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Dark Rose Reviews...

Rating System:

3 = Good Solid Read

4 = Great Read, Excellent Writing

5 = Superior to most other reads

Dark Rose Reviews: Image

12/04/2022
Wicked Blood

By Erik Hanson

Darklings,
Best opening line ever: ‘It all started with a potato.’
Honestly, everything should, maybe just not a sweet potato, given the results.
This story is an amazing commentary on what we allow family to do to us, what we do for family, and how, maybe, just maybe, all families are crazy.
The story follows a young girl who watches her parents kamikaze each other in a fit of rage…over a potato.
Her two brothers bury the parents, and then the chaos comes.
Left to their own devices, things quickly escalate from a bad situation to an insane one.
Lots of death, lots of blood, lots of haunted house decorating.
5 slasher flicks.

LINK TO VIEW ON AMAZON
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Dark Rose Reviews: Text

08/27/2022
The Dawning

by Ezekiel Kincaid

Darklings,

I always get a little thrill when a book starts off idyllic and quickly disintegrates into abject horror. 
That's what this story does and it's why I kept reading.
 And there's something to be said about the simplicity and terror that comes from living in the 1800s...and from not having a cell phone.

This is a tale about Theodosia, an 8yo girl who has some biblically intense nightmares. 

Who adores her father, has an annoying sister, doting mother and, for a bit, we follow her life as she turns 8 and what the relationship with her father is like. 

Are they a figment or could they be reality?

Everything seems normal until lil Theo starts exhibiting some hallucinations & dreams that are quite terrifying. 

Pretty soon the nightmare world crosses over into her waking world and that's when things get scary.

What I liked: the genre-bending; atmospheric, cosmic, nostalgic, and supernatural horror. The plot too - it was unique and complicated and engaging. 
What I didn't like: some of the wording was repetitive and the verbiage felt a bit drawn out but neither of these detracted from the fervor with which I read this.

4 tentacles covered in eyes.

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Dark Rose Reviews: Text

08/06/2022

I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come

By Gwendolyn N. Nix

Darklings,


This story defies genre... it's a little bit of everything. A tale of family with supernatural and horror elements present being set in hell. It has magic, demons, and very compelling world building. 


“I Have Asked” has an interesting plot: Domino Bluepoint, the protagonist, is roaming around hell trying to stay out of the clutches of those who would have his very rare and desirable witch's blood. 


First off, what a cool name. Domino Bluepoint. The John Constantine of witches. Ok, I added that last part, but the name is just the appetizer to some superb writing skills. The character is likeable even with the abhorrent moral compass.


The pacing and tone are excellent.  It feels like a survival piece mixed with a western mixed with a supernatural twist. If this were a drink, I'd get a double... that's how undefinably good it is. 


Worth the read for the mythology alone. 


5 smoke snakes

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Dark Rose Reviews: Text

07/23/2022
Shadowland
Ravencrest Saga Book IV

By Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross

Darklings,

Just when I thought Ravencrest was finished for good...this gem pops up out of nowhere. 

The adventure didn't stop and neither did I - read the entire story in one sitting.

Belinda is back and more powerful than ever, recklessly so. Grant is still the seasoned voice of caution, like a beloved aunt, and of course, Heller has returned, eviling up the place. Almost all the Ravencrest ghosts are spirited and in attendance (except for the previously vanquished). We also get some new creatures that are causing trouble for our beloved characters.

This time around, something big and bad is after Belinda, feeding off of her. Can she survive this time around? Who knows but when the big bads gun for her it always makes for an entertaining story.

The things I liked: 
The new creatures...particularly the one who focuses on Belinda...ghosts, and other night bumpy things, the East Wing with those damn nuns, Belinda's mastery of her powers, that the Curse was tested, my favorite couple still going strong (looking at you Riley and Grant), and the promise of another Ravencrest book in the future!

Things I didn't like: nothing, this story is amazing from cover to end. 

4 wandering water entities

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Dark Rose Reviews: Text

7/09/2022

Strange Corridors

by Harvey Bastard & Candle Phillips

Published by Gloom House Publishing

Darklings,


Scrape by Harvey Bastard is a quick, fun, and funny read. Not only am I glad to no longer be 23, but also to never suffer the consequences of snorting cosmic dust.

We meet the main character, Rebecca, as she's attempting to find the Behavioral Health office in a hospital basement. The ensuing search is as terrifyingly hilarious as when she finally reaches her destination. 


4 trailing spinal cords

 *****


The Garden of The Forgotten by Phillips:


Darklings,


After this story I have but one request...

 When I die, I'm tapping you into having me immediately cremated...seriously...all of you bring matches.

 If the horror community is to be believed there are way too many 'tortured artists' residing in mortuaries...emphasis on the torture. 


We follow Grayson, a mortuary employee in a hospital, who has quite the…. let’s call it artistic, vision. 

 Is it a disgustingly morbid one? Of course.


Did I need to pause the story a few times to battle down surges of nausea? Of course.

 Is this story amazing from beginning to end? 

Let me answer that with another question...is the Pieta an iconic piece of art? 

Answer: Hell yes, it is.


Somebody else please read this, so we can talk about the ending.

Phillips is flawless.


5 instances of creepy elevator etiquette 


PS: the author bios have my dark little heart all aflutter.

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Dark Rose Reviews: Text

07/02/2022
The Headsman

by Cristina Mirzoi

Synopsis:

Take a glimpse into the world of a headsman, a gloomy village in which each dweller has a secret: an evil witch, a shrewd florist, a naïve young man, a foreign merchant, a dreadful husband, a mischievous maid, and a lustful duke. These stories are intertwined, weaving a dark narrative of love, trickery, brutality, and loss.

Under the bleak aesthetic, raw human emotions unravel themselves in a gripping story about moral decay. In a world that belongs to the wicked, how far can one walk this path while keeping a clean conscience?

The Headsman is a collection of short stories that focus on interconnected characters, sometimes looking at the same event from a different perspective. As a genre, it falls somewhere under dark fiction territory.


Review:

Darklings,

This anthology has some very short and very entertaining stories. A lot of which deals with morality or lack thereof. The gothic tone, setting, and language make the stories even more enjoyable. Pacing is fast because the stories are so brief. Solid representation and reminiscent of Shakespearean themes.


The Witch: no such thing as love if you're an executioner.

The Flower Girl: fairies, ill-suited marriage, and untimely deaths.

 The Young Fool: don't get it on with married women, don't get caught if you do, and maybe don't kill the husband once he finds out...food for thought.

The Merchant: ah, to be an outsider in such times. May as well light your own pyre. 

The Big Man: a budding serial killer who doesn't like when women talk, especially his wife. 

The Duke: everybody is just lucky to know such an outstanding man, and he will tell you so himself.


3.5 scornful townsfolk

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Dark Rose Reviews: Text

06/18/2022
Deeper Than Hell

By Joshua Millican

Synopsis:

Drugs. Delirium. Damnation. When Rock-Bottom is just the beginning, you’re bound to end up Deeper than Hell. Fever dreams and conspiracy theories collide in an epic nightmare inspired by William S. Burroughs and Clive Barker. Follow a modern-day Dante and Virgil on a vision quest from the streets of Las Vegas, past subterranean cults and feral colonies, past the military facilities at Wonderland, past any semblance of sanity. There’s life underground!

Review:

Darklings,

 Well, this cements the semi-annual notion of attempting drug use firmly into the 'nuh-uh' category. 


I, Dark Rose, will never become a face eater or heroin user.


This story commences with two pals, Drew & Sonny, who descend into what I can only describe as Dante's Inferno z complete with nefarious levels of suck. The conspiracy theories spouted off by Drew that caused him and his sidekick to attempt a journey into the center of the Earth, while not wholly outlandish, would become my demise. 


The reader meets the literary equivalent of Dr. Szell, the next level holds a sun-deprived techno-cult, a house of pain, cannibals, mutants, and your standard critter fare too. All of this and more happens on the way to the supposed safe underground oasis of Wonderland.


A very enjoyable read.


4 solid paint cans

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Dark Rose Reviews: Text

06/18/2022
Special Series Review:
The Ravencrest Saga by Thorne & Cross

Dark Rose Reviews: Text

The Ghosts of Ravencrest
Book 1

by Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross

Darklings,


Wow. Just...wow.


One of my favorite aspects of a story is when a character is warned about a house being evil, and skeptical, goes there anyway. Just like our main character, Belinda, who visits this house to see if she can acquire a job. I think she is really searching for freedom from the unwanted sexual attention she receives from just about everybody she comes across & the constant abuse from her mother.


From the beginning, the characters have such personality: Grant - the unruffled butler with a hint of something more, Cordelia Heller - evil head of house/dominatrix galore, and Belinda-the innocent who is more powerful than the rest combined. 


And they are all, in their own ways, completely enjoyable...unlike the very awkward Dr's visit Belinda attends. 

 Even the ghosts have distinct, sometimes terrifying, personalities - talking about you Three Sisters.

 The pacing was decent, slow enough to build the environment, but fast enough to keep the tension and action going.


A very strong 4.5 non-edible persimmons

Dark Rose Reviews: Text

The Witches of Ravencrest
The Ravencrest Saga: Book II

By Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross

Darklings,


I was so smitten with the first of this series that I immediately jumped into the next with reverent fervor.


We follow the same cast of characters as from the first book. The tutor, Belinda, who is an innocent with tremendous power. Grant, her magical tutor/butler to the house. Mrs. Heller who is still an evil witch but now an evil witch who is making fatal mistakes. There's a new threat at Ravencrest and it's up to our favorite heroes and villains to deduce how to stop it before time runs out.


This story has elements of horror, mythos, sci-fi, romance, creatures, serial killers, evil witches, even a little zombie action. And it's oddly not too much crammed into one spot because the pacing is excellently timed and spread.


The writers have fun with gothic elements except they hint and then show the monsters that crowd the visual periphery.  I really liked the way the characters interacted in this story. Grant, Riley, and Belinda work well together. The relationship between Eric and Belinda deepens. And it all adds to the terrifying, multilayered mystique of this house. 


The creatures are interesting, varied, and some of them are downright scary. A solid second book.


4.5 messy tulips 

Dark Rose Reviews: Text

Exorcism
The Ravencrest Saga: Book III

by Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross

Darklings,


The third in the series does what the first two didn't and finally calls in a flippin' exorcist. The ending installment has AHS Season 1 vibes to the extreme and even some streaks of The Shining. There's obviously plenty of weird and scintillating sex, hauntings, helpful and harmful specters, and the mythology is fantastic.


We follow the same loveable and deliciously unlovable cast of characters; the reader learns more about the things that reside at Ravencrest and what it will take for the living to reclaim the house. Belinda is finally growing into and controlling her powers, Grant is the consummate protector and guardian trying his best to mend curses and avoid ghosties, but not even the intimidating Heller witch herself can control what's been unleashed. 


I really like how this book shows some ancestral flaws. The first two books built up the Mannings (estate owners) as demigods but as you read on, you'll see the paint starting to crack and some of these ancestors are monstrous. 


What a way to end this series.


4.5 Greek pool houses

Dark Rose Reviews: Text

The Ravencrest Saga Summary Review

Darklings,


I simply love this series. 


It does a few things well: character development, creating a setting, describing the beauty, grandeur, and history of Ravencrest. The pacing was a minimal problem for me in all three but only because I became so invested in the plot and characters, which is never a bad thing.


The creatures that inhabit and surround Ravencrest are varied, interesting (there were a few entities I hadn't encountered before - hello Harlequin, H. Manning, and three nuns), and lethal. The pacing is perfect, not too fast, and not too slow, throughout the whole series.


The stories center on the people who reside at Ravencrest, an ancestral home. What makes these stories even more fun is how the happenings/what's being awakened at the manor directly influences the people inside the house. We lose quite of few of the characters before the series is done. Outside the house is just as fascinating with the romping scarecrow, zombies, ghosts, and assorted creatures. 


At parts, especially in the beginning, the writing is funny. One of my favorite characters is Belinda's mom because of how she's written, her language, and what is done with her. Frannie Silverstein is another because of her sheer pettiness. These stories have enough elements of horror contained within the pages to lure a broad variety of readers. Highly suggest.


A solid 4.5 endless parties

Note: The fourth book is available now. 

Dark Rose Reviews: Text
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5/27/2022
Special Series Review:
The Vampires of Crimson Cove

Dark Rose Reviews: Text

The Crimson Corset by Alistair Cross

Darklings, 


If you're the kind of person who likes their vampires crazy, sexy, and demented enough to make a corset out of their own mother's bones...this is the story for you.


We start off one with an attack on a librarian and things get more intense quickly. The POV jumps (don't worry it's easy to follow) from the brothers to specific vampires, the sheriff, a junkie, and a stalker, so you get a complete view of the story/town/characters dynamics from all sides.


There's plenty of sex, blood, and enough gore to satiate the seasoned vampire aficionado while being easy enough to follow if you're new to the genre.  


I really liked the characters: the brothers - one a hound dog and one a good guy, the sheriff who knows more than he says, the librarian with a backbone, the shop owners, etc. The vampire characters contain different, varied personalities, and have their own (often disturbing) quirks.


I do like a vamp story that uses the hive dynamic - makes for a more interesting read. And I do enjoy the concept of a vampire with morals - not sure that this story completely pulled off a certain male vampire, but it was an interesting, fast-paced read nonetheless.


Such a fun take on the daylight-challenged, a fantastic commentary on the fickleness of humanity, and how power absolutely causes insanity.


4 white rooms.

Dark Rose Reviews: Text

The Silver Dagger by Alistair Cross

Darklings,


My only contention with Silver Dagger is this: when you have the means and opportunity to permanently sever the undead coil of a psychopathic vampire and their loyal cronies...do it.

This error would be tantamount to not double tapping a zombie.

Any horror fan worth their weight in limbs will concur, click, click, boom, the nefarious evil.


However, said vampire does make for an entertaining story so I'll forgive it this once.


And as if that lesson isn't hard enough to learn...these poor Colter brothers can't seem to stay out of trouble. 


Having the same cast of characters return, after the trauma of the first story, felt bittersweet and more fun the second time around. That being said...be prepared to have your hearts ripped out with this story.


4 silver daggers

Dark Rose Reviews: Text

The Black Wasp

by Alistair Cross

Darklings,


This story kicks off with a very spooky vibe. Not even two paragraphs in and I was slightly terrified due to one of the most well-written characters I've come across, The Black Wasp. Also, I don't like bugs nor having my willpower taken away...just in case that needed to be stated. 


The first two in the series were good but this is one bugged-out way to end. 


The reader follows Cade, who is struggling, and is definitely more than meets the eye. He has possession of a silver dagger that can kill vamps. Unfortunately for him, there's something odd, old, and buzzing interested in him. 


The villains from the previous stories don't seem as villain-y this go-around because the true evil is super creepy and boats an impressive array of powers. And it's after Cade.


The action is moderate, pacing decent, and character development impressive. 


4.5 waspishly stinging old ladies

Dark Rose Reviews: Text

The Vampires of Crimson Cove Series Summary Review

This series is really fun, steeped in just the right amount of vampire & lore. The author even introduced creatures I haven't run across, which is always a fun aspect. It's a pleasing mixture of the sinfulness of an Anne Rice novel combined with the gratification of Harris' True Blood. More emphasis on darkness and fantasy with books 1 & 2 but definitely horrific by 3. 

Book one was tidy, book two will break you, and book three will terrify. 

I really liked how the character development progressed throughout. With Cade specifically, but all the 'good guys' cast of characters, there's a steady loss of innocence and by the third book the depth of personality is what keeps you wanting to see more. Very easy to become invested in the characters. The POV shifts serve the story well to speed up the pace and provide backstory. 

I'd give the entire series 4 symphonies of human suffering. 

Dark Rose Reviews: Text