Dream of the Serpent is one of the most gut-wrenching stories I've ever read. This says a lot to the writing powers Alan Ryker has developed in a shorDream of the Serpent is one of the most gut-wrenching stories I've ever read. This says a lot to the writing powers Alan Ryker has developed in a short amount of time. If you're familiar at all with his work, then you know that Ryker is a very talented story teller with a literary spin on the way he chooses to present his story to his readers.
The book starts off with our introduction to Cody and Maddy and the type of relationship they have along with where they both are in life at this moment before disaster strikes. While talking to his girlfriend, Maddy, over his cell phone while cleaning out the deep frier at work, Cody suffers serious burns. The first part of the novel is about these burns and how it destroys Cody's professional aspirations and his relationship with Maddy.
Let me tell you, tons of research went into this part of the story that made it feel more than authentic. The things that Cody goes through just to heal is like something from a torture movie. You feel as though you’ve experienced, in some small way, what burn victims have gone through. And, personally, I don't think I'd come out the other end with flying colors.
About half-way through, the story changes from this hardcore suffering to something strange and, I think, brilliant on the author's part. The change is drastic, but works so well within this world. It does so because Ryker took the time to prepare us for the change and even wonder, as Cody investigates, at its details.
Throughout the story, themes of guilt, of fire and burning, the Greek mythology of the phoenix gone horribly wrong, of death, and most importantly, love-devotion-and sacrifice play throughout. What we get is a story that is just as heart-wrenching as anything by Joe Hill or Greg F. Gifune.
Don’t read this book if you don’t want to be changed or and effected deeply. If this story doesn’t haunt you and effect you in some way, then you’re probably a different kind of person than I am....more
I originally gave Gary Fry's Emergence four stars, but after a day or so of the story simmering in my thoughts, going over some of the themes, I had tI originally gave Gary Fry's Emergence four stars, but after a day or so of the story simmering in my thoughts, going over some of the themes, I had to move up to five stars. I even moved it into my favorites. Every time I think about Emergence, the more I like it.
Is Emergence a perfect story? No. It's not. No story is. Emergence is a slow burn with an ambiguous ending that I know will leave a bad taste in some people mouths. But not mine.
For me, the characters and, as mentioned, the themes touched me very deeply. Jack, who has just lost his wife, and his grandson are spending the week together in his house on the coast of northeast England. Both are experiencing similar problems with reading. Jack, who was an English teacher, is now having difficulty identifying words, while Paul, the grandson, is just learning to read and therefore suffers similar problems.
They wake up one morning to find a series cones that have been carved out on the beach sand. And the morning after that, an entire city.
What these have in common with the stumbling blocks of communication you will have to read for yourself. The fear of getting old, however, that existential horror of realization that your body will one day fail, perhaps is failing, is a fascination (more of a dark obsession) of mine. It kept me focused on not just where the story was taking me, but Jack's awesome characterization.
What we have here is a story of existential and cosmic horror that can be read easily in one sitting. Very well written. If you like the weird fiction of the early twentieth century with a modern sense of culture, then this story should be right up your alley. It certainly was mine. Highly recommended. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author....more
Dave Burns is a man living in his past. A past soaked with alcohol and regret and a ton of anger. We all know a guy like this. It's that arsehole whoDave Burns is a man living in his past. A past soaked with alcohol and regret and a ton of anger. We all know a guy like this. It's that arsehole who gets dramatic at parties when he's had too much to drink because he can't let go of an old flame and he brings everything and everyone down along with him. I think that a lot of us was this guy at least once in our lives. I certainly know that I was. Dave, however, is that guy full time. And he's terribly fun to watch.
This is just part of the brilliance of this story. And I'm not exaggerating when using the word brilliance. These characters are among the most realistic I have ever read. It could be because they come from my own life, or at least part of it.
And then there's the cosmos, a separate character all its own. When at a party with some old friends, Dave and party members are given the opportunity to throw a request to the cosmos by a woman, Dave's blind date incidentally, who is another person we all know. She's that girl who's into crystals and charms and magick that's spelled with a 'k'. She, of course, knows exactly how to do this, and for fun, they set to it.
Dave, being the bitter soul that he is, throws his request to the cosmos that sets off the events for the remainder of the story. And it is a strange story that would fit right in with the best of the weird tales of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Machan or Blackwood could have written this.
I highly recommended Clockwork Dolls. It's a short read that you could probably get done in a sitting or two. And you'll probably be stuck there, reading, until the story is done. What's even better is that Clockwork Dolls is the kind of story that nourishes your brain with its food for though. A well rounded story that I doubt you'll regret. ...more
I was introduced to Alan Ryker through the DarkFuse Kindle club via his book The Hoard. What I liked most about that book were the characters. They weI was introduced to Alan Ryker through the DarkFuse Kindle club via his book The Hoard. What I liked most about that book were the characters. They were great, believable characters. So when DarkFuse sent me Among Prey, I thought I'd stop what I was reading at the time to fit this review in before the book's release date.
And I'm glad that I did.
My enjoyment of the characters in The Hoard is multiplied tenfold here. The story is told in four parts with the POV of four different characters. It is written in the third person, but each character comes off the page like a slap in the face, they're so real.
Amber is a doll maker for the more upper class of children. The dolls are custom made right there in the store, and the client, the child, has full control over how to create their doll. One day a 7 foot giant, Bobby, who has the mind of a small child comes in with his nurse. He makes a doll and then goes in once a week to make a new doll each time. This seems to make him happy, but Amber notices something wrong with the dolls the giant is creating.
Little girls are missing and their bodies, alive or dead, are never found. The dolls that Bobby makes looks just like the missing girls. they're even wearing what they were when they went missing.
It takes four characters to tell this story, and each one of them shine. My only problem is that an important character is introduced to the reader a little late and is therefore jarring. This could have been easily fixed with some edits, but it didn't really ruin the story for me.
Among Prey is more about the journey than it is the conclusion. Once you let the characters talk to you, letting the tell their story to its end, you'll be hypnotized and left wanting more.
Highly recommended! 4.5 stars and a new favorite. ...more
The Rain Dancers was a pleasant surprise. I have heard of Gifune's writing from the Goodreads group Horror Aficionados for some time now, but never reThe Rain Dancers was a pleasant surprise. I have heard of Gifune's writing from the Goodreads group Horror Aficionados for some time now, but never really took the plunge. Recently, I joined the DarkFuse book club, and this is one of the novellas that I got for free for joining.
Getting the novella for free wasn't the pleasant surprise, though that was pleasant enough. No, what grounded me and got my head spinning was the great characterization and dialogue within this short, intense masterpiece.
Will and Betty return to Betty's hometown a year after her father's death to clean out his house and put it up for sale. On their first night a terrible rainstorm hits, and with it comes Bob Laurent. Bob claims that he's an old friend of Betty's father who moved away when Betty was only a teenager. He says they were so close that Betty used to call him "Uncle Bob." This appears to be true, because he knows an awful lot about Betty and her family.
The only problem is, Betty doesn't remember Bob Laurent. As the night, and Bob's visit, wears on, Betty slowly begins to remember Laurent. More importantly, she remembers what he is.
The Rain Dancers is tense from beginning until the end and I had a lot of fun reading it. It read very well as a novella, but I could see it being adapted as a play and/or a movie as well. A very engaging story and highly recommended. ...more
Despite its bleakness, Bentley Little's newest, The Haunted, was a lot of fun to read. Although Little is known for his sense of humor, I warn you toDespite its bleakness, Bentley Little's newest, The Haunted, was a lot of fun to read. Although Little is known for his sense of humor, I warn you to not look for that here. This is a book that is dark, bleak, and full of despair as the Perry family loses control of their average, every day lives.
The story is about an innocent family haunted by their new house, but it reminded me of self-abuse spinning out of control, the unknown anger and angst of adolescence, the fear and desperation of a child stuck in a family haunted by its past and current abuses. And this is without any of those subjects taking center stage.
We start off with the Perry family looking to move out of what they feel is becoming a bad neighborhood. Had they known what they were in for, perhaps they would have stayed and put up with the bully kids, the ones who use the Perry family's driveway for skate board practice without permission. Now that they have moved, however, they're trapped in debt and stuck with a ghost, or maybe it's some other entity, that's physically abusive and life threatening.
This book is about the love and hate of a family (that innocent family with the average lives I mentioned earlier), invaded by unknown forces. It's a book about what's not in your control, and how what's good and average can turn to bad and abnormal at any time.
As this is a haunted house book, there's nothing really new here. Yet, the haunted house book has been written regularly for close to two hundred years now, so what are you looking for? Something groundbreaking?
I don't think so.
Give The Haunted a try. Its got some real creepy moments that's excluded from a lot of other horror novels. I highly recommend it. ...more
The type of story within You Shall Never Know Security is a favorite of mine to read, so my opinion on J. R. Hamantaschen could be considered biased.The type of story within You Shall Never Know Security is a favorite of mine to read, so my opinion on J. R. Hamantaschen could be considered biased. The stories are weird and very dark. They’re also intelligent and linger in your thoughts after reading. I found that I had to stop sometimes just to digest what I had just read.
You Shall Never Know Security is full of raw emotion and themes that are the obvious result of some very deep thought. Each story is actually about something. They are real even at their most absurd. They’re topics has affected us all one way or another. They can be terribly sad or angry, but around the middle of the collection there is one comedic story that does well in relieving the tension.
The stories that had the most effect on me are as follows: Endemic is, perhaps, one of the strangest stories I’ve ever read. It poses an interesting approach to catching rapists. A Parasite in Your Brain makes me want J. R.’s version of a parasitic spider to stretch its legs out amongst the folds of my own brain. Truth is Stanger than Fiction paid homage to Lovecraft, I think, and very well done. Sorrow has its Natural End is, perhaps, the story that affected me the most. It’s about a man in his twenties whose gone blind. His dark spiritual journey is probably similar to what mine would be if I were to go blind. College is about a professor who asks his student some very interesting morality questions in an experiment that reminded me of a course I took while in college myself.
With this collection, J. R. manages to remind the reader of Lovecraft and Ligotti, while at the same time remaining completely faithful to his own ideas, themes, and voice. What it comes down to is this: as a writer myself, one who also aspires create weird horror, reading these stories made me a little jealous. Okay, I lie. They made me a lot jealous. I wish I could write at Hamantaschen’s calibre and level of talent. I look forward to reading more. ...more
I've been reviewing a few indie books lately. So far, they've all gotten four to five stars from me. Am I being easy on these writers, sympathizing wiI've been reviewing a few indie books lately. So far, they've all gotten four to five stars from me. Am I being easy on these writers, sympathizing with their independent ventures? Hell no. Of all the indie books I've read thus far, none have let me down. I'm sure that there is crap out there, crap meaning unedited writing that should is not, and perhaps never was ready for publishing, of which was the fear for small and/or self-published press before eBooks exploded onto the scene.
The latest one I've read is That Which Should Not Be, by Brett J. Talley. Let me tell you, this book is a brilliant mix of not just the Cthulhu Mythos, but many other myths and legends, religions and cults. While reading, I thought of Talley's book as an onion. You keep peeling back layers and layers of detailed, rich stories that's both fascinating and frightening. Yet the onion is one whole story. Talley obviously has a strong grasp upon the things he writes about, with the Cthulhu Mythos taking center stage, and it was a lot of fun to pick out all the Lovecraftian references, such as a boat named "Kadath".
We start the story with Carter (another reference), who is studying at Miskatonic University, of course. One of his professors has an important job for him. He must travel to an old port town called Anchorhead to retrieve a book called The Witch's Fire. This book, like the Necronomicon, is a dangerous tome, to be handled only by the most experienced of sorcerer. This leads Carter into an adventure where he is told tales of wonder and violent death at the hands of the Wengido, a cult, and an alternate universe on the sea. Each story brings us closer to the main story, and when it all comes together, it's like an explosion of tentacles and black, leathery wings.
If you enjoy the old classics by authors like Lovecraft and Blackwood, you will have no problem sinking into this one. It is, in the end, a terribly fun ride. ...more