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Story Time Wrath James White Review by
Wrath James White
Skins Of Youth
By Charlee Jacob and Mehitobel Wilson
Necro Publications
ISBN 1-889186-23-6


SKINS OF YOUTH brings together a seasoned veteran of the horror genre with one of its up and coming young stars. Charlee Jacob and Mehitobel Wilson combine with one original novella each in this new chapbook of horror and suspense from Necro Publications.

Skins of Youth begins with a twist on the traditional vampire tale. In “Immortality” Charlee Jacob tells us the story of Mihail, a trapeez artist in a travelling circus who dreams of becoming a vampire. But Mihail does more than dream. Feeding off the legends told to him by his grandmother, Mihail actively tries to become a vampire. First by seeking out the undead among the sea of gothic poseurs who flock to his shows and then, frustrated by the lack of genuine undead sires to recreate him, he tries to evoke the vampires curse by offending God, getting himself excommunicated from church and then shunned by his own family.

Just when you thought there was nothing new that could be done with the vampire mythology, Jacob brings us this refreshing and thoroughly creepy respite from the typical boy meets vampire, falls in love with vampire, becomes vampire, tripe that’s pervading the market these days.

Yeah, there’s still the vampire romance homo-erotic clichés but they are more than forgivable when used to set up such a satisfying and unexpected ending.

Paired with Jacob is Necro Publications newest find, Mehitobel Wilson who brings us a tale of lost youth in “Growing Out Of It”. In this bizarre eulogy to the days of sex, drugs, and rock and roll Mehitobel introduces us to Ted, a man who is determined not to grow up despite the fact that he has recently celebrated his thirtieth birthday. When he begins to notice his friends slowly mutating, tattoos and piercings disappearing into their skin, regurgitating black liquid, and hanging out less and less, he worries that his life is slipping away from him. His panic increases when he starts to notice the same mutations slowly occurring in him.

There was a satisfying nostalgia to “Growing Out Of It” that made me mourn the loss of my own wild and carefree youth. How abruptly your life can change directions. One minute you’re stage diving into a mosh pit and the next you’re taking the kids to daycare in the mini-van. Wilson gives us a new perspective on these changes, allowing us to see them through the eyes of those closest to us; watching as all our rowdy friends settle down and are slowly possessed by middle class sensibilities like some bizarre invasion of the body snatchers. Aliens who want to take over our bodies and force us all to watch Oprah, get real jobs, and listen to top 40 music.

The pairing of these two different styles was quite interesting and something that Necro will hopefully continue. These were both fascinating tales. Not the kind that make you sleep with the lights on, but the kind that make you think. More speculative than pure horror. While neither of the stories really awed me they were both quite good if a tad tame for my palate. Perhaps it’s just that with the reputation of Necro my expectations are already set when I pick up one of their books. Expectations set by the likes of Ed Lee, Gerard Houarner, and Charlee Jacob herself. These tales were missing that raw, naked, violence, passion, dizzying surrealism, and just plain old gross and visceral horror that has epitomized Necro publications in the past.

These were tales of relatively quiet horror and worked well on those terms. With that said I’m sure that when you read “Immortality’ and get to the scene of Mihail tossing a jar filled with maggots onto the church alter you’ll think I’m nuts for calling this quiet horror, but I did say relatively. These stories are still not for the timid. They contain just enough sex, violence, and blasphemy to keep away those prudish philistines who prefer their horror lukewarm but perhaps not quiet enough for those seeking to be scalded by it. Skins of Youth is that happy medium. A great introduction to two very formidable talents. Charlee Jacob is already enjoying mass market success and I think Mehitobel Wilson’s time will be coming soon.

Four BookWyrms


This review copyright 2002 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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