"The Fall: Tales From The Gulp 2" Book Review

Written by Zach Rosenberg

Published by 13th Dragon Books

the fall alan baxter poster large

Written by Alan Baxter
2022, 320 pages, Fiction
Released on April 12th, 2022

Review:

Welcome back to Gulpepper.

Gulpepper, or as its inhabitants call it, The Gulp, is a quaint little coastal town in Australia where normal things don't happen very often. After the sterling first entry, The Gulp: Tales From The Gulp 1, Alan Baxter is back to show how to do a collection right. This is a follow-up to The Gulp, with many elements returning, along with characters. There's Rich, the aimless truck driver recruited into the operation of affable crime boss Mr. Carter. And Carter and his daughter Chrissy, local fixtures of the community.

Very strange people make up Gulpepper, with a wide array of characters to go through horror and madness, starting in "Gulpepper Curios", when Andrew McDermott arrives at the titular shop. Indeed, he's warned not to, but in the world Baxter writes, there is something alluring, almost hypnotic about The Gulp. It makes people do what they otherwise wouldn't and The Gulp will not be denied.

Rarely are the tales anything but thrilling. They're petrifying, suspenseful and made up by the people they're in. These can be damn scary. They're weird and strange. Baxter makes Gulpepper come alive for us, detailing the town until the reader feels they are a tourist coming along for the ride.

"Cathedral Stack" is a terrifying story as well. A wrecked boat, a terrifying shift in people, grim stories all abound. Baxter knows how to turn the horror on and effectively utilize gore and suspense. One of the best parts of The Fall is how deftly he weaves in different varieties of horror. Body horror, cosmic horror, gothic horror, surreal horror. Gulpepper has it all.

It all comes to a head in "The Fall". The stories link together, strongly arching toward a conclusion where Mr. Carter aims to salvage Gulpepper from a horrifying force and perhaps keep himself from being swallowed whole. It's a bloody good time, with good humor, great writing and a brisk pace that dares you to spot the interlocking details.

"That's impossible!" One character declares in one story's denouement. The response?

"That's Gulpepper!"

Grades:

Overall: 4.5 Star Rating Cover
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Zach Rosenberg
Staff Reviewer
Zach Rosenberg is a fantasy and horror writer living in Florida. He appreciates the ocean, wildlife and his love of literature was constantly nurtured growing up where he practically lived in the libraries, reading every horror and fantasy book he could get his hands on. His print debut short story "The Teeth Of the Deeps" is featured in the fifth short story collection from Dead Sea Press.
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