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April 17, 2021: New Release
"The Ever-Descending Staircase"

James Carlson

This new release by James Carlson is actually a collection of some of his earliest published short stories. That being said, you would be hard-pressed to apply the term “beginner” or “novice” to any one of these stories. I thoroughly enjoyed reading each one of these and the fact that several of them were set in Pennsylvania, which is where I reside.  I always enjoy a story set in my own state, who wouldn’t?  It gives it that more intimate feeling, that “Oh Hey! I heard of that place!” 


The opening story is truly a scary story and it was my favorite of the collection. “The Vices and Virtues of Gideon Thomas” tells the tale of a jaded, ex-priest turned author still seeking for answers. What answers, even he is not exactly sure, proof of the existence of something greater seems to be what he desires, whether good or evil, he wants proof that God exists, or that one true religion exists. I think perhaps deeper than that, he wants to know the why of things, and the how, as much as he wants to know if God exists. 


Gideon finds himself responding to the call from Father O’Halloran, who informs him that his presence on Christmas Eve would be well worth his time. When he arrives, he is told the story of Father Martin, a priest who carried out many exorcisms during his time of actively serving. Father Martin is now dying and has requested to see Gideon, for reasons unknown to both Father O’Halloran and Gideon. Reasons which quickly become apparent the longer Gideon stays in the presence of the ailing priest. You will need to discover those reasons on your own. 


Another favorite of mine was “Gray Skies Over Pennsylvania,” which features small town PA in the midst of Halloween activities. Kat Levine is a remote cyber investigator who is very good at her job and police chief Raymond Price is knee-deep in missing kids cases. Kids that have just gone missing over the last couple of days from nearby Millhaven and there in their town of Briar’s Reach. Kat offers her assistance to the troubled chief and is quickly pulled into the mystery of the missing kids. She soon discovers a pattern that stretches much further back than she expects. The tale takes a turn when a parent of one of the missing kids from decades ago, turns up in Briar’s Reach and offers his assistance as well. This story was such a great Halloween time tale. Hauntingly sad, very well set-up and excellent characters help drive this story to its gruesome and unexpected end. 


“Bloom & Rot” is a haunting and absolutely magical story about a doe, a boy and a deranged hunter. I am not going to describe this in detail as it is too short to describe without spoilers. It’s about the bonds of nature and its animals, it’s about maternal instincts and kindness and the absolute wrath of nature when provoked. I have never read a story like this and I doubt I ever will again. It’s gorgeous, tragic and sublime. 


There are a couple more stories, each one different in its telling, each one superbly written. This is already a favorite collection of mine and I strongly suggest that you make it one of yours as well. This is 5 stars, truly an excellent set of stories. 

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Meet James Carlson

What made you want to become a writer and when did you first begin writing professionally?

I decided I wanted to be a writer after I left home at eighteen. At that time, broke and living on the bare essentials, I found myself riding buses and hitchhiking across the country, visiting new and exciting cities. I took to journaling on those long trips and developed a love for writing. After that, I had a few poems published. But I don’t think I was very good at poetry. Then I started contributing to a few different magazines, interviewing bands and singer-songwriters, sometimes reviewing new albums. Though I’ve been a huge horror nerd most of my life, I didn’t try my hand at writing in the genre until about 2015. So I was rather late to the party. Since then, I’ve been published by a bunch of small presses. And I’ve had a blast doing it. 


Why did you choose to write horror?

Horror is a genre with unbelievable creative options, where the imagination can run wild, where anything is possible. It’s also tremendously expressive, tapping into this visceral vein of raw feeling. Few other genres afford a writer the opportunity to put their characters through the emotional and physical wringer in this way. If done well, I think this strengthens our relationship with the characters, makes us want to know what’s going to happen to them. But, most of all, it’s an escape from the ordinary, the mundane. Horror has this unique ability to transport its readers to other worlds, impossible worlds. They’re full of nightmares and monsters and killers, sure, but that just makes them all the more thrilling.   


Do you only write horror stories or do you cross-over into other genres? 

Most of my writing exists in the realm of horror and its sub-genres. But I stray into dark urban fantasy, science fiction, and bizarro on occasion. Few genres are off the table for me, really, except maybe romance and erotica. I know where my strengths and weaknesses lie, and I have no doubt those two would prove difficult for my mind.


What was your idea or original concept for The Ever-Descending Staircase?
The Ever-Descending Staircase came about unexpectedly. The rights to a bunch of my previously published short stories reverted to me at around the same time, and I thought to myself, “Why not release them all in one book?” And the good folks at Terror Tract Publishing thought it was a good idea, too. These are my earliest attempts at horror, so they are pretty unrefined. In other words, my inexperience is fairly evident. Still, I learned a lot about the craft between these stories and my current works. And I had such fun writing these weird tales, especially “The Vices and Virtues of Gideon Thomas,” “Gray Skies Over Pennsylvania,” and “Bloom and Rot.”


What most inspires your ideas for your stories, real life, bits of dreams or something else?

Truthfully, all of the above. I am inspired by a great deal of what I experience and observe in real life; I just greatly fictionalize it. When I can remember my dreams, they prove to be awesome fuel for the imagination. But I suppose I’m mostly inspired by friends, family, art, nature, and just wild stuff that seemingly pops into my head out of nowhere.  


Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead?

There wasn’t just one author that impacted my writing, but several. When I first started writing, I was obsessed with the Beat Generation. Kerouac’s spontaneous prose impressed me—it was such a punk rock concept in a time when punk rock didn’t even exist—but my OCD wouldn’t let me go that route. I tend to write long sentences like he did, though. I was also blown away by Burroughs’ brave voice and bizarre mind, and I knew I wanted to embrace the weird. Then I began reading the masters of horror and was certain I wanted to combine all the things I appreciated about all my literary heroes.

What was your earliest experience with horror? Movie, book, a real-life moment or nightmare?
When I was a young teenager, I stubbornly refused to read. Instead, I wanted to skateboard and hang out with my friends. My mother, the wise and patient woman that she is, bought me a horror anthology and urged me to give it a try. I devoured that book, so she kept them coming. And that’s how I was introduced to H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Ramsey Campbell, Robert Bloch, and Dean Koontz, among others. 


What is your favorite thing about being in the horror industry?
Well, I was into horror movies before I fell in love with horror books. Those movies pulled me in, made me a party to their dreadful events and intense scenarios. After watching them I felt emotionally drained and yet oddly satisfied. When I started reading, the experience was even more immersive—it didn’t just pull me in; it made me feel as though I was a component of the story. Gripping me line by line, I feverishly flipped through the pages. I had to know what happened next, even if it might be gruesome or heartbreaking. Writing gives me that same feeling. I lose myself in it. And since being published and getting to know other people in the genre, I’ve learned that horror isn’t so much an industry as it is a community. One that I’m happy to be part of.


Name your top 3 most admired horror authors and/or novels and explain why? 
Stephen King must be mentioned, of course, as his books were some of the first that I read in my early obsession with horror. He’s a phenomenal storyteller whose characters are so well developed. I have a lot of respect for what he’s done for the genre. Neil Gaiman is an author whose work grabbed my attention when I read Neverwhere. Since then, I’ve read most of his available work. He is so skilled at creating fantastical worlds full of wonders and horrors alike. And I really admire his writing style. 

My favorite horror author of all time, however, is Clive Barker. His imagination is endless and populated with such impossible and terrible things. I love his creative marriages of horror and fantasy. But as dark and fantastical as his work gets, he never neglects the very human element that a good horror story requires. Plus, he brings an undeniable sophistication to the craft that I find very appealing.

Incidentally, there are so many ridiculously talented fringe authors publishing with small presses these days. Just in the last several months I’ve read outstanding books by authors like Jon Bassoff, Danger Slater, Carlton Mellick III, Jeff Strand, Kenzie Jennings, and Mark Allan Gunnells. There are just so many great reads to be found outside the mainstream. 


What is your favorite horror movie and why?
There are so many! Picking one is super difficult. I have favorites in every category: splatter, creature feature, cosmic, bizarro, slasher, crossover, etc. But I definitely have a special relationship with A Nightmare on Elm Street. Just before I turned twelve, I sneaked over to a neighbor’s house to watch it. And it blew my little mind. Being pulled into a dreamworld and getting terrorized by a maniac with knives for fingers seemed like such a cool concept. I wanted more of it. After that, I was obsessed. In fact, although I thought I was being sneaky, my mother found out that I’d watched the movie. That’s how she knew to buy me the horror anthology that managed to get me into books.      


What legacy would you like to leave behind?
At best, I hope to give a few people the same awesome experience I have when reading a good piece of horror. I hope to not only freak them out a little but give them something to think about. At worst, I hope to have provided a small degree of fleeting entertainment.


What would you most like your fans to know about you? 
There is nothing I find more rewarding and exciting than writing a story into existence. It’s something I am very passionate about. I do it for myself, granted, but I also do it for those readers who might appreciate what I do. So, to those who have read my work and enjoyed it… you make what I’m doing even more worthwhile, and I thank you for that. 


What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?
I’m still pushing my debut collection of dark fiction, Seven Exhumations. That one was published by Terror Tract back in December of 2020. After the release of The Ever-Descending Staircase I have a novella finished and almost ready for publication. Titled Midnight in the City of the Carrion Kid, it is arguably some of my best work to date. The material is a combination of bizarro horror and paranormal adventure. What’s more, it will feature a bunch of amazing illustrations from a very talented artist named Alex Casares. I also have a novel in the works, tentatively titled Precious Objects. Other than that, I have a handful of short stories I’m writing for various anthologies. 


James' Bio:
James G. Carlson began writing as a young man by obsessively scribbling journal entries while hitchhiking and traveling on Greyhound buses across the U.S.

Later, he worked as a music journalist, reviewing albums and interviewing artists for a handful of publications. In recent years he has discovered a passion for penning stories, especially in the genres of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. His work has appeared in releases by Grinning Skull Press, Gypsum Sound Tales, Breaking Rules Publishing, Terror Tract Publishing, Deadman's Tome, Bloodsaints, and Reanimated Writers Press. He is the author of Seven Exhumations and The Ever-Descending Staircase. James lives in Pennsylvania with his family and many pets. 

 

March 24, 2021 New Release: Nana

by Mark Towse

Nana typically is a term of endearment for “grandmother,” often associated with kindly old ladies that dote on their grandchildren and are fond of baking cookies, pies, and other goodies for their loved ones. The nana that this story centers around is not much different, albeit a bit stricter in her ways, but she loves her grandson Ollie and simply dotes on his father. There is nothing that she would not do for them, for as long as she can, such as is often the case with any good parent.  
Ollie’s Nana, Ivy, lives in Newhaven Crescent. It is a quiet little street full of elderly folk that Ivy knows well. Alex, the neighborhood paperboy, does find them a little creepy, as kids often do. Growing old can often be unkind and as far as he can tell, it has been unusually unkind to the citizens living in Newhaven Crescent. There is Joan, who is plagued by bladder issues and a weird lump growing from her scalp. She is friendly but Alex finds her quite hideous. Harry, the old pervy man next door, never fails to display inappropriate behavior for a man of his age, and honestly, Alex’s age too. Janet is a large woman, with a very generous bosom, where Alex invariably finds himself snuggled into as she wraps him up in her giant hugs as soon as he she sees him. She means well, but she also gives the paperboy the creeps.  
Newhaven is full of such old folks, each one kindly, but creepy, each one aging in horrific ways that Alex would rather not know about. Each one dying to be who they once were, free of disease, free of pus-filled boils, and warts and painful lesions. Free from the curse of old age and no one is more motivated than Ivy to spend as much time as possible with her son and grandson.  
Ivy is Alex’s favorite citizen on the block, she is the most kind, always keeps a respectable distance and often leaves him a fresh baked cherry pie on the porch. It is his favorite stop on his paper route and today is no different, or is it? It is a special day for the citizens of Newhaven and Ivy has baked lots of pies today, including one for her favorite grandson, Ollie, who is coming by any minute. There is lots to do and preparations to be made. Today is an incredibly special day indeed.  
This novella was so well-written I could see each character as described, with all their grossness and glory. I could almost smell them, but thankfully not. There is a seriously creepy undertone throughout the story and the desperation of the old people was palpable. Towse did an excellent job of weaving the very real heartache and pain of growing old into each one of these characters and the motivation for the climax of the story becomes plain to see as it unfolds. There is a lot going on within such a short amount of time but Towse keeps the story together and moving at a nice pace with little confusion or loose ends. The chilling conclusion is nothing short of incredible and as unpredictable as it gets. I loved everything about Nana, and I look forward to much more by this author.  
Five stars for me. Click the link below to buy it on Amazon.

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March 20, 2021 Mark Cassell

Author of The Shadow Fabric

What made you want to become a writer and when did you first begin writing professionally?

In all honesty there was nothing that made me want to become a writer. I just know for a fact if I didn’t write, I’d go crazy. Though I had always wanted to put pen to paper, and it wasn’t until about eight years ago I started doing it properly. It wasn’t too long until I received my first acceptance, my first payment, and it’s spiraled from there.


Why did you choose to write horror?

It’s the perfect escape. Though for me, it’s not mankind’s horror. You know, rather than the tropes of a slasher or a mad axe man, it’s more dark fantasy horror. I always lean towards the horror that lurks on the other side of our reality.


Do you only write horror stories or do you cross-over into other genres?

I’ve written in several different genres, yet there’s always a blend of horror. One of my first published stories was fantasy, and later I released a book called Chaos Halo which was an excursion into sci-fi cyberpunk. Plus, what is perhaps my favorite book I’ve written, there’s In the Company of False Gods which sits nicely in the steampunk genre. That particular story features some serious otherworldly horror.


What was your idea or original concept that brought about Fabric and the stories contained within?

In the 1990s during my college years, I came up with the concept of the Shadow Fabric, a sentient darkness linking our world with the spirit plane. More than two decades later, it became the title of my debut novel, and the leftover elements formed short stories I saw published in anthologies and zines.


What most inspires your ideas for your stories, real-life, bits of dreams or something else?

My next book Six! released in May through Red Cape Publishing, features several stories straight out of real life. The story “All in the Eyes” is a direct pluck from my childhood, whereas “In Loving Memory” relates to a job I once had. As does the story “On Set With North” where I drew from my experience as a driving instructor as well as being on a filmset. And then there’s the story “Don’t Swear in Mum’s House” which is about a brother and sister clearing out their deceased mother’s home during lockdown.


Name your top 3 most admired horror authors and/or novels and explain why?

James Herbert’s Magic Cottage was perhaps the first horror novel I ever read, and that connected with me on every level. Clive Barker’s Imajica introduced me to dark fantasy horror, and then Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series showed me how the cross-genre of horror, fantasy and science fiction can utterly blow your mind. All of these guys are British, and all of these particular books proved there can be an intelligence to horror beyond any hack and slash for the sake of gore.


Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead?

When I decided to properly pursuit writing, I discovered a how-to book by James Scott Bell. He laid the foundations for much of what I stick to now when it comes to writing anything, no matter the length. I swear if I hadn’t devoured all of his books, I’d not be where I am today.


What was your earliest experience with horror? Movie, book, a real-life moment or nightmare?

Once again, I’ll refer to a story, I mentioned earlier that’s featured in Six! A scene that is at the heart of the story “All in the Eyes” was perhaps my first introduction to horror. Absolute fear and terror at such a young age! If you want to know more, you’ll have to wait until May when the book is released.


What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?

Three years ago, to the month I shared a book signing table with Matt Shaw and Adam Nevill. And that’s what it’s about. I love the comradery.


What is your favorite Horror movie and why?

There was a time I would answer Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, and in particular the fourth movie in the franchise, Bloodline. I’ve always been blown away by the mythos behind the puzzle box and Pinhead. Now, however, for the sheer creepiness I’d say the movie Sinister. Its soundtrack, by the composer Christopher Young, truly topped it off for me. Incidentally, Young was also behind the Hellraiser soundtrack. So maybe for me that’s why I’m somewhat particular about all those movies.


What would you most like your fans to know about you?

I prefer animals to humans, and that’s why you will never see an animal harmed in any of my fiction.


What legacy would you like to leave behind?

Paper lasts longer than flesh, so I’d like to keep entertaining people with my stories long after I’ve withered away.


What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?

My next novel, Parasite Crop, is getting bounced back and forth with a publisher at the moment. Nothing is set in concrete yet, but we’re running through rewrites.


Mark's Bio:

Mark Cassell lives on the south-east coast of the United Kingdom with his wife and plenty of animals. His jobs have included baker, lab technician, driving instructor, actor, and was once a spotlight operator for an Elvis impersonator. As the author of the Shadow Fabric mythos, he not only writes dark fantasy horror but also explores steampunk and sci-fi. He has seen over fifty stories published in anthologies and zines and remains humbled in the knowledge that his work shares pages with many of his literary heroes.

His best-selling debut novel The Shadow Fabric is closely followed by the short story collections Sinister Stitches and Terror Threads, and also the novella Hell Cat of the Holt. All of these books have recently been released in the boxset Fabric, a mythos of modern-day dark fantasy horror. Collaborating with Future Chronicles Photography, Mark’s dystopian cyberpunk collection Chaos Halo and his Lovecraftian steampunk horror novelette In the Company of False Gods sees his prose in other genres.

His website (where you can also find freebies): www.markcassell.co.uk.

 

The Shadow Fabric Boxset

 This boxset is a great introduction to the mind behind the mythos! The stories contained within are stellar examples of everything that horror can be. The stories are well-written quick reads full of suspense, intrigue, blood and gore and more fear than you can handle. I have to admit that I am still reading through this collection and so far, it has not let me down. I look forward to posting a more in-depth review of the entire set in a couple of weeks. 

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Feb. 26, 2021 Release: 

Shelter for the Damned!

by Mike Thorn

Horror author Mike Thorn has written a nightmare inducing tale in “Shelter for the Damned.” The story centers around a teen named Mark and his two friends, Adam and Scott.  Typical teens, trying to be cool, trying to be rebels. Mark seems to have a somewhat normal family, both parents at home, both seem like they give a damn about their son. His friends are not so lucky as both come from much more dismal backgrounds. They are very well written characters and are relatable. Their friendship is genuine and will remind you of your days as a bored teen in suburbia, USA.  

As suburban kids often do, they are out for a walk, looking for some way to relieve the boredom, maybe someplace to sneak a few smokes out of watching adult eyes, when they stumble across an old shack. A dark, abandoned shack that they hadn’t noticed before. A shack that Mark is instantly drawn to, as they cross the threshold.  As the days go on, Mark’s need for the shack, for the feeling it gives him, becomes an addiction for him. It does not hold the same appeal for his friends, which turns out to be fine because Mark realizes that he doesn’t want to share “his place” anymore.  

As the shack begins to influence Mark on darker levels, his life begins a slow descent into a hellish nightmare that he cannot escape. Something dwells within the shack, something dark and evil and malicious, something that becomes more demanding and more twisted as it demands more from Mark. Demands that must be met, or Mark himself will become its prey.  This story feels like a supernatural tale in the beginning, but the latter half reveals it to be something more. This is not your average ghost story, this evil is something else, from someplace else. This is cosmic horror, at its most unexpected.  

This was a highly enjoyable story with excellent characters, well-written dialogue and a tense atmosphere that grips you early on and doesn’t let go until the final pages.  I look forward to more stories by this new author.  

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Feb. 6, 2021 Release: 

The One That Got Away!

Published by Kandisha Press

“The One That Got Away” is a great collection of short stories by an excellent selection of female authors. 30 women authors answered the call to write about “The One That Got Away” and these tales contain all the anger, grief and wrath of women scorned and the fury that hides deep inside. You will read about all kinds of love gone wrong, and the wrath that was dealt. It makes for one truly awesome read and highlights how scary a vengeful female can really be. Tread lightly, gentlemen, tread lightly!

Many of these authors were new to me and it was such an enjoyable way to be introduced to so much immense talent. There are far too many stories in this collection to just pick out a favorite, but I will list a couple below that I really enjoyed.

Dawn DeBraal pens a great tale in “Invasive Species.” I loved everything about this story of pettiness gone wrong. If you know what a garden club is or your neighborhood has “friendly” best lawn or best garden competitions, then you will love this story.

“From Scratch” by Sonora Taylor made me giggle with glee at the dark thoughts of the main character. I know that I am not the only person that will relate to this tale of a women desperately trying to scratch a dark itch in creative ways. I really enjoyed this tale.

Marsheila Rockwell tells us a very unsettling tale about “The Recliner” which made me think of my childhood and some of my fears. Sometimes, children know when to be afraid, but the adults around them are not able to take heed. One small boy attempts to protect his mother from his fear, with astounding results. I did not see the end coming and I bet, neither did he. This was a very well-written story that I related to on more than one level.

These are but a few of the remarkable stories in this collection. It is a terrific book to read at any time of year, but won’t you consider picking it up this month and supporting these excellent women in horror?

Click on the link below to buy now!

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Feb. 26, 2021 Release:

All Fun and Games until Somebody Dies: An Anthology.

published by D&T Publishing

D&T Publishing has put out one sick little collection in this anthology, “It’s All Fun and Games Until Somebody Dies,” wherein each short story tells a tale of a game and its outcome, each horrifying, bloody, unexpected outcome.  I enjoyed each gruesome game that this cast of characters played beginning with “The Gauntlet”, which takes a school-yard recess game to a whole other level in which a little girl’s social reputation relies on running the “The Gauntlet”, a jump-rope obstacle course designed and carried out by her fifth-grade classmates. A lucky bargain find at a yard-sale takes this game to a whole new level, as she quickly discovers. This one caught me gasping with chills and gleeful chuckles at the end. 

In “Game Over”, young Cal, hoping to score big with a sexy young lady is forced to play the game of his life, by her jealous boyfriend. Cal considers himself to be a gamer at heart, having played thousands of hours and the boyfriend seems fair enough, giving Cal a day to practice and learn how the game goes. How hard could it be?  He has no choice but to find out.  


Another favorite tale tells us of teenage relationships and how hard it can be to be a teen in this world, with all the pressures they face. “Friendship” shows us just how far a teen will go to be remembered. I know I certainly will remember this one for a long time.  


Gameshow junkies will get a gory surprise from “The Grid” as our lonely gameshow junkie Jimmy, finds himself an unexpected contestant on a new game show.  Sitting down to dinner one boring evening, Jimmy scrolls through the channels only to find disappoint when no game shows are on, until a few cable glitches later, one pops up that he has never seen before.  Satisfied and ready to eat, he settles in with his pizza and his beer, getting ready to play along. Only this time, Jimmy finds himself part of the show, rather than just watching the show. Root along as Jimmy faces “The Grid” for more money than he’s ever dreamed of, there are just a few rules.   


D&T is becoming one of my favorite publishers for anthologies and the caliber of authors involved never disappoints.  The stories are always amazing, disturbing and chilling and they always stay true to the theme of the collection.  I always find a new favorite tale or a new favorite author to add to my ever-growing list and I guarantee that you will too.  Find this on Amazon now by clicking the link below.  


Five Stars for this stellar collection of stupendous stories!

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Jan. 30, 2021 Release: Dark Voices

Various Authors

There are so many things to say about this collection of horror stories, penned by some of the best authors in the business.  Some were new to me, some were not, but each one of the stories were fresh, exciting and original.  Nothing stale and predictable in this lot, and that goes for the authors as well as the stories! Dave Jeffery and Matt Shaw have both been favorites of mine for a long time now and their stories in this collection did not disappoint.  Many of the other authors were new to me and I was just as pleased to see that their stories were all wonderfully penned tales of terror, of ghosts, of despair, of creepy crawlies and ghouls. I have picked out a few delights below, but you will need to read this full volume for yourself. You will not regret it, but please expect a sleepless night or two.  

Matt Shaw’s tale, “Toss and Turn” follows the fate of Louis, a poor soul just trying to deal with a monster of a headache, possibly the flu. All he wants is a good night's sleep but try as he might, he continues to toss and turn in his bed. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse and sleep may never come again.  This tale left me more than a little disturbed, but also amused at how accurately he describes the battle with our minds as some of us are trying to fall asleep. The random incessant questions that seem to surface just before we feel ourselves drifting off to slumber.  

Dave Jeffery penned a beautifully haunting story in his offering, “We Are the Cosmos”.  the depths of sadness, grief and humanity that is captured in this short tale is staggering. Be prepared for this tale to rip your heart out and expose your soul in its tragic beauty of a love that not only spans the ages but quite literally the realms in-between. I am not ashamed to admit that tears were shed for this one before I reached the end.  

CL Raven is a new name to me, and I was rather delighted to discover that this is a pen name for a set of twins that write as a team. Their story in the collection is entitled “Buried at Sea” and is a chilling tale of discovery on the ocean floor as a team of divers explore the wreckage of an old prison ship known as the HMS Stormy Romance. The ship’s demise had been shrouded in mystery as was its short life as a prison ship, rumors of its being cursed following in its wake. I have been a fan of ghost stories and salvaged shipwrecks for as long as I can remember and this one takes both ideas and spins a beautiful but chilling tale of what really lies in wait aboard the HMS Stormy Romance.  

  

This is one of the best collections that I have read so far over the past year and I look forward to more from each of these authors.  If you have not yet read any of the above names, this collection will give you a great preview of what their talents can bring.  I aim to only bring you the best in horror here on Uncomfortably Dark and this book meets that mark, in abundance.

Five stars for Dark Voices.  


Available on Amazon now!  

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October 20, 2020 Release Date!

"They will learn...even if it kills them."
Nineteen year-old Emily's acute dissociative disorder causes her to be institutionalized - again - at Greyfriars Reformatory For Girls. Caught in the crossfire between brutal Principal Quick and cruel bully Saffron Chassay, Emily befriends fellow outcast Victoria. When the terrifying apparition of the mysterious ‘Grey Girl' begins scaring the inmates to death, Emily’s disorder may be the one thing that can save her.

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Oct. 20, 2020 Release: GREYFRIARS' REFORMATORY

By Frazer Lee

HOT OFF THE HORROR PRESS!!

 I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of this fresh new horror novel by Frazer Lee. This haunting tale follows the story of Emily, a 19 year old with an acute dissociative disorder, who is institutionalized at Greyfriar’s Reformatory for Girls. Cold Principal Quick offers no solace or comfort to the girls as they disembark from the old bus that carried them there. As the girls are led inside, Emily realizes that the lines have already been drawn, with bully Saffron Chassay as the self-declared leader of the pack.  

Principal Quick leads them on a brief tour of the reformatory before releasing the girls to their dorm for the night. The girls quickly begin to talk amongst themselves, except for Victoria whom can barely contain her sobs. Saffron wastes little time in taunting Victoria and further trying to establish her dominance over the girls before lights out, but Emily does not rise to the bait.

Things slowly begin to deteriorate as time passes in the giant building. The cold stone offers no comfort nor clues to the secrets it holds. The girls begin to see another girl in the building that they begin to call the ‘Grey girl’. Emily begins to lose her sense of time more and more as the girls become more afraid of the girl that seems hell bent on haunting their every move.

This story had all of the bells and whistles that a good horror story should have. The old building, the cold, bleak atmosphere; a sense of impending doom that seems to follow the reader through the pages and an overall building sense of terror as you discover the secrets of Greyfriars’ Reformatory for yourself. I highly recommend this great new release by Frazer Lee.

For any of you that are not familiar with Frazer Lee, he is quickly becoming an industry name. He has been one of my favorite writers for several years now and it’s an honor that I get to do this feature on him. Frazer is not only an author but a screenwriter and a filmmaker too.  “Greyfriar’s Reformatory” is his sixth novel to date, having also written “Hearthstone Cottage”, “The Lamplighters” and “The Skintaker”, amongst others. He has been awarded many awards for both writing and his films. Most notably his short film “The Stay” was the winner of multiple awards, including Best Horror Short Silver Award (Independent Shorts Awards, LA USA 2018), and Best Short Film Award (Changing Face International Film Festival, Australia 2017 ), and Best Story (Things2Fear Film Fest, USA 2016).  

On a personal note, Frazer lives in Buckinghamshire, England with his family and is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University London. He is also a member of the Horror Writers Association, International Thriller Writers and the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.  Frazer has a long list of accomplishments, and awards that you can read about on his author website. 


As an Added Bonus-Frazer did a Dark Dozen Interview. Find it below!

Buy Greyfriars Reformatory in hardcover, paperback, e-book.

 

Oct. 12, 2020 Release:

BLACKWOOD ESTATES

By William Holloway

Fresh off the press for your horror reading pleasure comes “BLACKWOOD ESTATES” by Texas author William Holloway. This is NOT your average, campy, cookie cutter horror book.  This is the real deal. I have not read a horror book this good in a long time, by a new author. This novel blew me away and I absolutely can say that I enjoyed every single second of it. William takes his main character, Philip Nada, on the ride of a lifetime and let me be the first to say that poor Phil neither deserved nor liked it. But as horror often shows us, time and time again, bad things happen to good people.

The story starts out with Phil taking his dog for a walk. Just a nice walk through the community of Blackwood Estates where he lives with his autistic son, Scotty.  Scotty is currently at home with his caregiver and his mother, whom has shown up for her weekly visit. Not willing to deal with his ex-wife, Phil takes the dog out for a nice breather, but they barely get halfway down their favorite trail before the screaming begins. Phil’s dog Benny is on high alert, trying to get Phil to follow his lead, but of course, as a man will, Phil wants to investigate. Of course, he should. Someone could be hurt. But what he finds, is not what he expects.

Something is wrong with the children.  ALL of the children of Blackwood Estates seem to have gone completely and utterly mad.  When the children stop screaming, the Estates are covered by a thick fog, the air has gone dry and when Phil reaches home, his ex-wife is gone, Scott’s caregiver is hanging on by a thread and Scotty, well, Scotty is not quite Scotty anymore. I will stop there, as I do not wish to give away any of the terror that oozes from this book. This novel is saturated with horror, dripping in blood and more Lovecraft than I have seen in most modern horror stories.

William Holloway is an author to watch. He will be known, widely, throughout the industry and its fans. My first reaction at the end of this story was quite bluntly, “Holy Fuck!!” Ask him, I absolutely said just that. I loved everything about this story and I will be reading his other novels, which include “The Abyssal Plain: The R’lyeh Cycle” and “The Immortal Body” amongst others. Look for those reviews coming soon.

William wrote his first novella in 1998, titled “Death in Texas”. Ten years later, he took up writing again and began his cosmic series called “The Singularity Cycle”. The first novel of this series is “The Immortal Body” and was published in 2012 and then wrote the follow up novel, “Song of the Death God.” Both novels have been picked up by British Horror Maven Graeme Reynold’s Horrific Tales publishing, along with his stand alone novel “Lucky’s Girl.”

Keep an eye on this new author. He’s talented and he is sure to knock your socks off with each novel he brings to light, or rather to the darkness that we here at uncomfortably dark like to call home.

Click the link below to get your copy now!

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New Release!!

The Sins of the Past

by Eric Butler

Book One of the Ephraim Godwin Chronicles 

“The Sins of the Past” is a delicious Victorian horror of a Lovecraftian bent. The characters are incredibly detailed and well-developed. The settings are lush, and fitting with the time and era and the storyline is vivid and immersive. Even the cover is absolutely perfect, gorgeous and unsettling at the same time.  It has everything that a great book needs to have in order to tell a great story and it fully delivers on that promise.  I found myself completely swept away to another time and place as I read this story of séance's, spiritualists and a desperate race against time for answers before an old evil is given free reign over the world of men.  

Well-known skeptic, Ephraim Godwin, searches for answers to his family’s disappearance and has turned to the world of spiritualism, only to discover that its full of frauds and tricksters, until his path brings him to the doorstep of Zona Whitlock and her brother, Zachariah, both of whom seem to be the real deal. An unexpected disturbance at a séance, plunges Ephraim, and his good friend, Doctor Livingstone deep into the world of the supernatural, along with Zona Whitlock as they race to stop an old evil from being unleashed on the world. At the heart of the mystery is a man named Jonah Cook who harbors a personal vendetta against Ephraim himself.

   

This story is a beautifully written tale of terror and intrigue that will not disappoint. It spans countries and beliefs and combines supernatural and cosmic horror in complex but delicately woven layers.  I am very much looking forward to the next installment in this series. 

Five Stars for this Cosmic tale.  


Click below to buy it on Amazon.com.  

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