Gristle & Bone

7 Delectable Tales of Terror

Fiction - Horror
272 Pages
Reviewed on 10/19/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Duncan Ralston enjoys scaring the bejeezus out of people. In the 2nd grade, he came to class dressed as the Devil for Hallowe'en. The teacher rolled his eyes and said, "How appropriate!"

Duncan has worked behind the scenes in television for ten years. In 2011, his period comedy-drama, "The Valley," won 1st place in the Fresh Voices Pitch Contest. He lives with his girlfriend and their dog in Toronto.

"GRISTLE & BONE," a collection of short stories, novelettes and novellas, is available exclusively as a Kindle ebook and the elusive paperback.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

I read Gristle and Bone: A Short Story Collection written by Duncan Ralston shortly after Halloween, a fitting time for such a read. This anthology begins with Baby Teeth, the tale of a woman unable to have a child...or is she? Just how far would a barren woman go to carry a child in her own womb? The tales continue with Fat of The Land--have you ever wondered about some of the tasty meals you are served? I suggest you don’t let curiosity get the better of you. Another tale is about a man bullied as a child, aptly named Beware of Dog.

Do not read Gristle and Bone on a dark night when you are alone at home. The stories are clever like the Twilight Zone, but are often quite frightening. I have only mentioned three of the stories but they are all very well done. Fat of The Land was definitely my favorite. The author does a good job giving the characters real depth and creating the world around them, especially given that these are short stories.

Duncan Ralston is a talented writer capable of bringing out the darkness of humanity. His tales slowly build up to the crescendo that will leave the reader more than a bit fearful. The short stories begin inconspicuously, just ordinary days that are soon filled with unimaginable horror. Each story drew me in and made me shiver as I read on through the night. Duncan Ralston is a name to remember.

Diana L. Amazon Top 500 R

I settled in to read this book of grisly tales with high hopes and I definitely was not disappointed. This book is a “must” for any fan of horror.

I liked the fact that the author provided several short stories in one book as I commute often to and from Chicago (one hour each way). The stories were exactly the right length so I wasn’t left hanging when the train pulled into the station.

I read Baby Teeth with my hand over my mouth after the first few pages - fellow train riders think what you want but it was that or risk shrieking.

Baby Teeth really set the stage well as I was able to see the caliber of writing awaiting.

Fat of the Land was interesting (and quite good) as the author really gave the characters some depth – they definitely weren’t just slammed into the story as filler for the horror plot.

I liked End User as it was different and kept my mind racing.

Scavengers also was quite good as once again, as with the other stories, the characters are well thought out and there is a really good attention to even the smallest detail.

I refuse to give out even one spoiler but I’ll wrap up with this – Author Duncan Ralston brings a lot to the table (yes, a pun is intended and you’ll get it after you read this book of stories).

This is cutting edge horror, the kind where a mundane day suddenly goes ballistic with unimaginable happenings. Mr. Ralston delivers a solid assortment of excellent horror from cover to cover. He leads you into each story, sets the stage and then over delivers time and time again.

I liked this book of stories a lot. I won’t select one as a favorite as each one is unique.

Excellent read!

L. Collins, Amazon Top 10

"Gristle & Bone" is a collection of stories that send chills down your spine, make you grimace as the blood flies and the depravity unfolds, and has you eagerly reading until the very end. Duncan Ralston definitely has a gift for storytelling of the horror genre variety, drawing readers into stories that engage you and scare you in equal turns. My favorite of the collection was "Fat of the Land", a disturbing story about a young couple who visit a small town called Monte Verde where the local delicacy is of the two legged variety and they are faced with getting out alive before they become part of the menu. The author has a sharp, lush, eerie, vivid and engaging writing style that paints each scene with a fine tipped brush... sending chills down your spine from story to story. The story collection bounces from otherworldly horror to dark human depravity, but each one pairs perfectly with the next in scaring the beejezus out of you and making for an exciting and entertaining read.

Wilson R., Indie Author N

While October is definitely a perfect time of year for this book – this ultra creepy page turner isn’t just for fans of Halloween.

With all the zombie reads lately (and I’m a big zombie fan), Gristle and Bone took me back to solidly written horror – the kind that makes your stomach roll a bit in the way that only really good horror can.

If you are looking for an exceptional read to complete your Halloween – you simply cannot pass this one by. But this book will be on your can’t forget list no matter when you read it.

I read this book a couple weeks ago and still have moments when I think about details in the stories. If you have friends who like the horror genre, surprise them with the gift of this book – I guarantee you they’ll be thanking you more than once.

Becki's Book Blog

I cannot praise this book highly enough.
Each short story pulled me into Duncan Ralston’s world a little bit further, and his world is a scary place to be. Not in the gross out and gory way that I’m usually going on about, but on a psychological level that is terrifying.

BEWARE OF DOG:
Dean Vogel returned to his hometown after being dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.
He has been placed in the care of his aging parents, and is about to start his court ordered therapy. Therapy that he had no intention of finishing. By his fourth session, Dean was on the verge of a major breakthrough.
With help from Dr. Baswell, the skeletons that have been hiding away in Dean’s subconscious have started moving again – and they were ready to come out once and for all. Dean is about to remember the truth behind the incident from his childhood, and the truth doesn’t always set you free.

//END USER:
Mason Adler is a paranoid man, he can be summed up pretty neatly by the t-shirts that read “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean their not out to get me”. The relationship that develops between Mason and Jenna, (his CPU), started out like the relationship that Joaquin Phoenix had with Scarlett Johansson in the movie HER, but it took a left turn at Albuquerque – and things got really messed up from there!

VIRAL:
If forced to choose a favorite from Gristle & Bone, VIRAL would be it. It centers around a fourteen year old girl, and a video that was uploaded on YouTube moments before she disappeared.
Daria Walker’s story isn’t a new one, she is picked on at school, and feels invisible in her home. She started cutting when she was twelve, and she used it as a way to deal with her depression. It was never about wanting attention, or crying out for help or sympathy. What sets Daria’s video apart from others like it, is the same thing that caught the attention of reporter Tara Maxwell – the teenager didn’t just end up missing, she literally disappeared – right in front of the camera.
Most of the people who have seen the video call it a hoax. But, Tara sees something else. She can see the pain in Daria’s eyes, and can hear the desperation in her voice. She sees herself at that age, and that is what is pulling her into the story. Tara knows what it is like to feel invisible at home, and wish to become invisible at school. She knows each and every one of those feels. That is what is driving Tara to find out exactly what happened to Daria.
If she can help Daria, will she be able to save herself in the process?
ARTIFACT (#37):

ILEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM
This SS has the feel of a Girls Gone Wild video, with a little bit of Boogie Nights sprinkled on top. Throw in a vengeful spirit, and let the fun begin!! It’s hard to talk about each story individually when they’re all so damn good!

SCAVENGERS:
I started this story, and fell into a Grant Mazzy trance…

(If you don’t know Pontypool – yes, this is a huge compliment.)

Bookie Monster Reviews

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gristle and Bone is a short story collection that claims to be ‘seven delectable tales of horror’. Ralston delivers on this claim with a cutting and effective style and in teasingly well-measured short stories. Because the stories are all so different, with Ralston’s writing style adjusting for each one, each story is worth judging standalone, rather than as a whole. Think V/H/S style morsels of horror packed together in one volume.

I would like to see some of the ideas in Gristle and Bone explored in wider depth – indeed after reading this, I’m going to be hunting out for and keeping an eye on his work. Ralston has some sharp ideas in a genre which is in danger of suffocating under the avalanche of zombies and vampires.

“Baby Teeth” is a strong opener to the book. Some parts of this story had me literally squirming uncomfortably in my seat. The detached derangement of the female lead is reminiscent of some of the edgier horror movies coming out of France’s meat grinder. “Fat of the Land” is a cutting indictment, and as a longer offering, gives you an idea of how Ralston could put a full length story together. I would love to see both of these explored as fuller novels.

“Beware of the Dog” and “//End User” were my least favorite stories, though this isn’t to say they were bad. The former, I enjoyed, but found the ending a little sudden considering the build-up. The latter, I thought was going to be an excellent Matrix-esque mash-up. Again, the abrupt ending left me scratching my head. I’ve given it a re-read a couple of times, and each time I was left with a hollow echo as I tried to realize what had gone on. End of the world indeed.

From here, Gristle and Bone ends on some awesome high notes, and again, works I could easily see Ralston crafting in to an accomplished full-length novel. If you’re a fan of revenge slasher fiction, you’ll love “Artifact (#37)”. “Viral” was haunting; it asks some keen questions of the reader. I had to read “Scavengers” with the lights on.

Gristle & Bone literally has something for everyone; almost every corner of the horror genre is covered in this work. Ralston’s work is easy to read. His style adapts neatly to suit the story he is crafting, and the stories have an ebb and flow that make you want to complete reading.

Check out his work; you won