Dante Emerson’s daughter Ella suffers from incurable cancer, and he’ll do anything to save her – anything. When a mysterious man offers him a ‘cure’ in exchange for his help in raiding a secret government facility, he jumps at the chance. The cure, though, turns out to be worse than the deadly disease, he’s forced to watch his little girl turn into a monster. As if that wasn’t enough, a dangerous group of monsters known as the Scorned want Ella for themselves, and are willing to kill to get to her.
Panacea by Z. J. Frost is a chilling, action-packed story of demonic possession and government perfidy. A nice, icky little tale that horror fans will enjoy, even if the ending is a bit of a letdown. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give it three and a half stars.
If you like stories that chill your blood and make you afraid to turn out the lights at night when you go to bed, you’ll love 51 Sleepless Nights by Tobias Wade. A collection of spin-tingling horror stories that explore all the things that go bump in the night and make the hairs on our arms stand on end.
The entire book can be read in about an hour, two if you’re really into being scared silly. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. If you’re the impressionable type, you might not want to be alone when you read this book.
I give it four stars.
When a government experiment goes wrong, a portal is opened to another world, allowing monsters to come to Earth. With the EMP accompanying the disaster knocking out power all over the country, the situation is dire. Can anyone survive?
Portal Zero by Eddie Patin is the first book in the Apocalypse Gate series, and it introduces an extensive roster of characters, each reacting to the alien arrivals in a different way. An ambitious story, but not a totally bad first effort.
I received a free copy of this book. I give it three and a half stars.
A strange blast in a small college town triggers a blizzard, which is followed by an infestation of ‘crabs,’ Curious at first, they soon turn deadly. College professor, Dominic Daniels, and a small group of survivors must decide whether to try to stick it out in their tenuous safe havens, or make a run for it and contend with the ‘monsters,’ who came with the snow.
They Came With the Snow by Christopher Coleman is a short horror story that stretches the limits of the imagination. Leaving much to the reader’s imagination, it is a shocking judgment of government overreach gone too far. A book that can, mercifully, be read in about half an hour, and one that you will long remember. No pun intended, but this one will chill you to your core.
I give it four stars.
If you like your horror raw and uncensored, you’ll love Brutal Bedtime Stores: A Supernatural Horror Story Collection. An anthology of dozens of cutting-edge, macabre stories by David Maloney, Tobias Wade, Ha-yong Bak, and Kyle Alexander that will curl the hairs on your arm and send chills up and down your spine. These are stories of psychopaths, ghosts, and ghouls, the work of some really twisted minds; not for the sensitive or faint-hearted—you’ll love it.
I give this collection five stars.
Four strangers, Avanti, Donovan, Frederick, and Seth, all with the power to siphon the life from others, but with no knowledge of how they attained such powers, are drawn together when their powers start to spiral out of control, and bodies start piling up. When they meet, and begin to compare stories, they realize that some other-worldly power is pulling their strings, manipulating them like marionettes.
Siphoners by Evan Bollinger is a disturbing story, told in a series of seemingly disconnected scenes, that come together as muddy streams coalesce in a swiftly flowing river, they begin to get answers to their strangeness, only to discover that things are even stranger than they could ever have imagined.
A fascinating story, although it has a bit too much dialect for easy reading, and leaves out information that would aid the reader to get a clearer picture of the ‘alien’ menace lurking behind the scenes. If you like other-worldly horror, and the fusion of science fiction and paranormal phenomena, you’ll enjoy reading it.
I received a free copy of this book. An intriguing story, but for technical reasons (mainly the overuse of dialect in the dialogue), I give it three and a half stars.
Nick Adams is a salesman in a dead-end job, a job he hangs onto only because of his devotion to his wife and son. One day, a sick man walks into his shop, and Nick’s life is forever changed, as are the lives of everyone else on earth.
Ravage by Iain Rob Wright is a zombie apocalypse novel with a fury, as we follow Nick and other uninfected survivors through a gauntlet of flesh-eating undead. If you’re a fan of zombie novels, you’ll like this. It doesn’t break much new ground, and the author jumps from character to character quite a bit, but on balance, it was a pretty good read.
I liked the story, but I can only give it three stars for execution.
When his partner was killed by a thug, police officer Jack Wardsley’s life came to a crushing halt. After killing those responsible for his partner’s death, he descended into a spiral of anger and violence. His superiors, after covering up his crime, send him on a cruise to get his life back together before the send him out to pasture.
Aboard the Spirit of Kirkpatrick, Jack is attempting to come to terms with his empty life when a virulent illness springs up among the passengers, turning them into blood thirsty zombies, and Jack finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. Confused and frightened, Jack discovers that he is not the only one who is aware of the events unfolding around him. A beautiful, but treacherous member of the ship’s crew, a Romany who is immune from whatever spell that has affected almost everyone else, she holds a fascinating attraction for Jack, and in the course of time, tells him of a mysterious ‘path walker’ who is resetting time for some unfathomable reason.
Jack’s world is turned upside down as he strives to discover what is truly going on, and what he learns is horror beyond human imagining.
Sea Sick by Iain Rob Wright is a novel of horror and suspense that will keep you turning pages until the final, explosive climax. Despite a number of grammatical and stylistic glitches, and a bit too much purple prose in places, this is still a story that horror fans will find entertaining—if you like having your blood chilled.
The theme, though lacking somewhat in logical flow especially at the end, is worth four stars, but the overwriting and poor grammar forces me to give it only three stars overall.
When two friends, out hiking, discover an old lodge deep in the woods near Enfield, they unleash a mystical hunter with a thirst of blood. After a hundred years, the beast, Ka-riu, is now on the hunt, and it’s good at what it does. Rural cop, Tom Henderson, finds himself thrust into a role he’s unprepared for—the savior of his town. With the help of an old farmer, Henderson must go head to head with the ancient Japanese demon, aided in its thirst for blood by the malevolent spirit of the cabin itself. In his hour of greatest challenge, Henderson finds out what he’s really made of.
The Enfield Horror Trilogy by Ron Ripley is a frightening melding of western and oriental myths in a tale that will make you think twice the next time you venture down an unfamiliar trail in the woods. Well-developed characters and a plot that will freeze the blood in your veins, this is horror at its finest.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I give it four stars without hesitation.
For two hundred years the Blood Contract has protected the sanctity of the Blood Lands on the border of the town of Thorne. But now, with more economic development in the works, the town aldermen have decided to violate the terms of the contract, and the Bloods, living and dead, aren’t happy.
The Blood Contract Trilogy by Ron Ripley is a chilling tale of what happens when greed overcomes prudence and the ghosts of the Bloods decide a lesson—a deadly lesson—must be taught. New Hampshire state trooper Jim Petrov, with the help of a living Blood, and the ghosts of past Bloods, must face a deadly enemy in order to save the town of Thorne from its own greed and stupidity.
A compelling cast of characters; even the ghosts have interesting personalities, and the tension starts on a high note and climbs into the stratosphere.
This is an unusual ghost story in which it’s hard sometimes to tell the good guys from the bad, but one that you will thoroughly enjoy reading.
I received a free copy of The Blood Contract in exchange for my unbiased review. I give it four stars.
Smoky Hollow, NH is a quiet town until newcomer Brian Keays, the town’s new newspaper editor, opens a trunk in his attic and discovers its grisly contents. Keays then finds himself chasing and being chased by an astonishingly odd cast of characters, from a firefighter ventriloquist with a mad dummy, to a sleep walker who ends up with strange things in his pockets. Death and destruction dogs his every step.
Loonies by Gregory Bastianelli is a thriller-mystery that lives up to its name—it’s filled with looney characters and weird situations, and will keep you guessing and gasping until the end.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I give it four stars.
Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews with Horror & Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers by Michael McCarty is a gem. A collection of 35 interviews with some of the biggest names in sci-fi and horror fiction and film, this book is chock full of sage advice for those who want to write in these genres, or fans. It gives a down and dirty look at what drives or drove such greats as the late Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, and others who have given us books and films that have become classics.
This is a book that you’ll want to read again and again. It’s now in my reference library, and I proudly award it five stars–only because I can’t give it six.
I don’t normally think of horror and humor in the same sentence, but after reading Bunny Sneaks by William Meikle, I’ve changed my mind. This is a story that will tickle your funny bone at the same time it chills your blood. When Kate’s boyfriend buys her a stuffed bunny rabbit just after watching a movie about a killer rabbit, little does she know she’ll soon be running for her life—from a horrifying little bunny that just wants to take a large bite out of her neck.
This story is classic Meikle. You don’t want to miss it. It’s an easy five stars!
Emma Johnson, a 24-year-old recent nursing school graduate, decides to volunteer to work in an Ebola treatment camp in Liberia. Once there, she not only discovers just how different West Africa is from her home in the U.S., but that the government officials in charge of the camp are conducting secret experiments on the patients; creating zombie soldiers. When she becomes one of the test subjects, she is determined to tell the world—but, can she survive.
MutationZ: The Ebola Zombies by Marilyn Peake is a chilling novelette that could, in today’s politically polarized world, have been ripped directly from the daily headlines. Though short; it can be read in an hour or so; it is filled with rich detail. You can smell the rot, hear the moans of pain, and feel the desperation and desolation of a place where people are not just taken to die, but to be experimented on like lab rats.
This is the first in a planned series, and it ends on a bleak, warning note that makes it impossible not to want to read more.
I give this one five stars.
Ken Broskey’s Desolation Stories is a fantastic collection of horror, fantasy, and science fiction short stories, each a bit further out than the one before. The 19 stories in this collection are definitely not for the faint of heart or those with sensitive dispositions, for they contain graphic violence and profanity.
Broskey is a master of the short form of fiction, starting each story on an eerie note, building to a crescendo, and bringing the reader down for a bumpy landing. This is a collection of stories that lovers of the various genres will appreciate. Spot-on dialogue, believable characters, and credible environments that seem as real as the world we think we inhabit today.
Don’t miss this book. Five stars for a master craftsman.
Summer is not a good time to be in or near Houston, Texas. The low lands, mostly marsh, hold the heat like a steam bath, and it’s hurricane season, so it’s not really a good place for summer vacation. But, when you live there, you have no choice.
For 14-year-old Mark Eckert, who lives in a wealthy community halfway between Houston and Galveston, though, it’s a time of adventure and exploration. He’s looking forward to his first year of high school, and his summer is much as summer is for any teen in that part of the country – hanging out with his friends and dodging the older neighborhood bullies who’re determined to pound him into the sidewalk. A normal summer – until the hurricane hits and leaves a shrimp boat lodged in a tree near Mark’s house; a boat containing partially eaten corpses. Mark’s father, a Houston cop, discovers that the dead men have been eaten, not by animals, but by another person. As it that not horrible enough, more partially eaten corpses start turning up in the neighborhood and a torrid summer turns deadly in a hurry.
Joe McKinney’s Dog Days is a horror novel with a unique twist – it’s also a coming of age novel. A unique blend of genres that will leave you chilled to the marrow. McKinney knows his stuff, and he knows how to spin a great yarn. I received a free review copy of Dog Days, not sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised – chilled – shocked – and entertained. I grew up just north of Houston, and I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable spending the night back in my home town ever again.
A five-star book in class of its own.
Clive Brown is a man with a lot on his plate. His mother, formerly Maria Ferguson, is not a male parent (George Brown), having undergone a sex change operation, and he’s a fan of American popular culture – especially the CSI TV series. In 2008, Clive returns to his home in Vancouver, where he gets caught up with the strangest assembly of characters you could ever imagine.
That pretty much sums up D. M. Archer’s The Astral Projection Conspiracy, which I received a free copy of in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I found it a hard slog. Not a bad book, but perhaps a tad too long. The characters are interesting in their flaws, and Archer does a fairly good job of painting them fully. It is a bit difficult trying to parse their motivations at times, though, and truly the book wasn’t as scary as I’d expected it to be, given it’s categorized under the horror genre.
In many ways, Archer’s writing reminds me of James Baldwin’s approach to a story – build things up slowly, interspersing long, relatively dry passages with flares of conflict or angst. For fans of that kind of writing, this is just your kind of story. For people who like their action uncomplicated, and for horror to give you chills at least every five or ten pages, you might find The Astral Projection Conspiracy a difficult read. There are the occasional flashes of brilliance in this book, so I know Archer is capable of much, much better, and I look forward to his next offering.
I’m giving it two and a half stars.
This is a pre-publication review of Netherworld (Book One of the Chronicles of Diana Furnaval) by Lisa Morton. I received a pre-publication review copy from JournalStone Press.
Lady Diana Furnaval, though only just turned 30, is both a widow and a demon hunter. When her husband, William Furnaval, who is from a family of gateway keepers – the portals between the mortal world and the Netherworld – is reported murdered in Europe, Diana inherits his estate and becomes the last gatekeeper. Rather than just keeping watch over the gates, though, she vows to close each and every one of them, sealing the demons in there hell.
Her quest, along with her cat Mina, takes her from Europe to China, where she meets Yi-Kin who enlists in her quest, to America, and finally, to Netherworld itself, when she learns of a demonic plan to invade the mortal realm. She must stop the invasion, but the cost could be more than she can afford to pay.
Lisa Morton’s Netherworld: Book One of the Chronicles of Diana Furnaval, is a supernatural thriller with epic scope, crafted as only a British fantasy writer can – in a deceptively understated style that sneaks up on you, and says ‘boo!’ before you know what’s happening. Follow Diana as Morton takes her on an epic journey that spans the globe and reality, and when you’re done, you’ll be panting for Book Two.
In The Fifth Empire: The Harvest of Vincent du Maurier, K. P. Ambroziak takes us on the continuing journey of the ageless vampire, Vincent du Maurier, and his attempts to survive in a world that is consumed with the ongoing war between vampires and zombies, the undead corpses who have a taste, not only for human flesh, but of vampires as well.
In Vincent’s world, what is left of humanity, in its seemingly vain efforts to survive, has descended into something approaching barbarity. Vincent, though, tries to preserve his ‘harvest’ of humans, including the pregnant Evelyn, for whom he has developed a kind of affection, that might be called love, but is love perverted.
Once again, Ambroziak has succeeded in taking the reader into a mind that is as alien as if it had come from another universe. While the reader can never be completely sympathetic to the blood-lusting Vincent, we are made to see a fully-fleshed character with complex motivations and desires not dissimilar to our own should we be faced with such a situation.
This is not a book for squeamish readers – the level of violence and sense of impending doom is intense. But, if you want a fresh new take on the vampire novel, it is highly recommended.
I give The Harvest an easy, and well-deserved, four stars.
Given the current obsession with vampire/zombie movies and books, you might think that the last thing you need to read is another vampire novel. K. P. Ambroziak’s The Fifth Empire: The Journal of Vincent du Maurier, though is a vampire novel that takes a completely new direction.
It’s 2052, and Vincent du Maurier is leader of a clan of vampires that, due to the lack of human blood upon which to feed, and a virus that is now fatal to vampires, is on the verge of extinction. To make matters worse, the land is overrun by zombies who feed on vampire flesh – turning the vampire into a zombie in the process.
When Vincent and his group find three healthy humans, one of whom is a pregnant woman, it sets the clan on a course that none could have predicted. Could the fate of vampires and humans be intertwined? K. P. Ambroziak, with a combination of narrative that swings from gritty to delicate, and dialogue that gives you the feeling that you’re snooping on private conversations, managed to convince this reviewer that this is within the realm of possibility.
Ambroziak tells her story from the point of view of the vampire Vincent, a daring thing to do, given that any author desires that readers sympathize with your main character. Vincent is hard to sympathize with – he comes through, though, as a complex character – bad to the bone, but with a tiny streak of compassion beneath his pale, undead exterior, and even though his heart doesn’t beat, he is capable on occasion of almost human feeling.
I’m giving The Fifth Empire four stars for its excellent writing, tightly woven plot, and sheer entertainment value.