The Totals by Adam-Troy Castro

Image result for the monstrous ellen datlow book cover

Title: The Totals
Author: Adam-Troy Castro
In: The Monstrous (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Horror
Dates read: 25th March 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: It seems strange but right for the door on the other side of the vestibule, leading to the diner interior, to be scaled to his dimensions: a novelty, he’s always possessed an awkward shape and monstrous bulk that makes breaking down doors somewhat more natural than opening them.

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Clutch knows he has killed recently. But he can’t remember who. He can’t remember why. Walking by chance into an inn that feels like home might provide the answers… or just oblivion.


The start of this story is seriously creepy and horrific. It starts with Clutch knowing that he has killed someone recently. That he always knows this. He just doesn’t know who or why. He does know how… he literally “clutches” them to death. And then he walks into a dinner and you think that things are just going to get worse. It’s a spinetingling way to start a story. And the imagery of the blood still lingering on his clothes… just seems to make it all that much worse.

There are so many ideas about the things that go bump in the night. Although, there are always a few common, recognisable aspects among these. This story found unique ways to create new horrors, but also provided the reader with some of the classics that you immediately recognise. It’s a great mix of the traditional and the new. And spouting the things that go bump in the night as members of a corporation who just want to climb the ladder… well, it kind of mixes two things that are kind of scary.

Although this is a great little horror short story, it’s also a little amusing. In that satirical way. That way that makes you sit back afterwards and go “huh”. That was good, that made some great comments on the way that the world works. And yes, things aren’t ever equal. Regardless of how much we may want them to be.

<- The Last, Clean, Bright SummerThe Chill Clutch of the Unseen ->

Image source: Amazon

3 thoughts on “The Totals by Adam-Troy Castro

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