A Review of Limbus, Inc., Book I by Jonathan Maberry et al

Maberry, Jonathan, Nassise, Joseph, Ethridge, Benjamin Kane, Petty, Anne C. and Brett J. Talley. Limbus, Inc. Book I. San Francisco: JournalStone, 2013. 272 pp. $25.16.

As the title page indicates, this is a “shared world experience”—and quite the universe it unveils. The next time you’re out of work, and believe your life can’t get any worse, think again. Limbus, Inc.’s Recruiters will definitely be listening. In fact, they pride themselves on matching prospective employees with the best possible job. One of their more enticing mottos: “‘I can find you any job you like, anything you like’” (30).

You may even discover your true calling.

First of all, a special shout out for the concept goes to Anne C. Petty by JournalStone President, Christopher C. Payne. I second this. Genius. Sheer genius. And with a well-chosen cadre of several of horror’s best writers. Could the concept of this book have risen at a more propitious time?

I think not. . .

The “What is Limbus?” section offers the requisite cautionary tale on the importance of “reading the small print” when signing a contract.  What we learn from the prologue onward, is that the contemporary job seeker’s state-of-mind is often chaotic. Each inhabits a universe of their own making, and Limbus, Inc.’s staff will provide just the job needed to unveil that universe to and for them.

I am particularly enamored with the frame of this book, where in the prologue, we meet Ichabod Templeton, who dares much to deliver a book to Matthew Sellers’ used bookstore, curiously named, Unbound. At first, Matthew believes the book to be an antique, but then discovers that it is a pastiche of handwritten pages, cut-and-pasted computer prints outs and other assorted texts that may very well be the ravings of a lunatic. But it’s a story that must be told, according to Templeton, and Sellers is just the person to do it.

After all, Matthew is a writer and bookstore owner.

So Sellers begins to read. . .launching us into a brilliantly (and might I add, chillingly) wrought series of tales interspersed with visits to Sellers, his book store – and beyond. This is an excellent example of what has been traditionally called a Russian Doll or Chinese Puzzle Box  tale, with stories within stories within stories. I often refer to these as stacked coffins, myself. . .

First we have Benjamin Kane Etheridge’s “The Slaughter Man,” where Limbus, Inc. takes an out-of-work cow Sticker for Sunshine State Natural Meat Processors, sends him through quite an ingenious portal system, the Gultranz patch gating, where he will be quite busy in the food service industry sating the sophisticated tastes of an alien Princess. Did I mention his wife cheated on him, too? And with his boss?

Then we have Brett J. Talley’s “Sacrifice.” Just home from Afghanistan, and a victim of a vicious bar fight, Ryan, is plagued with insomnia and recurring nightmares. He starts attending a PTSD support group and meets Katya, who suggests that perhaps he needs a job. Limbus, Inc.’s Recruiter Hawthorne has the perfect one for Ryan. All he has to do is venture into an ancient sanctuary to rescue a girl from the clutches of a few witches. Did I mention ritual sacrifice and the Dance of the Seven Veils?

In Joseph Nassise’s “One Job Too Many,” we meet Nate Benson who survived earth’s near decimation from radioactive blasts, Political and Faith Wars, but not the General Electronics’ lay-offs. To make matters worse, his girl leaves him, too. When Nate meets Recruiter 46795 for an interview, he believes he’s been recruited for some type of clandestine government op. Cool tech abounds, and Nate is going to be transferred to his post via farcaster unit with the help of a genetically designed hypo injection. All he has to do is take a photo of a meet. Several jobs later, he becomes curious about his role in several controversial events. Who’s wrongs is he righting while traveling through time and space?

“We Employ” by Anne C. Petty introduces us to Dallas, another down-on-his-luck man who’s giving, or perhaps receiving, BJs to get by. He discovers Limbus, Inc.’s card in a bar’s men’s room – complete with his fly down and a bang on his head. Estranged from his family, he nevertheless stops by his mom’s place to get cleaned up before his interview with Recruiter Rigel. How challenging can dog walking be? Meet Buster’s owner, Charlotte, and the plot definitely thickens! His duties change as he needs to get her to a portal on time with some rather harrowing escapades thwarting their efforts!

For Book I’s penultimate “chapter,” we have Jonathan Maberry’s “Strip Search,” where we meet Sam Hunter, a former Twin Cities’ cop who now runs a private one-man investigation office. One of Limbus, Inc.’s cards is slipped under his door, followed by a visit from one of Limbus’ own at a time specified on the card. He takes a whiff of the card and smells blood. . .Apparently, blood-tracking is one of his unique skill sets. At the appointed time, in walks a drop-dead gorgeous woman who lays a thick envelope, a flashdrive, and a case on him. The case? To find a certain young girl, Denise Sturbidge AKA Bambi, an exotic dancer, age 15, before a serial killer with a taste for teenage girls – and their skin – adds her to his list. There have been 16 murders, 28 days apart, and Denise would be the 17th. Hunter is on a very tight schedule to find the girl – or the killer – before there are more victims. To make matters worse, reporters and other investigative personnel have died for their troubles. What manner of serial killer is this? What manner of investigator is Hunter? What will happen on the next full moon?

Sellers finishes reading Ichabod’s book, and is summarily visited by none other than Limbus, Inc.’s Recruiter Hawthorne, complete with his security team.  Hawthorne has the perfect offer for Sellers. Will he sign the contract? Find out as the saga continues in Books II and III. (Note: Limbus, Inc. Book II was released in May 2014, and features Jonathan Maberry, Gary A. Braunbeck, Harry Shannon, Joe R. Lansdale, and Joe McKinney. Limbus, Inc. III is slated for spring/summer release in 2015, according to JournalStone’s site.)

Not only do I highly recommend this book, but I would argue that is a must-read if you’re unhappy with your current position or are otherwise un – or under – employed. Have you, like Matthew Sellers, uttered the fateful words, “’I guess it’s time to get a real job’”? (14) Take a good hard look at your skill sets, then revise that resume as I guarantee there’s a Limbus, Inc. recruiting office near you. . .

Me? Why yes, I’m always looking for opportunities and wonder which Recruiter will be the best possible match. Still waiting for that card to appear. . .

Limbus, Inc.

Are you laid off, downsized, undersized?

We employ.

How lucky do you feel? (263)

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  1. This sounds like a fun anthology! I like the concept, of the “be careful what you wish for ” job and what it entails. Wonder what the sequels will be like.


    • I’m planning to purchase both sequels. I didn’t want to give any spoilers, but OMG, this is a cult classic! Loved your blog post about mental illness and the legal system.


      • Thanks so much! The class, Mental Illness in Literature, was such an eye-opener that I took at the last minute. Now I know what to add to the reading list.


      • Yes, this book would definitely be a great asset to a class like that! I remember when I was a psych major at Naropa, and we had a Mind in Literature course that primarily focused on states of mind in lit. We also did quite a bit of writing in that class, too! What did you write about?


  1. A Review of Limbus, Inc., Book I by Jonathan Maberry et al | The Site That Should Not Be

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