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Children of No One

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Sadism, nihilism, poverty, wealth, screams, whimpers, sanity and madness collide in Nowhere, Indiana For Thomas Krieg, Nowhere is a miles-long, pitch-black underground maze in which he's imprisoned dozens of boys for the past ten years -- all in the name of art. For two brothers, Nowhere is the only place they clearly remember living. A world unto itself, in which they must Sadism, nihilism, poverty, wealth, screams, whimpers, sanity and madness collide in Nowhere, Indiana For Thomas Krieg, Nowhere is a miles-long, pitch-black underground maze in which he's imprisoned dozens of boys for the past ten years -- all in the name of art. For two brothers, Nowhere is the only place they clearly remember living. A world unto itself, in which they must stay alert to stay alive. A world from which the only escape is death. But for an English occultist known only as Mr. No One, Nowhere is much more...and much less: the perfect place in which to perform a ritual to unleash the grandest of eldritch deities, the God of Nothingness, the Great Dark Mouth.


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Sadism, nihilism, poverty, wealth, screams, whimpers, sanity and madness collide in Nowhere, Indiana For Thomas Krieg, Nowhere is a miles-long, pitch-black underground maze in which he's imprisoned dozens of boys for the past ten years -- all in the name of art. For two brothers, Nowhere is the only place they clearly remember living. A world unto itself, in which they must Sadism, nihilism, poverty, wealth, screams, whimpers, sanity and madness collide in Nowhere, Indiana For Thomas Krieg, Nowhere is a miles-long, pitch-black underground maze in which he's imprisoned dozens of boys for the past ten years -- all in the name of art. For two brothers, Nowhere is the only place they clearly remember living. A world unto itself, in which they must stay alert to stay alive. A world from which the only escape is death. But for an English occultist known only as Mr. No One, Nowhere is much more...and much less: the perfect place in which to perform a ritual to unleash the grandest of eldritch deities, the God of Nothingness, the Great Dark Mouth.

30 review for Children of No One

  1. 5 out of 5

    Char

    When this arrived in my email from the Darkfuse Kindle Club, I was excited because I loved the cover. Then I thought I would just crack it open and read the first few sentences. Yeah, right-an hour or so later, I was done! This was a dark tale set in Nowhere, Indiana. A rich, twisted man (Mr. McPherson)is looking for something new in the world of art. Mr. Krieg is just the man to deliver it. He has been working for years on a new LIVE exhibit. Mr. Krieg's assistant is a nihilist named No One. Tog When this arrived in my email from the Darkfuse Kindle Club, I was excited because I loved the cover. Then I thought I would just crack it open and read the first few sentences. Yeah, right-an hour or so later, I was done! This was a dark tale set in Nowhere, Indiana. A rich, twisted man (Mr. McPherson)is looking for something new in the world of art. Mr. Krieg is just the man to deliver it. He has been working for years on a new LIVE exhibit. Mr. Krieg's assistant is a nihilist named No One. Together he and Mr. Krieg will create this new exhibit with Mr. McPherson as the very excited audience of one. After all, there is no art without an audience, right? Together all three men descend into the labyrinth, which is where I leave off from the plot description. You will have to read it to find out what this exhibit was and if it was successful. :) I will say that this was a dark fiction story, with a science fiction slant. It was unique and extremely well written. The characters were so well defined that I had no problem picturing them in my mind. This is also a story about humanity, and what some of us could become. Is it possible that our desire to be entertained could eventually evolve into something dark and twisted? Or has it already ? Read this novella and see what your conclusions are!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Nikki

    1.5 stars This lady was really nice and answered my questions earlier this evening, but I gotta be real. First off, the story was told to me, for me, and with not a care for my interpretation. Did ya get that? If not, read it again. You will. This could have easily taken place on a porch with two men in rocking chairs bickering over whose art is more original, transcending, mind-bending. Throw in some kids who live/are trapped in the basement in the dark with no way out and an art fanatic who wou 1.5 stars This lady was really nice and answered my questions earlier this evening, but I gotta be real. First off, the story was told to me, for me, and with not a care for my interpretation. Did ya get that? If not, read it again. You will. This could have easily taken place on a porch with two men in rocking chairs bickering over whose art is more original, transcending, mind-bending. Throw in some kids who live/are trapped in the basement in the dark with no way out and an art fanatic who would love to be a part of it...and ta-dow! You've got Children of No One. I GOT the story. The getting just wasn't that good. It was weird. There was just too much dialogue for a place of Nothing. Way too much. There was no mystery because we knew who was keeping the kids and why and if escape was possible or not. Poor things were like hamsters on a wheel and you know where those go. Where was the horror? There was none. There was no element of surprise or dismay that made you gasp with incredulity. I was let down by the simplicity of the characters and plot. It just wasn't for me~

  3. 5 out of 5

    Todd Russell

    This is one of those polarizing stories you'll likely love or hate from the get-go. A story that was very reminiscent to me of early Clive Barker in both mood, substance and artistic merit. It also has a quote in the front from Thomas Ligotti, another writer who knows how to mix horror with avant garde. During the live book launch I asked the author if either of these writers were influences and she cited Ligotti as a strong one and not as much Barker. The story: an eccentric artist named Thomas This is one of those polarizing stories you'll likely love or hate from the get-go. A story that was very reminiscent to me of early Clive Barker in both mood, substance and artistic merit. It also has a quote in the front from Thomas Ligotti, another writer who knows how to mix horror with avant garde. During the live book launch I asked the author if either of these writers were influences and she cited Ligotti as a strong one and not as much Barker. The story: an eccentric artist named Thomas Krieg has designed a fiendish underground labyrinth where children must find food secreted within the dark maze. Krieg under a cloak of silence sells access to view his physical artwork for seven figures to a man utterly possessed with seeing it out of sadistic pleasure. Mix in an English man who calls himself Mr. No One as the financier and pro-nihilist of the maze and a man hellbent on unleashing a dark eldritch deity and last an all-too-eager assistant cum henchman of Krieg's willing to do his bidding. Put all this in a blender plus two children who see the people in the light above as angels and you've got tension and conflict brewing in every nook and cranny. This story sucked me in and trapped me like I was inside the maze. I loved that it was different and was paced breathlessly, never quite allowing the reader to come up for air and get away from the horror. What little exposition exists is woven in almost seamlessly into the tale. As someone who looks for and greatly appreciates fiction that takes chances, this one was a winner from start to finish for me. Experimental, entertaining and will make readers think. Five stars easy for me. 1,025 Kindle locations. Highly recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This was an incredible, dark novella that branches out into unexpected directions at every turn. It opens up and invites interpretation of much deeper meanings on so many levels! I was left thinking about the main characters and their "unique" motivations and outlooks on art, sadism, and nihilism, long after turning that final page. To sum it up in only one word: Wow! This was an incredible, dark novella that branches out into unexpected directions at every turn. It opens up and invites interpretation of much deeper meanings on so many levels! I was left thinking about the main characters and their "unique" motivations and outlooks on art, sadism, and nihilism, long after turning that final page. To sum it up in only one word: Wow!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kristin (Blood,Sweat and Books)

    Review: This was my reaction when I completed Children Of No One. I'm not even exaggerating here the Novella is truly that disturbing. Guys, I love horror its my genre but this novella really pushed me to my limits. I came away from reading Children Of No One feeling dirty, like I just witnessed something so deplorable that it should of never been put to paper in the first place. Thing is this isn't an over the top gore-fest, with crazed mutated psychos running through the wood with chainsaws Review: This was my reaction when I completed Children Of No One. I'm not even exaggerating here the Novella is truly that disturbing. Guys, I love horror its my genre but this novella really pushed me to my limits. I came away from reading Children Of No One feeling dirty, like I just witnessed something so deplorable that it should of never been put to paper in the first place. Thing is this isn't an over the top gore-fest, with crazed mutated psychos running through the wood with chainsaws. No, what makes this book so creepy is the psychological warfare it plays on the mind. This above all is what really got under my skin. I'm going to need to snuggle a bunny after this one for sure. After I snapped out of the disbelief that I had just essentially read a novella about child torture for the sake of art like somehow that's a worthwhile excuse pfft, My reaction changed to something akin to this.: Truth be told, as much as I want to rip this novella apart for its content, I do actually see the small bit of brilliance in the Authors writing. The above mentioned is why I kept reading even being as appalled as I was by the adult characters. Thomas Krieg is the artist who conceptualized the labyrinth. The labyrinth exists underground,away from the prying eyes of the public. It is kept perpetually dark with the exception being when the food drops happen. In his brilliance madness as an artist Thomas Krieg has trained the kids to believe that he is an angel, the food drops manna and that all of it comes from heaven. What really makes the children's existence in this place tragic is knowing all the children were sold to this guy to be tortured (knowingly or not) by their very own parents all because they were poor, their greed to much. It makes the situation the kids find themselves in that much worse. Since this is a novella, I won't get into much more than that but the details the "artist" put into his masterpiece were enough to make even this die hard horror fan recoil in disgust. I feel that speaks volumes in itself. Overall I found this Novella interesting but uncomfortable to read the majority of the time. I'm certainly glad this wasn't a full length novel, I don't think I could stomach much more of it. I guess this begs the question, Would I recommend Children Of No One? At this time, I'm going to leave my answer blank. Yes, this was certainly disturbing and creepy with flawless writing but I just don't know if I can recommend it in the end. So for now my answer is blank. That being said, I will be rating Children Of No One ★★★★.

  6. 4 out of 5

    REMEMBER UKRAINE NOW ReadingReindeer

    Review of Children of No One by Nicole Cushing DarkFuse Publishing 5 stars I found this an incredible story. The degree of character revelations and character evolution the author manages in a story of brevity (novella length) rather than in an extended novel, is amazing. So is the character evolution; and make no mistake, character evolution definitely occurs! Although the outworking of the plot and the premise itself are pretty horrifying (think Grand Guignol in Midwest America) and probably NOT Review of Children of No One by Nicole Cushing DarkFuse Publishing 5 stars I found this an incredible story. The degree of character revelations and character evolution the author manages in a story of brevity (novella length) rather than in an extended novel, is amazing. So is the character evolution; and make no mistake, character evolution definitely occurs! Although the outworking of the plot and the premise itself are pretty horrifying (think Grand Guignol in Midwest America) and probably NOT for the faint of stomach, what the author does with it goes beyond skilled and into superb. Performance art mutates into live torture porn into ceremonial magick of nihilism. An incredibly imaginative and excellently penned tale. I shan’t be forgetting this one.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    In a word this was trippy. Exceptionally bizzarely trippy, yet at the same time exceptionally compelling as well from the very start. Very unsettling piece of fiction about an extremely disturbing art installation, the artists behind it and their one man audience who'll do whatever it takes to see it. Intelligent meditation on the nature of art or nature of sadism, either way it worked and well. Excellent writing too. Recommended. In a word this was trippy. Exceptionally bizzarely trippy, yet at the same time exceptionally compelling as well from the very start. Very unsettling piece of fiction about an extremely disturbing art installation, the artists behind it and their one man audience who'll do whatever it takes to see it. Intelligent meditation on the nature of art or nature of sadism, either way it worked and well. Excellent writing too. Recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Red Lace Reviews

    Nowhere is a vast labyrinth beneath the ground of Indiana, home to many children who only know darkness. Unbeknownst to them, they are property of artist Thomas Krieg, and are the living embodiment of his newest masterpiece. McPherson is a fan, and his only wish is to view Krieg's work first-hand. Signing up for the opportunity of a lifetime, McPherson gets more than he bargained for when he meets another artist, the mysterious Mister No One. (WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.) I suspe Nowhere is a vast labyrinth beneath the ground of Indiana, home to many children who only know darkness. Unbeknownst to them, they are property of artist Thomas Krieg, and are the living embodiment of his newest masterpiece. McPherson is a fan, and his only wish is to view Krieg's work first-hand. Signing up for the opportunity of a lifetime, McPherson gets more than he bargained for when he meets another artist, the mysterious Mister No One. (WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.) I suspect that Cushing will always be a pleasure to read, as from this moment I'm beginning to notice a certain ingenuity when it comes to her work. With themes that are daring as well as disturbing, she excels in bringing disquieting imagery to life through flawless storytelling. I enjoyed this novella a great deal, and because of its short length the experience was all the more intense - there was no slog to reach those pivotal moments because, let's face it, it couldn't afford to let a sentence go to waste. There's always the problem of pieces like this being too short however, and the consequence of such is that you can't really get attached to characters in the same way as a three-hundred page novel. I'm of the opinion that the same rules shouldn't apply; stories like this are swift and purposeful, their intention to convey an idea with maximum effect in as little words as possible. Not everyone can do it well, but this author can. Art is a topic I rarely come across in the horror genre, and Cushing invited the question of what could be considered art in the wider sense. Creativity in the form of paintings, sculptures and the like are traditional mediums, but art itself is subjective. A crazed mind will have a different concept of art, of entertainment, and so with Thomas Krieg and Mister No One, the boundaries were pushed to the extreme. They were two very different individuals - as observed through their dialogue - vying over their own interpretation of artistic merit. I relished their back and forth, and was especially appreciative when ritualistic magic came into play. I should mention that there was abuse toward children, and even though the scenes of their suffering were fleeting, they were definitely there to reiterate the unpleasantness of the matter at hand. The primary focus lay upon their tormentors, and given that my threshold for such content is pretty far-reaching, the brief segments of cruelty weren't unbearable for me. In conclusion: I didn't expect Children of No One to be so thought-provoking, but it was by a sizeable degree. It integrated the mind of a sadist with the dark schemes of a nihilist, and whilst Cushing put many things into the pot, the resulting concoction was addictive. Recommended to those that value distinct works where the horror is more complex than blood and guts. Notable Quote: The dark seemed to soar over him and crawl under him and slither around him and gallop through him. The darkness seemed hungry for him, but not just him. © Red Lace 2019 Wordpress ~ Twitter

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kirk

    I’ve been reading Nicole Cushing’s work since we met one another at BizarroCon in 2010. The closest thing I can compare the experience of reading her new work each year to is buying a case of wine that ages well, and opening a bottle each year to see how the taste and bouquet has improved. The quality always improves in leaps and bounds, and it sat well on the palette to begin with. I really enjoyed Children of No One. It was a quick read, one you can get through in a single sitting. The characte I’ve been reading Nicole Cushing’s work since we met one another at BizarroCon in 2010. The closest thing I can compare the experience of reading her new work each year to is buying a case of wine that ages well, and opening a bottle each year to see how the taste and bouquet has improved. The quality always improves in leaps and bounds, and it sat well on the palette to begin with. I really enjoyed Children of No One. It was a quick read, one you can get through in a single sitting. The characters are compelling. We have a sadistic artist who uses the body and mind as his canvas, a dark magician compelled to reveal his brand of truth to the world, and a wealthy man you’ll love to hate. The mystery is introduced through our wealthy protagonist. You can’t help but identify with him up front. His curiosity is your curiosity. It isn’t long before you don’t want to be in his shoes, however. You’ll search for someone to live vicariously through, but you’ll always pluck yourself out of the character you select and try again. This is a great maneuver on behalf of the author, a well-paced skill of horror writing that toys with the reader in subtle ways. The way these characters interact is what really makes this book work for me. We have a brief discourse on the relationship between love and art that hearkened back to Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show. And unlike some other reviewers on here, I enjoyed the dialogue. I like a book that provokes thought. The characters have clear ideals about art, but that doesn't mean you can't take the discourse further in your own mind. Not everything to be contemplated or uncovered is spoon fed to you. The dialogue also contributes to character development. The power dynamic ebbs and flows as the conversations continue. In this short work, the powerful become powerless and the powerless . . . you’ll have to read it for yourself and find out. When you do figure it out, let me know. The ending left me a bit confused. There’s another set of characters in this book: the children. In many ways, we’re left in the dark when it comes to these children, both literally and figuratively. But the figurative darkness augments the literal. There are times when you’ll feel like you’re down in the darkness with these kids. That can be a little disconcerting, but this is horror. It’s supposed to be! Overall, Cushing weaves us into a world that is tastefully dark. Almost all hope is squelched, but her characters will make you strap in for the ride even when you know it is going to introduce you to a desolate reality, one that mirrors our own in many ways. Perhaps that is the most frightening element of this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Children of No One is a great piece of weird literature. The problem for me, however, is that I felt that there should have been more, that this story could have been expanded upon a bit more. More importantly, I would have liked to have known the characters more. But that's a really bitchy thing to complain about, isn't it? Because what this book is is an ode to all the great classic weird fiction that has had an incredible influence on horror fiction today. It also has a lot of philosophical fo Children of No One is a great piece of weird literature. The problem for me, however, is that I felt that there should have been more, that this story could have been expanded upon a bit more. More importantly, I would have liked to have known the characters more. But that's a really bitchy thing to complain about, isn't it? Because what this book is is an ode to all the great classic weird fiction that has had an incredible influence on horror fiction today. It also has a lot of philosophical food for thought and a fantastic setting: a new form of art that encapsulates human cruelty and a nihilistic way of experiencing life. Children of No One is a fascinating novella that I highly recommend, but one that could have been so much more had we the chance to explore just a little further. I'm really looking forward to see what Nicole Cushing is capable of presenting to us in the future.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Justin Steele

    Children of No One is a novella from DarkFuse by Nicole Cushing. Despite only being available electronically (limited hardcovers are sold to members of a special DarkFuse book club) I couldn't resist this one, despite my tendencies to avoid e-books at all costs. And I am sure glad I picked this one up. Here's the blurb: Sadism, nihilism, poverty, wealth, screams, whimpers, sanity and madness collide in Nowhere, Indiana For Thomas Krieg, Nowhere is a miles-long, pitch-black underground maze in whic Children of No One is a novella from DarkFuse by Nicole Cushing. Despite only being available electronically (limited hardcovers are sold to members of a special DarkFuse book club) I couldn't resist this one, despite my tendencies to avoid e-books at all costs. And I am sure glad I picked this one up. Here's the blurb: Sadism, nihilism, poverty, wealth, screams, whimpers, sanity and madness collide in Nowhere, Indiana For Thomas Krieg, Nowhere is a miles-long, pitch-black underground maze in which he’s imprisoned dozens of boys for the past ten years—all in the name of art. For two brothers, Nowhere is the only place they clearly remember living. A world unto itself, in which they must stay alert to stay alive. A world from which the only escape is death. But for an English occultist known only as Mr. No One, Nowhere is much more…and much less: the perfect place in which to perform a ritual to unleash the grandest of eldritch deities, the God of Nothingness, the Great Dark Mouth. Between the blurb and the amazing cover (and I know never to judge a book by it's cover...but seriously, what an awesome cover) I was really intrigued. The novella opens with two quotes. The first from Borges, which is an appropriate opener as labyrinths were a common theme in many of the Argentinian author's works. The second quote comes from Thomas Ligotti, and really helps to set up the nark, nihilistic themes that are on display in this novella. The one complaint readers seem to have is that the book doesn't spend much time with the boys trapped in the labyrinth. Instead, the novel focuses on the adults, and is mostly told through the viewpoint of Mr. MacPherson, a rich fan of Krieg's controversial artwork. The boys themselves are present not as protagonists, but instead serve as examples of the product produced by Krieg's sadistic art experiment. Cushing succeeds in taking unsympathetic characters, and making them interesting to read about. MacPherson's perverse interests make him rather detestable, while Krieg's sadism and pompous attitude make for a downright despicable character. Mr. No One, although trying to unleash a dark, consuming, uncaring deity on the world, is perhaps the most likeable character in the book. Although he is a nihilist to the core, and wants the world to succumb to nothingness, he at times shows distaste towards Krieg's treatment of the boys in the labyrinth. The story boils down to sadism versus nihilism, with MacPherson caught in the middle of the two strong-willed men. Cushing ratchets the tension perfectly, and blends horrors both real and cosmic for one of the more disturbing reads of the past year. Children of No One will stay on your mind long after reading, and at the price there is no reason not to pick this one up. I, for one, would love to see more longer work from this author. Highly recommended. Originally appeared on my blog, The Arkham Digest.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ctgt

    An interesting, twisted story about art and social experimentation but I was never able to connect with the people in the maze so it never really moved me. 2.5 stars

  13. 4 out of 5

    Terry Weyna

    Nicole Cushing has earned her first award nomination for Children of No One, a novella published by the exciting new (as of 2012) publisher, DarkFuse. It is one of the seven novellas nominated in a strong field for the Shirley Jackson Award, an award I consider most apt to give me good reading recommendations. The theme of Children of No One I find especially fascinating: art can be abused to horrific effect. It has always been true that what one person thinks of is artful and outrageously origin Nicole Cushing has earned her first award nomination for Children of No One, a novella published by the exciting new (as of 2012) publisher, DarkFuse. It is one of the seven novellas nominated in a strong field for the Shirley Jackson Award, an award I consider most apt to give me good reading recommendations. The theme of Children of No One I find especially fascinating: art can be abused to horrific effect. It has always been true that what one person thinks of is artful and outrageously original is another person’s garbage; “My kid could do that!” is a phrase that has been directed toward any number of modern pieces, such as, say, the splatter paintings of Jackson Pollock. But there have also been discussions about whether certain art is cruel and unworthy of a mentally healthy audience. Some of Francis Bacon’s paintings, for instance, can easily be classified as horror — look at Three Studies for a Crucifixion, for instance. But when an artist engages in performance art, and uses human beings as his raw materials, the horror immediately escalates to criminal heights. Cushing’s novella opens with two teenage boys arguing in Nowhere, Indiana, about the possible existence of light. In their world, there is no such thing, but one of the boys believes that once there was. All these boys know is a completely dark world in which the oak walls move, making it difficult to find food delivered each day by “Angels” — employees of the artist of whom the boys know nothing. We quickly learn that the boys are two of dozens purchased by Thomas Krieg as small children and enclosed in his underground labyrinth as “art.” McPherson is a “patron of the arts,” as he calls himself, who pays an enormous amount of money to get a preview of this “masterpiece.” In a conversation with Kitterman, the security guard who greets him, McPherson shrugs off the security problems posed by the type of art that Krieg specializes in, though he acknowledges that an artist with a reputation as “Krieg the Torturer” and “Krieg the Sadist” has to be careful. This setup is bad enough, but things go from bad to worse when the occult, aided by drugs, enters the picture. A man named only as “the Englishman” (he says he doesn’t have a name) claims to be a magician who wants to use Nowhere, Indiana, as a battery for a magical engine that will reveal the nothingness that lingers beneath our universe. He wants this Great Dark Mouth to enter the universe and gobble up “our tacky delusions of light, life and meaning.” McPherson has perhaps bitten off much more than he can chew. Krieg is willingly cooperating with the Englishman’s effort, but only because he thinks they’re harmless. The twists are plentiful as the novella proceeds inexorably toward a perfect, and perfectly chilling, ending. Cushing deals expertly with all the plots and subplots she has set in motion. She tells her story with a distinctive voice, using description to good effect for a story full of light, darkness, color and the absence of color, appropriate to her artistic theme. I’m now eager to read Cushing’s first novel, I Am the New God, released by DarkFuse last month. This is a new voice in horror that promises some dark, scary reads. Originally published at http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The only other work that I have read by this author is Cushings' "The Truth, as Told by a Bottle of Liquid Morphine" which was a painfully realistic story about flawed yet completely believable characters. I really enjoyed that story and was surprised at how different this novella was. This novel is an exploration of the concept of torture as art. I found it to be a sort of concept piece, an allegory of sorts, rather than a true story. The characters are not flesh and blood and seemed representat The only other work that I have read by this author is Cushings' "The Truth, as Told by a Bottle of Liquid Morphine" which was a painfully realistic story about flawed yet completely believable characters. I really enjoyed that story and was surprised at how different this novella was. This novel is an exploration of the concept of torture as art. I found it to be a sort of concept piece, an allegory of sorts, rather than a true story. The characters are not flesh and blood and seemed representative of concepts or philosophical positions. Two competing artists, one a sadist, one a nihilist, a wealthy "audience member"---representing us, and a practical workman just doing his job and not thinking about the moral ramifications of anything he does. An experimental and literary work to be sure. Although I was not really captivated by the story line, and maybe I wasn't supposed to be. I did find myself contemplating, and being disturbed by, the overall concept long after I finished the book. I still am, actually. Torture as art. A repulsive concept. But isn't that the whole idea behind some movies, art and literature? Some horror movies and books qualify. I remember looking at Renaissance paintings of the death of Saint Sebastian, tied to a tree and pierced by arrows, the wounds cruel and realistic, his pain evident on his face. Why are we attracted to art showing the suffering of others as entertainment. Clearly in this book, the torture that the artists are creating for their viewers is real, whereas in books, art and movies it is merely representative, but conceptually it is still disturbing even if more ethically defensible. What is the source of this tendency in human nature and why is the suffering of others so appealing in art?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kim (Wistfulskimmies Book Reviews)

    This is the story of an underground labyrinth in Nowhere, Indiana. Thomas Krieg has been abducting boys for ten years, and placing them in the labyrinth to try and survive, all in the name of art. Now a sadist wants to see the labyrinth, and Krieg's partner, an insane occultist known only as Mr NoOne thinks it is the perfect opportunity to call forth the grandest of the eldritch deities, The Great Dark Mouth..... Since I have been reviewing books, there have been one or two that have stayed with This is the story of an underground labyrinth in Nowhere, Indiana. Thomas Krieg has been abducting boys for ten years, and placing them in the labyrinth to try and survive, all in the name of art. Now a sadist wants to see the labyrinth, and Krieg's partner, an insane occultist known only as Mr NoOne thinks it is the perfect opportunity to call forth the grandest of the eldritch deities, The Great Dark Mouth..... Since I have been reviewing books, there have been one or two that have stayed with me for a while after I have read them. This was one such book. Although not very long, there is much packed into its pages, without seeming to be overloaded. With a tiny cast and sparse locations, it is tight and well written VERY dark novella. The labyrinth itself was dark and claustrophobic, and some parts were difficult to read as they sent chills up my spine. Most of the four or five characters seemed to have a screw loose, and were quite evil in their own ways. That being said, for a debut novella, this shows great talent and I would love to see more by this author.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Julie-anne

    Krieg is an artist who has made a massive underground labyrinth in which he has trapped several young boys. They have been raised in this maze and believe in angels, the angels feed them, the angels tell them when they deliver the food and ring a bell to let them know where the food is but the walls of the labyrinth move daily so getting to the food isn't as easy as it seems. The whole thing is made as an art-piece. This (very) short story is extremely creepy and disturbing but also very moreish. Krieg is an artist who has made a massive underground labyrinth in which he has trapped several young boys. They have been raised in this maze and believe in angels, the angels feed them, the angels tell them when they deliver the food and ring a bell to let them know where the food is but the walls of the labyrinth move daily so getting to the food isn't as easy as it seems. The whole thing is made as an art-piece. This (very) short story is extremely creepy and disturbing but also very moreish. I loved the whole psychological side of it - when told from the boys' POV, it is scary and weird but when told from the artist or observer POV, they make it all seem so normal. Which really just serves to make it even creepier. Advertised as a novella, I feel it's more short story. I read it on my to-work commute so not a lot of reading at all, but what was there was BRILLIANT.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gef

    They say art is subjective, but even the most avant-garde art snob would be hard-pressed to consider the torture of little kids a form of art. But hey, you can't blame a guy for trying. In Nicole Cushing's debut novella, an underground art world eagerly awaits the unveiling of an artist's latest masterwork. To hell with paintings, sculptures, or even the Piss Christ though, because Krieg deals in death and degradation on a nearly unfathomable scale. Krieg, a perverse eccentric of unparalleled fam They say art is subjective, but even the most avant-garde art snob would be hard-pressed to consider the torture of little kids a form of art. But hey, you can't blame a guy for trying. In Nicole Cushing's debut novella, an underground art world eagerly awaits the unveiling of an artist's latest masterwork. To hell with paintings, sculptures, or even the Piss Christ though, because Krieg deals in death and degradation on a nearly unfathomable scale. Krieg, a perverse eccentric of unparalleled fame among the underground, has outdone himself this time. He's constructed an enclosed maze, in which abandoned children are trapped and forced to wander its pitch-black corridors with the outside world a mere memory that is brainwashed from them. I recall a scientific experiment from decades ago that was quite the urban legend of a child being raised from birth in a cage, but even that pales compared to the god awful conditions created here. It is in this macabre maze, hidden in the aptly named Nowhere, Indiana, where Cushing places a few characters inside and let's them do their worst. Already inside the structure are two brothers working together to survive the darkness in hopes that the "angels" will bring their next meal or finally rapture them to a world of light in heaven. The products of Krieg's sinister mind. But it's when Krieg, along with his cohort Kitterman, take a morbidly curious millionaire and a occult afficianado known only as Mr. No One into the maze for a top-secret tour that the depravity and and dueling philosophies of each party come to bear. Cushing's exploration of nihilism, sadism, elitism, and manipulation are unsettling to say the least. Krieg's maze makes the Piss Christ look like a quaint piece of art by comparison, and to see each corrupted character that sets foot inside meet some kind of reckoning was, quite frankly, enjoyable on its own unsettling level. Aside from the children subjected to this prolonged imprisonment, there are no good guys. Then again, when the story sets a deranged nihilist against an even more deranged sadist, why bother looking for a good guy. If I have a complaint about the story, it's over the novella-length work feeling a bit abbreviated, missing what I consider a couple of prime opportunities to dig deeper into the psyches of its characters. The two brothers are a bit of a looking glass into this sightless experience and wind up having minor roles in the big picture. I would have enjoyed seeing their story fleshed out a little more. That said, Cushing has a minor gem here, with a wicked sense of character, and wonderful hand at imagery. I've already come to enjoy her short fiction and anticipate more good things from her in the future.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I <3 Nicole. She's smart, sweet and just the right amount of quirky that is a must in an author. She does however make me jump for job when I get to read one of her stories. Her previous book I've enjoyed for it's superb uniqueness not an easy thing to do now a days. Everything is all ohhh vampires are popular people will want to read nothing but vampire books. Sigh publishers you know nothing. Flogging a dead horse is kinda pointless. Enjoy then leave it alone. Indie however like Nicole gives me I <3 Nicole. She's smart, sweet and just the right amount of quirky that is a must in an author. She does however make me jump for job when I get to read one of her stories. Her previous book I've enjoyed for it's superb uniqueness not an easy thing to do now a days. Everything is all ohhh vampires are popular people will want to read nothing but vampire books. Sigh publishers you know nothing. Flogging a dead horse is kinda pointless. Enjoy then leave it alone. Indie however like Nicole gives me what I enjoy uniqueness, difference and me sitting with the most peculiar expression on my face going what the fuck is Nicole on!!!!!! Then I crap my pants in terror. Children of No One is just so damn scary in one aspect because of the possibility/probability of it being possible. Children taken when young and brainwashed that angles bring them manna from heaven. Follow the sound of the bell and you get to eat the angels will not help you so good luck oh yes and they are locked in a maze with no sunlight because it's art. Least that's what Krieg and Mr. No One think. I think they're out of they're freaking minds not to mention sadists. The scary as hell look at sadism, darkness of the mind and soul makes me never want to get on Nicole's bad side I highly suspect she'd know how to kill me and make my body disappear for good. Children of No One is Nicole's debut novella, I so look forward to a full length novel from her. Not sure if it's ever to come she has mastered the short for sure. The story opens with two brothers arguing over light, remembering no you don't yes I do. A very wealthy individual who wishes to see this art comes into the picture. The mind fucks, the back and forth who's with who, what is real, what isn't makes the readers head spin. Nicole has you by the balls and drags them along the asphalt, the best part is that you go along willingly. Yes, yes please just tell me what happens. I loved the story. It takes a supernatural twist which I have to be honest I didn't love. Liked, enjoyed yes but wanted the focus to be on the boys, the maze tell me more tell me everything. Within fewer pages than many authors and a hand full of characters Nicole can take you on a ride that will seriously haunt you. If you haven't experienced the chill, the thrill that is Nicole Cushing you are missing out in a major way. Read it, read it now. I shouldn't be the only one sucked in or with their balls shredded.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    In the interest of fairness, I should note that Children of No One mentioned my alma mater in the first few pages, and who doesn't want their school's names emblazoned on ash-trays owned by men who participate in the creation of massive pitch-black mazes for the illegal imprisonment of children? For that's the set-up of this dark and somewhat wry novella in a nutshell: "behavioral artist" Krieg has built an immense, unlit, and ever-changing underground maze, he's stocked it with children (who ha In the interest of fairness, I should note that Children of No One mentioned my alma mater in the first few pages, and who doesn't want their school's names emblazoned on ash-trays owned by men who participate in the creation of massive pitch-black mazes for the illegal imprisonment of children? For that's the set-up of this dark and somewhat wry novella in a nutshell: "behavioral artist" Krieg has built an immense, unlit, and ever-changing underground maze, he's stocked it with children (who have long since grown used to the darkness and the "Angels" who bring them food), and he's surrounded by banalities and trivialities. The man paying to view his exhibit/performance focuses on the indignity of being brought there in the middle of the night in his sweatpants and loafers. Philosophical representations of sadism and nihilism clash--while criticizing an overdone accent. The mask used for an eldritch ritual turns out to be made of papier-mache. And so on. None of this distracts from the dark effectiveness of Cushing's book--instead, it enhances it, adding a sort of low-key realism that belies the constant attempts by the characters to reach for the grandiose. Despite the over-the-top setting, there's nothing grandiose, Cushing shows, about this so-called "art" or the men who exhibit, view, and are consumed by it. It's a work where the supernatural, real or unreal, is another manifestation of dueling philosophies--and where the most brutal of those philosophies are often the most petty. It's a novella that's simultaneously brutal (think of the boys, and in particular, think of (view spoiler)[the younger boy's eyes, and the implied eventual starvation of them all (hide spoiler)] ) and strikingly humanist (view spoiler)[(for all the attempts to either destroy the world or the people in it, the last note is one of nothings turning into somethings, and everything being grist in the mill to make, rather than undo, meaning) (hide spoiler)] . (Although I should probably add that I've been told I find redemptive touches in places others might not. In the case, it's still a well-written and imaginative look at the intersection of the psychological and the supernatural.) It's a horror story about both the nature of evil and the banality of it, where the very banality suggests the error of evil. And it does all this effortlessly, while still being scary, fast-paced, and well-constructed.

  20. 5 out of 5

    MaryAnn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Wow, I don't know what I was expecting, but this was a dark and disturbing piece. The basic premise was to create an experiment in Pavlov's conditional response theory using boys that were sold by their parents to the artist. The content was creepy in that a man was willing to pay a LARGE sum of money to witness this piece of "behavioral art". This story also supports the theory that the boy's reality was completely dictated by their perception of their environment. Being held in a maze in compl Wow, I don't know what I was expecting, but this was a dark and disturbing piece. The basic premise was to create an experiment in Pavlov's conditional response theory using boys that were sold by their parents to the artist. The content was creepy in that a man was willing to pay a LARGE sum of money to witness this piece of "behavioral art". This story also supports the theory that the boy's reality was completely dictated by their perception of their environment. Being held in a maze in complete darkness with portions changing on a regular basis. In order to get food they needed to listen for bells to ring and then get to that location to be able to get food. One of the more ironic portion of this story is that the boys in this deranged environment though that the people giving them food were "angels". Instead of understanding that they were being held captive for MANY years against their will, they looked at their caretakers as angels. I think this is a story that I will think about probably more than I would like to. I will say that some portions were disturbing to me as a mother of 3 boys, but I was still intrigued to understand what the actual activity would be as the ultimate performance of this overall art experience. Overall, the content was disturbing, but I thought the author did a great job telling the story and giving a lot of detail to let the reader truly understand the conditions of the process. Note: I was provided a copy of this book for an unbiased review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Lovatt

    Children of No One by Nicole Cushing was a bit of an unusual read for me, as this was neither fantasy nor a full length novel, but instead a novella. As such, there’s a bit of difficulty for me in writing a full length review. Exploring the darker recesses of the human mind, the art of discovering human behaviour within darkness, using a black canvas, of the battle between sadism and nihilism, Children of No One is filled with thought-provoking psychological and emotional elements. Children of No Children of No One by Nicole Cushing was a bit of an unusual read for me, as this was neither fantasy nor a full length novel, but instead a novella. As such, there’s a bit of difficulty for me in writing a full length review. Exploring the darker recesses of the human mind, the art of discovering human behaviour within darkness, using a black canvas, of the battle between sadism and nihilism, Children of No One is filled with thought-provoking psychological and emotional elements. Children of No One is a a rather creepy and disturbing short story which was well written. However I would have liked to see more from the perspective of the boys and those in the maze, which is what I had been expecting. It’s a very short read at 49 pages, though don’t expect too much from it, as there’s not enough character development or exploration into the lives of those in the maze to give the impression of a satisfying read. Though, as readers of my blog might know, I have a tendency to read much longer novels,because of this I’m unaccustomed to such short stories and the pacing. Those who read novellas may find it more satisfactory and enjoyable than I was able to.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    What is art without an audience – nothing? Or is nothingness the objective? Welcome to Nowhere, Indiana. A demented artist creates a deadly labyrinth of darkness where he imprisions children all in the name of his “art”. A rich and eccentric art connoisseur wants desperately to be the first one to see the living piece - paying a hefty price for the opportunity. A third player, known only as Mr. No One wants to use the maze for more sinister purposes. Children Of No One is a creepy, quick (too qui What is art without an audience – nothing? Or is nothingness the objective? Welcome to Nowhere, Indiana. A demented artist creates a deadly labyrinth of darkness where he imprisions children all in the name of his “art”. A rich and eccentric art connoisseur wants desperately to be the first one to see the living piece - paying a hefty price for the opportunity. A third player, known only as Mr. No One wants to use the maze for more sinister purposes. Children Of No One is a creepy, quick (too quick?) and enjoyable tale. A few of the other reviews said that it was a Barker-esque tale… I think they may be right.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mark Matthews

    Loved this book. The original idea, the dialoge, the dialogue, and oh yeah, the dialogue. It was diabolical yet playful, with characters who were rich and interesting and a great mix when they played off each other. The premise was something out of kafka, the philosophical debates were entertaining, and the behavioral art of the world was deeper than you'd find at any Hostel movie. I wished I liked the end better... it felt like we walked away from the bizarre world, along with one of the charac Loved this book. The original idea, the dialoge, the dialogue, and oh yeah, the dialogue. It was diabolical yet playful, with characters who were rich and interesting and a great mix when they played off each other. The premise was something out of kafka, the philosophical debates were entertaining, and the behavioral art of the world was deeper than you'd find at any Hostel movie. I wished I liked the end better... it felt like we walked away from the bizarre world, along with one of the characters, a bit too soon and got swallowed up by the Great Dark Mouth. Somewhere this novel is 100 pages longer, and I'm going to follow a maze of darkness to read that one if I have to.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Hackle

    A strong horror novella debut, Children of No One is a short, well-paced work of dark, disturbing, philosophical horror. Reading it gave me a feeling of uneasiness: a hallmark of a well-wrought horror tale. The Thomas Ligotti influence is strong here, as are echoes of Clive Barker’s short story “Dread” and novel “The Great and Secret Show”. Yet Cushing has a distinct voice and does not come across as derivative of what’s come before her. If I had a criticism, it's that the ending of Children of A strong horror novella debut, Children of No One is a short, well-paced work of dark, disturbing, philosophical horror. Reading it gave me a feeling of uneasiness: a hallmark of a well-wrought horror tale. The Thomas Ligotti influence is strong here, as are echoes of Clive Barker’s short story “Dread” and novel “The Great and Secret Show”. Yet Cushing has a distinct voice and does not come across as derivative of what’s come before her. If I had a criticism, it's that the ending of Children of No One was a little ambiguous for my liking, but that's my completely subjective opinion of course. I certainly look forward to reading more of Cushing's horror fiction.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Betty Rocksteady

    Read some of Nicole's newer stuff before getting to this one. You can tell she has picked up some new tricks over the last couple of years, but this is still a really great novella and I really enjoyed reading it. More Great Dark Mouth please. The concept was really compelling to me, an artist in sadism who traps children in a pitch black maze for their entire lives, his collaborator, and his audience. The opening definitely grabbed me, I found the middle dialogue heavy, but the end was just per Read some of Nicole's newer stuff before getting to this one. You can tell she has picked up some new tricks over the last couple of years, but this is still a really great novella and I really enjoyed reading it. More Great Dark Mouth please. The concept was really compelling to me, an artist in sadism who traps children in a pitch black maze for their entire lives, his collaborator, and his audience. The opening definitely grabbed me, I found the middle dialogue heavy, but the end was just perfect. The occult ritual was expert and the whole thing had a really creepy, dark mood. I really enjoyed everything I've read by this author so far and I will continue to seek out her stuff.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marilou Johnson

    This is a very dark, disturbing novella. An experiment in behavioral art by a nihilistic madman who puts children into a dark 3D maze, where manna is dropped by Angels and the children must fight for their lives or die. . . all in the name of 'art'. Creepy, well-told story that left me mentally exhausted. This is a very dark, disturbing novella. An experiment in behavioral art by a nihilistic madman who puts children into a dark 3D maze, where manna is dropped by Angels and the children must fight for their lives or die. . . all in the name of 'art'. Creepy, well-told story that left me mentally exhausted.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ken B

    "...but today his threshold for "strange" had been elevated to such a height..." That about summarizes it. Ms. Cushing is certainly unique in her writing. She represents a battle between sadism and nihilism both philosophically and physically and does it in a way that you MUST know what happens next. 4 STARS "...but today his threshold for "strange" had been elevated to such a height..." That about summarizes it. Ms. Cushing is certainly unique in her writing. She represents a battle between sadism and nihilism both philosophically and physically and does it in a way that you MUST know what happens next. 4 STARS

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Twisted. I liked it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bookish Enchantment (Katherine Quirke)

    I could not read this book all the way through it was doing my head in. It seemed too broken to me. Maybe just not my type of writing style?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Russell

    Ever play pool? You're walking around the table, scanning the arrangement, planning your shot. You lean in, line it up, something doesn't quite feel right, so you straighten up and walk around the table once more, searching for another angle, another approach. This is me right now, trying to write this review, as Children is a tad different from the action-heavy books I've read and reviewed of late. Perhaps this is what caused me to choose this book: something darker, grittier, dirtier. Okay, here Ever play pool? You're walking around the table, scanning the arrangement, planning your shot. You lean in, line it up, something doesn't quite feel right, so you straighten up and walk around the table once more, searching for another angle, another approach. This is me right now, trying to write this review, as Children is a tad different from the action-heavy books I've read and reviewed of late. Perhaps this is what caused me to choose this book: something darker, grittier, dirtier. Okay, here's my odd opening shot: I did and did not enjoy Children, for I feel it is a book written not to be enjoyed, and this is what makes it enjoyable. Confused? Let's flesh this out. The story has two strands, that of the boys trapped in the maze, and the adults that are artists and connoisseurs. While I empathised with the plight of the brothers, they weren't the emphasis of the story. It's hard to relate to them as they have no history, little character, they just live in the moment and the rules that are forced upon them. A couple of Pavlov's dogs, reacting the few stimuli granted to them, wondering if there had been anything before all this. True, they suffer (but there's no gratuitous violence here, should that be a concern for some readers), and we stick with it, but don't become overly attached. Without hijacking this review to pimp my wares, this put me in the Entertaining Demons symbolic mindset. I pictured these children as the starved, injured, confused victims of war cruelly forced upon them by unseen forces. Even religious doctrine is given to them to justify their situation. Like the children in this book, and the faces on the news, we watch, then we turn the page or flick the channel. What do we take from their suffering? Bring in the other side of the story. The visiting art fanatic, the genius artist, and his assistant. An interesting trio, but all ultimately detestable. I found it hard to saddle up with any of the three, but in a different manner from the brothers. So again, I'm reminded that here is a book that doesn't try to win you over; it doesn't want to be 'liked'. No comic relief sidekick, hero who overcomes the odds, or heartwarming change of a character who sees the error in his ways. I was particularly drawn to the visitor, MacPherson, as we experience the unfolding mysteries alongside him. As we are asked where the line lies in art vs torture, with MacPherson, we are in turn presented with another line, that of appreciative art audience vs voyeur. I chose to buy and read this book. Doesn't that make me a little bit like him? Finally, I want to shed some light (pun intended) on Mr. No One. This character gains momentum through the story, starting out as what I thought would be a lacky, hired muscle, right-hand man type to the main antagonist, the artist Krieg. For me, what No One ultimate represents is the void, the existential threat. This brings me back to the boys trapped in the maze. The tone of Children feels nihilistic, in that the great nothing, the great dark mouth is coming to swallow us all (and really...isn't it?) and our lives, be it creating art or crawling around in filth in a dark maze, are ultimately pointless. But as Frankl would suggest, despair is suffering without meaning, and while the boys indeed suffered, did they truly despair? Or did their lives have meaning? Even if that meaning is to be presented to art critics/voyeurs as an exhibit in suffering. And I think I'll leave it there before I become too involved in my own discussion. The book sets aside the action and scares and sets out a more philosophical table. I could be wrong, but I felt the story was packed with existential symbolism that might even deserve a second read with this in mind going in anew. While enough for a casual reader, Cushing delivers up a novella that gives back what you put in. It gets four Sartres smoking pipes in cafes out of a possible five. As always, click on the cover to go to Amazon for a closer look and a purchase. Help support horror!

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