Don't know that many guys with the name of the most famous Rick Springfield song, but the main character in this horror novella, Jessie, is having troDon't know that many guys with the name of the most famous Rick Springfield song, but the main character in this horror novella, Jessie, is having trouble sleeping. He's got a familiar horror problem faced by those in all the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, only it's not Freddy Kruger scaring him while he sleeps. He keeps having nightmares of the Nightmare Man (often not capitalized as 'nightmare man'). I was watching Stephen King talk about horror films and how he felt sequels tended to ruin the horrific elements presented in the original story (somewhat timely considering he just had published a sequel to THE SHINING). The good news for this book is it feels like a fresh nightmare story, not like an unnecessary sequel.
The Nightmare Man is drawn fairly well, as is the protagonist. This is the third story by this author I've read and he clearly writes good. I've been somewhat disappointed in the endings of his stories, this one being no exception. I felt like with all the good Nightmare Man setup that the resolution of that primary arc would last longer than a page or two. I'm not going to spoil the story and say what that resolution is, but it seemed way too rushed and didn't match the pacing of the rest of the tale. It warranted more pages for this reader's money. Overall, it's a good story that I liked, but didn't love. I'm certain this author is going to write a story that I love someday because his writing is strong. My favorite stories are ones with satisfying endings and this one doesn't qualify in that department. 3.5 stars, rounded down here, rounded up at Amazon where the stars align a bit differently. 1,539 Kindle locations. Approximately 77 pages....more
Ever since reading Swan Song I've enjoyed post-apocalyptic non-zombie tales. They are sort of a subgenre niche that I don't come across as often as I'Ever since reading Swan Song I've enjoyed post-apocalyptic non-zombie tales. They are sort of a subgenre niche that I don't come across as often as I'd like. When I read the blurb for Barry Napier's NESTS (intriguing title, btw!), it sounded like my kind of story.
A tsunami brings giant tentacled creatures to assault mankind, leading to a nuclear strike to rid the world of them. The story begins a few months after the fateful strikes with first person narrator, Eric, meeting a woman, Kendra, who has borne a child from a rapist. As survivalists, they shack up in a house fighting off passerbys who try to steal their supplies. After they kill one of their attackers they learn of a Safe Zone about 450 miles from their house. They decide to make the trek with baby in tow, trying to avoid ink black zones where the creatures roam.
The writing was crisp and easy to follow. The characterization is a bit thin at times, with not much in the way of change with the main characters, other than the somewhat predictable relationship between Kendra and Eric. I liked how the baby just had the name Baby.
The monsters may not be explained enough for some readers, but I found enough to be very worried for the characters whenever they appeared. The fight scenes are drawn well with enough description to make everything clear. There are parts of this story that reminded me of the strange monsters in Tim Curran's Dead Sea. I would have found Nests scarier if it had been done in third person point of view, but there are definitely a few creepy scenes.
I enjoyed reading and would read another novel by this author. Recommended to those who like simpler post-apocalyptic horror fiction with monsters that aren't zombies versus a smaller cast of characters. 3.75 stars, rounded. 2,994 Kindle locations. Approximately 177 pages....more
Tim Curran is like some mad scientist of horror. Just when I think he might stumble with something like, say, a western horror novel, he shines. SpeakTim Curran is like some mad scientist of horror. Just when I think he might stumble with something like, say, a western horror novel, he shines. Speaking of western horror stories, there aren't enough of them and this one about bounty hunter, Tyler Cabe, shines like a gold nugget freshly picked in 1851.
In Utah, that's when the story unfolds. Cabe is hunting a serial killer named The Sin City Strangler and winds up in a town with a sheriff he met on the opposite side of the civil war. The tension is palatable between these two and add in some other colorful characters including a hilarious "giant" who comes into town to avenge his slain brother and an antagonist who starts the story dead and then becomes much worse. I loved how the author tells the present and then gives us an interesting and worthwhile flashback to explain the history of the villain in the story. There is also a clever nod to a real world figure in that time.
Curran did his research on this one and it shows in both language, detail and substance. This is Tim Curran's storytelling at his best that I've seen, right up close to the Dead Sea. My tiny complaint with the story, and it's very small, is that I found the wife of the sheriff a bit cheap and undesirable to my liking. I found it difficult to warm up to her (view spoiler)[nor her cheating ways (hide spoiler)] which dampened some of my excitement as the story progressed (but not enough to ruin my overall enjoyment). The fact that a character sparks strong emotion is generally a great thing (unless every character invokes negative emotions -- I have to have someone or something to root for).
I'm not taking away any partial stars because I want the author to write a sequel to this story and feel this is one of those rare gems among horror novels. It's a slight notch behind DEAD SEA as my favorite Curran novel (I have a couple more to read, thankfully) and came highly recommended among my horror loving reader friends. I've seen the author hint that a sequel might be a possibility. Man, I wish there were more western horror tales! I see where Curran left open a door for more tales, too. Please recommend more western horror tales in the comments if you have read and enjoyed them. This is some of Tim Curran's brightest characterization, BTW, not to mention his regularly scheduled awesome description and imagery skills. Bump this up your TBR ASAP. 5 stars. Highly recommended. 5,843 Kindle locations. Approximately 276 pages.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Suzanne Heath, a ticket seller at Coney Island in 1909, has the gift and curse of clairvoyant powers. The father of a friend she works with is a policSuzanne Heath, a ticket seller at Coney Island in 1909, has the gift and curse of clairvoyant powers. The father of a friend she works with is a policeman investigating the murders of people with their faces caved in and asks Suzanne to help out with her supernatural skills.
While reading I kept thinking in shades of Stephen King's The Dead Zone. Only Suzanne is Johnny Smith and she isn't as effective with her powers as Johnny (more on that shortly). Suzanne's visions seem more accurate and stronger of past events than the future. Unlike King's amazing tale, there isn't as much story, pacing or much 'hell' referenced in the title until halfway through the book. Most of the first half is spent with Suzanne seven years removed from the Coney Island amusement park murders, with her soul-searching and coming to grips with being a freak for her powers at a school with other young girls.
Suzanne meets and befriends a black man named Cittie who follows her away to Coney Island, and she must pretend not to be with him because of the interracial social unacceptability of the era. I liked Cittie's character and wished sooner he was a more integral part of the story.
The story moves better once we return to 1909 and back to the murders but Suzanne's psychic powers annoyed me at times. It seemed all too convenient for her visions to be cloudy when she was at murder scenes and yet touching just about anything else she would get clear visions. I couldn't get past what seemed to be a story contrivance versus a natural progression of the tale. As for the murders? The identity of the killer started out very much like one would expect from a mystery and I was curious to learn who the murderer was. There is a good attempt to make this a shocking reveal, so points for that.
The writing was full of long, weighty paragraphs which usually slow down my reading, however, the vocabulary was smooth and less 1900s than expected. Somehow--and this is a credit to the skill of the author--it sounds authentic for that era. Most of the dialogue was strong and seemed authentic as well. I enjoyed how Coney Island as a setting was portrayed.
In summary, it's somewhere teetering on the edge of "it's ok" and "I liked it." I wasn't ever scared or felt much fear for any character or situation which doesn't bode well as a horror read. It's probably better categorized more generically as supernatural fiction than horror and if I'd have gone in thinking that, I probably would rate this higher. The murders were told more than shown too much for my liking. I wished there had been more of the second half of the book in the first half, less flashbacks to the past--which I fully acknowledge is important to the story, but wish they had been streamlined to get back to the more compelling story (the 1909 murders). The title of the book makes it seem like a more gritty, dark horror novel, which it wasn't for me. I hope others enjoy this more than me, because the author does seem very talented. Unfortunately it's not one I'll be recommending. 2.75 stars, rounded. 4,970 Kindle locations. Approximately 251 pages....more
Unique and/or interesting settings are a plus for me, and this horror story is told mostly above a Navy ship--somewhere I haven't read many stories. TUnique and/or interesting settings are a plus for me, and this horror story is told mostly above a Navy ship--somewhere I haven't read many stories. The first third is mostly setup, detailing the main character Hunter and his wife Lisa as they board the ship as media and introduces the title named antagonist. The writing was straightforward, nothing fancy, with enough detail to color the scene. I'm definitely no Navy expert, but the author seemed to get the terminology right. I clearly pictured being aboard a Navy ship and saw the scenes unfolding. Didn't have any trouble keeping up with what was going on and with whom, although I did start to feel the cast expanding a bit much (difficult to contain in a ship with over a thousand aboard).
Short, punchy chapters fit most of the book but seemed not as fitting for the slower first third. There are over 90 chapters which reminds me a bit of the way James Patterson stylistically handles chapters. I don't mind shorter chapters, but I've seen some say they do.
Once Lilith, the character, springs into action, it's nearly non-stop until the ending. I found the antagonist to be well-conceived and at one spot toward the end I felt compassion for her. That maybe she was more misunderstood than a simple monster. The description of the white pools from the hosts was reminiscent of when the T-1000 in TERMINATOR 2 takes damage and then re-assembles itself. At some points while reading, I almost heard the T2 score playing in my head.
As of September 2013, this rings in as my third favorite DarkFuse novel published in 2013 behind William Meikle's THE HOLE and Keith Deininger's THE NEW FLESH. These are the kind of horror novels I'd love to see them do more of in the future. 3.75 stars. 3,870 Kindle locations. Approximately 330 pages....more
FTC notice: I received an uncorrected proof advance review copy in exchange for an honest review. This book is scheduled to be published February 25,FTC notice: I received an uncorrected proof advance review copy in exchange for an honest review. This book is scheduled to be published February 25, 2014.
The blurb says this book is LORD OF THE FLIES meets THE RUINS, but there is little in common with either story. Yes, there are boys on an island, but they don't crash there, form alliances and fight each other over control of the island as in William Golding's famous tale. Nor is this book about a group of people visiting some ancient, creepy ruins. Instead, we get a story about a troop of five boy scouts and their scoutmaster/doctor Tim enjoying a weekend trip to an island when a disgustingly thin hungry man stumbles upon them. The group doesn't realize fast enough that the ravenous man is a walking virus, teeming with vile, nasty horrors.
The narrative delivers powerful, graphic descriptions in this body horror contagion tale. The visceral imagery is reminiscent of both Tim Curran's quality and quantity. Yes, the author is good at painting disturbing scenes. This caters to those who love graphic body horror, scene after scene after scene. If the story had gone on much longer, it would have become repetitive, but I felt there was enough variation and creativity to separate the scenes. One could criticize there isn't much rising intensity with the horrors described. Do they really get any worse as the story goes on? Not too much. But the revulsion factor is up there, and it makes the reader uncomfortable.
The reader is often given breaks after dramatic, gory scenes with dictated interviews, newspaper clippings, etc. This fragmentary approach reminded me of WORLD WAR Z and while I think this can work in some stories, it can seem gimmicky (and it's being overused in too many horror stories these days). I would rather have read the story of the boy's parents fighting to rescue them and learning important back story through more creative scenes like that versus so many obvious information dumps. To make matters worse, at around two-thirds into the story, one of these dumps tells exactly how many survivors will be left on the island. Why? I stopped reading for a bit and shook my head.
My favorite character was Scoutmaster Tim. I liked that he was a doctor and his character looked at the condition of the thin man and his strange hunger from a medical perspective. Beyond that, however, I wish there would have been more depth to him. Perhaps more stories with the boys and him during happier times? The five boys blended together sometimes character-wise. Yeah, there's the token fat kid, the smart one, the fighter; it was a lot like the cast from Stephen King's THE BODY--and with kids about the same age, too. Only, there wasn't a funny pie eating contest or brush with a vicious dog named Chopper ("Sick balls!") to make me feel more connected. In fairness, the author tried having the boys tell some stories between them, but they weren't character-defining enough tales that helped further expand what they individually were about. The boys were likable enough to care about what happened to them, but they seemed two-dimensional to me at times. There was a decent amount of tension and conflict between them, however, which added to the main story tension.
(Sidenote: this isn't reflected in my star rating below or the overall review, nor any kind of reflection of the author, but I hated the formatting of this uncorrected proof. I understand that 'uncorrected' means it isn't finished and there will be errors--intentionally--but this was by far the worst Kindle formatted uncorrected proof I've ever read. No paragraph indenting anywhere, names mostly not capitalized, sentences cut off and spanning multiple lines with no rhyme or reason. Strange cApiTiLiZation lIkE tHiS. I don't know if this was the publisher making it harder to read on purpose, but at times it was so distracting that I had to stop reading and give my eyes and mind peace reading something else. The good news is I'm certain the publisher will clean all this up by the time it's published in 2014, but my goodness, other Kindle ARC reviewers will want to beware of this issue.)
One more thing that has little to do with the story (and again isn't reflected in my overall rating score): I'm a little confused at Amazon that there is a Stephen King quote and yet in the author's notes at the end, it says something to the effect of Stephen King hasn't read and "likely won't read" this story (huh?). So, which is the case? Stephen King read and blurbed it ("The Troop scared the hell out of me..." - Stephen King) or he didn't read it at all and this is some kind of wishful thinking publisher promotion? The author is clearly a fan of Mr. King, and claims to have used the "chassis" of Carrie to pen this tale. The author's admiration shines through in some parts. It's puzzling how if Mr. King hasn't read this, he will be in any way encouraged to do so by this odd activity.
It may sound a little like I didn't enjoy reading THE TROOP, but I did. It's pretty good, definitely an above average horror read and with some more work (if it's not too late for that stage), it could be--or have been, if the editing is finished--a solid 4+ star read. Its current incarnation is 3.75 stars, rounded. It's plenty good enough to interest me in reading another horror tale by pen name Nick Cutter. Thank you to the publisher and author for letting me read and review.
4,053 Kindle locations. Approximately 368 pages....more
A brief, twisted short story romp between two road warrior psychos; one who picks up hitchhikers and tortures them and the other who waits to be pickeA brief, twisted short story romp between two road warrior psychos; one who picks up hitchhikers and tortures them and the other who waits to be picked up and tortures the driver. What makes this short story even more interesting is it was written by two writers, JA Konrath writing as Jack Killborn and Blake Crouch. There is a behind the scenes interview between both writers involving how they wrote this story that is also worth reading.
It's all over too fast to dig into the meat of either character, pun intended, but I understand there's a much longer version that spans multiple books involving both characters called, Serial Killers Uncut. I have that one and will probably dig into that at some point in the future. There is also a Serial Uncut: Extended Edition. Clearly, the authors were also fascinated by these antagonists and wanted to give us readers more road mileage.
3.25 stars. 471 Kindle locations. The story is over at 67% and the remainder involves the aforementioned interview and excerpts for both authors....more
Revenant Road has one of the best opening chapters of any DarkFuse novel I've read to date, an outstanding character name, Obidiah Grudge, and monsterRevenant Road has one of the best opening chapters of any DarkFuse novel I've read to date, an outstanding character name, Obidiah Grudge, and monsters, yes, lots of different types of monsters! It also closes with a few great sentences (which I won't spoil). The fleshy bits between? Let's talk.
I'm not on the monster hunter reading wagon, although I know many people are and that's great. Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter definitely ratcheted up interest in this subgenre, spawning a bunch of knock-off '___ Hunter' books. Revenant Road isn't completely of that ilk (also a nice attempt to be more irreverent and funny), but the storyline treads into the supernatural superhero type subgenre, and that isn't a good reading fit for me. For those of you who love these type of stories, I hope by mentioning this, you'll be excited and curious to check this story out.
Characterization? I found Obidiah Grudge's sardonic wit as a first person narrator to be humorous at first with such gems as, "I mean, how many Nicholas Cage pictures can civilization take?" And yet Obidiah grated on me after a few chapters. His personality only turned out likable enough for me to root for him way too late in the story. Making matters worse, toward the middle of the story, there is a reader-writer prophetic moment, "The universe didn't give a shit." That's how I felt about Obidiah Grudge at that precise moment in the story.
To summarize: awesome beginning--seriously, I was sucked in fast--good writing throughout, a generally unlikable first person narrator, a primary plot that didn't really click with this reader, and an ending which brought back some of the magic in the opening chapter. 3 stars. 3,763 Kindle locations. Approximately 199 pages....more
There are elements in this something-bad-happens-in-this-house, children-go-missing tale, teasing parts of some scenes that I enjoyed (enough to keepThere are elements in this something-bad-happens-in-this-house, children-go-missing tale, teasing parts of some scenes that I enjoyed (enough to keep me reading). Particularly the author's attempt to blend some Lovecraft (!!Cthulu!!) mythos and cosmic energy. What ruined any significant momentum was how I kept getting hammered over the head with the whole "God's Eye"/time alteration goal for the central antagonist. I understood Suman's grand scheme the first couple times and began to get annoyed being reminded the third and subsequent times.
The Children Are Missing subplot has been done so many times (John Saul, anyone?) that there has to be unique, strong parent character building to make it truly scary (at least for me any more). The author tried to do some of that in this story, but there wasn't enough depth or continuity in this department to pull me deep into the narrative. More missing thumbs, please! Once I'm fully immersed in a story, I'm putty in the author's hands.
But that rarely happened here.
Speaking of buts, I've only read one other work by the author and don't remember as many sentences in that story beginning with 'but'. But it was overkill in this book. I wouldn't have minded if it had been done intentionally and stylistically--or at least I could tell it was that way. But I don't think it was done that way like I'm doing here for dramatic effect in this paragraph. But I don't know. But if it was, when too many sentences too close together start with 'but', it's sure reader distracting, isn't it?
Anyway, I liked pieces of this story, just not the sum of the parts nor very much how it was all glued together and told. This is the 46th book I've read in 2013 published by DarkFuse or one of its imprints. To say I'm a huge fan overall of what they're currently publishing would be an understatement. This story, unfortunately, disappointed me. 2 stars. 4,065 Kindle locations....more
About a quarter of the way into this story, I wasn't sure what to make of it as a horror tale. It starts out--save for the prologue which foreshadowsAbout a quarter of the way into this story, I wasn't sure what to make of it as a horror tale. It starts out--save for the prologue which foreshadows very bad things on the road ahead--deceptively-calm, almost lackadaisical, as it tells the story of two older childhood friends, not quite drinking age, out to drink some beer and raise some hell. There are scenes where they try to steal beer at a grocery store and Tooth (because he had his front teeth ran over), playfully fights with his friend and narrator's sister. The narrator, Roger, seems like a fun-loving guy who loves horror and comic books and living life. He's a geek that readers can relate to and like.
I was thinking, hey, maybe this is not going to be a horror story after all. Maybe it will be kinda Boy's Lifeish. I was okay with that, because the writing style and characters were fun. The boys are out in the dark woods shooting off guns when it happens.
They hear a woman screaming. Enter brutality.
I won't spoil the horrific fun, but it goes a direction that is so twisted and sadistic that even Edward Lee would smile. The last 70% of this book is pure horror gold. I want to say in retrospect that it was genius to have such a slow beginning, but it was a bit too long to make everything perfect. It was such a dramatic and violently shocking change of pace that I said aloud, "wow!"
Apparently, this is the 'Author's Preferred Edition' meaning the author put words back in that were previously edited out. I didn't run down specifically what was added back in (I'm sure a Google search would tell all), but if it was stuff in the first 30% of the book, then my vote would have been to leave it out. However, if it was anything after the first 30%, then I'm glad to have read the version I did.
All this is a roundabout way of saying that this is one of the best, truly scary horror novels I've read in a while. A story with sharp, hungry teeth that will shock and disturb both new and seasoned horror readers. Give me more, please! 4.75 stars...more
A young boy Jake's imaginary friend is on a fiery rampage, wanting to tear his family apart in order to achieve a hideous goal. The creature known asA young boy Jake's imaginary friend is on a fiery rampage, wanting to tear his family apart in order to achieve a hideous goal. The creature known as ZimZim/The Melting Man begins with Jake's failed screenwriter father who is hard at work on a creepy film entitled, The New Flesh. This debut novel prose sizzles and crackles with poetic imagery while serving up a story that straddles Nightmare On Elm Street territory. Freddy Kruger is more frightening than The Melting Man, but this novel has more than a few eerie moments. I'm thinking of one scene that actually made me wince, and that's a high compliment.
Earlier in the year, I read the author's novella and was hoping my next read would have more story. In that regard, this novel delivers. This won DarkFuse Reader's Choice award for best novel of the the second quarter 2013 and seems well-deserved (I've only read one of the other two on the ballot as of this writing, so I didn't vote). I enjoyed this tale, especially the gory bits. 4 stars. 3,195 Kindle locations....more
We call them carnivals in the United States, they are known as funfairs across the pond, but they are synonymous with horror everywhere. Based on theWe call them carnivals in the United States, they are known as funfairs across the pond, but they are synonymous with horror everywhere. Based on the cover art, I expected the carnival to be the principal setting and, well, you need to read this to find out!
This horror novella is told through a series of flashbacks and present day scenes, from 1985 when the first person narrator, Drew, and his friends enjoy the carnival/funfair arrival in town and a present day police interrogation. Tragedy struck in 1985 and here we go again.
The story unravels like layers of an onion being peeled away with a scalpel's precision. There isn't a writer behind a story like this, only a skilled surgeon operating on the reader's brain. Every scene reels the reader closer to learning what really happened in 1985 and could be happening again in the present day.
Reading this is like solving a Rubik's cube of horror. Seasoned horror readers will likely figure it out before the ending, but it's still as much fun as riding the Ferris Wheel (Big Wheel); you know that getting to the top will come around again.
(Sidenote: found this a clever way of illustrating the cyclical nature of time)
I enjoy reading stories that twist my mind in different directions wondering what or who is the real monster. SHIFTLING is one of those rare horror reads that takes familiar horror components and blends them in a unique way. Those that enjoy a good mystery-horror hybrid will be unable to stop turning the pages to the end.
As mentioned earlier, the ending doesn't build to any huge reveal, which would have made this a perfect 5-star read for me, but it's a very strong 4.5 stars and highly recommended. Another glimmering star in the published by DarkFuse sky. 1,792 Kindle locations....more
Free on Goodreads and recommended by a friend, this erotica/creepy pasta meme addition of a high school girl who has sex with the slender man creatureFree on Goodreads and recommended by a friend, this erotica/creepy pasta meme addition of a high school girl who has sex with the slender man creature is a blend of erotica and horror. Ed Lee territory, kinda. Three star short story for me, thanks to some genuinely warped imagery. 4,000 words....more
This nature gone bad novella set in the 1800s came as a recommendation by a Goodreads friend and the author's brother, Adam Light. Character Micah witThis nature gone bad novella set in the 1800s came as a recommendation by a Goodreads friend and the author's brother, Adam Light. Character Micah witnesses the father of a girl he is fawning over murder a couple Indians in a heavily wooded area. The trees witness the carnage along with young Micah and thus the Rush song, "The Trees" kept playing repeatedly in my head. There's trouble in the forest...
(Sidenote: does the author like Rush?)
The writing is good and there is a good effort with characterization and detail, at least with the main character and his love interest. Less so, however, with the father of the girl. I wanted to learn a bit more behind his motivations. I like the historical west setting and the ending wraps up the established plot points. I enjoy the creative title, as well. Thank you again for the recommendation, Adam. This one was a good fit for me and would be for those who enjoy dark fiction novellas set in the pioneer era. I would read more work by this author. 4 stars. 919 of 989 Kindle locations (story ends at 92%, with last 8% sharing blurbs for other works by the author and his brother)....more
Whoa, some genuinely eerie moments in this hole-in-the-ground what-the-(view spoiler)[hell(hide spoiler)]@!$%!-is-going-on tale. This yarn starts inWhoa, some genuinely eerie moments in this hole-in-the-ground what-the-(view spoiler)[hell(hide spoiler)]@!$%!-is-going-on tale. This yarn starts in the middle of the action and rarely pauses for a breath until the climax. And bonus points for a Ouija board scene!
Fred is dead. Fred is dead. Fredisdead!
This is the first novel published from DarkFuse in 2013 I've read that has the spooky, dark feel of many of its novella brethren. Admittedly, I haven't read them all, but this is my favorite of what I have read so far this year.
I was looking forward to The Hole from the moment it was announced and tore through the read like the hole in the story tore through the earth.
Yes, this bleeds pulp and so what, I love pulp!
Ok, it's not all green grass and apple pie. There are a few language irritations (perhaps one too many "has got"'s -- grammatically correct for Brits, but bound to shake some English readers), characters that were not quite as layered and deep as the hole (if Stephen King had authored this his characterization would have stretched this beyond a pregnant 1,000 pages). Finally, and tempering a bit of my overall excitement, an ending that was less creative than the rest of the book.
But so what, it is fun to read. Fred is dead, I tell you.
(You have to read the book to get all these "Fred is Dead" references -- it's not a poorly-disguised spoiler, promise)
When a writer clearly has as much fun writing--as William Meikle shows through his rapid pacing and unsettling horror ambience created herein--it can only make reading an entertaining experience. 4.25 enthusiastic stars. Recommended, you bet. 3,602 Kindle locations.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Confession time: I've been somewhat ruined on ghosts after Peter Straub's amazing Ghost Story. Said that about vampires after Matheson's I am Legend aConfession time: I've been somewhat ruined on ghosts after Peter Straub's amazing Ghost Story. Said that about vampires after Matheson's I am Legend and King's Salem's Lot (and of course Stoker's classic) but have still been impressed with a few tales here and there. Don't even get me started on zombies (and yet recently I enjoyed a zombie tale). The point being that any new ghost story I read starts at a reading disadvantage because my mind wants to compare (probably too much) to other great ghost stories rather than evaluate the story on its own merit. I know this definitely impacted my feelings on Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box.
That said, the strengths in Sandy DeLuca's Messages From The Dead novella don't derive from the ghost story angle, but in the characterization, particularly the first person narrative, which at first I wasn't sure I'd like (usually, first person POV in horror gives me a letdown in the fear department that the narrator/main character won't die or face enough danger to give me chills). DeLuca skillfully tells a tale about and from a woman, Donna, with a depressing past--something I've noticed as a recurring theme in the author's tales. No problem there, I enjoy reading about fresh, flawed characters.
Donna was raised by her grandmother who held séances. I wondered if the story might go kinda Harry Houdinish (Houdini had a notable career besides magic in unmasking frauds and trying to discover how to communicate with the dead), and I almost hoped that Donna would go that route and try to call fraud on the dead, but instead it was a legitimate (and less creative to this reader) supernatural event.
Fast forward to Donna's adulthood and her encountering a college with a disturbing past (another common DeLuca theme). I found Donna's parts with her past and her grandmother more entertaining than the present and what happened in the college. I also enjoyed Donna's painting (something the author does in real life according to the bio section) and how that fit into the story. The author manages to pull everything together in the ending, making this an unpredictable, enjoyable read. Adding this to the ghost stories I liked file, but not for the reasons most readers probably will. 3.25 stars. 1,562 Kindle locations....more
The cover art reminds me fondly of Alien, but the comparisons end there. This short horror novel covers alien creatures that live inside of moon rocksThe cover art reminds me fondly of Alien, but the comparisons end there. This short horror novel covers alien creatures that live inside of moon rocks and a NASA guy who stumbles upon and unleashes one of them into a nearby salt mine. The characters never get too deep, more like what you'd expect in your average horror flick, but the action moves along with a decent amount of carnage. There are a couple parts I enjoyed like the teacher and her students on a field trip subplot. Worth a read. 3.25 stars. 2,713 Kindle locations....more
Every month an exciting new publishing house named DarkFuse releases new novellas that in the short span of six months I've become a huge fan of readiEvery month an exciting new publishing house named DarkFuse releases new novellas that in the short span of six months I've become a huge fan of reading. These novellas can be read in around an hour, give or take, and I look forward to them much the way I would watching a new episode of X-Files or Masters of Horror. There's a quality and consistency to them (not every one is good, but neither is every episode of your favorite TV show). Many of them have a very Twilight Zone feel to them, like the ghost of Rod Serling inspired the minds of the authors. Being a mega huge fan of Serling, I'm so, so, so there!
With Nightsiders, this tale is all TZ in nature. It begins with a rather twisted scene involving a small animal and morphs into a tale about a London man and his family displaced by another family. Another family is living in the Mitchell family's house and it's not the Brady Bunch. One scene in this story really blew me away. (view spoiler)[Briefly after Robert Mitchell commits an adulterous sexual act, he sees it really was the Corbeau woman, a thing, a monster. (hide spoiler)] I shuddered after reading that part of the scene. Great horror!
The ending got a bit too crazy and outpaced the rest of the story, leaving me feeling like more subtlety would have worked better for me. The scariest part of the book was in the middle. All in all, I liked and recommend this creepy yarn. 3.75 stars. 1,603 Kindle locations.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Reading this is like visiting a laundry mat on acid. A guy works in a laundry mat, bored with his job and existence and then discovers the backroom isReading this is like visiting a laundry mat on acid. A guy works in a laundry mat, bored with his job and existence and then discovers the backroom is a gateway to a nightmare of dying repeatedly in increasingly vicious and disturbing ways. I'm not sure I'll look into the glass display window of a commercial washing machine the same way ever again. The cover art's surreal nature captures the vibe of this short, yet disturbing bizarro novella. I wish there had been a bit more--or at least better--humor to counteract the repeated grisly death scenes. I'm not a prude, I love violent horror like most horror fans, but I'm used to a good sense of humor with bizarro tales and this one had that missing. Also there started to be a bit of repetitiveness and intentionally exploitative (like a shock jock horror story) to the deaths which isn't necessarily a pejorative. It just seemed more weird to be weird than to contribute to moving the story forward. I liked the idea, though and the writing overall was pretty good. 3.25 stars. Recommended for those who love wild, wacky stories with lots of graphic violence. Stylistically kind of like sequels of Saw meets sequels of Nightmare on Elm Street. 893 Kindle locations....more
From page one to the end there is tension and terror for a man who's pregnant wife is going through horrific changes. The author sucks readers into thFrom page one to the end there is tension and terror for a man who's pregnant wife is going through horrific changes. The author sucks readers into the vortex of revulsion, making them care about the cast of characters: the frightened husband, the victim wife, the friend just trying to help out. Clearly the author researched the horror behind this story and it's not just something weird happening with no explanation. Tim Curran is good about having some kind of rhyme and reason behind his monsters. The cover art gives away more about the plot than the clever synopsis. It's a fast, furious read that will make you want to explore even more from one of the more talented hard-working horror writers out there today.
I did feel the main character should have remembered sooner in the story the run-in at the farm. It jolted me a bit in the story from a plausibility standpoint. Overall, another solid horror novella read. Give me more! 4 stars. 1,447 Kindle locations....more
An action-packed pulpy tale about giant killer crabs. The author is clearly paying homage or at least a fan of Guy N. Smith, author of Killer Crabs amAn action-packed pulpy tale about giant killer crabs. The author is clearly paying homage or at least a fan of Guy N. Smith, author of Killer Crabs among others in Smith's curious crab series. The next time you munch down on crab legs at the seafood buffet, you'll remember fun stories like this one (perhaps even with a smile).
Not much getting to know characters in stories like these and if you read them with that kind of open mind, just like loading up on candy and sweets, they certainly fit a well-needed niche. The writing at times was a bit clunky, which is not what I experienced with Clockwork Dolls, but overall I enjoyed it for what it was, it's not intended to be some deep story, just action and monsters. It succeeds there. 3 stars. 2,517 Kindle locations....more
The one thing you don't want to hear in a bar is that they didn't really bury your son like you thought ten years ago, they buried "something else." AThe one thing you don't want to hear in a bar is that they didn't really bury your son like you thought ten years ago, they buried "something else." And then to overhear: They kept monsters. What begins very strong with a distraught father returning to the burial ground of his soldier son and immediate reader interest soon sees the energy fizzling.
Once the father finds what's really in the burial ground, it makes for what should be an intriguing, suspenseful, perhaps even horrifying read. However, it becomes a bit tedious in parts with the Natasha berserker antagonist being way too annoying instead of scary. The nonstop referencing of Tom, the father, as "Daddy!" becomes like nails on a chalkboard. I kept reading to find out what happened to Steven, Tom's son, but that was lost in multiple, somewhat repetitive fights between a soldier on a mission to put the berserker and Tom down.
Couple this with some lousy Kindle paragraph formatting (why doesn't the publisher see this problem and fix the paragraph indentation???) and it makes this a sometimes good, sometimes irritating reading experience. Four stars for the story, three stars for the writing, two stars for the characterization and average to three stars overall. I did like some parts, especially the beginning. Most of the time I was disappointed, not scared, by the beserkers. 4,134 of 5,866 Kindle Locations (FYI: Berserk ends at 71% of 100%, the last 29% are previews for other novels. Most of which are by other authors)....more
Gordon Cole is a masterfully woven, fully dimensional, elderly character stricken with pain and powerful memories. Gordon struggles to process a gangGordon Cole is a masterfully woven, fully dimensional, elderly character stricken with pain and powerful memories. Gordon struggles to process a gang beating up a homeless man along with evaluating his life. Gifune is so skilled at setting up Cole that the reader is compelled to follow every word waiting and reacting like a concertgoer to a demonic heavy metal riff.
While there is very little story in this novella, there is ample characterization and atmosphere, all of which are excellent. For those who like more character-driven horror, stories which dig nail deep into the psyche of characters, this one's for you. I had been reading more plot-driven fiction lately so it took me a few thousand words to sink into this one, but then I was hooked and enjoyed the read immensely. It's not my favorite by Gifune (ironically, I'd choose another "Rain" title by him, The Rain Dancers) but that's like picking your favorite color M&M. He's scary, scary good with characterization. If you aren't reading Gifune yet, I'm envious! 1,470 Kindle locations. 4 stars. Recommended....more
Two young friends, Henry and Sam, take a job for $100,000 from a Vegas mob owner of the Sharks Casino to travel into the Las Vegas desert. The desertTwo young friends, Henry and Sam, take a job for $100,000 from a Vegas mob owner of the Sharks Casino to travel into the Las Vegas desert. The desert is overrun by zombies and they need to bring a female zombie back for a warped, kinky porn shoot. Told from the first person in a rapid-fire first person narrative with heaping spoonfuls of humor, this fun zombie mission reminded me of something Jeff Strand easily could have penned. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was his nom de plume. If you like Strand, you'll probably like Love & Zombies.
There's a skilled balance between humor and horror throughout the tale keeping the reader fully engaged. This is an entertaining ride and quite enjoyable save for the ending which seemed a wee bit overstated and sentimental, but hey, I still got a kick out of reading and consider this to be one of the better novellas that DarkFuse has published to date. A happily recommended 4-star read. 1,719 Kindle locations....more