struggled to receive reproductive healthcare, I highly recommend checking out Strange Eons! You can also check out the other stories in this issue of Bourbon Penn here. Or you can see what else Perkins is up to on her website.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Book Reviews

Walking Practice – A Book Review



Walking Practice is Dolki Min’s debut novella about an alien named Mumu, who must learn what it is like to perform as a human. Victoria Caudle, the translator of this unique Korean story, experiments with the English language to properly convey Min’s style. This, complimented with Min’s various drawings of the story’s protagonist, creates a poetic, outlandish reading experience that keeps you hooked from beginning to end.

Walking Practice: Never Enough Practice

After the destruction of their home planet, Mumu crash lands their spaceship in a desolate forest far from human life. They survive by having sex with humans then, with graphic violence and great diligence, eats them.

Mumu has a strict schedule and regimen for this process; they must shapeshift their body to the specific gender and personality their date is attracted to. While this process of gender conformation is a difficult one (as the alien will often tell us), it is nowhere near as hard as the ridiculous habit humans have of walking on two legs. This is one of the many obstacles Mumu must struggle with while playing the game of life.

Dolki Min with the Korean Herald
Dolki Min in an interview with the Korean Herald

Mumu is a rich, self-aware character who seems to trust only one human: the reader. They address us directly, asking questions and indulging us with their theories on what it is to live on Earth. They are knowledgeable about the complexities of personhood, and aware that a person’s gender and sex are complex and not one-size-fits-all. After years of experience in multiple genders, the alien theorizes that humans are treated as people as soon as they have a sex and gender assigned to them. However, depending on the sex and gender, that treatment is never equal.

While Mumu performs various genders and personalities to match the sexual desires of their future prey, they do not identify as human. At the end of the day, they go home, stock their human leftovers in the fridge and freezer, and unleash their natural form. Their only priority is their own survival and pleasure (which, arguably, is their most humanlike quality).


“I’ve learned that my face arouses homicidal impulses”

Walking Practice uses horror, science fiction and satire to create a passionate queer narrative. While Mumu is a serial killer who prides themselves on their murderous skills, it is hard not to feel for them when karma strikes back and they are hurt. The poetic elements of Min’s story and Caudle’s translation support our empathy for such a vicious character

Min’s artwork, depicting Mumu’s alien forms, complements Caudle’s stylistic choices. There is enjambment in several paragraphs, (which can be interpreted as the alien either having a flair for the dramatic or genuinely pausing to find the right words), thus enhancing their internal dialogue. There are moments when the Mumu’s stream of consciousness confuses reality from imagination. They will also lose all learned human skills and revert to their mother tongue; words either run together or are spaced apart, and sometimes there are unintelligible symbols. At the surface, it looks like a linguistic nightmare. Once immersed in Mumu’s narrative, it is a work of art.

The Verdict

Walking Practice‘s balance of ambiguity and transparency keeps the reader close while also allowing an array of interpretations. It is an eccentric piece of fiction that plays with the literary status quo, resulting in an entertaining affair with an unforgettable alien. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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