Cover Image: The Essential Sick Stuff

The Essential Sick Stuff

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Member Reviews

Full disclosure: I skipped the story “Housewarming” because of the spiders, so I’m not judging this story at all nor does it factor into how I feel about the rest of the collection. I didn’t read enough of it to have an opinion on it, I’m just too arachnophobic to not have the first couple pages having my skin scrawling.

I’m also not super into half-star ratings, but I think I’m going to round this up to 4 stars, but it’s more of a 3.5 for me.

Some of these stories definitely weren’t for me. Reading Kelly’s introduction, I understand why many of the stories were written in the way they were, having violence and bloodshed almost just for the sake of doing so. Keeping that in my mind, the stories were good for what they were. Sometimes I felt like they were lacking in substance or motive, and I did find myself desiring a little less ‘shock value’ and wanting more in terms of set-up and plot.

The first story I read that gave me both, that turned around my love of this collection, was the story “Mojo Mama.” I love this story. I love the idea of a cursed family and the way the backstory was given alongside the horrifying imagery of bugs eating away at certain family’s insides, and the only living female of the family experincing posssibly the worst version of a period I’ve ever seen described. As a person who menstruates, the absolute horror that Kelly brought to mind was absolutely wonderful, and I was left with chills.

The collection did take a little while for me to read, which may be a signal that the collection either wasn’t working for me, or that I had to be in the right mood for it. This may be the reason the first few stories felt flat to me, while others with the same sort of vibe ended up resonating with me. A few notable favorites in this collection were “Exit 85,” “Snakehandler,” “Pins and Needles,” and “Eating Hearty.” A special runner-up position goes to “Devourer” for making the hairs on my whole body stand on end.

If you’re not into extreme horror, I wouldn’t recommend this collection. If you are interested in dipping your toe into this world, this is a collection of stories I would highly recommend. It gives a range of stories within the subgenre, and gives an interesting look at the genre throughout the past twenty years or so.
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Another great read from Ronald Kelly. Each short story was enjoyable. Seems like it would be hard to come up with as many different stories, but he does it easily. #TheEssentialSickStuff #NetGalley
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“You see, perversity is my forte. It is normality that drives me insane.” -Jerry Weller in the story Diary

These are nice quick stories that make for easy reading with a small twist or unsettling gore to make each story interesting and fun. 
Ronald has amazing creativity, I mean, one of the stories is called “The Nipples in Dad’s Toolbox”. His stories are unique and bring you into the southern backwoods. With a great variety of creatures, twists, tension, humor, and let’s face it, sick stuff, Ronald keeps you engaged and entertained
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Ronald Kelly is well known in the horror community for several things:

1. Down-home horror stories set in the American South
2. His amazing artwork
3. Signing his books to fans "Many Happy Nightmares!"

I'm fortunate enough to have a signed copy of this book, complete with some fantastic RK artwork. I love it, and it sets proudly on my bookshelf.

This is an incredibly fun book of extreme short stories, most of which were written in the 1990s. They're gruesome. They'll make you distinctly uncomfortable...and will, most assuredly, send your stomach churning.

Standouts for me included Diary, Mojo Mama, Cell Number 9, Scream Queen, Traps, and Eating Hearty. I'm a sucker for a good revenge story, and many of these cover deeply diabolical retribution.

One thing I do have to mention - because it took me right out of so many of the stories - there is a significant amount of dog torture/death. If not for that, this would be a 4.5 star read for me.

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Well, well, well.... this was something a little different from Ronald Kelly! #netgalley

I have become a big fan of Mr.Kelly’s short stories.  I can’t speak to his novels, as I haven’t read one yet, but his short story collections are excellent. The stories I read previously were quite tame, but would always entice me with superb writing and storytelling skills, while also containing a great deal of Tennessee culture.  Many of the stories I read also took place in the good old eras between the 1940s and the 1990s, which allowed for charming horror.  I read a review that said that Kelly’s stories are all the same and I strongly disagree.  In fact, although there was certainly some stories that hinted that they were written by Kelly (eg:  recurring location), Kelly bounces back and forth in time, and provides very diverse plots and themes.  Also interesting is the layout of the stories in this collection....the mildest stories are at the beginning, the middle section has a Tennessee backwater theme, and the end is a blast!  

Most exciting, this was the “sick stuff”, bad-as-I-wanna-be, splatterpunk edition of Ronald Kelly!  

The whole book was terrific and all the stories worth reading, but I thought I would mention my favorites:

1. Pins & Needles (did you ever think of the kind of person who puts razor blades in candy on Halloween?)

2.  The Abduction (Creepy story with a twist)

3.  The Day UPS Brought Zombies (An homage to Keene and Matheson.  Hilarious and fun.)

4.  The Thing At The Side Of The Road (I thought of “curiosity killed the cat” just before I read it, but “let sleeping dogs lie” was absolutely brilliant)

5.  Cell #9 (There were a couple spider and snake tales in this collection.  This was the best!)

6.  Scream Queen (Excellent storytelling)

7.  Traps (Wow!  Don’t piss off the exterminator!)

8.  Eating Hearty (Great title and storytelling)

9.  The Nipples in Dad’s Toolbox (Okay.  Don’t tell me you don’t already want to read this just by seeing the title!)

Reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads.
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Different levels of sick and scary. A thing on the side of the road is not quite as dead as believed to be. Trick or treating leads to revenge.A toolbox better left unopened. These and other horrors await.
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As a slightly obsessed horror fan I cannot believe I did not run in to Ronald Kelly's mastermind until now. While Kelly is mostly known for his Down-home horror stories set in the American South this is a whole new level. Fun, twisted, and grotesque in the best way possible. The writing is fantastic, and each story will bring out a whole new fear. 

If you're a fan of slasher films this book is for you! Grab this book, get comfy, and turn down the lights...if you dare. 

Thank you to Netgalley and publisher for providing me with an advance copy for me to provide my honest review. Ronald Kelly is sure to be a cult fiction icon
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The Essential Sick Stuff by Ronald Kelly was received directly from the publisher and I then chose to review it.  While I have never read Ronald Kellly, as far as I can remember anyway, he is one of the few horror authors who write's horror in a "non woke" sense.   This book is a short story collection, and those who read my reviews know shorter stories are my favorite, and you know I don't get into plots of the books.  It seems other reviewers do that in nauseating detail.  If you, or someone you buy gifts for enjoys this author, or is interested in reading some horror in the style of gruesome and/or funny short stories, by a good author who pulls no punches, give this book a shot.

4 Stars
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Great collection of short horror stories. This is a new to me author and I look forward to reading more of his writing.
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I love a good anthology! An anthology that is short horror stories, even more so. I went in reading this not knowing the author however knowing that he wrote around the same time as one of my favourite horror authors, so I knew it would be good. Each story was entriguing and smart, but with a little bit of horror and gore. Some stories did turn my stomach a little but that is how you know a good horror story. I must admit that a few of them were a little too graphic in the sexual front for me, however it was needed for those perticular short stories. I also found that with a few of the short stories I could predict the ending, however this was towards the end of the book when I had got used to how the author had written them. It did take me a few more weeks than planned to finish this anthology but I really did enjoy it and would look at reading alot more by this author.
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Ronald Kelly is awesome! These stories are filled with southern horror, which is great for someone who is from the south and can relate to settings. Would definitely recommend.

Thanks so much to NetGalley for this eARC in return for an honest review.
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I love Ronald Kelly's work. ALL of it. This collection is a brilliant example of how great this man writes. My southern horror king!
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