Includes ‘Test of Death,’ Winner of the Australasian Horror Writers Association Robert N Stephenson Short Story Award.
Melanie’s increasingly disturbing journal entries have to be delusional ravings – if they’re not, there’s something terrible out there, snatching runaways in the night and spiriting them off to a place unspeakable.
In his debut collection of horror stories, short fiction writer Michael Botur, recognized in his native New Zealand as “one of the most original story writers of his generation,” brings us twelve terrifying tales that take us to the dark extremes of human imagination.
Botur’s off-kilter stories take the reader through a black mirror of horrifically bizarro possibility. For two high school introverts, skipping school descends into something unspeakably awful. A powerful-yet-paranoid publisher turns a young man’s magazine internship into a nightmare. A woman trapped in a coal cellar discovers that in order to live, part of her needs to die. A teen prankster’s vicious joke against her tutor brings revenge served cold.
Praise for Michael Botur’s 2022 horror collection The Devil Took Her: Tales of Horror and other books.
“Gritty, unsettling, and utterly intoxicating.” – Steffanie Holmes, USA Today bestselling and award-winning author
“The writing draws you in and doesn’t let you go, no matter what you think of the protagonist (of which many descend into hells of their own making—quite satisfyingly in some cases!). I still find myself thinking about these stories weeks after I turned the final page. Another aspect I particularly liked in all of the stories of this collection is how they don’t just hold up a mirror to the flaws of humanity but explore them to the extreme. As characters succumb to their weaknesses—some of which are seemingly innocent at first—their stories become cautionary tales about letting our less-than-admirable traits rule us. This collection is not just about humanity’s flaws, but of consequences; of mistakes (and lapses) in judgement coming home to roost one by one. If you relish stories that build with a slow rising dread before going for the throat, this is a must-read.” – Nikky Lee, Award-winning horror, sci-fi and fantasy author
“On the back cover, New Zealand great, Alan Duff, makes the comment that “This dude can write.” And can he what! Botur is a superb practitioner with the ability to bring to life these terrifying moments… Overall, the skill of the writing is undeniable. The content is heavy and at times hard to keep going because of its brutal, unsettling and overall horrific tendencies, but there is such a pull with the quality of the narrative. It’s a little like a car crash, you don’t want to look – but you just can’t help yourself.” – Chris Reed, NZ Book Lovers
“With The Devil Took Her, Michael Botur has a created a series of wonderfully unsettling stories that fill the reader with ill-ease. Settle in for some energetic, evocative, jump off the page writing and stories that do what all good horror should do – repulse and intrigue.” – Kathryn Burnett – Award-winning Screenwriter/Playwright
What I loved about this collection is that I didn’t know where I was being taken. Botur kept me guessing. The hem of the dress isn’t being lifted, he tears it off at every opportunity. It’s rare to read an author that puts it all out there, straying well and truly outside the boundaries of today’s PC societal views. Botur invites backlash in, and I respect that. There are so many great tales in here, all written with panache and a street cred that can only be garnered, I feel, from experience, which makes me like this guy even more. He trades grammar convention for a stream of consciousness that pulls you into each story, a roller coaster with a fresh destination Botur hides in each telling with aplomb. – Scott Butler, Screenwriter, Shortland Street
“Prolific, dope-as-tits writer Michael Botur is back, with a new collection. His writing in these twelve stories is pure, no-holds-barred revelry in the weird and genuinely scary. Each story is highly imaginative and, most importantly, fun to read.” – Jeremy Roberts, Gingernuts of Horror, on The Devil Took Her: Tales of Horror (2022)
Aside from the incredible inventiveness of its plot, Botur’s writing sings at times with a fluency and vivacity. – Jenny Purchase, Kete NZ Books, on The Devil Took Her: Tales of Horror (2022)
“Michael Botur’s work grabs you by the throat and won’t let you go. His stories throb with what feel like real people, real conversations, real moments of pain and hope, misunderstanding and reconciliation, remorse and surprise.”—Maggie Trapp, New Zealand Listener, on True (2019)
“16 short stories from a writer considered one of the most original story writers of his generation in New Zealand.—Patricia Prime, Takahē 86, on Spitshine (2016)
“In four previous volumes of stories Botur has claimed for himself a piece of literary territory occupied by the desperate, downtrodden and damned. He tells his tales in what would have been called an “amphetamine-fuelled” prose style until all suggestion of acquaintance with amphetamines became socially unacceptable. Let’s go for ‘breakneck’ and ‘febrile’ to describe the prose.” —Paul Little, on Crimechurch (2020)
“Michael Botur’s talent shows a skill broad, diverse and still very focused. He has mastered the art of the short story. The authenticity is so scary, you wonder where this man has been and what demons followed him home.” —Paul Brooks, Wanganui Midweek
“Written in unvarnished street language about the rougher side of life – drugs, jail and death, the book shows rare bravery and honesty […] The thing about Michael Botur is his voice is very much a street voice. His language is street language: it’s raw, it’s coarse, it’s obscene. It’s tough and it’s confronting […] There are gems – some of them are absolutely great.” —Ian Telfer, Radio New Zealand on True? (2019)
“As a former journalist he has perfected the skill of telling a story and evoking emotion. Botur is a clever writer. He has mastered the art of leaving things unsaid.” —Rebekah Fraser, New Zealand Book Lovers