Here is the intro to a book review that was commissioned by and published through the review Lab at Columbia College Chicago.
Never Bet The Devil by Orrin Grey
In his debut short story collection Never Bet The Devil & Other Warnings, Orrin Grey strives to take the familiar, tired elements of the horror genre and use them against the reader. His strength comes from the knowledge a reader will bring to a horror story and takes advantage of this situation by giving them just what they won’t expect. Reinvention, of course, is a mammoth task that requires both a purpose and a thorough understanding of the genre being handled. Luckily, Grey not only has the necessary awareness, he’s motivated by a great respect to restore and preserve the dignity that horror once had.
The first real attempt at reinvention comes halfway through the collection, when Grey decides to create his own version of a werewolf before the reader’s eyes. “The Barghest” presents a man’s torturous experience as said monster, but the story is told by his assistant who was witness to the transformation. The terror, then, is created through observing the mental deterioration of a friend, not through excessive carnage. By addressing this story directly to the man becoming a monster, the emotion becomes real and the worry more believable. “I’ve spent a lot of the time since then wondering how it happened. You were so careful. Was it your eagerness that was your undoing, or did something else render you suddenly clumsy?” The assistant’s confusion feels personal, like a parent hurting for their missing child, regretting the unknown. This dramatic relationship anchors the story and allows the reader to be taken in by this monster’s new origin.
Read the rest of the review here.