Book Review: ‘Ugly As Sin’


By Stacey Longo

Ugly as Sin

Ugly As Sin by James Newman is the latest offering by Shock Totem Publications, billed right on the cover as “white-trash noir,” a tongue-in-cheek summary of the contents inside. It’s funny, fast-paced, and engaging.

Nick Bullman once had an impressive career as The Widowmaker, a wrestling heel whose feuds in the Global Wrestling Association were legendary. It’s rotten luck for Nick when two wrasslin’ fans who think it’s all real attack Nick, beating him and mutilating his face in the process.

When GWA CEO Lance K. McDougal III (a clear caricature of Vince McMahon, and that’s okay) wants to market Nick’s ruined face as a gimmick, Nick attacks him. The subsequent criminal and civil lawsuits ruin Nick, and he finds himself in a bad way . . . until his daughter, Melissa, asks him for help.

It seems Nick’s granddaughter, Sophie, has been kidnapped. Nick, who honestly has nothing better to do, agrees to investigate. Along the way, he picks up a sidekick, Leon, a meth head who is happy to team up with his favorite former wrestler. What follows is a heartwarming story of two men bonding over past mistakes, current circumstances, and future dreams. Just kidding. What actually follows is mayhem, murder, and the sinking realization that Nick’s actions in the past has had real consequences on his daughter’s and granddaughter’s lives.

Ugly As Sin comes full circle, when Nick realizes that in some ways, the villain in the story is a better father than he himself has been. No matter, though: the bad guy is still a monster, and Nick’s able to (spoiler alert) save the day and turn over a new leaf where his family is concerned. Chock full of colorful characters, action, and unsettling horror, Ugly As Sin is worth the read.

‘Shock Totem’ to Publish First Book

In May, Shock Totem Publications will be releasing its first non-magazine related product. The company is re-releasing a book, The Wicked by James Newman.

An ode to 1980s horror, The Wicked is Newman’s second book, which was originally published in 2007 in limited edition hardcover. The new version features revised text, a new foreword by Mark Allan Gunnells, a new afterword by Newman, and brilliant new artwork and illustrations by Jesse David Young (with additional cover layout by Yannick Bouchard). Also included is a brand new, exclusive tie-in short story the author wrote specifically for this release.

The Wicked will be released in paperback and e-book formats.

Newman is the author of the critically-acclaimed Midnight Rain and Animosity, the short-story collection People Are Strange, and the novellas The Forum, Revenge Flick! and Olden.

Praise for the novel:

The Wicked is a good old-fashioned, unabashed horror novel. James Newman remembers when horror used to be fun, and he’s recaptured it here in all of its gory glory. A terrifying page-turner in the tradition of Graham Masterton, J.N. Williamson, and Richard Laymon. WICKEDly good reading from of horror’s new heirs!”

Brian Keene, author of The Rising, City of the Dead and Ghoul said, “Demons, depravity and despair, oh my! Reminiscent of the best of 80’s horror and Bentley Little at his most grotesque and unrelenting, The Wicked is the kind of horror we don’t see enough of anymore. This is one wild and bloody ride, and in the capable hands of James Newman, it’s one worth taking.”

From Kealan Patrick Burke, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Turtle Boy and Kin: The Wicked will be released in paperback and e-book formats. More details will follow closer to release. If you have any questions, please let us know.”