Book Review – The Report of Mr. Charles Aalmers and Other Stories by Matthew Pungitore

This collection of 11 stories all share themes of suffering by their insignificant protagonists as they are thrust into hellish worlds and depraved realms previously unknown by most human minds. And these tales don’t really turn out too well for these characters!

It may be sounding rather Lovecraftian, and you’d be right to think this. All of the stories involve a first person narrator telling of the many woes they have suffered, although minus the ‘I’ve been driven to insanity by all this shit’ that HP indulged in so much.

But this isn’t Lovecraft fan fiction by any means.

The many beasts and demons described are done so in rich detail and are really imaginative and dripping with gore. The style of writing is very old-school Gothic (if that’s the right term), laced with antiquated language and grandeur.

Even the Sci-fi stories are presented as though they’re the dreams of a writer from the dark old days imagining a future, but with prior knowledge of computers and space ships and the like. While this may be many readers’ cup of tea, to me the futuristic settings lacked realism because of this. But then that’s just me.

I felt the stories in this collection were just a little too samey, and many didn’t really grab me round the throat like I would have liked. As mentioned earlier, each tale is narrated, and not that this is a bad thing, I’d just have preferred a few to be told by that omnipresent dude, or something. I suppose this was the point, though; something holding all the stories together. I’d have preferred a bit of variety, though.

There were times where I got a little lost in some of the stories, too. The author mentions in the preface how he has created some new words to throw into the mix, based on old languages and dialects. I assume some of these words were the ones that got me scratching my head at times, or perhaps my vocabulary just isn’t big enough. Either way, these moments really took me out of the stories.

But saying all that I did enjoy some of the stories on offer here.

These were Black Torque Demon (medieval knights fighting demonic entities), Fetch of Prismatic Froth (a deadly family curse, a dead father with a murderous secret), Gromocruth (an ancient cult whose magic/ knowledge of the other side of reality is still very much alive), O Tumult Unearthly (a kind of Lovecraftian Event Horizon), and Plantinoid Pearl Rapture (a dude is transported to some kind of hell where machines and computers reign). 

If olde worlde tales concocted with eloquent and poetic prose is your thing, then check these stories out.

I’d like to thank Matthew Pungitore for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: book review

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2 replies

  1. Good review, and interesting. An old-school vibe isn’t a turnoff for me, but I don’t know what to think about the same style narration throughout, hm.

    Liked by 1 person

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