Darkness Rising – Book Review

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Darkness Rising Brian Moreland Samhain Publishing September 1, 2015 Reviewed by Tim Potter The latest release from the prolific and talented horror author Brian Moreland, Darkness Rising is a compelling novella. It deals with complex themes like the power of the written word, expressions of darkness in art and trying to break away from one’s own past. The story has an incredibly high body count that is balanced out by poetry and a tender love story. After a brutal opening scene, in which three animal mask-clad killers dispatch two people on the shores of a deserted lake, the author introduces the book’s hero Marty Weaver. A janitor at St. Germaine College in the Pacific Northwest, Marty tries to juggle work, a girl he’s crazy about, his poetry and a horrific past while longing for love and the chance to attend St. Germaine himself. The romance between Marty and Jennifer, a student he helps with Shakespeare and poetry homework, is well realized and full of youthful longing. Using poetry as his emotional outlet, Marty regularly visits a local lake at night and reads his work to the water. After an eventful meeting with Jennifer, Marty heads out to the lake, where he is … [Read more...]

The Hitchhiking Effect – Book Review

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The Hitchhiking Effect Gene O’Neill Dark Renaissance Books 2015 Reviewed by Michael R. Collings It is rare when a collection of stories and novellas spanning some thirty years leaves me with a single, overwhelming emotional impression. In the case of Gene O’Neill’s The Hitchhiking Effect, there is an additional sense of the unusual in that his compilation of ten stories—most dealing with the physically, mentally, and emotionally debilitating effects of war on those most closely connected with it, whether serving or supporting—contains its share of realistically portrayed grief and loss, of violence and bloodshed, of death and disruption, yet when I finished the final story, “Firebug,” what I felt was a highly paradoxical sense of gentleness and peace. In “The Burden of Indigo,” for example, the earliest of the stories, O’Neill introduces readers to a world in which criminals are punished by being stained, a specific color representing a specific crime. The main character is known simply as “the indigo man” and is a deep, rich purple-blue from head to foot, including his hair and clothing. Such Colored People are ostracized from the domed communities where humanity now … [Read more...]

Turning Face – Book Review

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Turning Face: A Tale of Horror, Comedy and Wrestling Terry M. West 2015 Reviewed by Wayne C. Rogers I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read the new novella by Terry M. West, Turning Face: A Tale of Horror, Comedy and Wrestling. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I’d like the story, but I did. After just a page of reading, the story of Tojo Smith, the Crimson Demon, grabbed me in a tight bear hug, lifted me up into the air, and then body slammed me into the mat. I groaned and struggled, but it didn’t do any good. The story had a hold of me and wouldn’t let go. So, this novella is not only good, it’s fantastic, and that is an understatement! The story is about Tojo Smith, who’s a demon disguised as a human being. Tojo’s parents are also demons and were sent to the earth plane to stir up hate and discontent amongst the human populace. Tojo’s fate is much the same. When he grows up, his mission is to also instigate hate, anger and discontent. Of course, the main question for Tojo and his parents is how will he accomplish this? As a child, Tojo Smith watched a lot of television so he could learn the ways of human beings. One television program caught his undivided attention … [Read more...]

Acadia Event – Book Review

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Acadia Event MJ Preston Great Old Ones Publishing Reviewed by Alex Scully Some years back, author MJ Preston had the rare opportunity to drive what is known as the World’s Longest Ice Road. This massive stretch of frozen tundra is beautiful in a stark way, but there is no disguising the terror lurking under every crack of delicate ice. Using this haunting landscape as a backdrop, he gives us Acadia Event. Set largely in the diamond mines of this frozen territory, Preston weaves a frightening, Lovecraftian tale of nightmares. The story centers on Marty and his wife. They live a quiet life, but Marty has secrets. Very dark secrets. One of those secrets, Gord Shamus, comes out of seemingly nowhere for “one last job.” That job involves driving the Ice Road and stealing the diamond load from the Acadia Mine. Shifting perspectives, we also meet the crew at the mine. They’ve discovered what could potentially be one of the largest diamond stashes uncovered in recent years. There is one small problem, however. The diamonds are sitting in what looks like a heritage site. The crew has burrowed into what appears to be a man-made structure full of bones. Irritated that their entire … [Read more...]

The Devil’s Detective – Book Review

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The Devil’s Detective Simon Kurt Unsworth Doubleday Reviewed by Wayne C. Rogers The Devil’s Detective by Simon Kurt Unsworth is the author’s first novel, and it’s certainly an impressive one to say the least. In some ways the author has reinvented the “horror” genre with this whopper of a story, setting its location inside Hell itself with stark reminiscences of our present-day world when humans are sent to serve the demons with no knowledge of their sins, but only the realization that they did wrong. The story centers on Thomas Fool, who is one of Hell’s Information Men. His two partners are Gordie and Summer. They are more police detectives than private investigators and have full autonomy with regards to each investigation that takes place. They have the authority to question any citizen of Hell and visit whatever sections of Hell they want in the pursuit of an investigation. No other entity in Hell has that power, except for maybe the Devil. Investigating the murder of a human being near the Lake of Fire, Fool begins the journey that will eventually change his whole, mundane life. Whether it is for the better or not is still questionable even after finishing the … [Read more...]

Dawn of the Dead – Book Review

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Dawn of the Dead George A. Romero & Susanna Sparrow Gallery Books May 27, 2015 (reprint) Reviewed by Marvin P. Vernon Novelizations are always a little tricky to review. The entire idea of novelizing a film seems a bit odd. You are taking a separate art form and placing it outside its intended existence. You could say that about going from novel to film too. Yet while filmmakers strive, in theory, to form a different creation using all the nuances of sight and sound, the act of novelizing often comes across as simply another way to exploit and create merchandise to sell. That isn’t to say that it can’t be literature, although frankly I cannot think of one novelization that makes it so. But they can be entertaining and, at best, can add some insight to the characters and action that the reader may have already seen on film. Off the top of my head I can think of a few novelizations that do it well, like The Howling by Gary Brandner and Dennis Etchison’s Halloween II and III, and The Fog written under the pseudonym of Jack Martin. These are examples of good novelizations of horror movies that stand alone as novels and add a little something extra to the films. Dawn … [Read more...]

At Hell’s Gates – Book Review

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At Hell’s Gate: Volume One Edited by Monique Happy and James Crawford September 21, 2014 Reviewed by Jess Landry An anthology that has a kick-ass cover, whose proceeds go to a great charity and that has a story called “Exploding Shit Zombies” has to be great, right? Right? Yeah, well, kind of. At first, I thought At Hell’s Gates was a zombie/post-apocalyptic themed anthology, but somewhere over the half-way point a vengeful ghost story popped up. Then a demon story. Then it went back to a few more zombies tales before three stories in a row from Jacqueline Druga (not about zombies), and finally, it ended on a story about twin demon hunters. It was a nice surprise to read a few non-zom adventures, but I think the order of stories in the first part of the book could’ve been shuffled around a bit better. In regards to the zombie stories, unfortunately most of them don’t exactly reinvent the genre. There are tales of boy saving girl, some journal entry-style stories, even some stories of people (be it military or civilian) trapped in the big city swarming with the undead. There’s nothing wrong with those plots, and a good chunk of them are very well-told, it’s just … [Read more...]

Hungry Darkness – Book Review

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Hungry Darkness Gabino Iglesias Severed Press June 7, 2015 Reviewed by Tim Potter Gabino Iglesias ventures into book-length horror for the first time with his Severed Press novella, Hungry Darkness. It’s an entertaining tale of horror on and below the ocean waves just off the coast of Belize. Various unlikely heroes battle to keep a giant sea creature from continuing its already extensive killing spree which that has claimed many unlikely victims. Though the narrative wanders a bit and focuses on insignificant characters at times, it’s still a very solid one-sitting read that keeps the action and interest moving along to the ultimate climax. Hungry Darkness features two main characters who are both realistic and well rendered. They follow atypical arcs throughout the book and the structure works well. Nick Ayres is a cave diver and modern day adventurer who secures a National Geographic grant to explore and film a dive on Giant Cave, the world’s largest submarine cave. Little does he know that his hubris and lack of respect for the laws of Belize and the environment will cause unexpected problems with his dive. Gabe Robles is a local tour guide who knows the … [Read more...]

Tales from the Crypt – Book Review

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The EC Archives: Tales From the Crypt Volume 1 Various authors Dark Horse Books July 28, 2015 Reviewed by Tim Potter Dark Horse Books is releasing a new edition of The EC Archives: Tales From the Crypt Volume 1, a collection of some of the most influential stories in the history of horror comics. Reprinted here in beautiful full color are the first six issues of EC to carry a horror title. These are not the finest horror comics EC published, though some of them are among the elite tales, but they are entertaining and superior to anything else that was appearing during 1950 and 1951. These issues set the standard and template that all horror comics are compared to, even to this day. First, some history. These stories were written, drawn and printed before the creation of the Comics Code and the mid-1950s uproar over the perceived immorality in comics. This lack of oversight allowed EC to publish stories that were violent, brutal and dealt with adult themes, often infidelity, greed, racism and bucking authority. At the same time, the stories contained herein are among those most responsible for those measures of censorship and oversight. The original issues reprinted … [Read more...]

The Fifth House of the Heart – Book Review

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The Fifth House of the Heart Ben Tripp Gallery/Simon & Schuster 2015 Reviewed by Michael R. Collings Veteran antiques dealer Asmodeus Saxon-Tang—widely known simply as Sax—is just stubborn enough not to allow the mysterious woman to outbid him on an ormolu clock; in fact, he is willing to raise the bid several thousands more than the item is worth. As he does so, he understands that he is borrowing trouble. He does not know this woman…and he knows all of the main dealers. He does not know whom she represents…and he knows all of the main collectors. He knows the secret history of the clock, but even knowing that cannot justify the price he pays for it. There is only one possible reason why anyone—other than himself—would bid that high. When the clock is stolen from his warehouse, his night-watchman killed, and nothing else in his private trove touched, he knows that his suspicion are warranted. The clock, which had appeared during the turmoil following World War II in Europe after an absence of several decades, is part of a vampire’s hoard. For the seventy-plus-year-old Sax, this is bad news and good. Bad because the vampire behind the theft now knows with certainty … [Read more...]