Thursday, May 31, 2018

Slipping Away

Amy Bloom and her pack of Bloodhounds have found a purpose -- saving the "Normals." But after the Necropocalypse, the "normies" shoot first and ask questions later. Worse yet, what hunts humans in this new world goes beyond anything Amy has ever seen -- or fought before.

Bloom Town by Christopher Robin Negelein finally moves the storyline forward from Amy's personal coming of age in Growing Bloom to the group's story, but still told from her POV. However, with each installment, the Bloom series seems to be less about the survivors and more about how many different mutations the author can cram into one apocalypse. This is one of those rare times I wish there was less action and more character development.

As always,

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Quantity Does Not Equal Quality

Now running with a pack of fellow Bloodhounds, Amy's discovering the true terrors of the world after the Necropocalypse. It's a deadlier land now with its own perils and unnatural temptations. She already lost her heartbeat, but can she hold onto her soul?

Growing Bloom by Christopher Robin Negelein begins by overlapping Second Bloom with the rooftop scene and a more detailed introduction of Amy's girl group. This flash fiction installment in the series reveals the different kinds of undead and hints at yet another secret among the group. Unfortunately, this part of Amy's journey lacks the suspense and thrills found in the first two Bloom stories. I'm hoping Negelein returns to his previous writing style.

The series continues with Bloom Town.

As always,

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Surprising Discovery

Before I even created AstraDaemon's Lair, I read a flash fiction piece called, Late Bloomer by Christopher Robin Negelein in 2014. It is everything a short story should be! From the first sentence to the last sentence, it is non-stop entertainment. The story is told first-person, and the character has a lot of personality, with a great twist at the end. I thought the author should write a full-length novel with the storyline.

Instead, Negelein wrote a mini-series, which I didn't know about until this year. I rediscovered the first story while re-organizing my Kindle folders and did an Amazon search to see whatever became of the Bloom...I found three more stories, beginning with Second Bloom:

In this short story, Amy sees first hand the fallout from Late Bloomer and has two options, run and be forever hunted, or face the danger head on. Even if it means facing her own dark secrets.

Second Bloom picks up the storyline at the shocking moment of the twist in Late Bloomer, but switches POV to a girl named Amy. She decides to confront the self-proclaimed zombie-killing rock star. Not only does Amy have an apocalyptic secret, but the author also throws in yet another last minute surprise.

The story continues in Growing Bloom.

As always,

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Rose By Any Other Name

Before the attacks, Rose’s life was simple.

Before there was mass violence in America, she was a university student in Liverpool.

Before her roommate was savagely attacked, she wanted to make the world a better place.

That was before the zombie outbreak.

Now, Rose and her best friend Lyra are forced to flee their flat and find refuge onboard a yacht with a group of armed survivors. Although safety seems likely on the open sea, it’s only a matter of time before a new outbreak occurs.

First Light by Kody Boye is Book 1 in The Daylight Cycle Series. The story is told from Rose's POV, giving readers the personal experience of survival across two continents and one ocean. Her quest to feel safe takes her farther away from everyone and everything she's ever known, and Rose suffers a great deal mentally and physically, even when she isn't fighting for her life. The author does an excellent job of detailing the main character's progressive PTSD, as well as the way her inner struggle complicates her interactions with other survivors.

Rose is someone I can respect, but Lyra is another story. I am not happy with the way she takes credit for keeping Rose alive, even when Rose is obviously capable of taking care of herself. Granted, the two young women needed each other to stay alive in their initial escape from Liverpool, but Rose appears to have a better grasp on their new reality than Lyra does. It's almost as if Lyra attempts to punish Rose for becoming independent and deciding to join the militia at Fort Hope.

Even though I am impressed with Rose's journey, literally and figuratively, I am concerned with her current attitude. I'm afraid she's going to create more problems for herself, if she doesn't get a grip on her emotions. Hopefully, she will find comfort in the key information revealed at the close of the first book.

As always,

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Only Took Me Four Years

SPOILER WARNING: This review is for the fourth book in a series. I've tried to avoid revealing key details, but if you click on the author's name, you will find an interview with Harbinger as well as brief reviews of the first three books.

I've finally managed to read all four books in the Undead Rain series by Shaun Harbinger. I began the series in 2014, so I had to reread the first three. I've read hundreds of zombie stories over the years and I've seen a lot of repetition within the genre. However, this series has always managed to stand out, due to Harbinger's unique twist on the undead.

Wildfire, the fourth book in the series is the best one yet. I am so impressed with this series, I would love to see it become a television show. Alex is an outstanding character who has adapted both physically and mentally to his new reality. The hybrids are a thrilling way to amp up the danger factor. Last but not least, the effects of the vaccine on the various virus mutations creates several possible outcomes for all involved. Harbinger has thought of everything: horror, suspense, drama, mystery and even a touch of science fiction.

I feel sorry for Alex. While he still struggles in certain situations, he never half-asses anything, yet he's the one who often bears the brunt of everyone's frustration and anger. Anyone can be a hero when everything is going your way and everyone loves you, but Alex insists on doing the right things in the worst circumstances, often with others undermining him...a hero in the purest sense.

Even when he discovers the fate of his family, Alex decides to keep fighting. I'm excited for the fifth characters, a change in setting and the promise of a terrifying battle of species. I hope Harbinger doesn't go soft in the end.

As always,

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Baby Daddy

Denise Perkins is thrilled to be expecting, but her happy pregnancy quickly becomes terrifying when she experiences abnormal morning sickness and an insatiable craving for meat.

Morning Sickness by Justin Tate is a chilling story about a woman's obsession with her pregnancy plans. This story is more of a psychological thriller and, even with background info about Denise's life, the ending is still an extremely disturbing surprise. The worst part is that I knew someone like Denise once upon a time...

As always,

Friday, May 25, 2018

This Is Not How It Works..

A plague has incapacitated humanity, spreading across the globe faster than it could ever possibly be contained. Almost overnight the world is awakened to a new reality and the realization that no one is safe, not a single living soul. 

As the virus takes control, humanity is brought crashing to its knees. The few left untouched fight frantically for their survival, even as they know their future no longer exists, doing the unimaginable at the brink of death.

Undead Winter by T.M. Williams is apparently a work in progress, being developed from a novella to a full-length novel, and really shouldn't have been released before it's finished. I think a lot of readers are going to be disappointed with the way this edition ends. Last but not least, I hope the completed novel will include another round of editing.

That said, the basis of this novel is an interesting twist on the zombie genre. There is such an abundance of undead stories, I appreciate any time an author is able to create something new, rather than regurgitate the same chewed up storylines. With ever-changing POVs and an overwhelming sense of despair, readers will feel as thought they are suffering alongside the characters.

Too bad this is an incomplete edition...

As always,

Thursday, May 24, 2018

When The Cold Does Bite

A military team is dispatched to locate the source of a strange radiation in Antarctica. They find far more than they bargained for and quickly become locked in a battle for survival with monsters straight out of legend.

Attack of the Yetis by Eric S. Brown is snow-covered carnage in the form of Yetis vs. soldiers. However, Brown creates his own version of this popular creature of legend, with a surprising mix of horror and science fiction. There is no joy to be found in these pages, only action and death...but the battle scenes are amazing.

I'm hoping Brown might consider writing a sequel to this novella, or maybe even a prequel. I have so many unanswered questions about these Yetis.

As always,

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Latest Headline

After reading a newspaper article about his viciously murdered neighbor, Businessman Carter Lowe becomes inexplicably paranoid that something similar could happen to him or his wife, Tracy. After seeing a masked man armed with a knife frequently across town, he comes face to face with his worst nightmare, and it too, is in a mask.

Creeper by Brandon Grant is a flash fiction short about a man struggling with his fear of being stalked. I thought Grant had created a paranormal story, only to be shocked and amused by the ending. Love the nod to The Twilight Zone.

As always,

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Know Your Berries

The townsfolk are forced into action to protect themselves from further outbreaks caused by an addicting berry that grows amongst the base of large boulders.

When Emmie returns home to find one of The Lost in her backyard, she suspects the strange berries have grown back, but confronting this horrible human creature unfolds a great realization—one that would challenge her beliefs of The Lost.

Desolate by Kenneth W. Cain is a gut-punch. I didn't know what to expect from Cain's flash fiction and the ending caught me completely off-guard. In hindsight, I should've known better, but the suspense is a perfect distraction from what is right in front of Emmie.

As always,

Monday, May 21, 2018

Scattered Thoughts

The Realtor, an Eidolon Avenue Short, is the tale of how a heartbroken widow turned into Eidolon Avenue's constant revenant. A siren call for those destined to end their wretched days in that wood, those bricks, that stone. The captive wraith who opened the door and brought the damned home to die.

The Realtor by Jonathan Winn is a short story filled with despair, madness and suspense, but only a moment of horror. More sad than frightening, Winn's writing style is too scattered for me to really absorb the story of the stain absorbing souls.

There is an ever-so-slight resemblance to Edgar Allan Poe's darkness, but it isn't enough to be enticing.

As always,

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Halloween Fanatics

Halloween only comes around once a year, and the Justices do it right. They turn their house into a museum of torture, sectioning off each room with a velvet rope. The exhibits are so terrifying that the local amusement park asks them for their secret. It's quite simple, actually. And four lucky--or unlucky--fans get to find out what it is firsthand.

House of Justice by Vincent Bivona is a flash fiction piece about a family that goes overboard every Halloween. The story is somewhat predictable, but still captivating to an extent. The author has obvious potential to be a great horror writer, but I think Bivona needs to take more risks with his storytelling.

As always,

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Space Rats In A Maze

In the dark heart of space, a derelict freighter drifts empty and lifeless. But in the shadows...something waits.

Derelict by Albert Berg is a science fiction short story about a recon mission gone horribly wrong. When a three-man team is dispatched to investigate a huge ship, devoid of all signs of life, the men soon realize they have been given false information.

While the mounting suspense is intriguing, the turn of events is a theme I've seen often in both sci-fi and horror stories. Although the corridor scene is absolutely horrifying, I wish the author had attempted to be more original with the ending.

As always,

Friday, May 18, 2018

Just Trying To Get Home

Andy awakes with no recollection of where he is, how he got there, or how long he's been there. All he knows is that it's cold, it's dark, and he's alone.

When he finally escapes, he encounters strange, supernatural creatures. Terrifying monsters of the night.

Thinking of his daughter, Emma, his only goal is to get home and make sure she's okay.

Awaken by Zach Bohannon is not what I expected. I thought this flash fiction piece would be something along science fiction-horror, but it's preternatural horror. While I have so many questions, wondering what has befallen Andy's town, wondering about the events leading up to Andy's awakening, I still found the suspense to be pretty entertaining.

As always,

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Brain Freeze

A relaxing road-trip becomes madness as two couples find themselves trapped in a blizzard.

They by Vincent Hobbes elicited no sympathy from me. Anyone dumb enough to to drive in a snowstorm, in the mountains, at night, shouldn't be surprised when they run out of gas and find themselves totally screwed. Typical horror characters lacking common sense.

Stranded in the freezing cold is a nightmare itself, but when something, or several somethings, are hunting in the storm, the terror does increase. I just wish Hobbes would have shown some mercy with his characters, considering the vague description of Them.

As always,

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Alien + Human + Vampire = Sci-Fi Crime Drama

Fu Sheng, a 900 year old Chinese vampire, comes out of the seclusion of his high-rise apartment to investigate the unsolved murder of an alien medical student on Pharaoh Moon II's Desert City, part of the New Galaxy that has been colonized by humans and aliens. Fu Sheng, using his vampire powers, learns more about the victim, a Lost species of alien, and her murderer, who was willing to kill to know her mysteries.

A Foreign Body by Laura A. Ellison is a science fiction murder mystery, told from the POV of a vampire who has chosen to relocate from Earth to a society of humans and aliens in the New Galaxy. While the cultural tensions between species is fascinating and the investigation is full of twists, the setting crafted by Ellison is worthy of its own series.

As much I love the idea of a detective series with Fu Sheng, I would be happy with any stories taking place in the New Galaxy. Even though this story was originally published in 2013, I sincerely hope Ellison considers returning to this mix of genres: crime drama, science fiction and preternatural.

As always,

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Good Boy

Sam is a loving Doberman pinscher content with romping with the Master and his two daughters in their yard or chasing tennis balls thrown into the lake. But when a Bad Thing trespasses on his territory, Sam vows to destroy this new enemy before it can threaten his pack.

If the Young Man who takes care of him when the Master is on vacation doesn't get in the way...

Sam by Matthew W. Quinn is a flash fiction piece told from the POV of a dog trying to save a little girl and kill a monster. Apparently, the Bad Thing can only be seen by little children and dogs. Although much about the creature remains a mystery, the battle between dog and monster is pretty detailed.

I think this short would've been better if the story included the Bad Thing's POV and left out Carl's POV, but the suspense is nerve-wracking, especially when Sam gets injured. I think dog lovers will want to read this one.

As always,

Monday, May 14, 2018

Consequences Can Haunt You

Mr. Baker's normal life is turned upside down when he is visited by a mysterious cowboy one day. With a gun to his head, Mr. Baker is given until midnight to make a drastic choice. Either kill his wife,or kill his daughter. If he doesn't choose one, the Cowboy will kill them both. Mr. Baker has only a few hours left to figure out what the hell is going on. If he can't solve the mystery, people are going to die.

Choose by Ryan C. Thomas is a twisted story of revenge. I felt sorry for Mr. Baker because he honestly doesn't know what he could've done to wrong the cowboy. At one point in time, I wondered if the Cowboy was real or imaginary...I don't feel the answer is ever clear. Maybe the Cowboy is a manifestation of a guilty subconscious.

In any case, this short story is a great social commentary on the consequences of choosing to look the other way, instead of choosing to stop someone from hurting others. The Cowboy is not the real source of horror...the most frightening part of this story is Mr. Baker's choice.

As always,

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sloppy End At The Horizon

The Man Who Fed On Tears always knows whose time it is to pluck from the world of the living. His existence is one of a symbiosis between his need for the tears and woe he causes to those closest to the deceased, and the natural order of life and death to which he is bound. He never questions himself or his actions and has never made a mistake. Until now.

Stella is a four-year-old girl who misses her mommy and wants to see her again. She doesn’t yet understand the concept of loss, so when she sees close family members crying, she tries to stay cheerful and optimistic. After all, Mommy said they’d see each other again when the time comes At Horizon’s End. So if they’ll meet again, why is everyone crying?

At Horizon's End by Chris Sarantopoulos is a short story told from two different POVs: The Man Who Fed On Tears and a four year old girl. The Man doesn't understand why the little girl isn't grieving the loss of her mother, along with the adults in her family. Something about the love inside her causes him pain. Stella doesn't understand why everyone is crying when she knows they will all see her mother again one day.

The contrast between a creature who thrives on grief with a child who thrives on happy memories creates an interesting setting, but the story falls apart at the end. I think there should've been a third POV at the end: the girl's father. Instead, readers are left with many questions. For example, what did The Man do to her mother and why?

As always,

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Perfect Architecture

After finding a journal left behind by his new home's previous owners, a young man finds himself questioning reality itself based on the chilling events he finds detailed within.

The Journal by J Humes is a horror story told through journal entries, contained in a farewell letter. Readers never learn much about the letter writer, aside from how the person has come into possession of the round house. The suspense is well-paced, particularly when the mirror is brought to attention.

Normally, unanswered questions would drive me crazy, but the mystery surrounding the journal's author and the strange observations about the mirror accentuate how truly horrific the unknown can be.

Humes has definitely captured my attention...

As always,

Friday, May 11, 2018

Flash Fiction Friday: Two For One

Welcome to Eden—the underground, self-sufficient complex that has withstood the zombie apocalypse for over thirty years and is home to the remnants of humanity.

Standing in the control room and about to take over his father’s position of running it, Mark quickly realises there is more happening than a simple handover; he's about to find out that Eden has secrets…dark secrets.

Eden by Michael Robertson is a flash fiction piece about a father and son reviewing footage from the beginning of a 30 year long apocalypse. People often say decisions based fear can lead to deadly consequences, but sometimes, as proven in Eden, decisions based on love can be the deadliest of all.

There is also another story called Pandora included. What first appears to be a twist on Greek mythology, quickly descends into a nightmarish scene in a dystopian hierarchy, apparently taking place after an apocalyptic event involving the undead. While the suspense held my attention, I would have preferred a more elaborate ending.

Robertson's stories are interesting examples of the little moments which impact people more than the big moments.

As always,

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Cost of Free Will

Three weeks after Daniel moved to Hampton Falls, his friend Jack mysteriously goes missing. The last place he was seen was outside Old Man Winters house on the outskirts of Town. Ten years have passed and Jack is still absent from their lives. 

A sequence of events guide Daniel towards this house again as if this brick and mortar wants to give up its secrets. What he discovers will unlock the truths to his past, present and future. He must gamble between the love of a family he knows and the family he never had. Choices have to be made, but who can he trust?

A relic stored within the bowels of the basement wants him. It’s a mirror, and it will steal away his soul until it can take no more. Daniel will be tested by the evils that reflect back at him; he will loath what he sees, but his heart will beat like a man sick in love. He will learn how to use the energy it emits, but with its abuse come dark prices.

Can Daniel control the darkness that pulses through the mirror? Or is it merely manipulating him? Whatever happens, he must never leave the mirror unattended, must guard the relic against the evils that want to pass through from the other side. 

Can Daniel trust the children?

Most of Me by Mark Lumby is a cautionary tale about free will and the consequences of choices. Daniel once again finds himself in front of the ominous house from his childhood. As a boy, he wisely chose to keep his distance, but, as an adult, he makes the unfortunate mistake of stepping through the red front door. In a similar manner to such movies as Insidious and Occulus, Lumby builds suspense by hinting at the real horror with key details cleverly scattered throughout the story.

Although I am a fan of Mark Lumby, I am a little disappointed with the quality of the novel. I don't usually get hung up on typos, but there are so many mistakes throughout the entire book, I have to address the sloppy editing. I am concerned readers new to the author's work will be turned off and not bother to finish the story. The ending is mind-blowing and completely shocking, but I know a lot of horror fans that won't bother to finish the book.

I really hope Lumby hires an editor to polish this novel. He has an excellent writing style, but all the errors weaken the delivery. I suggest readers begin with Lumby's short stories and, perhaps, they will be forgiving about the poor editing and enjoy the complicated storyline.

As always,

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Skeleton In The Closet Is A Zombie

A teenage boy deals with his family's decision to keep his undead grandfather captive in the attic.

One For The Road by Chad Lutzke is a short post-apocalypse story about a young man who disagrees with keeping his undead grandfather in the attic. There are new laws in place to prevent another outbreak, so the teen is concerned he and his parents will be locked up for harboring a zombie.

The story is great as-is, but I'd love to know more about events leading up to his grandfather's encounter with a Biter. I think Lutzke could develop this into a novel, if so inclined.

As always,

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

An Overdone Theme

If this story doesn't scare you, no story will...

Lucas buys his daughter an old, dirty rag doll at a yard sale one day. But when they return home, they realize they may have brought a sinister force back with them. Are the strange occurrences that soon take place supernatural or mere coincidence? Either way, they lead to an ending you will not soon, if ever, forget.

Rag Doll by Troy McCombs is slightly different than most of the doll stories floating around in the horror genre, but it's not the life-changing tale of terror I expected. As a matter of fact, this story is one of the least scariest I have ever read. I think the description is ridiculous, although I won't forget how bad the ending is.

The only reason I bothered to write a review is to show authors what not to do: don't choose an overdone theme and promote it this way.

As always,

Monday, May 7, 2018

I Rooted For The Squirrels

A shed full of macabre secrets... A wife gone crazy...A nine-year-old girl that must die.

Jonah fights for his life while trying to stop his deranged wife from killing their daughter in the name of the Lord. 

Sometimes, the Devil truly is in the details.

Madeline by Craig McGray is a rather elaborate domestic dispute between a husband and his wife over the future of their daughter. The squirrels were my favorite characters, but, unfortunately, they reminded me of the Christmas Critters episode of South Park. Lots of action, but not much suspense...too predictable.

As always,

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Unconditional Love

Imagine opening your front door one morning only to have your life horribly ripped apart. 

In a moment, you're implicated in the murder of your entire family and hounded by something not of this world.

The Edge of Life by Joe Hart is one of the best short stories I've ever read in my life. The mystery of a strange visitor, the torment of one man's sanity and the mind-numbing conclusion...all part of the surreal horror which first enticed me into this genre. I'm convinced Hart must've been a story-teller in more than one past life. His delivery of this morbid tale is that of an old soul, someone who has made himself comfortable in the dark places of the human imagination.

As always,

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Flash Fiction Fail

Blackouts have always been Melissa's problem, but now she has a new one. People are missing, and she isn't entirely convinced she's not responsible.

Stained by Kayla Krantz is an interesting twist on sleepwalking, but failed to deliver any real horror. Several elements are introduced into the story, such as an "incident" in Melissa's childhood, which has affected her relationship with her mother. However, the author never reveals what happened in the family's past.

Very little is revealed about Melissa and her relationships, or non-relationships, with other people, making it difficult to feel anything for the character in any way. When Melissa creates a drawing, I thought Krantz would go somewhere with that detail, but, again, no explanation.

I think Krantz had a good idea for a story, and she could've went in many different directions with the storyline. Unfortunately, the idea is wasted on a flash fiction piece which stagnates in Melissa's head.

As always,

Friday, May 4, 2018

Fighting Tooth And Nail

Aatu is eighteen years old, a respectable landowner, and about to marry the girl he loves. The south coast of Finland provides everything his little village requires.

It’s a peaceful life, until a band of ex-Crusaders land on the shore. With the harsh winter and lean times approaching, they cannot be allowed to stay for long. When their priests disturb things best left alone, Aatu fears a minor annoyance will become a disaster.

Aatu’s people turn to the old ways to fight the enemy, to teeth and claws instead of swords and spears. Though they are outnumbered and unused to fighting, Aatu is about to discover that wild wolves are not the most fearsome predators in this land, and even the most peaceful people can become ferocious in defense of the ones they love.

By the Light of the Moon by Blake Smith is a mix of historical fiction and the supernatural, although the author does take huge liberties with the historical part. I'm reminded of both movies Pathfinder and Kingdom of Heaven, with an original version of a familiar creature included. The story is not as predictable as one might think.

In addition to surprising readers with some rather dramatic scenes, Smith fleshes out her characters with details about personal relationships, as well as family history. By the time the end battle is over, readers will be left breathless and torn.

I will be adding this story to my Top 2018 list.

As always,

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Just Burn The House Down

Jimmy Turner is terrified. Very frightening things are happening in the neighborhood and he can’t figure out why. The Maggots Underneath the Porch is a powerful coming-of-age novella circa 1975. In the midst of a mid-West group of teens who are collecting baseball cards and beer cans, experiencing the cultural impact of JAWS, playing little league baseball, blasting guitar God rock music on ghetto blasters, a ravenous abomination is about to unleash death and mayhem on their unsuspecting rural community! Will any of them survive? And how many in the town will become victims before its carnage can be stopped? Beware the lurking danger that festered and formed amidst the rotting filth of The Maggots Underneath the Porch!

The Maggots Underneath the Porch by Patrick James Ryan is not that difficult to imagine happening in real life, for a variety of reasons. Ryan does an amazing job of describing ongoing events, creating an interest in the characters and layering one tragedy on top of another. The result is a horrific outburst, forever altering young Jimmy's life.

Unfortunately, after the major horror is revealed, the story ends shortly after. I am disappointed with the small amount of action. I lost count of how many times I physically gagged while reading this story, but I pushed through the graphic details, expecting "mayhem" to be unleashed all over the town. Instead, the story remains centered on Jimmy's household. There also wasn't as much carnage as I was led to believe.

I wish Ryan had put as much effort into the ending as he did with the rest of the story, but, for the record, the author kept me both engrossed and grossed out to the very last page. Even if this story doesn't sit well with some readers, I encourage horror fans to try some of Ryan's other stories.

As always,

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Supernatural Science Fiction

Six strangers find themselves on a subway train that seems to have no destination. Defying logic and reason, this train has no beginning and no end. These six strangers will find themselves pushed to the limits, overcoming fear and suspicion of their fellow passengers as they attempt to explain the unexplainable circumstances of being trapped on an endless train while trying to find a way off before it's too late. It's a train ride they'll never forget, if they survive.

The Last Stop by Matthew Hanover is a weird tale about a group of people trapped on a moving train. The reactions of the passengers are believable for that situation, with realistic dialogue and intense interactions between the characters. The various theories tested by the group kept me hooked, even though the setting is a single train car. The references to The Twilight Zone is a fantastic touch.

If the author can be this creative with just a short story, I'd love to read a novel written in this style.

As always,

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Some Kids Will Put Anything In Their Mouths

A therapist meets with a very odd little boy.

Don't Bite by Joshua Scribner is a flash fiction piece about a little boy with a dark secret. The story isn't as straight-forward as you might expect. While the ending is somewhat predictable, the reason for the boy's actions is a surprising take on a bit of folklore.

This story reminded me of the time I bit a bully in the first grade. We lived in Alaska at the time and we were on the school playground, so we were pretty bundled up.

The kid was about three years older, in the third grade, and bigger than anyone else on the playground. He terrorized everyone, not just me. That day he had cut in line in front of me, and I finally snapped...grabbed his arm and chomped down. I bit him so hard, even with his poofy jacket and all his layers, I left teeth marks on his skin. He cried. I gloated.

I had to take a note home, explaining what I did. My dad asked me why I bit the kid. I told him how I had been bullied for months and had enough, but I knew I was too small to take the boy in a fair fight, so biting was the logical choice in my 5 yr old mind.

My dad told me not to bite anyone else and taught me some self-defense moves...

As always,