Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Nightmare Magazine issue 56 - May 2017 Edited by John Joseph Adams

Nightmare Magazine has been up and running since 2012 providing us with the best horror and dark fiction stories. It is edited by multiple  Hugo award winning author and editor John Joseph Adams. For all the aspiring authors of horror and dark fantasy getting your story accepted here is a really big deal and once you start reading the work published by Nightmare you will understand.

In May's issue there are four stories of horror and dark fiction. I have to say I really enjoyed them all, they all had a uniqueness quality to them. I will definitely buy this magazine again I bought it for just £2.34 on kindle.

Kiss of the Mouthless Girl by Giovanni De Feo

A man sits alone in the bar brought there by loneliness, there he meets a strange character who does not belong. On his face he wears an eye patch and half his frozen as if by fear. Taking his next to our protagonist he begins to tell the tale of the Diamanti Sisters with their diamond eyes and white canes.Though it is not those women who hold our protagonist in thrall but their beautiful younger sister who waits by the window.

This story reeled me in from the first sentence with it's intriguing prophecies and odd characters. The tale he spun, which he admitted he had no choice in picking his intended audience for he was just the messenger,  was absolutely fascinating. It felt like an old fairy tale with a very modern feel.

Kiss of the mouthless girl had a really visual aspect to it, I could so easily imagine it playing out in my head like a personal cinema. Despite being a horror story I felt the ending had a really strange and beautiful ending to it.

Pearls by Priya Sharma

Maddy tries to still the pain in her heart through her manic painting of those she once knew and loved. Never able to forget the pain, never finding the power to forgive she lives her life completely alone looking into the living world around her but never being a part of.

Until she meets a neighbour, Paul an antiquities dealer, specialising in searching for lost things. Like her he too was once lost consumed with the hatred that hurt brings. But he found a way to overcome it. Can she too? Can she find a way to lift her curse that has haunted for centuries?

This is was a great story, really moving when it dawns on you who these two people really area. Very cleverly told and really original.

The Sound of by Charles Payseur

This is a story with some really sinister undertones, taking place in a world not so unlike ours governed by strict rules and regulations.

Diego is a man living in denial, forbidden the right to live as who he really is. He is haunted by that sound from which there is no relief , no respite. To him its torture but not everyone is prey to it.

Living his life in fear, constantly looking behind him, running form town to town. He's targeted because he's deemed too political, something he just can't help.

Can he escape the sound? How long can he resist? Can he learn to endure it before it consumes him?

The Vaults of Heaven by Helen Marshall

Another great story from Nightmare Magazine. A young archaeologist undertakes a position in Greece called in after his anonymous predecessor abruptly left. He is charged with making sense of the hammered bronze fragments that have lain undiscovered in a long abandoned necropolis for centuries. 

Soon he finds himself drawn into a world laced with myths and magic. He finds himself reunited with the night terrors he had suffered as a child  where he'd seen "the whole of humanity...all things crawling to the grave." He takes solace in the pursuit of beauty through seeking out women, for it is that quality that has the power to shield us from the truths of the world.

I really enjoyed this story. I twas incredibly poignant yet I find it really hard to easily summarise it into a few short paragraphs as a lot is being said between the lines.

Vaults of Heaven really reminds me of this picture which fascinated me as a child. To me this picture represents someone looking beyond our reality and seeing what is really there behind the curtains, which is what exactly happens to the character in this tale. How will he use this knowledge? Will it change his life, will he use this knowledge for good or bad.

About the Author

S.J.Budd is a writer of all things weird and creepy. Previously her tales have been featured on Deandman's Tome,  Sanitarium Magazine, Dark Gothic Resurrected, Liquid Imagination, Aphotic Realm, Aurora Wolf, Aphelion, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, The Wild Hunt, Danse Macabre, Shadows at the Door, Inner Sins, Bewildering Stories, Siren's Call and many more.
She lives at  and  @sjbuddj 
Spells and Persuasions, her debut collection of short stories of horror and dark fantasy is available now in paperback and kindle from Amazon

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Prom Screams by Calvin Demmer

Prom Screams is the latest tale in Calvin Demmer's extraordinary Dark Celebrations series; She Will Rise, Hungry Ghosts, Labor Day Hunt, Thanks Sinning, Trick or Death, Three Dead Men  Happy Dark Year  and Spring Outbreak. They are all available on Amazon for less than a pound or dollar!

In Prom Screams we follow the tale of William Carson who has recently been dumped and heartbroken by his girlfriend just days before the biggest night of his life - Prom Night. He wants to prove to his ex love and all his best friends that he's not the loser they all think him to be and what better way than to hire a beautiful girl to hang on his arms and he waves good-bye to adolescence and hello to the rest of his life.

Except that the beautiful girl he's hired isn't available, he starts to panic he's paid a lot of money and has so much to prove not just to his peers but to himself. Instead he is given Fay a girl so unimaginably beautiful and enchanting. 

A dark tale that screams with the desperation of heartbreak and youth. I really enjoyed this little tale, it kept me guessing  til the end and I'll never look at redheads in the same way again!

But he must treat her well in the manner she is accustomed to and she must be returned by midnight. Will this be a night to remember and cherish forever? Will he be able to get her back in time?

Prom Screams is out now on Amazon

About the Author

Calvin Demmer is a crime, mystery and speculative fiction author. When not working, he is intrigued by that which goes bump int he night and the sciences of our universe. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including Under The Bed, Deadman's Tome, Siren's Call, Sanitarium Magazine, Morpheus Tales, Devolution Z and many, many more.

You can find out more about Calvin Demmer at

Twitter @CalvinDemmer

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Celebrating Women in Horror

Recently I decided to take the plunge and release my debut short story collection, Spells and Persuasions which features some of my previously published tales of horror and dark fantasy.

So far it's been a great journey and I've had some really great reviews and recently my book has been featured on a list of recommended reading for those who want to celebrate women in horror by the extremely talented Gwendolyn Kiste who recently had her debut collection published with Journal Stone, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. It was a real honour to be on a list with some really amazing authors.

You can read the full article here

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Third Twin by Darren Speegle

This is a story unlike anything I have read in a long time, it is more than just a horror tale it delves deep into the very fabric of our existence distorting everything we think we know about life.

In The Third Twin, we are introduced to Barry Ocason who at first seems to be living the life most of us can only dream about. He's not tied to a dull pointless desk job but spends his days travelling around the world indulging in his love of outdoor sports and making his money as an outdoor travel writer.

His fortunes soon take a downward turn when he  receives from out of the blue an adventure for a treeking adventure in the Bavarian Alps, Germany which compels him to answer. But before he goes he  brings his teenage daughter along with him to the Spider Festival he's writing an article about in Rio Tago, Brazil. There he finds the Elephant Man who takes an unusual interest in his daughter.

We soon realise that Barry is no stranger to pain and horror which I won't delve into so as not to bring up spoilers. He must fight to salvage what he has left in life except he is fighting something which he cannot see nor pin point, yet this threat seems to know all about him.

The Third Twin is a story that starts off fairly slowly as we are introduced to Barry and his family but soon he is locked in a battle against an unknown entity to save his daughter and try and salvage something from his failed marriage. Barry is a pretty normal down to earth guy which makes this story feel more unsettling, making us think this situation could happen to anyone. Throughout his globe trotting chase of cat and mouse he never becomes subject to  hysteria and fear, instead he is methodical, calculated and calm which makes the story seem more terrifyingly real.

This is a very ambitious novel which delves into the mystery of twins, the bridge between life and death, it's not always an easy read but one that is worth it. Quickly it picks up pace demanding your full attention as it is unlike anything you have read before. I found myself skimming a few parts, not because it was dull but because I was desperate to know what was going to happen next. It's a read that leaves you wanting to read it again.

As again this is another great tale from Crystal Lake Publishing. I urge you to check out their other titles such as Embers by Kenneth W. Cain. They have produced some great edgy horror fiction as well as books about how to make it as a horror writer.

About the Author

Darren Speegle is the author of six books, including his recently released debut novel The Third Twin (Crystal Lake Publishing). His second novel, Artifacts is due in 2018, while a third, The World is My Oyster, has been completed. The latest of his five short story collections, A Haunting in Germany and Other Stories was released in 2016 by PS Publishing. His short fiction has appeared in numerous venues, including Subterranean, Cemetery Dance, Clarkesworld, Postscripts, ChiZine, Crimewave, The Third Alternative, Fantasy, Dark Discoveries and Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Speaking to Skull Kings and Other Stories by Emily B. Cataneo

May 2017 heralds an exciting debut collection by Emily Cataneo released by Journalstone Publishing. It features twelve short stories with intriguing and other-worldly titles such as The Emerald Coat and Other Wishes, The City Dreams of Bird-Men, The Rondelium Girl of Rue Marseilles and of course, Speaking to Skull Kings.

Emily Cataneo has been making waves as an up and coming writer through having her stories feature in many prestigious publications such as Nightmare, Interzone,The Dark, Black Static and Lackington's Magazine.

I really enjoyed reading this, a really original and thought provoking body of work. Throughout these twelve tales is a really strong female element which I loved. The writing is very beautiful but the subject matter and themes are very dark at times representing the worst of humanity. There are many themes such as abandonment, guilt, revenge, retribution, salvation, and a burning curiosity with what lies on the other side beyond our borders. It's really hard to classify these stories, they are elements of many different genres such as science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal but added in all together  in a very unique formula they make for some delightfully strange stories.

The influences for these stories range from Victorian Spiritualism, Russian Revolutions, Medieval Europe, alternate universes that exist parallel to ours. They are tales of mad kings, crazed scientists, people longing for escape from reality, and ghosts.

For me the stand out tales are (although they're all great,) The Rondelium Girl of Rue Marseilles, Not the Grand Dukes Dancer, The Emerald Coat and Other Wishes. The imagination used to dream up these stories is astounding. I also really enjoyed Hungry Ghosts and The Ghosts of Blackwell, Maine.

What's really special about Emily Cataneo's writing is that it is really moving and poignant. You really feel that you're in there with them experiencing that moment through them.

Speaking to Skull Kings and Other Stories is out in May 2017 through JournalStone Publishing. Go forth and buy it!

About the Author

Emily Cataneo is a writer and journalist currently living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her short stories have appeared in magazines such as Nightmare, SmokeLong Quarterly, Interfictions: A Journal of Interstitial Arts, The Dark and Lackington's. She was long-listed for John Joseph Adams' Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy in 2016, and her debut collection, Speaking to Skull Kings and Other Stories is forthcoming in May 2017