Book Reviews

Edge of Darkness by Travis McBee – Book Review

Where do I start?

I’ve seen some of McBee’s Youtube videos, and I find him to be quite entertaining, so I decided to give his writing a shot. I’m a fan of horror, and an even bigger fan of short stories. I had no reason to dislike this as much as I did, but I find myself completely frustrated at this collection. Somehow I willed myself to push through the entirety of this collection, often skimming because I couldn’t stand the irrelevant in-depth details I was being told, not shown, repeatedly.

My first complaint is that the stories are not scary, at all. Neither are they funny. Maybe that’s just a personal taste and sense of humor, so I won’t fault the author for that, but there is so much more than that.

The first story, Chupie, deals with an ambiguously evil guinea pig owned by a very ridiculous character. My biggest issue started when I found myself cringing at the absurd portrayal of college girls. It made me question whether McBee had ever even met a girl in his entire life. These girls were not only stupid, but they were also completely defenseless, so much that they had to get a big manly boy to save them from the dead animals that kept appearing at their doorstep. And yes, these girls owned all the pink things because *giggles* that’s what girls love. In the end, the narrator doesn’t even have a bit of common sense, the dialogue is eye-roll worthy, and I was sure I had been pranked somehow.

The rest of the stories followed the same trend. The characters were all flat, dull, and boring. The girls, again, always just whining and shrieking and being overly annoying. The stories themselves were just not interesting. The twists at the end didn’t even make me blink. There was absolutely no suspense, nothing to keep me reading. But I did, because I was still unsure if I was being pranked. I kept asking myself, is this author for real?

Then we get to A Dutiful Son, and things get overly complicated. We have two burglars breaking into a house. Then we have their backstories (we have lots of those just thrown in there for the heck of it). Then we have the backstories within the backstories. Then we have facts about small, irrelevant characters tossed in the mix. At this point, I’m wondering if these burglars are even going to break into the house or if I’m going to find out what they had for lunch six years ago. Then the story shifts to an author and his friend, arriving at the house being broken into. I won’t even get into how McBee based the author character on himself–he explained that in the afterword, although it was pretty obvious while reading it. We get to hear the lengthy backstory of this author, filled with things I couldn’t care less about because all it accomplishes is pulling me out of the main storyline. But no, the author must explain to me why he dropped out of college and every single step that it took him to get to his super successful writer life, how he was such a great athlete, how much he loved guns. Because I couldn’t put that together from the events that followed, obviously. I have to be taken by the hand and explained every single thing so I can really get the picture. (Also, sidenote, as an aspiring author, balancing work and college, I do find enough time to work on my writing. That entire commentary about dropping out of college to pursue a writing career? Yeah, not buying it.) The twist at the end of this story was not believable. All of the characters were senseless.

I do have a positive opinion on one of the stories in this collection, though. In Blood Type, the character Nick was very sassy. I enjoyed his twisted humor. He actually had a semblance of depth. I didn’t need to have a ten-page backstory for him to know him as well as I did. My feelings about this collection were just about to improve. But then, of course, both male characters insult a woman when she tries to defend herself when her life is being threatened. What a stupid, stupid woman, right? What rational human would try to defend itself in a life or death situation? That’s just nutty.

Then we have this beauty:

“Feminine shrieks of startled nurses and masculine grunts of pain from paramedics.”

That, my friends, is the perfect sentence to describe this collection. We must assume that all nurses are female, and that all paramedics are male, and that’s just how it is, dammit. Everyone has to fit into their gender roles. And when the doctors are women, well, they’re just too darn stupid to function, trying to save themselves with weapons. It was a bad idea for a woman to be a doctor, huh? Guess that must be it.

I know now that I wasn’t being pranked. This is supposed to be either frightening, or hilarious, or a combination of both, according to the cover, but here I am, feeling kind of angry with myself for sticking through this entire thing. I hardly ever review books that I dislike, but I felt the strong need to voice my comments on this piece. It was, all in all, atrocious.


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