Thursday, 7 February 2019

Sanitarium Magazine Issue 1

I was beyond excited to see last year that Sanitarium Magazine was being revived. I loved the magazine in its first life. It has a special place in my heart as this was the magazine to give me my first story acceptance at a time where I was beginning to lose all confidence in my writing.

I was first published in Issue 28. I'd bought 5 copies! I was nervous as I had never read it before but immediately loved it and continued to buy every issue afterwards until it stopped at issue 51. I was devastated. Its always so sad to see such a great magazine go but like with most indie horror presses they are run on love for horror not for profits.

And amazingly I got another story acceptance from the new version of Sanitarium I was thrilled beyond words and after reading the first issue I am also very proud to be featured alongside such talented writers.

To call this a magazine is a huge understatement. This is a great and vast tome of horror. Seriously there wasn't one tale I didn't enjoy in this.

This magazine/tome has really reignited my love for horror. For me I much prefer short horror fiction. I feel in this format there are less rules and restrictions in creating tales. You can push it as far as you want. You can be really mean to your characters as readers don't expect a big pay off at the end. In horror novels there tends to be a sense of hope and salvation at the end, but in short fiction that dream is decimated.

With this I was genuinely excited each time I started a new tale as each one before it had been so good!. There's 20 tales in here, some touch upon poetry, science fiction, history, folklore and just plain weird!

This was a very hard choice to make but my two favourite tales, (couldn't pick just one) were The Slaughterman's Tale by Dan Soule. I just loved this, so creepy from the get go and really chilling from beginning to end. I also loved The Mouth that Opens by Logan Noble it really reminded me of American Horror Story at it's best. Two writers I'll be keeping a look out for in the future. I hope to see a lot more of their work.

Also up there is The Alchemical Wedding by Max D.Stanton. I've never read anything like that before! Mad and brilliant!

This is a superb debut and if the second issue is anything like the first this will soon be a huge name in horror once more.

The only downside is the wait for issue 2!

Creature by Hunter Shea

This is the first book I've read by Hunter Shea. I was slightly apprehensive about reading it as I had been aware of all the hype and praise surrounding this book. I was worried it wouldn't live up to my high expectations of a creepy horror tale.

But it did.

I had great fun.

From my point of view I would describe Creature as two books fused into one. The first book is a body-horror tale that felt a little too real for me. It details the lows and lows of a passionate married couple, (with a great sense of humour) fighting against the wife's auto-immune disease which completely dominates their lives.

This section terrified me, like everyone else, I have a terrible fear of falling ill in such a way. I guess it will happen to us all in the end but to see it so up close is truly monstrous. Parts of this book were so hard to read as we've all had someone close to our hearts suffer in such a way. I really felt for Andrew, he'd do anything for Kate but he's powerless against such as disease.

It was only after finishing this book that  I found out that the the author's wife suffers from a illness which made it all the more raw, heart wrenching and real.

Most horror stories are outlandish separated from our everyday lives, usually set in circumstances you know would never happen to you in real life, but this one is very different. This could be you the illness creeps up on. It could so easily be your marriage, your family, that is tested to its limits.

The second half of the book is much different. This is where the much anticipated creature makes an appearance. Where the fun begins.

I have to admit the first half of the book is a slow burner, so much so that I hate to admit it now, but I did abandon the book to read something else. Eventually I came back to this, and am so glad I did as my investment of time was truly rewarded.

So when they arrive at the cottage deep in the woods of Maine, (my favourite horror setting!)  I was really excited for the fun/murder/destruction/bloodshed to start.

I do love these sort of books where you know there's a big terrible monster and its going to come in and kill everyone. What a lot of people don't appreciate is that to slay this much overdone trope, you have to write it really well and bring something new to the table.

Hunter Shea has done just that.

From this point the book accelerates really quickly, it's really hard to put the book down and I was hooked. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it!

Whilst I've still got your attention, if you liked this books then may I also recommend The Ritual by Adam Neville and  The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn, both great books!