Gerard Houarner

Crossroad Press; Macabre Ink / 202 pages / 1st digital edition (January 23, 2016)

ASIN: B01B084B50

Read through the short foreword for each of these stories and you will realize something amazing about the author; Houarner’s mind never stops working. Every person, every object, every sound carried by the wind, is the starting place for another story. His senses are constantly open to input and little of it goes wasted. So, any joke you tell may lead to a touching tale of love and loss. Or you may find that antique bellows you just snatched up at the market embedded in some unfortunate character’s trachea.

Those are the chances you take with a creative, ravenous mind like Houarner’s.

(Take note of who wrote the introduction to I Love You And There Is Nothing You Can Do About Itand you will see that this talent has not gone unnoticed in horror circles.)

Houarner’s work can be among the most grisly in the genre. If you have read Pain Freak, you know exactly what I mean. But, just because he doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff, doesn’t mean that’s the only note he can play. I Love You And There Is Nothing You Can Do About It shows you a touch of that side and the incredible range of which he is capable.

Right away, most readers are going to be caught up in that chilling title and wonder about the story of the same name. “I Love You And There Is Nothing You Can Do About It” is in some ways what you might expect, and, in most ways, not at all what you have in mind. This is one of the selections that leans toward that gory side he is famous for, but, although the violence is plentiful, it is never the heart of the story. Unanswered questions and their effect on an unstable mind lead to an ending you will never anticipate.

Psychology and the unfathomable workings of the human mind. That might well be one theme of this anthology. It’s there in the paranoia of “The Abandoned Mother” and the obsession of “The Lighted Window.” Undying love and devotion provide the power of “The Good Dead” and “The Dead Mothers’ Club.” An inside tip: look, really look at the title of that last one. The unbearable ache of loneliness resonates through every word of “Our Lady of the Jars” and “Not An Exit.”

But, it may be the selfish root of those needs that linger in your mind.

For pure admiration of Houarner’s craft, though, no other story in I Love You And There Is Nothing You Can Do About It can compare to “Spider Goes To Market.” Like all truly important fiction, it will make you take another look at something you thought you understood. Clever, cutting, and ingeniously told, it is the brightest gem in a collection of treasures.

Miss this one and you may well miss one of the most influential volumes of the year, and one of horror’s most beguiling new voices.