Sunday, October 1, 2017

More From Tales of the Executioners

Dismas: Prayers of the Damned is another book in the Tales of the Executioners mini-series by Joleene Naylor. When I reviewed several of these stories, during the summer, the tales were listed as being in a particular order within the product description of the actual Kindle download. Since then, the author Joleene Naylor has clarified on her website: "It doesn't matter what order* you read the stories in - each is a stand alone short! *Due to the difference in publishers, stories may appear in a different order on Amazon." I wish she had clarified that from the beginning of the series. Just goes to show you can't always trust the product descriptions.

Dismas is currently my favorite executioner tale. I love the mix of conflicts swirling around Dismas. He struggles with issues of loyalty, spirituality and self-discovery. I've never been a fan of Kateesha, so I enjoyed seeing her displaced. Naylor uses the perfect balance of drama and action to lure readers further into the world of Amaranthine.

As always,

Thursday, September 28, 2017

When Something Bugs You

Harold was always a man with a plan. Out of the house after high school, and take the world by storm. But the storm fought back, and now Harold is right back where he started. All the way back to the room he'd occupied as a child.
But he's not alone in that room. Something resides there with him, and it's had a dozen years on its own. A dozen years to grow. A dozen years to multiply. And now that Harold is back, he'll have to face his worst nightmare.
And if he loses, it might just be his last night on earth.

Jitters by Ken Stark has such vivid details, I cringed through most of this story. Even though Stark's writing thoroughly grossed me out, I have to give him props for his realism. If you have a bug phobia, this story will absolutely traumatize you. I have a bug phobia and Stark gave me nightmares with this horrific battle between man and cockroach. This story makes the cockroach scene in Creepshow look mild. The ending offers no peace of mind.

As always,

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Wildlife is Really Wild

On their way to a cabin in the woods, Momo and her three friends are concerned that the nearby one-road town does not appear on GPS. If they're not careful, neither will they.

Reclamation Project by Jerry Gerold is a truly creepy story deserving of a sequel. The set-up is a little slow and some of the interaction between the characters is unnecessary, but by the time the horror is revealed, Gerold has transformed the cabin-in-the-woods setting into a terrifying new experience. I was expecting deranged country folk or a hidden government experiment...I wasn't prepared for the sick twist Gerold delivers. It almost seems a shame to use such an original idea in a short story format. This could be an exciting new series...

As always,

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Flight of the Butterfly

A once-thriving theater is rumored to be haunted by little Clarissa Salem, a young ballerina who disappeared from inside her dressing room many years ago. Now dilapidated and closed down, this theater is no longer visited, at least not to see the performances. One young girl double-dog dares another to spend the night in this theater. That is a perfectly safe outing for these two young girls, right? Unless little Clarissa is still hanging around.

In “The Hunger,” a butterfly wakes up to find that nectar from flowers no longer holds any interest for her. A strange new craving has taken over.

Dance For Me by Lisa Binion is a serving of two stories. I have no idea why the author thought it was necessary to have an introduction for each short story...instead of reading the stories with zero expectations, I was reluctant to read them at all because of the intros. Author notes should be placed at the end.

Dance For Me took forever with the set-up. Never a good idea to spend that much time building up a short story. By the time something supernatural takes place, the ending is rushed and sloppy.

The Hunger is quite original, with the story being told from the POV of a butterfly. It's a piece of flash fiction, which is disappointing. Rather than waste space on intros and the doll story, I wish the author had written more about the butterfly's new thirst.

As always,

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Beauty of Horror

Senna Collins is a normal girl from a small town full of whispers and sideways glances. For the past few weeks, all of those whispers have been about her failed declaration of love for a girl at school. Senna wants to hide out in the cornfields until it all blows over. 

To make matters worse, a carnival has set up in a field near town. It’s too awkward for Senna to go with her friends, but if she stays home, she will be an outsider in every conversation for weeks. She’ll have to check it out, alone. There’s just one problem, this is no ordinary carnival. 

One of the acts is bringing the dead to life-literally. Senna soon finds herself in the center of a madhouse of carnies and townspeople. Will she capture the heart of an exotic necromancer, or is the relationship dead from the start?

Rogue Taxidermy by Sarah Doebereiner is a coming of age story woven with elements of horror and the supernatural. I never expected this much depth from a short story about a girl and a carnival.  The similarities and contrasts between Senna and Aves are a beautiful way to show how we perceive ourselves versus how others perceive us. The nature of Aves' "puppets," while horrific, add another layer to the issue of identity. I am floored by this story.

I sincerely hope the author considers writing a full-length book about Senna...this character could easily command her own series. We need more stories like this in young adult fiction for the readers who feel they are on the fringes of society. Well done.

As always,

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Retch Out

Somewhere down the road he's there alone.Traveling endlessly. Waiting with deadly patience for his next lift. Biding his time until another stops for their bitter judgment. Thumb out, soles to asphalt. Who will offer a ride.... to the Night Walker......

Night Walker by Tyler Dibert is a story about a rich man making a very bad decision in the middle of nowhere. The pace is awkward and rough due to a lack of editing, which ruined what could have been a great story about judging someone based on their appearance. The ending lacked any real terror, just some gore-filled images.

As always,

Friday, September 15, 2017


The residents of Sunnyville Living are disappearing. It’s a nursing home owned by Lillian and Robert Williams, but it is no ordinary home for the elderly.

Henry Carlson is a quiet elderly man who lives as one of the many residents of the nursing home. He notices the healthy residents passing unexpectedly.

Something isn’t right.

One night Henry awakes to witness something horrifying happening at the home. It’s terribly heinous and the authorities must know to put a stop to it.

Will Henry be able to get away and get help before it’s too late?

Sunnyville Living by Maddox Asher would have been better as a piece of flash fiction. Too much time is spent on Henry's reflections, and by the time any action occurs, it's too predictable. A good idea, but poor delivery.

As always,