Saturday, February 28, 2015
There is a lot to like about Robert Levy's debut novel. There's the seemingly idyllic location of Starling Cove in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the writer's strong character development, and frequently stunning prose, to name a few.
The Glittering World is the story of Michael "Blue" Whitley and his closest friends, Elisa and her husband Jeremy, & Blue's young and admiring co-worker, Gabe, who all travel from NYC, to the place of his birth, essentially to facilitate the sale of his late grandmother's home. "All four will face their troubled pasts, their most private demons, and a mysterious race of beings that inhabits the land, spoken of by the locals as only the Other Kind..."
If I had to pick a genre for The Glittering World, I'd call it literary horror. Nothing wrong with that, but there were times when the story slowed considerably because of to too much extrapolation and not enough action. I did mention Robert's beautiful prose, but there were also many times I found it to be cumbersome and a bit of a distraction Too much of a good thing.
In conclusion, there is a hauntingly beautiful story hidden amongst all the words. One that many readers are likely to enjoy.
The Glittering World is available now in both hardback and as an ebook from Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Publishers.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
What a wonderful way to celebrate Women In Horror month. or any month for that matter.
The promise..."Five female authors who will leave you shuddering deliciously. Get ready to leave the lights on again with five pieces of short fiction bringing the Grimm Brother's tales into the present. Be advised: these aren't your children's fairy tales!" Grimm Mistresses is an anthology that delivers on it's promise. And then some.
Little Dead Red - Mercedes M. Yardley
Although I've known of Mercedes and her work in the Horror/Fantasy genres for a while, this is the first time I've actually read her work. Looks like I'll need to read more. A gifted story-teller who has taken the Red Riding Hood story and turned it on it's end. Here, Marie's daughter, Aleta, on her way to visit her grandmother in the hospital meets her fate at the hands of a creature much more terrifying than a wolf. Her mother is obsessed with finding her killer and will do whatever it takes. A dark trip into a brutal world with a terrific "Oh, Wow!" ending.
Nectar - Allison M. Dickson
I couldn't tell you which, if any of the original Grimm fairy tales was the inspiration behind this one, but it was a strange, yet oddly compelling story of two men who go on a blind double date and wind up captive under the strangest of circumstances. Used by their captors and fed with an unusual nectar to fatten them up. Hmm. they're being fattened up, like a rather bizarre twist on Hansel and Gretel. Yeah, I think that might be the inspiration.
The Leopard's Pelt - S. R. Cambridge
I would guess the inspiration here came from the Snow Leopard, although there is certainly a bit of Beauty and the Beast in this wonderfully woven and completely satisfying tale. Henry Lowery, is a Gunner's Mate, Second Class who is shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island in the South Pacific. While there he meets an enchanted leopard who makes a deal to get him off the island, for a price. What happens next is a tale that is both fanciful and totally charming.
Hazing Cinderella - C. W. LaSart
Nasty. Certainly not something that would come from the Disney studios. As viscous as Katie's step-sister, Jamie and her friends could be, they are no match for Katie. And her mom is something else, too. Very dark and exceptionally violent.
The Night Air - Stacey Turner
Conversation that is natural, that actually sounds like the way people talk, is difficult, but Stacy Turner makes it look so easy. Maybe it's just knowing what people would say in a given situation, both adults and children. It may seem like a little thing, but when it doesn't feel right, it can be such a distraction. Marla and her husband Nick move from Chicago to the small town of Hubble, IL with their three young children, Sarah, Tommy, and Nicole. "The Night Air" is a sneaky story. Everything seems so normal, so peaceful, and then...wham! A parent's worse nightmare. I'll leave this one for you to discover the inspiration.
An anthology that hits on all cylinders is a rarely seen thing of beauty. Grimm Mistresses is just such an anthology. Available now from Angelic Knight, the horror imprint of Ragnarok Publications. You can pick up a copy at the Ragnarok website or through Amazon.com.
This gets my highest recommendation.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Jaime & Ray Ford, and Danny Ferry are the musicians who make up "Two Tons of Dirt." You might think, what a cool band name, what's it mean? According to Ray - 'Cause that's how much they throw on your grave.
It's seems like they've been on tour for years, but it's finally winding down. Time to get back home and work on their next album. Just a few more dates. After a show in North Carolina, Dan and Ray decide to walk back to their hotel and take a shortcut through an alley. Uh, oh. Shortcuts, alleys, and horror novels are NEVER a good combination. This is where Dan is attacked and bit on the back of his neck by something.
"The thing smacked into the back of his neck like a softball, pitching him forward." Was it a bat? If it wasn't, what could it be? Before long, Dan is fighting headaches and then there's the buzzing, like bees, driving him to distraction. So much so, he winds up slapping his car, hard. Hard enough to slice the edge of his hand, drawing blood. When he shoves the cut in his mouth and sucks the blood to stem the bleeding, the buzzing stops and the headaches are gone. And so it begins.
Although, Dan and his band mates aren't the only ones affected, they do come up with an effective way of dealing with what is happening. Not everyone is so lucky, if you want to call what they have to do, lucky. While the world around them deteriorates, they gather together family and friends together and try to avoid venturing out after dark.
A lot of the story is about the band-mates and their relationships. The author did an exceptional job developing these characters and giving the reader the chance to truly get to know them. At times delightfully disgusting, Suckers is a completely original horror story and as crazy as the premise is, it certainly seems within the realm of possibility.
Available now, as a paperback and for the Kindle, through Amazon.com Suckers is one horror fans shouldn't miss.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Glen released the first novel in his Brother's Keeper series in December of 2014. Arkadium Rising is a character driven story of survival in a post apocalyptic world brought about by the Anaki.
The Hollowed Land is a novella set in the Brother's Keeper universe and is the story of Kip Redfield and Delaney Innsburg, making their way through the crumbling metropolis formerly known as Chicago. It's five years after the event known as Election Day, the day that changed the world forever.
Within the main story of The Hollowed Land is the tale of how Kip came to be a part of the Anaki. In a short time, Krisch develops some memorable characters and the scene in chapter two where Kip is locked in his room and his mother is taking physical abuse from his father over Kip's request to go on an outing with his new friends is particularly powerful.
What happens when Kip finishes telling his story to Delaney is both unexpected and satisfying.
The Hollowed Land can certainly be read as a stand alone piece, but Arkadium Rising is such a good story, you might want to start there.
The Hollowed Land is available now for the Kindle at Amazon.com.
Highly recommended and a nice introduction to Glen Krisch if you've not read him before.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Revelation - A Forever Man Novel - by Brian W. Matthews - A heart-pounding race to save mankind from itself
I can't believe it's been 2 years and four days since I reviewed the original Forever Man novel, a work I liked so much I gave it 5 stars. As far as the sequel goes, Revelation is even better than the original.
A fascinating mix of religion and adventure thrown into a blender with Brian W. Matthews' wild imagination. The result is a brilliant story that in some ways seems all too plausible.
Because what I read was an Advance Readers Copy, I'm not permitted to quote from the text (in case changes are made), so I'll have to restrain myself and just say there are some wickedly cool scenes in Revelation.
Filled with terrific characters, Miles Knight stands out as a milquetoast non-believer and the most unlikely of heroes.
Even if you haven't read the original book, which I suggest you do, Revelation works well as a stand alone novel.
Revelation is available now in paperback and a variety of electronic formats from the JournalStone website.
This one comes with my highest recommendation.
Friday, February 13, 2015
I am close to a loss for words. Masters of Blood and Bone is a stream of consciousness adventure that lives up to the quote from Franz Kafka at the beginning of the book. "I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for?" After reading this latest work from Craig Saunders, that's pretty much how I feel.
Craig sets the mood for the rest of his work with the first three paragraphs...
It's impossible to fake being a wizard. You can fake many, many things: Tans, orgasms, speeding car and fart noises for small children.
But true wizards are not prestidigitators, just as books are not lies. They are magic.
After just a few more paragraphs, I know I'm going to enjoy this read. Sometimes, you just know. The mood, the writing style, the characters, the pacing. It all comes together and before you know it, it's over. And that's a bit sad, but at the same time you feel completely satisfied. Like a fine meal at a 5- Star restaurant. You're completely sated, yet you wish it wasn't over.
Wizards, gods, Charon, and Cerberus all make appearances in this delightfully strange book.
This was my first read from Craig Saunders and I know I'll be going back for more in the future.
Masters of Blood and Bone is published by Darkfuse and is available right now at Amazon.com. Plus, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read this one at no additional charge, and if you are an Amazon Prime member you can make this one your monthly FREE read.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
I wanted and expected to like The Eterna Files much more than I did.
Set in New York City and London in 1882, and dealing with spiritualism and parallel searches for a cure for death, it really seemed like something I would enjoy.
Although, I found the story to be intriguing at the start. It soon became too wordy, as moments of sheer delight were separated by page upon page of pure boredom.
The writer would go off on tangents and then seemingly drop those ideas and either return to the original storyline or go off on another tangent. In addition, the end of the story gave me zero satisfaction. It's almost as if it's a set up for a sequel, though I hope not.
The Eterna Files is available in hardback and as an ebook from Tor, a division of Macmillan publishers, through various retailers.
This is one I can't readily recommend, but as always, your reading experience may vary.
Friday, February 6, 2015
There is a lot to like in this new novel from Kristopher Rufty. Mainly a well constructed story in the slasher sub-genre. Sex-crazed young adults being picked off one by one, but not by a single psychopath, instead by hundreds of mean little humanoid creatures called Haunchies.
One thing that bothered me though was the marketing for The Lurking Season. (Not the author's fault), but nowhere in the promotional material did I see that this was a sequel to The Lurkers. Had I known that going in, I may have been reluctant to read this particular book. I'm not a big fan of reading sequels when I haven't read the original, but once I started I decided to keep going. I did find that The Lurking Season can stand on it's own, but at the same time, I felt I was missing something.
The other thing that caused me not to give this book top marks was the way the sexual content was handled. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a prude, I love sex, but there is a base story here about a group of idealistic young people who are on their way to the, out of the way, town of Doverton essentially to refurbish a property to be used as a safe-haven for victims of sexual abuse. I got the feeling that somewhere along the way someone thought we can put anything of a horrible sexual nature in the book, because the principal characters are there to do something positive to combat sexual abuse. Like that would cancel out any other content. That thought aside, there is plenty of sex, rape situations, and one character in particular that the Haunchies use for breeding purposes that is flat out disgusting. If you are put off by this type of stuff, steer clear of the Lurking Season.
The negatives aside, The Lurking Season succeeds within the framework of a good old fashioned slice 'em up horror story.
From Samhain publishing's horror division, The Lurking Season is available in paperback and ebook formats.
Recommended with the above warning for abusive sexual content.
Monday, February 2, 2015
SNAFU: Wolves at the Door - edited by G. N. Braun - Another in the Military Horror anthology series, this time featuring werewolves
G. N. Braun at Cohesion Press has discovered a formula for anthology gold. It all began in August of 2014 with the release of the original SNAFU anthology. The idea was to combine a military story with horror. In the original there were all kinds of monsters, then in November we were given SNAFU: Heroes, again with a wide variety of monsters. I loved both books and are both still available for purchase.
This time, it's SNAFU: Wolves at the Door. The overall idea is the same, military stories with a touch of horror, but the monsters are limited to werewolves and by the time I got the the end I was actually a bit tired of this sub-genre. SNAFU: Wolves at the Door contains 8 shorts and then a novella length story from James A. Moore to wrap it all up.
Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed this volume in the SNAFU series. There were some very good tales here.
It starts with a very entertaining story from R.P.L. Johnson. "Taking Down the Top Cat," about a military unit tracking down a drug kingpin into Olmec artifacts. The action comes fast and furious and the writing is top notch. "Suddenly he became very aware of his place on the food chain and knew it was not the top."
"Skadi's Wolves," by Kirsten Cross features Norse mythology, an epic battle, and the unexpected.
David W. Amendola's, "The Fenrir Project," is the obligatory, but effective tale of a German project to create super-soldiers.
The best of the bunch is saved for last in the form of a novella from James A. Moore. This one story alone is worth the purchase price. It's like getting the other eight tales for free. "The Wild Hunt," is about a group of werewolves that have been wronged and the lengths they go to to get their revenge. At times dark and visceral, I found it to be a fresh and original werewolf story.
SNAFU: Wolves at the Door is available now from Cohesion Press through Amazon.com. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read this one at no additional charge. Plus, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can borrow this book for FREE through the Kindle Owners Lending Library.