Murdermorphosis is a snappy, nasty story; a rapid read set in the sleazy urban backstreets. It reminded me quite a bit of Roald Dahl’s old Tales of the Unexpected in the crafty construction of its small psychodrama. It would be tricky to discuss the plot without revealing too much of the several stings – some more obvious than others. It kept me entertained for a couple of hours at any rate.
This is a brave novella in many ways – feels like it’s written by a relatively new author. He explores some controversial (and potentially offensive: suitable only for adult readers) ground. Methhead moms sell themselves for their next fix. We watch this behaviour perpetuate into the next generation, creating unrepentant rent-boys who’ll do almost anything in an alleyway for the promise of 20 dollars. Their lack of any moral focus means they have the potential to commit the worst of crimes. Like the best schlock-horror, Murdermorphosis wraps a serious message in a violent, lowest-common-denominator wrapper.
The writing shows distinct promise but needed a decent editor to tidy it up, remove the weird emphasis on some nouns and address a couple of terrible clunkers (“making end’s meat” almost gave me an embolism). The excellent crystal meth / expanded consciousness scenes give a hint of what this author could achieve with practice and guidance: there’s talent tucked away in this gory little story.
I did find myself wondering about the overall feeling of homophobia which pervades Murdermorphosis – but it made a change from feeling uneasy about an atmosphere of misogyny which is what we normally encounter at the extreme end of the thriller / horror spectrum.
At the end, do the characters’ actions feel like they could be grounded in our reality? Hardly, which kinda relocates the narrative from the real world and into that of fable, more like an horrific fairy-tale than events which could actually happen. Murdermorphosis certainly plays around with perception and the boundaries of what physically exists, and what our minds manipulate. The preposterous selection of characters’ names throughout is enough to indicate that this aren’t real people in the real world, but the theme of moral corruption evolving throughout subsequent generations is all too serious.
Overall? Interesting. A short story, not a full-length novel and as such should probably be priced in the 99c/77p range. Certainly not a story for the easily-offended. If the author sticks with his craft then it’ll be intriguing to see what he produces in 10 years’ time…
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Murdermorphosis by Jeffrey A Apostol is available at Amazon as an ebook