There is a dark side to human nature that can be neither wished away nor completely mitigated. Ashley Franz Holzmann details just several of these laws in his introduction to The Laws of Nature: A Collection of Short Stories of Horror, Anxiety, Tragedy and Loss before taking his readers on a journey through the bizarre, the terrifying, and, ultimately, the disturbingly real truths that underlie much of modern American life. Ashley makes his debut into the horror genre with "The Stump", a story about an afternoon trot through the woods that quickly becomes a bloodbath, and, much as it does for that story's monster, the scent of fear will only lure veteran horror readers further through the forest. A teenager's vanity will likely cause his town to be consumed by a roaming swarm of insects that burst forth from his acne-riddled skin in "White Heads"; entire populations vanish into the void of the Alaskan tundra in "Glass Houses"; and superiority takes the form of a murdering, sadistic woman in "Lady Macbeth". But Ashley's best retellings focus less on gore and adrenaline and instead take human psychology as their medium, as demonstrated in "Plastic Glasses", where readers are brought into a world of disturbing personality and mental disorders. Ashley's work abounds with stories in this vein, stories that grab a hold of a common failing, such as marital friction in "Hush" or American male frustration in "Orpheus's Lot", and take it to an extreme that is nevertheless not inconceivable for most people. Coming from the mind of a man who has experienced more than his fair share of humanity, The Laws of Nature is, at its finest, a description of universal emotions of loss, nostalgia, anxiety, and soul-penetrating terror. Ashley's stories elicit empathy from his readers and draw them into worlds where they both acknowledge and cuddle with their fears and that leave them, ultimately, more human.
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- Christian Nowlin
Mr. Creepy Pasta is an amazing voice for horror
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