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Little Deaths [Paperback]

John F. D. Taff
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 May 2012
You think you've got bad dreams? Consider author John F.D. Taff's nightmares.
How about the one where a guy resurrects his dead girlfriend with a set of the prop neck bolts used on Boris Karloff in the 1932 classic Frankenstein? Or one where the ghost of the author's dead dog keeps coming back to entice him into death so they can be together? Or the one where a guy loves candy... to death?
Taff has the kind of nightmares no one really wants. But it's nightmares like these that give him plenty of ideas to explore; ideas that he's turned into the short stories he shares in this new collection Little Deaths.
Little Deaths features 19 pieces of short horror fiction; some have appeared previously in print elsewhere, others appear for the first time here. All of them are chilling, weird looks at the human condition from a decidedly dark perspective.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Books of the Dead (1 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1927112117
  • ISBN-13: 978-1927112113
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,882,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5* 4 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure about this book after reading the other reviews. I appreciate that they are good reviews, but 2 of the 3 of them are clearly some sort of promotional blather you'd generally find hooked to a blurb.
However, I did buy the book and I can now say that I'm glad I did, and can happily leave a positive, honest review, from an actual person.

The book is well written. In the whole of it I found only one or two small errors (the only one that jumps to mind right now is the word 'peek' being misspelled 'peak' at one point, but, clearly an error, as the same word is fine when used at other points.
The tone of the book flows nicely, the stories are well thought out, and though there were a couple I didn't particularly enjoy, this was simply a personal choice, rather than having an issue with the story itself or the way it was written. There's an edge of humour and wit to the style, it gives the stories a pleasing feeling of being written by someone educated, which I, personally, always appreciate. The majority of the stories I found to be very entertaining, the ideas and the imagination will have you thinking to yourself 'just one more story, then I'll put it down...' and all of a sudden it's 3am and you didn't put it down at all.

I would recommend this, it was a brilliant read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastically Freaky! 16 Aug 2013
By Red
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant little collection of creepy stories that will definitely whet the appetite of the kind of reader that wants to read something that will keep them up at night and give them shivers when they finally try to sleep.

This is a great purchase, I really can't fault any of it. His writing, his ideas, the careful suspense that really grips you and doesn't let go. The horror is subtle which is much more effective and leaves the chills even when you finish the story and start on the next one. This is a writer that I am going to be anticipating whenever he releases anything else.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Deaths brings new life to horror 6 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
John F.D. Taff is an author who has more than 65 short stories and seven novels in print but I had never heard of him until I read his short story Cold Calls within the excellent anthology Best New Vampire Tales Vol I. I absolutely loved Cold Calls and the unlikely hero of the piece, Buddy Burnett.

It was without hesitation that I started to read Little Deaths; a collection of Taff's own short stories.

I often find the quality of anthologies can vary wildly and although I was a fan of the author's work that I had encountered before, I had only read one piece by him...

What we have here in Little Deaths is a selection of Taff's best work from his career and some new pieces that are not only novel in nature but are sure to entertain; and as is suggested in the title, death is ever present in every story within. Each tale within Taff's anthology is very different and although it may well be criticised for not being outright horror, I would suggest that this book sits quite nicely within the genre. The overarching feeling permeating throughout all of Taff's work in Little Deaths is something that is reminiscent of episodes of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. The author moves between science-fiction type tales, the macabre, psychological thriller, body-horror and more, effortlessly whilst maintaining his distinctly charming, pulpy and entertaining writing style. This style may be attributable to the fact that Taff seems to stick to the advice "Write what you know, write what you love"; since there seems to be a little bit of the author in many of his stories.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Little Deaths" is a heartstopper! 2 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
John F.D. Taff is an author who has been around for a long time; he has over 65 stories and 7 novels to his credit, and here in "Little Deaths" we are treated to a total of 19 stories, some of which have been previously published, whereas others were specifically written for this collection.
This book has seen John finally receive the recognition that he deserves, and "Little Deaths" has been received with open arms by the horror community.
The stories themselves show just how easily a master of his craft can induce a whole range of emotions in the reader besides just a sense of horror.

"Here", for example is a story about a man and his dog, Hector, who is cruelly taken from his owner in a hit-and-run. Reading this brought a tear to my eye; it's a story of a man's love for his pet, but it's a ghost story too. The story, incidentally, is based on a true event surrounding one of John's own dogs, also called Hector, who suffered the same fate as his namesake in the book. There's a huge part of John and Hector in the story, and it shows. It's wonderful!

"Box of Rocks" is a shocking tale of child abuse with an ending that will leave the reader stunned. Can we always rely on our memories? You'll have to read it to find out.

"The Tontine" is a tale that brings together old horror favorites and has a feeling of "Creepshow" about it.

"The Mellified Man" is, to put it bluntly, sickening in its sweetness and also in its pure horror. A candidate for the best story in the book.

"The Water Bearer" is another favorite; a tale of a jealous pond, if one can get their head around that concept!

"The Closed Eye of A Dead World" is pure Twilight Zone material. Just marvellous!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  87 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good horror anthology 21 July 2012
By David Watson - Published on
What do you do when your girlfriend dies and you have a problem letting her go? If you're a collector and you own a pair of neck bolts that Boris Karloff wore in the original Frankenstein movie you might be able to bring her back to life. Of course that could become a problem once the body decomposes.

This is one of the story lines from John F.D. Taff's Little Deaths. This anthology includes 19 short horror stories that take a look at how humans react to bizarre situations. Another story in this collection looks at a woman named Melinda who marries a man named Josh. Josh has a book that tells every detail of his and Melinda's life from birth to death. Despite her husband's warnings to not look at the book, she does look and doesn't like her destiny. She decides to rewrite the book and change everything but now she has to face the consequences.

My favorite stories in this anthology were the ones that mixed Science Fiction and Horror such as But For A Moment...Motionless which tells the tale of a man walking the streets of a deserted city and discovering that he may be the last one alive. I liked how the main character describes what he will miss about humanity and how he reacts when he learns what really happened.

I also enjoyed Snapback which tells what happens in the future as people learn how to master time travel. This one is told through a series of scientific reports and I thought it was interesting hearing how the tone of the reports change as the scientists discover that there is a problem.

Other good stories for the hard core horror fan include include The Mire Of Human Veins that had a Neil Gaiman feel to it and is about a girl who has a strange home life. Another one is Child Of Dirt about a baby who's father may not be human. Also if you are into ghost stories, The story Here is a ghostly love story that has a good sense of humor and will appeal to all dog lovers.

I enjoyed John F.D. Taff's Little Deaths more or less. I thought all the stories were well written and I like how the author describes the action and setting in each story. I also like the way he describes his characters. That being said I did have a problem with some of the stories. Such as The Scent, Bolts, Helping Hands and Calander Girl which were based on good ideas but had endings that left me confused. John F.D. Taff does make up for this though in the end of the book when he tells his idea behind each story and your able to find out what he was thinking as he wrote it. I do think Little Deaths is a good anthology and I look forward to seeing a novel by John F.D. Taff in the future.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Care to scare up a good story? 16 Aug 2012
By Jerry R - Published on
Taff's style will ease you into the story like an old time folktale, then turn on you when you least expect it. Gory or not gory? Each story has just what it needs, but waiting to find out--or not find out--is a good part of the fun.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoying the feeling of unease 9 Aug 2012
By littlevoice - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I'd seen and enjoyed John Taff's work here and there before reading "Little Deaths", so it was a treat to receive his collection for review. This is dark speculative fiction that caters perfectly to my tastes - well-crafted and imaginative, brimming with original concepts, and relying largely on developing a sense of unease rather than shock-and-gore to affect the reader. Personal favourites include -
"Child of Dirt", which explores a taboo question that must enter the minds of many a new father; what if my child isn't really mine?
"The Mellified Man", putting a new spin on another old taboo - cannibalism.
"Snapback", a cleverly constructed sci fi horror that takes on time travel.

(Disclosure: the publisher provided a free copy for review purposes.)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best collections of 2012 30 Sep 2012
By Gabino Iglesias - Published on
I've said it before and I'll say it again: variety can make the difference between a good short fiction collection and a great one. In the case of John F.D. Taff's Little Deaths, variety doesn't even begin to describe the dazzling array of themes, tones, and voices the author was able to cram into the compilation. From creepy horror and heartbreaking stories of loss to spooky narratives written in a Poe-esque prose and tales that can only be called Lovecraftian in nature, Little Deaths has something for everyone.

Little Deaths kicks off with Bolts, a story most collectors will be able to identify with. Ace lives with his girlfriend Rachel. He makes a living buying and selling collectibles online, but keeping too many of them around often causes the couple to have disagreements. While fighting with Rachel about a life-size Battlestar Galactica Cylon he plans to keep, Ace finds a treasure: the actual prop neck bolts Boris Karloff used in Frankenstein back in 1931. He makes the purchase and patches things up with Rachel. Soon after, disaster strikes. Scared, sad, and in denial, Ace will do whatever it takes to makes things right again, and the bolts will play a vital, and disastrous, role.

While Bolts is the first standout in the collection, it's far from being the only one. Here are some other stories that stuck with me:

* The personal account of one man written by a younger neighbor, The Water Bearer tells the story of Jim, a guy who worked maintaining a young doctor's house and grounds in 1923. Dr. Evander Wilson had recently lost his wife when Jim came to work for him. With time, the physician undergoes a change in mood, and Jim becomes curious as to what the doctor's trips into the woods might have to do with the transformation. What follows is a creepy and somewhat Lovecraftian narrative full of brackish water, the smell of decay, and dark secrets.

* Book and movies have taught us there are few things more sinister than an evil child. In Child of Dirt, Taff takes the theme even further by making the evil one a newborn...with teeth. This story mixes horror with emotional tension in a way that the reader will probably feel sorry for the man having to deal with the creature looking up at him from the cradle.

* I love stories that have body modification as an element in the narrative, and Orifice is a fine example of just how far something like a tattoo can be taken by capable hands. Mike is an open-minded guy, but he's not sure his girlfriend's idea of getting a tattoo is a good one. To make things worse, the man who ends up doing the tattoo on Jesse is her ex-boyfriend. The body art brings unexpected consequences, and Mike will learn the true meaning behind the words Jesse once told him: "When you make a hole in something-anything-something else will want to get in through to it...or out."

* Darkness Upon the Void is one of the most memorable psychological/physical horror stories I've read in a while. It begins with a man named Ed Martinez squeezing a tiny white worm out of his forearm and gets progressively nastier from there. There is a religious element to the story that makes it even more interesting as Ed's mental state is questioned and the creatures coming out of his body increase in size and gruesomeness. While the tale might be too much for those with weak stomachs, lovers of hardcore horror will definitely get a kick out of this one.

* Horror is not often simultaneously eerie and heartbreakingly sad. Here, the 16th story in the collection, brings those two very separate things together very well. The premise is simple: a man's dog is killed by a car and then comes back to look for his owner. It might sound undemanding, but the tension is kept sky-high throughout the story and the writing is very touching and emotionally gritty. Love, loss, loneliness, and ghosts all come together to make this one a standout.

* Last but not least, The Mellified Man is one of the absolute best stories in Little Deaths and one of the most unique short pieces you'll ever read. Bobby Jenkins is a man with only one vice: candy. His sweet tooth keeps him constantly on the lookout for new sugary delicacies. When he walks into The Alhambra, a new candy store that offers the best sweets from around the world, he becomes a habitual visitor. Despite tasting great things on a regular basis, Bobby wants more. Aziz, the store's owner, delivers the goods. Once the once-in-a-lifetime treat is devoured, Bobby starts to feel different and things go from incredibly sweet to nightmarishly sour.

Taff is a very talented writer, but his attention to detail is what sets his work apart. Each description is rich without being boring and each setting is as unique as the characters that inhabit them. Also, most stories engage the senses. For example, in The Water Bearer, The Scent, and The Mellified Man, smells play crucial roles.

Collections are never perfect and there are always one or two stories that readers will not be crazy about. However, this collection will surely satisfy many readers. Given its variety, it's almost impossible not to find something you like. If you're looking to liven up your horror reading, Little Deaths will do it in a big way.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT author!!! 16 Jan 2014
By C. Swanson - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because it was .99, and it looked like something I would enjoy. Little did I know how MUCH I would enjoy it! This author reminds me of Dean Koontz, and each of the 19 stories in this book maintain the attention grabbing, heart pounding, action of the characters!
I recommend this book absolutely, with no reservations! I've read horror, supernatural, sci fi, etc, for over 50 years. This guy is good!! I hope you will buy this book and enjoy it as much as I did!
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