He tweets from @stevestred
One of the best things to have come out of 2019 in my reading and reviewing was the discovery of Steve Stred – a writer who blew me away with a few tales of dark fiction including The Stranger and his brilliantly disturbing and deliciously woven masterpiece Piece of Me. So, when I heard that he had a tale in Demain Publishing‘s Short Sharp Shocks! series I just had to get hold of a copy.
Demain Publishing have been releasing Short Sharp Shocks! for a while now (March 2019) and it’s just such an interesting idea. It helps relatively unknown authors get published whilst also introducing them to a wider audience and helping to give them much needed exposure to the horror genre. Out of the many that I’ve read so far, each one delivers on the quality front and it’s great to see short stories / novellas getting the recognition they deserve and finding publication in print and digital formats in stand alone books and not crammed into an anthology. So, if you’ve not yet discovered them… what are you doing reading this, get on over there now and find your next read!
The One That Knows No Fear is a story that was literally dripping with nostalgia and horror in equal measure, it seemed to be dripping from the very pages (well I read it on a Kindle, but if I were reading it in print I’m sure it would have left a greasy bloody stain in my palms) – so with both the nostalgia and the horror elements firing on all cylinders it made for one hell of an enjoyable ride.
Seeing as this is a short story, I’ll try to refrain from any possible spoilers – as the real delight of this tale is seeing how things pan out for our cast of characters and what becomes of their individual fates.
Our main protagonist Timmy is a young boy who loves nothing better than sitting in front of the television watching Daredevils a show dedicated to thrill seeking stunt drivers. He watches it every week, glued to the screen watching people defy death – flying through the air, leaping over or through fire, driving into concrete walls, juggling chainsaws whilst riding a bike with no hands – full on bat-shit crazy shenanigans. His life is changed one day when he watches the show reveal a new stunt man – The One That Knows No Fear.
Timmy watches on as the stuntman Mr. Fear continually gets his stunts wrong, week-in, week-out Mr. Fear is seen crashing on jumps, being sliced apart by helicopter blades and even burnt alive – but by the end of the episode he shocks the audience by simply walking away from the carnage, intact and still breathing as if nothing has happened. Timmy is enraptured, knowing that the show is coming to his town pretty soon he’s desperate to watch it live… to see Mr. Fear in the flesh and see how he’s able to cheat deaths clutches time and time again, but that would involve getting his step father to take him… and that’s a conversation he just doesn’t see going too well.
The relationship between Timmy and his step father was expertly written by Stred and you can really feel the tension and anger there – the resentment that Timmy’s step father has towards him, is at times palpable and also believable – making this relationship one of the hidden gems of the story – and this relationship dynamic is also brought to a heart rending conclusion.
The One That Knows No Fear is a terrific short story and one that left me wanting more, so if this was ever turned into a longer story I’d be first in line to grab a copy (I understand that there is a longer manuscript – will this ever see the light of day? I guess Steve Stred is the only one who knows that answer).
There are a few of the supporting characters that I’d love to have learnt more about, their backgrounds, what happened to them to make them the way they were – especially that of the fantastically dark and macabre creation that was Mr. Fear… but apart from that, it’s another sound offering from Steve Stred and one that you’d do well to pick up!
The One That Knows No Fear is published by Demain Publishing more information is available here.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction. Steve is the author of two novels, four novellas, two short story collections as well as two poetry/drabble collections. Steve has had works featured in 100 Word Zombie Bites, 100 Word Horrors 3, and Forest of Fear.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews. Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
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