Uncomfortably Dark Book Reviews
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We Bleed Orange and Black
31 Fun-Size Tales for Halloween by Jeff C. Carter
Just finished reading We Bleed Orange & Black, 31 Fun-Sized Tales for Halloween by Jeff C. Carter. This was a fun collection of short stories, just right for the season. While the entire collection is not exactly family friendly, there are quite a few tales in the book that you can share with your kids over some apple cider, hot cocoa and smore's, or while gathered around that fall campfire. They are sure to squeal in delight as trouble befalls a young greedy lad in "Take One" or shiver with chills as "The Dentist" reveals his true motive behind his tons of candy-giving and good natured smile.
One of my favorites was the creepy tale of the village executioner in "All Gallows' Eve" as he goes about his work for the day. Something is really wrong with the folks in an unusually quiet small town in "The Silent Parade". This one left me uncomfortable for sure and a bit squeamish. "The Cobra Effect" was a great ole time mystery feel until it suddenly takes on a much darker tone. I loved this one and was a bit disappointed when it ended.
Overall, four stars for being a solid well-written book, even if a bit short in length. It was a fun read and just right horror lovers that just like a bit of fright and not too much gore. I would read another collection by this author but hope he considers a full-length novel as several of these tales would have been great as stand-alone novels.
Reviewed by C. Nola
Watchers by Craig Priestley
Just finished reading this novel by new author Craig Priestley. Watchers is his debut novel and is well-written with an original concept. The characters are relatable but could have a bit more depth to them, which the author does strive for but falls just a bit short. The result leaves a few questions lingering in the air after the conclusion of the story.
The main character, Charlie, is dealing with some grief issues and while deeper issues are hinted at, those are never resolved or mentioned again later on in the story. His relationship with his best friend is more relatable and I feel like everyone knows a guy like Steven, a bit of a shallow but loyal friend who is more of a womanizer than anything. Loves the beer, the wine and the women more than anything else in his life. A deeper back story for him is not provided or implied and his purpose in the book is mostly to play this singular role.
The story revolves around a group of beings known as the Watchers who are not human but appear to be human in physical form, however, they are more static electricity or radio frequencies more than anything. Each Watcher is assigned a human to look out for, to observe their behavior and I assume to gently guide them along their intended path, but Charlie’s watcher begins to see signs of corruption amongst her kind.
The corrupted watchers begin to heavily influence their humans to commit all kinds of criminal and horrific acts upon their fellow humans. She begins to appear to Charlie with the intent of helping him as she believes he has a greater purpose in the battle against the corruption.
The story follows this couple as the world begins to implode on itself as more corrupted watchers begin controlling their human and soon all hell breaks loose and the world is at war, with each other, even as the corrupted watchers battle the good ones. The corrupted watchers seek to end humanity as the good ones fight to save it. Charlie and his watcher battle their way to the final showdown in America, not knowing if their combined efforts will be enough to save humanity.
Overall, this novel was well-written if a bit slow. The plot is very original but there were so many other avenues that could have been expanded upon but were instead sort of jumbled together, making the passage of time very hard to follow. The story does leave a lot of loose ends which I personally found a bit disappointing but it also leaves room for a sequel, which might have been the intent. While this book would not make my top ten list for the year, it was interesting enough that I would read a second novel by this new author. I would love to see how his writing grows over time.
Review posted on Amazon and goodreads.
The Ash by Dan Soule
I recently had the privilege of talking to author Dan Soule, who offered me the chance to review his newest novel, “The Ash”, for the website. Naturally, I said yes, being a fan of all things’ horror. I had no idea what to expect for this novel but the moment I saw the front cover, I was hooked! I love a good front cover and not all horror covers can convey the true level of horror that you may find inside, but this cover came close! What I found inside was a non-stop roller coaster of action, terror and unspeakable horror!
The story starts out with Constable Jim Castle sitting in his police car, coming to terms with his recent divorce, or rather the finalization of said divorce. He had received the final letter in the mail that morning and was now mourning the loss of his marriage, missing his son and trying to assess where it all went wrong when a pick-up truck comes flying past him. He sets off in pursuit at a high rate of speed, hoping that they do not crash when he sees something streaking across the sky that lands with a supersonic boom in a nearby town.
As the shockwave races towards them, slamming into both the fleeing truck and Jim’s police car, the world he once knew, changes in an instant. With no idea of what is happening, no working communications and no help in sight, Constable Jim does what he is trained to do. He gets out of his car, approaches the wrecked Ford and tries to help his once fleeing suspects. Arresting them no longer really on his mind, he begins trying to provide first aid to the injured men, who turn on him and hold him at gunpoint.
As they force him to help the man that is the most injured, discussion comes into play about what hit them, what came from the sky and what was happening? Not knowing if it was a missile or an aircraft, worrying about the fallout becomes a concern and they begin to look for shelter. Constable Jim is now being held hostage, and also becomes a guide for the three armed and volatile criminals as they begin limping their way towards a nearby farm.
Just as they reach the farm and its cantankerous owner, a heavy, thick ash begins to fall from the sky. The once bright afternoon sky now looks like nightfall as the ash grows thicker by the minute. The men seek refuge inside but soon something steals away the body of their fallen mate, Loz. The more volatile of the criminals, Keegan, orders everyone outside to search for the body, but by now the ash is more than two feet deep. The Constable and farm owner, Digby, start searching along with the other men when something races towards them from under the ash and takes another man down right in front of them. The men take off running towards the farmhouse as their fallen mate can be heard screaming as his bones crunch beneath the ash.
Something horrible is in there, buried under the deep drifts of ash, like snowdrifts from hell. Something with tentacles, something not from their neck of the woods, and something intent on killing anything in its path.
What started as a hunt for refuge to wait out a possible fallout turns into an all-out bid for survival as the men try to fight off whatever monster lies hidden in the ash.
All Constable Jim wants to do is get back to his family. Between fighting off the men holding him at gunpoint and fighting whatever that thing is outside, his chances are growing slim and the ash is growing deeper.
Get your copy today at Amazon to find out what lies within The Ash!
Plane Walker by C.P Dunphey
Plane Walker is an intelligent book. It is not a fast paced book intended to merely tell a story or entertain you on a rainy night. This book is finely crafted, aged to perfection like the finest cognac and it goes down the gullet as such, sophisticated and smooth with a pleasant slow burn in the pit of your stomach as it lingers.
This is literature, at its finest, meant to be savored, not devoured in the space of hours, but drawn out over time, allowing you, the reader, ample time to ponder over the concepts, to immerse yourself fully in the psyche of the character that is Lazarus, to experience the heightened levels of thought that he experiences as he finds himself experiencing the chaos that is his journey that almost defy explanation or reason. Lazarus is the main character of this story, and he is on a journey to find his daughter, at any cost. The story takes place in the future, a vastly different future than our own, with advanced technology, high level concepts in both religion and humanity and highly advanced intelligence.
C.P. Dunphey has crafted a masterpiece in Plane Walker, both in its use of language and in its concepts. It is science fiction at its most pure combined with literary tools at their highest level of definition. C.P. forces words to convey brilliant new meanings at their most sublime use; he forces the reader to accept that they are in the unknown and must learn this new thought process in order to make sense of their journey along with Lazarus. By the end of the third chapter, the reader has to fully accept and fall in love with the language that is so beautifully constructed, that part of them could weep for the intellectual satisfaction that it brings, while the other parts stand and applaud what is truly a fine tale that could have been crafted by an artist such as Poe.
Simply put, if your soul is thirsty for something more than your average thriller or mystery; if your mind begs for higher stimulation, and thought provoking concepts, read Plane Walker, and then read it again. Then discuss it over dinner, a gourmet dinner of nine courses, each one paired with a fine wine that delicately teases the tongue with a myriad of flavors, with guests that have also read Plane Walker so that you each may ponder and muse over the beauty that was found within. Dine slowly, my friends. Savor each bite as the chef has truly outdone themselves, solely for your pleasure.