After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones – Book Review

After the People Lights Have Gone Off
Written by: Stephen Graham Jones
Published by: Dark House Press
ISBN: 978-1940430256


Horror Anthology of 15 Stories. Also featuring fifteen full-page illustrations by Luke Spooner.

After the People Lights Have Gone Off, Stephen Graham Jones

After the People Lights Have Gone Off

After the People Lights Have Gone Off, by Stephen Graham Jones, is a singular experience. The same can be said of all Jones’ works. His voice is defined by a word that seems to have lost all meaning due to sheer overexposure these days: unique. He is one of a kind.

My introduction to Jones’ work came early this year with his novel The Least of My Scars. I was first captured, then intrigued, then astounded by that book. There are a few rare authors we discover that divide our world into “Before” and “After.” Stephen King is one of mine. So are Clive Barker, Elmore Leonard, and Joe R. Lansdale. When I finished The Least of My Scars, I knew my universe had split once more. Now there was “Before Stephen Graham Jones” and “After Stephen Graham Jones.”

Let me tell you, brothers and sisters, the “After” is so much better.

After gobbling up everything of his I could lay my sweaty hands on, I fetched up against After the People Lights Have Gone Off, a short story collection released in September. So far, I’d only read Jones’ novels, so I was eager to leap into this book. To say it didn’t disappoint would be like saying the Super Bowl is a football game, or March is a good month for college basketball.

These stories lit me on fire, cooked me down to tender morsels hanging on the bone, then hung me up, salted and cured me, and ate me with a knife and fork. I’m not sure there’s a better writer of dark, twisted, weird short fiction out there. Mr. Jones is a bizarro virtuoso and his style is so slick, smooth, and subtle, I often didn’t even know what he’d done to me until later.

This book has werewolves and vampires and ghosts, which is typical fare in the horror genre. But Mr. Jones doesn’t understand the word “typical.” His shaggies, vamps, and spooks don’t fit any standard molds; these stories would be off the wall if the force of their inventiveness hadn’t knocked all the damn walls down. He doesn’t stop with the standards, though. There’s enough quirky, brilliant stuff here to give Cthulhu food poisoning.

I won’t spoil anything by vaguely summarizing all fifteen of these sweet, dirty little jewels. Let me just drop a few words about my favorite piece in the book, maybe my favorite short story of all time
now. “Welcome To The Reptile House” features an aspiring tattoo artist looking to build his portfolio. But nobody’s offering up their hide for him to doodle on. His pal is a morgue attendant and lets him practice on the stiffs slated for cremation. That way, he can get the work done, take pictures for his portfolio, and then the evidence is burned to ash. No pressure. Artistic blunders go unnoticed and he doesn’t have to worry about sterilizing his equipment or customer complaints. But there are all kinds of creepy things in morgues and not all of them want a tattoo.

Jones writes like he fell out of bed in the morning and landed on his computer. It’s effortless. There’s no pretense or flash; he doesn’t waste time or words. He cuts right to the chase with prose that’s lean but not emaciated, powerful but not muscle-bound, inelegant but not awkward.

These stories are fiendishly clever, and they’ll keep haunting you after you’ve put them down and gone to hide. Jones is obviously a magician who’s sold his soul for this talent. His skill is just too prodigious, too monstrous to be natural.

Reviewed by Brent R. Oliver

SHOP – After the People Lights Have Gone Off

After the People Lights Have Gone Off Book Cover After the People Lights Have Gone Off
Stephen Graham Jones
Dark House Press

The fifteen stories in After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones explore the horrors and fears of the supernatural and the everyday.

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Brent R. Oliver
Brent R. Oliver is an award-eligible horror author, commenter, and enthusiast living in Lexington, KY. His fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous print and online publications to the delight of literally tens of fans. Should such an office ever be created, he would like to one day run for Horror Pope.
Brent R. Oliver
Visit The Official Brent R. Oliver Website