"Revolution Calling" (Raw Earth Ink ; 2024)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Revolution Calling, by entertainment writer Ray Van Horn Jr, is the story of two high school-aged metalheads, circa 1988, and their journey through bullying, love and growth. The story is semi-autobiographical and that much is evident in the depth of character that Van Horn brings to every person in the book, especially his main duo, Jason and Rob. Their heavy metal-fuelled relationship feels real, and natural, and their band-name-dropping banter is a highlight.

The story follows Jason and Rob, both of whom are dedicated heavy metal fans, as they make their high school journey being taunted by the football players, the FFA, and anyone who doesn't like those who are different. Parts of the story as well as some as the secondary characters may seem familiar to many. It's a little like the classic movie, Dazed and Confused. Everyone whoís seen that movie recognizes people from their past, no matter what their era. Seems like all high schools have the same cast of characters, just with different labels. As it did in Dazed and Confused, however, the story and characters work well here and Jason and Rob are solidly on their own unique paths.

An engaging coming of age story with a heavy rockíníroll theme, Revolution Calling will entertain and enrich readers, especially if their life paths are similar to Van Hornís (as was my own).  

For more information, check out http://rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/.

"Coming of Rage" (Raw Earth Ink ; 2022)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Ray Van Horn's "Coming of Rage" is a collection of seven short stories, each sharing the common thread of rock'n'roll (some threads thinner than others)

These are slice-of-life tales, pages from bigger, longer, stories yet to be told (if they are ever told). Some, refreshingly, donít even have the complete standard format of beginning, middle and end. But they all make their point with clearly drawn characters, Rayís crisp and clever prose, with more than a smattering of real-life experience thrown in to make each story feel sharply genuine.

There are stories here about the joys and struggles of maturing, justice vs. revenge, the many-layered topic of racism, and more. Each is packed with characters who feel like people you know and pop culture references that keep the tales feeling fresh and alive.

Ray is presently at work on a novel and Coming of Rage is the perfect appetizer for what to expect to be a brilliant full-length. Highly recommended to fans of short fiction, and especially for those who love rock'n'roll.

For more information, check out http://rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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