Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Siren and The Specter by Jonathan Janz

Hands down this has got to be the best book I've read this year, and I've read some very good books! If I'm honest when I first started to read this book I thought it would be your standard haunted house story but this book is so much more than that.

It starts off slow, but creepy, there's an ominous undercurrent and not unlike the epic TV series of 24 it kicks off and takes you on an adrenaline packed adventure. It became one of those book where I had to keep reading, even if it meant staying up all night. I was genuinely scared reading this book which isn't something that happens often.

When David Caine, a celebrated skeptic of the supernatural, is invited by an old friend to spend a month in “the most haunted house in Virginia,” he believes the case will be like any other. But the Alexander House is different. Built by a 1700s land baron to contain the madness and depravity of his eldest son, the house is plagued by shadows of the past and the lingering taint of bloodshed. David is haunted, as well. For twenty-two years ago, he turned away the woman he loved, and she took her life in sorrow. And David suspects she’s followed him to the Alexander House.

This is so much more than a horror story, this has some really powerful themes of lost loves, death and the true nature of evil. It's not just monsters who are evil but us and lurks in everyone one of us. There comes a time in everyone's life where we have to deal with our past, take responsibility for the mistakes we've made.

I really warmed to the main character David, a good guy who made some bad decisions and his past actions haunt him as much as the ghosts in this book. What I found interesting with this book is that there were two ghosts, a Siren and a Spectre as well as the demons David harbours inside. He has been invited to the haunted house in a bid to convert him and I loved the extreme efforts he goes to, to not believe in the paranormal.

The Siren and the Spectre is so thrilling as all the secondary characters have their own brilliant plots. I don't want to say too much and spoil the book for those who've not yet read it but there's loads of characters you will really hate and loads you will love.

If this is the sort of fiction that Flame Tree Press will be releasing from now on I think the horror genre is going to get huge.

I'd like to say a really big thank you to Flame Tree Press for giving me an ARC of The Siren and The Spectre.

About the Author

Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories. His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, and the School Library Journal. His novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children. You can sign up for his newsletter (http://jonathanjanz.us12.list-manage....), and you can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Shotgun Strange Stories Magazine Issue 1

Attention everyone there's a brand new magazine for those who love strange and scary stories, it's called Shotgun Strange Stories edited by David Wilson. It's available in print for only $4 and good news for those across the atlantic, I purchased the digital bundle which includes a pdf, epub and mobi copy for only $2 which as around £1.50 in sterling. Absolute bargain!

I'm reviewing the kindle version. There's so much more included in the paper version with really cool features such as word searches and illustrations. You'll be able to see this in the pdf copy if you go for the digital bundle.

Road Trip by Matthew Standiford

Greg is learning to live again after a brutal loss in his life. He's gone through a really bad patch but has come out broken but in one piece. As long as he has his dear wife, Kirstin beside him to guide him out of the darkness. This was a great tale to start off the first issue. I found this really moving and the ending tears you apart.

The Ordinary by Michael Carter

Road Trip is a hard story to follow but Michael Carter's tale, The Ordinary delivers! A dystopian tale about a broken society trying to survive in harsh times. This one sent shivers down my spine. 

Fertilizer by Ian Bain

This is a gripping tale which is dramatic form start to finish. A eager gardener soon regret unleashing a potent fertilizer in his garden which has far reaching consequences. I really loved this!

Roadblock by Christopher Powers

I've encountered Christopher Powers tale before int he critically acliamed Monsters Exist anthology by Deadman's Tome with his tale, Bitten. For me it was one of the stand out tales and Roadblock is equally as brilliant. A hit man takes the wrong job on the wrong night!

City Boy by Ron Clinton

Glen needs some time away from the city to reflect but finds that out in the country things are just as hectic. This tale was really fun to read and I loved the dark comedy within.

Diorama by Cody Daigle-Orians

I really liked this tale told through the perspective of a little boy who feels lost in life. He's all alone and has no one to fight his corner until he makes a friend. A really creepy story!

Red Mailbox by John Bender

Man this is a dark tale! A very original tale and I'm going to be avoiding all red mailboxes int he future!

We are Heros by Brodie Lowe

A really cool tale with elements of science fiction. Viggo, a young man working in a comic store has his day turned upside down when he receives a strange visitor.

 There's also an offering of really cool articles dealing with all things horror: 
Collecting The Macabre: 30 Years of Pursuing Books of Wickedness & Wonder by Ron Clinton 
‘Zisi’s B-Movie Reviews!’ By Christopher Zisi 

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Toroa by Erik Hofstatter

A lot of this tale is very shocking, some of it made for some very uncomfortable reading and I wasn't sure if I liked any of the characters, but I loved the book!

Toroa kicks off at Rochester Castle at the Medieval Merriment festival when Mahi, a young woman meets an enigmatic fire breathing stranger, Aryan, a young man completely free in life. Mahi, stuck in life and tethered to a cycle of shocking abuse can't resist his appeal.

Like a bird, the very creatures Mahi has a life long obsession with, he takes himself where he pleases, lives life with only one aim of being happy which reignites old questions inside Mahi. Who is her father and what is her Maori ancestry?

This is a tale about transformation, shocking and brutal. A very macabre coming of age story. I ended up hating Mahi but also at the same time I really pitied her. In the end she becomes a figure, sort of a dark god who comes to represent female suffering.

For me this was a very emotional tale as I ended up really hating a lot of the characters in this book, this is no good vs evil story, it is about the ugly side of human nature. All humans have the capacity for evil.

The ending is like the most explosive Jerry Springer episode ever so I can't say too much about it.

It would be cool to see a follow up to this as it's a very strong debut but also works really well as a stand alone novel.

About the Author

Erik Hofstatter is a dark fiction writer and a member of the Horror Writers Association. Born in the wild lands of the Czech Republic, he roamed Europe before subsequently settling on English shores, studying creative writing at the London School of Journalism. He now dwells in Kent, where he can be encountered consuming copious amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry. His work appeared in various magazines and podcasts around the world such as Morpheus Tales, Crystal Lake Publishing, The Literary Hatchet, Sanitarium Magazine, Wicked Library, Tales to Terrify and Manor House Show. Other works include The Pariahs, Amaranthine and Other Stories, Katerina, Moribund Tales and Rare Breeds.


Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer takes on Tales From the Realm!

Hey Guys just wanted to share with you the latest review for Tales From the Realm by Aphotic Realm. For those who don't know this is a collection of the finest 20 tales to be published on their website. (There's so many more great stories on there so do check it out!) This collection features a tale by yours truly, The Forgotten House.

You can read the review in full here

If strange and sinister fiction is your thing then do check out Aphotic Realm's amazing magazines; so far there has been Apparitions, Banished, Classified and the latest, Dystopia. They are available in paperback to purchase now.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt

I was really blown away by this collection from Apex Publishing. It's not often that I come across a collection like this where each story is superb. This is horror fiction at its finest, which isn't surprising as his work has appeared in Cemetery Dance, Black Static, The Dark, Shadows and Tall Trees, Nightscript, Shock Totem and Gamut (plus many more.) He also received a Shirley Jackson nomination for his debut collection; Greener Pastures.

I was a couple of paragraphs into the first story, Beside Me Singing In The Wilderness, when I realised this was a really special book.

"I've come home to this nameless mountain pouring blood from it's bowel."

It actually took me a really long time to read this as I almost didn't want it to end. This collection is one of those books that you will want to read over and over. Firstly for the enjoyment of outstanding horror and secondly to try and find out how Michael Wehunt spell binds his readers to the page.

I really liked his signature style of writing, its very visual and I felt like I was watching his stories rather than reading them - pure genius!

Each story is very different in regards to its themes, style of horror and tone. Some are really moving particularly Devil Under The Maison Blue and The Dancers and others really creepy! Greener Pastures really scared me and its not often that fiction really scares me unless I'm reading Adam Neville.

My stand out favourites include; Beside Me Singing In The Wilderness, Greener Pastures, The Devil Under The Maison Blue, Deducted From Your Share in Paradise and Dancers.

In the future I am definitely going to keep an eye out for more stories by Michael Wehunt I can sink my teeth into, and fingers crossed for a second collection of horror!

The Mound - Out now in Blood Moon Rising Magazine

I'm pleased to announce my story, The Mound, is appearing in the latest issue of Blood Moon Rising Magazine. This is an excellent free to read online magazine devoted to all things horror!

In this issue there are 13 stories, dark poetry and lots of special features such as interviews, book reviews and feature articles.


Monday, 16 July 2018

New Review for Tales From the Realm Vol 1 by Aphotic Realm

I was lucky enough to have one of my short stories, The Forgotten House, included in Aphotic Realm's Best of Anthology. There's a great line up in here and its a truly great anthology. Featuring 20 tales of dark and sinister fiction.

So far the reviews for Tales From the Realm have been fantastic, and there's a new one from Maura Yzmore, you can read it here from her blog.

Tales from the Realm out now Amazon UK Amazon US