There is a dark side to human nature that neither can be wished away nor completely mitigated. Ashley Holzmann details just several of these "Laws of Nature" before taking his readers on a journey through the bizarre, the terrifying, and, ultimately, the disturbingly real truths that underlie much of modern American life.
Ashley makes his debut into the horror genre with "The Stump," a story about an afternoon trot through the woods that quickly becomes a blood bath--and, much as it does for that story's creature, the scent of fear will only lure veteran horror readers further through the forest. A teenager's vanity will likely cause his town to be consumed by a roaming swarm of insects that burst forth from his acne-riddled skin in "White Heads;" entire populations vanish into the void of the Alaskan tundra in "Glass Houses;" and superiority takes the form of a murdering, sadistic woman in "Lady Macbeth."
But Ashley's best retellings focus less on gore and adrenaline and instead take human psychology as their medium, as demonstrated in "Plastic Glasses," where readers are brought into a world of disturbing personality and mental disorders. Ashley's work abounds with stories in this vein, stories which grab a hold of a common failing--such as marital friction in "Hush," or American male frustration in "Orpheus's Lot"--and take it to an extreme that is nevertheless not inconceivable for most people.
Coming from the mind of a man who has experienced more than his fair share of humanity, "The Laws of Nature" is, at its finest, a description of universal emotions of loss, nostalgia, anxiety, and soul-penetrating terror. Ashley's stories elicit empathy from his readers and draw them into worlds where they both acknowledge and cuddle with their fears and which leave them, ultimately, more human.
The Laws of Nature by Ashley Franz Holzmann is full of short horror stories that can really mess with your head. It was a great read. There is a wide variety of subjects written about and every single one of them had something different going on in one aspect or another. This book had me guessing through the entire thing. There were a few that I could figure out what was going to happen, but the majority of the time I was surprised.
Several of the stories in this book totally creeped me out, and one in particular actually kept me awake at night. This is how horror stories should be. Some have psychological elements, and some are more straightforward. Each story is unique from anything else I’ve ever read and some are, frankly, quite disturbing.
I honestly can’t think of even one negative thing to say about The Laws of Nature. It’s obvious to me that Holzmann has a very creative and twisted mind. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to be scared and is looking for something that is different from the same run of the mill types of horror or speculative fiction stories. These stories are worth every minute you spend reading. There were a few stories that I wouldn’t have minded if they were written as novellas or even as full-length stories. Though I do think, having them short and sweet may have more of an impact on how creepy they are.
**I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.