Book Review: Don’t Smell The Flowers! They Want To Steal Your Bones! by Duncan P. Bradshaw

 

“ … there is so much fun to be had in the weird and wacky imagination of Duncan P. Bradshaw that we may not want to leave.

 

Don't Smell the Flowers by Duncan P. Bradshaw - coverHe has written zombie horror stories, science fiction horror stories and straight-up bizarro stories. But, since he published his novella about a serial-killing vacuum killer (Mr Sucky) in November 2018, Duncan Bradshaw has been in his self-proclaimed “GoreCom” phase, where he has focused his work on his two greatest assets; pulpy horror and slapstick humour. With the great critical acclaim that met last year’s “Summer Blockbuster” release (Cannibal Nuns from Outer Space!), book two in the GoreCom series, anticipation has been high, and wallets and purses have been prepared for his forthcoming release.

With the evocative title, and breath-taking cover design by Matthew Revert, we know that we are crossing an unseen border, from the mundane and repetitive nature of real-life, into the weird and wacky imagination of Duncan P. Bradshaw. He even includes an “Author Warning”, giving any wayward traveller the opportunity to turn back, and some indication of what to expect on the road ahead. But, in true Bradshaw fashion, no warning can adequately prepare the reader for what follows.

After a brief introduction to the small village of Charlton and its strange inhabitants, both human and botanical, we are thrust into an ongoing police operation, unconnected to the main storyline, but it introduces us to maverick detective Harry Surge. If you’re familiar with any of the English police procedurals of the 1970s, like The Sweeney or The Professionals, or even the 70s-set Life On Mars, then you’re somewhat familiar with the old-school policing style of Surge. He has never heard of political correctness. But he is of course a parody of a character of a bygone age, and is hilarious, especially with his disregard of the proper dress code and where he stores his belongings.

As the plant attacks become more frequent, Surge is visited by the mysterious and not-all-there Barnaby, who delivers pages of an old witch’s diary hidden within giant biscuits which may help solve the riddle of why flowers are attacking. Because, of course he does. We told you it was bizarre. But it is also incredibly entertaining. The way Bradshaw describes the oft-insane situations throughout the book, and ties together seemingly disparate characters and storylines is brilliant. And very funny. While there is a minority of readers who may consider bizarro as a collection of seemingly random ideas thrown on the page in a haphazard way, Bradshaw has proven, through a great deal of care and intelligent writing, that it can be just as entertaining as any other genre.

While a great deal of the book is dedicated to a certain sense of humour (it feels very British; like Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Alan Titchmarsh were sitting in the beer garden of a small village pub discussing a slightly comedic take on Day of the Triffids, and Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson ran up with a couple of frying pans, bashed them over the head and stole their idea), when the horror hits, it is bloody. From the descriptions of the flowers attaching themselves to the faces of their victims (think Alien’s facehugger, only more fragrant) to a main character’s “extraction” and appearance later in the book, Bradshaw’s descriptions are disturbing and high-definition gruesome. It is a perfect blend of comedy and horror, a perfect example of the author’s GoreCom brand.

Fans of Bradshaw’s earlier work, especially Mr Sucky and Cannibal Nuns from Outer Space! will know what to expect, and will not be disappointed. For those readers who see the cover or synopsis and are immediately curious (who wouldn’t be?), as long as they approach the book with an open mind and a sense of humour, they will find something to enjoy in the story. Whether it is his hilarious dialogue, the bloody disgusting descriptions of torment he inflicts on his characters, the meta breaking of the fourth wall to reference himself, or the sense that even he doesn’t know where the story is taking him (that he is only along for the ride to document the thoroughly entertaining madness), there is so much fun to be had in the weird and wacky imagination of Duncan P. Bradshaw that we may not want to leave.

THOMAS JOYCE

Publisher: EyeCue Productions
Paperback: 170 (pps.)
Release Date: 1 May 2020

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