Author: Betty Rocksteady
Publisher: Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 2018
I have been following the works of Betty Rocksteady for a few years now, and I can say honestly that I am never let down. Her writing is creepy, grotesque, abysmally vile, and manages to hook the reader (me) every damn time.
Over a year ago, I snagged copies of her books Arachnophile and Like Jagged Teeth. To date, Arachnophile is one of the weirdest tales I have ever read, but it managed to drag me within the story, and I finished reading it within a span of six hours, stopping only once to shower. As for Like Jagged Teeth, when I first picked up that novella, I was in a pretty dark place and the content was a bit too much to handle. I never did read that book from start to finish, but now that I am back to being in a good head space, I plan to pick it back up very soon.
More recently (within the last week) I got a hold of Betty's most recent publishings, In Dreams We Rot and The Writhing Skies. In Dreams We Rot is a collection of stories spanning Rocksteady's career as a writer (which I did not read yet) but I did manage to lay down and read the innards of the gruesome novella The Writhing Skies. Just like Arachnophile, I was sucked in hard, and this novella will be the main focus of the remainder of this zine post.
With trigger warnings on the first page, one could probably make a stab that this book is not for the squeamish or the faint of heart... yeah, it's not. This novella was one of the most disturbing things I have read in my entire life, but I could not put it down. I read the first eight chapters before bed, and after sleeping for only four hours, I got up and finished the remainder of the book before ten a.m. I'm very glad I did the rest of the reading in the daylight, as I fear that vivid hallucinations of slippery tendrils and fleshy robes just may have adorned my mind. There would be no sleep for Devin Joseph Meaney, I am oh so sure.
Taken from the back cover: ''Glowing lights and figures in tattered robes force Sarah from the safety of her apartment. Outside, phosphorescent creatures infiltrate her every orifice. They want to know everything, especially the things she would rather forget.''
Put out by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, I suggest that anyone and everyone (above the legal age within their country) gives this a read... if they are brave enough, of course. I have a pretty strong stomach and even I felt the need to look away at times, even though I did not.
On a final note, Betty did her own cover art, and also featured twenty of her own black and white illustrations within this book, showcasing in more ways than one how her talent should never be questioned. This was a great (although vile) read, and I absolutely cannot wait for Rocksteady's newest creations. Great job, Betty! -Devin Joseph Meaney