Review by Nick Cato (Winter 2005-2006)
Reprinted with permission of The Horror Fiction Review and Nick Cato.
DEATH SENTENCES: TALES OF PUNISHMENT AND REVENGE by Matthew Warner
(2005 Undaunted Press / 116 pp. / chapbook)
Now this is how a chapbook should be done: Five stories wrapped in an attractive, perfect-bound cover, a neat introduction by Gary A. Braunbeck, and extensive end notes on what inspired each tale. The first three stories have been previously released, and the final two are presented here for the first time.
These are the first stories I have read from Warner, and although “revenge”-type stories are a dime a dozen, the author employs some unique spins (especially with the opening tale, “Middle Passage”). “Angel’s Wings” and “The Cave” (which was published in Cemetery Dance magazine) are both well written, and the research Warner has done with his stories shows (some of the scenes involving slaves are so realistic you’ll gag).
Out of the last two never before released tales, “The Forgiving Type” is a mini-epic spook-a-thon, featuring a cannibalistic mortician, a ghost, and a cop trying to deal with the accidental death of his wife . . . and this one quickly became my personal favorite of the lot. “A Second Chance,” although brief, is possibly the most thought-provoking piece here.
Death Sentences does not have one dull moment, and is a fantastic primer for an author I’m sure we are about to see much bigger things from. (Matthew’s wife Deena provides the great artwork). Visit undauntedpress.com and get a copy of this one now (it’s limited to only 250 copies).