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Gateways to Abomination

Narrated by: Jon Padgett
Length: 3 hrs and 21 mins
Categories: Fiction, Horror
5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Bizarre radio broadcasts luring dissolute souls into the dark woods of Western Massachusetts. Sinister old men in topcoats gathered at corners and in playgrounds. A long-dead sorcerer returning to obscene life in the form of an old buck goat.

Welcome to Leeds, Massachusetts, where the drowned walk, where winged leeches blast angry static, where black magic casts a shadow over a cringing populace. You've tuned in to WXXT. The fracture in the stanchion. The drop of blood in your morning milk. The viper in the veins of the Pioneer Valley.

©2014 Matthew M. Bartlett (P)2019 Matthew M. Bartlett

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Bartlett's Awesome - Padgett Makes Him Even Better

Matthew M. Bartlett is an author that's become a fast favorite of mine thanks to his high-concept and ultra-weird method of story telling. Through a mosaic narrative, Bartlett explores the effects of the cult radio station, WXXT, the malady in the valley, broadcasting in Leeds, Massachussetts - and I mean "cult" literally. While WXXT is most certainly an underground broadcast, hidden in the airwaves and most certainly not FCC sanctioned, it's also a gateway for all kinds of unsettling and otherworldly forces. Listeners who stumble across this broadcast are forever changed, or become privy to the occult influences surrounding them, usually in strange and disastrous ways.

Listeners expecting a straight through-line in plot will be completely lost, but the disorientation that arises from Bartlett's style helps give life to the proceedings. Bartlett is engaged more in an exploration of concepts rather than an unraveling of story, forgoing the neat and typical pyramidal story structure or breadcrumb trail of Point A to B to C. It might be better to treat Gateways to Abomination as a short story collection, but even that isn't entirely correct as characters come and go and reoccur, and all are linked in some fashion to WXXT itself. Here, a listener makes acquaintances with a strange man who carries his brain, another seeks dental surgery for a strange growth in his mouth, goats are murdered, and the FCC dispatches an investigator to uncover the secrets of the strange frequency emanating from the woods, and Uncle Red reads the news.

Do not go into the woods.

Few authors can conjure such odd grotesqueries and infect the world with such weird wonders as effectively as Barlett, and Gateways to Abomination is a highly effective and compulsive study in the strange. I'm as entranced as I am oftentimes repulsed by Bartlett's imagination, and it really is a thing of wonder. I'm positively hooked on his conjurations and the expansive mythos he's developed around the conceptual form of his demonic radio station and its impact on Leeds, across books like this and his charitable chapbook for Nightscape Press, If It Bleeds, as well as his various short stories, like "The Black Cheese," in the recently released anthology of pizza horror, Tales From The Crust.

For as much as I unabashedly love Bartlett's words, I think I just might love Jon Padgett reading those words even more now. I haven't listened to Jon's narrations previously, but I am a quick convert and am now desperate for him to read some more WXXT stories (and the sooner the better!). He has a marvelous voice, one that changes to suit the story and characters as needed, turning from broadcast journalist to demonic goat man on a dime, and he inhabits this world as if he's lived in Leeds his whole life.

For as much as I recommend reading Bartlett, I just might recommend listening to this audiobook even more if you're able and willing.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Well I’ll tell you this much...

...a whole day later and I’m still thinking about it, even if I haven’t decided what I think yet. That’s worth the $10.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Nightmarish and Brilliant

Matthew Bartlett is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, hands down. His work has been on my radar for several years now, but it wasn't until this December that I read anything by him. Gateways to Abomination is the second book of his I've now read, and it perfectly describes the collection of short and flash fiction collected within. Each story is a gateway of sorts affording readers a glimpse, however brief, into horrific, abominable, and often grotesque horrors. Most of the stories in this collection are nightmarishly dreamlike, both in terms of the prose and the pacing, and Jon Padgett's narration is the perfect accompaniment that serves to elevate and embody the madness and hysteria of Bartlett's prose.

Bartlett's fiction is one of the most a compelling and original voices in weird horror fiction I've ever read. Listening to this audiobook made me feel as though I were experiencing a waking nightmare, and I loved every minute of it. His prose is often experimental and dense, but the payoff for a more difficult reading/listening experience is immense. I highly recommend reading this book, and especially listening to the audiobook. Padgett and Bartlett working together is a match made in Hell, and I wouldn't have it in any other way.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The first Matthew M. Bartlett broadcast finally in audiobook format...

For the uninitiated, Matthew M. Bartlett arrived on the horror scene out of nowhere, and the madness imbued in each of these stories established this author as someone with an unmistakable & singular style — one much welcomed to the horror community. Within a year or so of its publication, this bizarre red book with its now-iconic red cover art had favored from a viral word-of-mouth contagion among many of today’s most reputable literary horror (and just downright horror) authors. A handful of other titles & chapbooks soon followed, and of course Gateways to Abomination is Bartlett’s second & most recent title. But this is where it all started in the mainstream sense.

And as for Jon Padgett — the narrator for audiobook — I could write for days on his merits & credibility as an author and literary critic/essayist/madman...but you can google him yourself and see for yourself how integral to the horror community he has become in recent years, just please know that his own fiction is nothing short of genius and he did the narration for his own debut collection of short fiction not long ago. (And yes, he is a damn fine narrator. He understands the material, his inflection is always on point, and he clearly had some fun with this opportunity. Enjoy!)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Spencer
  • 01-07-20

A Modern Classic

Being one of my favourite books of all time I’ve been reeeally looking forward to the audio release of this and I wasn’t disappointed. Jon Padgett does a wonderful job as narrator with an unhinged performance that perfectly suits the surreal fever dream that is Gateways to Abomination. I absolutely love this book; the nightmare landscape of Leeds is macabrely mesmerizing and utterly engrossing, this has my absolute highest recommendation!