Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Unnerving Magazine Issue 5







I've been reading this magazine since it launched in December 2016 and with each issue it has really grown. I bought a years subscription for just $10 and so far it's been a really good investment. Issue 5 is brilliant and features some really great authors.

Unnerving's Issue 5 contains nine stories which are all really varied but united with their dark cores of horror. Its also really cool to see lots of female horror writers featured too.

Stand out stories for me include, Porcelain Skin, this was just so creepy and I loved how the tension was built up throughout the story and the ending was really cool too! I've been reading his stories for a few years and now and they never fail to disappoint. I also really liked Ghoul by John C Foster and The Weight of Her Smile by Jake Marlow.



Glug Glug by Aaron J Housholder

A great tale to start off the magazine, its playful and creepy and leaves you wondering and worrying about what's lurking in your house.

Red Room by Christa Carmen

A young woman wakes up with gruesome photos on her phone after her friends messy alcohol fuelled wedding. No one can explain  or take her concerns seriously and yet they keep coming.I loved this story, thought it was a really dark and unsettling premise and teaches mankind how you're girlfriend always knows best!

Porcelain Skin by Gary Buller

A young woman travels  to the middle of nowhere to visit her long lst wealthy Aunt after hearing she is set to inherit from her. This tale was really creepy and full of suspense I was actually scared on a few occasions!

Ghoul by John C Foster

A young boy fuelled by adolescent urgings and curisoity breaks into a graveyard to find his ultimate prize. This tale was so dark and twisted and held me enthralled from beginning to end. John C Foster is a name I'm going to look out for.

Succubus Blues by Sara Codair

A young woman has to battle between what's right and her desires. This was a cool little tale abiut why you shouldn't follow a lady into the toilets!

The Worst by David Busboom

Sharon really regrets asking her boyfriend the worst thing he's ever done. A story that stays with you  long after you finish reading. Is it still out there?

The Changeling by Stephen S.Power

Left alone by his wife to care for their young child, a young father realises there's something very wrong. This is a really clever retelling of a well known faerie creature who strikes with devastating consequences.

Shades of Igumi Mare by K.P.Kulski

Lari Daniels has 1,834 seconds to get to the Mare and back before her oxygen runs out. What could possibly go wrong? A really nail biting  and tense tale.

The Weight of her Smile by Jake Marlow

A young man wrestles with his demons before he can move on. I really liked this tale, it was really thought provoking and emotionally moving. This is a writer I'd like to see lots of in the future.




Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Seasons of Insanity by Gill Ainsworth and Frank W.Haubold

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Seasons of Insanity is a short story collection featuring twelve tales themed around the four seasons; Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. It is co-authored by award winning writers Gill Ainsworth and Frank W.Haubold.

Unlike most horror I am used to reading, this leans more towards psychological horror rather than supernatural so was quite a different read for me. It focuses more on humans coming apart crashing into insanity to the darkest depths and never coming out again. It's not monsters and dark spirits we should be afraid of but ourselves and what our own darkness is capable of.

I liked that each author had their own distinct voice and they work well in this anthology which keeps you in its grip right to the end. There's something in here for everyone.

Stand out tale for me was, Fighting the Flab by Gill Ainsworth. This really resonated with me and was incredibly shocking. I also really enjoyed The End of the Line about an older woman coming to terms with her grief.

The Town on the River was a really creepy tale about being drawn back to your home town after so many years, I loved the tension building up throughout.



Sunday, 14 January 2018

Night Terrors: Author Interview with Jocelyn Baxter

To celebrate the launch of Aphotic Realms second issue; Banished I 'm talking to Jocelyn Baxter one of the many uber talented authors featured in this magazine.

Aphotic Realm is the new home for dark and sinister fiction and are really going places. Their first issue, Apparitions  was released in July with really positive reviews and now they're back with their second instalment which features ten stories of people forced to fight for their survival after being betrayed or banished.




Banished is out now from Amazon

1) Hi Jocelyn thanks for joining us, how long have you been writing for?

Since I was a kid I guess. I'm one of those Millennials who read Harry Potter and fell in love with storytelling. But officially I would say since high school. I was lucky enough to have a high school English teacher who is a Canadian author (Leo Brent Robillard). He created a Creative Writing class and I fell immediately in love (taking it three times!). Before I graduated, he encouraged me to take a writing workshop when I went to college. (I wanted to be an interior designer decorator). So instead, I ran off to Montreal and and worked for a few years.

2) Who are your favourite authors?

Stephen King (obviously), Phillip K.Dick, Chuck Palahniuk and Margaret Atwood.

3) What draws you to horror? Can you remember the first horror book or film that you encountered?

I'm drawn to horror for the same reason I think a lot of people are; the fear of the unknown. At 29, I'm still afraid of the dark (and will rush to flip all the lights between me and the bathroom). There's something about growing up in a 100+ year old farm house in rural Ontario that still gives me the heebiejeebies!

As for books/film/TV. "The X Files" was definitely my favourite show when it first started to air. I was like 6 and I thought Dana Scully was the coolest character ever. It was also around this time that I saw "A Nightmare on Elm Street". Neither resulted in nightmares, just wide-eyed fascination. Other shows include "Goosebumps" obviously, "Are You Afraid of the Dark" when I had access to cable. Also, my mom is like the BIGGEST nut for ghost stories. So through her I was exposed to a lot of books/TV shows about it.

4) Have you any upcoming projects?

I do! But it's not horror. It's a post-apocalyptic sci-fi comic book I'm co writing with a friend. The progress has been slow, as he's a new dad. But Issue 1 has been written. It's just revisions now. Other than that, not really. My day job consumes a lot of my creative energy.

5) It says in your bio that you work as a video game writer. That sounds amazing, how did you get into that? Do you feel that computer games influence your writing or it is vice versa?

Through a lot of luck. It's kind of like a unicorn job and I still can't believe I do what I do. It's fucking surreal and awesome and challenging and fun!

I started as a QA tester, and went through the wringer of a harsh development cycle. Then I went to university with a plan to become a game writer. And then, after a lot of hard work, failure, and people taking chances on me, here I am!

As for your question its both. My video game writing puts me through harsh feedback loops. In the last four months alone. I've seen my work jump in quality. It's one of the benefits of having access to seasoned writers reviewing your work daily.

As for influence, as much as any other media I consume. Although games are more useful to my job than my personal writing. But that may have to do with game writing being a different beast from fiction or film. How it's approached and realised is based through the lens of interactivity and player choice. Your pacing, your triggers, the linearity - this is all determined by a 2D/3D space and an audience/camera you do not have full control over.

About the Author

Image result for jocelyn baxter


Jocelyn Baxter is a professional video game writer, copy queen, and self-ascribed keybard. She currently lives in Montreal, Quebec with her fiance and two cats, enjoys long walks on digital beaches, cheap wine, and singing in the shower (badly). She's released 5 mobile game titles and is currently working on her first AAA title with an award-winning game studio



Thursday, 11 January 2018

Church by Renee Miller

A few weeks ago I was the very lucky winner of a book give-away hosted by Deviant Dolls. I won the entire back catalogue of Unnerving

Starting off my Unnerving foray is Church by Renee Miller. I've been hearing lots of good things about this book.

Church by [Miller, Renee]



This tale is about a young man, Ray, a devout Christian who is over the moon with meeting Carol, the love of his life. She's perfect in every way except for one thing.

She belongs to a looney cult, known only as Church. At Church they follow the alien god Zabir who speaks through the Prophet.

But Ray is open to this, he thinks he can save her and turn her to his church and marry her making her the perfect wife. He goes along to this strange church not to seek permission from the Prophet for Carol's hand in marriage but to steal the churches devout followers. He believes doing this will save their souls.

But of course in all good tales, things don't go to plan. The Prophet wants to convert Ray, but can Ray hold on long enough through the torture and mind control to save the woman he loves?

Church is a really creepy book, one that ended too fast. I loved it and devoted an entire day to it so I could read it in one sitting! The set up is really clever, as a reader we're given a glimpse into the inner workings of the church before Ray. We're exposed to its horror long before Ray is which makes you want to scream at him, urging him to turn around and drive away when he sees the red sign.

As well as being a great story it goes a long way to illustrate how some religions are used as a method for exerting control over others. There's a dark greed underlying the church which soon becomes appallingly apparent.

The Prophet, aka Darius is a truly terrifying character. He is so cold and devoid of humanity he could almost be reptilian. He doesn't believe in his church he believes in power. He has no regard for his devout followers he has broken, of their commitment to living by the church. And why is he so good at what he does, why do all these people stay? He is a true pro able to turn on the charm as easily as his descents into depravity.

There's something very real, about this book, you can easily imagine this happening in real life over and over again. It seems very plausible this could be happening right now not far from where we live.

I would love to see a follow up to this, its such a great setting with great characters.

About the Author


Renee  Miller


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.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Sugar Skulls by M.R.Tapia

Sugar Skulls




"Life is a matter of death. Death is a matter of fact."

"Micah DeAtta learns this as he awakens with Death seated across from him, whetting his sickle. Micah has no choice but to converse with Death in order to figure out his own demise. As their conversations become a battle of wits, Micah is forced to relive prominent deaths of family and friends before learning of his own. Each death happens in real time, each correlating with the nine levels of the Aztec underworld. Before it is said and done, Micah will have been forced to face his fears, his losses, and the fact that although life may be too short, death is forever."


I was really suprised by this book. I've read many stories by the excellent M.R.Tapia and was expecting some hardcore horror! But this is very different, yes there are elements of horror but it is extremely thought provoking and really interesting. 

I've always been fascinated with what happens to us after we pass on. I like to think there will be something more but the thought of there being an eternal afterlife scares the shit out of me! What if it's a bad one and you'll have to endure it forevermore? Eeeek!

This was a really well written and fascinating book about Mictlan, the Aztec underworld which has nine levels a departed soul must travel through to reach their afterlife. It's a very honest portrayal of Micah having to look back on his life and really examine it, peel back the gloss to find an ugly reality behind. It's very cleverly done as it also forces us as the reader to do the same to ourselves.

It's scary as this is a fate that awaits us all! That one day we will all be forced to look back on our lives as we near the end which is truly the stuff of nightmares!

About the Author

M.R. Tapia

M.R. Tapia is the author of 'Sugar Skulls' and 'The Die-Fi Experiment'. His short stories have appeared in various publications including Schlock Webzine, Deadman’s Tome 'Monsters Exist', Empty Sink Publishing, and Hindered Souls: Dark Tales for Dark Nights. His short story, ‘Stella Reign’ is a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee. He writes and operates Hindered Souls Press out of Northern Colorado.

http://www.hinderedsoulspress.com/










Sunday, 7 January 2018

Finnegan's Field by Angela Slatter

In Irish lore, when children go under the hill, they don't come out again.
Ever.
When children go under the hill, they stay where they're put.
Forever.
When children go under the hill, parents, though they pray and search, don't truly think to see them anymore.
Never.




Angela Slatter is the author of one of my favourite books of all time (ALL TIME) Of Sorrow and Such which just blew me away the first time I've read it and its a book I re-read all the time. Since them I've been making it my mission to read everything she's written starting off with Finnegan's Field, a novelette which I think I purchased for just 88p on kindle! Ooh I do love a bargain!


A young child goes missing in Finnegan's Field, a small town in southern Australia of mostly Irish ancestry, a town where over the years many a small child has gone missing, nome come back.
Never.
Until Madrigal Barker returns after been missing for three years.

Everyone is over the moon, everyone except the child's mother, Anne Barker who thinks her child is different she thinks she can a shadow shape looming over her beloved daughter.

There is no explanation for Maddie's disappearance and re-appearance, questions are never asked but Anne just can't let the matter go, she knows her daughter is not the same and is determined to find out just where she has been.

This is a really dark tale, one that really struck a nerve with me, as it would for anyone who has kids. Losing a child and not knowing what happened to them has got to be a parent's worst nightmare. So you instantly connect with Anne, the mother. The tale keeps spinning in a dark web and at times it makes for uncomfortable reading, truly terrifying.

I loved the connection in Finnegan's field to Irish folk tales and mythology, a country I have a deep fascination with. In Finnegan's Field Angela Slatter shows us how these powerful enduring myths can become so deeply embedded in the Irish race that they actually become the myths and legends their ancestors gave them, that their own monsters will follow them forever, even to the other side of the world.

About the Author


Angela Slatter is the author of the urban fantasy novels Vigil (2016) and Corpselight (2017), as well as eight short story collections, including The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, and A Feast of Sorrows: Stories. She has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, a Ditmar, and six Aurealis Awards.

Angela’s short stories have appeared in Australian, UK and US Best Of anthologies such The Mammoth Book of New Horror, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, and The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction. Her work has been translated into Bulgarian, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Polish, and Romanian. Victoria Madden of Sweet Potato Films (The Kettering Incident) has optioned the film rights to one of her short stories.

She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, is a graduate of Clarion South 2009 and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop 2006, and in 2013 she was awarded one of the inaugural Queensland Writers Fellowships. In 2016 Angela was the Established Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in Perth.

Her novellas, Of Sorrow and Such (from Tor.com), and Ripper (in the Stephen Jones anthology Horrorology, from Jo Fletcher Books) were released in October 2015.

The third novel in the Verity Fassbinder series, Restoration, will be released in 2018 by Jo Fletcher Books (Hachette International). She is represented by Ian Drury of the literary agency Sheil Land for her long fiction, by Lucy Fawcett of Sheil Land for film rights, and by Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services for illustrated storybooks.


http://angelaslatter.com/

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Call Drops by John F.Leonard



Call Drops by John F.Leonard is a simmering short horror story full of intrigue and horror. Vincent Preece a hard grafting self made millionaire but his life is empty and everything and everyone he has ever loved is gone leaving him with too much time in his huge mansion set on the edge of the woods. To take his mind off his current state of affairs he loves nothing more than to rummage around junk shops in search of old forgotten treasure.

At a car boot sale he finds an odd phone that seemingly doesn't work. It will change his life forever.

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale it was dark with lots of mystery and intrigue piled on top. Its really creepy and  creepier!  The story will stay with you long after you have stopped reading.

It seems in this tale that everyone is in possession of a secret they would rather keep buried in this world of shady characters. Call Drops was unlike anything I've ever read before which was great it kept me on my toes and I had no idea what was going to happen next. I really enjoyed this and can't to see what this author writes next!

Call Drops by John F.Leonard is available now via Amazon

About the Author


John was born in England and grew up in the industrial midlands, where he learned to love the sound of scrapyard dogs and the rattle and clank of passing trains.

He studied English, Art and History and has, at different times, been a sculptor, odd-job man and office worker. He enjoys horror and comedy (not necessarily together).

He has published three books, Bad Pennies, Collapse and 4 Hours, and is currently working on a number of projects which include more tales from the Scaeth Mythos, and new stories set in the ever evolving, post-apocalyptic world of Collapse.

http://www.johnfleonard.com/

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Sing Me Your Scars by Damien Angelica Walters


"Inside each grief is a lonely ghost of silence, and inside each silence are the words we didn't say."





Damien Angelica Walters can often be found gracing the pages of every fiction magazine other writers dream of appearing in; Black Static, Apex, Interzone, Shimmer, Nightmare Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Sing Me Your Scars is Damien Angelica Walter's debut short story collection. Composed of three parts it contains 20 stories of suffering and sorrow, of misfits and damaged people. These are the stories of a dark underworld that we have all glimpsed upon for a few brief moments but for some unlucky souls it is their home.

I loved the range of stories here, there are no two alike and whilst reading this starling collection I read slowly to enjoy every line. These are dark magnificent tales that you will want to read again and again.

What's really magical about these tales is with how immersive they are. Straight away you feel like you in their world feeling all the sorrow and despair they feel. The prose is as beautiful as it is horrific. I've only come across a few writers who can write such vivid imagery.

Highlights for me in this collection include Sing Me Your Scars, a Frankenstein tale about a young woman who has been formed from other women's body parts and kept in the shadows by her maker. This tale really sang to me and I would love to see it expanded into a novel.

Paskutinis Iliuzja (The Last Illusion) is about the last magician in Lithuania caring for his sick daughter during occupation  was absolutely heartbreaking, poignant and far too real.

Melancholia in Bloom is a tale of  a woman struggling to stay who she is and remember the memories what make her. She's trying to pass down an important family secret,a box of magic and despairs her message will never be found.

Running Empty in a Land of Decay is simply the best post apocalyptic tale I've ever read, and The Taste of Tears in a Rain Drop serves to remind us that it is not just women who suffer. Shall I Whisper to You of Moonlight, of Sorrow, of Pieces of Us is a darkly haunting tale of woman waiting for the man she refused to let go.

About the Author


Damien Angelica Walters is the author of Sing Me Your Scars, winner of This is Horror’s Short Story Collection of the Year, Paper Tigers, and the forthcoming Cry Your Way Home. Her short fiction has been nominated twice for a Bram Stoker Award, reprinted in The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror and The Year's Best Weird Fiction, and published in various anthologies and magazines, including the Shirley Jackson Award Finalists Autumn Cthulhu and The Madness of Dr. Caligari, World Fantasy Award Finalist Cassilda's Song, Nightmare Magazine, and Black Static. Until the magazine's closing in 2013, she was an Associate Editor of the Hugo Award-winning Electric Velocipede. Find her on Twitter @DamienAWalters or on the web at http://damienangelicawalters.com.