FIND'M'is an anthology collection of short stories by Simon Graves focusing on a gay hook up app (we all know which one the influence has been taken from), think of it as a gay Creepshow, you could sell me on that premise alone. The collection runs in at 120 pages and includes twelve short stories, each including the presence of the app and those affected by it.
The use of the hook up app brings the horror into a very contemporary age, as in, right at this very moment because let's face it and I include myself within this example, we all or we all know someone who constantly has their eyes glued onto a phone or tablet screen. A smart decision that also gives us perhaps an unintentional throwback to J-Horror trend of the late 90's to early 00's. If we're able to have all the world's information at our fingertips, why not have all the world's horror at our fingertips too?
The best thing about this concept is that it allows an exploration into all sorts of different characters and situations, Simon shows a great versatility when it comes to characterisation through the use of subtle writing differences to highlight a specific attribute, for example, one character is extremely narcissistic, so the constant use of the characters name within the descriptive strongly conveys this narcissism. Simon also knows to balance visceral horror with psychological horror and that's something that I appreciate as a reader, it shows that there's something for everyone and that's something we unfortunately don't see enough of when it comes to contemporary horror work.
You can clearly tell that Simon is a big fan of horror from the Lovecraftian tone of 'First Time' to the Stephen King inspired 'Burned Before' (which was one of my favourite ones) to even re-imagining a classic urban legend in 'Hook Up'. The small details interjected into each short that can only come from an experience with a back-catalogue of horror works of all different spectrums.
What I found most appealing about this collection is the interjection of very real LGBT issues. Obviously we don't all deal with ghosts and demons within our everyday lives but the internal and external terrors of homophobia, repression. isolation and lonesomeness, to name a few are very real and very present. Supernatural horror is a very present theme that spans across the twelve stories and it's an effective one at that but Simon also manages to include the horror of human cruelty that we've all experienced.
Although a lot of criticism from short stories comes from disconnection, that isn't a case with Simon's work as the inclusion of a mainstream app allows you to have stories that are indirectly connected with one another while still remaining within the same universe. As is the case with any short story collection, some will personally stand out more than others but I found each story entertaining and ran at the perfect length to digest.
I connected clearly with the writing style used and the pacing worked to each tales advantage, none of the stories felt overtly rushed or drawn out, they ran their course naturally before progressing onto the next and my interest was kept to see where it'd end and the next entry would begin. Like I mentioned previously, Simon manages to interject little specified styles with each story which help to capture a true feel for what he's trying to portray.
To wrap it up (pun intended), these shorts have sold me as a fan of Simon's work and I look forward to the second collection of tales, Perhaps we'll have a FIND'M Xtra?
Images provided by author