Horror with a Heart
5 stars: I’m a sucker for a buddy trope- and I was happily surprised to find one inside Aeryn Rudel’s baseball horror story. The unlikely mismatch of the weary catcher at the end of his career and the mysterious rookie pitcher with a killer fastball drives this fun, quick read to its surprising climax. Though the clues are laid out in plain sight, the reader enjoys the journey led by Martin “Wags” Wagner as he pieces together the puzzle of his teammate’s erratic performance. Horror is not my first choice, but I love great characterization and sharp descriptive writing, and Aeryn Rudel always delivers. Will there be a sequel – “Wild Catch”? I’m in!
-Beth G, Amazon Review
Fast, Fun Read!
What originally drew me into this book was the cover. It has a real old school feel then it’s given a worn tattered look which is perfect. The story itself is only 100 pages, so it’s pretty short. I read it in two sittings, so even though it’s short the idea is original and well executed. So, it makes for a good read. It also sets up for possibly a sequel which I hope to see.
-Ransom Coslett, Amazon Review
I’ll admit, I’m not really a sportsball fan, but I am a fan of Aeryn Rudel. As usual, he’s given us a gritty story, full of character. Some of the baseball terms might have been unfamiliar, but there was plenty of context to understand the action.
The protagonist, Wags, had a really strong voice. He’s just broken enough that he’s desperately human without seeming pathetic. And as his worldview gets turned on end, we’re right there with him, wondering where this wild ride is going to end. And like all good horror, when it does, we realize it really is just the beginning for poor Wags!
-MM Schreier, Amazon Review
Fast-paced with a Curveball
For anyone who loves werewolves, baseball (ok, this one isn’t a must!), and fast-paced horror, I highly recommend giving this one a spin. I tend to like my horror fic short, and the novella form is perfect for this tale. For anyone who loves werewolves, baseball (ok, this one isn’t a must!), and fast-paced horror, I highly recommend giving this one a spin. I tend to like my horror fic short, and the novella form is perfect for this tale.
A Fantastic Horror Story!
This is a really fun and fresh take on a classic horror trope!
-Simon B, Amazon Review
Terrific, compelling read
Rudel’s Effectively Wild is a very compelling horror novella that had me flipping the pages into the night. The tale revolves around a nearly over-the-hill baseball catcher who is tasked to mentor the mysterious new Moldavian hot-shot recruit pitcher. Although something’s not quite right with the kid. He rarely shows up at baseball events, his talents seem to come and go, he’s easily tipped into terrifying rages, and just why exactly does he only show up at night? I’m not what you’d call a tried and true baseball fan, but I loved the book nonetheless. Rudel seems to know his way around the bullpen and his tale smacks of authenticity. Did I mention it’s very creepy? My only complaint is that it ended too soon, definitely room for a sequel to finish this tale of baseball spookiness. Highly recommended.
-RabidReader, Amazon Review
Not Only for Baseball Fans
**Note, I received an advanced copy of this book, and my review is fully voluntary.
I am not what anyone would call a sports fan. I’m one of those annoying people who tap the shoulder of the nearest person and ask them to explain what just happened whenever… well, whenever anything happens on the field. So, I didn’t know what to expect from this baseball horror story, but I’m here to say I loved it. You don’t need to be a baseball lover to enjoy this horror novella. I devoured it in two sittings.
Rudel does a great job creating a character (Martin) I cared about and rooted for throughout while making the mystery surrounding Andrei complex. There’s more to Adrei than meets the eye, and it has a lot to do with the intricacies of a corporation hellbent on winning, no matter the cost.
Clearly, Rudel penned this page-turner to appeal to anyone who likes reading horror. I’m sure a lot of the baseball references soared over my head, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment one bit. Dare I say that I may have even picked up a thing or two about the game? Fair warning, you still won’t want to sit next to me at a ballgame unless you wish to chat about Effectively Wild and what Rudel might have in store for his next inning. I can’t wait.
-Andrea G, Amazon Review
Devoured in two sittings!
***Please note, I received an advanced reader copy of this novella, and my review is totally voluntary.
This is a fun, fast-paced read. I devoured it in two sittings. I only know enough about baseball to get by, but the sports references and dialog all worked really well for me. Nothing felt forced and everything flowed naturally.
The fast pace is what really swept me in. The main character, an aging catcher in the minors, pushes the story forward with a desperate urgency. Addicted to opiates and in somewhat blatant denial of his aging body, Martin is an unreliable character, but not a weak or unsympathetic one. He is in conflict with his own ego, as well as those of other players – on his team and other teams. Martin’s voice is also strong, which gives the reader insight into the player he used to be. He’s asked to mentor a young new pitcher, whose backstory is a complete mystery, but it’s soon obvious that backstory is dark, violent, and supernatural.
I recommend this well written novella to sports fans and horror fan alike. A dark and delightful read courtesy of Aeryn Rudel.
-Heather N. Santo, Amazon Review
Grand slam of horror
I read through this 100 page novella in one sitting because I didn’t want to put it down. Now I’m finished EFFECTIVELY WILD and I want more. Please, please tell me there will be more.
I love these characters. Wags is an aging catcher that was relegated to the minor leagues, he has been assigned to help out Andrei, a mysterious new pitching prospect. I could feel the struggles that both Wags and Andrei were going through. The tension was palpable, not knowing what was going to happen as Andrei’s abilities grew beyond what should be possible. Shrouded in mystery and coverups, Wags struggles with what is going on and what dangers await with Andrei around.
You don’t need to be a student of the game of baseball to enjoy this book, that is just the setting. Just like The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones and Daphne by Josh Malerman are not books about basketball and you don’t need to understand football to enjoy the Galactic Football League series by @scottsigler , Effectively Wild is a gritty, fast paced nightmare that just happens to be sliding into home base with its cleats up just daring you to try and tag it out.
On a side note, the baseball scout that found Andrei is named Harker and I did a little dance hoping that somehow he was related to Jonathan Harker from Bram Stoker’s Dracula even though this isn’t a vampire book. Maybe more will come out about that in the next book. (I don’t know if there is a next book but I am using all my psychic power to get Aeryn to write more in this universe.)
-Paul Preston, Amazon Review
A monstrous good time
An aging 37 year old baseball player is painfully at the end of his career. No longer in the big leagues, Martin’s professional level has relegated to the minors. Down on his luck with unpaid bills and alimony, a second chance comes in the form of a young rookie pitcher named Andrei Dinescu. This mysterious ball player seems to exude a beastly talent that will no doubt take the organization to the next level.
Not only does author Aeryn Rudel put forth a monstrous good time with his transformation from baseball to horror, but also succeeds in a well constructed story that will satisfy the readers hunger for something entertainingly different. Blending these two topics with inscribed talismans, wolfsbane and vulgar urges of bloodlust is actually a pleasant result of pure uneasiness.
Armed with curveball carnage and brutal breaking pitches, Rudel sprinkles the perfect amount of that special rosin wit on his unusual element of horror. Effectively Wild has a wonderfully 80’s “Paperbacks From Hell” retro vibe to it. From the gorgeous cover to the “over-the-top” storyline that can’t miss…literally. I can totally see this on a book rack in a drugstore! Grinning Skull Press has once again provided a diversified outlet to the genre we all love and hold dear to our horrific hearts.
Witnessing the radar gun measuring 666 miles per hour is reason enough not to charge the mound but instead grab your copy of this fantastic four-seam fastball of fright. This was such a fun read for me and definitely deserves a five star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Horror Bookworm Recommendation.
-Mike Rankin, Amazon Review
There may not be crying in baseball, but there sure can be horror.
Off the bat, no pun intended, I was leery of a baseball themed horror story. Sounds like something that would be written on a dare only to produce something worth a chuckle, but I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the result.
Even more, the story by Aeryn Rudel is downright entertaining.
I don’t feel that not knowing baseball would be a hindrance to your enjoyment, there’s anything too technical about the parts that do require some knowledge. Basically if you know what the sport is, you probably won’t have an issue. The story and horror don’t require any more than a passing familiarity with it.
There are real touching moments between the characters, some sweet and tender, some horrifying and evil, but that’s the fun of following the story.
It is a quick read, at least it was for me because it did hook me early. I did care about the main characters and wanted to see how it turned out for them.I was surprised at the end and it was a satisfying completion to the tale.
Overall I do recommend the story regardless of your knowledge of the sport, the true enjoyment comes from the characters’ journey.
-Wayne Hills, Amazon Review
Aeryn Rudel’s Effectively Wild is—dare I say—a home run. The horror/baseball novella tells the story of an aging catcher wasting away in the minor leagues when one day he’s paired with a mysterious (and perhaps monstrous) new pitcher. I won’t spoil the plot, but there’s tension, suspense, compelling characters, and a nice mix of humor and horror. Aeryn strikes the perfect balance by giving us enough about baseball to be informative and entertaining while not bogging the narrative down with too much baseball minutia. This novella will appeal to sports fans and non-sports fans alike. I’m only a casual, peripheral fan of baseball (I couldn’t even tell you who is in the MLB playoffs right now), but I found the story fascinating and fun.
-Andrew, Amazon Review
A punchy little read (no baseball knowledge required)
I was worried I’d need to know a bit about baseball to enjoy this, but it was far from the case. The characterisation in this story is fantastic, and the baseball stuff only strengthens it and adds authenticity and flavour to the story overall. I loved Wags. He was what drew me in and kept me there. The supernatural stuff was fun, but definitely not the highlight for me. The way the story ended sort of calls for a sequel. I wasn’t totally satisfied when I got to the last line. I wanted to know how Wags would handle things going forward. But overall, a punchy little read.
-Nick Petrou, Amazon Review