Wednesday, 4 February 2015

REVIEW: James Newman - People Are Strange

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Publication Date: 30th June 2015
Pages: 94


A collection of short stories from James Newman.

I really didn’t want to read this just yet as the only copy I have is my personally signed one from James and I didn’t want to scuff or damage it. It has just been released on ebook though so now all you lucky people can get to read it too! The temptation got too much though and I just had to don my white gloves and sit in the specially controlled room to read it.

The foreword in this book is written by Jeff Strand. It’s quite possibly the best, funniest thing I have read in ages. Anyway, on with the stories.


Earl wakes up when a fly buzzes in his ear. He shoos it away. He can’t believe what he is seeing or hearing when the fly starts to talk to him. The fly asks him to do a favour for him. It involves murder and Earl doesn’t seem to have a choice.

This is mad. You would think a story with a talking fly would have you thinking WTF? It works though. It’s punchy and funny. It’s very very creepy and it has a twist at the end that makes Earl cry, and you just stare at the page in disbelief.



John Henry Mason never lost a fight. When he gets jumped at a creek by an “Injun”, he aims to keep that record going.
This starts as a good old cowboy v’s injun western short that will take you back to the lazy Saturday afternoons sitting watching Mr Wayne on the telly. With a bitter twist at the end it turns into a disturbing modern day tale of murder and viciousness.

★★★★★ for the twist.


He knows she is cheating on him. It’s come to a head. There are knives involved.

This is a short “flash fiction” piece with a hell of a brutal twist at the end. This was also made into a short film by Kevin Woods which is fantastic. It totally gives you the creepy, eerie feeling that James was trying to get across in the story.

You can watch the short film here: You Tube.

★★★★★ for being able to produce something so creepy in so little words.


A man gets very angry at his neighbours constant farting. He can stand the noise or the stench no longer and decides his only course of action is to kill him.
Written in the style of Poe, I really have no idea what I just read!?

★★★ weird ones.


Flash fiction. Can’t say anymore. Oh……don’t read whilst eating.



A story told in the form of diary entries by a woman about her general everyday life with her husband. All is going well until her husband sponsors a child in Ethiopia. Is he obsessing over the child or is she slowly going nuts?

I found this story very disturbing. I won’t say why but I felt very very dirty afterwards. It’s a bit sickening to read but on the other hand you can’t not. Brilliant writing again.



The Joneses have everything. Their neighbours must keep up, getting bigger and better with everything they copy. Will they copy death?

Another flash fiction and I absolutely loved this one. Horror without the monsters or jumps.



Merrick is a travelling salesman, selling bibles. Well, he uses that as a front. He is on a road trip, never staying too long in one place. He is actually a serial killer and even has a body on his back seat right now. He passes a sign for a town called Hatred that doesn’t appear on any map, and decides to visit. Hatred is a town from hell, but for someone like Merrick it could turn out to be his Utopia.

This is wonderful. It’s brutal. It paints a horrifying and harrowing picture of both Merrick and Hatred. Mr Newman’s evil and sadistic side comes out in this story with disturbing force.



Jack is running late for work. At 8.29 AM there is a knock at the door. When he answers it, Jack is confronted by two gentlemen asking if they can speak to him about Jesus. Jack tries his best to get rid of them but his wife Mary is trying to convince him to speak with them. Next thing he knows, Jack is tied to a chair while Mary is likewise trussed up. What happens next is a total nightmare for Jack and Mary as the “brothers” try to get him to repent.

This novella is the best story in the book for me. It starts like any other annoying visit from these religious nuts but quickly transcends into something much more horrifying with a twist that had me shouting “aw FFS!”. The tension, terror and mental and physical horror in this story is immense.


So there you have it. A collection of short stories by Mr James Newman. As Jeff Strand points out in the foreword, this collection is very far removed from any of James’s other novels I have read. If someone handed you one of the stories to read without knowing anything about it, you may have difficulty recognising the style as Newman’s.

They are horror. They are full of psychological head feck. They are disturbing and harrowing at times. They are funny at times. The one thing they have in common with the Newman novels you will be familiar with is that the writing is superb. Whether it be a novella length story or one page, you cannot escape the story. You get dragged into it and you will not get out again until the story is finished. A lot of the time you don’t want it to finish either.

At the start of each story James has a little narrative to tell you more about the story and how it came to be. I hope he doesn’t mind but I want to quote a section from one of these:

“I call it “Middle-American, white “picket” fence horror. I find myself writing about these themes more and more these days – tales not populated with zombies or werewolves or vampires, but with normal people. People we see every day. People who are sometimes capable of terrible things…….”

This describes his writing to a tee. Grab some of his novels and you will discover this. It’s relatively easy to make a horror novel scary when someone is being chased by a monster or an axe wielding mad man. It’s not so easy to take everyday situations and turn them about so that you dread them and the horrors they can bring. James Newman is a master at this. He could probably scare me writing about opening a fridge. He is that good.

The ratings are the highest possible. It couldn’t get any less.

General rating: 

★★★★★ Absolutely loved it and highly recommended it.

Horror rating: 

★★★★★ I need a change of pants.

This book has just been released on ebook. Grab your copy NOW! Be sure to check out Mr Newman’s other works including Animosity, Ugly as Sin and The Wicked. You will not be disappointed.

You can buy People Are Strange here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Synopsis:

Stories that are sometimes darkly humorous and often spine-chilling written by the author of Midnight Rain, The Wicked, Ugly As Sin and Animosity.

James Newman is the author of a diverse selection of horror and suspense tales, dark fiction told with a distinct Southern voice and more often than not with a hint of pitch-black humor. His published novels include MIDNIGHT RAIN, THE WICKED, ANIMOSITY, and UGLY AS SIN. When he's not writing, he enjoys watching horror movies (and showing off what he knows about the genre with the recent release of his first NONfiction book: 666 HAIR-RAISING HORROR MOVIE TRIVIA QUESTIONS), listening to loud rock n' roll, and even dabbling in some stage-acting every now and then.

In real life, James lives in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife and their two sons. 

And for more about James, visit his site or find him on social media:

Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon Page

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