An Introduction to Body Horror: Fleshed Out by Rob Ulitski - Book Review

Thursday, October 13, 2022

image showing the cover for Fleshed Out by Rob Ulitski

*I received a free digital ARC of this book. All opinions are my own.*

I love the horror genre. But sadly, I don't get to spend as much time exploring the genre as I used to due to my mental health. So, each October, as most people are getting ready to celebrate an entire month of spooky and dark entertainment, I usually sit and pout. Tempting as it is, my mental health can't handle allowing myself to sink into the darkness that it inevitably falls into when I overindulge on horror content.

Every now and then, though, I allow myself a little treat. 

This year, before I even had the chance to decide what to do, I received an opportunity to review a collection of short stories by Rob Ultiski. Fleshed Out is a compilation of 13 body horror stories released on October 14th, 2022.

Over the past year, I have increasingly heard more about body horror in the Books of Horror Facebook group. Fleshed Out is the first book in this subgenre that I have read, so I have nothing to compare it to.

Overall, Fleshed Out is gross and depressing. I know that probably doesn't sound good, but I do mean that in a good way. Body horror is supposed to be repulsive and disturbing, and all thirteen books in this collection meet that standard. I was surprised at how emotional many of the stories left me. I like heartbreaking horror, and this book opens with one I would put on the same level as my favorite horror film, May (2002).

The way Ultiski wrote the characters is so human. The situations they are in (minus the gore, of course) are so easily understandable and relatable. The gore was so well written that I had to take breaks, which had never happened to me before. This is easily one of the most disgusting books I have ever read (I swear I mean this in a good way!). All of these stories would make such good movies or short films. I hope Rob Ultiski considers further developing some of these stories in said medium.

I have never reviewed a collection of short stories before, so I was unsure if I should speak about each story or the collection as a whole. I have decided to take my old music review approach and list each tale, a few notes, and my rating.

Hair  – My favorite from this collection. Super depressing. Since reading, the sensation of hair in my throat won't go away. 5/5

Carnage  – Rob did a fantastic job displaying how evil and bitter some men can be. 4/5

Crystalline  – The desperation and frustration in this are so realistic. 4/5

Heal  – I think I would enjoy this more as a movie. 3/5

Doug  – I don't understand why I loved this so much. It was strangely romantic and empowering. 5/5

Circles  – An okay story, but also the most forgettable of the collection. 2/5

Vending Machine  – Very dark and yet the most realistic situation if governments keep looking at health care the way they currently do. 4/5

Dropoff  – I found this story to be a bit boring, but it could have just been that it came after Vending Machine, which I found to be much better. 2/5

Fused  – I want to know what happens next. You can't just leave it like that. 3/5

Neoton  It is my kind of story, but I didn't click with it for some reason. It may be too fast-paced. 3/5

Roe  – This reminded me of some of the Korean Horror I have read. 4/5

Smothered  – This story hits hard, but it is just beyond the level of grossness that I can handle. 3/5

Replacement  – This ties the collection up nicely. I would love to see this as a film as well. 5/5

Overall rating: ★★★★☆ 3.6/5

Should you read it?

✔ This is a great read for horror lovers but not so much for those sensitive to gore, though.

Book & Author Information: Goodreads

Published: October 14th, 2022

Author: Goodreads, Twitter, Official Site