** I received an ARC for an honest review **
The giant metal man has stood for hundreds of years, head tilted back, mouth open. All the dead of the town are disposed of this way, carried up the long, staircase that winds around him and tipped in. At his toe emerges the Bitters, the lifeblood of the town, keeping them healthy and prosperous as the sick and needy come to buy and drink.
McNubbin is a happy man with all he wants in life. He’s carried the bodies up since he was 14, a worthwhile, respected job. But when he notices broken girl after broken girl, he can’t stay quiet, and speaking up will change his perfect life.
I recently read the dark fiction novella Bitters by Australian horror and dark fiction author Kaaron Warren.
The focus of Bitters is the township that both owe their existence and health to the gold statue of the Man.
After a post-apocalyptic plague hundreds of years before, the dead were thrown into the Man and the putrified liquid called Bitters used as tonic. Over time, scientists removed any sick or drug users from those whose bodies ended up in the Man and the resultant Bitters gave health to the township who benefited from the Man. But a darker secret lurks within the township and the control of those who do a duty in carrying bodies to the top of the statue to deliver them into the Man, those who carry salt and bugs for the quickening the process of decay and those who provide the Bitters into bottles.
Bitters was an expertly crafted dystopian and post-apocalyptic novella that leaves no doubt that Warren is a master storyteller as her tale draws the reader deep into the mindset of the town that hosts the famous strong male statue and to whom they consign the bodies of the dead and reap the benefits of an elixir from the putrefied remains. Despite the darkness and horrifying truth of the Man – Warren focuses on the members of the township who owe their livelihoods and health the grim task they carry out daily. Warren writes without judgement but a sense of compassion for the characters who prosper from the deaths of others. A powerful dystopian novella that haunts you long after the last page has been turned.
A great read for fans of dystopian tales, dark fiction and psychological horror. A highly recommended read!
** This is my personal opinion and does not reflect any judging decisions **
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