Book Review: Unger House Radicals – Chris Kelso


I am going to make a rather odd comparison here between the writing of Chris Kelso and Swedish tech-metal pioneers Meshuggah. Firstly, Meshuggah are known for their extreme stylings, complex polymetered song structures and polyrhythms. Meshuggah aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. A whole album of listening is a little too much for me, though I can fully appreciate the excellence of the musicianship and song structure. In a similar way, Chris Kelso isn’t your average writer. His stories are often complex, have multiple themes weaving through them and much like Meshuggah they seem to have a sort of polyrhythmic feel to them, by way of the delivery of the narrative. It often demands you concentration, can change direction in an instant but it is ultimately a rewarding reading experience.

The latest release from Crowded Quarantine Publications sees Kelso venture into extreme horror territory. This isn’t your run of the mill horror story though. Ultra-Realism is the name of the game here as we follow Vincent Bittacker and his murderous lover Brandon Swarthy as they hope to bring their own brand of extreme film to the masses. The book is really a tale of two halves. The first is fairly straightforward in the way it is told. The Unger House, where our aspiring filmmakers reside has a sordid history of abduction and murder and seems the perfect setting for some ultra-violence. This is where the story takes place as our sick couple embark upon a quest to revolutionise film through ultra-realism. Swarthy (a truly vile character) goes through a sort of transformation (I think?!) and the story started to remind me a little of the movie ‘Fight Club’.

The second goes a very different way and is made up of a series of interviews and reports which really should make the whole book a mess, though strangely enough it does not.

Kelso’s writing is excellent. The descriptions are graphic but are told with an almost nonchalant style. Bittacker and Swarthy are human garbage, simple as that. You will not like them at all. They are ruthless, sadistic and just downright scum, but they provide the reader with a compelling story.

‘Unger House Radicals’ won’t appeal to everybody. In a way it is similar to another book I read earlier this year by Vincenzo Bilof called ‘The Violators’. Together these two are pushing back the boundaries of dark fiction with truly original works of horror. For those looking for something challenging and different (like Meshuggah!) then give ‘Unger House Radicals’ a whirl. I found it to be engaging, repulsive, well written and absorbing. Well done Mr Kelso.

Buy ‘Unger House Radicals’ from here.

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