Acadia Event – Book Review


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


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


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


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


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


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


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...]

The Harvest Man – Book Review


The Harvest Man Alex Grecian G.P. Putnam’s Sons May 19, 2015 Reviewed by Tim Potter The Harvest Man, the fourth book in author Alex Grecian’s continuing series of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad, is a fresh and, at times, brutal novel that further explores the characters and mythology of late-1800s London. This is the most accomplished novel in the series to date, expertly blending a fresh and self-contained plot while expanding on the characters and situations created in the earlier books. This review contains SPOILERS concerning the first three books in the series. The third book in the series, The Devil’s Workshop, ended with many plot threads up in the air. The Harvest Man was free from prison, Jack the Ripper was once again on the prowl, Nevil Hammersmith was fired from the Murder Squad and Walter Day and his wife Claire were new parents. The story of Walter and Claire and their twin girls continues, though not very far as the novel only covers the three weeks after The Devil’s Workshop. It’s an eventful three weeks that see their family in a period of upheaval and transition. Hammersmith makes significant progress in dealing with his lack of employment and his … [Read more...]

A Confederacy of Horrors – Book Review


A Confederacy of Horrors James Robert Smith Hippocampus Press 2015 Reviewed by David Goudsward I’m familiar with James Robert Smith’s work from his novels and his co-editing the extraordinary Arkham House anthology Evermore, a 2006 collection of stories based on Edgar Allan Poe, but short stories are his strength. A Confederacy of Horrors is the first collection of his short fiction. Covering his 30+ years as an author, the collection takes similarly themed stories and groups them together in sections devoted to ghosts, vengeance, obsession, and blood. A personal favorite, “Moving,” as one example, tells the tale of a southern plutocrat who forces a small church to relocate. However the congregation’s deceased membership is disinclined to accept the move lying down. Even when grouped together thematically, the diversity and variety are nothing short of impressive. Tales range from Lovecraftian terrors to alien encounters with side trips into eco-horror and Southern Gothic tales. Carefully crafted, Smith relies on suspense and subtlety, rare traits in in a genre increasingly reliant on gore. Hippocampus Press should be thanked for this book. It is a long overdue … [Read more...]

June JournalStone Hellnotes Newsletter


Summer's here and it's time to find something good to read as you head to the beach or pool. If only there was some place you could go to find all of the horror, fantasy, and science fiction you'll need to pass the hours as you sit blissfully under the cabana waiting for the cabana boy to bring you yet another fruity drink with an umbrella. If only. Oh wait, I think I know just the place. All you have to do is go to the JournalStone website and get the perfect book or e-book to engage your mind as your body relaxes and soaks up the glorious sun. "But I'm not going to the beach or pool for a while," you say. That's ok. JournalStone books are just as entertaining in your home or in the break room at work. How cool is that? While you're visiting the JournalStone website, you may want to check out our release this month. The latest in our Double Down series (TWO BOOKS IN ONE!!) is Paleo by David Liss and Doomsday Prepper by Eileen Curtright. They are great stories that come at a great bargain to you. If light reading is more your style, then you'll want to get Issue 31 of Dark Discoveries Magazine. Once again, all of us at JournalStone want to thank you for your support. We … [Read more...]