Book Review of And a Madman Mumbled

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Although I have read short fiction by H. David Blalock before, this is my first opportunity to read a collection by him.  My first discovery of his work was found in the short story anthology, Dragons Composed. After reading his submission to that anthology, I knew I needed to grab him for the Southern Haunts books which I co-edit.

After reading his submissions and seeing the versatility he was capable of, I was excited when his collection, And a Madman Mumbled, was released in print, ebook, and audiobook.  Although I opted for the audiobook, I purchased a hard copy to go on my shelf, due to how well his stories entertained me.

And a Madman Mumbled is a wonderful opportunity for new readers to become acquainted with how Blalock’s mind works. In this collection, six speculative fiction stories are provided.  Not only, do these works allow the reader to debate and think outside the box, but they allow the reader to see Blalock is capable of writing in any genre he pleases.

The first story, Camouflage, is a cerebral piece based in an insane asylum.  Our protagonist is a mental patient by the name of Jason. Although this story is chilling in nature, I found dark humor in the antagonist being a man eating tree.  As the story spirals out into its nightmarish ending, the reader is left questioning what actually happened. For those familiar with Ray Bradbury or Richard Matheson, one might appreciate how Blalock has channeled their literary talents into his own vision.

The second tale, Face of the Enemy, is sci-fi/fantasy themed and has a feeling compared to Robert Heinlein. This story takes place in our galaxy, and poses a catastrophic possibility that could be fatal for Earth. Such as most brilliant sci-fi stories, this segment lightly touches on politics. As Blalock proves to be the master of speculative fiction, the subject he touches here is simply presented for thought and not utilized as a soapbox speech.

The third story, The Last Drive, is a disturbing sci-fi genre piece. Not since watching the original Terminator have I felt so unnerved about technology. The way Blalock describes the antagonists here shows a degree of originality that is sure to leave an impression in one’s mind.

The fourth installment, The Moment Frozen, is a chilling encounter about a man named Dan who is diving peacefully, until his car suddenly stops for no reason.  After he has become stranded, he catches a glimpse of a creature that could possibly be a gremlin. In this white knuckled tale, I quickly became married to its suspenseful originality, as Mr. Blalock paints a subtle nightmare with hints of Lovecraft. What impressed me most, was his explanation of how gremlins come into our world and why they destroy our machines.

The fifth segment, No Pay, No Pass, is the only light hearted story in this collection. However, don’t let what I just said fool you, as it is a dark humor piece. In this simple, yet grin invoking story, our characters are a knight and a troll.  The humor is found in their argument, as the knight wants to cross the bridge that the troll guards without paying its required toll. For fans of Christopher Moore, this has the humor one might need to recover from The Moment Frozen.

The final story, Revenge, is a dark fantasy piece that introduces a necromancer named Tsiel, Lord Djemo.  On the scene of a battlefield, Tsiel raises the body of a dead nobleman belonging to his enemy. By doing this, he is hoping to command the reanimated corpse to assassinate his opponent. The imagery crafted within the prose is haunting and feels similar to the tense scenes one might find in in a book by George R. R. Martin or Tolkin.

My overall experience with this book was an adventure. From a scale of 1 to 10, one being the worst and ten being the best, I can easily rate this a 9 1/2. The audiobook experience was a 6.

To order a copy of And a Madman Mumbled, CLICK HERE.

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2 Responses to “Book Review of And a Madman Mumbled”

  1. Thanks for the kind words, Alex. It’s always good to know someone enjoys the work.

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