Last Meal In Osaka & Other Stories by Gary Buller is a journey through various interpretations of horror, first we have Swashbuckle Cove which is your more childhood based horror where we are unsure if the things that are transpiring to our protagonists are real or if it is a coping mechanism for grief and trauma and an overactive imagination. Then hot on the heels of that we have the title story Last Meal In Osaka which is a deeply rich and terror laced story of one mans most decadent meal before he dies. Then the final nail in this coffin of brilliance is Rise Of The Chiggy-Pigs which is a weird, uncanny and experimental piece of horror as we see how a traumatic event at a young age can colour a life.
Gary Buller treats us to a banquet of horrific brilliance with this small collection, showing us his writing chops as it were. Each story stands on its own merits but gives an opportunity for the reader to discover the very different facets to Buller and his horror writing.
Swashbuckle Cove is a fabulous little tale about two brothers getting up to things they shouldn’t be doing, they break into an amusement attraction and start to ride it whilst the park is closed. It’s a piece that is full of tension from the outset and Buller does a fabulous job at giving us protagonists (young and boys) who are fully realised, not a moment I was reading did I doubt their ages or what they were discussing – instantly transporting us to the turmoil that they are going through. As I mentioned above Buller does a great job at also lacing this story with doubt, the carnage that takes place, is it real or is it imagination – something most definitely horrific has happened but is what this boy seeing real or a coping mechanism for what actually happened. The ending leaves us in no doubt but that’s for you to discover yourselves!
Last Meal In Osaka is a fabulous tale which is creepy and superbly written. Our protagonist finds himself in the most decadent and opulent restaurant where he is attempting to have his last meal. Buller does a brilliant job here at making us believe that this is someones last choice, our protagonist sucks oxygen whilst these decadent trays of food are handed to him, and each one having a story attached to it as his host explains why they are so expensive. Buller creates a story that is as shocking as it is hard hitting and caused me to think of the great Chuck Palahniuk – Last Meal In Osaka is a story that pulls no punches and is full of gutsy writing!
Rise of the Chiggy-Pigs is the most stylised experimental piece in the collection and I bloody loved it. If you want to get me excited mix weird fiction with horror and you can drag me anywhere you want – and Buller with this story does just that! I was a ragdoll willing to go wherever his story went and I was at his mercy. Our protagonist here is dealing with a traumatic incident from his childhood, something that has stained him to his very core, an incident that has coloured the way he sees the world and in a way shows us that we can’t quite ever escape the harm our parents do to us. It’s a fabulous story and the growing tension which is implemented by Buller in the appearance of the Chiggy-Pigs is a brilliant smoking gun tool which tells us that the shit is about to hit the fan. A deeply original story that is told in the most beautifully weird and delicate way – the conclusion and the scene leading up to this are arrestingly tragic and Buller forces you to look at this life laid to waste and you can’t turn away, however much you want to, as Buller grips your head from behind, his fingers holding your skull, forcing your eyes to take in the carnage before you! Brilliant. Utterly Brilliant!
A fabulous insight into a great new talent in the horror genre – a collection not to be missed!
Last Meal In Osaka & Other Stories is published by Demain Publishing and is available here.
Gary Buller is an author from Manchester England where he lives with his long suffering partner Lisa, and his daughter Holly. He is a huge fan of all things macabre having grown up reading King and Koontz and loves a tale with a twist.
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
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