COWS by Matthew Stokoe was recommended to me on the Reddit horror sub. While the story kept me hooked like a slab of beef, this is waaay out of my comfort zone. The cows were a complete surprise to me...I thought the author was going to introduce cannibalism. I think people eating people would have been more mild than what the workers did to the cows, or what the cows did to folks in retaliation. Not to mention, Stephen's home life is a graphic nightmare.
If you're into extreme horror, read this. If you're just a tourist like me, consider this a warning.
When ships begin disappearing in the Bermuda Triangle, something survives long enough to show the gruesome tale of what may have been behind the disappearances.
But, when a run of the mill treasure hunter Rick Morgan comes across video footage that survived one of the shipwrecks, he is determined to uncover what happened. After enlisting the help of Dr. Strant, an expert in disappearances at sea, they set off to see what lies in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle.
What they find there may prevent them from leaving.
CREATURE BEYOND THE TIDE by Kayla Hicks attempts to explain the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle with a creature feature. The action has a unique angle I haven't seen other sea horror stories, so I remained hooked from beginning to end.
Unfortunately, this piece is far too short...leaving me with unanswered questions. I'm hoping the author will give us a sequel with more information about the creature's hunting habits.
Going to be reviewing a lot of short stories and flash fiction this month...
THE FRIDGE by J.R. Rain is a nightmare with layers...not getting the product as described, being forced to endure someone else's will, and more. While captivating, I do wish the author had written more about the history of the fridge.
I've brought you zombies and werewolves from Kindle Vella...today, I'm bringing a vampire serial into the Lair...
HAINT by Samuel Brower takes place in Kentucky, after a mine collapse. One tragedy leads to another, and corpses begin to pile up around the small town of Haint's Hollow. The sheriff soon realizes this is something much worse than the work of meth-heads and drug dealers.
The author does an excellent job of twisting family drama and crime drama into an action-packed horror serial. While the story comes to a natural conclusion, I'd love to see more of these characters. (Maybe the Appalachian Druid series?)
If you want a Vella story which doesn't use cliché cliff-hangers to keep readers interested, you really need to dip into these episodes.
Yesterday, I posted a review about a Vella serial with zombies...now we move on to a werewolf story...
THE BEAST OF SETTLER'S POINT by Kody Boye is a mix of western horror and supernatural folklore. The story takes place in 1845, told from the POV of a young girl who soon discovers war is not the only thing killing people in the wilds of Texas.
I've read many stories by this author, but Boye still surprised me with the interaction between characters and the ending. Every episode had me changing my guess about the details of the werewolf threat.
I'm recommending this one to Young Adult and New Adult fiction fans.
In 2022, I began reading stories on Kindle Vella and I am surprised how much I enjoy the format. The following is the first serial story I completed...
ISLAND OF THE DEAD by Brian Keene features a captured barbarian forced to row in a war galley. After he is shipwrecked with a few other prisoners and soldiers on an unchartered island, the barbarian soon finds out the ship was transporting the undead. Unfortunately, the zombies are the least of the survivors' problems.
I think Keene was channeling Robert E. Howard a bit for this one. The author mixes dark fantasy with science fiction, and soaks them in blood and guts for an action-packed horror serial. Every episode gives readers a reason to continue onto the next installment, particularly the cast of characters.
I'm recommending this to both horror and fantasy readers.
I'm sure many of you thought I abandoned the Lair...I suppose, in a way, I did. I simply had to step away to handle several back-to-back family emergencies. Never in my life did I think I'd be calling an ambulance for both my husband and my son in the same year. All is well within our household now, so I hope to resume posting daily.
I did read throughout 2022 (362 titles, according to my Kindle app), and I will be back-posting reviews for those stories...no idea how long it will take me, but I'm determined to fill the emptiness of last year.
With that addressed, I thought I'd begin the year with one of my favorite authors...
SOMETHING UNNATURAL by Joshua Scribner is a novella centered on a family struggling to survive an apocalyptic event. While the author is best known for his flash fiction, he does write longer stories every once in a while, and they are usually mind-blowing. This one is no exception.
I love how Scribner mixes theology, folklore, science and horror to create a terrifying battle between humans and canines. Fair warning, there a few scenes which might upset animal lovers, but the sinister details prove rather important in the end.
This story is a stand-alone, but I wouldn't mind another one set in this global event. In fact, I'd love to see the story told from Bo's POV.
If you've never read Scribner's work before, this is an excellent starting point.
A mysterious plague known as the Grey grips the small village of Pilam, which the world has quarantined without pity. Laying waste to Pilam’s residents, the sickness saps its victims of strength, drains the color from their eyes, and kills all promise. Only the young are immune. But beyond the barricades and walls of soldiers—the manifestation of a nation’s terror—there are rumors of a cure. Dunka, the eldest son of a family reeling from the Grey, takes on the daunting task of leaving Pilam to find that cure for his siblings and save them before it’s too late.
His brother and sisters, however, have plans of their own. Navigating the chaos of violence, hunger, and death, each of them tries to make sense of the bleak circumstances, forging new bonds with other juvenile survivors left to their own devices. Now an unlikely family of six, they choose their own perilous paths, at first separately and then together, coming to terms with the decisions they make and the ghosts they cannot leave behind.
SUCH A BEAUTIFUL THING TO BEHOLD by Umar Turaki is not the usual type of plague book I read, so I did not have any expectations going in. Very little is revealed about the Grey, aside from the symptoms. The POV alternates between characters and the timeline moves in concentric circles rather than a straight line. There is far more dialogue and descriptions than action, but the characters are very-well written.
The children are not afflicted, and they eventually become feral and brutal with each other and the few remaining adults. As terrible as the sickness is, there are more horrifying events outside the quarantine walls. The ending is full of revelations I didn't see coming.
If you enjoy stories such as ALAS, BABYLON, I recommend this novel.