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,
AstraDaemon

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,
AstraDaemon

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,
AstraDaemon

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,
AstraDaemon

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,
AstraDaemon

Friday, September 15, 2017

SLURP!!

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,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tim vs. Tammy

A little, just a little bit-- that's all Tim Hanely needs to tide him over until next month's check comes in. So when Marv agrees to let him do some cleaning up behind his supermarket, Tim believes he's found the break he needs. 

But when the sun goes down and the doors lock, Tim finds out he's been hired to do more than just clean...



Wrapped By Tammy by Michael McCord caught me off guard. This story is the Maximum Overdrive version of a grocery store. Tim, a self-proclaimed bum with a drinking problem, is the main character, but Tammy is a scene-stealer. I'd love to know how Tammy ended up at the grocery store in the first place...there's a history there, begging for a prequel.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dinner and Dessert

TWICE THE CHILL - Two SHORT Horror Stories by Rachel A Olson

FAMILY DINNER

Sometimes it's hard to believe there really are creatures that go bump in the night. Bey had spent his entire life running through the woods and never once saw anything to convince him there were creatures worth fearing. When his littler sister, Chensei, whines about the trip home at night, Bey only mocks her. Until she disappears beyond the treeline.

I, PONTIANAK

Everyone hates and fears monsters, except for when you’re the monster. I never asked for it, and honestly I can’t say I’ve really enjoyed it. But I am what I am, and I can’t change it. Hell, I can’t even control it. My name used to be Anastasia, and I am a Pontianak.



Twice the Chill by Rachel A Olson contains two great horror stories. Family Dinner seems like a typical "scary woods" story, but the ending is brutal and brilliant. I, Pontianak paled in comparison...while it is original, it lacked the shock factor of the first story. I think the author should consider switching the order of the two.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Waste of My Time

The world is a dangerous place to live, we all try to belong to this world and we all try to follow the rules, unluckily for us every nation has a different set of rules and the boundaries of where one rule ends and one rule begins is smudged over.
Everybody wants an exotic holiday but they do not want to conform to the lands laws or religious views, what happens next is a true life horror story.
It is down to us writers to paint the world in a different light, to create and recite stories that are easy to read and easy to understand, the world is a dangerous place to be but between these pages of this book the horror will not bite back at you.
The author brings you five short stories that will shake your soul and will have you keeping the bedside lamp on at night.


The World is Dangerous by Darren Hobson begins with a ridiculously long introduction, which is completely unnecessary, and not unlike a sermon. Mist and Snowfall, the first story, takes forever to get to any action and has a crap ending. Look What Daddy Did To The Sky, the second story, is worse than the first and read more like a history report. Corner of the Eye, number three, is far better than the first two and appears to take the form of sleep paralysis, but appearances can be deceiving. Lavender Girl, the fourth, is another meandering story. Impaled, the last story, is bitter and misogynistic.

Overall, none of these stories were frightening in anyway, and the author should've hired a professional editor, although I doubt any editor could've helped much with this steaming pile.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Girl Deserved More

A short story of the macabre.

At Jeff's urging, Liz reluctantly agrees to a weekend-getaway in the Pocono Mountains to work things out. But when a mysterious little girl suddenly appears in the middle of the road, Liz's nightmare is just beginning.



The Girl in the Glass by T.A. Bradley has a great buildup of suspense surrounding the mysterious girl in the road, but the ending is too rushed. I'm not sure how to categorize this story because more time is spent describing the car wreck, rather than the history behind the girl. By the time anything truly frightening happens, the story is over. I wish the author had been more focused when writing this piece.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Too Much

Standing before a precipice of her own making, the cost of a life hiding behind beauty are required to be paid in full. Could it be that the currency one acquires will not suffice on such a fine day? Would the bill collector relent, if sufficient favors are traded, to accept soiled foreign notes?

A glacier hewed mountain bears witness to the cold passage of time’s resolution where some live the lifespan of a Mayfly. Others, far older, have known the rise and fall of such as these.



A Fine Day by Jeff Hayes is better than the description, but still a bit of a disappointment. I don't think the subject matter necessarily qualifies as horror (I fund this story through a Kindle horror search). The way the eating disorder is described is clever and the relationship interesting, but the story is too wordy and drawn out, so the good parts are lost in a sea of adjectives.

I think Hayes should redirect his efforts to a literary drama. The main character deserves a full-length novel.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Cheryl Has Had Enough

Eaters: The Resistance by Michelle DePaepe takes this zombie series to another level by mixing horror with science fiction. I haven't seen a genre mash-up like this since The Omega Dog, and I think it's an excellent shift by the author. If you're burned out on the whole zombie-apocalypse-changes-average-person-into-warrior scenario, you need to check out the Eaters storyline. Unlike most undead novels, the infected do not take a back seat to the survivors and the "bad guys" and "good guys" often change roles depending on the day's events.

This sequel takes place a few months or so after the first book ends. Cheryl has reunited with people from her past, although the reunions are not what she expected. Fort San Manuel gave her sanctuary after her brutal journey from Colorado to Arizona, but all good things must come to an end, especially when Cheryl realizes she has more than one threat to deal with. As the former insurance agent continues to fight for her life, acquiring as many new skills as she is able to to increase her chances of survival, Cheryl learns how the world-wide outbreak began.

Keeping in mind, over a year has past since Cheryl went camping with Mark, as well as what she went through in the first book, it's not that hard to believe how much she's changed. After losing so much, I can also understand why she is struggling to hold on to what she has left from her previous life. However, I'm concerned she is not going to last much longer if she doesn't find a balance between what she wants for herself and what she wants for everyone else.

I hope DePaepe doesn't take as long to release the third installment.

As always,
AstraDaemon


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