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Unpleasant Tales

by Brendan Connell

284 pages

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Every generation throws up a few genuine Masters of the Weird. There simply is no hyperbole in the statement that Brendan Connell is a member of this elite group right now, perhaps the most accomplished of them all. His work is very strange but always proceeds with rigorous logic and his use of language is original, concise and often startling, employing the alchemy of a ferocious intelligence to create dreamscapes that have the solidity and cruelty of stone and iron. The blend of profound melancholy, decadent atmosphere and abstruse erudition work beautifully and the magic of his prose gets under the skin of your soul and remains there forever.

Rhys Hughes

From the comic to the shocking, from the refined to the visceral, and blurring the boundaries between all four – Unpleasant Tales is a remarkable new collection of some of Brendan Connell’s darkest stories. Drenched in gluttony and decadence and with a scope stretching from the depravity of rulers in ancient Greece and Renaissance Spain, to phantasmagorical body alteration in Zürich and New York, these are supremely refined and elegant, creepily intelligent and, of course, exquisitely unpleasant stories that pack a tremendous punch, both individually and collectively. Stories that will not easily be forgotten.


The Maker of Fine Instruments
The Black Tiger
The Putrimaniac
A Dish of Spouse
The Girl of Wax
The Tongue
The Skin Collector
The Nasty Truth about Dentists
The Nanny Goat
Mesh of Veins
The Flatterer
The Last Mermaid
The Cruelties of Him
The Woman of Paper
The Last of the Burroways
The Unicorn
Virgin Hearts
We Sleep on a Thousand Waves Beneath the Stars

Published: September 17th, launched at FantasyCon 2010

I can recommend Unpleasant Tales to speculative fiction readers, who like intelligent, weird and well written stories. These surprising and shocking stories are ideal stories for fans of modern horror stories, because horror fans will be able to appreciate their strange beauty. I also think that readers who are fed up with conventional stories will find these stories fresh and exciting.

Seregil of Rhiminee -


You can hardly ask more from a single book by a single author.


Connell is nothing if not inventive, diverse and sublimely witty. The stories you'll find in 'Unpleasant Tales' are, to the extent that they will make you feel uncomfortable in every way that you can made to be feel uncomfortable, horror stories. But in terms of content, you'll find an alarmingly unfettered exploration of what we are by virtue of revealing who we are.

The Agony Column


It's shocking, but that's not all there is to it. Brendan Connell has plundered history and ranged far and wide to create characters who can be as refined and erudite as they are wicked. There are decadent Europeans, ancient Numidians, professors, paupers, pirates and princes. This collection is vice for the connoisseur, its gluttons, sensualists and lunatics as perverse a collection as anything the characters in its pages have put together.

Ros Jackson - WarpcoreSF


Unpleasant Tales is an unconventional collection of erudite horror stories that — while each tale has in common a firm and cohesive writing tautness – together achieves a solidity of scope and scale, a force of breadth-and-depth adventurousness. Plan for more than your fair share of thrills and shivers, too, as you enter "another lifetime one of toil and blood / When blackness was a virtue..."

Gordon Hauptfleisch -


As it is, the writing in these stories is such that, rather than simply being shocking, or gory, there is a real sense depth to the characters and the situations. Though, often, you may be unnerved by the behaviour of one or another of the characters – and much of it is shocking -  it is believable and consistent with what you have already read. Whilst many of these stories are visceral, nothing that transpires feels arbitrary or cheap.

Solar Bridge


Brendan Connell has taken the geometry of storytelling and thrown it off, ever-so-slightly, causing a sense of unease that defies simple explanation.

The only author that comes to mind when I think of Connell’s style is the manga artist/author Junji Ito. The effect their work has on me is the same. I will read it voraciously, hungrily, and afterwards, it will fill me with a sense of disquiet. I will be plagued with the memory of the more disturbing aspects and I will wonder why I read it at all. In a week or so, the uneasiness vanishes and I instantly want to read more.

Connell is the Hieronymous Bosch of the written word; his style is so beautiful and real that it makes the grotesque subject matter seem even more horrifying.

Lyndsey Holder - Innsmouth Free Press


Such rich evocative wordscapes do provide an aura of profligacy and decadence, which for me greatly enhanced the stories.  You’ll laugh, you’ll shudder, you might even cry; all a little wickedly while reading this delightful book.

Jonathon Howard - Sacramento Book Review


“…I have heard many novels described as “great examples of prose” before, but this is truly one of only a few modern books I would easily give such a title to. One of the only ones that a word such as “prose,” with its implications of poetic achievement in non-poetry writing, would really seem to fit. The descriptions here, the choices of words that flow across the page, are so lush and deep and lovely (even when describing the most horrible of things) that it was as if I could see them painted on canvas across my mind’s eye. They were real, they were surrounding me, I could smell them and touch them and taste them on my tongue (and considering some of the subject matter I would have probably preferred that my senses were left well enough alone thank you very much). And all of these beautiful, brilliant descriptions and lush paragraphs were used to flesh out the weirdest things I have ever read…”

Melissa Voelker -


“UNPLEASANT TALES is almost too potent for even the bravest soul to absorb in one or two sittings, yet there is plenty at hand for the next time you wish to test the strength and stamina of your horror muscle…the prose itself is always impressive. There is a real artist at work here, and for lovers of the bizarre, Connell’s collection is a must-have–one that will reward even the most discerning reader of horror fiction.”

Max Wedge - Page Horrific



Brendan Connell was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1970. He has had fiction published in numerous places, including McSweeney’s, Adbusters, Fast Ships, Black Sails (Nightshade Books 2008), and the World Fantasy Award winning anthologies Leviathan 3 (The Ministry of Whimsy 2002), and Strange Tales (Tartarus Press 2003). His other published books are: The Translation of Father Torturo (Prime Books, 2005), Dr. Black and the Guerrillia (Grafitisk Press, 2005), and Metrophilias (Better Non Sequitur, 2010).


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