Jackie has a map of the city on the wall of her bedroom, with a green pin for each of her trees. She has a first-kiss tree and a broken-arm tree. She has a car-accident tree. There is a tree at the hospital where Jackie’s mother passed away into the long good night. When one of them gets cut down, Jackie doesn’t know what to do but she doesn’t let that stop her. She picks up the biggest rock she can carry and puts it through the window of a car. Smash. She intends to leave before the police arrive, but they’re early.
Ann is Jackie’s best friend, but she’s got problems of her own. Her mother is chained up in the basement. How do you bring that up in casual conversation? “Oh, sorry I’ve been so distant, Jackie. My mother has more teeth than she’s supposed to, and she won’t eat anything that’s already dead.” Ann and her sister Margaret don’t have much of a choice here. Their mother needs to be fed. It isn’t easy but this is family. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’ll be okay as long as Margaret and Ann still have each other.
Add in a cantankerous old man, his powerfully stupid dog, a headless ghost, a lesbian crush and a few unsettling visits from Jackie’s own dead mother, and you’ll find that One Bloody Thing After Another is a different sort of horror novel from the ones you’re used to. It’s as sad and funny as it is frightening, and it is as much about the way families rely on each other as it is about blood being drooled on the carpet. Though, to be honest, there is a lot of blood being drooled on the carpet.
Joey Comeau writes the comic A Softer World, which has appeared in The Guardian and been profiled in Rolling Stone, and which Publishers Weekly called “subtle and dramatic.” His self-published first novel, Lockpick Pornography, sold out its print run of 1,000 books in just three months. In 2007 he published It’s Too Late to Say I’m Sorry, a collection of short stories. Overqualified (ECW, 2009) is in its third printing. The A Softer World website (asofterworld.com) has been online since 2003 and has an average daily readership of 70,000 people worldwide. Comeau lives in Toronto, ON.
Published: May 2010
Dimensions: 5.25 x 8.25 in.
“Canadian author Comeau, best known for his darkly surreal Web comic, A Softer World, turns his adaptable talents to overt horror in this oddly touching novel of ghosts, friendship, bloody secrets, and family relationships. . . . A staccato structure allows for surprising intricacy in so few pages, and the crescendos of terror are leavened by moments of unexpected humor and warmth.” — Publishers Weekly
“The tone is poignant, sometimes wistful, and deadpan funny . . . The novel is more eccentric than gory, and what’s really shocking about it is that all the mayhem is finally about family ties, both severed and reconnected.” — Booklist
“It is [Comeau’s] innate ability to imbue the horrific with a sense of fragile humanity that makes this book a must-read. . . . It doesn’t get much lovelier-and bloodier-than this.” — Fangoria
“Yet for all the violence and unsettling imagery (and we may be thankful that the worst of the very bad things happen offstage), we feel sympathy for these characters; in large part because it is their sympathy for others that leads to so much trouble. . . . As a fast-paced, fragmented tale of terror for an accelerated culture, it’s bloody good.” — Toronto Star
“The gore and supernatural elements are a fitting complement to [Comeau’s] characteristic blend of pathos and black humour. Comeau’s prose is simple and direct, and the short chapters — many less than a page — make for a quick read. Though the book contains a good deal of grue, the plot is more playful and inventive than horrific or suspenseful. The reader gets caught up in Jackie and Ann’s adolescent exuberance.” — Quill & Quire