Audiobook Review: ‘In Ventre Tuo: Tales of Gore and Madness’

In Ventre Tuo Tales of Gore and Madness audiobook review
Courtesy of Amanda M. Lyons
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In Sacrum Umbra you were treated to tales from the shadows, the literary darkness that lives within all of us. Here you will find tales of another sort, the type you might find in the less wholesome end of the collective unconscious and the very depths of the gut. From stories of childhood gone horribly wrong to sex and madness with an impossible cost, this is where you’ll find the more gruesome end of the spectrum.

From the moment I opened In Ventre Tuo: Tales of Gore and Madness in my Audible library, I knew I was in for a three-hour treat (3:18 run time). Amanda M. Lyons blew me away with her proficiency for painting a scene within the initial moments of the first story in this anthology. She starts with a gesso of dialogue that practically blocks out the landscape before the base is even dry. The overall work falls short of being a masterpiece, but even Picasso painted a multitude of studies that are worth millions. There are eight short stories in this collection, and six of them were incredibly satisfying.

“Any resemblance to persons, places, living, dead, or undead is purely coincidental. This is a work of fiction.”

After hearing the above line narrated by Paul Burt, it was evident Lyons isn’t afraid to sew in a patch of humor on the creepy quilt she’s unfolding. It should be noted that Burt’s voice is the perfect match to Lyons’ writing. His cadence follows the tide of Lyons’ superbly streamed words. The flow of her writing is the kind other writers envy.

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Prepare yourself for the creepiest arousal you can experience. Each story within In Ventre Tuo adds momentum to the book as a whole. It’s like a session of fevered sex, reaching a climax with one of the strangest tales of an “STD aphrodisiac punch” I’ve ever heard. Needless to say, there are some heavy adult themes, and it gets gory. You were warned, though. It’s right there on the cover. The subtitle Tales of Gore and Madness isn’t used unnecessarily.

The title translates from Italian to “in your womb.” It’s a suitable phrase for this collection, but just in case, because I don’t speak Italian, it should be noted the translation came from Google. As I was typing, before it changes to “in your womb,” it’s “in the belly” before “tuo” is added. Either fits since not all the stories are entirely related to birth. There is, however, a strong theme of emergence of ghastly evil, often relating to our insides turning outside.

Below you’ll find a few sentences describing what I thought of the individual stories.

“Momma Had a Baby”
This is your first kiss; exciting and abrupt. Dopamine kicks in, and you immediately want more. If O. Henry wrote a horror story, this would be it.

“Goblin King”
This is the courtship to your session with Lyons’ brain. The imagery is so exquisitely defined. It’s the new outfit you buy for that second date. This story felt like an episode of Creepshow.

“Growing Pains”
Deals a lot with the stresses and fears of pregnancy, and the panic of responsibility a new parent feels. Note that I chose this as my favorite after having already chosen the first, and then second as my favorite. Pick one. Pick one! I thought this one was creepy; they get successively more horrifying. In a good way.

“From Within”
You’ve been on a few dates. This is the one where you scratch the itch together. It’s messy and awkward, but you’re young and virile. You do the nasty so nasty that you question each other’s past experiences, but then agree to not talk about it. “From Within” has an unmistakable period sex theme. Don’t be afraid. It’s just a little blood. Scratch that itch!

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“Funny Business”
You’ve only been dating for a few weeks, and you’re already looking for ways to keep it exciting in the bedroom. Clown sex. Bloody Clown sex. That should do it!

“A Wide Berth”
You’re watching porn together now. You have no more secrets. Honestly, this one got a little weird for me. I don’t know why it took so long for me to feel this way. As long as no one sees me enjoying this kind of obscene carnage, I’m going to continue.

“Riding the Caterpillar”
You’ve run out of ideas to stay excited with your lover. It’s time to trip balls together. Holy moly, this one is so colorfully written I don’t think the images will ever wash out. There is a homoerotic theme here that seems to touch on homophobia, but I can’t tell if it’s pro or anti. Or maybe it’s a “my uterus, my choice” message. It’s gruesome. Do what you want with your body, but I recommend staying away from recreational drug use when you read this one.

“The Speed of Pain”
This is the breakup. You had a fast and furious relationship with sex only celebrities and porn stars can dream about. It’s Splitsville now. “The Speed of Pain,” though carrying the torch for the themes throughout, didn’t belong in this collection. It wasn’t bad. It was just a square alien egg trying to fit in a blood-spattered hole.

What’s really entertaining about these stories is that there is an abundance of blood and guts, but it didn’t feel redundant even when the action was similar to something that already happened. Amanda M. Lyons has a lot of red crayons in her box.

The general experience I had with In Ventre Tuo: Tales of Gore and Madness was a good one. Good enough for Lyons to have earned a new reader.

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