Wednesday, 28 October 2020
This is quite a unique horror anthology, it features six super talented authors who each contribute two tales of darkness rather than one. I really liked this concept as I felt you got to see more of the author. This technique could have failed badly if they could only produce one great tale and one not so great but each tale was fantastic. There wasn't one story that I didn't like which is rare for me.
The first author featured is Christine Morgan with her two tales; Eye See You and Sharp Obsidian. Eye See You is a thrilling tale that descends into madness. A young girl develops an unusual phobia after a trip to Disney Land with her grandparents. What I really liked about this tale was that after a while you too will share in her phobia! A great start to an epic collection.
Sharp Obsidian Christine Morgan's second tale is wildly different. It is a dark fantasy tale inspired by Lovecraft of two siblings being hunted in a dark land full of horrors. Very otherworldly, very cool!
Next up is Robert Essig I really loved his two tales. The first was From Unclean Spells, the tale is about a man trying to get into the record books with the loudest burp ever recorded. From this point I was hooked I've never read anything quite like it. This tale was gory gross and just all out WTF Dude combined into an amazing ride. I get the feeling that this tale was just as fun to write as it was to read. His second tale Fuel for the King of Death went down a really creepy route. A man heartbroken form his disastrous relationship decides to visit a museum he loved as a youngster. Of course being a horror tale, it is no ordinary museum and now he is to play a vital part in its upkeep.
Wicked Smart Carnie by Mark Matthews was a really neat tale with extra grit. A man had something taken from him when he visited a fun fair in his youth. Now he has come back to take back what is his. Whilst I really liked Wicked Smart Carnie I absolutely loved Goodwin my god this was so dark and powerful. I don't want to say too much about it and ruin its impact when you read it but it was absolutely amazing.
Next up is Theresa Braun a writer with great talent! Her first tale Stillborn is about a young nurse trying to make headway in her career. She is given a considerable advantage when the highly respected Dr Reynolds picks her out to be his protege. However there is something weird going on in her hospital her suspicions fully ignited by a strange woman claiming her babies had been stolen. This was a great mystery tale that has a really terrific ending.
Homecoming her second tale blends Scottish Horror with romance. What I really liked about Theresa's tale were that they were quirky and dark. A young man is in heaven when he meets the lovely of his life, Melanie. She's so perfect that he decides he will propose during their idyllic holiday in Scotland will he get the outcome he wants?
Highway Hunger by Calvin Demmer was a really fast paced action tale with a splattering of horror. Dudley starts a new job, removing road kill from a long stretch of highway. It's a fairly easy going job yet it comes with rules that cannot be broken under any circumstances. I really loved this tale from beginning to end.
Motel Madness really blew me away. This is a horror tale that never lets you go. This one genuinely scared me! It's a classic nightmare situation of waking up somewhere you did not expect to find yourself and also having no idea how the mishap unfolded. A brilliant tale of human corruption and the will to survive no matter the odds. Epic!
Glenn Rolfe is the last author to be featured with his two tales The Guide and The House on Mayflower Street both of which I really enjoyed. The Guide managing to be both poignant as well as creepy and after reading Motel Madness I needed it! However his second tale The House on Mayflower Street had no tender moments and was pure horror. I really loved this tale. I just can't resist a haunted house!
Can't wait for the next instalment!
"A series of micro-collections featuring a selection of peculiar tales from the best in horror and speculative fiction.
From Black Shuck Books and Dan Coxon comes Green Fingers, the nineteenth in the Black Shuck SHADOWS series."
This short story collection immediately intrigued me by the cover! I love it! Also the name of the publishers- Black Shuck Books. For many years I have been drawn to British folklore and when you twin it with horror you have a winning combination such as Green Fingers by Dan Coxon.
Dan Coxon is also the editor of Enter The ShadowBooth, many of the tales included in here made their way into Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year volume 11. So far there have been four volumes and if you like creepy horror you must check them out. He is also the editor of This Dreaming Isle and has had many of his own stories published in magazines such as Black Static, Unsung Stories, Hinnom and Neon Literary Magazine to name but a few.
Since reading Cinders of a Blind Man Who Could See by Kev Harrison, The Forest is Hungry by Christopher Stanley, and The Reddening by Adam Nevill, I was desperate for more stellar folk horror. Luckily for me Green Gingers was at hand.
There are seven short stories in this collection which all work really well together. I really liked all these stories but Green Fingers and The Pale Men were my favourites.
This is the sort of horror that draws you in playing you with a false sense of security until suddenly it strikes. Deeply atmospheric these tales are events that feel like they could happen to anyone, no one is safe within these pages. This collection is superbly written because it feels so real, Dan Coxon takes the strange and makes it seem probable.
A married couple caught in the doldrums of marriage move to The Peninsula home of many wonderful exotic plants such as Swamp Lantern, Stink Currant and Monkey Flower to name a few. Whilst her husband is at work the wife beast back her loneliness by getting acquainted with her new garden.
Out of the blue a plant is sent to her as a gift. There is no card, no way of telling who sent it and what the plant is but in no time at all the wife carefully finds it a permanent home in her garden.
By Black Snow She Wept
In 1822 something happened up in those mountains, something that has haunted Mary Hopkiss for almost 20 years and now it is time for her to tell her side of the story...
Silas and Mary have recently emigrated arriving in the USA, travelling across treacherous landscape, they dream of finding their fortunes to build a new life together. Conditions are hard but they have each other on their arduous journey, except they are not entirely alone.
The Pale Men
Leonard's son returns home after a long absence to bury his recently deceased father. They've had a troubled and often fraught relationship. Coming back after all these years reminds him of all the dark days of his childhood he was forced to endure and what drove him to flee.
But then being in his Dad's old haunts his late father's mysterious begin to draw him in holding him close.
Out of the collection this was my favourite! Fans of the British horror magazine Black Static will love it too.
We Live in Dirt
Once a proud and successful man, Miles couldn't help but eventually succomb to old age. He wants to live out his final years in peace but a strange memento mori from his past resurfaces and threatens to ruin him and his legacy. Despite being in his sunset years he can't afford for the events of 25 years ago to resurface. He can't let the truth escape.
Another of my faves! A mysterious tale centred around an impossibly old tree. I've always been fascinated by these gentle giants who silently stand among us century after century. Who knows what they have witnessed in their long lives, what they have overheard, what they know and just how they stay alive so long?
We follow the tale of a young freelancer mostly working from, following a lifestyle of social distancing before Coronavirus. She only really ventures out in the local forest to walk her beloved dog, Oscar, who one fateful day discovers a remote part of the woods best left undisturbed. This was a super fun read!
Although he's been told over and over again not to worry about the screaming outside their log cabin he can't escape from its urgency.
Four friends escape New York City for a couple of days to recharge after their hectic lives have worn them out. They travel out into the wilderness to stay in Janie's Uncle's log cabin. He doesn't stay there anymore, not after the incident...
Monday, 21 September 2020
A chilling new short story collection from the author of The Forest is Hungry and The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales.
In 'Devil's Reach', a frantic father boards a ferry, hoping to save his daughter and escape his wife. But nothing is as it seems as the ferry sails into darkness, and there are forces at work he won’t begin to understand until it’s too late.
In 'Hell's Teeth', a young girl enlists the help of supernatural forces to exact revenge on the school bully, only to find she can’t live with guilt.
And in the final story, 'Unbecoming Me', a young man’s desperate search for love takes an unexpected turn after he’s rejected by the woman of his dreams.
Dark, sinister and unforgiving – Unbecoming Me & Other Interruptions will make you want to sleep with the lights on.
Demain Publishing is back and I couldn't be happier! I've just finished reading Curfew by Kev Harrison and now Unbecoming Me, & Other Interruptions by another greatly talented author, Christopher Stanley. Recently I read The Lamppost Huggers, his debut flash collection and absolutely loved it.
His first offering with Demain Publishing was a novelette, The Forest Is Hungry, which I loved, British horror at it's best. So I had really high expectations for this mini collection of three short stories - Devil's Reach, Hell's Teeth and Unbecoming Me.
The first tale, and also my favourite is Devil's Reach. This is a mad creepy tale of a husband trying to escape from his controlling wife with their nine month old baby. He's made it to the ferry but can he start a fresh once he lands on the other side? I loved this tale, it was fantastic from beginning to end. It's a really gripping story that hooks you in.
Hell's Teeth is the darkest story I've read in a long time. I really loved Daisy, this poor little girl who has a miserable time at school. She's an easy target for the school bully but finds a way to get this monster off her back. But of course there's no happy ending for anyone involved here.
Unbecoming me, tells the story of two twins navigating their way through life, except one died at birth. I really liked the strangeness of this tale when one twin has a life changing moment of falling in love with the wrong person.
All in all, a great collection. I can't wait to read more in the series!
When Jamie takes his girlfriend for a summer anniversary getaway by the sea, he thinks only the great British weather can ruin his plans. But he hasn’t accounted for Mrs Heinz, the bizarre proprietor of The Sailor’s Rest, and her obsessive fixation on midnight and curfew...
I'm so excited that Demain Publishing is back with another onslaught of horror! Seriously this series is really addictive!
Over the years I've read a lot of Kev Harrison's work. They're all great fun and of course very dark. I loved his previous tale in the series - Cinders of a Bind Man Who Could See. This was an excellent serving of folk horror set in a small community in Northern England.
The last tale I read by Kev was his folk horror novella, The Balance, which I absolutely loved. It's a great reinterpretation of the legendary Baba Yaga folk tale with a modern twist. It's gone on to receive great praise and now's he's back with Curfew.
Curfew is about a fun romantic weekend going very wrong! Jamie takes his girlfriend down to Bournemouth for a fun weekend by the sea. They've been dating for two years and he wants to show her how much she means to him.
Their bed and breakfast is perfect, it's delightfully quaint and old fashioned, clean and well kept. The prefect setting for a romantic weekend except for the proprietor - Mrs Heinz. She expects all her paying guests to be in their rooms by midnight - no exceptions!
Once midnight hits there's a change in the guesthouse located out of town. Jamie grows curious he doesn't like being dictated to by a sour old woman sitting by the fire waiting for something.
This is a quick read, perfect for when you're between books. The tale starts quickly and is great fun throughout. The characters do feel like a real couple who only want to have fun before their daily grind resumes on Monday.
I loved the ending too, but obviously can't say much about that without giving out spoilers!
Thursday, 20 August 2020
Now it's five years later, and as the last witch left from her village, Odette has exiled herself to the nearby woods where she's sworn off all magic, hoping instead for quiet and for safety. But no witch has ever been permitted a peaceful life.
It starts with crows tumbling out of the clouds and spectral voices on the wind that won't leave her alone. Then there are those midnight visits to the graveyard that she can't quite remember in the morning and the strange children following her everywhere she goes. Odette wants to forget magic, but her magic doesn't want to forget her. Meanwhile, the former friends she left behind in the village are cowering together, hiding from the ghostly birds they believe she's sent to torment them for abandoning her. But that's only the beginning of their problems, as Odette soon discovers their worst nightmare is about to come true--the witchfinders are returning. And this time, the decree is clear: to burn the witch that got away.
With the men drawing nearer to the village, Odette must face the whispers from the dead and confront her fear of her own growing power if she wants any chance of stopping the army of witchfinders determined to rid the countryside of magic once and for all.
Friday, 31 July 2020
In fact, I fit right in really. If you looked at me, you wouldn't think for a minute I'd bashed in the head of a frail old lady, watched people die in the house fire I lit, or made sure a jumped-up motorhead got crushed to death in the tin can on wheels I 'fixed'.
There are others too, but you'll have buy this little look inside my head to find out the rest of it. Don't want to? Really? Let me just make a note of that ...