Highwayman by Craig Saunders is a frightening, folklore based novel that will waylay your nerves from the start. The novel follows Karl as he observesHighwayman by Craig Saunders is a frightening, folklore based novel that will waylay your nerves from the start. The novel follows Karl as he observes a strange occurrence involving a fatal accident. Years later he again encounters the same strange occurrence and a personal tragedy. Karl then become wrapped up in a struggle with the Highwayman.
Highwayman by Craig Saunders The book is steeped in folklore which happens to be something I like very much. If you are a fan of old English folklore you will recognize some of the things that happen in the book. I’m no expert in English folklore but have read enough to know the significance of the happenings in the book.
The prose that Saunders employs works great to get the “dream world” feel to the novel. While reading it, I almost felt like I was in a dream world myself. Highwayman is very dark, very eerie which is exactly how it should read. The whole book leaves you questioning what happens when you die.
The characters are all well done. Just enough depth to make them matter to the reader but not hitting them over the head with info dumps. The protagonist “Highwayman” is vile, disgusting and utterly terrifying. Imke, is lovable and tough. Karl has a heart of gold but is flawed. Each character is done just right for this story.
Conclusion If you like horror and folklore, Highwayman is a great mashup of the two. It blends elements of both to make a great read with no major drawbacks. If I had any criticism, it would be that there was a slower part of the book between about 20-40% or so but the payoff was well worth it. I don’t have any idea where this will fall on my best of list for 2017 but Highwayman was an entertaining read that won’t disappoint many....more
Not sure where to start on this one. I’m not familiar with the works of Chuck Buda and Caged 1 is the first book of his that I’ve read. So, I’m not abNot sure where to start on this one. I’m not familiar with the works of Chuck Buda and Caged 1 is the first book of his that I’ve read. So, I’m not able to judge the overall body of work by Mr. Buda but I was definitely let down by this novella. The story takes place in a prison during a viral outbreak and zombies come into the picture later in the book. Overall, I think the concept was good and unique but the execution was lacking.
Caged 1 (Zombie Lockup Series) by Chuck Buda There are some good things about the novel. The pacing was good, the action and plot kept moving forward and I never got bored with it. The concept of criminals locked up in a prison while the world was coming to an end was interesting to me. The evil warden and crooked guards were great in concept. Mechanically, the writing was solid and I didn’t notice any typos or grammar issues.
Unfortunately, this books has too many warts to be given much praise. There seems to be a few glaring issues with the plot. First, it is extremely had to believe that nobody, not a single guard and not even the warden gives two craps about what’s happening to their families. Second, not a single person in the story jumps ship to get home to get to their family. I can understand if the warden is a psycho and doesn’t care what happened to his wife or kids. I cannot, however, believe that not a single guard on duty just didn’t jump fence ( or even attempt to)to get home. Third, the wardens sees a report on TV and all of the sudden starts preparing for the end of the world and assuming everyone on the outside is dying already. There’s no mention if anything is going on in the surrounding area that would lead the warden and guards to think their families may already be doomed.
The next issue I have is every character is stereotypical to the hilt. Not only are they stereo typical but Swede is admittedly, in the book, noted as being a straight rip-off of the Heartbreak Ridge character. All the other characters come out of the prison cookie-cutter. There is zero depth to any of the characters and I’ll grant in a book this length it’s hard to get depth.
Some other things that bothered me a bit were steroids and a zombie book that had little to do with zombies. Steroids by nature are immunosuppressants so there is no way they’d work the way they are used in the book. I don’t expect many people will realize that but anyone with any experience in the medical field will notice it. Zombies are in the tile of the book but play very little role in the book, that’s a big strike.
The last thing on my list for this one is that it is an incomplete book. It’s not a book at all, it’s the first part of serial novel. Perhaps this is the intent, but it’s not stated so in the description. I think some authors focus too much on how best to maximize Amazon with frequent releases. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with authors wanting to make money or trying different strategies. I’m a huge fan of novellas as well but if this is the result of trying to make frequent releases, I’m not sure it’s worth it.
Conclusion I wasn’t able to find many things that could redeem this one. The author had a great concept but I think this one was dead on arrival. Every author that’s been writing for long enough has a work that stands out as not up to par with the rest of their work. Maybe this is his Tommyknockers. I haven’t read any of his other books but they get good reviews I can only assume that they are better than this one. Maybe it will be the case that you have to read this one to get to better stuff in the next book in the series.
I really hate to write such a negative review because I understand when you write you’re pouring a lot of yourself into it. It’s not easy to put the amount of effort into something like this and put it out there for people to destroy. I have a ton of respect for any author that finishes a book, they’ve accomplished something I haven’t. My purpose here is to give constructive feedback and to give potential buyers my honest opinion....more
Death Gets a Book by Frank Edler is bizarre, no doubt. Any story that starts with a Tijuana Donkey Show is bound to go the direction of bizzaro. ThenDeath Gets a Book by Frank Edler is bizarre, no doubt. Any story that starts with a Tijuana Donkey Show is bound to go the direction of bizzaro. Then we move on from the donkey show, to learning what life is for Death. Not only are we fallowing the story of Death but a particularly poor one at that. What ensues is hilarious adventure with Death as he learns the ropes of his trade.
Death Gets a Book by Frank Edler I’m relatively new to the bizzaro fiction world but I’ve become a huge fan. I think what separates Bizzaro from other fiction is that there is zero attempt to suspend anyone’s disbelief. Bizzaro often mashes several genres together with some level of absurdity, sexuality or violence (maybe all three). I don’t pretend to be an expert on Bizzaro, but this is how I would define it. Death Gets a Book is probably more on the absurdity side but has elements of the violence and sex.
I think the strength in the book is that humorous. Surprisingly, give it starts with a donkey show, the book isn’t all that raunchy which is a plus or minus depending on your preference. So, most of the humor is just all the horrible stuff that happens to Death and how terrible he is at being a Death. By the end of the book you are cheering for Death!
Death has a boss, Death’s job sucks too, and Death has relationship problems. Edler won me over with Deaths driving around in a Gravedigger monster truck and Death having to sit on the crapper to think as well.
Conclusion It’s really hard to judge a book like this based on the same things as regular old horror. It’s supposed to be absurd. It’s supposed to be goofy. It’s not supposed to make you believe anything. So, when I read a bizzaro novel I tend to just think about the feeling I get when reading it. I had a smile on my face the whole time and laughed some as well. In my book, that’s a good read....more
The One Who Lies Next to You by Russell Coy is a novelette that revolves around a woman who suspects her husband is being unfaithful but finds that thThe One Who Lies Next to You by Russell Coy is a novelette that revolves around a woman who suspects her husband is being unfaithful but finds that there is a darker motive. It starts with the protagonist having the sort of meltdown at work we’ve all had and gets darker from there. Initially, I thought it was going to be a haunted object story but, in fact, the quilt in the story isn’t haunt but interesting in another manner.
From reading the dedication in the book ,this is Coy’s first go at a work longer than a short story and I think with that in mind it is a very good first attempt. The prose is solid, the plot and pacing are good and there are no notable flaws int writing or story.
The story itself is very good, Coy manages to effectively suck in the reader as bits of plot unravel bit by bit. I spend the early parts of the book wondering where “horror” was or where this was going. Eventually, there was a point where the veil is lifted and it shifts clearly into horror.
This is the first piece that I’ve read that was published by Grinning Skill Press but I was pleasantly surprised. In the end, The One Who Lies Next to You isn’t going to bring you something completely new. It will bring you an hour or two of horror in a new and promising author’s voice....more
Ashes of Another Life by Lindsey Beth Goddard is perfect for spending an evening in your favorite reading chair. The story follows Tara Jane, a teen gAshes of Another Life by Lindsey Beth Goddard is perfect for spending an evening in your favorite reading chair. The story follows Tara Jane, a teen girl who was rescued from a polygamist fundamentalist (it would seem) community after a massive fire that kills most of her family. Perfect setup for some creepy action and Goddard delivers on the promise.
Ashes of Another Life by Lindsey Beth Goddard A large portion of the story revolves around Tara Jane’s flashbacks, dreams and PTSD symptoms from the fire, and many times it is very compelling. However, at times these interludes are so frequent that it can be difficult to follow. The upside here is that Goddard has a talent with imagery, you almost feel like you’re there with Tara Jane in these episodes. There are a lot of interludes but the plot moves along and something else comes along that’s dark and of ill intent.
Perfect setup for some creepy action and Goddard delivers on the promise. CLICK TO TWEET I enjoyed the different take on a supernatural (sort of, but maybe more psychological?) thriller. Mary Jane’s background instantly brought images of Waco Texas and David Koresh. Tara Jane’s father, particularly, seems to be of the David Koresh ilk. Another feather in the author’s cap, the depiction of PTSD. From what I’ve read and people I know who have dealt with PTSD, Goddard made a pretty realistic play on it.
For a first book, Ashes of Another Life stands out as a success and perhaps will be the beginning of the career of another talented novelist. Goddard is an experienced writer with several published pieces of short fiction and now a novella. A full length novel next? I hope so.
Conclusion Where does this book fit? Well, I’m not sure it’s horror and not sure if it is a paranormal thriller. I almost certain it fits in psychological thriller realm and have no doubts that it fits in the “great reads” category. Best yet, this great read can be had for free if you have Kindle Unlimited but still well worth paying $2.99 for an entertaining evening read.
The Nightly Disease by Max Booth III reads like something out of the mind of Chuck Palahniuk, a direct nod to transgressive fiction. The story followsThe Nightly Disease by Max Booth III reads like something out of the mind of Chuck Palahniuk, a direct nod to transgressive fiction. The story follows the protagonist (Isaac) who is a socially estranged night auditor at a hotel. One thing becomes clear early in the book, Isaac has the worst job and worst life he can imagine. Not only does his life and job suck but he gets wrapped up in a life or death situation, and then there are the owls!
The Nightly Disease by Max Booth III The Nightly Disease is one the best books I read that was published in 2016. Had my “best of ” list for the year came out a week later it would have landed in the top three. One thing is for sure, the book isn’t for those who blush at graphic language and imagery. The book is a hit parade of moral bankruptcy from cover to cover, and it’s awesome for it.
The best part of the book is Isaac, who is perhaps one of the most memorable characters I’ve read in quite some time. If Tyler Durden, Napoleon Dynamite and Norman Bates had a three-way, Isaac would be the result. If there was ever a movie made of this book Jon Heder would have to play Isaac. You begin sympathizing with Isaac because we’ve all had crap jobs and points in our lives where it sucked. As the book goes on Isaac becomes more of a sociopath, but he has no idea even though other characters seem to notice.
As for the plot, it’s hard to say if there is just one big plot like many books or several smaller ones that tie in together in the end. For a good portion of the book where you’ll have no idea where it’s going but slowly it all pieces together. In spite of not really understanding where things are going, Booth keeps things moving and the pacing is pretty good for a novel of this style. There is simply no boring moment in the book.
The owls, don’t forget the owls! Yes, the owls will creep you out, but I will go no further than that. Lets just say that when you see an owl when out for a walk or see one on TV it will mean something different to you. Why owls? I have no freaking clue and I’m not sure the author did either but it’s great. Traditionally, owls are symbols of a coming death, danger or wisdom, all apply here.
Conclusion Max Booth III delivered a great read and have nothing negative or critical to say about it. It’s one of the best books I’ve read over the past few years, without a doubt. I have no doubt that some of the author’s experiences are brought to life and fictionalized in The Nightly Disease. Some scenes have me thinking that he really saw something similar to this at work one night. In any case, buy this freaking book! Whatever you pay for it, you will not be disappointed....more
Covenant by Allan Leverone started with promise but ultimately comes up short. The plot is very simple and straightforward, a young couple buys a housCovenant by Allan Leverone started with promise but ultimately comes up short. The plot is very simple and straightforward, a young couple buys a house for a price that’s too good to be true and surprisingly discover that something sinister is involved. Not ground-breaking or new but the “haunted house” theme can still be used with great effect. “Head Full of Ghosts” by Paul Trembley is a prime example. The problem with Covenant wasn’t the plot or even the ability of the writer but a slow middle act and poorly done ending. However, overall the book is still enjoyable enough to recommend.
Covenant by Allan Leverone The first problem with the book is that the most intriguing aspects found early on in the book are not further explored later in the book. The book opens with some background on the origin of the haunting and it’s great, perhaps the best part of the book. The book would have benefited from adding more of these flashbacks sprinkled in. Instead we get a bit of an overdose of the protagonist’s mental state. It seemed like the author was trying to establish the feelings of dread and darkness through the mind of the protagonist. Not that it was a bad idea to go this direction, we all want to know what’s in a character’s head, but it was too much and at the expense of other more interesting possibilities.
Most of the middle of the books is wrapped up in the protagonist’s head, when I think there should have been more haunting going on. There are only three happenings related to a haunting in the book, two significant ones and one in the middle of the book that is very underwhelming. A haunted house story, after all, should be very freaking haunted.
The good is that the history and origin of the story was very good and I can tell the author has talent. The torture porn feel of the opening of the book seemed like it could have been used to greater effect throughout the book. I also liked the prose and the detective was a good character. I would have liked to see more of the detective, as he was more of a peripheral character for most of the book. I would love a followup book that explores Collins during his life, that is a potential read of the year.
Conclusion This is the first novel of the Leverone’s that I’ve read so I don’t know how this compares to his previous work. However, I think there is enough here that some people will quite enjoy the Coventant. I also think there is enough wrong that others won’t. Covenant will garner polarized reviews, but if you are a fan of haunted house stories, Covenant could be right up your alley....more
Fungoid by William Meikle published by DarkFuse is one of the best reads I’ve enjoyed over the last year. Fungoid by William Meikle published by DarkFFungoid by William Meikle published by DarkFuse is one of the best reads I’ve enjoyed over the last year. Fungoid by William Meikle published by DarkFuse is one of the best reads I've enjoyed over the last year. I wasn't sure what I was getting with a book named "Fungoid" but I was pretty sure it had something to do with fungus. I’m not familiar with William Meikle’s work so I didn’t know if this was going to go the route of bizzaro fiction, B-movie style or if it was going to be more dark and realistic. It turns out Fungoid is a the later and a very good example of an apocalyptic tale at that.
The story starts out with the world going on as normal then a strange oily rain begins to fall and the downfall of the human race begins. The book follows four characters in largely four different points of view, shifting from one character’s point of view to another. One point of view is Shaun, a father trying to make it home from Canada to reach his wife and kids. Rebecca is a mother of two boys and trying to keep all three of them alive. Jim is a logger turn rescuer look struggling with the enormity of what was happening, among other things. The fourth is Rohit, a mycologist who works to find a way to combat the fungus and protect the students at his university.
The use of the four points of view makes the story move along briskly, making for a fast read with great pacing. There is no time for the reader to get board with the story. The use the four points of view also gives the reader a better idea of what is happening all over the world. Meikle paints a bleak outlook for the human race, and it only continues to got worse at the book goes on. While I think that overall the use of several points of view served the book well, I also think that it contributed to shallow characters. Generally, multiple points of view is not used all that much in novella length fiction, it just doesn’t leave room breath life into characters and settings. On the other hand, the novella is the perfect length for horror and Meikle packed enough into Fungoid’s small package to make it work a read.
Meikle also has great prose, I would compare it to Ronald Malfi’s who happens to be one of my favorite authors. Meikle just has a talent for keeping the story moving forward. One mechanic used was the fact that the fungus spread quickly. The characters couldn’t stay in one place long, there was the constant tension like a timer was going to go off. This method kept tension high and with the pacing it made for a great fast pace read.
If you are looking for a deep book that explores the emotions of the characters and what this means for society, this isn’t your book. If you are looking for fast pace, high tension apocalyptic tale that won’t disappoint, this is your book.
Over the years Tim Curran has become one of the best horror authors. Corpse Rider is another great read from an author that should be considered in thOver the years Tim Curran has become one of the best horror authors. Corpse Rider is another great read from an author that should be considered in the same light as the top authors in horror. Corpse Rider isn't a new concept, there have been other books with a similar theme but Curran's voice makes it unique.
Corpse Rider by Tim Curran
I love novellas and many people think that it's the perfect form for a horror story. In novella length, the author only needs the most interesting and terrifying pieces and doesn't wander off on multiple subplots. The plot of Corpse Rider works perfectly in novella length and the pacing is great as s result.
The story starts out with Christina ( the protagonist) visiting the grave of her mother when she makes contact with another gravestone and a stranger holding something close in the nook of his arm, “So kind. So caring. What a fine mother you shall be.”. Her life isn't the same after that. Christina's well-meaning friend, Nancy, attempts to help after noticing her strange behavior but the burden is Christina's alone. From that point, the book gets darker and darker and the descriptions more vivid and terrifying. Dark family secrets, strange happenings, and strange people make up the bulk of this great read.
Corpse Rider has a solid modern Lovecraftian bend to it and will not disappoint those that love works of that influence. At this point, I'm still dumbfounded that Curran hasn't won or even been nominated for any major awards (that I'm aware of). Perhaps Corpse Rider will be the first one to get enough attention to garner at least a nomination.
If you don't like creepy little things, dark secrets and vivid prose you should look elsewhere for your thrills. If a Lovecraftian bend on creeping dread turns you on, then Corpse Rider by Tim Curran is the book to buy. Best of all, and with many of the great Dark Fuse titles, you can read this terrifying little ditty for free with your Kindle Unlimited subscription or pay a small $2.99 for a big fright....more
The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi will make my list of top horror reads of 2016 for it’s creeping anxiety. The Night Parade is an apocalyptic novel thaThe Night Parade by Ronald Malfi will make my list of top horror reads of 2016 for it’s creeping anxiety. The Night Parade is an apocalyptic novel that follows a Father and Daughter’s journey through the unfolding viral outbreak. The virus causes a disease that is like a amped up version of Alzheimer’s , people start losing their minds and seeing things, ultimately dying of the disease or at their own hands or the hands of other infected.
There is a ticking time bomb in the story that keeps you wondering, “Is it going to happen yet?”. There are several moments where it builds and makes you think it’s going to happen but doesn’t, so it keeps the tension up. David (the father) and Ellie (the daughter) travel across the country encountering a variety of problems and running from the government.
No, this is not just and outbreak novel, there is supernatural element involved as well. The supernatural element doesn’t permeate the book but is definitely a big part of the story. The supernatural part of the story seems to leave the book open for a series of books, which I’d more than happy to see happen.
For comparisons, I would say that it reminds me a bit of The Stand and Cell by Stephen King and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The comparison is not in terms of plot but more of a mixture of the tone and feels that The Road and The Stand have. The Night Parade is a dark and very depressing novel, the same as the two books I compared it to.
The pacing in the book is great. It’s not an action novel but the David and Ellie moving frantically from one place to the next always looking over their shoulder keeps the story moving and keeps the reader engaged. The book also uses a structure where it leaps between the present and the past often from one chapter to the next. In some books,this leads to slowing the pace or slowing it down a wrong time but not so in The Night Parade.
Overall, The Night Parade was a great read and anyone who loves apocalyptic novels or outbreak novels should enjoy this book. I give this read a solid 4.5 of 5 stars....more