If you’re into horror fiction with full on gross-out factor, buy this story and give it a try. I seriously doubt you’ll be disappointed. Kitchens and cookery lend themselves well to the ultraviolent side of horror (on a personal note, I used to work in a kitchen, and I’ve no doubt some of the people I worked with would have loved this story if I’d left it for them in the mess room!) and Consumption is a familiar yet effective play on culinary horror. Although I’ve never seen the film, it did put me in mind of the old video cover from The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover. Or at least it made me think I should finally get around to checking that film out, if I can get a copy.
An otherworldly creature that brings a special experience to people when hunted and consumed? I feel like I’ve seen it before, although I admit I’m stuck for saying where right now. Consumption didn’t strike me as greatly original, but M P Hicks’s writing style is what really makes this story – the 4 star review is for how well it reads. And it really does read well. The camera-like switches between the chef and the diners are well timed. It’s uncomfortable reading without being overdone, and provoked the reaction I always look for in an extreme horror story. Forgive the obvious choice of phrase here, but it’s was a full meal that didn’t leave me overstuffed.
If anything, the line that stayed with me was the one about how the chef of the story had to go to great lengths to get hold of the creature concerned. The short description that followed I think would make a good story in itself. There’s potential for either a prequel or even a sequel where the events of the first book get referenced. Maybe: ‘Are we seriously going to hunt this thing? Didn’t you hear about those diners and the last guy who commissioned this?’
If you really want to see what M P Hicks can do with the short story format, I’d recommend Revolver more, but Consumption is well crafted and pleasingly nasty.
Oh yeah, and for maximum experience, read it in a restaurant. Especially if the one you go to has nosy people you want to teach a lesson about not reading over your shoulder.