Thursday, October 30, 2014

Immortal - by Steven Savile - An epic adventure in an apocalyptic world

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Immortal is about a man without an identity, who wakes in a sleazy hotel room and begins a quest to find out who he really is.  From a Gideon's bible he finds in the room he takes the name Temple.

For me, it was the journey that made this such an enjoyable read.  He's now in a world with silver-eyed dead which Temple comes to think of as The Soulless and he refers to the end of civilization as The Fall.

In his search for a purpose, a thirteen-year-old girl convinces him to save her brother, taken by the Spider Boys. And so it goes.

When Temple reaches his final destination, all is explained, but it's certainly not a happy ending. That's OK.  This is a story that doesn't need a happy ending.  The tale is gritty, at times gruesome, and Temple is an anti-hero with few endearing qualities.

Published by BadPress, Immortal is available now in both paperback and for the Kindle through

It's a great read.  Highly recommended.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Book of Strange New Things - by Michel Faber - Genre-defying novel

4 of 5 Stars  Review copy

The Book of Strange New Things tells the story of Peter Leigh, a devoted man of faith called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him light years away from his wife, Bea.

Sent to another world at the request of the indigenous intelligent species. Time, distance, and a world that is falling apart back home, all create an enormous strain on what had once been a loving relationship.

I did enjoy the interactions between Peter and the Oasans as he calls the locals to whom he's been called to serve.  The relationship between the Earth colony and the local population was interesting and believable.

A good portion of the story is told in the form of communications between Peter and his wife back home.  Think long distance e-mail.  Generally, I'm not fond of stories told in this manner, but Faber used the technique well.

Although, the story itself is well-told, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of a satisfying ending. At 500-plus pages, I really would have liked to have a bit more closure.

The Book of Strange New Things, published by Hogarth Press is available now in both print, e-book, and audio formats.

Certainly worth reading, particularly if you don't mind open endings.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Last Mile - by Tim Waggoner - A nice little survival of the fittest post apocalyptic novella

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

In a relatively short number of pages, Tim Waggoner manages to construct a post apocalyptic landscape that is every bit as realized as those in much longer works.

Survival in the After World is tenuous, at best. Dan is one of a select few marked to serve a Master.  In the main thrust of the story, he's captured a young woman with the intention of delivering her to his Master and what happens during The Last Mile to his destination is the crux of the tale.

At times very disturbing, this product of Tim Waggoner's over-active imagination is nearly everything you could want in a horror novella.

In this brave new world, the ordinary has become extraordinary..."It was part bovine, part human, a woman's head hanging upside down where an udder should've been, her tongue was lolling, matted black hair dragging the ground.  It possessed a long serpent in place of a tail, the head curled underneath the main part of the creature's body so its forked tongue could taste the udder-head's ear. The cow's body was scrawny, its dry, leathery brown hide stretched tight across the bone, so tight that the flesh had torn in numerous places, revealing glimpses of the yellowed skeleton beneath.  The cow head looked as if it had been dipped in acid, for it was nothing but a skull--except for the eyes.  They remained untouched, and they stared at Dan with what he interpreted as malign amusement."

Definitely for adults and not for anyone with a weak stomach, but if you're up for it, The Last Mile is a quick read that will really help you get your horror on.

From Darkfuse Publishers, The Last Mile  is available for the Kindle at and if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can read this one at no additional charge.

Certainly recommended.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lucky's Girl - by William Holloway - Excessive sex and violence, but overall a good horror story

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

I was able to get a copy of Lucky's Girl through   William Holloway is a new author for me and I was drawn to his story by this amazing synopsis...

"Something has awakened on Grove Island. Something that, even in sleep, has held Elton Township in its black embrace. Something old, wise and patient. Something that walked the ancient forests and howled beneath black skies."

Did the story deliver on what was promised?  It most certainly did, but it didn't end there.  What wasn't in the blurb was how far the story would go to show how depraved, perverse and outright disgusting things would turn.

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not a prude.  I read horror for enjoyment, but there was something just a bit off-putting about Lucky's Girl.   The story became extremely sexual and not in a nice way. At one point I made a note for myself that the story "was as disgusting as it could get," then another that "I was wrong, it just got more disgusting" and before long another note that said "more disgusting."

Lucky's Girl is "a crazy story, fragmented and baroque, of hideous orgies covered in dreck, bestiality, lycanthropy, mass hypnotic visions, and trees with eyes." And that is just scratching the surface.

On the plus side, Lucky's Girl is filled with memorably flawed  characters.  Even the heroes are far from perfect, and the storyline itself is imaginative and well-plotted.  I stayed away from 5 stars primarily because of too much gratuitous sex and violence.  There's a line I never expected to write in a horror review, but as they say, sometimes less is actually more.

Lucky's Girl is available now in print and in ebook formats at

Recommended with the above warning for excessive sex and violence.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Monster Ink - by Timothy Baker - Novella length collection of 3 horror shorts

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Monster Ink features two tales of in-your-face horror, followed by a healthy dose of urban fantasy in this novella length collection of work form Timothy Baker.

It all starts with "Monster Ink."  A motorcycle club called the Sons of Flesh, a magical tattoo artist they call Pony, and a wet behind the ears Army Private who wants to get some ink celebrating making it through boot camp.  What happens next will make your skin crawl.

"Hell and Tarnation," stars "Leonard.  One of the glorious damned thousands. One of the Prisoned.  Once Grand Inquisitor of Magic and Sorcery, now a demoted servant of Lord Lucifer in his infernal prisons."

The third story is a favorite of mine that was featured in Manifesto UF, an anthology of urban fantasy stories.  It's called, "Front Lines, Big City." Baker's protagonist is a Mage.  If you're familiar with World of Warcraft, you'll know what a Mage is. Simply put, a spellcaster.  This one living as a self-made prisoner in downtown New Kansas City.  A former soldier in the Magical Marine Corps.  When the Second Civil War ended he became a fugitive on the run after an act of congress turned him and his comrades into criminals.

Monster Ink is not for everyone.  I did find the first two stories difficult to follow at times. but overall, I enjoyed this quick read.

From Black Bed Sheet publishers, Monster Ink, is available now for the Kindle at

If you're up to it, recommended.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Surrogate - by David Bernstein - Be careful what you wish for

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Rebecca and Tom Hardwick, like many modern couples have put off raising a family, now Rebecca is 36 and they are actively trying to have a baby when tragedy strikes.

This leaves the couple unable to have a child of their own, even adoption does not seem to be a workable solution.   Now in therapy, Rebecca learns of a remarkable way she and Tom may be able to have a child to call their own.

Even if you think you might have an idea where this is going, I'm nearly certain you'll be surprised.

Surrogate is a fast paced story from start to finish with barely a chance to catch your breath.  I've read a few stories by David Bernstein and have yet to be disappointed.  He writes about real people in real situations and then takes it just a bit beyond reality.

David also knows how to push all of my buttons, at times making me angry, occasionally sad and at one point I was actually nauseous.  Parts of this book are visceral, disturbing, and all too satisfying.

And just when I thought I had an inkling where this was going, there's another twist.

Surrogate is no fairy tale, but if you enjoy real life horror and aren't too squeamish, I think you might really enjoy this new short novel from the folks at Darkfuse.   Surrogate is available now for the Kindle from and if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver Screen - edited by Ellen Datlow

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

I believe it can be safely said that Ellen Datlow is one of the most well-known editors of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror working today.  Her newest anthology, just released by Tachyon Publications, is The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver Screen.

Here, Datlow has gathered 23 short stories all dealing with the movie industry. A wide variety of tales featuring writers, directors, bit players, and stars; from blockbusters to porn.

A few highlights include the opening story of the collection, "The Cutter," by Edward Bryant.  One of the best short stories I've read this year.  It's about a movie house projectionist in a small town who edits some of the films that come to the Ramona, often making them better.  He's also the cutter of his own dreams.

"Final Girl Theory," by A. C. Wise is a wildly imaginative story of a fictitious film called Kaleidoscope.

Peter Straub has a rather esoteric entry that seems to be made up of every possible film noir cliche, ever.

One the best best in this anthology is "Dead Image," about a young actor who is the spitting image of the legendary James Deacon, who is a fictionalized version of James Dean.

The always entertaining Gary A. Braunbeck has a clever tale, featuring Buster Keaton and Samuel Beckett, called "Onlookers."

There's poetry from Lucy A. Snyder and Daphne Gottlieb, a very cool zombie story from Douglas E. Winter and much, much more.

Kim Newman writes my favorite line in her very funny story of Edgar Allan Poe's influence on Hollywood, "He thinks up this scene where Chuck is possessed by his evil wizard ancestor and smashes an axe through a door to get to his terrified wife (Debra Paget) while shouting something from The Tonight Show.  I know that will never work, but keep quiet."

The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver Screen is not perfect, but it was certainly an enjoyable read.  All but one of the stories have been published elsewhere over the years, but I had never read any of these before.

Available now from Tachyon Publications in both print and e-book formats The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver Screen is great for film buffs and fans of dark fiction alike.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Rough Magick - GnomeSaga (Book 1) - by Kenny Soward - Well imagined world with a great story

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Although I enjoyed The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings trilogy and a few other Fantasy novels over the years, for the most part, I really don't read or enjoy much in the way of Swords and Sorcery Fantasy.

I am happy to say Rough Magic  is a charming exception.  I decided to read this for a couple of reasons.  I'm a fan of the Dead West series and Kenny Soward was a contributing author on the first two books, and it's published by Ragnarok Publications and they've yet to disappoint me.

I've often mentioned that what makes a great zombie book is the story.  The zombies are basically all the same, so it comes down to what an author does with the characters.  I guess it's the same with Swords and Sorcery Fantasy novels and in this case, the author has created an amazing world called Sullenor populated by Gnomes.

One gnometress in particular, Niksabella Nur, is a tinkerer who has used her skills and a bit of sorcery to create a never-ending energy source.  The High Council, especially First Wizard Raulnock, wants her stopped.  Then there's Jontuk, leader of the Stonekin, a stone-like race from one of the ultraworlds who has an interest in Niksabella's invention.

The Stonekin are at war with the Baron and his legions and by the end of the story, it seems the gnomes are under attack from similar forces.

Rough Magick is a story which evokes wonderment, laughter, a sense of foreboding, anger, and involves every possible emotion.

If you love Swords and Sorcery Fantasy, I can all but guarantee you'll enjoy Rough Magick.  If you're a fan of a great story, you should check out Rough Magick even if not necessarily a fan of the genre.

Rough Magick, from Ragnarok Publications, will be released for the Kindle on October 13th, 2014 and is available now for pre-order.

Strongly recommended.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Strange and Savage Garden - by Tim Waggoner - And you thought your family was dysfunctional

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

The opening to  A Strange and Savage Garden sets the stage nicely for what follows...

"Welcome home.  Forever.

Lauren left her hometown of Trinity Falls years ago, with no intention of ever going back.  Something bad happened to her in the woods there, so bad that she erased it from her memory--mostly.  But now she's returning for her father's funeral.  Returning to a place where robed men and women circle the town in an endless loop, tirelessly chanting, and where a primeval beast watches from behind the trees, hungering for more than flesh.  Hungering for her.

In Trinity Falls Lauren's grandmother Madelyn reigns supreme.  Lauren escaped her once, but Madelyn won't let her get away again.  This time Madelyn intends to see it through to the bitter, bloody end.   No matter what."

Waggoner certainly knows how to set the mood and does so with his usual aplomb in this creepy story where nothing is as it seems.  Slowly revealing the truth and letting the reader sort out what's real and what's not, the writer manages to make the unbelievable seem plausible .

A Strange and Savage Garden is yet another enjoyable read from Tim Waggoner and is available as an e-book from Samhain Publishing and


Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Boy Who Drew Monsters - by Keith Donohue - A wildly imaginative story with huge twist

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

The Boy Who Drew Monsters is a hypnotic literary horror novel about a young boy trapped inside his own world, whose drawings blur the lines between fantasy and reality.

Ten-year-old, Jack Peter Keenan has Asperger disorder, a condition characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction.  Three years ago, he and his friend, Nick, nearly drowned.  Nick actually needed to be resuscitated.  Since then, Jack has trouble leaving the house.

The author has done a fine job of capturing the family life of a child with Asperger's, but The Boy Who Drew Monsters is a work of fiction and rather fantastic fiction at that.

On the surface this seems to be the story of normal parents of a young child with a personality disorder, however it's below the surface where the true story lies.  Part ghost story, part monster story, part thriller, The Boy Who Drew Monsters is a well balanced mix of genres that entertains from start to finish, and what a finish.  I can honestly say I never saw that coming.

Even if the subject matter strays from the world of the believable, the well-developed characters actions and motives ring true and I was totally drawn into the story.

The Boy Who Drew Monsters from MacMillan's Picador imprint will be published on October 7th in both hardback and e-book formats and is certainly worth your attention.

Strongly recommended.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Factory Town - by Jon Bassoff - Nothing is what it seems

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Words are failing me at the moment, but I'll try to find a few to use in this review of Jon Bassoff's follow-up to Corrosion from earlier this year.

Factory Town is a strange, surreal, dreamlike, stream-of-consciousness, at times extremely disturbing, yet oddly satisfying endeavor.

First, there's the unusual writing style.  Although there is plenty of conversation in this novel, it is totally without quotation marks which, surprisingly, didn't bother me at all.

Russell Carver has come to Factory Town to find someone, her name is Alana, she went missing years ago, he has a computer generated image of what she might look like today.  He's heard she might be in this godforsaken place.

"Factory Town.  It was as if they had started demolishing the entire city, building by building, house by house, then had decided it wasn't worth the effort, let it die on it's own terms.  There was crumbling concrete and collapsed fences, broken glass and discarded furniture.  Brick buildings worn down from time and neglect, the windows boarded up and covered with graffiti.  A bank clock, both hands missing.  Dumpsters upturned.  Fire escapes fallen to the ground.  Rubble everywhere.  A church, vandalized and rotted.  And from somewhere, the strange echoes of a laugh track."

Ruled by the Cowboy and the Book of Edicts, Factory Town is not what it seems on the surface. Actually, nothing is what it seems in this bizarre story.

Will Russell find the girl he's looking for, will he even get out alive?  Find out for yourself when Darkfuse releases Jon Bassoff's new novel on October 7th, 2014.  Look for it in both paperback and for the Kindle.  Plus, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read this one at no additional charge.

Not for the faint of heart, but certainly recommended.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Losing Touch - by Christian A. Larsen - A thoroughly entertaining first novel

4.5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

From the foreword by Piers Anthony.  The basic premise of Losing Touch is as follows...

"Suppose you were to discover that you had the ability to phase out and walk through walls, in the manner of a ghost.  Great!  You could visit forbidden places, get out of jail free, sneak peeks at your neighbor's private lives, get inside when you lock yourself out of your car or house.  But would it really be that simple?"

It all starts when Morgan Dunsmore falls off, or should I say through, his toilet. Larsen has honed his skills with the short story format over the years and it shows.  Even though Losing Touch is set in the world of the fantastic, the characters themselves are real, down to earth, as evidenced in this conversation between Morgan and his wife, Corrine.

"'Hand me my robe.'  Corrine took off her towel and wrapped it around her head.  'It's the principal of the thing.  Besides, I want to be home in time to pick up the kids.  You have a honey-do list as long as my arm--starting with replacing the broken foot on our washer.  Keep putting it off and it's going to get up and walk away the next time it hits a spin cycle.  Now stop looking at my boobs and hand me my robe.'"  I can actually hear my wife and I having such a conversation.

It's true, that Losing Touch requires the suspension of disbelief, but I found it easy to do, with the possible exception of the Chicago Bears making the playoffs.  That I found nearly impossible to believe.

I also enjoyed the bits where, with all that's going on, Morgan is listening to the banter on the sports-radio station.  It helps to keep the story grounded.

Losing Touch was published earlier in 2014 by Post Mortem Press and is available through both as a paperback and for the Kindle.

Highly recommended.