Book Review: The Book of Squalor by Max Rudd

A selection of short stories and poems from writer and actor, Max Rudd all placed firmly in the “gothic horror” genre. The collection takes us deep into Rudd’s twisted world of the supernatural in 4 unique and very different short stories, an extract from a screen play and 3 poems.

The key point to make here, is that the collection is eminently enjoyably and well worth the cover price. At its best, the writing here is compelling and deeply satisfying. Whilst there are weaknesses to the collection, and like many self-published works, would benefit from a proofread, the strengths far outweighs the weaknesses.

The standout story is “The House on Dumaine Street”: an historical epistolary ghost story that feels very much in the M.R. James tradition. Here, Rudd tells an exquisitely well constructed tale of supernatural horrors emerging in the wake of the American Civil War. Three unique, unreliable and not entirely likeable characters draw the reader into experiencing Rudd’s own Eldritch creation. This is a story that stays with you.

“With Eyes to See” is an intriguing mystery that throws the reader directly into the middle of an ordinary seeming scene that gets increasingly disturbing before a satisfying payoff. Possibly a story that could do with expanding upon as the ending is a little abrupt, but certainly shows potential.

I really liked “Trucks”. True, it felt a little juvenile, and doesn’t have as much evidence of Rudd’s strength with language as some of his other writings, but the tale itself and the emotions it evokes were well worth the read. A story of nostalgia and regret and the ghosts of adolescence mingled with a genuine haunting.

“Run” is great fun. A fast paced, zombie tale that hits the mark perfectly.

The poetry in the collection is simple and evocative, if verging on the self-indulgent. But what else could you expect from gothic poetry? It is poetry worth reading and returning to, with a certain music to their telling.

In summary, this is makes for an excellent read. A selection of eerie stories and poems to indulge yourself with in the long nights of winter. I look forward to reading more from this writer in future.

Buy the Book of Squalor here