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Reed Alexander’s Literary Review of ‘Blood and Mud’ by John Baltisberger (2020)

Always Punch Nazis…

Yeah, this was really good and I can definitely recommend it. I do have a huge gripe with horror that makes me want to root for the antagonist. One of the tropes I complain about the most is the tendency for horror to have victims that are all contemptible pricks. However, there are two important points to the first contemptible pricks of this story. First, they are white supremacists, a group called The Righteous, and I do love it when white nationalists, especially Incel white nationalists, get their comeuppance. I am a huge fan of comeuppance. As I’ve noted in the past, comeuppance can be cathartic.

Second, and more importantly, the fact that the first victims of this book REALLY deserve it, sets a deescalation curve of the next victims, which is especially important to the primary plot.

That fact that the ‘deservedness’ of the following victims decreases as the violence escalates, sets the most important part of the narrative. This is the story of an angel, Satan, losing his faith to the ugliness of the world. In this lapse of faith, he lashed out by murdering the world; seeing it as irredeemable. He summons the behemoth to effectively wipe out the human race. Interestingly enough, while the behemoth does kill quite a lot of people (knocking over buildings, starting fires, and sewing destruction), what fuels the behemoth also does a lot of killing.

The behemoth is made of the sins, evil, and ugliness of the world it’s destroying. Evil is sucked out of any human (or angel) that gets too close, killing them slowly and painfully, and adding to the power and scale of the behemoth. In a sense, what is killing the people confronting the behemoth (besides the large chunks of building they get flattened by) is their own ‘deservedness.’

Now, you don’t have to convince me that the majority of humans are scum. I’m a well known cynic and wrote an entire book based on the catharses of victims getting their comeuppance in horror movies. What is significant to this story, is that good people undoubtedly will suffer for the sins of the evil feeding the behemoth. For Satan, they’re not good enough. Because no one can live up to the truly great individuals he’s had to watch die over the millennia (he’s immortal), even the slightest sin is too much, even if that sin was the human propensity to simply not get involved. Sure it starts out with Satan murdering dozens of white supremacists, but after that everyone who dies is pretty much the casualty of that ugliness. The lesson here in, turning a blind eye to hate makes you just as guilty of that ugliness.

The behemoth is just a tumor, fascists were the cancer. And because the cancer was never removed, it metastasized and is going to kill everyone. So, remember people… punch them Nazis…

What really fascinated me about this book, is the mythology pulled from the Jewish traditions. Satan isn’t the same as we’d expect him to be from the usual Anglo-Christian garbage. He’s an angel and acts like an angel. He has a purpose to fulfill, God given, and essentially doing just that. Satan isn’t evil, we are, and he’s punishing us with our own evil. So, if you’re expecting a big red devil with horns, goat legs, and cloven hooves, you’re going to be disappointed. Satan, is far more like the character from Twain’s Meritorious Stranger, just a full grown man as apposed to a child.

Importantly, it’s well written, fascinating, engaging, and really greedy violent. But what’s not to love about Biblical Kaiju horror. I seriously cannot recommend this enough.

It wasn’t easy to decide if this should go on the website, on one hand, Blood & Mud isn’t a Madness Heart Press book, so it’s fine. On the other, I wrote the book, so there is a vested interest in word getting out, especially in a positive review. At the end of the day, we don’t pay Reed to review books, and he is free to be as kind or as cruel in his reviews as he see’s fit.

Note from the Editor

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