Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Clouded by Envy by Candace Robinson






Brenik has always been envious of his twin sister, Bray. Growing up as fairy-like creatures, known as bats, everything came easier to Bray. While Brenik spent his time in her shadows, never feeling he was enough. After escaping their world of Laith, and living on Earth for ten years, Brenik attempts to strike a deal with the Stone of Desire to become human. Though true humanity is not an option, he will accept the curse that will alter him to get as close as he can.

Living in a tree trunk for the past year hasn’t been easy for Bray, more so after her brother disappears again. When a human boy and his brother, Wes, find her, a new friendship is struck. Through Wes, Bray learns there can be more to life than waiting within a tree. But worrying over where Brenik has vanished to always remains in the back of her mind.

When Bray reunites with Brenik, she realizes she must help him break the curse after she discovers the need for blood is beginning to overpower him. The curse not only damages those who get close to Brenik, but it could also destroy whatever is blooming between Bray and Wes.



What drew me in straight away was the cover, look at that! It's gorgeous and macabre all at the same time. I would classify this is a a YA coming of age story but one that adults will love too. There's lots of really cool elements of fairy tales tropes and fantasy which I love. This is a book unlike anything I've ever read before and as a result it was one I couldn't put down.

There's some really cool characters in this book which makes it so addictive, I loved the opposing natures of Bray and Brenik which the story centres around. They are twins but life is much easier for Bray and her brother finding it harder to adapt after being abandoned by their parents soon becomes clouded by envy. This is a really original tale that whisks you away into another world!

Clouded by Envy by Candace Robinson will be out February 2019!

Friday, 23 November 2018

Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick by Steve Stred

Within this book, the author of Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery, Invisible, Yuri and Wagon Buddy returns to ensure you will be looking behind you frequently while reading.
Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick collects all new tales filled with depravity and retribution.  Brimming with horror, thrills and creepy chills, the reader is sure to find the hairs standing up on the back of their necks and the occult themes causing them to question the true nature of the lights flickering.
When all is said and done, when you finally finish reading this batch of stories, you will have found that at some point, you locked the doors, checked under the bed, and made sure all of the closet doors are closed.
You have been warned.
I was lucky enough to win this in a giveaway and to my shame it's taking me ages to finally get round to it! But now that I have, I'm so glad. There's a lot to love about this collection. It's dark, fun and full of surprises. 
I really liked how these stories all start off really normal, beginning with everyday situations we all find ourselves, but then of course it quickly descends into horror and mayhem. There's no chance to stop reading these gripping, fast paced stories. There's a great range of styles, subject matter and genres within, all untied by an underlying current of horror.  They're so original you never know which direction Steve Stred is going to take you in.
Stand out stories for me in this collection include; The Witch a great tale of powerful women being in total control. Wardrobe malfunction was brilliant, that story just keeps getting darker and darker! Tossers and Thunderstorm are also up there, I loved the mysterious ending of the latter. Head Case really stood out for me too and shows that technological advances aren't always to our advantage.
Stred also offers up fascinating author notes alongside his tales, explaining how he came up with the original ideas
This is a really good collection of tales and can't wait to see what he writes next!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun




Mark is uprooted from his home and high school in the Twin Cities and forced to move with his family into a Victorian in Nowhere-ville. Busy with the relocation and fitting in, Mark’s parents don’t see what’s unfolding around them—the way rooms and left behind objects seem alive with a haunted past. 
Of course, Mark keeps his ghostly encounters to himself, all the while sinking deeper into the house's dark, alluring, and ultimately terrifying history. As romantic entanglements intensify, the paranormal activity escalates. Past and present come together. Everything is connected—from the bricks in the walls to the hearts beating in their chests, all the secrets of Fountain Dead are finally unearthed.



This is a great book for so many reasons. The main characters of Mark and Emma are great, very different but both very likeable, you really get behind them. I really felt like I got to know them as the book progressed which gives the book a really emotional feel when the horror begins to hit home, (literally!) 

Fountain Dead is told via two story lines which meet up in dramatic conclusion. One is Emma's tale from 1860 who is uprooted from her home leaving behind her first love. Her father wants her to marry and live out her life as someone's wife but she has other plans...

Our other main character is Mark. A teenager from 1988 he shares lot in common with Emma. He too has been forced to move with his parents when they secure teaching posts at a university and leaves his first love far behind.I really enjoyed both timelines, and as the plot progresses it gets really tense for both characters so much so that when you're reading about Emma you're desperate to get back to Mark's POV and vice versa!

I loved Mark a brilliant portrayal of a teenage boy. I don't how I know this as to the best of my knowledge, I've never been a teenage boy! For him it's a real coming of age tale where he's forced to become a man, taking control and making decisions about what's best for his family. He's got a lot on his plate in this book, figuring out who he is, what's important to him, his family and how far he'll go to protect the ones he cares about which he goes about with a great sense of humour.

Emma is also a great character who refuses to settle as someone's wife but wants to teach and help shape young minds. She goes through a lot but she's a fighter.

And of course, there's a whole load of ghosts to entertain you too!

Fountain Dead is so much more than just a haunted house story, there's a lot of elements to this tale, the importance of families sticking together through thick or thin, duty vs desire, revenge and loss.

I've read a lot of great stories by Theresa Braun over the years, all of these have been horror themed. But in this book she also shows off her abilities as an amazing romance author which really adds a lot of depth to Fountain dead. I have to admit I'm not too keen on romance, clearly horror is my jam, but the romantic subplots in this are amazing, really poignant and moving.

The ending is great too, every tiny loose end is tied up in one great big ending!

Fountain Dead is out soon, November 20th via Unnerving.





Tuesday, 2 October 2018

The Grim Reader reviews Tales From the Realm

Really thrilled to have woken up to a new review for Tales From the Realm from Grim Reader Reviews who does so much to help promote great horror. I have a story in this - The Forgotten House!

You can read his review here



Find out more about Aphotic Realm here. P.S they're about to release their Eldritch themed anthology!


Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Eat the Rich by Renee Miller

I first became familiar with Renee Miller after reading Church, which was really fantastic, it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through and Eat the Rich is no exception.



"When Ed Anderson discards his life to become a homeless person, he has no idea of the shit storm about to happen. Almost overnight, the city's homeless population spikes.

So does the murder rate.

Ed learns that aliens posing as homeless people are eating the city's wealthiest residents. He tries to warn the police, but they think he's crazy.

The situation is worse than Ed describes, though.

He's right about the aliens. They're here to free humans from wealth and poverty. The flesh of the rich is just a tasty reward for their hard work. And if humans refuse to embrace the utopia imagined for them, there is a plan B:
~
KILL EVERYONE."


Eat the Rich from Hindered Souls Press, is based on an alien invasion like no other. It's told from both sides, the aliens and the unfortunate humans involved. Each chapter is based around a different character's who all have their own distinct personalities. I particularly liked Marin, the no-nonsense straight talking detective trying to make sense of mounting cases of mysterious murders where only the bones are left.

Of course we know what's going on as the reader which makes the book really fun. What I also liked is the very dark sense of humour prevailing throughout. I think we've all had fantasies of toppling the 1% of the population who own 99% of the world's wealth, but this book questions how would that scenario actually play out. Capitalism is always thought of as an evil force but are there any better alternatives right now?

So, back to the story a group of alien covertly launch an invasion. They come looking for human meat but only the very rich can satisfy their taste buds. Sometimes these aliens come off as strangely sweet they have the best intentions to improve life for us human except no one wanted their help.

The book is really fun and all the chapters are short and snappy which creates a really fast paced novel. I can't wait to read more by her! What I really like about Renee Miller is that she's not just a really good writer, but she's also a really good storyteller which to me are two very separate things. I haven't seen many writers who have both talents. A great book!



About the Author



I'd like to say I hate talking about myself, but that would be a lie. I don't mind in the least. Will it be interesting? Meh, probably not. 

Let's see, I write suspense, comedy, paranormal, horror and erotic horror fiction, because I'm terrible at choosing just one of anything. 

You can find me talking about writing and other stuff over at Underground Book Reviews or on www.deviantdolls.org.

Friday, 14 September 2018

The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste


The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste is an amazing book and you're all in for a treat. I was very excited to have been given an ARC as this is an author who's work I've been avidly following. Initialy she was mostly a short story writer, gracing the pages of Black Static, Lamplight, Interzone, Shimmer, Nightmare and a whole load more. Since then she turned her hand to writing a critically acclaimed novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row which was released last year.

And 2018 heralds her first novel - The Rust Maidens.



The Rust Maidens is set in Ohio during the 80's the title is a reference to what became known as the Rust Belt when industry rapidly declined leaving many families out of work. Rust Maidens follows the tale of the inhabitants of Denton street battling to survive the economic downturn. Things get a whole load worse for them, but it's not just the men who suffer but the women too, particularly the Rust Maidens made to suffer the actions of man.

Told mostly in flashback through Phoebe Shaw who returns reluctantly to her old home after 28 years to find her scars have not healed as well and she would have hoped. Ms Kiste has created a beautifully haunting landscape which also manages to be creepy and threatening at the same time. I too grew up in a small town and she has brilliantly captured the claustrophobic living conditions where the past and present taunt you every day.

Cleveland, Ohio is a town Phoebe is desperate to escape once she's graduated from High School, she plans to run into the sunset with her beloved cousin Jacqueline but her plans are scuppered when four local girls fall prey to a mysterious illness that no one can explain.

This is a coming of age story like no other, at first the girls are left to fend for themselves, even their nearest and dearest are unwilling to help them they would rather forget they ever existed. However Phoebe won't turn a blind eye and goes to battle like Joan of Arc.

I found Phoebe a really interesting character, the final girl who gets to tell her story in her own words.  What I like about Phoebe is that she possesses none of the usual final girl traits that allow them to survive. She's not a virginal innocent young girl, she does what she wants, never bites her tongue and not afraid to get into a fight. And she certainly doesn't allow herself to fall in love with the bad guy.

I really enjoyed this book. I could discuss it for hours but I don't like adding spoilers into my review and ruin the story for those of you who have yet to read it. Let's just say it's a book you can quite happily read over and over again.

It's a little off topic but this book reminds me of watching a history programme where a female historian was lamenting the fact that so many important women have vanished from history, and this book really reflects that. This is what Phoebe fights for, to have them remembered.




The Mouth of the Dark by Tim Waggoner

This has definitely got to be the most WTF book I have ever read? At the end of every page I was like "WTF?!" And it only got weirder further in.



This is a really fun book and Tim Waggoner certainly has an amazing imagination which has earned him a Bram Stoker Award.

Jayce, a middle aged man stuck in a rut has lost his daughter. She's vanished into thin air and it's taken all these years following his bitter divorce to realise he barely knows anything about his beloved Emory. But one thing he is sure of is that he'll go to any lengths to find her.

But finding his daughter is no easy journey when he discovers a dangerous underworld, Shadow which  exists along ours. Jayce suspects this is where his daughter is, and that she might be in danger.

"He'll do anything it takes to find his daughter, even if it means becoming a monster himself..."

I wouldn't really classify this as horror though it is certainly dark. I loved how it was so unpredictable  which makes it a book hard to put down once you start reading it. This book can get quite uncomfortable at times, particularly when Jayce begins to learn more about Emory, it's literally every dad's worst nightmare but I love how Tim Waggoner is an author not afraid to embrace being controversial.

I was very fortunate to be given this book from Flame Tree Press which has just launched in exchange for an honest review. I have read quite a few titles, The Siren and the Specter, Bad Neighbour and many more I can't wait to get started on. I'd like to say how impressed I am with the craftsmanship of the writers involved. They're all amazing books and I can't wait to see what's released next.


Thursday, 13 September 2018

The Bad Neighbour by David Tallerman

I was really fortunate to have this book sent to me in exchange for a review from Flame Tree Press, but my other half liked the look of it so much he nabbed it for himself.

Here's his review!



The back cover blurb gave me a good idea of what to expect but I was still shocked by how gripped by the story I became.

When part-time teacher Ollie Clay panic-buys a rundown house in the outskirts of Leeds, he soon recognizes his mistake. His new neighbor, Chas Walker, is an antisocial thug, and Ollie's suspicions raise links to a local hate group. With Ollie's life unravelling rapidly, he feels his choices dwindling: his situation is intolerable and only standing up to Chas can change it. But Ollie has his own history of violence, and increasingly, his own secrets to hide; and Chas may be more than the mindless yob he appears to be. As their conflict spills over into the wider world, Ollie will come to learn that there are worse problems in life than one bad neighbor.

What strikes me as so capturing is how much I could relate to the story's protagonist, Ollie. A lot of us have been there. Investing or wanting to invest a lot of time and emotion into your first house/flat purchase only to have your heart broken on discovering the property isn't all you thought it was when you learn your neighbour is as antisocial as they come.

Okay, that hasn't quite happened to me but the book makes it very easy to imagine yourself in Ollie's shoes. All your money invested in what a third party would only describe as shithole, which only dawns on you after the purchase when you have the displeasure of meeting the tyrant next door. All scarily relatable.

Of course things don't stop there. Without spoiling the twists and turns of the story, the neighbour is worse than merely an antisocial annoyance; his neo-nazi extremist views extend to actions also. Personally I found it really upsetting to reluctantly admit these types of people probably still exist in today's society. I would say if any potential readers are particularly sensitive to racism or have traumatic personal experience on that topic I could imagine this a tough read so proceed with caution in that case. Otherwise it certainly works to make you hate the antagonists and places you squarely behind Ollie and friends. It makes you wonder what you would do when confronted by such evil.

It really is a great read, I'd rate it very high as a real world gritty thriller. The kind of story that has me flying through the pages as my schedule will allow and thinking about the the story when I put it down.

Colin Farr, book reader extraordinaire.

Monday, 10 September 2018

ReUnion





I'm thrilled to announce that my latest tale, From Beyond has been selected to appeared in Deadman's Tome ReUnion anthology this is a celebration of ten years of Deadman's Tome! This is on sale now!

Amazon UK 
Amazon US


Monday, 27 August 2018

Incubate Initiate

I'm delighted to announce my latest story, Incubate Initiate is out now at Dark Fire Fiction.

Go read it here 

Monday, 20 August 2018

Dystopia by Aphotic Realm





It's landed, the fourth instalment of Aphotic Realm and this may just be their best issue yet!  There's a stellar line up included in here of awesome writers and for the first time there's now comics included, more interviews, including one with the legendary Kevin J.Anderson and even book reviews!

The theme for this mighty issue is Dystopia! In here you'll find tales of of broken worlds, dismantled societies and lost hope. Few remain and they will fight by any means for survival.

It seems Aphotic Realm keep outdoing themselves with each issue. I for one cannot wait for the next issue: Eldritch!



The Red Umbrella by Brian Black

Dystopia gets off to a cracking start with The Red Umbrella by Brian Black. A really gripping tale set in a post apocalyptic world where nothing is what it seems.

Interrogation by Anoop Anthony

A great tale warning of the endless cycle of carnage and bloodshed. Can humanity work together in a crisis or will they rip each other apart?

May it Pass by Bo Chapell

A scientist father and his daughter team up to save the world by heading out to space, but will she find the salvation for humanity or something much worse?

Flake John F.Leonard

What are these strange flakes falling out of the sky? Why won't they melt? Is is a harmless freak weather pattern or something more sinister?

Soul Sisters by Pegi Eyers

Billions have died during "The Waves," but a few remain. How did they survive? And what's their purpose now?

Hungry Little Things by S.J.Budd

My little tale about a reclusive mother desperate to get her son home. Is she right to want to stay indoors? What's really out there?

Frostbyte by Kevin Holton

A heart braking tale when a doctor's bedside manner is removed to make way for extra efficiency. The world is being taken over by machines and Dr Vy Phrazian is trying to hold on to humanity. A really emotional tale.

Fix Me by Lachlan Watt

Definitely the scariest story in this collection. A young mechanic finds herself trapped in darkness with no way out. She can't remember how she got here or what's gone on, but is there any point in remembering? The truth won't set you free.


8-Bit Rebellion by A.A.Medina

Arnold Jones is locked into a world of slavery to the machines who have overtaken humanity as the ruling force. Many people just give up, but can Arnold find a way out of this hell? This is a really cool story with a message of hope.


The Day the Towers Rose by S.E.Casey

If the end of days were approaching how would you react? Would you fight back, kill yourself or try to survive in any way that you could?


Shards of Yesterday by Mandi Jourdan

The world has been saved by a secretive company known as Lazarus who worked out the ancient secrets to life, magic and the soul. But have they really made the world a better place?

Perfecting Humanity by Michael J.Wyant Jr

A really cool mind bending story of a young woman with a special abilities, but is it a gift or a curse?


Ruby by Jonathan Boon

There are many ways in which we are destroying our planet and over-population is just one of them. A theme explored with heart braking reality in Jonathan Boon's Ruby.  This is the tale of Ruby is just too good at school and soon atractts unwanted attention. Very thought provoking 


Perforator's  Run by Cameron Kirk

In his Grandad's legendary Chevrolet the Captain is returning to Dead City, a landscape of blackened towers and the roaming undead. There's a great foreboding atmosphere in this bleak portrayal of a post war world.




Saturday, 18 August 2018

For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher by Jason Sizemore




This is the hilarious account of how Jason Sizemore had a mid life crisis and decided to launch his own publishing company, Apex, which needs no introduction.

Reading this book has given me so much respect and admiration for small independent publishers. The struggles of a writer are very well documented but for the first time you get to see the trials and tribulations of an editor.

Jason Sizemore recounts his journey of becoming on of the top indie publishers with pure charm and sincerity. I was really rooting for him and long live Apex. It's a very honest account of his struggles and shortcomings with brilliant anecdotes of book con shenanigans. I've never been to a convention but after reading this I'm dying to try them out! Bring on StokerCon 2020!


Sounds of the Night



Sounds of the Night is the latest anthology to be released by the super awesome Alban Lake Publishing crew due out Oct 18.
My story, What The Eyes Cannot See, will be included. This is my first novelette to be published!

You can pre-order Sounds of The Night now from Infinite Realm Book Store here

New Story! Fliggy-Wibbit hits Mystic Blue Review

You can read my latest tale, Fliggy-Wibbit in issue 5 of The Mystic Blue Review. My first non horror tale to be published, but it is still spooky!


You can read it here is Issue 5

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.

https://erikhofstatter.net/

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.

Enjoy


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


Friday, 6 July 2018

Something Borrowed, Something Blood-soaked by Christa Carmen


I first came across Christa Carmen is issue 5 of Unnerving magazine with her short tale, The Red Room. It really stood out to me amongst the others and I thought here's a new voice in horror. So obviously I jumped at the chance to get a sneak peak at her upcoming debut collection Something Borrowed, Something Blood-soaked.



With this collection of tales she does not disappoint. I had a lot of fun reading through this.There are thirteen tales inside and not one of them was a dud. Stand out tales for me include; Lady of the Flies, The Girl Who Loved Bruce Campbell, This Our Angry Train and Souls Dark and Deep. Although they are all very good!

There's a lot to like about this collection, not only can Christa Carmen entertain you for a few hours with dark tales they are also really thought provoking and stay with you long afterwards. Her stories delve deep into all forms of darkness, the grit of human depravities and the things which no mortal can explain. You get the sense that Christa has lived many lives.

A lot of people say that monsters aren't creatures which creep at night but they're amongst us and very much human as illustrated in Wolves at the Door and Bears in the Forest. This tale really stood out for me. The tale of a young mother trying to create a better life for her daughter but everything is stacked against her, even the people who's job it is to help.

Each of these stories are really different but equally compelling. I can't say there was one I didn't enjoy. Some of them made for uncomfortable reading with their darkness but it's a collection I really love. I can't wait for more from Christa Carmen. This is a really exciting time for Women in Horror!

Thanks to Hook of a Book for allowing me a sneaky preview before the official release date in August 2018

About the Author



Christa Carmen's short fiction has appeared in Fireside Fiction Company, Unnerving Magazine, Comet Press' Year's Best Hardcore Horror, Volume 2, Outpost 28 Issue #2, Third Flatiron's Strange Beasties, Alban Lake Publishing's Only the Lonely, DarkFuse Magazine, Tales to Terrify, Ghost Parachute, Black Ice Magazine Volume 2, Dead Oaks' Horror Anthology Podcast, Horror Hill (Chilling Tales for Dark Nights / The Simply Scary Podcast Network), Weasel Press' The Haunted Traveler, Mad Scientist Journal, The Eunoia Review, Blood Moon Rising, Danse Macabre, Wolfsinger Publications' Just Desserts, DreamFusion Press' The Book of the Macabre, Devolution Z Horror Magazine, The J.J. OutrĂ© Review, Prolific Press' Jitter, Literally Stories, Fiction on the Web, Corner Bar Magazine, pennyshorts, Anotherealm, and Dark Fire Fiction. In 2016, "Four Souls of Eve" was published by Frith Books as a standalone eBook. Her work won Best in Genre, Thriller/Horror, in wordhaus' 2016 Trick or Treat Fall Story Contest and “The Goblin’s Abettor” won The Haberdasher’s Monster Mash Slash Fiction Contest in 2017. 

Christa has additional work forthcoming from Outpost 28 Issue #3, Quantum Corsets' Her Dark Voice 2, & Space Squid. Her debut fiction collection, "Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked," will be released in August 2018 by Unnerving. 

Christa lives in Westerly, Rhode Island with her husband and a beagle who rivals her in stubbornness. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in English and psychology, and a master's degree from Boston College in counseling psychology. She is currently pursuing a Master of Liberal Arts in Creative Writing & Literature from Harvard Extension School. Christa works for Pfizer in Clinical Trial Packaging, and at a local hospital as a mental health clinician. When she's not writing, she is volunteering with one of several organizations that aim to maximize public awareness and seek solutions to the ever-growing opioid crisis in southern RI and southeastern CT.





Tales From the Shadow Booth Volume 2 - Edited by Dan Coxon

The Shadow Booth edited by Dan Coxon, is a new journal of weird and eerie fiction and after reading the excellent Fortune Box by Madeleine Swann I have gotten a taste for weird fiction that is hard to classify.


This is the second volume from ShadowBooth. I haven't read the first yet, but after I finished this I immediately downloaded the first instalment.

Volume 2 features 12 short stories by many authors you will recognise if you' re  a fan of creepy horror fiction. I have to say the range of styles and subjects in this volume is huge. All tastes are catered for. This is a really impressive collection.

My ultimate favourites included; We Are the Disease, Monkeys on the Beach and Cave Venus et Stella. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the others,  it's just that this anthology has a very strong line up.

Buddy by Mark Morris

This was delightfully creepy creepy, particularly the descriptions of  Buddy. For me this is a slow burner but the wait is worth it. There are things that Heather wants to put behind her and Halloween marks an important milestone for her, one year since she lost her unborn son. Can't get over it can't forget it, she tries to move on but it's like he's there and he wants something from Mummy...


We are the Diesease by Gareth E.Rees

This one really worked for me. I also think it could be made into truly terrifying film.
 What we continue to do on our little blue planet never fails to shock at scare me. Whenever I read a distopian tale I always wonder how far off these ficitonal scenarios will differ from what will happen eventually. There's a great foreboding atmosphere pulsing thporugohut this tale. This tale felt really claustopohic and there's something about epedetions to the wilder climates of our planet such as the Artic that really scare me. What do we really know about these places? What could be lurking htere in wait?


Waves by Dan Grace

"the blackbird builds its nest in me
song of flint cuts the heart of me"


I really liked the style of this tale, the stryle felt really natural which makes the content more creepy.
What starts off as a fun lad holiday of two logn term mates quickly descends into hellish conditions.


My Father's Face by Giovanna Repetto (translated by Amanda Blee)

This is a really cool tale full of mystery and a herat of darkness. A young man orphaned in childhood has important questions about his past which eludes him. No one wants him to know the truth, maybe his memories are repressed for good reason.

Ear to Ear by Aliya Whiteley

A tale which is most definitely eerie. I don't think I've read anything like this before. Barbara, a young girl from a small town will do anything to fit in.  She wants to be normal, just like them and when Mrs Eddison's book club decide to intervene Barbara follows their advice a little too closely.

Feasting;Fasting by Anna Vaught

This tale has a definite Angela Carter feel to it, if you haven't read The Bloody Chamber, do so. This is a haunted house tale like no other.

Keel by George Sandison

I really liked this tale the perfect blend of eerie and horror. A young man along with his friends go back to the site of their youth where their favourite festival was situated. It's all long gone now but every year they go and camp to remember the good old days, before the pain of losing Lewis.


What to do When Your Child Brings Home a Mami Wata by Chikodili Emelumadu

This is set out like an article warning of the Mami Wata a supernatural water entity who takes human lovers. Except the article is really scary!

Good, Good, Good, Nice, Nice, Nice by Kirsty Logan

This was a really cool tale fusing horror and fantasy. Set in Scotland in a small forgotten town, the locals are undertaking an important task after the war. Harvesting babies form shark pouches to fight another war, bleak and eerie.


Monkeys on the Beach by Ralph Robert Moore

The whole time I was reading this tale I was scremaing at the family to go home! This was really scary I knew something bad was going to happen and the tension was unbearable.

Cave Venus et Stella by Anna Vaught

I think this has to be my favourite out of a strong bunch. A young carpenter is hired for work in a very strange street that although pristine in appearance seems deserted. Don't want to say too much about this tale and ruin it for those yet to read it but deliciously dark!

The Joanne by Johnny Mains

Samuel takes the voyage of his life aboard the Joanne. He definitely should have stayed at home!

Monday, 2 July 2018

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

I was sold on this book by the title alone, long have I been utterly fascinated by witches and powerful women. I thought it would be a tale about kick ass witches but was surprised to find it something else entirely.



This is a family saga, told in five stories about the descendants of  powerful Romani witches descended from, Ursule Ochiere. a powerful sorceress. A Secret History of Witches is told in five book; Nanette, Ursule, Irene, Morwen and Veronica.

It starts in 1821 and leads right up to the modern age with the outbreak of World War 2. This type of story reminds me of Winston Graham's Poldark saga series and if you liked those you will definitely like this book.

I would say this book leans more to historical fiction that fantasy that shows five girls coming of age when they find themselves approaching adulthood and having to make big decisions about their fates, choosing what it they want and just how far they are willing to go to get it.

The tale starts off in Brittany 1821 where Romani travellers adept in the old ways of  witchcraft are desperately trying to evade the fervent witch hunters who pursue them across Europe. Ursule Ochiere takes them to safety using her powers and from there we follow the tale of the Ochiere line through Nanette, the grand-daughter of Ursule, who escaped with her family by crossing the seas and building a new life as farmers in Cornwall.

Each of the five main female characters in this story are very different, some I warmed to whilst others I did not. As they grow into women and then discover their powers of witchcraft it was interesting to see how each woman was motivated, some just wanted to survive, others to protect,  others to find love, whilst others wanted everything they could get their hands on.

This is not a high octane book fuelled with suspense and intrigue but it is a rather sweet tale about mother daughter relationships and of coming of age and being your own person. I did find this book to be slightly repetitive as each character's tale read a bit like the one before but it was an enjoyable read.But if you want to read this to find out more about witches you may be disappointed.

This article was first published by The British Fantasy Society

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Fortune Box Stories by Madeleine Swann


It sounds shallow but what first drew to this delightful little book was the cover. Look at it, it's so gorgeous I simply had to know what was inside! A book cover so cute my three year old daughter kept making off with it.



But eventually I found it hidden amongst her dollies and was able to finish, but since finishing it it has suspiciously disappeared again. Published by Eraserhead Press this is a little book containing 9 short stories of bizarro fiction. The characters all have one thing in common, they each receive a surprise package from Tower Ltd Surprise Packages which contain a very odd assortment of items that will change their lives.

It gets off to a really good start with Meera's tale, (This was one of my favourites.) who is a dissatisfied young woman who desperately wants to find her perfect date and is not the patient type. After a terrible first date she comes back to her flat to find a package has arrived, containing seeds and a tiny watering can.

For me this tale was my favourite as told from another perspective these stories would be seen as terrifyingly dark, but Madeleine Swann tells them with such charm that on the surface they appear charming and witty. I think if Madeleine chose to write straight up horror her stories would be deemed too scary to publish!

There's some great comic moments in this book which will really have you chuckling, especially the fifth story which feature the strangest love story I have ever come across. The ninth tale, another favourite, centred around Craig who has no luck when it comes to people, was really fun and shows off Madeleine's hilarious sense of humour and contains my favourite passage of the whole book, (page 96 in case you're wondering.You'll know it when you see it.) I've not shared it here as I would hate to spoil the moment for you.

I had so much fun reading this, its's such a great book.  I've had a sneak peak on her Goodreads page and there are some amazing sounding titles she has already released such as Rainbows Suck, The Filing Cabinet of Doom and my favourite, Taken Hard at the Magical Time Travel Sex Resort. I need to read all of these!

About the Author


Madeleine describes herself as a psychedelic flapper, weird fiction writer, creepy stuff lover and a hideous face puller. She has been published in numerous anthologies and has many other books out there including The Filing Cabinet of Doom, a collection of short stories from Burning Bulb Publishing.

You can find out more on her website here and also on twitter @MadeleineSwann

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Interview with Kendall Reviews

I've recently done an interview with Kendall Reviews,  this is an amazing site that reviews all the latest amazing  horror books coming out as well as featuring loads of fascinating interviews with odd and quirky writers like myself!

In this interview I talk  a little about me, what my fave books are, the authors who inspire me and who I'd most like to be trapped on a deserted island with.

You can read it here 


The Kraken Sea by E.Katherine Tobler

It's not often I come across a story this strange but I'm very glad I did. The Kraken Sea is a novella about a young orphan boy,Jackson, who is taken in by a affluent and mysterious woman, Cressida aka The Widow. She gives him a home in an exclusive area of San Francisco and is put to work serving her.



But Jackson is no ordinary boy, as this is no ordinary tale. When he grows angry he mutates into a monster with slithering tentacles for hands and feet. He keeps this side of him hidden as he longs to be normal and human.

People keep clear of him, all apart from Mae, a young girl from a rival family just north of The Widow's sphere of influence and control. Like him, she also seems to have dark powers lurking just beneath the skin.

Mae and Jackson are rivals who should be tearing each other apart but they are hopelessly drawn to one another. Mae exerts a curiosity on Jackson that nothing else can in this strange alien world he finds himself in.

E.Katherine Tobler has a really beautiful way of writing which is really captivating in showing us the strange world in which Jackson finds himself. It is a world like no other. (It would make an amazing film!)  This is a tale of mystery and mythology that I really enjoyed. It's one of those books that are very hard to describe because it has a real dreamlike quality to it where nothing is what it seems and fate can change very quickly. I loved the relationship between Mae and Jackson and how it progressed both very sweet and dark. I would have liked to have seen more of Cressida, I felt very drawn to her and would have liked to have seen more of her. I'm not quite sure she reached her potential, but despite that this is a very enjoyable book that I would recommend to others.

About the Author



E. Catherine Tobler has written an awful lot of things. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Sturgeon Award. She is the senior fiction editor at Shimmer Magazine.

You can find out more here