A demonic entity will return at Midnight on All Hallows’ Eve to claim the lives of a child from each family. A young woman scoffs at the legend and invokes the monster’s rage. She must face the truth, that he is real, and stand up to him alone to save her village.
Luwynda is the only person brave enough to laugh in the face of the legendary monster who arrives to collect kids instead of candy one Halloween Night. Defying prophecy, the brash girl finds herself confronting Horrendus in a hopeless effort to thwart his wicked toll. She knows a thing or two about bullies. But can she end the curse or is her village damned? From The Macabre Mind Of Lori R. Lopez, a collection of thirteen chillers.
“For every treat there must be a trick!”
Luwynda faltered as a swirl of fog parted and the cretin became clear out of the blackness surrounding him. He had reached the end of the grass at the edge of the village.
~ from Horrendus
“’TWAS THE EVENTIDE of an autumn day, the merchants closing shop, families gathered to sup ere shuttering eyelids for the night. Hens began a ruckus, clamoring as if some demon were amongst them. And, indeed, one was.”
The Storykeeper paused for a drag on his pipe and a slurp of his drink. Villagers huddled around him, adults and children alike, waiting as if entranced. They knew the legend well, yet each word was a drop of nectar to parched ears hungering for excitement.
“Out from the gritty tarrish depth of the forest he came, the accursed heathen conceived of a devil’s dark unsavory spite. He was so awful, so disgusting, the town called the wretch Horrendus and feared him like nothing else that ever walked.
“The monster’s first meal was a grizzled codger like myself, singing, weaving a trail to his door from visiting a friend. He cried out at the common, passing the cheer-lit windows of his neighbors. They’d find what was left in a field, devoured and spat out in disgust by no beast that any could name — until they gave him a title.”
“In short, it left me wanting more…which is no bad thing.”
“My last taste of Lori R. Lopez’ work was her short collection 3-Z, which consisted of a trio of zombie tales.
Today, is a solo short story that seems, at first glance, to be something of a departure. ‘Horrendus’ reads like a straight fantasy tale – wizened storytellers in the village square, ancient traditions, an evil force threatening to destroy the village, a stranger come to save them. All your standard fantasy fare, in fact.
Now, I’m no stranger to fantasy fiction, and ‘Horrendus’ is by no means a bad example of the genre. Lopez is still a horror writer at heart, and the initial rampage of the titular monster is loving portrayed with lashings of gore. In many ways, it reminds me of Robert E. Howard’s early work: plenty of vim and vigour, characters drawn in broad strokes, and a thoroughly stonking delivery.
While I do love me a bit of fantasy, I’m one of those chaps who also likes plenty of backstory. Lopez gives us some of that, right at the beginning, with the retelling of the legend of Horrendus, but I want more – more I say! What is Horrendus? Just how powerful is he? Who is Luwynda? What has driven her, moulded her into becoming such a wannabe bad-ass?
I blame myself – too many of my formative years playing AD&D means I crave details for my monsters. I blame Lopez too – Luwynda is a captivating character, and I want to understand the forces that made her.
All-in-all, ‘Horrendus’ is a fine story, but feels like I’ve flicked through an 800 page epic and read a chapter whilst in line for a caramel latte at my local bookshop. In short, it left me wanting more…which is no bad thing.”
Kevin Bufton (2014)
THE BLOODY BLOODY BOOK REVIEWS; Goodreads Review
“This is Lopez’s attempt at straight fantasy and, for the most part, it works. It’s that age-old tale of a demonic presence threatening a village, only for a hero (or, in this case, heroine) to rise up from among them and fight the good fight. It’s an interesting take on the subject, at points playing it totally straight, at others attempting to deconstruct or, at the very least, subvert the more familiar tropes. It’s an enjoyable read, only spoiled for me by the antagonist – the Horrendus of the title. I just can’t get a read on him (it?) either by his physical description or through his motivations and that’s frustrating, as the rest of the piece is well-realised and worth your time.”
Kevin Bufton (2016)
THE BLOODY BLOODY BOOK REVIEW; Goodreads Review
“When a monster threatens a village on Halloween, Luwynda rises as the unexpected hero and confronts the menacing creature face to face.
Structurally similar to a mock epic, this story reminded me in many ways of the first part of the classic BEOWULF. I liked how Lopez chose to make her hero female, and also how she created a legend of her own in the often over-exaggerated tales behind Halloween’s shaky history.”