The Doorway – Book Review

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The Doorway Alan Spencer Samhain Publishing August 4, 2015 Reviewed by Tim Potter Alan Spencer’s latest Samhain Horror release, The Doorway, is an interesting and entertaining blend of extreme horror and classic mystery. The story centers around Morty Saggs, a workaday everyman who comes home late from the neighborhood bar to find his wife missing. Tension mounts as Morty calls in the police, his daughter and friends to help him find Glenda, who has no reason to be missing. The supernatural also comes into play as the outline appears around his bedroom door, accompanied by a smell of burning, and then disappears in a flash like it came. Small town secrets and a decade old murder come into play as the characters seek to resolve the mystery surrounding the disappearance and the doorway and to do so without it costing their lives. The novel starts with a drunken Morty staggering home from a night of drinking with friends hoping that his wife Glenda will not be too upset with him. Things go wrong quickly, and paranoia builds, as he can’t find Glenda. Their marriage is a happy one and she has no reason to go missing of her own accord so Morty calls the police. As an … [Read more...]

Monster Hunter International – Book Review

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Monster Hunter International Larry Correia Baen 2009 Reviewed by Michael R. Collings Larry Correia’s Monster Hunters International is a hoot…literally, figuratively, and every way in between. More than that, however, it is deeply, essentially comedic on multiple levels. Blatant moments of near slapstick—often when the blood flies thickest and fastest—support a Dantesque thematic awareness of the ultimate, eternal conflict between good and evil, between light and darkness, and an intensely optimistic sense that, for all of its manifold faults, humanity has the potential to choose the light. The first of these enters MHI narratively in the first two sentences, with their perfectly poised juxtaposition of colloquial, lighthearted tone with violent action, a consistent characteristic of Owen Zastava Pitt’s voice throughout. Thematically and structurally, the novel merits the adjective Dantesque through its incremental descents into realms of darkness and their inherent denizens, each more vile and vicious than the last, climaxing in a horrifying descent into a darkness that opens into a rift leading to the ultimate sphere/circle of Evil and an encounter with the … [Read more...]

Tin Men – Book Review

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Tin Men Christopher Golden Ballantine Books June 23, 2015 Reviewed by Tim Potter Christopher Golden’s latest novel, Tin Men, is a rip-roaring science-fiction military adventure that starts at breakneck speed and never lets up until the last words fall off the page. The novel will inevitably end with sighs of relief, not because the story is over, but because the reader can finally stop furiously turning pages. While the book is set against a military backdrop with heavy sci-fi elements, it manages to transcend those bounds and become a thoughtful, intelligent thriller that will appeal to fans of any genre. In the near future the world is a dangerous place threatening to get worse everyday. Global economic, environmental and political disasters have made international relations and peacekeeping tenuous at best. The United States has taken a very intrusive role in international affairs, sending forces all over the world to keep situations from exploding. Other countries and citizens have started to see the U.S. as an unwelcome visitor and are working to repel them from their lands. The Tin Men are specialized U.S. infantry soldiers, members of the USARIC (United … [Read more...]

Mutt – Book Review

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Mutt Shane McKenzie Rothco Press March 27, 2015 Reviewed by Tim Potter Shane McKenzie has become known, in recent years, as a quality writer of extreme horror. His work often deals with interesting and diverse themes like gluttony and lucha libre, set against the desert backdrop of South Texas. With Mutt, McKenzie explores new territory, the Texas setting the only familiar element. It’s a kind of coming-of-age story, maybe a love story and certainly a tale of the search for identity. Patrick is new to Texas, a transplant from northern California and a young man looking to find his place in his new home. He lives with his mother and works as a pseudo-janitor at a local boxing gym. He’s also half Korean and half European, his skin a darker complexion that, in his new community, is easily mistaken for Latino. He’s a mutt, of mixed heritage, and it’s through this that the conflict of the story arises. While waiting on the bus to take him to work, Patrick sees and begins day dreaming about a Latina who rides the same line. His yearning is honest and painful, something anyone who had a high school crush can relate to. He sees himself grabbing and passionately kissing … [Read more...]

Black Star, Black Sun – Book Review

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Black Star, Black Sun Rich Hawkins April Moon Books February 15th, 2015 Reviewed by Stuart Conover In Black Star, Black Sun, Rich Hawkins gives us a wonderful tale of Lovecraftian delight! In the novella we follow Ben Ottway who, after the loss of his wife, is returning to his hometown in Marchwood. With the loss of his wife, Ottway is struggling to keep his mind straight and the full weight of despair that he is suffering bleeds off the page. The novel is a dark tribute to cosmic horror that even those without a strong background in Lovecraft can enjoy. Hawkins is not writing for those who prefer a world of sunshine and happy days in this one. The heaviness of the loss that Ottway wears around himself is easily seen not only in his thoughts but the view of the world that we are given around him. While trying to deal with the loss he has been given and reconnect with his father, this should be a time of healing. Only, nightmares keep him up through the night and visions plague his waking hours. What he sees is clearly from another world and can't be real. Or can it? The world is crashing down around Ottway as reality itself is tearing apart at the seams. While … [Read more...]

May JournalStone Hellnotes Newsletter

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I have to start the newsletter this month by saying CONGRATULATIONS to Joe R. Lansdale! "Fishing With Dinosaurs," his contribution to Limbus II, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction at the Horror Writers Association convention in Atlanta on May 9th. We couldn't be happier, nor could we be more proud of the work accomplished by him and all of the other contributors to Limbus II. Of course, we would be remiss if we didn't mention the efforts of all of the Bram Stoker Award winners. Congratulations and well done! If you're wondering what our offerings are for this month, we've got a couple of treats for you. Fans of Lovecraft will be enthralled by Brett J. Talley's He Who Walks in Shadow, a follow up to his very successful novel, That Which Should Not Be. I promise you won't be disappointed. We are also happy to present 7 time Bram Stoker Award winner Gary A. Braunbeck's In Silent Graves. Those of you who have read any of his work know that this is a must have. If you're not familiar with his previous writings, then this is a dynamite way to start. Now for the big announcement some of you have been waiting for. JournalStone Publishing is open for … [Read more...]

Q Island – Book Review

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Q Island Russell James Samhain Publishing July 7, 2015 Reviewed by Tim Potter The latest novel from Russell James, Q Island, is a thoroughly entertaining horror novel. It’s a story of an epidemic, a possible pandemic, that ravages the Long Island portion of New York. People who contract the virus, which is virtually everyone who comes into contact with it, becomes a being driven by rage. It sounds like a zombie story, and while there are similarities between the zombie story and the epidemic story, this isn’t a zombie tale. The paleovirus travels from the frozen depths of northern Asia to Long Island, where it is introduced to the populating through a very unique series of events. It only takes days for the effects of this long-buried epidemic to hit the streets, and hospitals, of New York. The first patients present with septicemia, red eyes and darkened veins under the skin. They quickly progress to stages of increased brain and physical function, to raging violence and finally, after death, to actual explosion. When in the rage phase the sufferers are prone to acts of violence against those not infected. They try to bite and savage others as a way to spread the … [Read more...]

Dark Screams: Volume Three – Book Review

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Dark Screams: Volume Three Edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar Hydra, an imprint of Random House May 12, 2015 Reviewed by Tim Potter The third volume in Freeman and Chizmar’s Dark Screams anthology series delivers the same high quality big name contributors as the prior two volumes. This volume features four original stories, published here for the first time, and only one that was previously published. Jack Ketchum’s new tale, “Group of Thirty,” is the stand-out and is an early contender for best short fiction story of the year. The nihilistic “The Lone One and Level Sands Stretch Far Away” by Brian Hodge is also a beautiful story published for the first time here. Peter Straub’s contribution is interesting and entertaining, while new stories from Darynda Jones and Jacquelyn Frank are light but fun. Peter Straub starts things off with “The Collected Short Stories of Freddie Prothero.” The story is reprinted here, having first appeared in Cemetery Dance’s anthology Turn Down the Lights. It is a fun and thought provoking piece about the state of academic studies on English literature. It’s also a very interesting exercise in word-play. It took more than … [Read more...]

The Biggest Names in Horror Come Together for JournalStone Publishing’s ‘The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft’

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JournalStone Publishing (JSP) President, Christopher C. Payne is pleased to announce The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft, a brand new anthology that collects the twelve principal deities of the Lovecraftian Mythos and sets them loose within its pages. Featuring the biggest names in horror and dark fantasy, including many NY Times bestsellers, full of original fiction and artwork, and individual commentary on each of the deities by Donald Tyson, author of Grimoire of the Necronomicon and Alhazred. About the book: Lovecraft’s bestiary of gods has had a major influence on the horror scene from the time these sacred names were first evoked. Cthulhu, Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Yog-Sothoth—this pantheon of the horrific calls to mind the very worst of cosmic nightmares and the very darkest signs of human nature. The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft brings together twelve all-new Mythos tales from: 1. Cthulhu (Adam Nevill) 2. Yog-Sothoth (Martha Wells) 3. Azathoth (Laird Barron) 4. Nyarlathotep (Bentley Little) 5. Shub-Niggurath (David Liss) 6. Tsathoggua (Brett Talley) 7. The Mi-Go (Christopher Golden) 8. Night-gaunts (Jonathan Maberry) 9. Elder Things (Joe Lansdale) 10. Great Race (S.T. … [Read more...]

Little Girls – Book Review

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Little Girls Ronald Malfi Kensington June 30, 2015 Reviewed by Tim Potter Ronald Malfi manages to yet again live up to his own high standards, and even exceed them, with his latest offering, Little Girls. It is a haunted house story (maybe), a ghost story (maybe) and a horror story (certainly). Malfi’s literate and smooth prose reaches down the reader’s throat and twists their guts with tension from the first page to the last. At its core, Little Girls is a classic horror story in the vein of The Haunting of Hill House and Stir of Echoes, using subtle cues to evoke real emotion. Laurie Genarro returns to the home of her childhood after the death of her father to find that things are…wrong. From the circumstances of her father’s death to the seminal events of her youth, Laurie must make sense of the factors that have shaped her life. As she must work to resolve her late father’s estate Laurie must also work to understand the events revolving around her. Along with husband Ted and daughter Susan, Laurie and her family are a very well realized modern American family. The supporting characters work similarly well, each doing their part to move the story along. The … [Read more...]