Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Scabs Continue To Evolve As The Hunt Chronicles Continue...

Christian Hunt and the small band of Camp Holly survivors begin their trek west toward Hoover Dam. There, Doctor Tripp believes she and the refugees that have fortified the dam can develop a cure from Christian’s blood. Zombies are an ever-present danger, opportunistic humans threaten their very lives, and scabs are evolving into apex predators, with humans on the menu.

As if the near impossibility of making it past all of these obstacles wasn’t enough, Christian strives to search for his family. Did his parents or sister survive? And if they did, are any of them immune like him? His desire to find out what happened to them puts the entire mission in jeopardy. And what he discovers is that knowing is sometimes worse than not knowing.

With new friends, enemies, and dreadful discoveries, the companions will have to pull all stops and endure more pain and hardship than ever before. Christian learns to love, hate, kill, and nurture, all while trying to hold on to some semblance of humanity.

Crusade by J.D. Demers is the third book in The Hunt Chronicles. Christian is still relaying his story in past tense through a journal of some sort. As he writes, the prologue notes about a year and half has passed since Christian had his life turned upside down by the contagion. He is physically and mentally breaking down, but he believes he needs to keep writing...

His story continues with the mission to bring key personnel, including himself, to Hoover Dam, with hopes that a vaccine can be engineered. At this point in his personal account, it is five months after losing his roommate to the virus, forming a family with Fish, Boomer and Katrina, and establishing the survivor compound, Camp Holly. Nature has been reclaiming everything and Christian's team is already resembling a group from a Mad Max movie.

The Scabs are continuing to evolve. One of the things I love about this series is how well-developed the monsters are. Demers describes in detail how the Scabs have been changing and interacting with each other, with the zombies and with the human survivors. The author even gives a name to a Scab leader. The battles with the Scabs are some of the best I've ever read in any genre.

Christian gains a lot of insight in his quest to discover the fate of his father, mother and sister. This allows him to relate to the others in his group, particularly Fish, in ways he couldn't have imagined. He also suffers more loss in this novel than in the previous two. Even Boomer becomes more of a central character, with battles and personal interactions of his own.

Demers has done an excellent job of keeping up the action, character growth and scientific discoveries. Each novel has been better than the one before. I'm looking forward to finding out why Christian has been writing a journal while trapped.

As always,

Friday, June 29, 2018

Action and Intrigue As The Hunt Chronicles Continue...

In the months following the Awakening, Christian’s group of survivors grows but they are still outnumbered by the hordes of zombies and scabs plaguing the world. With their security at risk, they must move to safer ground.

When Christian and Boomer get separated from the group, Christian is caught in a life or death struggle forcing him to reveal his immunity and hope he can trust the one person who knows his secret.

After Fish leads a daring rescue to save a group of specialists, they discover the origin of the virus and a plan is forged to get them to the Hoover Dam. New hope is on the horizon until a betrayal within the camp threatens not only Christian’s life but the lives of all humanity.

Revelation by J.D. Demers is the second book in The Hunt Chronicles and begins where Awakening left off, in a manner of speaking. Christian is reflecting on his current situation (trapped and alone) and referencing events which have yet to be revealed to readers, as he continues to write about his personal experience. He continues with the aftermath of the Scab attack on the compound.

The newly formed larger group is forced to relocate. Luckily, Fish had already been making backup plans for such a situation. As time passes for Christian and his companions, more survivors are located and brought into the fortified campground. Not everyone is a team player, so a military structure is established, placing some of the civilians into the chain of command, as well as the active duty and retired soldiers.

A third group of survivors make contact, requesting immediate assistance, leading to yet another frightening discovery about the Scabs, including vital information about the nature of the virus. Even with all their preparation, knowledge and experience, Christian and his new family soon find themselves being torn apart, literally and figuratively.

The question that remains is whether or not Christian's life-altering secret will be enough to save everyone.

As always,

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Leave Scabs Alone...You Could Get Infected

A mysterious contagion circles the globe in less than a week. Billions die, only to rise again to feast on the living. Zombies… And they are not the worst monsters to rise from the ashes of humanity. A new species is born, and they stand at the top of the food chain. Christian fights to survive in the first days of The Awakening. But there is more to him than anyone knows. He is immune to the infection, but revealing this may lead to his death. The Awakening is the first Chronicle of Christian Hunt and the heroes that sacrificed everything so his gift may save what remains of mankind. Join the Hunt…

I've read literally thousands of zombie stories, and, from time to time, I get burned out on the genre. I was really hoping that Demers had something new to offer, and I wasn't disappointed. I was hooked from the moment that the main character, Christian Hunt, introduces himself as immune. The author added just enough twists to the infection to keep it fresh...well, as fresh as one can be with dead people.

I liked the fact that Christian, who is narrating the story, is definitely not the ideal survivor. He makes a lot of mistakes that will have readers facepalming quite often, but it just adds to the suspense and action. The addition of retired soldier Fish and police dog Boomer make up for Christian's lack of survival skills, despite the fact that Christian served in the Army. The setting of Florida is also a bit different.

The cliffhanger isn't necessarily abrupt, but when I reached the end of the book, I couldn't believe it. The action is non-stop - even when characters are talking, something is always happening around them and to them. I flew through the story, and I'm very impatient to continue with Book 2. Whether you're into the zombie genre or not, I think horror fans will love the brutal action.

As always,

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

When A Bad Relationship Eats At You

Outside the world is going to hell. Inside, John Ripely is drunk, heart broken, and ready to film himself with a hooker to teach his girlfriend a lesson. Events quickly fall out of his control.

Tanner by D.S. Black is a zombie flash fiction piece. I knew that going in, but, somehow, Black still surprised me with the turn of events towards the end. I'm wondering if the outbreak had been unfolding around Ripley prior to his hooker hook-up, but he missed the warning signs as he put all his focus into the end of his relationship. The what-ifs surrounding Ripley's night are more entertaining than his revenge plot.

It would have been funny if Tanner had been the new boyfriend...

As always,

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Kept In The Dark

She was a stranger in her home. Holland, at only sixteen, had managed to deal with every issue imagined. Abuse, drugs, depression, and emptiness. 

Parents can only keep a hold of a child so much, what about the parents who are too into their children?

A Stranger In Her Own Home: The End by Aya Marie begins with a description of Holland's emotional state, as well as a few facts about her home life. As soon as her father's addiction is mentioned, I cringed. I had my suspicions, especially with the careful way the author lays out the story...unraveling the family secrets, without revealing any graphic details...just waves of thoughts and emotions lapping over one another inside Holland's mind. The ending is heartbreaking.

This short story could very easily trigger anyone who grew up with abuse and/or neglect. However, Aya Marie does a stunning job bringing attention to a serious issue, without further exploiting the main character, and I am curious what other stories she might have to offer.

As always,

Monday, June 25, 2018

The High Cost of Beauty

My mother once said that only the Beautiful Ones survive. This is because, in the war-torn Great South, beauty is a currency, and to have it means you will never have to worry about a thing. 

The only problem is: beauty is judged by our capital’s Gentlewomen, and there is no guarantee that we will past their test.

Every year, the Gentlewomen of the capital leave the Glittering City to oversee the annual Procession. They travel settlement to settlement selecting girls, aged sixteen and older, to become Beautiful Ones. If chosen, we will be lifted into a life of luxury, but the cost is our free will.

The Beautiful Ones by Kody Boye is the first book in a new series centered on a dystopian society. Essentially, those deemed Beautiful and Handsome are expected to marry and bear children to keep up genetic standards for the Glittering City. The story follows the POV of a sixteen year old girl, Kelendra, chosen from one of the outlying settlements to be one of the Beauties.

From the day of her departure to her time in the Spire, the Process is overwhelming and becomes life-threatening when Kelendra realizes the War is now at her front door. The society Boye has crafted contains elements similar to the Hunger Games and The Handmaid's Tale, while retaining the author's skill in using personal drama to draw readers into his disturbing creation. The Beautiful Ones is full of ugliness lurking below the surface of all the pleasantries.

I read this novel in one sitting and I can't wait for the sequel. Kody Boye has once again created original characters that reflect the ongoing social issues in the real world, cleverly disguised as suspense and tragedy in his fictional society.

As always,

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Lawless Taketh

Former Pima County Deputy Sheriff Jake Blakely is now an Arizona Ranger, living by his own set of rules, Jake's Laws, dispensing swift gun-barrel justice to bad guys, as well as protecting the safe havens he's helping establish from the ever-present zombies. The safe havens are the seeds for the rebirth of a Staggers Plague-stricken nation. So far, it has cost him his girlfriend, Jessica, and his survivalist home in Split Rock Canyon. Now, zombies are pouring over the former U.S.-Mexico border by the thousands, driven north by remnants of the Mexican Army. Jake has a plan. It's bold and dangerous, and could easily cost him his life. That's never stopped him before.

The Law Giveth is the second book in the Jake's Law series by JE Gurley. In the first novel, Jake's Law, readers are introduced to a diabetic survivor, Jake, who creates a new system of law in a zombie post-apocalypse. Gurley places more emphasis on the fights between the survivors than the zombies. The story ends with a shift from the civilian battle to the introduction of a military group.

In the second novel, there is no peace to be found. As the Territorial Government overlooks the reclamation of areas to establish new safe haven communities, Jake leads the newly reformed Arizona Rangers. Survivors are threatened by both the living and the dead, and Jake has made it his mission to execute anyone who refuses to follow the Law. As if the rebuilding process wasn't difficult enough, Mexico has declared war on what's left of the United States, using the hordes of zombies to overwhelm what is left of the U.S. military.

The relationships Jake established in the first book and in the time since then have not held up well in the face of constant conflicts. Jake is more withdrawn than ever, but continues to attract new acquaintances to his way of doing things, following Jake's Laws. When one of those acquaintances shows signs of possible immunity, Jake wonders if it's a sign of better things to come. Unfortunately, he forgets to follow his own laws and Jake finds himself losing everything and everyone all over again.

It's possible this will only be a two-book series, but I'm hoping Gurley will follow up with some of the loose ends still remaining. I think some of the supporting characters are capable of carrying on the Jake's Law series on their own merit. In any case, I hope fans will see more of Gurley's work soon.

As always,

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Uneventful Time Travel

Saturnine has regrets.

Sometimes, she wishes she could go back and do things differently. Don’t we all?

She just found out that she can.

Thanks to the good people at Kronotastic Inner Journeys, Saturnine is about to “retrexperience” the unresolved circumstances of her last relationship. Hopefully, as she regresses into the past within her own chronological perception, she’ll be able to figure out what went wrong and finally get over it.

However, time paradoxes and probability theory can really get in the way of closure.

Whether in the past, present, or future, life never does turn out as planned...

Saturnine, In Her Head, Out of Time by Ray Hecht is a science fiction short story exploring the paradox of time travel. Saturnine is trying to figure out why her boyfriend ghosted her and most of his friends. The lack of closure has been messing with her head and her relationships for two years. Unfortunately, the process doesn't allow changes, in order to preserve the timeline.

The ending is quite a surprise. I'm glad the readers are given closure, but the story seems so vanilla. No real action, nothing dramatic...just a troubled young woman reliving one night from her past.

As always,

Friday, June 22, 2018

Power Play

A twisted tragedy wherein the predator becomes the prey, set in ancient Mesopotamia.

Transcendence by Charles Hash is something I found while searching for zombie fiction. This isn't anything like a zombie story; in fact, this is more of a fantasy horror novella...kind of like something in the Warhammer universe.

A young girl refuses to be a virgin sacrifice, hoping for a better life with her secret love, only to suffer a fate worse than death. Somewhere in the darkness, a transformation ritual is carried out. An ancient entity grows in strength. A man wishes to be remembered always.

I liked the way the sections are divided by POVs. It really helps keep a steady buildup in the storyline. Loved the ending. I think this should have been a full-length novel.

As always,

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Not Enough Action

14 by Peter Clines isn't anything like his Ex series or The Junkie Quatrain. Not only is this story zombie-free, but there isn't nearly as much action as Clines usually delivers - at least not in the first two thirds of the novel.

Don't get me wrong, this was a solid effort by the author, but I was so discouraged by the length of the setup, I would have been tempted to quit the book if it had been written by someone other than Peter Clines. I enjoyed his other novels so much that I was sure if I stuck it out, I could count on a fabulous ending, and I wasn't wrong...but I was literally 64% into the story before the story really grabbed me.

I can't even say that it was necessary for the story to develop at such a slow pace. The main character, Nate, moves into an apartment with rent that is too good to be true. Eventually, he notices some peculiar traits about the building. The problem is that many of the discoveries are made through interactions with his neighbors, which became tedious after the first few encounters, and the odd characteristics of the individual apartments were introduced too far apart to be considered an effective hook. Also, there are brief POVs from some of Nate's neighbors, and I felt the flickering perspectives weakened the storyline, rather than enhancing it.

On the other hand, once I was two-thirds through the book, I had that "Hell, YEAH!" moment, where I realized that 14 wasn't going to be like anything I've ever read before...and that is when Clines' creative flow once again takes his readers on a thrilling ride through bizarre sequence of events that made me think HP Lovecraft would have been right at home in that apartment building.

I think if readers approach this book as a horror-mystery, rather than an action-thriller, they will be find the effort of slogging through Nate's investigation of his apartment building worthwhile. Many of the unfolding details will seem surreal with disturbing moments that will put ice in your veins; in the end, everything you love about horror, mystery and cult fiction will be found in abundance.

As always,

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

An Expensive Habit

Tommy Baker is a gambler. If only he had been better at it, he wouldn't have a loan shark about to kill him over five thousand dollars. In desperation, he makes a deal with a strange old man, who offers to give him the money in exchange for Tommy's cigarette habit. All Tommy has to do is never smoke again. It's a crazy deal, made by a crazy man. How could Tommy lose?

Smoke by Christopher Minori had quite an unexpected ending. The story appeared to be predictable -- I even had flash to the 1985 film, Cat's Eye, but the author took this tale of suspense and twisted Tommy's life into something very supernatural.

While Smoke is a fantastic short story, the twist at the end is so damn good, I wish Minori would consider writing a novel based on Dietrich...maybe call it "The Dealer."

As always,

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Why So Vague?

A future tale where privilege comes at a price.

"It’s important that you acclimatise yourself to the Professor’s appearance. The effects of Rapamycin on a Cherished One can disturb some people, but I’m sure you’ll be fine."

The Abodes of the Guilty by Michael Kelly has a truly interesting concept with Cherished Ones being nearly 200 years old and living in their own communities, as a safety protocol. However, there is a lot of vagueness about this dystopian society, and the characters lack any real depth. The ending is a nice little wrap up of events. I wish there had been more story and less telling.

As always,

Monday, June 18, 2018

Commit The Crime, Do The Time...Forever

A man wakes up in Hell--naked and intertwined with a hundred other terrified human beings who have also just arrived. After fending off a gang of demonic men and rescuing a beautiful woman, the nameless main character fights his way through a crowd of billions, heading for the only rumored means of escape.

With each passing moment, his wits and his sanity are pushed to their limits as he begins to realize that the inhabitants with whom he shares his damnation may be more dangerous than the devil who sent him there.

The Gate by Michael W. Layne is a concept of Hell I haven't read in any other story (and I've read many stories featuring the infamous inferno). The author draws readers into the accursed cavern of eternal suffering with a detailed accounting of the murderous ritual the main character performed to ensure his own damnation. Even knowing the atrocity carried out prior to his arrival in Hell, it's surprisingly easy to feel sympathy for the man who remains nameless and almost cheer for him at times.

The character appears to be an atheist, which makes his journey all the more interesting as he resists the proselytizing from those who believe they can still redeem themselves. The descriptions of the people surrounding the character transcend time and location, appearing to represent the whole of mankind from our first creation to the end of our existence. Observing people continuing their battles over race and religion provided an excellent backdrop to the main character's inner struggle to accept his place in the afterlife.

While there is some redundancy here and there, I strongly recommend The Gate to anyone who enjoys a thought-provoking story.

As always,

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Hometown Horror

Twenty years ago, Doug gave up the love of his life for the life of a farmer. Now, the dying town of Sandy has found sudden new life as old faces return, pulling the town back from the brink of collapse.

But not everything is right in Sandy - the town's newest residents are a little funny and when Doug's high school sweetheart, Ellie, calls him out of the blue he'll find that home sweet home hides a dark secret.

Sandy's Revival by Jack Bixby takes small-town mentality to a supernatural level. This story touched a nerve with me...I'm someone who left a town like Sandy - I still have nightmares about the place, decades after leaving...and, now, the place is much larger with most everyone having returned. If I didn't know any better, I would think Bixby wrote about my hometown.

Doug's character seems so sad. I'm unsure if his choice of farming gave him any joy. His initial excitement at seeing a familiar face come back to Sandy is heartbreaking in a way. I wish more had been revealed about the Wanderer, but I love the ending. The story is like an episode of The Twilight Zone.

As always,

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Piranha Balls

Shirley Oliphant's dream is to take her grandkids on a picnic in a Rolls-Royce. Her husband, the old KO, finds just the car, a 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow once owned by a Mr Van Buren, who brought the car back from Africa. Since his death, seven years ago, the Rolls has been sitting in Mr Van Buren's garage, keeping a secret. A deadly secret. And the old KO is about to discover that secret, and unleash it.

Africar by Martin Price is kind of like a steampunk version of the Langoliers. The slow setup aggravated me a bit, but, when the action finally begins, the terror is rather gruesome, especially when the creatures dig in.

While I think this story would have been better as a flash fiction piece beginning with the old KO working on the car, skipping the conversation with Liversausage, I did appreciate the details about his marriage and the accident...added an extra layer of anguish to the ending.

There are also a couple of excerpts from two other stories included, which look promising.

As always,

Friday, June 15, 2018


When a six-year-old girl is abused and left for dead by a pedophile known only as the "Rabbit Man" due to the claw marks left on her body, police follow every lead but reach only dead ends.

Hungry for justice, her grieving father abandons wife and child on a harrowing journey deep undercover into Miami's sex offender colony under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. His purpose is simple: to find the "Rabbit Man" among them, and put him in the ground.

Months later, with no one to trust and the pedophiles he lives among growing suspicious of his actions, he learns nothing is simple where the monsters live.

Where The Monsters Live by Duncan Ralston touches on a deeply disturbing subject, but does not use the violation of children as a plot device. There are no graphic details. This story, instead, focuses on the helplessness and soul-searching of a victim's father and what he is willing to do to restore his peace of mind. In a way, his family suffers more from his quest for revenge than the actual crime.

Even though this is a work of fiction, it's not difficult to imagine a parent going through this exact thought process, dealing with all the frustration and emotional trauma of the pedophile getting away with hurting a child. The ending is an emotional roller coaster, with a couple of shocking twists. I'm glad Ralston chose to take the story in that particular direction.

There is also a short story included afterwards...Baby Teeth is so absolutely disturbing, I don't think any woman with fertility issues should read it. I don't think any pregnant women should read it either. However, if you enjoy horror which causes psychological trauma, be sure to read it.

As always,

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Saying Goodbye To The Past

You can go home again, but sometimes you really, really shouldn't. 

Jessica Bates is a successful paranormal investigator with a new network TV deal, a boyfriend she loves, and no idea of the trouble she's about to find herself right smack in the middle of. 

Nobody told her the location of their latest episode and investigation site. Because they knew she'd never come with them if they did. Twenty years ago, Jessica's high school burned to the ground, killing all her friends while she watched. Now there are reports of strange noises and odd activity in the abandoned school, and the town has hired Jess's crew to figure out what is causing the disturbances. 

What they find is worse than they ever imagined. 

Reunion by John G. Hartness is the best ghost story I've read in a very long has EVERYTHING! The setup has a steady pace, increasing the suspense as the backstory is revealed in pieces. When the paranormal activity kicked in, I was genuinely on edge, wondering if anyone would make it out alive. There is more than one twist in the plot, before the story ends. I wasn't able to predict any of it, and it's increasingly difficult for me to find stories which surprise me anymore.

Hartness writes with such a thrilling style, it's easy to visualize everything in the story...I think Reunion would make a fantastic horror movie.

As always,

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


A man, walked on his entire life by others, discovers his wife's infidelity, and decides to do something about it. After a deadly encounter in an alleyway he must look into the depths of himself to find the line unseen, and face the horror beyond.

The Line Unseen by Joe Hart has all the elements of classical horror: drama, suspense and psychological terror. Even though this is a short story, Hart's characters are well-developed, adding a gut-wrenching depth to Tim's misfortune. The details in every scene emphasize the dread and panic Tim is feeling, until the grotesque nightmare overwhelms him.

I'd love to see this story get some screen time.

As always,

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

When Fear Consumes You

Jippa by KM Zafari is a flash fiction piece based on a nightmare the author once had. The descriptions are well-written and the imagery is terrifying. The use of "Jippa" for the title is a perfect choice. The setting is similar to cultural folklore, capturing the horror of allowing fear to be all-consuming.

Let me also take a moment to say, Zafari should've put the author's note AFTER the story. The note had nothing to do with the tale itself.

As always,

Monday, June 11, 2018

Appetite For Destruction

If you had the chance to hit the reset button, would you?
If a stranger told you they could take away your cancer, would you let them?
If paradise was gifted to you, a new life, a house by the lake, more money than you could imagine, and a wife for whom you would eventually love, would you agree to take that deal?

There is only one condition. In 20 years you must give something back. You don’t know what that something is, and you never will until you need to give it. 

All debts need paying in the end.

Everything has its price.

The Debt by Mark Lumby (author of Most of Me, Lord of the Harvest, Rats in the Loft and Bag of Buttons) is a visceral story about a young man named Jack Monday. Jack owes $500,000 to a pair of loan sharks, and, in order to pay off his debt, he essentially sells his life (not his soul) to a rather perverse man who calls himself Francis Dupont. What level of perverse, you may ask? Think: family orgies, torture, slaughter...all manner of depravity.

The POV switches between characters, with the story belonging just as much to Francis and his family as it does to Jack and his family. There are many difficult choices to be made throughout the book, and it's maddening to guess what path each character will choose. Once again, Lumby has succeeded in writing one hell of an original storyline.

While The Debt works as a stand-alone, I sincerely hope Lumby will consider writing a sequel...I'd love to see a good battle between granddaughter and grandfather.

As always,

Sunday, June 10, 2018


James wakes up with no recollection of how he ended up in a culvert full of corpses in the backwoods. He struggles to escape the confines of the pipe, and quickly realizes he should have stayed home that night.

This Little Piggy by Craig McGray is an excellent flash fiction nightmare, definitely not for those with a weak stomach. The author drags readers into the culvert with James through a gory description of his injuries, offering a break from the sickening setting with a flashback of good ol' Johnny.

I had my own flashback to Bricktop in the movie, Snatch. I enjoyed this story much more than McGray's other short, Madeline.

As always,

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Screwing With The Dead

How much would you pay for a night of passion with your favorite celebrity?

After her untimely passing, the body of a world-renowned actress falls into the hands of an unscrupulous restorative artist. Using the funeral home in which he works as a den of sexual depravity, he auctions off a once in a lifetime opportunity with one of Hollywood’s most beloved starlets.

One bidder, however, has something else on his mind.

Dead Heart by Brandon Ford is a story about loving the dead, in more than one way. The author had an interesting (and rather sickening) idea, but Ford never really went anywhere with his horrifying theme. There is POV switch between characters as the dead actress exchanges hands, and I think it is a mistake. I wish the author had stayed with Carl's storyline and given him the same treatment bestowed on the bodies of the deceased...or maybe switch to Abe's POV. John Smith could have at least been a necromancer or anything other than a lovesick loser. As is, the ending is dull compared to the rest of the story.

As always,

Friday, June 8, 2018


Pietro believes it shouldn't be that difficult to kill his work mate. After all, his is a dangerous job. And indeed, when he's up there on the top of the wind tower, and the storm is raging, it seems everyday rules no longer apply. Yet...

The Wind Tower by Peter Rey should come with a warning for those afraid of heights...the descriptions are dizzying. Two guys climbing to the top of a wind turbine with a storm coming is nerve-racking enough, but knowing one of them has murder on his mind makes for a rather distressing suspense story.

Unfortunately, the ending leaves a LOT to be desired. It's as if the author simply stopped writing at a certain point. I think, at the very least, there should have been some kind of epiphany or closure to Pietro's inner struggle. The story seems rather pointless without a proper ending.

As always,

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Throwback Thursday Review

From Robert S. Wilson's debut collection WHERE ALL LIGHT IS LEFT TO DIE. When those with a special gift can catch your soul in that dark realm between here and hereafter and bring you back to life, who will save us all from the jealous void?

Every now and then, I need to remind myself why I became a fan of the horror genre. It wasn't because of the monsters (real or perceived) or the violence and/or was the unknown.

Robert S. Wilson takes the biggest unknown - death - and terrifies readers without monsters, gore or violence...just the darkness waiting to snatch the dying light.

In this story of a catcher, one who brings others back from death, he himself has to be rescued by another catcher. He also falls in love with someone he has caught. Eventually, the unknown catches up to him, and he can't ignore it any longer.

Great flash fiction for fans of The Twilight Zone or Tales From The Darkside.

As always,

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Should've Used A Paper Map

After Jimmie uploads an update to his GPS, the device develops an attitude and starts calling the shots. During an outing, its obsession with Jimmie becomes dangerous for him and his girlfriend as the GPS subtly formulates and implements a systematic plan to take Brenda out so it can have Jimmie all to itself. Jimmie finds himself in a nightmarish predicament and is fighting for survival, resisting the mounting calculated threats and blackmail. The machine evolves into an entity, and its kisses… are deadly.

Kisses, Suzi by Joanie Chevalier is a suspense-thriller about a man having supernatural issues with his GPS. Considering some of the weird stories circulating about Alexa, this story is all the more frightening. The author mixes horror and science fiction for an intense evening drive, as Jimmie struggles to regain control over "Suzi" before Brenda realizes the danger right in front of her. The ending left me wondering if the GPS is the real cause behind Jimmie's problems.

As always,

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Dirty Money

Emerson Cartwright is a wealthy, respected business man. He’s also a man with an obsession. Doctors, therapists, hypnotists, nothing seems to help him fight the compulsion to pick up found change, to hoard every coin he and his family has every held. When he discovers a hidden letter from his great grandmother, he begins to wonder if this family quirk stems from a sinister deal made long ago. Emerson desperately wants to break the cycle and shed the burden of this obsession, but the price he needs to pay may be too high.

A Slave To The Coin by Debra Dunbar appears to be a short story centered on a man suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. I could feel the pressure from Emerson's compulsion to pick up any coin he sees. The family superstition about money is a nice touch as well, but Emerson's suffering runs much deeper than he realizes. The very end is a shocking heartbreak.

As always,

Monday, June 4, 2018

Ink and Blood

A dead writer asks you to help him kill. He’s not asking for complicity in a murder, however; he’s asking for vengeance. 

The target is a monster of a man who did terrible things to the writer’s family. 

The choice is yours: finish the story and help administer justice, or put the tale down unfinished and leave the monster’s fate in someone else’s hands?

Ghost Writer by Nick Wisseman is a flash fiction story revealed through the last written request of a dead man. The narrator describes events leading up to a devastating conflict with his killer. Not much in the way of action, but this piece is written in the style of Edgar Allan Poe, which is sure to appeal to classical horror fans.

As always,

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Integrity vs. Insanity

The zombie apocalypse is underway, and Reggie is facing his worst nightmare. The question is, as the metal and wood of the shotgun warms under his grasp, whether or not his love is strong enough?

Daddy's Little Girl by Tee Morris is a flash fiction story about the struggle between a father and daughter. Reggie just wants his family back together again, but he's already failed them once and he's not sure he can keep his word. The author's depiction of the undead is very unusual.

As always,

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Five Minutes Of Fear

My buddy Bryan liked to collect dolls...

Naturally, people made fun of him for it...
that a man his age would have such a childish hobby...

Bryan didn't care... He loved his doll collection...
and doted on them like they were his own children...

Little did he know, his obsession would be his undoing...

The Peruvian Doll by Christopher Kai is a frightening piece of flash fiction. Bryan's friend is a cop, but nothing in his career could've prepared him for the horror he finds in Bryan's bedroom. The descriptions are grotesque and the action is surreal. In the end, a life-altering decision must be made. Not the doll story one might expect.

As always,

Friday, June 1, 2018

Watership Down With People Instead of Rabbits

The unsuspecting member of a hunting party in the French countryside, Tristan is out of place. Cajoled into going by his wife, who is anxious to ingratiate herself with the locals of their new village, Tristan’s companions are Pastis-swilling tough guys with designs beyond catching dinner. 

Gentle, reflective Tristan has no intention of killing anything, so when his shot inadvertently grazes a rabbit, he saves the animal and hides it in his bag before the others notice. Tristan soon finds himself deeply connected to the wounded rabbit, whose voice comes alive to share its wisdom with the young man.

Suddenly, the weather turns and a terrible storm descends upon the party, as well as their village. In the valley below, the rushing water exposes the close-knit community’s secrets and indiscretions, while Tristan and the rabbit must confront something far worse.

Hunting Party by Agnes Desarthe is a very unusual novella about a man and a rabbit, both dealing with an inner struggle between their natures and what is expected of them. The author hooks readers immediately by beginning with the POV of the rabbit and switches to Tristan, who is constantly experiencing flashbacks to his mother during the hunt.

As the story moves slowly forward, a member of their hunting party is injured and Tristan imagines the rabbit is speaking with him about their predicament. For some reason I can't quite explain, Tristan reminds me of Candide in the story by Voltaire, having to deal with one problem after another...or perhaps it's the erratic nature of Desarthe's writing style which seems similar. In any case, I found the Hunting Party to be somewhat satirical, but I'm uncertain if that is what the author had intended.

The story held my attention throughout, but I am disappointed with the ending. I would have preferred some closure within the hunting party itself. I think Tristan should've thrown the rabbit at Emma. The ending seemed rather bland compared to the rest of novella, as if the author grew tired of writing and simply stopped.

As always,