Scaring the Stars into Submission

Fiction - Anthology
359 Pages
Reviewed on 05/19/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite

Scaring the Stars into Submission by Adam “Bucho” Rodenberger is a collection of sixteen interrelated short stories for fans of the dystopia, horror, and drama genres. A retiring mortician witnesses puzzling posthumous changes in a young man's body. The red sky, which cannot contain clouds anymore, portends a grim future for humankind. A young woman is ready to sacrifice her life and rewrite the history of the suffering world. A man proclaims his credo while a blind girl works miracles under the starless, dark sky. A boat made of human bones carries a father and his daughter from the island village toward their unknown fate in the poisoned waters. Love finds its way among the disasters, giving hope to a couple of survivors.

Scaring the Stars into Submission requires a mature audience because Adam “Bucho” Rodenberger explores disturbing topics. Our familiar world can be destroyed, leaving us unprepared and unprotected in the face of horrible calamities. The author writes about this destruction almost poetically. His descriptive prose has powerful metaphors like the starless skies in Equity Lamp or the blindness of the all-knowing historians in You Are the Key Witness to the End of the World. Rodenberger shows the darkest corners of the human soul through the lenses of tragedy and compassion. Thus, in The Memory of a Gypsy Moth, a family is obliged to make a terrifying choice to survive. Yet, this short story is not repulsive. It evokes sympathy and, strangely enough, understanding. Rodenberger makes us redefine the themes of loneliness in Photo Finish and guilt in Sugarhouse. I hope the author turns Scaring the Stars into Submission into a captivating novel.

Demetria Head

Scaring the Stars into Submission by Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger is an anthology offering a diverse collection of stories. The author delves into the depths of human experience across various stories. From the confines of "In the Morgue" to the explosive world of "Firebug for Hire" and the poignant reflections of "I Waited for You," the anthology explores themes of loss, survival, and the human condition. Each tale offers a unique journey, drawing readers into richly imagined worlds filled with suspense, emotion, and vivid imagery. From chilling mysteries to poignant reflections on love and mortality, each story crafts compelling characters and immersive worlds. The narratives captivate the imagination and invite readers to contemplate life's mysteries. Whether exploring the darkness within or the resilience of the human spirit, this anthology invites readers to experience its depths to the fullest.

Scaring the Stars into Submission navigates the complexities of the human psyche with both depth and nuance. Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger's storytelling prowess lies in his capacity to blend elements of horror, suspense, and introspection seamlessly, creating narratives that resonate long after the final page is turned. The book's strength lies in its diverse range of stories, each offering a unique perspective on themes such as mortality, identity, and the nature of fear itself. Additionally, Rodenberger's skillful character development allows readers to empathize with protagonists facing unimaginable challenges, drawing them into the heart of each narrative. The evocative prose and vivid imagery evoke a sense of atmosphere that immerses readers in worlds both familiar and fantastical. Ultimately, Scaring the Stars into Submission stands out as a compelling exploration of the human experience, offering a gripping and thought-provoking read for fans of speculative fiction and horror alike. This book should be on everyone’s reading list this year.

Asher Syed

Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger includes multiple different short stories in Scaring the Stars into Submission; each story is tied to an apocalyptic event that happens on Earth. Rodenberger leaves a lot of what the event was to the imagination of the reader that grows from descriptions in the stories. The tales are not all about the same people and instead show how different people react to the event. They are less about the event and more a look at themes of psychology, transformation, adaptation, relationships, and uncertainty in a changing world. One story shares the titular name of the book and is about a couple whose stagnant life changes when red skies and a cloud descend on their backyard. In it, they witness the city's transformation but it takes something from them in return.

Adam “Bucho” Rodenberger's stories in Scaring the Stars into Submission are set in a dystopian landscape but the lion's share are sketches of psychological depths that evolve into physical destruction. All of them have a surreal blend of being strangely beautiful and extremely uncomfortable. I liked Ruinous Bloom best as it's a story of myth within a story with a myth and environmental ruin. Elena Leranjo's death comes with the persistent scent of lilacs and the genesis of rumors in Sao Brunois, mixed with tales of a floating sanctuary called O Anjo. Over time, the village suffers from the meadows withering, the ocean turning poisonous, and wild dogs vanishing. As the decay encroaches, a decision to flee is made, leading to the discovery of O Anjo, gradually realizing what O Anjo is, and what its name could mean. There are many psychological horror novels to read, but few can do half as much as Rodenberger does in umpteen times the word count. He is in a league of his own.

K.C. Finn

Scaring the Stars into Submission is a work of fiction in the short story anthology, thriller, and interpersonal drama genres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience owing to some scenes of moderate violence and strong language throughout. Penned by author Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger, we find ourselves in a world engulfed in flames, drowning in chaos. Autopsies reveal bizarre occurrences like lilies sprouting inside rib cages, while clouds falling to earth alter behavior. Violent uprisings and revolutions spread globally as nightmares manifest into reality, leading to families resorting to cannibalism. Amidst corporate agendas and philosophical musings, fleeting moments of love emerge amidst the chaos, marking hope amidst despair.

Author Adam "Bucho" Rodenberger has crafted an intense and surreal experience, plunging readers into a world on the brink of collapse, one vignette at a time. The consistent thread amongst each tale is its narrative quality, which is both hauntingly beautiful and profoundly unsettling in its delicate use of descriptors to lay out vivid scenes where our imagination often fills in the horrors for us. Each story within the collection offers a glimpse into the lives of individuals struggling to cope and survive amidst unprecedented chaos, and I particularly enjoyed the shifting narratives and unique voices of ‘Sugarhouse’, which was so superbly told. The interconnectedness of the stories, tied together by threads of surrealism and emotion, creates a sense of unity amidst the disarray, and Rodenberger's prose is atmospheric, evocative, and gripping throughout. Overall, Scaring the Stars into Submission is a thought-provoking exploration of psychology and human drama that I would not hesitate to recommend.