Saturday, July 21, 2018

Oh, Come ON!

Jason can't sleep. Every night the monster in his closet wants to eat him, but he is always rescued by his parents. However his parents are getting annoyed with the late night wake up calls to come to his aid. When his father learns that the monster that is coming for him is one from his father's own horror films, he decides to take Jason to the studio to face his fear.

When The Demons Know Your Name by Jason Davis is another example of a parent dismissing a child's fears. I know it's fiction, but I can't stand how the parents in these kids of stories seem to forget what it's like being a kid with kid problems. I love how Jason's dad finds out the hard way his son is not simply having a nightmare.

While I usually enjoy the author's writing style, the ending is very disappointing. Not only does Davis skip a large portion of events, but the narration hints at an explanation which is never delivered. After the detail put into most of the story, the vague ending is inexcusable.

As always,

Friday, July 20, 2018

Butter Those Buns

Ever wake up with the feeling that something bad is going to happen? Well, Robert has, and at first he thinks his illicit affair with one of the owners of the B&B has been discovered and everything is about to come crashing down around him. Thankfully, his secret is safe, but what The Fates have in store for him is far worse than anything he could ever have imagined.

Hungry For More by Michael J Evans is a flash fiction piece about a man consumed by guilty thoughts. He is so certain his lover's wife has found out about their ongoing affair, he fails to see what his instincts are really trying to warn him about. Too bad Robert hyper-focused on the wrong person.

This isn't necessarily the author's best work, but his distaste for people in general still makes for highly entertaining fiction. I swear Evans creates characters just so he can make them suffer and die...and I will keep reading his horror as long as he keeps writing.

As always,

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Story

You wake up in a foreign country. You can’t see, because there’s a bag on your head. You can’t move, because you’re shackled to a chair. There is a missing warhead set to explode. The people who put you here want it, and are willing to do anything to get it. This what Charlie Benson is faced with.

The Chair by Landon Wake isn't really a horror story...more like a crime-drama. As a result, not at all what I expected when I did a Kindle horror search on Amazon.

Even for a crime drama, the story is pretty dull. Just a guy getting tortured for information...the torture's not even original. The characters are all stereotypical and without any personalities that stand out.

I think the POV should've been told through one of the agents. Have one of them begin to second-guess Charlie Benson's identity.

As always,

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wicked Wednesday: Marital Issues

Marrying above your station is never easy. The money, the great house, the gorgeous wife, and the mind-blowing sex, they all come with a price tag. That was something Howie didn't realize when he entered into this relationship. But now it's time to pay the piper and the price is more than he is willing to pay. Is there an out, or will Howie find out what happens when he refuses to make the expected payment?

The First Suitor by A.P. Sessler should be considered a warning about marrying someone for a reason other than love. Sessler deftly uses little details as a trail of crumbs for readers to follow along, until they are hopelessly trapped within the story, along with Howie. Unfortunately those crumbs weren't filling enough.

While there is plenty of foreshadowing and frustration to go around, the only action in the story takes place in the bedroom. With the introduction of Nicholas and his "marital counseling," I thought Howie would become the new Elise, or maybe "Lily" would be short for Lilith, but no such luck. The author kept the storyline fairly simple, which is a shame because Sessler's work is so much better when it's complicated.

I recommend readers instead pick up a copy of The Stain in the Stairwell to see the real horror Sessler is capable of delivering.

As always,

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sci-Fi Sunday Short

Are we alone in the universe? When an alien materializes in the lobby of the Sheriff's department in Searchlight, Nevada, NSA Head Agent Dale Hunter, and his partner, Agent Jerry Rafferty are about to discover the answer.

The Interview by Steven Pajak is a science fiction short story about an alien being interviewed. During the process, "ALF" reveals the Earth will be devastated by a global war and all life will be reduced to mutated abominations.

The pace is slow, much of the story is predictable and/or cliché and I don't even recognize Pajak's writing style anymore. I think Pajak needs to stick with the horror genre...his previous work is far better.

As always,

Friday, July 13, 2018

Cold Snap

A group of College students decide to spend their Winter break up in a cabin... in the woods... in the middle of Winter... Well this is obviously going to go well...
The events that occur in this short story take place from the diary of our protagonist Alice. It might be best if they decide to stay inside though... As the winds bite...

Winter Usurpations by Cj Evans is not what I expected...I thought the danger would be a Yeti or Bigfoot, but Evans surprised me by mixing classical horror with a modern setting. This is a good story, but it could've been a great story with another round of editing to polish it up. Alice doesn't put very much emotion into her diary entries, considering the ongoing situation with her friends. Plenty of suspense, but not enough terror.

As always,

Thursday, July 12, 2018

When Even Death Can't Stop Someone

A paranormal investigator tries to help a boy deal with the ghost of his dead, but still abusive father. Of course, the investigator has a secret of his own.

By Death Abused by Gary Jonas is a flash fiction piece about the worst kind of ghost dad, still terrorizing his children from beyond the grave. I appreciate the way the author avoids going into detail about the abuse...what little is revealed is horrific enough. It's not difficult to imagine the physical and psychological trauma inflicted on Paula and Davey.

Having the story told from Davey's POV brings a perfect balance of fear and determination, as the young boy is determined to protect his teenage sister. I only wish more had been revealed about the investigator, Sherrod. I'd like to know why he felt he owed "paybacks." I'm not sure if he is trying to make up for something he did or not.

As always,

Friday, July 6, 2018

Blood Runs Cold

Jess is hoping to help kick her sister Tess' drug addiction by locking them together in their grandparents cabin. After a snowstorm blocks them in for a week or so, Jess' plan is so far working. One that is done behind her sister's back. But soon, Jess realizes they aren't alone in the secluded cabin like she had initially thought. Something horrifying stalks them in the snow. Something invisible.

It's Right There - Can't You See It? by N.C. Brooke is a story best read during a winter storm, rather than in the middle of summer, but it creeped me out just the same. While the snow stalker is fascinating, the story structure is a little too sloppy. There are many references to the sisters' grandparents, which don't seem to serve any purpose. I had hoped the family had some kind of history with the stalker...I expected Tess to share a flashback concerning her grandpa.

I also think bringing more characters into the story, besides Everett, is a weird choice. Mary's actions made no sense to me at all. Why did she run outside? The couples were behaving so strangely, I thought maybe they had ties to the stalker, but nope...just some random extras in the story. If the story had been limited to the three main characters, the storyline might have made more sense.

I enjoyed Voices In The Sea by Brooke much more.

As always,

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Choosing The Post-Apocalypse

It’s 2168, and twenty-two-year-old Sasha Roborovskiy’s life is in freefall after the death of his beloved grandmother. He falls into a routine of drunken ambivalence, running internet scams in his filthy Moscow apartment. When he happens upon a bizarre website on the darknet offering him a start at a new life with a research team in the lawless wastelands of America, he sees the chance he needs to turn himself around and be someone Grandma would approve of. However, the opportunity comes with a catch, and Sasha’s not sure it’s one he can live with.

One Way Ticket by Alia Hess is a prequel story to her Travelers series. Sasha lives in a heavily regulated society, where people are chipped, forced to take medication and have their every move tracked by the government. His existence seems so miserable, especially after he loses his grandmother, I don't blame him for choosing to move to a new community in the post-apocalyptic United States.

This prequel is a great way to hook readers into reading the series. Sasha is a very relatable character, wanting to improve himself and his life...and who hasn't thought about starting over somewhere new? Even with the dangers facing Sasha in America, better to risk your life doing something than allow yourself to waste away doing nothing.

As always,

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 4th Disappointment

American Horror Stories

"The Lady in Lavender"
Callie was horrifically abused by her husband in the late 1800’s. She was helpless in how to protect her children or herself and poisoned him. Because of her guilt she came back to haunt the area where she lived. 

“A Scarecrow for Maggie”
Maggie, an artist at heart makes scarecrows for the locals where she lives in Kentucky to make extra money. When she starts making money from her scarecrows, things start getting nasty.

"A Little Trick or Treat Surprise"
When Maddie takes her children trick or treating for Halloween she finds that not everyone is like the loving people in her family.

"Be Careful about the Promises You Make" 
Have you ever wondered what happens if someone who promises to come back from the dead really does?

American Horror Stories by Shana Dines is a collection of attempted short stories featuring female characters suffering various types of abuse. I say "attempted" because the lack of professional editing is painfully obvious, and, no, I am not referring to mere typos.

The first story glossed over the abuse, the self-defense, the main character herself, and even the ending with little Sara, which I expected to be the crucial point...instead, the lack of both details and suspense leaves readers with a severely underdeveloped plot.

The second story went downhill fast when it is revealed the main character married her cousin because "she really didn't know she had a choice." More time is spent listing the incest-rape encounters with her dad and brothers. I expected something paranormal, only to discover an alternate ending, which the author should have used in the first place. (If you want your characters to have a happy ending, maybe choose another genre to write.)

The third story stood out from the rest. It's more of a novelette than a short story, with a romantic theme, rather than horror, not unlike a condensed coming of age story. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unnecessary details. I don't think the entire relationship history is necessary at all. A few flashbacks might have been a better way of helping readers understand the mindset of Maddie, before her encounter with the neighborhood sicko.

The last story had me convinced the author has a fixation with sexual deviancy. Rather than invest in an editor and submit these stories in the erotica genre, Dines labeled her work "horror," even though there is little to no suspense, minimal action and a pitiful cast of characters.

If the author is serious about writing, I strongly suggest getting an editor for future projects.

As always,

Monday, July 2, 2018

Descent Into Madness

Into the Astral Lands is a cosmic horror short story centering around one man's struggle to keep his humanity while he fights to escape the gaze of entities that seem to exist beyond the confines of time and reality. Can Adam hold onto his sanity, or will he lose his wife, child, livelihood, and sense of self to the Astral Lands?

Into the Astral Lands by Eric Malikyte is a Lovecraft-styled short story, filled with despair, confusion and tentacles. Adam is the main character who comes to realize he's not only lost control of his life, but he has also ceased to be the center of his own universe.

The author mixes cosmic terror with metaphysical monstrosities to unravel and terrorize Adam's grasp of reality. While humanity thinks of itself as top of the food chain, Malikyte shows readers how fragile the human mind really is with Adam's journey into the astral lands.

As always,