Friday, September 8, 2017

Insurance Agent Vs. Zombies

Eaters by Michelle DePaepe follows the survival of Cheryl, an insurance agent returning from a weekend camping trip with her fiancĂ©, only to discover a deadly virus outbreak that is mutating the afflicted.
God help us if this is how the zombie apocalypse goes down…zombies are bad enough – zombies that are capable of coordinated attacks and basic problem-solving are an early invitation to put a bullet in your head to avoid the inevitable. The zombies begin as infected people with an insane craving for rotting food, but eventually they attack and eat non-infected people as well, and there is a rumor that the virus has gone airborne.
I loved the development of Cheryl; in the beginning, she is very dependent on her fiancĂ©, who has just returned from a tour of duty in the Army, but she quickly learns to adapt to the horror around her. There were a few twists that I wasn’t expecting, concerning her interactions with some of the other survivors. It’s always refreshing when an author can write something original, and not predictable.
I read this in one sitting, and nearly flipped out when I reached the end and realized this was the beginning of a new series. I will be reviewing the sequel, The Resistance, in the next day or two, so check back this weekend!
As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, September 7, 2017

What's With Guys and Basements?

Don't Ask About The Guy in The Basement by Jason Ingolfsland is a disturbing story about a new house with a catch: there's a guy in the basement and he has an unbreakable lease. The couple buying the home are desperate, so they accept the house, creepy guy included. Unfortunately, the husband becomes obsessed with his downstairs neighbor and his marriage begins to crumble. The ending is a superb twist.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Penzig Should Put People in the Basement More Often

Guy Wakes Up In A Basement by T.L. Penzig reminded me of another story I read earlier this year about a guy waking up with amnesia, Pursuit. However, this story is far better than the other. Penzig uses everything from setting to suspense to dark humor to bring readers into the mind of Arthur, the guy who wakes up in the basement. When Arthur receives additional injuries during his exploration, I swear my head hurt too.

The ending is outstanding. The dramatic identity reveal could have sufficed, but Penzig goes above and beyond with a sinister discovery about Arthur's predilections and his "so what" attitude, complete with smugness. This story would've made the Crypt Keeper proud.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Death In The Streets

The Watcher by A.L. Butcher is a tale of Jack the Ripper, told from the killer's POV. I wouldn't necessarily categorize this as horror. There's no build up of suspense, no mystery, just a graphic description of another brutal murder by the Ripper. I will give props to the author for painting such a morbid, visceral slaughter, but it takes more than violence and gore to be truly frightening. Even with a glimpse from the victim's POV, this is more of show-and-tell than anything else.

In the future, the author might want to think about including more personal details about characters, to elicit more of a response from readers.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, September 4, 2017

The End of Life

Horror author Stephen A North recently released a double-feature, Like A Man and Purchase Order #2113-21A, two short stories about apocalyptic and dystopian survivors. North is best known for his Dead Tide series, but he has also written a few science fiction stories as well.

Like A Man begins like a scene from Scarface and evolves into an action-packed invasion unlike anything I've read in a any horror or sci-fi story. While not much is revealed about the character Rudy, he is someone I still rooted for. The description of the enemy is fantastic and I wish North had saved such a creation for a novel, or even a novella, rather than such a brief thriller.

Purchase Order #2113-21A is a mystery, right up to the very end, but fascinating the entire time. Usually, I'm frustrated when I only know what the main character knows, but, in this case, the lack of information makes the fight scenes feel more desperate. I think fans of Warhammer 40K might get a kick out of this sci-fi story.

If you haven't read the first three books in the Dead Tide series, I suggest you do so soon because the fourth book will be featured at the Lair in the near future.

As always,
AstraDaemon


Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Parents Never Believe The Kids

The Stain in the Stairwell by A.P. Sessler is such an excellent, original short story, I would LOVE to see it made into a movie. Sessler mixed in all the elements crucial to a truly terrifying nightmare: mystery, suspense and children...of course, the "monster" is exceptional. In hindsight, Sessler is quite clever with his use of seemingly insignificant details. I strongly recommend that everyone reads this twice to truly appreciate the author's writing style.

Reading The Stain in the Stairwell is much like falling down the stairs: the beginning is slow, at first, but, as you pick up speed, you know the ending is going to mess you up.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, August 25, 2017

WTF Did I Just Read?!!

The Assignation by Edgar Allan Poe is one of his stories that I've never read. I thought it would be a good idea to read a classic, but it left me feeling a bit like a troglodyte trying to decipher hieroglyphics. From what I understood, as the narrator is returning home in a gondola, a woman accidentally drops her baby into the canal, but a stranger is able to rescue the child. The woman arranges a rendezvous with the hero, but this proves to be fatal for all involved.

The ending might be confusing for those trying to figure out what happened to the narrator...I suggest paying close attention to the very beginning of the story, before the narrator mentions Venice. Even with this hint, I think readers will wonder why in the hell Poe bothered writing this story. If I remember correctly, he is referring to an affair of Byron's, but using allegory instead of being direct.

This story is also known as The Visionary. Some people think this is Poe's best work...I am not one of those people.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Road Rage Gone Wrong

The Stranger by Kathy Dinisi is basically a crappy mix of Jeepers Creepers and Joy Ride. The beginning is good enough to hook readers with a photographer trying to get home within a specific amount of time, but it goes downhill quickly after that. There isn't enough suspense to elicit any fear. There's not much to the main character either, so I didn't feel anything for her. Maybe if the author had stuck to real-life horror instead of involving the supernatural angle, I might have felt something.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Family Secrets

In the Night by Melanie Rosa is a fantastic horror story. I had no idea what to expect. I thought maybe some Purge type of stuff happened after sunset, but, when I read about the camping trip, the story took on a supernatural feel and became truly frightening. The pace is absolutely perfect, and I love how the family secret is revealed...at night.

Whenever I read anything, my brain instantly converts words into moving images with no effort from my conscious mind. Reaching the end of the story is kind of like having the power go out just as a scary movie scene is beginning. I can't help but feel the ending is a tiny bit of a cliff-hanger. I would definitely love to know more about Jack's family. Maybe the author could write a follow-up short from Alice's POV.

As I've implied before and will likely again, stories with children raise the emotional stakes drastically.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Don't Feed Horses After Dark

Badger by Simeon Gregory would have worked better as a flash fiction piece. The author spends too much time describing Anton's drive home. I also think many of the relationship moments with J.J. and the parrot are also unnecessary. Gregory should have just started the story with a news report on TV about the accident, quickly followed by Anton checking on the horses. The outside scene, especially the ending is really entertaining, and I wish the author would have focused more on the action because his descriptions of the attack are grotesque and terrifying.

This story did make me think twice about taking my dog outside in the middle of the night.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Chirping of Beds

Terror By Night written by Vishual Persaud might have been a good story if not for the horrific lack of editing. I'm not referring to typos (although there are plenty)...the sentence structure and haphazard story line left me feeling haggard, not entertained. I swear, I'm not even entirely certain what the hell this story is supposed to be about.

At first, I thought it might be about night terrors caused by family dysfunction, then I thought it might be a story about demonic possession. Unfortunately, the writing style became so chaotic, by chapter four, I no longer recognized anything resembling a story form. The ending explains why nothing makes any sense, but I doubt many readers would bother finishing this story.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Gut Punch

Monster Hunter by Richard McCrohan caught me off guard. I didn't know what to think of the old man...I didn't know what to think of Danny. I knew there would be a catch, but I still wasn't prepared for the ending. The author does a great job of using suspense to lure readers in and lock the door behind them.

This story is proof that horror doesn't need to be graphic to be terrifying.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Midas of the Old West

American Alchemy: Gold by Oliver Altair grabbed my attention with the form of a personal letter dated June 1, 1850. The letter paints a gruesome landscape of greed, deceit, sorrow and revenge. I had absolutely no clue what the author had planned, and being so unpredictable made the story that much more entertaining. The mix of American history and ancient alchemy is as brilliant as the gold within these pages.

I would love to read more from this author in the future...

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, August 18, 2017

Putting Zombies To Good Use

Compliance by K. Batholomew takes place in Ohio, after a zombie apocalypse. This story focuses on the psychological and sociological aspects of a world-wide collapse of civilization, as well as individual characters and the new world order they are living in. I think Bartholomew did a great job of expressing all the layers within this setting. This is why I've always preferred the zombie genre over the other horror genres...the zombies represent so much more than monsters.

While the writing style is more similar to World War Z by Max Brooks, the thinking level of this story reminded me of Kim Paffenroth's Dying To Live series. If you've ever wondered why zombies have been so popular for so long, I encourage you to read this story.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Forget The Bookshelf, Grab A Toilet

Asylum by M.L. Irwin is about four friends who have to survive a night in an old asylum. I wanted to give it a chance, despite a warning from a one-star review, but the writing is awful...the author is obviously fond of adjectives and not much else. The characters are severely two-dimensional. I've stepped in puddles with more depth. There are interesting moments, such as a childhood flashback by Lisa and the urban legend, but both are just as poorly written as the rest of the story. The graphic rape scene seemed completely unnecessary. I really hate when authors use violence as a replacement for suspense and drama.

This story is the perfect example of what NOT to do when writing a story.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Carnival of Tears

That Summer Night by Joriah Wood is much better than his story, Demon In The Lines. I think the author does better with real life horror than supernatural drama. I have to admit, I was expecting something along the lines of the movie Ghoulies (Google it), but Wood's use of suspense is the perfect way to keep readers interested, and the abrupt ending is quite appropriate in this case.

I think the author should consider writing a mini-series around the character, Madam Zazim, or maybe give the group of girls, with Miranda, their own short story.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wahrer 2017

After reading The Hunter, a suspense-thriller, by Zachariah Wahrer last year, I decided to read a couple more of his short stories...

Diesel left me with mixed feelings...I expected Wahrer to be more original, but instead he begins with stereotypical characters and a mundane setting...the author almost lost me, but the airport scene truly had me on edge. I don't even think I breathed until the very last word.

Utopia Gone, on the other hand, is a science fiction piece...Wahrer's best story of the three I've read. The psychological and sociological aspects mixed with the dystopian future in space are quite interesting. I think Wahrer should consider expanding this story into a novel, or a novella, at the very least.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tales of the Executioners, Book 9

From a mini-series, set in the world of Amaranthine...

Daniel: Black Luck - Daniel and Kateesha are tasked with apprehending a murderous vampire, but all work and no play makes Kateesha bored. When she lures Daniel into neglecting their duty, he can guess his future: failure isn’t something The Guild takes lightly.

Daniel by Joleene Naylor is the latest installment in Tales of the Executioners. This story has a good mix of personal history, history of The Guild and history of the vampires in general.  The additional scenes with Clara and Malick add another layer to the mystery that is Kateesha. The ending surprised me...I think I have more respect for Daniel than most of the Executioners.

If you've been enjoying this mini-series, be sure to check the author's page for more stories set in the world of Amaranthine.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tales of the Executioners, Book 8

From a mini-series, set in the world of Amaranthine...

Cyprus: Future's Promise - Before Cyprus joined the ranks of the Executioners, he was a guard at the Stronghold in Munich, Germany, where he fell in love with Sadihra, who is the German equivalent of an Executioner.

Cyprus by Joleene Naylor features another origin story. This is also another example of a vampire being so reckless with emotions that it's hard to believe Cyprus is as old as he is. Honestly, kids in junior high show more self-control. However, unlike Lisiantha's story, there's a jagged edge to this one, and the ending can be interpreted in more than one way, which makes me wish this story had been just a bit longer.

On a side note...when Naylor first began this series, the Executioners were something to be feared, and the earlier stories reflected this. It's also laughable that there's a warning about content at the beginning of each story, but the content is pretty PG. While this mini-series isn't as melodramatic as a lot of vampire stories, I wish Naylor would focus more on the darker aspects of her characters.

Check back one more time for the most recent installment to Tales of the Executioners.

As always,
AstraDaemon


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tales of the Executioners, Book 7

From a mini-series, set in the world of Amaranthine...

Lisiantha: Home for Christmas - After a bad breakup, Lisiantha returns to her rural coven. Dreading a run in with her ex, Josh, she soon has more important things to worry about: her master made a mistake and a warring coven wants her blood. Can Lisiantha and Josh find a way to save her – and maybe rekindle an old love in the process? Even vampires enjoy a Hallmark-style Christmas special.

Lisiantha by Jolene Naylor features a female Executioner for a change. The story actually takes place before Lisiantha becomes an Executioner. Unfortunately, the author decided to make this a love story, which resulted in Lisiantha appearing rather weak. It's as if she can't stand on her own without a mate. I would expect more self-confidence from a vampire who has been around as long as she has. It's really a shame Naylor departed from her usual writing style for this story.

Keep checking back for my reviews of the remaining stories.

As always,
AstraDaemon


Friday, August 11, 2017

Tales of the Executioners, Book 6

From a mini-series, set in the world of Amaranthine...

Bren: In the Dark - Bren has a simple assignment - to deal with a coven who's killed too many locals. When he takes a victim's phone as a trophy, he becomes fascinated with the story of her death - almost too fascinated.

Bren by Joleene Naylor appears to be the sixth book, but, once again, there appears to be a discrepancy between the author's website and the book's description. The story is not really about Bren...rather, it's about the final moments of a victim killed by the coven he's tasked with punishing. I think the story would've had more of an impact if the format had been the actual text exchange between Trista, Robert and Bree. However, it is an interesting mix of social media and vampire activity.

Keep checking back for my reviews of the remaining stories.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tales of the Executioners, Book 5

From a mini-series, set in the world of Amaranthine...

Byrn: At Christmas- It's 1755. With The Guild in it's infancy, there are only so many Executioners, so when a report of mass killings rolls in at Christmas time, Byrn is sent to sort it out. He'd better do something special to appease his wife.

Byrn by Joleene Naylor features an executioner who does not appear in any of the main novels, and the Guild is fairly new in this setting. A bit more is revealed about Malick's personality, but the story is so short, not much can be said about it. The least interesting in the series, so far.

Keep checking back for my reviews of the remaining stories.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tales of the Executioners, Book 4

From a mini-series, set in the world of Amaranthine...

Beldren: What We Deserve- The year is 1687 in the fourth Tale of the Executioners. Beldren, a former indentured servant, suffers the same fate as many others of his kind - the promised land and money never materialized, despite having done their time. When Matthias suggest they take their due, Beldren is skeptical, but what else does he have to do? It's a choice he may live to regret.


Beldren by Joleene Naylor  feels more personal than any of the previous stories in the series. As opposed to the other executioners going through the motions, Beldren shows a lot of thought and insight. For some reason, I can't quite explain, I found Beldren to be more fascinating than the other executioners.

Keep checking back for my reviews of the remaining stories.

As always,
AstraDaemon


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tales of the Executioners, Book 3

From a mini-series, set in the world of Amaranthine...

Verchiel: Never Ending Question- Verchiel wakes up in an unfamiliar room with a busty woman standing over him. He can't recall who she is - or even who he is - let alone how he's become an immortal blood drinker. As he tries to discover the answers, he must also learn to control his blood lust or fight an entire village of panicked people.

Verchiel: Never Ending Question is, I think, the third book in the Executioner series by Joleene Naylor, based on the publication date, but I can't be certain because of some discrepancies between product information on Smashwords, Amazon and the author's website.

In any case, unlike the first two, Verchiel's story is set in the distant past, when he is first turned. I'm not sure if his amnesia is a blessing or a curse...the loss of memory seems to make killing easier for him, but it seems to put him at a serious disadvantage with his maker, Kateesha. There is far more bloody action in this story than the previous two. With each installment, I feel readers are given another piece of the puzzle that is to be the essence of the Executioners.


Keep checking back for my reviews of the remaining stories.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, August 7, 2017

Tales of the Executioners, Book 2

From a mini-series, set in the world of Amaranthine...


Ark: Echo from the Past- Ark has been an Executioner for two hundred and fifty years, and has always done his duty, but when he's handed an assignment with a familiar perpetrator, will he be able to follow orders?


Ark: Echo from the Past by Joleene Naylor is much better than the first story in the Executioner series. The flashbacks made this piece a very emotional story, with a depth not present in the first installment. I love the irony of the vampire struggling with his humanity. Not only are readers given insight about this particular executioner, but we are given a glimpse of Malick through Ark's thoughts.


Keep checking back for my reviews of the remaining stories.

As always,
AstraDaemon






Sunday, August 6, 2017

Tales of the Executioners, Book 1

Back in May 2017, I read Road to Darkness by Joleene Naylor. I decided to look for more short stories by the author, and I found a mini-series called Tales of the Executioners, set in the world of Amaranthine...

Aine: Another Complication As one of the newest, Aine gets the job nobody wants: arresting a vampire for breaking The Laws. As if everything going wrong wasn't bad enough, things are complicated when he discovers that his target has broken yet another one.

Aine: Another Complication by Joleene Naylor failed to impress me. For a vampire story, I expected some action, or, at the very least, some dark horror. Instead, this read more like a regular crime piece, aside from a mention here and there about the vampires' special talents. However, I enjoy Naylor's writing style and there is just enough to this story to get me interested in this mini-series.

Check back for my reviews of the remaining stories.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Much More Than Eye Damage

The Eclipse by DJ Umber is the perfect story to read before the upcoming solar eclipse. I've never read anything like it, and I think the author should seriously consider turning this into a novel, or a novella, at the very least. The main character's playground battle, during his early years, is the perfect way to capture readers' imaginations. The creatures in this piece are both frightening and mysterious...I have so many questions about their existence. I'd love to see more revealed.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dixon Returns

Night Night by R.H. Dixon is another entertaining story by an author I have reviewed here before, and it's the best revenge story I've read in a long time. The unusual weapon of choice is quite disturbing, and part of me wanted to puke. I may even have nightmares, but it is totally worth it. Dixon is definitely on my short story radar...

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Horror Needs More Stories Like This

The Murder Seat by Noel Coughlan reminds me of a classic horror story along the lines of Edgar Allan Poe. The suspense is well-written, and I felt the fear and guilt that overwhelms Herbert as if it were my own. I loved it...I never knew what to expect, and the ending is a perfect tragedy.

I think if more people read stories like this one, the horror genre wouldn't have the reputation of the predictable, all-special-effects-no-plot garbage fest Hollywood has turned it into. I truly wish writers like Noel Coughlan were given more attention than sell-out Stephen King...maybe then, readers would be reminded of why they fell in love with books in the first place.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Monster vs. Monster

Best Served Cold by Aubrea Summer is surprisingly good, considering the story falls into one of those sub-genres of horror that has been done to death (being vague to avoid a possible spoiler). Any time an author can find a new way to tell an old tale, it's a pleasure to read...Summer does a good job taking a real-life threat and mixing it with a supernatural terror. The ending felt slightly rushed, especially after the way the pickup ride is drawn out, but the plot is solid nonetheless. I think Aubrea Summer should continue with this particular theme and see where her characters take readers next.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sometimes Less Really Is More

A Pound of Flesh by Fred Venturini is a horror-drama that will have me thinking deep, heart-wrenching thoughts for a quite some time. Normally, I can't stand slow build-ups, but, in this case, the set-up is crucial to the story. I was ready to write this off as a torture porn piece, but the author held off on glorifying the violence and kept the graphic details somewhat low-key. The best part is how the Venturini uses a minimalist flashback of a single moment between the husband and wife to tie everything together and deliver one of the most spectacular yet simple endings.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday Murder: Psych You Out

The Psychopath and the Rose by Sheldon Cole introduces readers to a very disturbed Dr. George Eager (nice pun), who fantasizes regularly about inflicting pain and suffering on another person. This story is fantastic in every way: the set-up, the suspense and the grand finale. Just enough is revealed about the characters to feel something about each of them, whether it's disgust, fear or awe, which makes the ending that much more powerful.

If you enjoy mystery-horror written in the classic style, you're going to dig Cole.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fighting The Good Fight

Demon in the Lines by Joriah Wood is another supernatural crime noir that I stumbled upon. In this story, two characters attempt to break up a cult ritual, although they have different reasons. There is a lot of action and a few surprises, but I didn't feel any concern for the main characters, not even enough to dislike them. I'm not sure if this story simply wasn't to my personal liking, or if the author failed to create a sharp hook.

To be completely honest...I enjoy breaking away from my usual horror preferences to check out other genres, but I have to admit that I rarely get excited over crime noirs, even with supernatural elements mixed in. Perhaps other readers will enjoy Wood, but it just wasn't enough to satisfy me.

As always
AstraDaemon

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sinister Home Alone

I Remember Now Kingsley by Connor Lynndan would make a great full-length novel or a novella, at the very least, if the author were to begin with Malik's early years leading up to the barn incident and ending with this story.

The twist in this story reminds me a little bit of Split, in a good way...I enjoyed all the little surprises...I really wanted the story to be longer.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, July 28, 2017

Toxic People...Like The Lousy Author

Toxic Love by J Asheley Brown is a collection of flash fiction stories that serve no real purpose other than to exploit victims. "Read these stories and get the conversation started about abuse in all of its destructive forms. You just might be able to reach a life and save it." What a damn joke. Having characters get beaten or raped, or find out their significant others are cheating is simply not good enough if the the author isn't going to bother including any real drama or suspense. Violence for the sake of violence is not story-telling. Flash fiction doesn't mean skipping any attempt at writing with substance.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Eating Disorder Awareness

Inching by A.N. Valentine is the most horrific depiction of an eating disorder that I've ever read, but I imagine the reality of such an illness is much worse, and I applaud the author for using creativity to bring attention to a mental illness that is often kept hidden and seldom discussed by those who suffer from it.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Two For One

Dinky Dau Man by Jake Wilhelm takes place in Vietnam, with one hell of a hook: a drafted detective realizes a fellow soldier is a criminal from his past...absolutely chilling.

Also included, On Through The Night, a short science fiction story about a grandfather determined to see his grandchildren for Christmas.

I think Wilhelm should focus on the scifi genre...it seems to come easier for him than horror.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ask For Trask

Banquet of Souls by T.D. Trask is a collection of twelve stories, ranging from creepy to maddening. I first discovered Trask when he co-wrote Deadsville with Dale Elster, and I can honestly say, Trask has only gotten better with his story delivery.

I'M HERE FOR YOU is a gut-check...I thought I knew how it would end. I was wrong.

RUTH is one hell of a domestic disturbance.

BANQUET OF SOULS is one of the darkest and most original stories that I've ever read.

BUS 1309 is an excellent story told in the classic style of horror.

SHE'S STILL BREATHING is a complete mystery, right up to the very last moments.

BLOOD PRESSURE is almost comical.

RYAN NOT RYAN is a great twist on a familiar folklore story.

THE CRUMBS OF MY SOUL is one of those stories where you can't be sure the narrator can be trusted.

THE GLASS IN THE WINDOW has a bit of a Lovecraft influence.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED ON AUGUST 14, 2003 is awful...I hope Trask never writes anything like it again...absolutely beneath him.

DEAD RUN is quite a spectacular zombie story...makes up for the previous story.

WHO'S A GOOD BOY? is another great genre story, and a fine way to end the collection.

Aside from the one lousy story, Trask has again set new standards for short stories in the horror genre.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, July 24, 2017

Doom and Gloom

World of Pulp (Book 1) by Skyler Isaac is the first in a new anthology series featuring several different sub-genres from various authors. Most of the stories are more like novellas, with themes ranging from crime noir and the paranormal to mystery and dystopian fantasy. Many of the characters appear to be on a downward spiral or trying to escape from a personal hell. Essentially, this is a collection of lost souls.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, July 23, 2017

His Stone Heart

The Beast Within by D.F. Holland is a gargoyle story, which kind of reminded me of the animated series, Gargoyles. At first the POV is with the creature, then it changes over to a woman who has caught his eye. The story seemed to be lacking in both action and decent dialogue, and I only finished the story to see what the ending had in store. I have to admit, the big reveal is pretty good, but too many pages are spent on romantic crap to call this a horror story. I think Heather's POV could have been left out entirely.

That said, I think the author has an excellent idea for novel about a curse, should Holland decided to rework this story into something more grand.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, July 1, 2017

My Eyes Hurt

Backwood Babies by R.P. Healy makes me think the author probably strokes quite a few out to movies like Wrong Turn, not because of Eliza Dushku, but because the inbred mutants get Healy all hot and bothered...or maybe a movie like I Spit On Your Grave. I have read all kinds of trash, but this has some seriously limited vocabulary describing some very basic torture fantasy. Even if I didn't find the entire story offensive, the writing is simply atrocious. No plot at all.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, June 30, 2017

Watch Your Back

Happy Hour by Andrew Ridings is a somewhat brutal flash fiction piece about an evening at the bar gone wrong. I didn't feel much sympathy for the main character, Anderson, so I was a little disappointed with the ending. The bartender is pretty awesome though.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Mr. Pinkerton

How I Started The Apocalypse by Brian Pinkerton was far more serious than I expected. In fact, I most likely would not have read a book with this title and cover art (based on the cheese factor), but I’m a big fan of Severed Press, so I gave it a chance.
Having read several other zombie novels featuring thinking undead, I didn’t have a problem with the main character being an intelligent zombie – I was curious how it would tie in with the title, and ended up reading it in one sitting. I thought his POV was pretty interesting, considering he had memories of his former life as well as his demise, so his struggle with reanimation was an unusual twist on the theme of self-discovery.
I especially liked the extra storyline running parallel to the main plot: not only do you have a guy endeavouring to accept that he is a zombie, but he finds out his death wasn’t an accident, and he wants revenge.
I did think some of the characters were a bit unrealistic, but they didn’t ruin the story for me, and I liked the rotating POV between the zombie and the agent hunting him.
(I’m intentionally being vague in this review because I don’t want to post spoilers.) I’m assuming the book is intended to be a stand-alone, but the ending was kind of teaser that had me wondering if the author was leaving his options open...turns out that Pinkerton did turn this into a zombie trilogy.
If you’re looking for something a bit different for your zombie lit collection, I recommend this one.
As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Prom Isn't Worth Your Soul

The Shopkeep by Zach Miller is a short story with a neat-o nod to Stephen King. I thought I was going to dislike the story because I couldn't stand the banter between the characters and I found the setup to be on the lame side. HOWEVER, the monsters are frightening and the ending left me wanting more. I think Zach Miller is a freaking tease for writing such a terrifying concept and using it in a short story instead of a full-length novel.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Front Desk Service

Hotel Z by A.C. Hutchinson is an unusual zombie story, and I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it. I have come across a few characters with a similar fetish, but Hutchinson is the first author that I've seen embrace the sickness and run with it. The ending is very tongue-in-cheek...I guess depravity knows no bounds. If the author wanted to expand on the concept of the hotel, I think he has an entertaining novel waiting to be written.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, June 26, 2017

Scary Stuff

You Are Just A Guest by James T Kelly scared the crap out of me. I made the mistake of reading this story late at night, during a thunderstorm. The format is spectacular: the wife blogs, the husband tweets, and, through both, readers learn what is happening inside the old house. The ending is truly frightening. I would love for the author to do a follow-up short story from the POV of one of the friends.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Stranger Danger

Thanks For The Lift by Donna Dillon is a fantastic horror story that is perfect for an evening campfire. I had no idea what form the terror would take, which kept me hooked from beginning to end. The fact that the story centers around two young brothers increases the ill-feelings tenfold. I can't get over how many emotions Dillon is able to stir with just a few pages. I hope she keeps writing in this genre.

As always,
AstraDaemon