Category Archives: Horror

Who’s There?: A Collection of Stories by Dimas Rio

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Offering horror fans a literate concoction of brief yet creatively posed stories woven with a supernatural bent throughout, Who’s There? by author Dimas Rio does well to stimulate the imagination with his collection of Asian culture-centric, eclectic shorts each sure to pique the interest as well as tingle the spine.

Firstly, Author Dimas beguiles the reader with solid storytelling with the title story, Who’s There? which is also my personal favorite. This well-honed tale brings the reader along on a creepy journey through the guilt-ridden conscience of an alcoholic, drug-addicted and particularly egocentric man whose dark psyche leads him into the cold wet embrace of his fiancé.

Continuing the chills is story 2, titled At Dusk within which a high school magazine reporter embarks on an assignment to interview a celebrity mystery writer who shares the ultimate ghost story to his captive, and earnest yet unsuspecting audience of one.

Gretchen: A Thriller by Shannon Kirk

Reviewed by Jim Eaton

At first, I had no idea what to make of this book. It seems in some sub-textual way to be a sort of treatise on coincidence (dare I say, a puzzle within a puzzle). I wasn’t sure to what degree the supernatural was going to play a role; I myself had never heard of any human being (outside of fantasy and sci-fi) having violet eyes. So I suppose you could say this book kept me very much off balance from the start. And it probably isn’t the sort of story I would typically read. Was it a thriller? A mystery? A puzzle in puzzle wrapped in coincidences? It took me more than a few chapters to try to hone in.

How to describe the book without betraying its plot? Hm. You’ve got a woman and a daughter on the run, moving from state to state, hiding from…we don’t know what. The mother won’t tell the daughter. But we do know this has been going on for about thirteen years, since the girl (Lucy) was two years old. I found it ever so slightly confusing that the mother would be worried about them being recognized if in fact the girl was two when they’d fled…but I surmised that the uniquely of the eyes was the root of the paranoia. Maybe. Maybe they were aliens or witches. You decide.

Walking the Dead by Heather Graham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Walking the DeadThis starts in Switzerland in 1816 when a group of well-known artists gather at the castle of a friend. It is to be a sociable, maybe some working, time for folks like Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and Claire Godwin. Henry Hubert was the host and at the end of the little get-together he announces that he too is an artist. He also announces that he is going to begin “painting with blood” to hopefully cover much of the dark despair of the castle.

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The story then moves to the present day and is basically located in New Orleans where a family has been found slain. It was a man, his wife, her mother, father, and her aunt. They are strewn through the house and appear to be stabbed and sliced up with a knife and possibly a sword.

Voodoo Child, Book One: Zombie Uprising by William Burke

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Voodoo ChildAround the globe and then landing in a small Caribbean island, this story traverses the world and more.

The action starts on the small island of Isle De Fantomas. It moves to the deserts of the Middle East and then back again. The plot is an interesting mix of horror, mystery and voodoo. The most intriguing part of this to this reviewer is the author’s respect for a small religion, voodoo, in this case.

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Yes, there are demons, devils, voodoo priestesses and hordes of the undead. They fill the pages and bring out a very mixed bag of horror and yet detailed practice of a little known religion. There are soldiers, military and mercenary troops and wickedly charming scientists and others not nearly so charming.

The Fireman: A Novel by Joe Hill

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The FiremanBestselling author Joe Hill literally sets the world of horror fiction on fire with his take on the human condition as it subsists in the horrifyingly ravaged post-apocalyptic world, of his newest novel, The Fireman.

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Author Hill poses a vastly complex and alarming world, where a pervasively virulent spore somehow spreads between human carriers who ultimately die in one of the most brutal of ways, via human combustion. Seemingly indiscriminate, combustion can occur at any given time and without warning people die where they stand or lay, exploding into flames. Called Dragonscale because of its ominous, but decorative dragon scaled appearance on the infected, the spread of the vicious spore takes humanity to the brink of extinction, leaving those left trying to survive in an uncertain world swimming in fiery violence and drowning in ashes.

End Matter by Ezekiel Cartwright

Reviewed by Teri Davis

endmatter“These stories must never make it to paperback. I don’t want them edited, and they must never change from their existing format. They’re written this way for a reason, and…”

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The stereotypical author is introverted, creative, and extremely analytical. These attributes lead greatly assist them in examining and writing about the world around them, whether real or only in their imagination.

Nathan Cartwright fits this description. Living alone in Maine, he is very reclusive to the point of being almost a hermit. His only contact with the real world is through his son, Danny and his granddaughter.

Nathan has an advantage though over most authors. The major publishing houses want his writings, but he refuses to work with each of them, choosing to have his work strictly available through self-publishing only. He tried to write romance and even drama novels with little success, but his magic touch was the thriller. Why?

Nathan is facing the reality of his life ending. His physician has informed him that his days are numbered. Now is the time for him to do one final good deed.

His son needed money for his wife’s cancer treatment. Between the medical costs and raising a daughter, Nathan feels obligated to help with the family needs with money.
He is returning to being a successful writer of thriller novels. His books almost have a magical authenticity to them with so much explicit gore that he given the nickname, “Grisly Grandpa.”

Nathan now wants to publish a book that will secure Danny’s financial needs and those of his granddaughter.

With finally completing the latest novel on his tablet, Nathan meets with his illustrator at a nearby coffee shop that will change all of his plans.

It all begins with a server who eventually recognizes him. Who could predict how this would send his life into a downward spiral?

The author, Ezekiel Cartwright propels his interests into his writing while being influenced by his childhood in New England and writers such as Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, and Dean Koontz.

This novella is tightly wound into an introspective tale around the theme of striving for greatness while being aware of the impending cost of responsibility in that achievement. With realistically flawed characters striving for hope and a better life, the reader views the world through Nathan with his daily frustrations and challenges.

End Matter is a different novella with a unique authenticity that is a frightening page-turner.

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

Reviewed by Ronnie Alvarado

There are few writers in the modern fantasy canon whose style is as definitive and whose prose is as magically transcendent as Neil Gaiman. For the last two decades, he has been delighting readers with his witty, chilling, and at times downright frightening stories. His latest work, Trigger Warnings: Short Fictions and Disturbances, does not disappoint, as its brims with fantastical tales of varying lengths and plots.

Skinshifter (Sylvan Cycle Book One) by Alycia Christine (Kindle Edition)

Skinshifter

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

As involved as it is vividly eloquent, Alycia Christine’s Skinshifter (Sylvan Cycle Book One), will satisfy any reader of young adult high fantasy. This multifaceted coming-of-age, YA fantasy read is fueled by engagingly twisted fantasy elements, vivid imagery, appealing characters, rousing adventure and terse storytelling. Skinshifter is the first book in this promising Sylvan Cycle series.

The story’s young protagonist Katja Escari is a truly engaging character; she is tough, brave, stalwart and a female werecat. But there is something deeply different about her that she struggles to keep hidden. It is a secret that not only endangers her, but those around her as well. When the other members of her Feliconas Clan are ruthlessly murdered by the greatly feared Asheken deadwalkers, Carrying the weight of survivorship guilt, Katja flees–determined to survive and seek vengeance.

While en route, Katja meets human, high-born Princess Lauraisha another young and resolute character who is also on the run for her life from the evil machinations of her wicked king father. The two females, although quite different in some ways, soon learn just how similar they are and what eventually develops is a friendship so deep, it is like they are sisters. After agreeing to help each other achieve their respective goals against the predominant evils in their lives, their direction is unexpectedly altered by a plea for help from a surprising source that sends them running into the adventure of a lifetime to save the Sylvans from the coming Asheken hordes. With danger at every turn, they join forces with other Sylvans in a race against time, profound magic and pure evil. Their journey is extraordinary as they encounter the denizens of the magical world they are risking life and limb to save.

I enjoyed Skinshifter. Author Alycia Christine developed an entertaining story that was well suited to the genre. Chock full of fantasy elements, moments of tense action, and populated with intriguing characters this book presents a great introduction to the series that not only deals with the coming-of-age theme well, but also approaches tolerance of cultural and physiological differences. Skinshifter was a worthwhile read and I look forward to the next in the series. This book is definitely recommended reading for Fantasy buffs.

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Unholy Bargain by Travis Hallden Holt

Unholy Bargain

Reviewed by Teri Davis

“People created the world around them, as if their lives, their stories, they themselves authored.”

Can we control our lives so well that we each “author” our individual lives?
For Kaitlyn Spencer and Nate Barrington, there definitely seem to be forces working on each of them that they cannot control. Being that they are two very different people, will they ever be able to be a successful couple raising their child?

“I teach the invisible side of life. The existence you can’t remember. I teach our origin. The journey of our soul. Our evolution.”

Revival: A Novel by Stephen King

Revival

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Though not a reader of true horror or supernatural stories I have ventured into the world of Stephen King once before. I read Mister Mercedes which turned out to be a really great story and was not really much of a horror/supernatural tale.

Revival, however, does lean a little further into that genre of storytelling. And though I cannot say that I am a fan of those types of stories I do have to admit that this one did hold my interest and I am sure it will keep many a reader turned on to it to the final ending.

It is not a tale of goblins and other types of strange folks but because of some of the happenings there definitely is a solid touch of the unknown or strange universe.