Ever read a thriller where terrible things are promised but never happen? Sometimes, we don’t want the hero to save the day before the poop hits the f...moreEver read a thriller where terrible things are promised but never happen? Sometimes, we don’t want the hero to save the day before the poop hits the fan.
BREW is not like that. This zombie-ish novel by Bill Braddock and published by Permuted Press reads like a thriller but delivers the goods and then some.
In BREW, it’s Saturday night on a college campus, and the students are out in force drinking the local brew. Unfortunately, somebody spiked the brew with a drug that will make them violently insane. Then the real party will get started.
It’s a story of survival against ridiculous odds as a large majority of the population of a college goes insane at the same time.
I had the opportunity to read an advance copy and really liked it, endorsing it with the following quote: “Hell is throwing a party, and Bill Braddock is bringing the BREW.” Later, I met the man himself at the World Horror Convention, and he’s an awesome guy.
Enjoy the read, and I hope you survive the night!(less)
In VAMPIRES by John Steakley, the inspiration for the film of the same name by John Carpenter with James Woods in the role of Jack Crow, a crack team...moreIn VAMPIRES by John Steakley, the inspiration for the film of the same name by John Carpenter with James Woods in the role of Jack Crow, a crack team of vampire slayers hunts down and destroys vampires. After Jack’s team is slaughtered, he retrenches with a new recruit from the Vatican and a gunslinger who’s dead accurate with silver bullets. The vampires won’t go down easy, however; they have their own hit list, and intend to finish the job they started by wiping out Jack’s entire team.
The vampires are deadly, powerful and cunning. They can rip a grown man apart in seconds. The job of vampire slaying is not portrayed romantically–just the opposite, it’s shown as the scariest and most dangerous job ever, with a very short average life expectancy, and a devastating psychological toll that drives its members to drink to oblivion whenever they’re not working. The members of the team, the gunslinger in particular, have a very real, searing, horrifying fear of death, and this fear informs how they fight the vampires. These fears and feelings make the characters endearing and, even if their emotions come pouring out of them like a geyser half the time, real as well.
It’s a fantastic book, a must read classic in the horror genre. Highly recommended to horror readers.(less)
I am now officially a huge John Skipp fan. He’s amazing. In THE LONG LAST CALL, he delivers all of his trademark elements–an enclosed space with no wa...moreI am now officially a huge John Skipp fan. He’s amazing. In THE LONG LAST CALL, he delivers all of his trademark elements–an enclosed space with no way out, a demonic murderer with a violent familiar, great characters you care about, tons of splatter, and few people standing at the end–wrapped in his equally trademark lyrical, conversational, breathless style.
The novel tells the story of the people who inhabit a strip club in the middle of nowhere, from the strippers to the owner hyped up on coke to the bouncer with a mean streak to the customers who come in to drool and spend their dollars on their favorite girls. Then a well-dressed stranger walks in with a briefcase full of cash. And every dollar he spends stirs up a little more anger, a little more hate, until the pressure builds, builds, explodes.
If you like straight up splatterpunk, this one’s for you.(less)
In THE STORE by Bentley Little, a Walmart-type giant store comes to a small Arizona town, promising huge economic gains. At first, the citizens of Jun...moreIn THE STORE by Bentley Little, a Walmart-type giant store comes to a small Arizona town, promising huge economic gains. At first, the citizens of Juniper are dazzled at the amazing array of products on the shelves offered at discount prices. Then the giant retailer begins to suck the life out of the town like a giant parasite, killing local businesses and soon after the local government with lack of revenue and commitment to expensive concessions. Little’s a great writer and the story flows along, focusing on one man who fights back to protect his family and try to save his community.
The basic plot suggests a social realism novel about the proven costs and benefits large discount retailing has on small communities, and it delivers on this. But Little goes much farther than that into something that reads like both satire and a cautionary tale. The giant retailer, The Store, takes over the town government, issues its own laws, builds a bizarre cult of personality among its employees around the corporation’s founder, sells unsafe and bizarre products, hires sadistic managers, violates privacy, humiliates its workforce, forces people into debt with dire consequences for default, and many other horrible acts.
But this is a horror novel, and the extremes to which The Store goes to control all aspects of life in the town, the sadism of its top managers, the Night Managers, the ritual humiliation of the employees, the evil at the core of the corporation and its founder, and the understanding that the Store is spreading everywhere around the country, puts it squarely in horror territory.
Good horror titillates but occasionally makes you think, and THE STORE accomplishes that. But the horror elements are purely seasoning for its social realism and satirical goals. For this reader, THE STORE is primarily a dystopic vision of corporate power run amok.
I was far more horrified by how easily the town surrendered everything it treasured for a wider selection of products at lower prices. I consider myself a citizen first, a worker second, and a consumer third. As a citizen, I want just laws and maximum liberty. As a worker, I want to sell my labor without being exploited. As a consumer, I want access to things I want at a reasonable cost. I sometimes feel like America’s greatest weakness is we’ve become a nation of consumers, with severe consequences. THE STORE embodies these fears, taking them into the realm of horror.(less)
Recently finished THE SCREAM by John Skipp and Craig Spector and was amazed at how talented these guys are. They can tell one hell of a story. In THE...moreRecently finished THE SCREAM by John Skipp and Craig Spector and was amazed at how talented these guys are. They can tell one hell of a story. In THE SCREAM, Jake, a Vietnam vet and leader of a heavy metal band, jousts with Christian fundamentalists campaigning against what they see as Satanic rock music. What neither understands is that mega-cult band The Scream is actually using their music to plant the seeds of slaughter and literally raise Hell. Grounded in rich detail about the rock industry in the ’80s and a deep background in the hell of the Vietnam War, THE SCREAM is an outrageous trip bringing together heavy metal bands fighting Christian fundamentalists fighting the Devil. If you’re familiar with their stories you already know that Skipp and Spector do their homework, pour their hearts into their characters, and lavish their stories with tons of gore and mayhem. Lots of fun. Recommended.(less)
David Moody’s AUTUMN offers a fresh, powerfully realistic approach to the zombie genre with his unique voice that has made him, in my opinion, the Geo...moreDavid Moody’s AUTUMN offers a fresh, powerfully realistic approach to the zombie genre with his unique voice that has made him, in my opinion, the George Romero of zombie fiction. In AUTUMN, the shell-shocked survivors of a sudden worldwide plague struggle to overcome their daze and find a way to avoid the living dead that are soon everywhere, attracted to sound, and violent. There is surprisingly little violence and gore and the characters often seem stunned by indecision at times, behaving exactly how real people would to such an impossible crisis, and setting up cathartic bursts of action that frequently had me on edge.
Moody’s vision of the apocalypse is dark, gritty, realistic, dirty, almost hopeless and entirely original. The zombies are utterly repulsive, almost rotting right off the page, and frightening due to their unpredictability. The result is an entirely different kind of zombie story that is unusually gripping.(less)
A decade after nuclear Armageddon swept the planet, a single underground outpost is still working in the United States. Harmony Base, designed to surv...moreA decade after nuclear Armageddon swept the planet, a single underground outpost is still working in the United States. Harmony Base, designed to survive an apocalyptic event and restore America afterwards, explores the radioactive wasteland looking for other survivors to support.
After an earthquake damages Harmony’s life support systems, it’s up to Captain Mike Andrews and the crews of two all-terrain combat vehicles to get to San Jose for critical parts they need. There, they find the survivors they’ve been searching for, reduced to savagery. And they’re hungry …
Stephen Knight has a military background that is on full display in his fiction such as THE GATHERING DEAD and EARTHFALL, which blends the procedural with the fantastic. He raises the technical and military detail in his books completely off the Michael Crichton scale and to the point of fetish, which is good for me as a reader, because I love a tense, action-packed apocalyptic story told with extreme realism. On every page, you know you are being told a story by a guy who knows his business. The all-terrain fighting machines the Harmony explorers use to cross the wastelands are virtually characters in the book, and I loved every minute of screen time they had. They’re fantastic–the ultimate ROAD WARRIOR vehicles. Knight’s attention to detail and realism also means his characters don’t do anything that has you slapping your head in disbelief. From the steady Captain Andrews to the haunted veteran Mulligan, they’re stark, likable, tough.
EARTHFALL reads as a complete story, though the ending leaves a very wide opening for a series. I’ll be sure to check out Knight’s continuing vision of a ROAD WARRIOR world in which a United States military outpost struggles to survive and make things right again.(less)
In -14- by Peter Clines, Nate finds a great apartment in a building that upon closer inspection appears to contain elements that don’t make sense. As...moreIn -14- by Peter Clines, Nate finds a great apartment in a building that upon closer inspection appears to contain elements that don’t make sense. As simple curiosity leads to questions, his explorations lead to revelations and even bigger questions, until the final mystery is unraveled with the help of his neighbors. The mystery, unveiled in pieces in the style of LOST, will grab you, and Nate and his friends, who initially regard their investigation with a sense of play, as if they were a mystery-solving club a la SCOOBY-DOO, are fun to be around. The revelations build in intensity until all is revealed in a satisfying climax. Recommended for people who like a read that actively engages the brain.(less)
This is the Bible as you've never read it before, as close to the original voice, language and meaning as you can get. I felt like I was reading Genes...moreThis is the Bible as you've never read it before, as close to the original voice, language and meaning as you can get. I felt like I was reading Genesis for the first time with this remarkable translation.(less)
In LAST DAYS by Adam Nevill, Kyle, a documentary filmmaker, is contracted by a mysterious figure to shoot a film on a notorious ’70s cult known as the...moreIn LAST DAYS by Adam Nevill, Kyle, a documentary filmmaker, is contracted by a mysterious figure to shoot a film on a notorious ’70s cult known as the Temple of the Last Days, headed by its infamous leader, Sister Katherine. Kyle’s exploration plunges him into the cruel history of the cult, which ended in a bloody massacre in the American desert. As he delves deeper, however, a greater mystery reveals itself, and Kyle finds himself haunted by strange events, ghastly artifacts, dangerous night visits, and sudden deaths among those he interviews. What exactly did the cult awaken–and what is its interest in him?
I first became impressed with Nevill’s work when I read THE RITUAL. LAST DAYS similarly blew my mind. It’s A+ horror.
Nevill takes his time developing his story and can even be ponderous, but no matter; I was hooked by the premise from the get-go as well as the mysteries promised in Kyle’s first interview with his client Max. The interviews with the cult survivors in Europe and America, interspersed throughout the book and which reveal the dark history of the cult from the inside, are as frightening as the paranormal experiences. Speaking of which, The Presences, when they show up, are truly scary, and Nevill explains them with fascinating back story as their mystery is ultimately revealed. The great thing about them is they’re not only scary, they stay scary right to the novel’s action-filled climax.
Nevill is an author to watch. He has a real talent for sticking both hands into the muck of the obscene and the brutal and inviting close inspection. His heroes are dragged through many shades of stress and terror, each response as genuine as the last. And as with THE RITUAL, his human characters can be as menacing as his monsters.
If you’re looking for a good horror story, check it out.(less)