Flesh Welder / Ronald Kelly Croatoan Publishing / April 2008 Reviewed by: Shannon Riley
War has made Ruin Town, a small settlement near Houston, Texas, living
hell for those unlucky enough to be trapped between the two opposing
factions. The story is futuristic; set in 2017 in desperate and
ravaged region. The military leader, General Jeremiah Payne, is a
sadistic butcher who preys upon the innocents who manage to survive
the bombs and fighting. Mutilation, murder and rape are all sport to
him and his band of mercenaries. The only hope the people have is one
man, a doctor known as the Flesh-Welder.
“Flesh Welder,” a story that originally appeared in
Noctulpa: Journal of Horror #4 (1990), is now a new chapbook
from Croatoan Publishing, and it marks the return of popular Southern
horror author Ronald Kelly after a ten-year hiatus.
The strength of Flesh Welder lies in Kelly’s unique
writing style that he calls “southern-fried horror,” one
that explores the dark side of Dixie, and his characters and dialogue
reinforce a sense of authenticity to the tale. There is a delicious
sense of mystery at play here, and the suspense in the story builds
through anticipation of what the unexpected horror is and when it will
The cover design and artwork for this attractive publication is by
artist Zack McCain, and the chapbook includes - in addition to the
title story - an exclusive interview with the author conducted by Mark
Hickerson, plus a two-chapter excerpt from Kelly’s upcoming
novel, Undertaker’s Moon, a re-release from Croatoan of
his novel Moon of the Werewolf. The chapbook is signed by
both author and artist.
Kelly is the author of eight novels published under the Zebra imprint
in the late 80’s and early 90’s, including
Hindsight, Moon of the Werewolf and Blood
Kin. His audio short story collection,
Dark Dixie: Tales of Southern Horror, from Spine-Tingling Press was
nominated for a Grammy Award in 1992.
Flesh Welder is an
exciting comeback story that should please existing Ronald Kelly fans
and introduce his work to many new ones.