Oddities & Entities by Roland Allnach

Oddities & Entities Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

If you’re fans of quality horror literature, you owe it to yourselves to check out the up-and-coming author, Roland Allnach, and his collections of brilliant novellas, Remnant (which I’ve reviewed at this site elsewhere), and Oddities & Entities. The stories he writes are stealth bombs of suspense and they have a high creepiness factor that suck his readers in like quicksand teeming with all sorts of vile, squiggly creatures. That may sound unappetizing, if you, like his characters, are mired in the quicksand of predicaments he writes about; but, if you’re a fan of the horror genre reading them, they’re like electrical shocks to the pleasure centers of the brain.

Oddities & Entities consists of six marvelous miniature masterpieces of horror. I won’t go into each in-depth, but I will touch on some of the many highlights that make this a stand-out collection that you should add to your personal libraries. The six novellas are: “Boneview (one of my personal favorites),”Shift/Change,” “My Other Me,” “Gray,” “Elmer Phelps (also nicely atmospheric and twisted),” and the collection concludes with the polished gem, “Appendage.”

“Boneview,” is a tale about a young woman who has a most remarkable gift, though it’s often more like a curse to her: Allison can use her psychic ability called boneview to see how people will die. It’s like she gets an X-ray gaze into their futures, into whatever degenerative bone diseases the people might develop. Allison can peer into their bodies and learn if they will get into a car wreck, or fall off of a ladder and break their necks.

Allison discovers that her powers are more of a burden than a blessing. Two different entities want to get at her and use her for their own purposes. There’s a bizarre but very cool creature called the Curmudgeon who wants to become more human, and desires to steal her first-born to accomplish this goal. And, there’s someone who is ostensibly a human, but who travels all around the country killing people with the sight and cutting out their eyeballs to save their immortal souls.

In “Shift/Change,” a hospital worker struggles to regain his memory while being confronted by a series of desperate people. The character, Eldin, takes life and death very nonchalantly, telling the new employee with the memory issues, John, that: “Time don’t mean nothin’ down here.” Some people like the junkie, Rose, pay Eldin money to shoot up there. Others pay for the twisted desire of necrophilia with the “stiffies.” i.e., to have sex with the corpses. How is this new employee similar to one that the hospital used to employ? When one has unfinished business to take care of, can even death prevent him from giving himself up to the cops?

“My Other Me,” reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, especially the ones in which he mentions doppelgangers. That’s because, in Allnach’s novella, a college student finds himself displaced in his own body by his alter ego. If your alter ego is someone like Superman, everything’s fine–but, what if your alter ego was that of a serial killer? “My Other Me,” is a great take on this theme.

I’ll just discuss in brief one more of the six novellas, “Appendage.” It is the final story of the collection, and it’s about what happens when a cynical mercenary is hired by his son to protect a research lab on the verge of a stunning discovery. Without hopefully giving too much away, the story reminded me somewhat of the movie Predator. That’s because much of it takes place in a jungle. The mercenary, Randal, discovers that he has an inoperable brain tumor. This novella, among many other things, illustrates that “Going Green,” is not always a good thing to do.

Oddities & Entities is a collection of six tales of the macabre which will chill your spine. The novellas made me think, as I was reading them, of some of the best Twilight Zone episodes I’ve ever viewed. Roland Allnach already impressed me with his suspenseful collection of short stories, Remnant, and he has proven with this latest collection that he is rapidly becoming a master of the horror/suspense genres. Horror afficionados, check out Oddities & Entities today, and be on the look-out soon for my interview with the author, Roland Allnach, at this site!

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