I’m a horror fan, but that label can mean a lot of things. You can be narrow in your fandom and only like ghost stories or “hardcore” horror. Me, I consider myself an omnivore, I like every conceivable shade of the horror genre, as long as it’s done well. But while reading Weston Ochse’s Blaze of Glory I was forced to acknowledge that I do have a bit of a bias when it comes to horror: I LOVE creature features.
Blaze of Glory is a first rate literary creature feature, it’s got an eclectic and likable cast of survivors, some thoughtful allusions to the subgenre’s past, and a host of creatures that are both creepy and original. Oh, and it’s also got Dylan Thomas poems being recited while our protagonists douse salt-sensitive monsters with Super Soakers.
What I love about Blaze is Ochse’s constant mashing-up of high and lowbrow, of funny and scary, of the themes of hope and despair. Ochse is working in a genre that has seen every kind of creature, but he still keeps things fresh by never quite coloring in the lines.
The “maggies” (a nickname derived from maggots) come in different flavors. Some are the size of buses, toppling buildings and ripping up pavement, while others are small enough to live inside you (there are a few moments of gory body horror in the story ala The Thing). The monsters are captivating, but Ochse also understands the need for compelling human characters for readers to root for. This is a short novel, but enough time is spent on characterization that we grow to care for Buckley, Little Rashad, et al.
Highly recommended, especially for only three bucks.
This was my first Ochse book, but it won’t be my last. I’d read his work before in the pages of Shock Totem and have already secured a copy of his collection Multiplex Fandango.
Also worthy of mention is that Blaze contains a lengthy afterward by the author wherein he describes the trials and tribulations of trying to get this story to the screen. Reading about how tantalizingly close this came to being a feature film is frustrating, as I’m sure that it’s something many readers would still like to see one day.