Martyrs and Monsters - Robert Dunbar, Greg F. Gifune Robert Dunbar's book is my 666th rated book..... I am sure that this will make him smile and give off an evil laugh.

I was amazed by this collection. First of all, the stories didn't seem like they were even from the same author. Did the same guy write the pitch black "Gray Soil" and the laugh out loud humorous southern gothic "The Folly?" A complaint I often have when reading a story collection by one author is that the stories start to sound the same.

Not so here; which means a particular reader might not like every story. I don't think you are supposed to. I don't think Dunbar writes stories that he hopes everyone likes. That is always the case with artistic integrity. He writes. We read.

Some stories hit me as deeply as anything I have ever read. My personal favorites were "Like a Story," "High Rise," "Gray Soil," "Mal de Mer," "Red Soil," "The Folly," and "Explanations." I also enjoyed "Getting Wet" and "Are We Dead Yet" as they told a continuous story.

It is tempting to say that "Like a Story" reminds me of Gifune or "Mal de Mer" is sort of Lovecraftian at least in theme (although certainly not in writing style) but I will resist that temptation. Why compare writers? Dunbar is clearly an original with his own voice.

I can say that if you like dark fiction (because most of these stories are dark, even The Folly which is the lightest of the bunch) that is well written and original; if you are not afraid to go to places that may make you uncomfortable; if you are willing to read an author that is different from anyone else you have read----then try this one out.

By the way, in an age of throw away titles or merely using the title of the best known story, the title of this collection is very appropriate and adds to the understanding. The characters here are martyrs and monsters and sometimes they are both.