Saturday, November 18, 2017

Review: Halloween Carnival Volume Five - Edited by Brian James Freeman

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

During the month of October 2017, Brian James Freeman and the folks at Hydra, have gotten together to present a total of twenty-five Halloween tales of horror from twenty-five of the best genre writers working today.  Every Tuesday during October there was a new volume in the Halloween Carnival anthology series.

Volume Five concludes the series with five tales of Halloween horror.  The fun begins with...

Devil's Night by Richard Chizmar - "Tonight was Devils's Night.  A night for mischief as my father used to say."  A love triangle and a murder.  I've read this short before.  A great "What would you do?" mystery.

The Last Dare by Lisa Tuttle - The Tower House was both foreboding and forbidden.  All the more reason to visit on Halloween.

The Halloween Bleed (A Dr. Sibley Curiosity) by Norman Prentiss - "What if Halloween...bleeds into other days?  It doesn't matter when a story is written, or when you read it.  What matters is that it has an effect on you.  It casts a spell." A well-crafted tale with a delightful twist.

Swing by Kevin Quigley - "Love is strange and death is an aphrodisiac." 

Port Pie Hat by Peter Straub - The novella in this collection is another I've read before, but it also happens to be one of the best Halloween horror stories I've ever read. Hat is a Jazz musician and when a fan tries to conduct an interview he hears the horrifying story of a Halloween night in the 'the Backs."

Definitely recommended and somewhat sad to see this series come to a close.

Halloween Carnival Volume Five is published by Hydra, a division of Random House, and is available as an ebook.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Review: The Truants - by Lee Markham

4of 5 Stars     Review copy

The Truants is Lee Markham's debut novel and in some ways, it shows.

I admit I had a love-hate relationship with this book.  It was a bit esoteric for me and the author had an annoying habit of just listing the character's actions.  For example...

She looks at him, and shakes her head.  Then she pulls the sheet up and over his face, hangs the notes back on the end of the bed and pads out of the room.  The door swishes quietly closed behind her.  And the boy sits up.  The sheet falls away and his eyes open.  They are pale.  Blue irises.  They'd been brown, like his skin, when he died.  But now they are pale, as is his skin without blood.  He has changed.

The writing style aside there is much to like in The Truants.  Without ever mentioning vampires, the author manages to tell the story of the last of their kind who, a week apart, end things on the same park bench by staying out in the sun.  But, due to unforeseen circumstances, they are doomed to begin again.

And he dies.  For just a moment, he dies, and he submits, and he gives himself to me.  This feral little rat-child kneels before me and prays for my grace.  I give it to him.  Then I open our eyes.  And we rise.

Overall, The Truants, is decidedly different, in a good way.  Twisted, and filled with some remarkable imagery, and a creep factor that is exceptionally high.


The Truants is published by The Overlook Press and is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

From the author's bio - Lee Markham is the founder of the children’s publishing house Chestnut Tree Tales and No Man, an independent publishing house. He has previously worked as a brand content developer, and he has written articles for magazines including Admap and Brand Strategy. The Truants is his debut novel.