Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday Feature: Plagued

I JUST WANT TO DIE by Nicholas Wolff caught me completely off guard. I thought I would be reading a supernatural story about death, trying to pass off some lesson about life and death. I couldn't have been more wrong. Wolff has mixed horror, sci-fi and drama to create one of the best apocalyptic outbreak scenarios I've ever read!

Not once did I have any idea where the author would take readers, not even when the narrator mentioned the emergency announcements on the radio. I felt like I had been tossed into the abyss, alongside Mark. Wolff has taken the plague subgenre to a new level.

As always,
AstraDaemon


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thursday Thriller: Frenemy

Sick and tired of day to day life. John turns to his thoughts and imagination for a means of escape.

One day he meets Keith. He is taught that life doesn't have to be boring. It can be fun. You can go places, do things, meet people. For the first time in his life, John begins to enjoy himself. 

However, he soon learns that Keith is not as he appears. 
He has a dark side. He is out of control and he is taking John down with him.


KEITH by Andrew Lennon centers on a cubicle worker by the name of John. He crosses paths with a guy named Keith a couple of times, and believes he's made a friend. Unfortunately, Keith is a sadistic psycho, and he's determined to drag John into Hell.

I've read so many stories with this premise, I had a solid idea of what kind of entity Keith is. However, I didn't know if, or how, John would be able to get Keith out of his life. The ending is not a happy one. Overall, an interesting psychological novella, but none of the dark humor I've come to expect from the author.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Weird Wednesday: Your Number's Up

From the author of the APPLEWOOD series comes a short story about a small town police chief with a vexing traffic problem. In his search for answers, he soon discovers that sometimes, not knowing is far better than knowing...

THE INTERSECTION by Brendan P. Myers doesn't seem very sinister in the beginning. Accidents happen, nothing supernatural about that. However, Chief Foley is approached by a man who has been studying all the misfortune taking place within the same area. He reveals a hidden historical event, which might explain why the area appears to be cursed. Foley wonders, what can he do about it?

This piece reads more like a prologue for a bigger story, but the suspense is entertaining and the ending is disturbing.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tuesday Terror: Home Is Where The Heart Is

CAPTIVE HEARTS by Matt Shaw centers on the grief and anger of a man only known as The Doctor. He has lost his daughter in an accident, and Tony has something he wants. Stephanie is tasked with caring for Tony. The story switches between the three POVs. The horror lies within the hopelessness of their situation: none of them are going to get what they want from this situation.

Stephanie's broken spirit suggests she has been there a while, but there is some confusion about her living arrangement with The Doctor. There is a claustrophobic feel to the setting, and Shaw does such a great job describing the conditions Stephanie and Tony must live with, you can smell the human waste and taste the slimy, cold fish.

They do not live in a house. They live in Hell, with each room tailored to their suffering.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, May 27, 2019

Monday Murder: Maldito

Many people stray from the safety of resorts when they're on vacation, despite the warnings of those who are less adventurous. They prefer to experience the different cultures of the world, rather than the same amenities offered at virtually every resort.

Nancy Gomez was a damn good salesperson; she and her husband, Eric, were staying at a Mexican resort on her company's dime until they decided to wander off on their own. They discovered a fishing village with its own small beach and a waterfall. It was the perfect getaway. Then Eric disregarded the local superstition, as well as his wife's plea, and he swam into a forbidden pool. Suddenly, the safety of the resort seemed a thousand miles away.


MALDITO by S.O. Bailey blends folklore, the supernatural, crime drama to create a very wicked horror story. Eric is the perfect example of a rude tourist with zero respect for the nature and culture of other people. I don't feel sorry for him at all. Unfortunately, Eric's bad decision has a trickle down effect.

I would LOVE to see this made into a film. The horror genre needs more stories like this one! I've read a half dozen of Bailey's stories, and this is definitely the best one. I hope the author sticks with this writing style.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday With Scribner: In Your Head

Welcome to another Sunday With Scribner! Joshua Scribner is one of my favorite flash fiction authors and these are three of his newest stories:

DO NOT DISTURB is one of Scribner's best stories, centered on a writer named John. He's attempting to work on a story in a hotel room, but housekeeping ignores the "do not disturb" sign on the door. John made a mess in the bed, but he won't let the maids handle it. The ending is an awesome supernatural shocker.

A DEEP AND DARK PLACE begins with Dalton being woken by a man crying, finding himself naked and confused. Strangely enough, I correctly guessed what is happening with Dalton, but I still enjoyed the story. I definitely recommend this one to readers who enjoy psychological horror.

UNHIDDEN features a man named Rolly, panhandling for a living. The people giving him money start asking him questions. I honestly thought it had something to do with Rolly saying "God bless," but I suppose that detail doesn't matter. The ending is brutal, yet just.

Keep checking back for more Scribner this summer!

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Sci-Fi Saturday: Teens vs. Aliens

THE GREENWOOD ABDUCTIONS by K.B. Knight is the second book in a series centered on a town constantly dealing with paranormal and otherworldly visitors. The novel begins with the author sharing his own UFO experience, setting the tone for a frightening chain of events. Jasmine, Rose, Nathan, Jewel and Rico are deeply involved...imagine The Breakfast Club thrown into Fire In The Sky.

While the local police try to investigate several missing person reports, as well as some other disturbing crimes, a couple of FBI agents are trying to shut down the conspiracy theories. The Greenwood teens aren't having any of it, determined to stop the most recent wave of sci-fi horror to invade Greenwood.

I enjoyed this story much more than the first one. Knight includes a lot of past experiences with UFOs the characters share with one another, creating an atmosphere of helplessness and desperation. The personal accounts are very much like the tales of real life alien abduction claims, which are likely to give readers second thoughts about going out alone at night. (I had flashbacks to my own memories of strange sky lights.)

The ending is something else. Knight does wrap up the abduction story without any loose ends, but introduces the next tragedy to befall Greenwood in the last sentence. What a hooker.

As always,
AstraDaemon


Friday, May 24, 2019

Friday Feature: Gypsy Grudge

THE GREENWOOD CURSE by K.B. Knight is the first book in a series about a town with massive problems. Greenwood offers a different nightmare on every street, like a Universal Studios located in Hell, with an assortment of demonic entities to terrorize the characters. While most of the book is filled with drama and horror, Knight throws in some dark humor here and there, which only emphasizes the chaotic nature of the curse.

Knight takes the haunted house theme and twists it into something bigger and more frightening with sinister scenes reminiscent of an 80s cult horror movie experience, but in book form. As if that wasn't enough, the author whips up an ending which will leave readers feeling like they fell out of an upstairs window and straight into a new level of Hell.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thursday Thriller: Blood Soaked

EASY.GONE. by Daniel J Ings is terrifying. I can't imagine what Mr. Yan was thinking, selling such a dangerous item as the pocket-sized Necronomicon to a kid with a huge chip on his shoulder. (Mr. Yan needs his own story.) I don't blame the kid for desiring revenge, but the aftermath on the pages of the book are extremely creepy.

I would love a sequel. I don't think the ending is a true cliff-hanger, but the last page has a Dark Tower/gunslinger theme going on. This story is making my Top 2019 list.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Weird Wednesday: Slip of the Tongue

BLINK by Bradley Convissar is an excellent short story, blending horror and science fiction. Some readers may find the setup longer than necessary, but the ending is completely worth the wait.

I can't say much more without giving the twist away, but I think SyFy could turn this into a mini-series.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday Terror: Here Kitty Kitty

CAT FANCY by A.E. Hodge takes the furry fetish to an insane level. Sandy meets a guy through a dating app, but he doesn't mention his love of cats in his profile. Feeling as though she must compete with Victor's house pet, Sandy allows Victor to do some rather kinky stuff to her. She's so obsessed with the guy's physical appearance, she doesn't pay attention to what he has told her about himself.

The ending is pretty gruesome, but very entertaining. Hodge's story could easily be an episode of The Outer Limits.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, May 20, 2019

Monday Murder: Preternatural Revenge

EXPOSED by Alex R Carver is an excellent short story about a gent who has his life ended abruptly by a couple of neighborhood thugs. Displeased with having to start over, Julian decides to exact some revenge before moving on. While the setup is deliberately slow, once Julian sets out on his hunt, the action is thrilling.

I would love to see Carver write a mini-series centered on Julian. I can't help but wonder if the youth trying to rob him is the son of the couple that Julian tried to protect.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Tom Deady Gave Me Nightmares [INTERVIEW]

At the beginning of May, I read an intense thriller by horror author Tom Deady. WEEKEND GETAWAY is a captivating novella, published by Grinning Skull Press, about a grandfather remembering a terrifying experience from his younger days. After his wife's death, he wonders if he will be able to keep his life-changing secret from his family any longer. In this novella, not everyone gets away, and those who do pay a high price.

After being traumatized by events in Deady's cabin, I felt it was only fair to drag him into the Lair...



Your first novel, HAVEN, won the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Do you consider this the beginning of your writing career or do you have another achievement you consider your first step as an established horror author?

The entire HAVEN experience for me will always be special. It was a long journey writing the book, finding a home for it, and finally seeing it in print. There were several milestones along the way that I think combined to define my first step as a writer. Typing “The End” after nearly fifteen years of on-and-off writing was the first. Getting the incredible blurb from Stewart O’Nan came next, and I believe that blurb is what caught the eye of Brian Freeman at Cemetery Dance to prompt him to request the full manuscript. Receiving the note from Richard Chizmar that he was sending a contract for a limited-edition hardcover and ebook was probably the moment when I finally started believing in my writing. But winning the Stoker, that is something I never expected. It still feels surreal.

Why horror? Was there something in particular which influenced you to choose this genre?

I wish I had a cool answer for this, but I really don’t. My older brothers were into the Hardy Boys and that’s what got me hooked on reading. Those books, along with the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series fueled my imagination as a child. I was always drawn to the ones that had some sort of supernatural element…even if it turned out to be old man Johnson in a rubber mask at the end. When I was eleven or twelve, I picked up a book from the wire rack at Woolworth’s – it had an all black cover with a single red drop of blood. It was, of course, King’s ‘Salem’s Lot. After that, there was no turning back.

Where did the idea for Weekend Getaway come from? Is the story based on a phobia or personal experience?

Many of my stories contain pieces of me or my experiences, and Weekend Getaway is no exception. The idea came from a weekend I spent in Maine several years ago. It’s basically the scene from the book: a pick-up truck was behind me at a red light, and the guys were being rowdy and I could see they were drinking. They ended up passing me and I never saw them again, but one thought never left me: what if they follow me? It stuck with me for a long time until it needed to get out.

Your novella reminded me of movies such as Funny Games or What Keeps You Alive. Do you think it’s possible for horror books to win over fans of horror films or do you feel a competitive pressure from movies in the same genre?

I think it’s difficult to win fans over from a different medium. Some people are readers, some are moviegoers. I do think they can feed each other, though. Very often you’ll see a hit movie drive the book to the best-seller list. I don’t think it’s the book winning over fans of the movie, more like the movie opening the eyes of readers who may not have been familiar with the source material. I think the two can help each other find new fans. I don’t view it as a competition.

When people complain about the violence in horror stories, do you think they have a valid concern or do you think they’re just afraid to confront their own fears?

I think it depends on the complaint. I have a problem with gratuitous violence that only exists for the sake of grossing out the reader. Many horror themes rely on violence to tell a story, but it doesn’t have to be over-the-top. I believe some of the most powerful horror stories are the ones where the violence happens “off screen.” Look at The Haunting of Hill House or The Turn of the Screw. Two classics that really don’t have any violence, but people are still talking about them and making new films based on them. More modern examples are Josh Malerman’s Bird Box and Paul Tremblay’s Cabin at the End of the World. Weekend Getaway is probably the darkest and most violent thing I’ve written to date, but I don’t feel that I went too far with it.

What do you consider the most important elements of entertaining writing?

For me, it’s stories that create empathy for the characters. If I don’t care about at least one of the characters, I find it hard to care what’s happening to them in a story. That can apply for both the protagonist and antagonist. Sometimes, the desire to see the bad guy defeated is as compelling as the desire to see the good guy succeed. It’s all about the characters.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

I would love for everyone to visit my website, www.tomdeady.com. There are links to my books, any guest posts or interviews I’ve done, and all my social media information. I also do a monthly newsletter that usually includes some sort of contest or book giveaway. All of my work is on Amazon and Audible as well.

What are your plans for 2019? Will you be making any convention appearances?

It’s going to be a busy year for me. I have a short story coming out in the folk horror anthology Would But Time Await, as well as a novella (currently untitled) to be published late summer. I’m also working on a very cool non-fiction project that I’ll have more news on later this year.

As far as appearances, I just got back from my fourth StokerCon and it was incredible. I’ll be at Scare-a-Con in Framingham, MA the first weekend in June, Necon in July, and Scares That Care and the Freaks, Antiques and Uniques Convention at the historic Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA, both in August. October will be packed with appearances, too. Details can be found at www.tomdeady.com.

Big thanks to Tom Deady for spending some time in the Lair!


If you haven't read Weekend Getaway, be sure to add it to your reading list!

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Daylight Cycle Needs One More Book

In this conclusion to Kody Boye’s DAYLIGHT CYCLE, winter is falling, and bringing with it even more dangers. With the undead hordes still present, and the need for supplies growing each passing day, Dakota Travis and Rose Daniels decide to enlist within the Runner’s Corps: the infamous supply running gang that scours the city for anything of use. Fortunately for them, they are skilled survivors, and have the chance of living outside the fort’s protective walls. Unfortunately, their predicament is only growing worse. 

As their first supply run ends, and a chance encounter with an infamous plant walker brings Rose and Dakota into the limelight, the powers that be decide to orchestrate a task for the survivors—one that may save humanity, or potentially destroy them all.


NIGHTFALL by Kody Boye is the fourth and final book in The Daylight Cycle series. While I am happy Rose and Dakota had many interactions throughout the book, there never seemed to be a real connection formed between the two, other than moving within the same social circle. Other characters from earlier books are reintroduced, but it's more like literary cameos, just to let readers know they're still alive. The series has a solid conclusion, but the author ends Nightfall in way which leaves an opening for one more book.

I am, however, quite disappointed with the Plant Walker storyline. The mutation is a great addition to the zombie genre, but Boye doesn't do much with his own creation. I think he should write a fifth book, call it Midnight, and center the novel on the Plant Walkers. I'd like to see one of the main characters form a personal connection to one of the mutated creatures. Hell, I'd even settle for Annabelle to become a main character, and join ranks with Rose and Dakota.

I've read several books by Kody Boye, encompassing three very different series, and he has a great talent for creating relatable characters and giving them incredible depth. Unfortunately, this series is not his best work, and pales in comparison to his science fiction series, When They Came. I'd like to see the author focus more on dystopian-scifi stories in the future, but I think the author owes The Daylight Cycle fans one more book.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, May 17, 2019

Onward With The Daylight Cycle Series

Months after the zombie outbreak that decimated the world’s population, Rose, Dakota, Erik and Ian embark on a routine supply run only for it to end in disaster. Ian is killed instantly. Erik, meanwhile, is scratched. 

Unaware if such a wound will leave their companion helpless to the zombie virus, the party waits to see if Erik will succumb to infection. When he doesn’t, it seems too good to be true. But Erik isn’t out of the woods yet. With fever symptoms leaving him bedridden, it’s obvious that he’s going downhill—and fast. And only a chance communications with an infectious disease specialist in the capital offers their only chance of hope.


AFTERNOON by Kody Boye is the third book in The Daylight Cycle series. Sunrise ended with the virus mutating, creating two versions of undead. This installment introduces a hybrid experiment, as well as a convergence of the various survivor storylines. While there is plenty of drama to go around, there isn't as much action as the first two books.

More about the zombie virus is revealed, as well as the name of the blackened undead, but the nature of the mutation is still a mystery. There have also been changes among various animal species, making scavenging and traveling even more dangerous for Rose, Dakota and the rest of their group. Last but not least, the survivors discover some hopeful news about Canada.

Rose seems to have taken a backseat to Dakota. I wish the author had included more of her POV in this installment. In fact, I'm disappointed Rose and Dakota don't interact more often, considering they are the two central characters. The members of the group get along surprisingly well, which tends to provide a lot of ho-hum conversations. I can't believe I miss in-fighting in an apocalypse story.

The ending is brilliant, although a little predictable, but I'm hoping this will mean more challenging scenes in the final book. I can't wait to see how Boye wraps this up.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Daylight Cycle Continues

With a dwindling food supply, a lawless gang, and the encroaching dead threatening their existence, Dakota Travis and his best friend realize they may no longer be safe in their abandoned apartment building. They flee into the wasteland that was once South Dakota to find safety. There, they encounter the last remnants of the United States military and take shelter within a converted asylum. But their safety is anything but guaranteed. Now, surrounded by the undead, tensions run high between these two friends and the soldiers. Food is in short supply, and shelter may only be temporary. The commanding officer is quickly succumbing to insanity, while his right-hand men rule indiscriminately with iron fists. And once Corporal Jamie Marks begins to make advances, Dakota realizes the undead may be the least of his worries, especially amongst men who already hate him.

SUNRISE by Kody Boye is the second book in The Daylight Cycle series. At the end of the first book, Rose crosses paths with a new group of survivors in Idaho. Sunrise is essentially the backstory of how the new group formed, the challenges and discoveries of their multi-state journey and how Rose eventually joins them. The second book also includes the introduction of what may be a second transformative virus, as well as a new player in the field of zombies and men.

Dakota is a young gay man realizing some people are still close-minded and hate-filled, even with the undead hunting all of them. The author does a great job showing how prejudice and bigotry can be more of threat to survival than any virus or supply shortage. The dynamics between the characters is extremely well-developed. Once again, Boye shows his skill at portraying the intensity and pain of the trauma each survivor carries within them, from both the outbreak and their personal histories.

These characters are not the perfectly adept characters one might usually find in an apocalypse series. These are some very damaged individuals trying desperately to function as a cohesive group, hoping to eventually call themselves a family. Their attitudes and inner reflections are some of the most realistic and poignant portrayal of apocalypse survivors I've ever read.

Having lived in South Dakota for a number of years, I cringed a little at some of the details provided by the author, but the novel is too good for me to drag the author over a few liberties taken with the SD references.


I don't normally care what other reviewers have to say about a story, but I've read some homophobic comments from others which are misleading and one that is absolute BS. Let's get the BS out of the way: stories with a man and woman falling in love don't come with warnings (except maybe for sexual content), so I don't see why an author has to warn readers about two gay characters falling in love. THERE ARE NO SEX SCENES. The only intimacy between characters are when any of them reveal their feelings for one of the other survivors, whether it's a civilian crushing on a soldier, a gang-banger wondering if he's worthy of a second chance, a father mourning the loss of a child or a friend worried sick about another friend.

As for the accusations of this being "gay propaganda" -- NEWSFLASH: gay people exist in the world and they are just as likely to become survivors in a zombie apocalypse as anyone else. I can't help but wonder if some of the readers bashing this storyline bothered to read the first book in the series. The Daylight Cycle is not so much about zombies as people from different walks of life attempting to put aside their differences in order to increase their chances of surviving as a species.

Honestly, if you need your characters to be the same cookie-cutter "safe" types to avoid offending your ideas about what is appropriate, you probably shouldn't be reading horror fiction.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

When Everything Goes Wrong

A vast, subterranean system of caves has been discovered in Antarctica. Dr. Leo Berkman, a leading expert in the field of Crypto-zoology, is brought in to help study the strange lifeforms found within the caves. Strange tracks in the snow and an attack on one of Delta Base's rovers points to there being more within the caves than anyone expected. And soon, Dr. Berkman and the crew of Delta Base will find themselves in a desperate battle of survival.

BLOOD IN THE SNOW by Eric S. Brown follows a team investigating an elaborate cave system. They immediately discover new species, which distracts them from both internal and external threats to their project. Unfortunately, everyone is focused on their own personal agendas, further weakening the group's chances of survival.

Brown throws everything into this story: betrayal, cryptozoology, metaphysics and an old fashioned apocalyptic bomb. There is no lack of action or drama, but I felt more could have been done with Berkman's storyline. I would have also enjoyed seeing Berkman's discovery develop into something more. With everything going on at the base, the author could've easily written a full-length novel.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Price of Lust

THE STAIN ON THE LAKE by Matthew J Morrison is a bizarre tale about a dark village secret. The narrator describes falling in love with a stranger hired to worked at the local pub, only for her to fall in with the village playboy. At first, I thought this would become the confession of a murder by a scorned admirer, but, after the revelation of the village's history, I realized the truth is far more twisted.

While the story held my attention, the ending is a little disappointing...so much is left unresolved. I would have enjoyed more action and less narration, and I wish the Aunt had been more forthcoming. However, it's a great version of succubus folklore.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Pressure to Succeed

What if education could be extended into the womb? Would we get brilliant, well-balanced babies? Monsters? Or a frightening/hopeful combination of both?

DR. PAK'S PRESCHOOL by David Brin is told from the POV of a wife and mother, impregnated through an experimental procedure. The experiment does not end with conception, but is continued throughout the pregnancy as the fetus is conditioned to think and reason on extraordinary levels. However, there is a price to be paid for such intelligence, leaving the mother to question her own conditioning within Japanese society.

While most of the story has a sci-fi dystopian theme, as the Japanese government uses extreme methods of genetic manipulation to close the gap with America in the area of computer programming, the ending is mix of fantasy and theology. The result is a metaphysical turn of events, which may seem too convenient for some readers.

I've learned this story is being marketed for a film, and I think the premise would make for a very controversial movie.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sunday With Scribner: Glad I'm An Insomniac

NOT ME by Joshua Scribner is absolutely frightening, and not far from real life possibilities. Anyone disturbed by the amount of hate in society, as well as the overreach of the government, should definitely read the horrifying near-future Scribner has choreographed.

This is one of the stories we'll likely look back on and say, "Joshua Scribner called it." As I've said time and time again, people have the capacity to be the worst kind of monsters.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Hardcore Karma

THE VAULT by Rebecca R. Pierce centers on a sick depraved man named Brent, who has spent his entire life as a POS, hurting others in unspeakable ways. After violating the trust of someone unforgiving and determined to exact revenge, Brent is forced to learn the lasting consequences of his choices.

However, Brent has no remorse and must learn the hard way. Unfortunately, when a man claiming to be the Devil shows up, Brent makes no effort to change his attitude. The author delivers a very brutal form of karma, which Brent absolutely earned.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, May 10, 2019

Bushwhacked

When young lovers Nick and Maggie decide to escape the city to spend a romantic weekend camping deep in the idyllic countryside, the excursion begins well. However, it soon degenerates into a maelstrom of terror when one of them comes face-to-face with a centuries-old civil war soldier. The couple are forced to flee into the wilderness, where they become engaged in a mortal battle for survival against a group of long-dead Confederate bushwhackers.

DEAD OF NIGHT by C.M. Saunders starts out slowly, with the couple discussing Prince and reflecting on how they met, none of which is necessary. The story doesn't really kick off until Nick has to take a late night piss, which would have made a better starting point.

I didn't necessarily care about the survival of the couple, but I didn't want the bushwhackers to win, so I found myself rooting for the campers, after all. Picture Wrong Turn, but with undead soldiers, instead of inbred hillbillies, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

The ending is a bit of a surprise, and I'm kind of hoping Saunders will turn this into a mini-series. I'd love to know why the bushwhackers won't stay dead.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Deadly Rental

A lost child.
A marriage shattered beyond repair?
John Baxter doesn't think so, which is why he has planned this weekend getaway with his wife. He expected a lot of shouting, a lot of tears, but in the end, he hoped to have a stronger foundation upon which they could start rebuilding what they had once had.
What he wasn't expecting was the home invasion…
…and the hell that awaited them beneath the rented cabin.


WEEKEND GETAWAY by Tom Deady is another offering from Grinning Skull Press, one which gave me nightmares (no joke). While I read the story in a brief amount of time, I had to put my Kindle down more than once for relief from the intense scenes inside the cabin. I felt the pain of Deady's characters too clearly, and the thought of living through a weekend like this is a terrifying thought.

The book description doesn't even come close to describing the terror John Baxter has to face in his misguided attempt to save his marriage. Knowing he survives, as he reveals to his grandson why he is missing a finger through flashbacks, offers little to no comfort. I am impressed with the multiple turn of events in the basement...Deady knows how to keep his readers captivated.

I've never heard of Tom Deady before reading this story, but I'm looking forward to reading more of his work.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Procrastination Is A Killer

HOT WIRES TO HEAVEN: A LIGHT SOCKET LOVE STORY by Antonio Simon Jr. is a flash fiction piece centered on a man harassed by an empty light socket. I love unreliable narration, always creates a shock. (Pun absolutely intended.) The ending is gruesome, but not as graphic as I expected.

Not a bad short, but the author has written much better stories.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Poof!

LORD OF THE DOLOROUS TOWER by Matthew W. Quinn is a short story about two villagers seeking an adventure. I'm assuming the story takes place in another world, but I thought it possible Quinn created a dystopian setting thousands of years into the future.

Most of the story is told through dialogue and inner thoughts, with very little action. I did enjoy the inclusion of magic, giving a fantasy element, but the ending is abrupt. Quinn leaves readers with all kinds of questions.

I think the author should consider turning this short into a novella to add more action, as well as further character development.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, May 6, 2019

Tumbleweed Time

NOBODY JONES by Abe Evergreen is strikingly similar to Nobody Smith, minus the science fiction. As a result, the story is about as interesting as a horse rolling in mud.

I would have preferred to find out more about the bounty hunter's sixth sense or learn something supernatural about the horse, but I guess this is why I don't normally read western stories.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Sunday With Scribner: Volume 2


More new releases from flash fiction author Joshua Scribner...

WAKE UP! is a shocking short centered on a man desperately trying to protect his family, but Stan doesn't realize what is happening. Very thrilling piece.

TASTE centers on an undercover detective named Mearl, who seems to share a similar type of intuition with a homeless man. The interactions of the two men are fascinating, making this short story an entertaining supernatural crime drama.

WHAT'S YOUR NAME reveals one hell of a secret! The ending came too soon, even for flash fiction. I wish Scribner would turn this one into a longer story. The premise is a mind-blower.

Joshua Scribner is the author of 13 novels and over 100 short stories, spanning horror, sci-fi and suspense. He currently lives in Michigan, and publishes new stories every month.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Lovecraft Mixed With Marquis De Sade

With mounting debt, and her career not going in the direction she'd hoped for, Jessica Ann took a modelling job at the Larsen's lavish party.

What should have been an easy evening soon takes a nightmarish turn when she finds herself embroiled in an insane plot to awaken The Old Great One...


OCTOPUS by Matt Shaw has been thoroughly ripped on for being torture porn. While the author has always been somewhat controversial, one has to remember horror comes in many forms. Also, when a story is described as "an extreme horror novel," readers should considered themselves warned. Just in case I'm not making myself clear, Shaw is for seasoned horror fans, not tourists of the genre.

With that said, while the story IS fiction, the most horrific part is knowing many of the events within the pages occur in the real world. Perhaps that is what makes people so uncomfortable with Shaw's storytelling: he reminds people of the ugliness and brutality of human nature. Throughout Octopus, Shaw mixes relationships, desperation and depravity in equal measure. The pace crawls in some places, becoming more frantic in other scenes, with the goal of luring readers into the mansion with Max and Helena.

The ending is not what I expected. Actually, I didn't know what to expect, aside from the level of terror only Shaw can deliver. If Lovecraft had a child with the Marquis De Sade, he'd probably be a lot like author Matt Shaw.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, May 3, 2019

Cursed Crap

When a mysterious box of gold doubloons shows up at his door, Garrett Unger has no idea that time and space will begin to distort, leading him to join forces with pirate Sullivan Cox against an ancient Aztec god.

FIRST GOLD by Jerry Gerold is the story of a family curse handed down from one generation to another. The writing style is very haphazard, leaving readers to question how much is happening inside Garrett's head, as opposed to reality.

The confusion could easily be meant to portray Garrett's frame of mind, but the suspense is lacking and the battle scene reminded me of a Choose Your Own Adventure book. I wouldn't call this horror at all...maybe a supernatural drama, at best.

I've read several of the author's stories, as well as the Reclamation series, and this is Gerold's worst work.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, May 2, 2019

A Haunted Outhouse: Full of Crap

When a suburban family plans a week of fishing on a tiny island in a huge lake in the North Woods, they expect to relax and reconnect. What they don't expect is to share the island with a third child, one who is not theirs. In this subtly chilling ghost tale, the real world and the other world merge into one.

HARP ISLAND by Colleen McManus Hein disappointed me immensely. The setup is long and dragged out, and the ghost doesn't make an appearance until nearly halfway through the story. There is very little interaction between the living and the dead, and the author does absolutely nothing with the ghost. Not to mention the lack of depth with the family characters. When I reached the end, I wondered what the point had been.

The story should've begun with the family arriving at the island, and the author should have provided some sort of background story for the ghost. Even some local folklore provided by the fishing guide would've been a huge improvement. I really don't understand why Hein labeled her story "a ghost novella" and not use the ghost in any way, other than snapping tree branches.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

What's Worse Than Roaches?

An invasion of ants in a TV producer's home leads to full scale war.

BATTALION by Keith Knapp should come with a trigger warning. I have a serious bug phobia...I read it anyway, expecting something like They're Creeping Up On You by Stephen King. Knapp (who already pushed aside King's cat, General, with a new heroic cat, Buckshot) has created something much worse than roaches crawling out of a corpse. I swear I could smell the freaking Raid spray as I squirmed through this story.

If my shoulder starts itching, I'm going to need serious therapy...

As always,
AstraDaemon