Dark Rose Reviews...

 

01/22/2022
Graveyard Billy

by David Irons

Summary: 

Graveyard Billy is a cat with an extra special gift: he can see and communicate with the dead. When the unthinkable happens and Brighton's "Graveyard Killer" murders Graveyard Billy's owner, Piper, the small black cat is left alone in the world. Living feral in Woodvale Cemetery with nowhere to go, Graveyard Billy isn't alone for long. The spirit of a recently deceased girl –Kelly Minter – attaches herself to Graveyard Billy and makes a deal with him: If he helps her get back home to see her family one last time, she'll help him find the spirit of Piper – and maybe even discover the creature responsible for her death.

The odd couple embark on their mission, relying on one another to get by: Graveyard Billy, the living cat, planted firmly in reality; Kelly Minter, the human ghost, stuck in that in-between place of life and death, both searching the South Coast of England for the answers they seek in life with the help of the inhabitants of the secret world of the dead. But the "Graveyard Killer" is still at large, and while he lurks no one, living or dead, is safe …

ALL proceeds from Graveyard Billy will go to cat rescue charities on the South Coast of the U.K Between Brighton and Worthing.


Review:

Hello, my lovely Darklings!


This story hits a lot of my buttons: feline protagonists (animal heroes), a murder mystery, ghosts, the usurping evil of stray catchers, this book has it all. 


The style of writing is quick and so is the pacing. The characters are well-actualized, versatile, and entertaining. The story is engaging and will keep you involved. I devoured this far too quickly and will have to revisit it.


Tossing some dark hearts to the author for being able to write the character of a cat so well that the reader is equally invested in the human/ghost characters as in the cat.


Another thing the author does very well is describing the location of the book without having it overwhelm with details.


Because of the characters, plot, where the proceeds go, and skill level of the author I am giving this 5 dark hearts.

IMG-6427.jpg
 

01/22/2022
The Homestead

by Gary Hill

Summary:

Breaking in was the easy part...


It seemed like a low-risk heist – a mansion atop a secluded hill; a neighborhood in decline; an older couple. Tantalized by the potential rewards awaiting them, three men make it their mission to plunder the home. Yet despite all their careful planning, things don't go as expected; not at all as expected…


As a follow-up to his recent novel “Wizard Song,” Gary Hill has gone in a different direction entirely with “The Homestead.” Whereas “Wizard Song” was a science-fiction adventure tale spanning multiple worlds, “The Homestead” is dark and gritty horror that is predominantly set in a single large home.


 Review:

 Hello Darklings! 


This story didn't catch me at first...but the house did. 


The residents of the house are two elderly parents who refuse to leave their residence, despite the incessant prompting from their daughter & despite the town around them unfavorably changing.


I love a good evil house book, and this is it. 


Rule number one in any house of ill-boding is to avoid the basement...but they never do, do they...especially basements with cave systems beneath. Things, delightfully, decline for the poor lil' robbers who were silly enough to venture.


I enjoyed the writing style. The author starts off with lengthy pages then shortens them as the POVs change and pacing quickens. The switch from character to character is done smoothly. 


The author sets up the mystery of the house well too. He cites the daughter’s discomfort with the place from a young age to current, the parents’ refusal to leave also adds some foreboding. 


I suggest you give this delightful tale a chance with my 3 dark hearts rating.

thehomesteadcover.jpg
 

01/15/2022
Golem

by PD Alleva

Book Summary:


Excellently written, with a twisted, spiraling, unexpected end that will leave you speechless." ~ TBM Horror Experts


Detective. Angel. Victim. Devil.


A haunting tale of suspense, loss, isolation, contempt, and fear.


On November 1, 1951, war hero John Ashton was promoted to detective. His first assignment: find the district attorney’s missing daughter. But his only lead is Alena Francon, a high society sculptor and socialite committed to Bellevue’s psychiatric facility. 


Alena has a story for the new detective. A story so outlandish John Ashton refuses to heed the warning. Alena admits to incarnating Golem, a demonic force, into her statue. A devil so profound he’s infiltrated every part of New York’s infrastructure. Even worse, he uses children to serve as bodily hosts for his demonic army, unleashing a horde of devils into our world. 


When Alena’s confidant, Annette Flemming, confirms the existence of Golem, John is sent on a collision course where fate and destiny spiral into peril, and the future of the human race hangs in the balance. 


The Devil Is in The Details!


Fans of The Silence of the Lambs, Clive Barker, John Connolly, old Stephen King, and Anne Rice will be fascinated by this edge of your seat psychological horror thriller with a story that tears out the heart of humanity and throws it on a slab to be feasted on.


My review: TRIGGER WARNING for violence, my darkling's.


Sidenote: I'd like to first offer darkfelt kudos to the author for being able to modernize and merge a few different realms of mythology (occult, greek, jewish, etc) - I wish this was done more in horror as it tickles the classic literary nerd in me.


You will need to take frequent, choking water breaks whilst reading. 


If you have been craving psychological horror that has demons, slow pacing, detectives, corruption, unreliable narration, three-act structure, supernatural powers, and violence - then this is the story for you.


The characters are definitely human, with all the varying shades of white, gray, black & it will really be up to you to decide if you like them or not.


I do enjoy a story that doesn't have a happy ending (and this one delivers...like an evil ups worker), that metamorphosizes characters with moral and ethical quandaries, that twists, and that is unforgettable. 


3.5 Dark Hearts

cover (1).jpg
 

01/15/2022
Spontaneous Human Combustion

by Richard Thomas

Summary

"In range alone, Richard Thomas is boundless. He is Lovecraft. He is Bradbury. He is Gaiman."—Chuck Palahniuk

With a foreword by Brian Evenson.

In this new collection, Richard Thomas has crafted fourteen stories that push the boundaries of dark fiction in an intoxicating, piercing blend of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Equally provocative and profound, each story is masterfully woven with transgressive themes that burrow beneath the skin.

• A poker game yields a strange prize that haunts one man, his game of chance now turned into a life-or-death coin flip.
• A set of twins find they have mysterious new powers when an asteroid crashes in a field near their house, and the decisions they make create an uneasy balance.
• A fantasy world is filled with one man’s desire to feel whole again, finally finding love, only to have the shocking truth of his life exposed in an appalling twist.
• A father and son work slave labor in a brave new world run by aliens and mount a rebellion that may end up freeing them all.
• A clown takes off his make-up in a gloomy basement to reveal something more horrifying under the white, tacky skin.

Powerful and haunting, Thomas’ transportive collection dares you to examine what lies in the darkest, most twisted corners of human existence and not be transformed by what you find.


My Review: 

My Dear Darklings,

Collections and Anthologies are my go-to when I don't have the time to dive into something longer and my-oh-my did this one take me by surprise.


The first few stories didn't incite that mysterious and consuming spark that tends to take hold of me and ends with me demolishing book after book, but I stuck it out and am so glad I did.


This collection has something for everyone - the genres are that varied. The stories range from spooky to terrifying to funny but no matter what they are all extremely enjoyable.


The editing is tight. Forward notable and the stories themselves, as a group, present a very strong & impressive front. 


Upon a second read-through the entire collection became all the more poignant, artful, and fun. I don't want to dive into particular favorites with this one because a work like this requires you, dear darklings, to go in with little to no expectation...that makes it all the more.


4 dark, dark stars to you, Mr. Thomas

SponHumanCombust.jpeg
 

01/08/2022
Ten Years Gone

by HP Newquist

Aye Dios, to be a teenage girl in this town.


The story centers on a town frequented by a serial killer that goes on a once-a-year slaughter that lasts for ten years. 


The reader joins the fray during the last year, things aren’t what they seem with a fun end twist. 


Very enjoyable, quick, well-written & I had no problem following the POV switching between characters.


Despite well-worn tropes being implemented, nothing was overdone...not the motion, wording, characterization...the author lightly taps on some ethical quandaries but never delves fully into the heaviness of anything, which made this book all the more enjoyable & works for the tone. 


The one aspect that this work portrays (and very well I might add) is the startling, disturbing, & morally questionable ability of humans to adapt and whether that adaptation is 'good' or 'bad.'


It did leave me wondering who was more of a monster: the townsfolks or the killer.


I give this 4 stars only because of personal qualms:


1) happy endings make me itchy

2) I didn't want the killer named 


Valiant effort and keep up the good work.  4 Dark Roses! 

Ten Years Gone COVER Final S.png
 

01/08/2022
See You When the World Ends

by Simon Paul Wilson

Hi Darklings!


This time around, we follow Tim & Naomi, two best friends who are in denial about not-so-secretly being in love with each other, a circumstance exacerbated by Naomi's departure as she leaves the country to attend her sister's wedding.


Quick side note: If mirrors have always creeped you out, then this is the story for you. 


What follows is a jaunty little piece about what you would do for love.


There are some spooky elements, the writing is quick and succinct, the personality of the characters come through even with so brief a work. 


Despite the story centering on the love between these two, and the fact that neither mortally perish from an asteroid (or serial killer or doppelganger) this is a novella that will keep you reading and is quite fun when you get into it. You will have to get past the fact that everything is a little bit too convenient: the helpful cavalcade, the ability to combat the villain, etc.


I enjoyed that the characters and author don't take anything too seriously until they had to - it made me relate to the story more.


The only reason I gave this 3.5 dark heartbeats is because romance isn't what makes this dark heart flutter but definitely worth checking it out.

See You When the World Ends eBook cover.jpg
 

The Bell Chime

by Mona Kabbani

Summary:

A girl suffering from paralyzing night terrors finds a missing poster hanging on the door to her apartment building. On that poster is a photograph of a frighteningly familiar face. It's her. Only, she's never seen this photo before and something about its grin scares her. 

Review:

Question: Just how deep does the chaos go? 

Answer: deep


Tragic.

Beautiful.

Lingering.

Memorable.

Chaotic.


And exactly what the author intended from the start. 


From the unreliable narration to the pacing to the limited scope of the main character's perspective- this novella is expertly crafted to make us remember, question and be uncomfortable about all of it. 


From a reader point of view, prepare to think, because this story will get your brain firing. 


Well done. 

Fantastic effort by Kabbani.


Side note with possible spoilers:

1) Never buy me a chime 

2) I really don't need a poster of my own likeness.

Rose Ratings: 4 Dark Roses 

 
OriginalColorLogo_edited.jpg