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Uncomfortably Dark Book Reviews

Books will be scheduled in the order they are requested.  Acceptance of a book is NOT a guarantee of a POSTED review. Reviews are still subject to our policy.

We accept all horror, dark fantasy, dark crime, dark poetry, and sci-fi. 

*UDH posts limited reviews from Nov. 15 - Jan.15 for personal time for the team. 

**We do not read or review romance or erotica of any kind.  We do not read or review any explicit content depicting graphic child rape and/or sexual abuse. 

Rating System:

3 = Good Solid Read

4 = Great Read, Excellent Writing

5 = Superior to most other reads

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Reviews by Candace Nola

The Creator of Uncomfortably Dark 



By Ross Jeffery

Tome is the second installment of Ross Jeffery’s Juniper series, and it is just as stellar as the first. This story follows the terrifying events that seem to plague Juniper Correctional, the area’s largest employer, and probably the only thing keeping the small town alive.  

Frank is one of the guards that spends his days walking the crumbling halls dealing with the chaos that is prison life and all the horrors that come with it. Frank stills sees the good in people even though his own past is fraught with secret pain, but Juniper seems hell bent on corrupting the las light in the dark prison.  

The narrator brings every moment of this story to life. The prose is captivating and engaging, keeping the reader/listener enthralled at every word. Juniper itself comes to life within the words, one heart-wrenching moment at a time. 

5 full stars from Uncomfortably Dark. 



Recent Audiobook Reads

Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke

Juniper by Ross Jeffery

Purgatory by Mike Schuhler

Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke/ narrated by Chet Williamson.
Bleak and horrific, Kin takes you through a blood-soaked journey through the backwoods of Elkwood, Alabama and beyond. Brimming with every horror imaginable, the story follows the lone survivor of a massacre that killed her friends as she tries to recover from the nightmare. Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets the Hills Have Eyes, blended and shaken; Kin takes you to a new level of Hell. 
Not for the faint of heart.

4 stars. 

Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke - Audiobook -

Juniper by Ross Jeffery/audiobook narration by Rebecca Morrigan
Juniper is the first of a trilogy. The synopsis calls it a “post-apocalyptic horror about an insane American town seemingly at the end of reality.” That is an apt description. Perfection is also an apt description for the story, the prose, and the delivery. The audio narration is on point, bringing Jeffery’s beautifully descriptive prose to life in the most vivid voice possible. Loved it, cannot wait to listen to the next one.

5 stars. 

Juniper by Ross Jeffery - Audiobook -

Purgatory by Mike Schuhler/ audio narration by Robert “Rein” Ramsay. 

Purgatory is a quick read or listen, heavy with ominous dread. A friend in need brings Grant Radburn back to an island he hoped to forget. An island where everything is dead, and the bells are still tolling. This was a great story of friendship gone wrong, a life full of regrets, and a place that shouldn’t exist. 
4 stars. 

Purgatory by Mike Schuhler - Audiobook -


The Backrooms

By Matt Wildasin

The Backrooms follows a lost man by the name of Greg that has stumbled onto a disturbing revelation that gravely affects his reality as he knows it. The story unfolds through a series of letters that Greg leaves behind in an effort to help inform the next person that may find it, even as he tries to escape a vast maze of rooms, called The Backrooms. The story has more of a sci-fi feel to it than horror, but there is definitely horror to be found within the pages, as well as The Backrooms. Well-written, intriguing, and fast paced. 4 stars.


Midnight Echo

This issue has been on my TBR for a while due to major backlog, however, I am so glad that I finally got around to reading it and I strongly suggest that everyone else does too. Midnight Echo is put out by the Australasian HWA and it is a triumph of dark and disturbing short stories and poetry that will leave you longing for more. The cover alone is worth the cost of the magazine, and the content is pure gold. 
With stories by Dani Ringrose, Mark Towse, Michael Botur, Kat Clay, and many others, there is something for everyone within these pages. Some standouts for me were “The Hole in Emily’s Heart” by Michael Hughes, “Smothered, Still and Silent” by Deborah Sheldon and “Fearful Symmetry” by Stephen Dedman. 


This issue and past ones are available to purchase on Amazon at the below link:


Apartment 239

This is not just another ghost story.  I went into this blind and I’m very glad I did.  The concept to the story is rather unique and sets it apart from the usual ghost or haunted house story. It focuses on a man grieving the loss of his wife and son, and follows him as events in his life, as well as a series of events around the town in which he lives, escalate to a fever pitch of fear, murder, and mystery.  4 stars



Every Woman Knows This

By Laurel Hightower

“Every Woman Knows This” is an experience. It’s a journey through the darkest places of the female mind, heart, body, and soul. A probing quest into her deepest fears and most vulnerable thoughts. The things we cannot voice and are taught not to voice, not to feel, not to speak upon. Laurel brings the rawest parts of female emotion to the surface and demands that you see them, feel them, and acknowledge them. “Every Woman Knows This” is a beautifully written, deeply emotional, artistic accomplishment from Laurel Hightower.
5 stars.


Strange Little Ghouls

by Wendy Dalrymple

I listened to the Audible version of Strange Little Ghouls and I’m very glad that I did. It was exceptional, both in narration and in content. The stories are widely varied, unique in their voice, and emotional in their telling. This is the first time I have read and/or heard anything by Wendy and it will not be the last.
4 stars.

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They Mostly Come at Night

By Wesley Southard

This new collection from Wesley Southard is a shining example as to why he is one of horror’s rising stars. With everything from short, shocking bites of terror to bone-chilling, haunting and disturbing, it is exactly what a collection from an author with Wesley’s talent, style and range should be.
5 stars.


The Wild Dark

By Katherine Silva

Katherine Silva has penned an incredible tale of love, loss, redemption, and the beyond in her story, The Wild Dark. With a unique take on the afterlife, Silva brings the apocalypse to us in the form of long-dead spirits, hideous creatures intent on capturing lost souls, and purgatory on earth.
Raw emotion blends well with intense fear and crushing revelations on every enthralling page.
5 stars.


The Halloween Boy and Other October Horrors

By William Simmons

This entire collection is a shockingly disturbing yet richly woven tapestry of fall imagery, terrifying tales, and heart-breaking emotion. Simmons balances the nostalgia of Halloween from decades past with delicately rendered human experiences of loss, love, sorrow, and fear in this incredible collection.  Well-worth a read by October people everywhere. 5 stars.


Beneath The Unspoiled Wilderness

By Nikolas P. Robinson

Nikolas P. Robinson’s new novel is a slasher like no other in recent years. The tale told within unfolds at breakneck speed as a fun camping trip into unexplored territory quickly turns into a living nightmare for all involved.

With expert pacing, incredible tension, and a dynamic cast of characters, the story thoroughly captivates the reader. Robinson's detailed imagery plays out like a movie in your mind, leaving you anxious and breathless until the end.

More than bloodshed, this story delves into love, loss, and friendship on a deeper level than one would expect. This is a 5-star read for any horror fan.


Mr. Nightmare

By Joe Scipione

The Nightmare Man is a truly scary coming of age story. Disturbing on many levels, the story of the nightmare man gets inside your brain, ever deeper as the story unfolds.

The characters are so well written I could visualize each one clearly in my mind. I found myself fully immersed in the tale and jumping at every sound as I read late into the night. The ending was simply stunning and perfectly unexpected. 

I almost never make comparisons, but this story can sit proudly next to “It” or “The Body” (otherwise known as Stand By Me).

5 stars.


The Lurkers

By Kristopher Rufty

Going into this blind, I was not expecting the wild ride that I was in for. Less than three pages in, I was hooked.

Blood-soaked terror and tension on every page, the story of The Lurkers races along slaughtering everything you thought you knew about fear.

Something lurks where it shouldn’t, something you’re not ready for, but they’re coming for you.

4.5 stars.

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The Best of Indie Horror
Christmas Edition

Presented by Kevin Kennedy

Kudo's to Kevin Kennedy for yet another fantastic anthology, just in time for Slayin' Season! 

I had the honor of reading this anthology early and was blown away by the quality of the stories contained within these pages.  Just when I think I could not be any more impressed by the amazing authors that surround me, I receive an anthology like this and am overwhelmed and surprised by the sheer talent that pours from the fingertips of these authors.  

Eric Butler nails a truly creepy tale in his story, The Mall Santa, while Steve Stred showers us with plenty of nightmare fuel in Tradition.  Lex H. Jones, a new to me author, penned a disturbing tale in a story called Top Floor: Seasonal Furnishings and Christmas Decorations. This one left a shiver going up my spine, while Clitoris Krampus made me cringe in places that I didn’t know I had.

So many good stories here, too difficult to name a favorite, but well worth your time in reading over the wonder winter season.  Be sure to pick this one up, it’ll become a favorite Christmas read. 

Four Christmas Stars! 


Of Witches

by Steve Stred

Brief Overview:

Steve Stred brings us eight horror tales about witches, right in time for Spooky Season.  The collection also includes incredible photography and illustrations by Amanda Crites, as well as a foreword.

My Review:
What’s not to like?  It’s witches. Steve Stred has created a nice blend of witch stories, most short and deeply disturbing, all within just a few pages. The stories all set in a variety of time periods and locations, only lending further credence to Stred’s range as an author. The characters become quickly relatable and believable, expertly done within a few sentences. Most of these, I did not see the disturbing turn of events that lie hidden just around the corner and I applaud Steve for being able to pen so many short stories without making them slightly predictable. The choice of artwork that was used helps to deepen the atmosphere and tone of the overall collection as well as enhancing each reading experience.  This a solid collection, well worth a read and including in your yearly October read list.

4 dark stars.


Beneath A Pale Sky

Philip Fracassi

Book Synopsis:

Beneath a Pale Sky is a collection of eight short but dark stories by author Philip Fracassi.  Booklist says “This is a collection that articulates the dark emotions of the genre itself-unease, anxiety, and dread-as each tale turns on a dime from slightly unsettling to palpably terrifying, often with a single sentence, and the results are breathtaking.”

My Review:

I happen to agree completely with the quote from Booklist above. This is an incredible collection of stories by a supremely talented author. Starting with the gorgeously designed book cover that alludes perfectly to what you will find within the pages, to the stories themselves that only get better the further you read. Fracassi captures the atmosphere and the emotions of each story with perfectly penned details, beautifully imagery and descriptions so vivid you can almost smell the air.

I must admit that I read this collection twice, having fallen in love with several of the stories. Harvest and The Wheel both spoke to me with their lush descriptions and near perfection of the stories being told.  The Soda Jerk was deeply unsettling, the more I read it, the more it disturbed me, which is exactly what we hope for in our genre. Fracassi has reached perfection in his mastery of the short horror story and each one in this collection delivers.

5 stars from Uncomfortably Dark.


Gone to See The River Man

Kristopher Triana

Book Synopsis:

Super Fans. Groupies. Stalkers.

These people will do anything for the idols they worship, be they rock stars, actors, authors, or even serial killers. Lori’s obsession is with Edmund Cox, who was convicted of butchering more than twenty women. She will do anything to get close to him, so when he gives her a task, she accepts. She has no idea of the horror that awaits her. 

Edmund says she must go to his cabin in the woods and retrieve a key to deliver to a mysterious figure known only as the River Man.  She brings her sister along and the trip becomes a surreal nightmare, one that digs up Lori’s personal demons, the ones that she feels bonds her to Edmund. Soon she will learn The River Man is not quite fact or folklore, and definitely not human, at least not anymore.

My Review:

There are not many books that leave me at a loss for words for days after reading it. I still am not sure that this review will even do this book justice. I will let the synopsis above speak to most of it and allow you to find out for yourself the horror that lies on every single page of this book. I can honestly say that this book rocked me to my core and not in a good way. For the first time in many years, I had nightmares for several days after reading this.  This book will take you to dark and disturbing places as Lori’s story unfolds. 

Exceptionally well-written, brutally raw and devastatingly dark. 5 stars


They All Died Screaming

Kristopher Triana

Book Synopsis:

In A World Full of Monsters, Even Heroes Have Fangs. It’s called The Scream. Once you get it, you simply cannot stop screaming. You can’t eat or sleep. It drives you more and more insane until you can’t stand to be alive a second longer.

They All Died Screaming is a plague novel by Splatterpunk Award-Winning Author Kristopher Triana. It is a pitch-black book about the lowly and downtrodden being the last people on earth.

My Review:

Triana does it again with another exceptionally written novel full of the most depraved and disturbing images of humanity that have ever been captured in ink. There are really 2 stories in this book that unfold simultaneously, one just as disturbing as the other. Tragic is also a suitable word, deeply tragic stories are contained within these pages. Not only are the characters relatable, but they are deeply complex, full of their own backstory and they all play very full roles within the story being told. You cannot help feeling pity or sympathy for even the foulest of the characters once you see behind the curtain, so to speak. As the tagline insists, even heroes have fangs. The hero of this story will certainly give you pause while you try to decide if the term hero truly fits here.

This is an uncomfortably dark 5 star read.


Giving the Devil His Due

Edited by Rebecca Brewer
A Charity Anthology by The Pixel Project

“Giving the Devil His Due” is a worthy anthology published for a good cause by The Pixel Project. All net proceeds from the anthology will be going to the Pixel Project’s anti-violence against women programs, campaigns and resources. This is for any female that has ever been abused at the hands of a man, the survivors of rape, incest, domestic abuse, and trafficking. Any and all survivors of, this anthology is for you, by authors like you, that hear you and support you. 

The authors have penned a relentless collection of stories of anger, loss, grief, justice and revenge, each one carries the same message. Survivors can and will overcome, they will see the sun again, reclaim their identity and their power, they will exact their justice, all in due time. A couple of standouts for me were “Hell on the Homefront too” by Stephen Graham Jones, “Just Us League” by Angela Yuriko Smith, and “The Little Thing” by Christina Henry.  These lingered with me well after I finished reading but there is not a disappointing story in the bunch. 

I fully support anthologies of this nature and this cause. Five stars for this superb collection for a very worthy cause. Kudo’s to each author for shedding more light on this truly dark topic. 


In Somino
A Collection of Gothic Horror

Edited by Alex Woodroe
Published by Tenebrous Press

“In Somino: a Collection of Gothic Horror,” bring something for everyone with its eclectic mix of modern gothic horror tales. Quietly chilling and disturbing, these tales slowly work their magic as the lush prose creeps into your mind and the small details start a slow chill along your spine. 

There are plenty of stories to pick from for a quiet evening at home with biscuits and tea, but some of my favorites were ‘The Blight of Black Creek” by Mary Rajotte,”Wild Thing” by S.E. Zeller, and “Self-Storage” by Barbara A. Bennett.  I love reading new anthologies because there are always a variety of authors to discover, and I know that I will be adding several of these authors to my list. 

Pick up “In Somino” for yourself and enjoy an evening or two by your fireplace this fall, discovering some great new authors and delighting in the darkness that this anthology brings. 

4 dark stars for “In Somino”.  


The Bad Book

Published by Bleeding Edge Books

The overall concept of “The Bad Book” pleased me a great deal. I’ve often thought of myself as a rebel against the norm, the accepted, the revered. Cause, why not?  I’ve never been one to follow the crowd, religious or otherwise.  I was raised in religion, Catholic, been confirmed and all and then nothing. I only attended church because my parents attended church and after I was confirmed, we almost immediately stopped going, except for Easter and Christmas, of course. 

But I digress, the concept of “The Bad Book” was meant to be in direct contradiction to that famous Good Book, but is it really? The sheer amount of brutality contained within the pages of the Good Book can give any horror author a run for their money.  The authors that took part in this anthology were challenged to take bible stories and turn them into horror, and they delivered.  Some of the stories you may recognize for the bible story they were meant to be, others you will not.  Each author nailed it, forgive the pun, and offered up a tale of terror sure to rival any offering in the Old Testament.  I loved how each section was named for the author that wrote it, rather than giving the actual story name, that was a nice feature to find, that further lends credence to the origin of the book's concept. 

I was not able to pick a favorite but I devoured this book much like Eve devoured the forbidden fruit. 4.5 stars for The Bad Book. 


October Nights

by Kevin Lucia

Book Synopsis:

This Halloween…

On a night when anything seems possible...

We dare you to spend an evening in the small town of Clifton Heights.

October nights here are long and strange, filled with both dread and transformation, and in these four shared-world tales of small-town Halloween horror, you'll encounter things both wondrous and terrifying, in equal measure:

- A priest hears a ghostly confession on Halloween night which will mark him forever.

- A young man is offered a supernatural chance to remake his fortune, at the risk of losing everything.

- A pastor fleeing the death of his daughter comes to Clifton Heights to face his fears, but finds himself living a nightmare instead.

- Two people with supernatural talents face-off with an engine of darkness and pain on Halloween night.

Four connected Halloween tales, evoking echoes of Ray Bradbury and Charles L. Grant, taking place in a town where every day is All Hallow's Eve.


The synopsis sums up this collection perfectly, wherein the last line states “evoking echoes of Ray Bradbury and Charles L. Grant.”  This is an excellent collection of hauntingly bone-chilling stories that are perfect for Halloween and any other dark night of the year.  Each story woven in and around the town of Clifton Heights, which takes on a personality all its own. 

Each story is well-written, with relatable complex characters and an unsettling sense of dread and horror that sneaks up on you as the story unfolds. I read this twice simply because I wanted to enjoy them again.

5 stars for this great collection. 

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Starlight Drive

by John Palisano

Brief Synopsis:

In “Starlight Drive”, two boys find allies through unexpected friends who help them confront a neighbor from Hell. 

“Outlaws of Hill County,” a small town finds themselves terrorized by a creature that only comes on on Halloween. 

“Samhainophobia,” a group of college kids still find Halloween terrifying, although for a very different reason than they did growing up. 

In “Fantasma,” a young boy searches for his lost cousin during a chilling Dios De La Muertos Celebration. 


This is a great collection of chilling tales that are perfect for a fall night. Each one is well-written, highly imaginative, creative, and just disturbing enough to linger for a while, in the back of your mind, making you look over your shoulder as you lock up your house for the night. You might want to check those locks just one more time before you drift off to sleep. Starlight Drive is well worth becoming an annual fall read, 4.5 stars. 


The End of Halloween

by Greg Chapman

Brief Synopsis:

Five short tales of terror.  The death of a twin sister is more than what it seems. A sudden car crash leads an injured man to a very eerie town with a Halloween obsession. A child’s longing to escape an abusive home, leads him down a very dark road. Trick or Treating in Hell, what could go wrong. Cold observances by Death, himself. 


This collection of creepy and creative tales are brought to you by Greg Chapman. Each is well-written, with relatable characters and scenarios. I really liked how each one had its own unique plot twist, allowing the story to end in a much different manner than you might predict. I love having the unexpected in a story and this short collection delivers that very well. 

4 solid stars for this great fall read.  


The Smell of Cedar

By River Dixon

Brief Synopsis:

Sarah is already having a bad day when a mysterious package arrives that sends her spiraling into a state of paranoia. Memories of a horrible childhood spent in her grandmother's care haunt her as she tries to piece together the events of the past few months, the events that have led up to today. For Sarah, it becomes a race against time and her descending madness as she tries to figure out who is coming for her. 


River Dixon has expertly penned a deeply haunting story that speaks of tragedy upon tragedy as a middle-aged woman experiences a crisis within herself. Paranoia, trauma, and horrific memories set the course as she takes a disturbing walk through her memories and recalls being brought up by her sadistic grandmother. When she learns that her grandmother has passed, she goes back to the old house to set those affairs in order, seeing firsthand the nightmares of her past.  

As she returns home, her confused state of mind only deepens as she becomes convinced that someone is stalking her, hunting her and she becomes determined to become the hunter instead, even as her mind slips further from reality.

“The Smell of Cedar” is truly a disturbing read, one that will haunt you for a long time after you read it.

Four stars for a truly uncomfortably dark book. 



Dustin LaValley

Wow. Just, wow. I went into this with zero expectations but somehow, it still was not what I was expecting.  

Premise: Hell in a Cell, in a fully stocked superstore, with only one winner. 

Outcome: as you would expect. A bloody, fast-paced, action-packed kill fest by the most unlikely mix of people ever found in a battle. 

Reaction: Hell Yea! Followed by a bit of shame, and the need for a shower.  The playlist to go with this story was epic. I highly recommend it for an immersive experience. This was more fun than I had expected with an unexpected outcome. 

Four stars for a fun, intense, rock-worthy experience. 


Slattery Falls

by Brennan LaFaro

Book Synopsis:

Travis, Elsie, and Josh, college kids with a ghost-hunting habit, scour New England for the most interesting haunted locales. Their journey eventually leads them to Slattery Falls, a small Massachusetts town living in the shadow of the Weeks House. The former home of the town’s most sinister and feared resident sits empty. At least that’s what the citizens say. It’s all in good fun. But after navigating the strange home, they find the residents couldn’t be more wrong. And now the roles are reversed. The hunters have become the hunted. Something evil refuses to release its grip, forcing the trio into one last adventure.

Book Review:

Every so often a book comes along that fully captivates you and swallows you whole, lost between the pages until the very last word has passed through your soul. Slattery Falls is one of those books and it is so much more than a book about ghost hunters. This is a story about the bonds of friendship, about love, and about sacrifice. It's about finding the answers that no one else can and about answering a call that no one else can seem to heed. This tale was the whole package, intrigue, terror, fear, curiosity, coming of age and beyond, love and loss. 

LaFaro has penned an excellent tale in his Slattery Falls. Get it for the ghost story, love it for the real story it hides. 

Five huge Platinum stars and a standing ovation. 


Tent Revival

by Edmund Stone

Tent Revival-Book One of the Rebecca Mythos

Tent Revival follows Allen Sutton as he miraculously recovers from a horrible injury after his young wife passes away. His father Sy, goes to see Allen at the hospital, where he had been wasting away for weeks, determined to bring him home and care for him there. Within a day of bringing him home, against medical orders, young nurse Rhonda shows up offering to care for Allen in exchange for room & board. Within 24 hours, Allen is awake, walking and talking as if nothing had happened.  Rhonda admits to knowing Allen from before his accident but Sy and Allen’s sister, Sally, are too overjoyed to be suspicious of her sudden appearance or Allen’s sudden recovery. 

Meanwhile, the small town of Salt Flat has been preparing for an event, a tent revival of all things, the likes of which the small town has not seen in years. Flyers are everywhere and the whole town is buzzing with gossip of the mysterious magic man known only as “The Sage”.  

Sy Sutton and his new friend Patty quickly realize that things are no longer what they seem and become determined to save Allen from an ancient evil intent on claiming him for her own. 

Tent Revival is cosmic horror at its best, mixing in fresh concepts with ancient beings, dynamic writing with relatable characters and subtle terror on each page, each more graphic and  intense than the last, so expertly done that you no longer remember when you first began holding your breath as you read, page by page.  I look forward to the next installment in this series. 

4.5 stars for Tent Revival by Edmund Stone. 


Tales From The Parkland

by Ronald McGillvray

Brief Synopsis:

11 short stories and one novella of horror for late at night. Welcome to the many “What If?” scenarios of Ronald McGillvray’s imagination.


Ronald McGillvray is a “new-to-me” author and I was thoroughly pleased with this collection of stories.  Tales From The Parkland brings something for everyone, throwing out its stories with wild abandon upon the table, ripe for the collective to feast upon. There is no theme amongst the pages, no common thread save one, horror. Ripe with terror, each tale takes you through a most disconcerting scenario and throws you headlong down the rabbit hole of McGillvrays mind. 

From a town with no way out, where garbage collectors are more than they seem, to the end of days as seen through the eyes of a small child at his daycare, Tales From the Parkland, runs you through the gauntlet of emotions as death, and decay, monsters and chaos leak from the pages. 

Pick this one up for yourself and get comfortable, right around midnight, and visit Tales From the Parkland for yourself. 

Four Solid Gold Stars. 


Rock & Roll Nightmares
70's Edition

edited by Stacey Layne Wilson

Another great addition to the Rock & Roll nightmares line-up, the 70’s edition is just as groovy as the 80’s edition was awesome. Full of music titles, song and band references, this anthology delivers on disco, deadheads and death.

I enjoyed every story in this collection but will highlight some of my favorites below:

“Tiny Danger” by Ruthann Jagge follows petite seamstress Bette, and her gal pals to a local concert. While her pals are full blown groupies hoping to score with a band member, Bette has bigger dreams. She has her hopes pinned on getting the lead singer to notice her threads and agree to let her design him a groovy stage outfit.  When all hell breaks loose as bikers attempt to settle a debt, she finds herself kidnapped and stitching threads for a whole different group. But her story is far from over and she is now known as Bette Bluewing.

“Long Ghoul Woman in a Black Dress”  by Curt Lambert is tons of freakish fun. DJ Johnny Handsome is spinning the late-night LP’s for radio station WFER when a monster of a storm rolls in. Thunder, lightning and a little bit more shake up the late autumn night as the DJ rocks out to his favorite hits and tells his fans to send him a “tall cool woman in a black dress”. Let’s just say he gets a bit more than that on this dark and stormy night.

Staci Layne Wilson conjures up a chilling tale in “While My Guitar Gently Reaps”, about a young man with the desire to learn the blues like nobody’s business and his special guitar. But the cost of fame is much higher than he expected. This chilling tale is sure to please as Leif and his guitar roam the streets.

Don’t miss Hotel Kill-em-for-ya on page 60. You’ll be glad you stopped by!

Five stars for this awesome tribute to the 70’s!


Stolen Tongues

by Felix Blackwell

So, here we have Stolen Tongues, yes, the very one that broke the Internet several weeks ago!

Or at least broke many FB groups that had recently discovered it, with naught but good things to say.

While I did not technically hop on the proverbial bandwagon, as it were, having been familiar with the story from the NoSleep podcast, I still figured a review would be warranted. So, here we are.

Brief Synopsis : romantic cabin getaway for two turns into a hellish weekend caught between a blizzard and a nightmare as voices begin screaming in the night. Felix and Faye are terrified as shadowy beings appear and something begins talking to Faye at night as she sleep talks and sleepwalks. Horrified, Felix realizes she is talking back.

Blackwell takes a normal everyday occurrence, sleepwalking/sleep talking, and turns it on it’s head by combining it with some Native American lore about “imposter spirits” and mixes it with a naturally scary setting, an isolated cabin in the woods. The recipe delivers a deeply disturbing stew of fear and terror on almost every page as each occurrence becomes creepier and more intense.

Escaping from the cabin is just the start of their problems and their story. Felix and Faye find themselves in for the fight of their lives as the Imposter gets ever closer to Faye and the secret she holds.

Five stars for a truly terrifying tale.


We Are Many

by Alan Aspinwall

I recently read “We are Many” by Alan Aspinwall, his follow-up to “Lucy”. This new story follows a group of young ghost hunters in an investigation of the old house used by Derek Kelly to carry out the murders of seven women, before he came to his demise.

Neighbors near the house have been reporting mysterious noises, screaming, and other sounds coming from the house for months after the murders and the borough has finally decided to tear it down.

Young medium and ghost hunter, Jenny,  convinces her boyfriend Dan that it’s now or never, to investigate the condemned building. He agrees and they make plans to go, along with his best mate, Brian and his girlfriend, Rachel, who is new to ghost hunting but willing to go along.

None of them are prepared for the events that unfold over the course of their investigation nor are they prepared for who they meet while there.

It’s been a long time since a story had me looking over my shoulder at night and gave me goosebumps. Short but terrifying, pick up “We Are Many” tonight. 4.5 stars.



by Daemon Manx

Abigail is a quick read, a very short novelette, that tells a fascinating story about a highly unusual orphaned child and the man that takes her in. Adrian takes one look at the helpless infant on his porch and proceeds to turn his entire life upside down for her, just hours after meeting the man of his dreams. I’m not a fan of spoilers and it’s too short to say much more but the setup is flawless, and it’s delivery is superb.

I was not prepared for the outcome of this story, which will leave you astounded on several fronts. I found the concept to be creative and original, the story enthralling and the outcome just delightful.

Horror? Not in the traditional sense, but yes, still horror. You’ll have to read it to understand and I hope to see more tales set in Abigail’s world as Manx furthers his career. Four solid gold stars for this debut.


Empty Walls

by S. Feaker

Author S. Feaker finishes her Haven Manor trilogy with a home run. You know the kind, all bases loaded, late in the ninth inning, tension running high, game tied 2 for 2 and the crowd is going nuts, the field is deathly still. But then, the pitcher moves into the wind-up, throwing it in as twenty thousand fans inhale. CCRRAAAACCKKK!!!!! The bat connects, the runners are off and it is out of here, folks! Feaker wins the series!!! 

There really is no need to say anything else, but since I do like to give full reviews, I’ll say a bit more.  As I said when this series first began, I love a good haunted house story and for some reason, there is nothing better than an old haunted mansion! Ms. Feaker did an outstanding job with her debut novel, “Uninvited Others” as she told us the tale of Scarlett and her family as they moved into the manor and its many secrets.  

It had been a long time since I had devoured a haunted house story like this one. I loved everything about this story. The details were lush and vivid, the characters real and charismatic, cruel and deliberate, innocent and endearing; they were everything that people are in real life. Full of traits that make them relatable, written with realistic back stories that make you empathize with them, with their mistakes and make you hope for a better future for each of them. 

I could not imagine what the second installment would be, although I enjoyed pondering the multiple scenarios that I had come up with while I waited. Being a writer, I know all too well the stress that a second novel in a series brings, the long hours going into the writing, the editing, the creation of something new but familiar, something just as good and better than the first. When I finally received the second book, “Shadow Sleepers,” I read it the same night. 

“Shadow Sleepers” pulls you in from the first night and does not relent at any point throughout the book. The Manor is a living breathing entity and it means to rule again, at any cost. Feaker puts the reader through nightmare after nightmare as she drives the story to its conclusion, but the end of this installment is not the end of the story. Ms. Feaker leaves you hanging at a crucial moment in the book and it’s expertly done. 

The moment I received “Empty Walls,” I began reading with a smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach. Not only had I been living with anticipation of what the final book would hold but I had been holding my breath for Ms. Feaker, to deliver, once again, an outstanding novel that would conclude her series with the aplomb of which it deserves, and I was not disappointed. I will not leave spoilers here. I will just simply say, “Well done, Ms. Feaker. Kudo’s on an excellent series. Five stars for you, for Haven Manor and for Empty Walls.”  I applaud you. 

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There is No Death, There are No Dead.

Edited by Aaron J. French & Jess Landry
Published by Crystal Lake

Brief Book Synopsis from Publisher:

There Is No Death, There Are No Dead is a horror anthology that tackles all aspects of the spiritualist movement: from the true believers to the nay-sayers, the hoaxes to hauntings, the real mediums to the scam artists. From ghosts to possessions, from profound loss to insurmountable grief, these short stories explore limitless genres (historical fiction, Gaslamp mystery, modern horror, and everything in between) with a diverse cast of characters challenged at every corner.


There is No Death, There are No Dead delivers on its promise of spiritualist stories. Each story is haunting, chilling and macabre in their own way. I enjoyed reading each one, discovering a fresh perspective on ghosts, and possession and all of things that may wander in-between.  Each story will stick with you long after it is read and will make you ponder what all may lie in that realm just beyond our own. 

My absolute favorite in this was “The Bone Eater” by Lee Murray. I found this story to be tragic, heartbreaking, beautiful and chilling to the bone. No pun intended. It is too short to say much, the title says enough and no, it will not be what you think. It will be more. 

Another stand out was “The One Word I Can’t Say,” written by S. P. Miskowski. Grief and ghosts take over the life of one young woman, who only wishes for peace. It all comes down to one word. Haunting, and sad, my heart hoped for her peace even as much as I wondered if she would, or could, obtain it. 

“A Feather for Mrs. Edmond” by David Demchuk brings a sad housewife to a talented young boy with psychic gifts. She seeks solace, and more from her loved ones on the other side. The young psychic delivers more than a word, much to the shock of the grieving widow, and his young aunt that serves as his care-taker. 

Several others stood out for me, including “The Happy Medium” by Helen Marshall, the Poe-esque “The Marble Lily” by Kathe Koja and “Meeting Katie King” by Lisa Morton. 

This is a beautiful anthology to grace your shelf, full of beautifully written stories that deal with death, life, and loss in a wide variety of manners.  Four solid gold stars for There is No Death, There are No Dead. 


Between A Spider's Eyes
an anthology of the macabre

Published by Potter's Grove Press

Well, this is one deeply disturbing collection of stories. If you love depraved images, disturbing visuals and bloody gore, this is one for you. There is something for everyone in this book from jaw-dropping to humorous to the vile and depraved, grab this and put it on your shelf.

My favorite was Carla's Conundrum by Aron Beauregard. This contained a twist I never saw coming, based on a concept that I wished I had thought of, and it was expertly done. A perfect blend of insanity and sadness. Aron never fails to entertain.

Blobert is hilarious and disturbing. Truly a WTF read if there ever was one. I read this twice, grinning like a lunatic. Picture that. M. Ennenbach takes the reader on a bad acid trip in this highly amusing and visual tale.

Water Revival by River Dixon was poignant and sad, a heartbreaking story at its core, twisted into something horrific at the hands of a master. Another one that I read twice, just because I wasn’t ready for it to end. This was my first story by River and I can promise that it won’t be my last.

Daniel Volpe creates a horrific but heart-wrenching tale in his Just A Friend. The tale of Kaella Reick and her sad situation quickly takes a turn for the worse as she finds herself helpless and assaulted by several peers. An offer of a ride home turns into a chance for justice that Kaella quickly takes, a chance that carries terrible consequences. 

Several more tales round out the collection penned by Rayne Havok, Simon McHardy, Regina Watts, and Elizabeth Bedlam. Each story is just as creepy and disturbing as the last. I enjoyed each one of these finely crafted tales, and every skin crawling or goosebump filled moment. Highly recommend this 5 star collection.


Hope Wharf

by Mark Towse

The synopsis loosely restated says Hope Wharf is an idyllic town surrounded by crystal blue waters and home to roughly 200 locals. Tourists are free to come and go but locals are forbidden to leave. With only one road to get in or out, two young boys decide to test the rumours about Tommy Nicholls for themselves, Tommy was the last local that tried to leave and he was found dead by the side of the road at the town limits with mist coming from every orifice. 

Towse creates a perfect seaside town, complete with a heavy mist that rolls in from the water at night, covering the town in a thick haze. The locals love it here, it's quiet and clean and crime does not exist. The kids are safe, the tourist traffic is great and business is booming. Ryan and Zac, best friends from an early age, are bored and tired of town life and both feel as if something is very wrong with the town they call home. 

One night, they make a plan to meet late after bedtime and test the limits of the road for themselves. After all, what happened to Tommy Nicholls was just a rumour, wasn’t it?  What the boys discovered was not what they had in mind, at all.  

Mark Towse creates a high tension story that doesn’t let up in this chilling story of a small beach town called Hope Wharf. The atmosphere is perfectly creepy, the characters are relatable and well-written and the story carries itself along through the eyes of both Ryan and Zac as they set out to discover the secrets of Hope Wharf.  I loved this short novella and suggest it as a nice summer evening read, make sure to keep a light on to keep the fog away.  Four solid stars. 


It Waits On the Top Floor

by Ben Farthing

Ben Farthing is a new to me author and I was pleasantly surprised by this story.  First off, the cover is gorgeous, the deep red tones are eye-catching and the overall tone of the image is just downright terrifying. The image also makes it clear that this is a cosmic horror, and I loved everything about it.  The cover of a book is so important to me and this one absolutely nailed it. Striking, beautifully made, intriguing and deeply disturbing all at the same time. The story behind the cover would delight me just as much as the cover did, as I soon found out. 

The book synopsis, loosely stated, is as follows; Thursday night, it was a dirt lot. Friday morning, it was a 60 story skyscraper. A tech billionaire wants to discover the building's secrets for herself. A curious nine year old believes it holds a treasure to help his father and goes exploring. His father races to find him. From the outside, it looks like a normal office building, but inside, ghostly figures stalk the halls, the walls are hungry and something waits on the top floor. 

Chris is having a bad day. His wife, Sherri, tells him she is leaving. His former mentor, Dr. Lance Terry, arrives shortly after with a shady business proposition. Eddie, Chris’s newly adopted son, listens at the window to see how he can be helpful so Chris won’t make him leave. Eddie blames himself for Sherri leaving, believing he wasn’t helpful enough. All of this, early on a Friday morning, while Chris was just standing outside, gaping at the new skyscraper that now sits proudly in the dawn skyline, a skyscraper that was not there the night before. 

Chris is heart-broken, angry, broke and distraught but determined to provide a good home for his son. Dr. Terry is the reason why Chris cannot seem to gain any real employment with the architectural firms around the city because he took all of the credit for Chris’s work with him on a project he did as part of his thesis for grad school. Dr. Terry made him out to be a laughing stock in the architectural world. But now,  here is he, with the offer of a lifetime, an offer directly related to the skyscraper that they both were staring at from Chris’s driveway. 

Eddie listens from the window, distraught that his new mom left and he swears to be helpful to Chris. He hears enough of his dad's conversation with Dr. Terry that convinces him that the new building holds a treasure that could help his dad keep his house and get more jobs; so he takes off for the new building, as helpful as he can be. 

Soon Eddie, Chris, Dr. Terry and a few others are caught in an impossible maze of hallways, office floors, sub-basements and elevators that only go up. Elevators that hold numbers for twice as many floors as the building contains. The building itself becomes a menacing entity, looming over their every move as they try to navigate the building, all to discover its secrets for themselves. Eddie, to help his Dad. Chris, to help himself. Dr. Terry to rediscover his fame and possibly repair a past sin. And a billionaire intent on solving the riddle of how the building just appeared overnight.  Soon, it becomes evident that the building is herding them to the top floor, where something devastating waits, where discovering the real secret may be more than any of them can bear. 

I loved everything about this book. The characters' relationships to one another and how they change throughout the book. The office building itself and how it takes on a role of a character, not just a location and the many hidden secrets of each floor. The creep factor only intensifies with each floor they climb.  Find out for yourself what is waiting on the top floor.  

Four solid stars for this cosmic horror. 


Berserker: Green Hell

by Lee Franklin

Berserker Green Hell is a roller coaster ride through extreme horror as seen through the eyes of a young Aussie soldier in the stifling green hell of Viet Nam. The heat, humidity, and overpowering menace of the jungle and its natural inhabitants are not the only things hiding in this landscape. Pinny and his squadron are sent in after skirmishes to bring back tags and to report on their findings, not quite a clean-up crew and not meant as first contact with the enemy Viet Cong either. 

All hell breaks loose as Pinny, Taz, Doc, Snowy, Hammo, Cam, Chook and Wog-boy delve deeper into the jungle, coming upon one small village that shows them nothing but blood and gore, it becomes apparent that something much more than a gunfight happened here. Pinny, a trained tracker, notices footprints in the mud leading the opposite direction, much larger footprints than most soldiers have. They are attacked several times by men much larger than they should have been, only lending more confusion to the chaos.  

Fleeing deeper into the jungle, their sense of unease ever growing, they try to make their rendezvous point for extraction but another attack from something overwhelms them, something huge, that stands upright, with massive claws. Soon after, they encounter a squad of US soldiers and a mysterious American base, hidden deep in the jungle, where it should not have been. Rescue at last, or was it? Pinny and his remaining guys have no choice but to follow the American’s into the mysterious base, where they hope to recover and regroup with a new plan for extraction.  Things go from bad to worse as new discoveries are made in the depths of that hidden base, things that may cost them not only their humanity but their souls.  This novel plays out like a military movie with some of the most horrific scenarios I have ever read. 

Four gory gold stars for Berserker: Green Hell. 


Dead Man Walking

The Devil Walks in Blood

by David Green

“Dead Man Walking” follows private detective Nick Hollaran, as he navigates his way through his “second” life,  having died briefly during an encounter with a bad guy, Wheeler, the villain of his story. Since being brought back, Nick has come to realize two things, that Heaven does exist and Hell is real and is on earth. He can now see, hear and interact with all of those demons of the dark as he goes about his life, and uses his newly discovered resources of the dead and demonic to help him solve a wide variety of cases. 

The first story, “Dead Man Walking” is a short, quick read that serves to introduce Nick Holleran and his new take on life.  It also serves up his first case and allows the readers to see the glimpse into the Hell that Nick now sees all around him, every day.  Several key characters are introduced including a love interest of sorts, Rosa, the woman that saved him the day he died. Ruby, owner of Styx Bar, where both humans and Hell dwellers go, and she seems to be a constant source of information and advice for our doomed detective. 

Cyril seems to be a character that we can expect to see again, not that many people want to see a giant demon with an attitude. Suraz, is a Nephilim, described as children of angels and daughters of men, they fall on the Hell Hierarchy just below Lucifer himself. Charon, the ferryman between Earth and Hell dimensions. Then there is Darcy, the ghost of a young girl that inhabits his office. 

Green does an excellent job setting up the characters, the details, the setting and paints an elaborate scene of each one so you can visually see them and the events as they unfold. The action is well-written, the details plausible and researched and everything smoothly falls into place as it should. 

In the second novella, Green continues the story right where we left off, with Nick picking up a new case from an unlikely source. Darcy, the ghost in his office, enlists his help. Suraz plays a larger role in this new story as rumors are rampant about troubles between Heaven and Hell.  Not one for spoilers, I will end this review here, but make sure to pick these quick reads up for yourself. 

Green has created an excellent world for his cast of characters to play in and I hope he visits it again and again.  I can see a long line of cases coming for Nick Holleran. Four stars each for fun, fast-paced demons and detectives! 


Gory Days

Rock & Roll Nightmares: 80’s Edition

Stories by Stacey Layne Wilson
Darren Gordon Smith-Mark Wheaton-V.Castro-
Sean McDonough-Brenda Thatcher

“Gory Days” certainly lives up to its name. Not only do the titles pay homage to some of the great rock songs of this classic era but the stories capture the feel of the 80’s. Nothing like seeing an old cassette tape in your parents basement or a dusty VCR to bring back those memories. Each one of these stories was like calling up an old favorite memory...or nightmare in this case of that time long ago, of roller skates and VHS tapes, charm bracelets and summer camp horror, “Gory Days” delivers. 

These are short stories and I will not be breaking down each one due to spoilers, however, there are some favorites, such as Sharp-Dressed Manslaughter.  Aside from the great title, and the still-great song (now on repeat in my head) the story itself is far-out. It took me right into a typical 80’s night out, music and attire on point, just a kid having a bad night, that gains some help from a just right dude. I loved this story. Short, sweet, and just creepy enough for those shivers to kiss your spine. 

Next up is “Pour Some Sacrificial Blood on Me”. Again, great name. Each title in this collection made me chuckle. The range of classic songs mentioned in this single story took me right back to school dances and hot nights at the summer fair.  This one is a classic tale of a young woman hoping to make it big, seizing her one chance, to put her music in the hands of someone that can make a difference. I did not see the end of this story coming and I love a good twist. 

“Hip to be Scared” and “Should I Slay or Should I go” are two of the longer stories in the anthology and both deliver on good ‘80’s vibes, slang, and some chilling gore throughout, while the super short “Shivin’ on a Prayer” was deeply chilling in spite of its short read and amusing title.  There is not a bad story in the book and I look forward to reading the other editions. 

5 groovy stars for Gory Days! 


The Dark Has Teeth

by Bob Gunner

The “Dark Has Teeth” is a deeply complex account of a military cover-up coming to light fifty years after the initial incident.  I am a fan of creature features and I absolutely loved the creature that was featured in this unsettling tale of military power, arrogant men playing God’s and the price a small town in Texas, named Hoop n’ Holler, had to pay. 

While this is not a fast read, it is complex with a lot of moving parts that had to play out, I did enjoy the overall storyline and the concept that ultimately turned into our violent, flesh seeking creature that shows up rather quickly in the book and then intermittently as the story goes on, before the brutal and very fast ending. 

There were a few parts that moved a bit slow for me that could have been done differently, such as the deeply detailed scientific explanations that were offered as a series of notes. Those threw me off a little bit as I found them distracting. I would have preferred a footnote directing me to an appendix or a short page of notes prior to the start of the story.  Also, the ending two chapters were incredibly dense with a lot of information being shared. While I appreciated the additional scenarios and situations being played out, these could have been sprinkled throughout several prior chapters as well as up through the finale. 

Aside from those minor details, the story was very solid, well-detailed and contained a whole host of characters that you began to root for and despise, based on who they were. I enjoyed the story and hope to see more from Mr. Gunner in the future. 

4 solid gold stars for this complex tale of genetic research gone horribly wrong. 


Twisted Tainted Tales

by Janine Pipe

A number of years ago, I began subscribing to horror magazines such as Nightmare Magazine, and The Dark. I had gotten bored with the meager selection of horror that my local stores offered, tired of watching the same old horror movies on repeat and I missed having a variety of all things odd, macabre, and horrifying.   I remember being so pleased by the wide variety of stories available in these magazines, the incredible offering of author voices all on display, for me to read, to devour late at night when the house is quiet. 

Twisted Tainted Tales can be one of those magazines, all by itself. I believe that may very well be the highest compliment that I can personally give to this collection. Janine Pipe used a brilliant idea in laying out her collection like an 80’s mix tape. Being a child from the 80’s and 90’s, I greatly appreciated this concept. It was different and unexpected much like the stories in her collection. Not only that, she used the layout to tell a story in itself, that gathered the various tales into one cohesive storyline. Again, brilliant. 

The chosen time frame for her mixtape was excellent, taking me back to my beloved classic horror movies, and pulp fictions.  The stories were fantastic, each one a miniature masterpiece within the few pages allotted to it and the horror ramped up to max. The settings, the topics, the fear, and tropes within, all fully showcase the range that Janine has at her disposal. 

This is a triple-feature at the drive-in, a rare summer occurrence; a music festival for only the most hard-core metal heads with opening acts that will melt your face off, let alone the headliner. Janine Pipe is the opening act, the headliner, the closer and that triple-feature. She is an 80’s classic summer horror festival, all you need is the popcorn. 

I am not going to lay out the tracks contained on this mix-tape for you. This is something you will need to experience for yourself because it is an experience. Put the kids to bed, pop some popcorn, turn those lights off and settle in. It’s going to be an epic night. 

5 stars for a horror festival told in 17 tracks of gore and solid gold. 


The Best of Intentions

by Joshua MacMillan
A New Release from D&T Publishing!

Corey Loflin, home from his recent deployment, is still plagued by nightmares, terrible dreams in which he relives the death of his best friend, over and over, but each time the dream is worse and the bodies of his fellow soldiers morph into the bodies of his loved ones. He refuses to tell his wife that the dreams are getting worse and he continues to try to re-insert himself back into civilian life the best way he can, through work. 

He has found work with a security guard company and has worked his way up the chain of command to a management position. This also meant that sometimes he has to work long hours or cover shifts when a man fails to show for his post. When mysterious notes with a countdown and footprints in the snow begin to appear, he finds himself pulled into a game of cat and mouse. As his ever-increasing paranoia deepens, he takes advantage of his working hours and an upcoming birthday party out of town to keep his family safe. He convinces his wife to leave town early for his in-laws, where he knows that she and their son will be safe.  He intends to deal with the impending threat on his own. 

This story unfolds like more of a thriller than a horror story, at first. The tension begins very high as the mental state of the main character slowly begins to unravel. As his mental state becomes more dire, the tension increases as does his paranoia. His need to protect his family turns into an obsession that does not allow him to let his guard down.  I was completely unprepared for the ending and found my own tension increasing the more I read.

4 stars for a tensely terrifying tale. 



by m todd

I went into this story blind, having no real idea of what I was about to read. I love a good creature feature and when you add in a healthy dose of history and folklore, I’m all in. 

This is not a quick read. Get comfortable, get that pot of tea ready and some biscuits. Do not try to rush this story along as there is a lot to unpack. Let it happen as you read. You will get pulled into the story from page one. You will begin to worry about Max and his girlfriend as their situation becomes more dangerous and you will get lost in the history and brutality of WWII as the backstory unfolds, revealing a heart wrenching link in this wretched family chain. 

The story centers around a creature called “The Kludde” which is a sort of demi-god, shapeshifter, trickster type of entity that feeds on fear, but not just any fear. It lives to feed on the best or conversely the worst among us, the hero or the anti-hero. Those that claim to be fearless, or unbreakable. It loves to break them, to feed from their fear, so much more potent than others. Max, happens to come from a long bloodline of a fearless man, an evil man that first met the Kludde in WWII Europe. 

The story unfolds in modern times but then takes you back through history, following the cursed bloodline to its origins, tying the links together, before the finale of Max’s story. There is a bit of lull in the action, in the middle of the book when the backstory is unfolding, but there is so much to unfold there that it ultimately adds to Max’s predicament and the final outcome. Four solid stars for this intriguing story. 


Haunted and Hungry

Short Stories by A.J.  Spencer

A.J. Spencer is a new to me author and I really enjoyed reading this short collection of stories.  Every once in a while, it is refreshing to read something off the beaten path, a bit out of your norm, and a little bit on the far side. Each of these short stories hit that mark. 

This collection would be appropriate for everyone from young teens just starting out in horror, as each tale delivers a small taste of terror, all the way up to older adults just wanting a quick read by a warm fire. Out of the five stories, Carnivore Train was one of my favorites as I found the subject matter just bizarre enough that I wanted to know more.  Another favorite was Walter Whirligig, not only because of the name but the setting, an old Wild West replica town, intrigued me a great deal.  I could easily envision the setting and would very much like to see a full story take place here. 

There is room for improvement, such as is often the case with any new author. I did notice a few editing errors but not enough to fully detract from the story lines. There could be a bit more detail surrounding the settings or the characters but this can be tricky to do in short stories. Overall, this was a fun read for me. Short, to the point, nicely twisted endings.  I look forward to seeing more from this author.  3.5 stars for these short scary stories.   


The Twelve

by D. E. McCluskey

The Twelve is part mystery and part ghost story and one hell of a read. John Rydell finds himself the unwilling center of a mystery soon after his wife is murdered, while he was away on business. With no suspects and no leads, he finds himself alone, grieving and looking for answers.

Not long after, an old friend from their university days is murdered. And then another. John becomes more alarmed as he learns that old friends from long ago have met their demise in circumstances similar to his wife’s death. Strange disturbances begin to take place in his home and theirs as something or someone hunts them down, one by one. Each of them begin to experience flashes of long-ago memories as the murders happen again and again, each memory hints at something sinister, something about a number thirteen. 

McCluskey weaves a dark and intriguing tale that spans both past and present day as the story unfolds with John Rydell at the center of it. This is a spell-binding tale that will leave you guessing up to the very last pages. Four solid stars for an immersive and detailed read. 


Petrified Woman

by Jeremy Ray

The story follows a young woman in the midst of a new relationship, where everything seems perfect, except her new man loves to play practical jokes, scary jokes. While the jokes are not really her thing, she tries to play along and even tries out a few jokes of her own.

The night of his birthday, she believes she has finally planned the perfect joke and goes to his apartment to set it up.

The problem is, he doesn’t know she made a key. He also doesn’t know she is coming over.

When he suddenly arrives home, with a friend in tow, she panics and hides in a closet, thinking he won’t be there long. What happens next leaves her more than afraid.

I hate to give spoilers so I’ll stop here. You will need to read this one for yourselves. It’s short, shockingly powerful and chilling. Four solid stars for Petrified Woman.


Legion Machine

by James Carlson

This is a fast-paced story of revenge and redemption as Angela Graves seeks out the notorious outlaw, Nox, that murdered her partner Rae. In this futuristic world, where humans are more machine than man and bots are more common than humans are, Angels Graves is part-human and part-machine, specially enhanced by her close friend Doc.
She is also a ruthless Merc known as the Angel of Death, fueled on by the loss of her lover, and her hatred for Nox. She will hunt him to the ends of the earth if she has to, to extract her vengeance.
After one brutal showdown, she is left injured in the desert, where scavengers find her and deliver her back to Doc. He patches her up, adds some bad-ass enhancements to her already lethal form and then shows her his secret, his biggest regret, called The Legion Machine, which he entrusts to her care should anything happen to her.
The Legion Machine is a must-read, fast-paced action story hellbent on revenge, by a woman scorned, and as they say, Hell hath no fury…
4 stars for this fascinating foray into the future.


A Gift of Death

By Daniel Volpe
Published by D&T Publishing

Daniel Volpe has written another outstanding story in “A Gift of Death.” This story follows a heavy metal band known as “A Gift of Death” as they tour the small suburban towns of the USA. 

The band is fronted by the Sarin, a natural born seductress, and her guitarist, Vee-Exx, taller and model chic, and their drummer, Arsenic or just “Nic”.  Nic is not only the drummer of the band but also the driver and caretaker of the two females. 

The story unfolds through a series of short stories that introduce new characters and situations as the band continues to tour. Through these stories, you become intimately familiar with Sarin and Vee-Exx and their particular tastes as well as learn how Nic came to join their group.  Each chapter leads up to an explosive ending that I honestly didn’t see coming. 

I really hate spoilers so I do not want to say much else, except I loved how the chapters read like short stories and wove into each other for a final nerve-wracking scene. The imagery described, the gory details, and the loads of sex all blend together for a face-melting rock worthy story.  Each scene is brutal, blunt, and skillfully crafted with the fewest words possible but maintains maximum impact. Not a single word is wasted as Volpe immerses you in a story more intense than a five alarm fire. Five out of Five stars for Daniel Volpe and “A Gift of Death.” 


Underworld Dreams

Daniel Braum

Underworld Dreams is a haunting collection of short stories, each one beautifully written and more emotional than the last.  Daniel penned this collection based around his understanding of the concept “as above, so below, as below, so above” which is an aspect of Judaism based on the concept that there is no heaven or hell, that the highest spiritual purpose and achievements are not in an afterlife but here and now. 

In “how to stay afloat when drowning” a young man finds himself reliving a personal loss while helping his sister land a large client for their surfboard business. He meets a mysterious woman the night before they plan to take their client on a chartered fishing trip who seems to have a message for him. His memories take him back ten years to the loss of a loved one, to an incident where a shark was hauled in from a fishing line and beaten, and finally to the strange disappearances of his parents, in the midst of running a successful business. He’s a surfer boy that doesn’t surf. This is a sad story about a lonely young man still struggling to find where he fits in the world. 

Another story is titled “goodnight kookaburra” that follows a weary traveler as he contemplates life and its meaning while in Australia for work.  It’s a very visual story full of beautiful images, and deep emotions but there is more to this story than what the words actually tell you. Braum has purposefully penned these stories for the reader to get more out of them than just the story in black and white.  It's the thought behind the pen, or the emotion behind the character that plays out in this one. The sadness and sense of confusion follow this man as he looks for answers, perhaps hidden in the simple laugh of the kookaburra which he never does hear, in spite of his desperation to do so. This story has a haunting quality to it with no actual resolution, as the reader is left with nothing but questions, just like the man listening for the kookaburra’s laugh.  

Another one that stuck with me for a while was “the monkey coat”. The tale follows a depressed woman, June, struggling to deal with her recent divorce after her husband took everything of value that they had, except her grandmother's old trunk that still contained an old but beautiful monkey fur coat. June is clearly still in shock from the divorce, trying to regain some of her dignity or lost youth and the coat begins to have some type of hold over her, causing her to act in ways that she normally never would…..or would she. 

These are just a few from this astounding collection of beautifully penned stories, that make you question just what was going on, and what happens to the character next, or maybe, to you. What do you feel deep down? What did you see in the story? What did you take with you to hold onto or to ponder over?  These were poignant tales with tangible emotions in them, emotions that lingered long after the tale had been told. This is worthy of 5 stars and multiple reads. 


The Web of La Sanguinaire & other Arachnid Horrors

By Ronald Kelly 
Published by D&T Publishing

Seeing as how this book had Arachnid as part of its name, I should have just said Nope! But being the nice person that I am, and a grown adult capable of at least reading about those icky, creepy, crawly, downright terrifying, beady-eyed, 8-legged monsters; I decided to give it a shot. Again, I should have said NOPE! 

It was exactly what I thought it was going to be, Terrifying Tales About Spiders! Yes, my skin crawled. Yes, I woke up several times over the next several nights to see what was crawling on my arm, my shoulder, my face, my ankle, my leg. Dare I go on?  

All that being said, this book delivers on the creepiness, and the hee-bee jeebies with aplomb. The title story, “The Web of La Sanguinaire” was by far my favorite as I love stories that take place in the bayou and just being able to picture the swamp, and see the mist rising over the waters, almost being able to feel the webs in my hair just added to the overall creepy tone of this story. Douglas Scott Price is wealthy, entitled and determined to find a rare species of spider known as the striped swamp spider. His guide tells him a local legend connected to the spider that he seeks as they search that Price promptly dismisses.  Naturally, he shouldn't have dismissed it so easily.  This would be a perfect campfire story. 

Another favorite was "Housewarming" which delivered a huge amount of skin-crawling nightmares. I was not a happy camper reading this as my body became more and more itchy with each word. I found myself checking over my shoulder and turning on extra lights the longer I read.  Chuck Stuart finds himself the unlikely recipient of his Aunt Millie’s house on Elkins Avenue after she passes away. The house had been boarded up and covered in plastic for several years now after tenants claimed that it was infested with brown recluse spiders. Being in a bit of a tight spot for cash flow, Chuck decides to check the house out for himself but finds nothing, not one spider at all.  He moves in, hopeful for a new start and a chance to save a few dollars but soon discovers that the house really had been boarded up for a reason. 

For my third favorite fear-filled frenzy, I have chosen “Atomic Arachnid Armageddon!”  Ronald Kelly is not without a heart as he thought to include this very fun read in his skin-crawling collection.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story, set in 1958, that follows 3 childhood friends as they take a trip to the movies, all set with a dollar each for 2 movies, popcorn, candy and sodas!  On the way to town, Jerry’s father, George scoffs at the news of sinkholes popping up nearby, that is currently being broadcast. Before the news can elaborate too much, the boys are at the theater and Jerry’s father drives off with a promise to pick them up later. The boys are in for an afternoon of “Vampire Zombies from Outer Space” and “Atomic Arachnid Armageddon”, an epic double-feature.  As the boys leave the theater, they find themselves in their own Arachnid Armageddon as a sinkhole opens up in front of them and huge spiders begin crawling out! This was such a fun story to read and it is the only one that did not make my skin crawl. 

Every story in this collection is worthy of a read, each one incredibly vivid, and downright scary in its own way.  It’s not often that I lose sleep over a story but this did the trick. 4 stars for a great collection. 


The Samaritan

by Dave Jeffery

The Samaritan is the third installment in Dave Jeffery’s “A Quiet Apocalypse” series. The entire storyline is a disturbingly realistic take on what our ‘end of days’ might look like. The first two books are both thought provoking portrayals from opposite sides of the fence in this new world that Dave Jeffery has created. The first story, A Quiet Apocalypse, tells the tale of a captive hearing man or HARK as they are now called,  that has been enslaved by a newly deaf man living on the outside of Cathedral. The second, Cathedral, shows us life from inside the city, from a newly-deaf female perspective on the city, its function, rules and purpose.

The third takes on yet another perspective, that of one of The Samaritans, that helps to patrol the outside for dangers and Harbingers, or born-deaf people, who are being blamed for the MNG-U virus that killed most of mankind and rendered almost everyone else deaf. As a team of Samaritans set off outside the perimeter of Cathedral for a routine patrol and supply run, they discover a loner living in the Wilderness. He claims to know where a nest of Harbingers are and offers them up to save his own skin. Anyone found living outside the city is immediately taken in for evaluation or is seen as a threat to the city, if they choose to not conform.

During the search, one Samaritan, Nathan, is engaged in a fight with his arrogant and drunken superior, Snelson, whom he kills. Soon after, he is attacked again but knocked unconscious. When Nathan wakes hours later, he discovers he is being held somewhere foreign to him, by a couple who are tending to his wounds and their little girl, Lily, who not only is a Harbinger, being naturally born deaf, but is also using the forbidden sign language. This violates everything he has been taught to his very core, goes against everything the city stands for, what he stands for.

His life is now in their hands and it all harbors on how he reacts to their little girl. He can die or he can learn a new way, here with them, and have a home, a family life, away from patrols, away from Cathedral, away from the constant rules.

He must learn to adapt or he must die. This theme is a constant in this book for this character as he faces monumental decisions in his life that force him to adapt or die. This book will shake you to your core. It will take everything you think you know about human behavior and turn it upside down. It takes all of those platitudes that we tell ourselves on the darkest of nights and obliterates them.

The emotion is raw, the grief is a tangible thing, almost a character in its own right and the sense of loss is more profound than anything I have experienced in a book in recent years.  Tears fell from my eyes as I closed my Kindle and I just sat, very quietly, lost in my thoughts, for a very long time. This is the apocalypse and it will shatter you. 

Kudos, Mr. Jeffery, Kudos.  I award you, once again, Five Utterly Gold Stars.


Fairy Tale Horror Show

Published by Crimson Pinnacle Press 
Edited by RJ Roles and Jason Myers

I grew up on fairy tales as I am sure many of you did. I also discovered in my teen years that the fairy tales I grew up on were originally much darker tales than what small children read in their books and see animated on television today.  Generally, the tales had a much darker bent to them for children from a much different time period in order to keep them close by at all times. Such tales as Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel were all meant to scare children into listening to their parents, staying close to home, away from strangers and out of the deep woods. This was the only method they really had available back then to keep their kids safe.  Listen to the elders or die, or worse. 

Welcome to your adult fairy tales. These were not written by the brothers Grimm, and I would love to see their faces if they could see what this group of talented authors has done to their classic and most beloved fairy tales. Grim indeed and then some, some of my favorites are below:

M. Ennenbach takes the tale of the Pied Piper and turns it into something dark, and bleak with his short story aptly named, “Piper.”  A beautifully written, powerful tale of revenge, as dealt out by the hand of the Rat King. The rats will follow him anywhere, but will you?

R. Jagge with her “Midnight at the Glass Slipper,” delivers an incredibly fun take on Cinderella with her modern day rags to riches tale of Elly Cynders, who manages The Glass Slipper for her evil step-mother. A mobster-type clientele are her regulars, men named Hamburger Mike, Joey the Rat and Billy Bird, and flamboyant sparkly Ed is like her very own godmother in disguise when things take a turn for the worse. This awesome cast of characters comes together to illustrate that sometimes family is who you chose, not the ones you are related to. 

N. Sinclair pens the darkly erotic “Always Time for Tea.” In this unexpected tale, young Alicia is introduced to a new kind of tea during the Red Queen’s infamous monthly tea party. This is not your typical tea party, and whips and chains are not optional. 

M. Clarke brought his “A” game with “Pinocchio the Wooden Hoe.” (I’ll wait while you finish laughing.) Aside from the epic title, which I cannot read without laughing out loud, this was a ton of fun to read. The visuals alone made it worth it, when you ponder magical creatures of all sorts, umm... peddling their wares to fuel their addictions. Add in Pinocchio running to aid King Monstro and you damn near have a full blown action movie. I loved everything about this story and yes, it fully tickled my fancy. 

If you have not yet picked up your copy, do it today!  Fairy Tale Horror Show is a great anthology for your shelf. Not one bad story in the bunch and I really hope for a part two as I can think of many more childhood tales that I would love to see turned upside down. Five stars for creative, creepy fun. 



by Chad Lutzke and Tim Meyer

Wormwood is a deeply engrossing coming of age tale that follows the lives of three high school friends. Baker, being the awkward new kid, Seb, his new friend at the local school and the third, Cassie.  Cassie is two years older, a free spirit, morbidly and disturbingly so, and becomes the leader of their trio. The boys are fourteen, quickly becoming close friends and are just as enthralled by Cassie as she is by them. They begin hanging out together every chance they get. In spite of the good feelings Baker has over having made new friends, he can’t shake the feeling that something is very wrong, something about Cassie just doesn’t feel like it should.

Cassie's behavior quickly becomes more erratic and bizarre, with each incident disturbing Baker just a little bit more. She steals a pig cadaver from the school and has them take turns cutting it open and pulling out the insides. After Baker gets into a fight with the school bully, Cassie convinces the bully to meet her in the woods where she ties him up, strips him and offers him up to Baker so can get his revenge.  This entire scene becomes more disturbing the longer it goes on for Baker and the reader.   Days later, Cassie convinces them to break into an empty house on Wormwood Ave which they begin using as their clubhouse. 

The young boys are enthralled by the older girl, and both begin to have feelings for her, which they are trying to hide from her and from each other.  Cassie begins to play the boys off one another using those feelings to keep the teens doing her bidding. As the situation unfolds, Baker soon finds himself in the middle of a situation that he can no longer control. Wormwood is a suburban nightmare for any teen or parent of one. This is as realistic as it gets, as simple as it can be and as deadly as any outcome that you can imagine. Five stars for a story that had me holding my breath until the final pages were turned. 


Darkest Hours

by Mike Thorn

Darkest Hours was not my first experience with Mike Thorn, having read "Shelter for the Damned," his novella  several months ago.  This is a short story collection of tales told by Mike, each one different from the last, each one utterly and disturbingly horrifying.  From the first page of the first story, I knew that this was something different than his previous work, and I was immediately appalled and intrigued. Simply titled “Hair” it tells the tale of Theodore, who oddly, has an intense obsession with hair. His hair, other people’s hair, curly, wavy, straight hair. Hair pleased him in ways that nothing else ever had or could and this story details what happens when he makes the conscious decision to cater to his obsession. 

The next tale creeped me out as much as the first tale disturbed my finer senses. A group of bored teens break into a closed down school and former crime scene to do some urban exploring and a little partying. The school was run by former Principal Paul MacFarland, Paul “Peeler” MacFarland, to be exact. I will let you derive what you will from that name. Needless to say, the group of partiers find out exactly how he received that nickname but that’s not the only secret they discover that night. Having been a bored teen into urban exploring at one point, long ago, this chilled me to the bone. I am glad to say that I have gotten over those particular urges and if I hadn't before reading this, I can promise you, I’m over it now.

Two others also left me feeling haunted and uncomfortably in the dark, “Choo-Choo” and “A New Kind of Drug.”  Choo-Choo is shorter than the rest but carries a long-lasting effect as two stoners explore a train yard with terrible results. “A New Kind of Drug” actually left me wanting more and left me turning on more lights than normal as I went about my house last night. My curiosity was in overdrive as I wanted to know more about the ‘drug’ in the story and how they came by it but I also feel as if Mike Thorn could come back at any time and turn this into a full-blown novel. 

As if the stories were not enough proof of his skill and writing ability, he closes out the book with a second section of seventeen Criticism and Analytical essays on various works, including Ulmer’s “The Black Cat” wherein he discusses the parallels of that work to Poe’s, 1843 story of the same name.  From there, he delves into the films of Tobe Hooper including “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, M. Night Shyamalan’s movies “Signs”, “The Village” and “The Happening”, Rob Zombie’s “House of a 1000 Corpses” and “The Devils Rejects.”  

Romero is here too, along with Wes Craven and Martin Scorsese and many others.  I really enjoyed some of the perspectives that he shared in these essays and appreciated some of the finer nuances that he mentions from these films that I had not thought of before. 

I was already a fan of his work, but the range he displays in this collection for both fiction and non-fiction writing is mind-boggling. I loved every word, and every creepy minute.   Five stars. 


Castle Heights

An Anthology by Red Cape Publishing

Castle Heights is a deeply creative anthology of tales that all take place within the same creepy high rise apartment building known as Castle Heights. Every city probably has one, what used to be a fancy hotel or posh apartments is now just a bit more run-down than it should be, has a few more moldy walls, dripping pipes and broken lifts than most places like it along with an odd fellow at reception desk, that always seems to be there, day or night. 

Each story was penned by a different author, about a different apartment in the building and what goes on there over the course of the same dark night.  The anthology starts out with “A Hole in One” by David Chaudoir who pens a tale of an old detective who becomes obsessed with a mystery in one particular apartment in the building when a series of old diaries is dropped off to him by a colleague.  The diaries detail a series of haunting events that take place while a professor is on sabbatical to write a book. He decides to investigate it himself, with unexpected results. 

“Apartment 10”  by Anna Dixon tells us about Scarlet, newly single and in a new place of her own trying to adjust to her break-up. Having caught her boyfriend, Charlie, cheating, she finally took steps to move out, with the help of her close friend, Justin. As she begins to settle in for the night, she hears a frantic banging on her door but no one is there. This happens a few more times before she locks herself in the bathroom and calls Justin for help. No one is there when Justin arrives and Scarlet has him go back to work, feeling silly and overly jumpy. She did have a drink after all, but then the knocking came back. 

“The Demon of Apartment 13” penned by Jason White details a light-hearted seance gone terribly wrong for teen Danny and his younger sister, Georgia. They thought they summoned their dead father, but that is not dear old dad at the door oozing out of the smoking Ouija board. 

One of my favorite stories was “ The Noises Outside Room 50” by MJ Dixon. Office Supervisor Matthew arrives home to set up a small work party when he sees that first, someone had spilled something foul, red and chunky all the way down the hallway and second, management had gifted everyone with new doormats. The spill was par for the course for the old building, but the doormats were weird and out of place, seeing as how management had not painted a wall or repaired a pipe in decades.  He shrugs off both and goes inside to prepare for his party. As the night progresses, a variety of screams and noises are heard right outside his door. Only one workmate has shown up, his office crush, Kelsey and they both try to make the best of it as the night gets weirder and weirder. What he eventually discovers is shocking and unexpected. 

I enjoyed each story in Castle Heights and really enjoyed the overall concept of the book. The stories were well-written, each one chilling, disturbing or all-out scary, full length concepts packed into tight little bits. 4.5 stars for Castle Heights. 


3:33 a.m.

by Luke Hindmarsh

Saffron is an exhausted nurse, headed home after another long night shift, when the absolute unthinkable happens. One small distraction, one wrong move and a massive deadly car crash ensues. Waking in the hospital, injured but alive, she is overcome by guilt and grief and hides the truth from the investigators. A  few rooms away, Jack watches his twin brother, Eddie, succumb to his injuries and grief pours through him, in an all-consuming rage. 

The following months, that should be bringing her healing and relief from her pain and her guilt is doing anything but. As the days drag on, her guilt deepens, her mind begins desperately looking for relief, for answers of any kind, anything to help relieve her of this burden. Her friend, Lucy, in tune with things of a more spiritual nature, is there to help guide her down a path of self-hypnosis and astral projection. 

Meanwhile, across town, Jack is dealing with his own loss and grief, struggling to get his life back on track. The crash not only took his brother, but his bandmates and his life-long dream of making it big in a rock band, with his brother as the front man. Jack is also trying to help take care of his mother, who has become more frail and sickly, cancer slowly consuming her. Jack spends much of his time trying to understand the occult rituals that Eddie was into, emptying out his flat brought more to light than dirty clothes and cupboards full of old tea and sugar. 

A chance meeting, a deep connection to the occult and a woman consumed by guilt. This story was a slow burn of guilt, deception, madness and horror as things beyond their control threaten to destroy them both. Will Jack or Saffron survive the aftermath of 3:33 a.m.?

3.8 stars from Uncomfortably Dark for a well-written novel, complex and chilling to the core. 



by Daniel Volpe

Daniel Volpe has outdone himself with Talia and simultaneously set the bar even higher for those in his league. The story of Talia, the iconic character from Volpe’s “Billy Silver”, is crafted with the surgical precision of a neurosurgeon wielding his sharpest blade. This origin story, of a young woman with big dreams, a young woman that becomes something more than even she would realize, delivers a twisted tale of gruesome gore, and greed, with absolutely no punches pulled.

Like a champion boxer, dancing around the ring, Volpe delivers Talia’s story through carefully planned uppercuts, gut punches and a jaw-dropping TKO, that will leave readers shook and weak in the knees. I loved every round, every word, every earth-shattering blow.

I honestly don’t know if I’m to be more impressed with the author or the editor, seeing as how the editing was every bit as precise as the story was. Zero filler words exist in this story, zero fluff, just grit, grime, and gore in a sublime tail that pulled me right in and kept me, enthralled and cringing, until the very end.

Talia, is beyond uncomfortably dark, she is a work of art. Five seriously sick stars.


The Nightstockers

By Kristopher Triana and Ryan Harding

Welcome to the shitshow, folks!  I mean that in the best way possible. Freshway Grocery store is about to be put out of business by the meanest grocery store around! Devils Food, a chain that is literally being run from the bowels of Hell, is willing and able to do more than cut the competition. The group of Satanists that run it, are cruel, depraved, perverted and lusting for blood, and fresh meat. Trust me, Karen, you do not want to speak to this manager! 

Freshway quickly becomes a bloody battleground as the Devil’s Food employees quickly lay waste to their defenses. It’s a fight to the death for the next employee of the month, in this frenzied fury of bloodlust and hilarious overkills. 4 stars for sick, gory, fun. 


Wild Hunters

Stuart Brogan

What a ride! So much is happening in this story, I barely know where to begin or what to mention first. Monsters, Marines and Mayhem, Galore! 

Deep in Somerset, during a wild rainstorm that is flooding the town, a group of Royal Marines are sent in to help evacuate the town, a town that is being overrun by more than flood waters. A nightmarish platoon of trolls, dwarves, dead Vikings and river monsters are taking over the countryside, led by something not quite human and definitely not a fairy-tale princess. 

Add in a few civilians, a very brave little girl and her massive dog and a group of hired mercs that have been sent in to control the otherworldly platoon and you best settle in for a long night. It’s going to be a wild one! I enjoyed reading this quite a bit. I’m a sucker for military movies and lots of action, toss in some monsters and a kid to boot and I was hooked. This was a fast-paced and fun read. I am giving it 4 solid stars for creative and creature-filled kills. 



by Mark Cassell

“Six” is exactly what you’d think. Six creepy short stories from the twisted mind of Mark Cassell. This will be a short review and it is a short book, a quick read but it does not skimp on quality. The quality of these stories is top-notch and full of terror, and chills. “Skin” completely creeped me out as I read about Gloria’s discovery in the basement, in her frantic search for her husband, after hearing a scream rise up from below. In a marriage plagued with troubles, she is still caring and compassionate and wastes no time in going to her husband's aid.  She was not the least bit prepared for what she found. 
Dinner at Grandma’s will never feel the same for me after reading “All in the Eyes.” Young Bobby was not comfortable around his grandma, never comfortable in her presence, especially when she stared at him with her deep, black eyes. He always felt like she was trying to see into his soul, and he never felt the same after. After reading this tale, I recalled receiving a few of those stares myself, from my own grandmother and broke out in chills. 
“In Loving Memory” takes us on a walk down memory lane as a man recalls his childhood friend and a terrible accident that had happened. How far would you go for a friend, especially when they call on you after twenty years, of being in the ground? 
“The Space Between the Spaces” was naturally my favorite as it tells a cleverly creepy tale about my idol, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe and his neighbor as the neighbor answers the questions set to him by the Insector, after Poe’s untimely demise.  The writing was spot on, exactly as I imagine one might have spoken around that time and the tale was every bit as creepy and tense as “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Very well-done, Mr. Cassell. You have my continued admiration for this story, alone. 
“On Set with North” is a story about disaster striking a movie set as a new actor and his driving instructor appear on location, to get North ready for his make-up and into costume. The instructor, solely along for the ride in hopes to get an autograph for his wife, finds himself pulled into the chaos that is unfolding on set, chaos that was definitely NOT in the script.
The last story tells us about a pair of siblings, Anna and Mick, going through their parents' things, at their childhood home, after the death of their mom, while the world is in the throes of a slow demise as a result of a virus. “Don’t Swear In Mum’s House” takes a creepy turn for the worse when an old friend shows up to play. 
Four solid stars for a short but satisfyingly creepy collection.

Six! ebook Cover.jpg

The Virus

by Damien Lee

“The Virus” is a refreshing take on the classic zombie outbreak tale. A deadly virus swarms the  countryside as the Sunnymoor hospital is overwhelmed with patients. What is thought to be a deadly case of food poisoning soon turns into something more, as patients die and then, come back, no longer dead, starving for fresh blood. 
Young Amy is a nurse at Sunnymoor, recently transferred and on her second shift as chaos ensues within the hospital. They are overrun with patients that are bleeding profusely, and then going into cardiac arrest. There are not enough doctors to contend with everyone and the nurses are already short-staffed.  When a sick janitor begins to attack a doctor, Amy knows something is terribly wrong and runs for help. Ben, a guard, is just arriving to work and rushes to her aid when she flags him down. 
Meanwhile, over at the HMP Harrodale prison, inmate Frank Lee is well on his way to winning yet another illicit fighting match for fellow inmate and crime boss Gus Razor, a fighting ring that even the corrupt guards place bets on.  Frank owes a debt to Gus, a debt which Gus fully intends to collect on. As the fight is over and bets are collected, the guards approach Frank with a proposition to throw the next fight, and give him 24 hours to sleep on it, before escorting him to the medical ward. By the next evening however, none of that matters as a new guard attempts to evacuate the men as the virus sweeps the prison, turning inmates faster than before. 
The story follows the fates of Amy, Ben, Frank as they make their way from the overrun hospital, prison and the nearby towns, seeking out safety somewhere in the countryside. Gus and his new cronie head for a nearby military base, which has been left empty, hoping to bunker down there.  The fates of the four and their companions they pick up along the way, soon turn out to be more connected than any of them realize. 
This story is extremely fast-paced and intense, with a full measure of blood and gore thrown in. The action is non-stop and the tension seems to build and build even as you root for the survivors in their endeavors. Damien Lee does an excellent job at keeping the story focused and moving ahead, all while creating complex characters that you immediately love or hate. I loved this story, from beginning to end and I am giving it 5 stars for renewing my hope for the zombie tale.

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In The Beginning

By Reed Alexander

“In The Beginning” follows the story of Joan, a gritty, down to earth, private detective on yet another case of marital doom and betrayal when her routine afternoon is ruined by the sudden appearance of what seems to be a meth-head out to steal a car, her car, from the looks of things. When she approaches him to give him a reason to think twice about his actions, she realizes that he has been badly injured and is terribly scared of someone following him. 

She, regrettably, shoves him into her room before he can make a scene and treats his stab wound while trying to get some answers from the badly shaken young man. He frantically tells her that his name is Dustin and that they need to get away, far away. That she is involved now and she cannot go to the cops. That these people have the cops in their pocket. 

Joan snorts in doubt, there is very little that she cannot handle and stoned meth-heads are not a challenge for her. She is determined to stitch him up and take him to the nearest hospital or police station and be done with him. However, before the blood can even dry on the fresh stitches, there is a sudden pounding on her door and a very large man forces his way inside her cheap motel room where she had been on stake-out. With a bit of fast thinking on her part, she manages to blind him with bear mace, evade him and get Dustin out of the room to her car. 

She takes them to a diner a few miles away for some food and some time to think and Dustin tries to explain further about being held captive on a farm, experiments, mutant people that cannot be killed and the whole thing sounds like a meth fever dream, until the man from her motel room suddenly shows up outside the diner, along with a dozen men just like him. As a Wild West shoot-out ensues, Joan finally realizes that maybe the meth head isn’t as high as she thought as her life goes from boring but good, to an all out roller coaster ride for survival. 

Reed Alexander takes a routine scenario, throws in a wild card and lets you loose on the ride of your life with this very fast-paced cosmic horror that breaks all the rules of what you think cosmic horror is or is meant to be. I had no idea where this ride was going to end up but I am sure glad that I bought a ticket. Giving this 5 stars for one intense tale of terror.  


The Pope Lick Massacre

By Eric Butler

Jefferson County has a legend, some believe it, some only know the legend.

Since the death of their mom, Sam has been the sole caretaker of her brother, Kenny. Kenny and his scout troop are now missing somewhere in the woods around Pope Lick. Now Sam, Officer Tom Keene and several others gather to search the woods around Pope Lick, hoping to find the boys before nightfall.

As the rescue party sets out, someone else is also interested in what is going on in the woods that surround the small town. Someone that is more than what they appear to be and someone that has been betting on the local legend to keep people away from the woods and its secrets, real or imagined. 

But something wicked also lives in the woods around Pope Lick, something few ever live to tell about. Sam and her rescue group are about to find out that some small town tales are true. 

This story was one intense ride, pure fun, unexpected twists, complex characters and a great blend of small town drama, local lore and one savage creature stalking the woods. My only complaint is that I would have liked it to be a bit longer, with some more backstory about the creature in the woods, more of its origin story. Overall, fun read and gruesomely gory. I am giving this 4.5 stars. 


The Miracle Sin

by Marcus Hawke

Marcus Hawke is a new-to-me author and I first heard about “The Miracle Sin” on Instagram. I was drawn to the book cover, simple but dramatic, a skull with a cross engraved on it. Basic black and white cover, elegant in its design, with a nod to the gothic.
The story follows Mason Cole, barely eighteen and about to graduate from high school, to begin a future that he is not looking forward to, especially as his friends Dale and Julie begin to discuss college plans.
Mason lives with his grandma, Rose, after a devastating earthquake in Jerusalem made him an orphan. Six-year old Mason was the lone survivor of the earthquake that killed 22,000 including both of his parents. His survival set off a chain of events that took years to manifest and now, a fun evening with friends is about to take a sudden and drastic turn for the worse.
As Mason’s world is turned upside down, he finds himself rescued by a member of the Militia Dei; a religious organization with particular views regarding the Messiah. Captain Grimshaw is their leader and is tasked with explaining how Mason is a part of their mission. What Grim reveals to Mason will make him question his entire existence.
This is exactly the kind of story that I live for; something deep enough to get lost in, a world created and unveiled for me to explore, to find wonder and horror alike. A story that makes me think, makes me ask questions and makes me wonder at what else this world may hold.
This story is meant to be read slowly, for the reader to become fully immersed in, for the reader to feel as if they are part of the story, not just reading it.
The writing is excellent. The characters are complex and full of emotions. The storyline is packed with tension and continuously pulls the reader in, keeping you entranced in it’s telling. I have not read a book like this one, in a long time, and I applaud Mr. Hawke on a job well-done. I will be back for more. Five stars.


Blue Hell

By Greg Gifune and Sandy DeLuca

“Blue Hell” is a wildly disturbing collection of short stories that unfold in a lonely rundown apartment building where the less fortunate seem to dwell. The first story centers around a homeless man that cannot remember what has happened to him after waking up in a hospital bed. The only thing he can recall are awful nightmares that seem too real to be just dreams. 

The second one follows a pregnant woman convicted of drunk driving, who is sent to a halfway house after being released from the hospital. Drug problems of her own and a haunting vision of something horrible on the road the night of her crash, continue to haunt her as she steps into the fresh hell of the halfway house and what awaits her there. 

The final story is about a young man that just lost his job and agrees to an afternoon of drinking with an older man that  used to work in the same mall. As day turns to night, he finds himself at the older man's apartment for more drinks as a storm ravages the night. The more he drinks, the more the behavior of the older man begins to worry him, and then downright scares him as he is forced to realize the truth behind his nature and the others that were there before him. 

Reading this left me disturbed and somewhat confused, until I finished it. Each story is expertly crafted with a chilling tale to tell, each will scare you and will make you look over your shoulder and each central character will also pull at your heart as they try to make sense of what is happening to them. The final moments will tie everything together but until then, you are left wondering what the hell is going on, right along with characters.  Not many stories can pull off such a feat and have it make sense so neatly at the end. I am giving this 4 out of 5 stars. 

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By HP Newquist

There is so much to say about this story that I barely know where to begin. Let’s start with “Holy Hell, what a ride!” I am a huge fan of creature features and this delivered in so many glorious ways.  HP Newquist is a new to me writer, with a large background in non-fiction. “Behemoth” is his first novel and it’s one hell of a debut!

Finely crafted characters, a richly detailed small town, a large dose of history and some religious scriptures all combine to make one chiling tale of the “Behemoth.” A creature that God has made along with Man. It ranks first among God’s works...Nothing on earth is its equal-a creature without fear. The Book of Job, 40:15.

This happens to be the opening lines of the book which sets up the entire tale, from start to end. Do you believe it?  Is it real? Does it exist? Is it even possible that something so big, so monstrous could still be walking amongst men, even now?  All of those questions and more are raised in this story, which reads as part mystery and all horror, as Robert Garrahan, editor-at-large of the New York Globe, is pulled into the biggest story of his life.  

Robert spends his days off and many weekends at  his house up in Ashford, where he is supposed to be working on a novel. Ashford is only a town away from Morris, but today, Garrahan needs to stop off in Morris to fill up his gas tank, someplace that he’s not been before. 

A young girl, Abby,  comes out to greet him at the old-fashioned gas station and she fills up his tank while making pleasant small talk with him.  He is a bit amused and charmed by her and by the small town, which looks like it hasn’t progressed at all in the last several decades. Before he pulls off, she asks him about the radio station he is listening to so he writes the call letters down on one of his business cards and gives it to her, smiling. 

Meanwhile, in Morris, a few days prior to Garrahan meeting Abby, a carload of drunk teens crash into a marker just outside of town and are found dead the next day. In Ashford, Billy McGrath suddenly disappears in the middle of the night. The following week, another woman is snatched from her bed. Something is stalking and killing people, snatching them directly from their homes. 

Two more weeks pass before Garrahan makes his way back to Morris, hoping to see the town better. Of course, he stops by the gas station and this time he meets Abby’s father, Bruce Donahue, as Abby fills his tank. Small talk is made and connections are formed, but Garrahan does not know the role that his small visits will soon play. 

A few weeks later, Bruce shows up in New York City seeking Garrahan out for help. He tells him that something is wrong in Morris, that Abby is in danger. That Garrahan is the only person outside of Morris that they’ve ever met. He desperately needs his help and the story Bruce tells Garrahan is more far-fetched than any he’s ever heard. In a cruel twist of fate, Bruce is killed by a car as he is leaving Garrahan’s office, with Robert Garrahan being the only person alive to know where Abby is and that something is very wrong. 

Being a decent man, he knows he cannot leave her stranded in a hotel in the middle of New York City, so he goes to get her and takes her back to his apartment so he can try to figure things out from there. Abby backs up her father’s wild tale, leaving Robert Garrahan no choice but to investigate and to get Abby back to her mother, in Morris. Robert Garrahan has no idea what is really going on in Morris but he is determined to find out. 

This is just the opening set-up for this horrifying tale as HP Newquist weaves his elaborate tale of terror through the small villages of Morris and Ashford and creates a cast of characters that are richly detailed, highly relatable and all come together to form one complex, chilling tale of chaos, murder and mystery as Robert tries to understand the history behind the “Behemoth.”

While this story does have some slow moments, it is well-worth the wait as the story unfolds. It is full of details, and old history that must be explained and pieced together in order to understand the entirety of events that are happening. This was such a well-written story with a very frightening creature, the likes of which I have not ever heard of before in any story. 

I am giving this 4 solid stars out of five and I hope to see more horror from HP Newquist very soon. 

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Song of the Death God

By William Holloway

In the second installment of the Singularity Cycle, William Holloway shows us the origins of Carsten Ernst, also known as Liche.  Ernst is in the first book, “The Immortal Body” but more as a behind the scenes character.  There was not much really said about him or his origins but this book delves into exactly that. Holloway shows us where Ernst’s obsession with the unexplained began, with our origins and our own mortality. 

The deeper Ernst dives into his quest for knowledge and understanding, the more undone he becomes. Not only is he seeking to understand these things, but he is seeking the power behind it, the power he wishes to understand and control.  Ernst is driven by nothing more than pure need to understand the things that mankind has not been able to understand thus far. He despises his family, and does not understand why they deign to be the filthy creatures that he considers them to be when there are far better pursuits of your time. 

One by one, they too, become pawns in his elaborate chess game with the universe and what lies beyond.  The beautiful Ava, maid and daughter of the cook, is deeply devoted to Carsten, but she too falls prey to his obsession and becomes no more than a stepping stone in his journey.  The darkness quickly begins to take over Carsten’s mind, the further he explores the occult and its many secrets. 

Holloway has been compared to Lovecraft with his love of cosmic horror but Holloway is quickly crafting something more, something beyond Lovecraft. He is creating his  own cosmic horror, defying what came before and daring to forge his own mythos out of the darkness. I am a big fan of Holloways work and cannot wait to see what the next installment brings.  This is a Five star read. 


Good Southern Witches

Published by Curious Blue Press

Good Southern Witches is a massive collection of tales about witches, witches of all kinds, and origins, from Southern lore and beyond. Who doesn’t love a good witch story?  I remember dressing up as a witch countless times for Halloween, wishing I was a witch later on as an angsty teen and loving the lore and legends surrounding them. 

Magic, potions, hats and broomsticks, crystals, chanting and dancing under the moon; all things that intrigue curious girls, young or old. This collection has it all.  The anthology opens with a beautiful foreword by JD Horn, before moving on to an absolute stellar line-up of stories. There are far too many stories here to describe them all but I picked out a few favorites. 

One of the earlier stories in the books, “Putting Down Roots” by Keily Blair, left me chilled as the meaning of putting down roots takes on a whole new meaning when young Eliza returns home after the death of her sister. She hadn’t been back since her and her sister had left home years before. Eliza swears to make a quick visit home to deal with Maw Maw Pearl after she calls to tell her that she missed the funeral and her sister was buried in the family plot, against her wishes. Eliza drives home in a rage only to discover that her roots go deeper than she ever imagined. 

“Bad Apple” by Louise Pieper also resonated through me. For such a short story, the characters were almost visible, leaping off the page. The narrative is being told from the main character's point of view, drawing you right into the story, and the down-home country accent she uses is almost audible in your head. Tace Bolley is her name and she lives on the family apple orchard that hides more than a few secrets. I found this story charming and delightfully creepy at the same time. Let’s just say Tace Bolley is a determined young lady. 

A little further along in the book, we come to “Waking The Trees” by Amanda Crum. This tale tells us about Marcus who is out in the forest to mark trees for cutting due to disease.  He is not quite finished when he gets a call on his Walkie Talkie from his boss, telling him a storm is brewing and he needs to get to camp. Marcus agrees and starts packing it up when a young lady appears on his path. She begins to question his presence and his work in the forest with a deep personal interest only to be interrupted by the approaching storm. She invites him back to her cabin to shelter since he will not make it back to camp. He soons finds himself in a situation that he did not plan.

Another one of my favorites was “The Criss-Cross Girls” by Ruthann Jagge.  This was a clever story about water witches, revenge and redemption that I just loved. The weather in South Texas has not been very kind as of late and the crops are dying, as are the animals. Seventeen year-old Birdie is out walking the plowed rows looking for any treasures that have been turned up, having found arrowheads, silverware and an old tin heart before. She just wants to get out of the house and away from her brother when she is caught up in a dust devil that knocks her unconscious.

Her mother finds her a while later and gets her in the house where Birdie is still delirious and has been burned or marked somehow on her hands. Her mother quickly wraps her hands to hide them from her father, who is overbearing and abusive on the best of days, let alone on his worst days. A few days later, Birdie’s father takes them to a social at the neighbors farm where matters with the menfolk take an awful turn. This story had a lot of moving parts and backstory which helped enrich the overall storyline rather than confuse it and I really loved the surprise ending. 

There are just too many great stories in here to describe them all but these were all stand-outs for me and I guarantee that you will find several new favorite witch tales to tell around those late campfire nights.  I’m giving this five stars for the sheer volume of quality stories in this collection.


Everything's Annoying

J.C. Michael

J.C. Michael is a new to me author and I was pleasantly surprised by this collection, and somewhat amused by the title. While it would not seem to be a typical title for a horror collection, it is the title of the opening story, “Everything’s Annoying”, which resonated with me far more than I am willing to admit. The main character is Terry Donaldson, who is just your typical guy, going about his typical life. He works in an office as an analyst, forecasting performance figures and creating reports that nobody reads and that nobody cares about. He lives in an ordinary  house on an ordinary street. There is nothing remarkable about him or  his life at all, except his level of annoyance at trivial things, everyday things annoy him, little things annoy him, but most of all, other people annoy him. He simply wishes other people would just disappear. That is all he wants most in the world. When his wish is somehow, miraculously granted, with no explanations, things take an unexpected turn. I loved everything about this story, especially the way that I am sure everyone will be able to relate to this story, as most of us have probably felt this way at one time or another. 

In another story, “There was a Girl”, a man wakes up only to realize that he has been buried. Confused, and scared, he bangs on the lid of a padded wooden box screaming for help until he passes out from exhaustion and despair. Several times he wakes up and he repeats his cries for help in-between trying to remember what has happened and where could he be? His memory comes to him in flashes, there was a girl. He had been driving home from a late shift at work and she flagged him down. Another flash of memory, of changing her tire, of her standing too close behind him and then?  “There Was a Girl” is a chilling tale with bite. Short and sweet and I truly wished for more when it ended. 

Another chilling stand-out story was “Daddy” which I found deeply disturbing and left me a bit confused by the horror that unfolded and the questions that were left unanswered. A couple, most likely at their lowest moments in life, addicted to crack, living in filth and far too stoned to know what is going on, have a problem. They have become convinced their daughter is evil, possessed by a witch that crawled out of the TV.  The father is not sure what to do or even if what they saw had been real but the wife is convinced that their daughter is possessed. Addiction, fear, and manipulation all play a role as this story unfolds, while the ending leaves you guessing as to what really did happen. 

Each story was well-written and speaks to the plight of the human condition, showcasing mankind at its worst, driven by fear, by poor choices, by addiction or weakness, and the chilling outcomes that such things often bring with them. I enjoyed this collection of stories and I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars. 

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Lakehouse Infernal

by Christine Morgan

Christine Morgan takes us on a field trip to Florida, where the once tranquil Lake Misquamicus lies walled off behind a military guard and has been left by much of the country to rot. Why? Because the lake literally contains a part of Hell, 6 billion gallons of liquid ooze, blood, sewage, filth, and rot along with whatever else was burped up by Hell itself in the exchange for fresh water. Not many people venture to this now forsaken part of the country except thrill seekers, holy rollers, and criminal types.  

Enter in a week full of just that, a carload of college kids, off on spring break to visit their old lake house, a bus of religious folks headed to do battle with the denizens of Hell, and a drug-runner that crashes into the murky depths of the lake of ruin, that discovers that, yes, he does, have a guardian angel, who suddenly appears at his side. Set them loose behind a solid wall and let them mingle with the now mutated folks of the small lake side town and the creatures, monsters and demons that have crawled up from the depths of Hell. Folks that do not believe what they have heard, kids that are too arrogant to listen to logic and reason, and religious folks that believe they are fully prepared for what awaits them.  

It took me several hours to process my complete feelings after having finished this book. There was SO MUCH in this book. I mean this in the absolute best way possible, this was like every B movie that I have ever loved, mashed together with a blender, poured into a pie baked with bits of Richard Laymon and Edward Lee and perhaps a dash of demon, baked at 500 degrees until crisp and served up with a heavy dose of whiskey and crystal meth on the side. This was a rollercoaster ride of the most depraved, most disturbing, and most demonic hilarity that I have ever read. If you have a twisted sense of humor, and love horror and a good time, you need to get this book. Right now, go to Amazon. I'll wait.  

Back? Good. Now then, as I was saying, this book is horror comedy gold at its most primal level. This was ten stars, if I could give it ten stars, hell, I give it 666 stars. Well done, Ms. Morgan, well done.  


Hollow House

by Greg Chapman

Something is very wrong with the old Kemper House on Willow Street. The old house has been falling apart and rotting away for years, for so long that most of the residents barely even notice it. It’s just there, like an old lamp post or a mailbox, it is part of the landscape. But now, there is a smell leaking from behind the rotting wood and old windows, a smell of death and decay that had not been there before. 

It was three days before anyone noticed it, the first of which was young Zac Campbell from the house next door. As he contemplates telling his parents about the smell, he notices the old house from his window and wonders if that could be the source of the stench. Shortly after, his parents notice, as do the neighbors on the other side of the house. Before long, the street is permeated with it and the police arrive to investigate the cause, having been called by Ms. Campbell. Young Zac is a magnet for trouble, and he makes his way over to the house to investigate on his own, anxious, and excited to be the first to discover what must be a dead body. He disappears beneath the house, into a crawl space just as the police break through the front door.  

Ben Traynor, reporter for The Gazette, is waking up just as the cops discover the body inside the ruin of the Kemper House and he quickly gets dressed and gets over there, hell bent on getting the scoop for himself, despite being on vacation. His new wife is none too pleased with his decision. Meanwhile young Amy Cowley from down the street watches the crime scene unfold, both anxious and intrigued, having never seen a dead body, even though she almost was one. Even further up the street, Daryl ventures out of his house to see what the commotion is all about, even as he watches the Kemper House, he knows that something is not quite right about the old house. He has already been affected by its rot and decay, and something darker that lives within the bowels of the old house.  

Within days, the neighborhood falls into chaos and despair as something sinister tugs at them, manipulates them into doing the unthinkable, and the unimaginable. As the police search for answers, the body count begins to rise and young Zac Campbell emerges from the house, a lot different from when he went in. Inside the Kemper house, something evil and old has awakened and Willow Street is caught in the crosshairs.  

You will need to pick up Hollow House and see for yourself what lies in wait at the Kemper House. This was a very well-written story that set my nerves on edge and left me wondering what was going to happen next. The people of Willow Street were relatable and typical Surburban families, with the usual host of family troubles; all being affected by the evil that is the Kemper House. Some succumb quite easily while others refuse to quit. I loved the complex nature of the characters themselves and how they responded to the nightmare that was unfolding around them. This was my first novel by Greg Chapman, and I give this 5 stars. I hope to read more by him soon.  

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There Goes Pretty

by C.C. Adams

“There Goes Pretty” completely changed my views on the standard haunting trope.  That is not an easy feat to do, seeing as how I am pretty set in my ways and in what entertains, fascinates, intrigues and upsets me.  That being said, CC Adams took one of my biggest pet peeves and utterly disregarded it. I know, the audacity of him for writing his story his own way!  Allow me to explain.

There Goes Pretty is a lovely tale of newlyweds, just starting their new life as a couple and getting ready for their honeymoon.  Denny and Olivia are getting settled into their new home, and into work/home life routines as they have a few weeks before the honeymoon. They are deeply in love, surrounded by good friends and family and seem to be everything that a new young couple should be.

As with any good haunting, good things cannot and do not last, and that remains the same in this tale. The beautiful Olivia is soon being plagued by cold spots, bad vibes and nightmares. Within days, a full-scale attack is being waged on Olivia that she is unable to explain. Something or someone is in their new house and it is trying to harm her.  Denny has tried everything to reassure her and is very close to losing his own mind before he finds Olivia one night, cowering in their bathroom, having been half-drowned by something.  She insists on a few days at her sisters and a new place to live. She will not go back there.

Denny goes home to clean-up, and to try to organize his own thoughts. Is his new wife crazy?  Is she truly losing her mind or is something more sinister at work? Denny soon discovers the answer to his own question, although he is quite unaware of it.  Things go from bad to worse in very short order.  When I finished this book, I was pleased, and I was upset. I wanted more closure than what was given, but I also did not. It was perfect, exactly how it was.  We do not always need every question answered.

I was more disturbed that I so often look for more closure in a story, but CC Adams did not feel the need to give it to me and I just  had to deal with that, so I did.  So, thanks to CC, for changing my perspective and thanks for writing such an excellent tale of terror.

4 solid stars for “There Goes Pretty.”



by Philip Fracassi

I bought this book strictly for the cover art, which is gorgeously creepy. Basically, a giant skull submerged underwater, with bits of dark hair still clinging to it. The rippling surface of the lake appears like a normal body of water but the skull just lurking there right underneath, suits this novella perfectly and it is creepy as hell.  

As far as the story contained within, prepare yourself for one hell of a ride. If you have two hours on a lazy afternoon, pick this up.  You will not put it down until you finish. The story is full of rich memories as told from one character’s perspective. The characters are dynamic and relatable and display genuine emotion throughout the story. It's so well-written, this could be any group of guys that you know out for a fishing trip.  There is someone in your life that you will see in this book, the characters are that well-written and relatable. 

A group of four men, reunited for a homecoming of sorts get together for a chartered fishing trip to celebrate the release of Jack, from prison. Jack is brother to Jim and son to Henry. Jack’s best friend, Chris rounds out the quartet as they prepare to board “Not A Chance” owned and operated by Captain Ron, who appears to be as ancient as his boat.  

The much-anticipated fishing trip almost is a no-go as Captain Ron sadly informs them that the water is just too choppy to take them out today, not safe weather for a fishing trip, but Jack is ready to go, and this day is for Henry, who is just eager to spend the day fishing with both of his sons. Jim insists that they give it a shot at least, the trip had been expensive, and it was a long drive up. Captain Ron reluctantly agrees, and they head out to open water.  

As they approached the customary fishing spot, the fishing conditions are still no better. Captain Ron speaks up and tells them that they can go another hour or so out to another spot he knows of and hopefully calmer waters, but he warns them that its deep, much deeper than they currently are. The men agree and on they go, hopefully to finally fish, drink beer and enjoy their day. Much to their relief, the captain was right, the waters are calmer, and the fellas proceed with poles, brew, sandwiches and sun.  

Chris is the first of the group to get a bite and it’s a mean one, fighting like hell as Chris tries to reel it in. Once they finally get it on the boat, something about the fish looks odd, something is attached to it, several somethings in fact. Barnacles, if Captain Ron is correct, barnacles on an average sea bass. After the Captain explains why this is odd behavior for the barnacles, things go back to fishing and sun but then things just get odder and more bizarre with every passing minute over this patch of deep blue sea. The men soon find themselves in an unholy fight for survival as the sea begins a reign of terror upon the small fishing vessel that shows no signs of stopping until they are dead, drifting down to its depths, fresh victims to the rage of the waters.   

I have no desire to go on any fishing trips, now or in the future, thanks to this book.  This was the creepiest, most terrifying thing that I have read in a long time. It literally made my skin crawl. I loved it. I love when a book literally creeps me out and this did the trick.   Five Stars.

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by Ken Goldman

Spring 1866-Somewhere along the Santa Fe Trail: 

Melissa Monahan found herself enduring a 900-mile trip out west to meet her betrothed, Mister Christian Mckenna, Jr., and she couldn't be happier to be going, but she was well out of patience with the cramped and uncomfortable stagecoach in which she rode as well as her traveling companions, namely one Mister Benjamin Jamison, a nun by the name of Sister Margelle and an odd woman wearing a bizarre hat on her head.  Melissa was hot, uncomfortable and exasperated and if that were not enough, the stagecoach encounters a massive sinkhole that brings them to a rumbling halt almost ripping their back wheel from the axle. 

Sam, the coach driver, and Benjamin look at the enormous hole and what it hides. They devise a plan to get around it to head on to Trementina where Melissa’s fiancé is to meet her. There they can replace the coach wheel, deliver Melissa safely to her future life and head on from there. Crisis diverted and with the ladies protected from what they saw in the hole, they soon arrive in Trementina, but it’s silent, eerily silent, until a haggard man stumbles out of the tavern and heads right for the coach. Melissa is overjoyed to see that it is her betrothed, but his demeanor bothers Sam and Ben, and rightly so as Mr. Christian McKenna, Jr. splits Sam’s head open with an ax in one fell swoop, setting off sheer panic and a chain of events that will ripple through time.  

Spring 2015: 

New Glenn Echoes Construction has a shiny new housing development just waiting for you at the Diamond Loop cul-de-sac!  The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home had everything you wanted in a home, especially everything that Eden and Greg Colson, could want, for themselves and their twelve-year-old son, Zack.  The moment they saw it, they were sold, and within a few short weeks, they were unpacking and making it a home. It was a good move, a good place with good neighbors, good vibes. They were settling in well, except for the occasional spurt of brown tap water, things were great. One quick phone call to the town’s department of streets should clear those pipes right up.  And hey, why are all these slugs in the dirt?  Eden’s plan to dig a garden is put on hold until she can talk to Greg about the slugs and until the water is back on. Good thing the street crew shows up early the next morning!  

Something from the past lingers under Diamond Loop, something evil and older than time, something that should not be there. Ken Goldman weaves an awesome tale of creatures, chaos, and characters set in the Old West and in modern day as ancient creatures rise once more from the depths beneath us. This was an awesome story that defied all my expectations.  Buy This. Read it.  I can’t say it any more bluntly than this.  This deserves to be in your collection.  

Five out of Five stars.   


Billy Silver

by Daniel J. Volpe

Billy Silver is a splatterpunk junkies wet dream. For those of you that don’t know what it is, splatterpunk is a horror sub-genre characterized by intensely graphic depictions of violence, gore, and sex. It has also been described as hyper intensive horror without limits. While there is often a more traditional element of horror found within these stories, such as zombies, mutants, vampires or demons, the signature calling card of the genre is gore, lots and lots of filthy, violent, nauseating gore. 

Billy Silver checks All The Boxes. I read this short novella in about a hour and the author will be pleased to know that I was intensely horrified and disturbed by every single page. The main characters, Billy and Jeannie, are loathsome and disgusting junkies living in complete squalor. He’s a death metal rocker that lives for two things, his guitar and his next fix. His girlfriend is little more than a punching bag for Billy, who turns to prostitution to score her next high, after leaving Billy as a result of her most recent meeting with Billy’s fist. 

Surprisingly both characters manage to stoop to new lows after Billy is kicked out of his band and Jeannie ends up pimped out by drug dealers. Lower than he’s ever been, Billy is desperate for a fix and ends up getting a tattoo from a new shop offering to pay a few clients for practice runs before they open. A hundred bucks and a fresh tat later, Billy is riding high, with no urge to get high or get drunk. Instead, Billy has a new urge, a deep, dark urge, an itch that he can’t easily scratch. Something has a hold of Billy Silver and he likes it and he’s got a few ideas on how to satisfy that itch.  

Overall, this is splatterpunk done right but I would have liked to have had the supernatural element played up more. Who is the mysterious tattoo artist? What exactly was the tattoo and why was Billy picked? However, the storyline followed through to its depraved conclusion and delivered some of the sickest scenes I’ve had to read in a while. 
Sit back and watch as Billy Silver takes you on a rollicking rollercoaster ride of revenge. This is not for the faint of heart. This is violence. This is gore. This is mankind at his most depraved. 
Four out of five stars for me on Billy Silver. 


The Immortal Body

by William Holloway

So again, Holy F$*k, does this guy know how to tell a story. This is my second novel that I’ve read by William Holloway and I’m convinced that he’s the real deal. There are thousands of good writers out there and I’ll never be able to read them all, but out of the thousands, we find a couple hundred greats but then we find those that are true masters in their class.


William Holloway, in my very humble opinion, is becoming one of those master story tellers. This novel delivers on everything that I want a novel to be, especially a horror novel. The characters are genuine and dynamic. The tension he creates is palpable and the horror begins to creep up your spine, slowly increasing as each chapter builds another layer of fear, and intrigue. He makes you want to know what comes next but also leaves you hesitant to turn the page, perhaps to relish the chill and anticipation a bit more, or maybe you need to exhale and remember to breathe. 

This story follows a detective, a psychic medium and an old SAS veteran, all of whom thought they understood how their world worked, until something evil begins to unfold all around them, luring them in and trapping them in a nightmare that threatens their very existence not just their mental state of being. This is a finely crafted story that steals you completely away from your reality and puts you in theirs. Join us, won’t you, in “The Immortal Body.” 
Five out of Five Stars. 


Memories End

Gary Petras

This is an odd genre mash-up of a bit of science fiction, and a bit of surrealism. Once I had convinced my brain to stop trying to put it in a category, I did really enjoy the story. The heart of the story centers around a very human-like chimpanzee named Moe and his incredibly old and very tired elephant friend, Bazil, as they attempt an escape from a poorly run circus, complete with a whole host of sideshow freaks.  

At the core of the sideshow is the bizarre but genius hermaphrodite, Louis/Louise who functions as the sideshow fat lady, and the mad scientist behind the curtain. Louise/Louis pulls more strings than just the curtain strings as you discover as the story unfolds. The circus is owned and operated by a nasty man named Benjamin Slade, who has no love lost between himself and his performers. They stay due to lack of options, lack of self-preservation, lack of hope. Amelia is Moe’s owner and trainer, who desperately wants to find him. The small town currently hosting the circus and its band of misfits are subjected to some concerning situations caused by Moe and Bazil as they try to make their way towards Memories End, the only place that Bazil wants to go, the only reason Bazil agreed to go.  

Memories End is a beautiful place that is waiting for those that have lived a good life, or so the dwarf told him, that used to be a part of the show. Bazil and Moe discover just what friendship means, as they make their journey. As for the others, they discover just a bit more about themselves, and about their own humanity. The story is well-written but a bit slow due to the depths of self-reflection and self-discovery that happens throughout the story. I thought it was a very original concept and the idea of Memories End, as perceived through the eyes of an elephant and a jaded chimpanzee are intriguing. 

For the story, for the originality and for the depths of the thoughts contained therein, I am giving this 4 stars.  

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Mr. Cables

by Ronald Malfi

Let me start this by saying that I have been a fan of Ron Malfi for a long time, long before I joined the writing/horror industry. I have always enjoyed his work and have never been let down. That being said, I do believe “Mr. Cables” will be a defining work for him. It speaks volumes to his talents as a horror writer. He sets the tone from the first page and the story slowly begins to build up the tension and fear from that point on. I was completely consumed by the time I finished the second page and can honestly say that I read this book in one sitting.  It is not a long book, but it was more than just a fast read.

It was the NEED to finish, the compulsion to find out the secret about Mr. Cables, much like the main character, Wilson Paventeau, was being driven to madness in order to untangle the spider web that he found himself caught in. Wilson is a best-selling author, having written many novels over the years, who is at yet another book signing. Approached by a fan at a book signing, asked to sign “the scariest book” he’s ever written, he becomes confused and more than a little convinced that he is at the butt of an elaborate practical joke. The book she hands him, is not his, but his name is clearly on the cover, and the dust jacket and contains his full bio.  He offers her a copy of his newest book for free, in exchange for the book she is holding out to him, intending to discover who the prankster is later. She agrees and the exchange is made.

When Wilson goes home that evening, he finds himself more and more intrigued by the book and more unable to put it down. Even more unsettling is the fact that while he finds it boring; everyone else that reads even a few pages of it, is greatly disturb by it, terrified even. Wilson’s mental state begins to decline from there as he becomes consumed by the book and its mystery, beginning in earnest to track its origins down.  I found myself looking over my shoulder more than a few times while reading this book and went to sleep that night greatly unsettled by the story itself.

This is truly one of the best psychological horror stories that I have read to date. The way it sneaks up and grabs you by the throat before you even realize that you let the bad guy in, is genius.

Discover the shocking secrets that “Mr. Cables” holds for yourself. Grab a copy from Amazon today by clicking the link below!  Five out of five stars for Mr. Cables!


Sleep Savannah Sleep

By Alistair Cross

This is a gorgeously penned story about a beautiful girl with a tragic past from a small town and the newcomer that befriends her.  Recently widowed, Jason Crandall, is new to Shadow Springs. He has brought his two children in the hopes of a fresh start in a new place. Having bought an old Victorian in town, he begins to set up shop as a massage therapist and sets about coping with the loss of his wife and helping his kids adjust to the same.

Savannah Sturgess is a beautiful young girl with half the town eating out of her hands but there is more to her than meets the eye. Shadow Springs seems to be a nice little town, but it comes with its own set of small-town problems, including jealous husbands, nosy neighbors and more secrets than bodies in the town crypt.

As the story unfolds, Jason becomes hopelessly entangled in a mystery that will rock the town to its core.  Savannah herself becomes the key to the mystery that surrounds him, and she will not let him rest in peace until he unravels the web, a single thread at a time.

I loved every moment of this book. The prose is elegant, and the mystery is deep. Alistair has crafted a perfect blend of mystery, thriller and supernatural all in one book. This was my first book by Alistair and I am very happy to say that it will not be my last.

There is something for everyone in this book, regardless of what genre you read. There is a bit of romance, a bit of mystery, a dose of the supernatural and more drama than you’ll see on a Lifetime movie and all of it elegantly done in Alistair’s superbly poetic style.  You will absolutely want to get this book or the audiobook and then make sure to follow Alistair on Amazon, so you don’t miss any of his new releases.

Five out of Five Stars!!


Seven Exhumations

By James Carlson

Synopsis: This collection of dark stories is titled "Seven Exhumations" for a good reason -- all its strange and horrible tales were buried for a time in the unhallowed ground of author James G. Carlson's mind, and later unearthed to be put on hideous display. Three recurring themes abound in the pages of this book: the mysterious, brutal, and often darkly enchanting forces of nature, the terrible influences of infernal beings on the mortal souls of the earthly realm, and the ever-conflicting vices and virtues that are so much a part of the human experience. 

Book Review: 

This will be a short review of a short collection of short stories but don’t let that fool you. This is an excellent collection of short stories that will leave you a bit more uncomfortable and disturbed by the human plight. For instance, the first tale, aptly titled “Grim”, is just that. One of my all-time favorite premises, innocent children exploring an old house in the woods such as many curious children will often do, only this house is not what they expect. The fear becomes a tangible thing in this story, and you will not look at those old forgotten houses quite the same anymore.  

The second offering, “Ari Craw”, is a bit more disturbing than some of the others but is simply so well-done that I was not nearly as appalled as I should have been. Poor Ari is bored, rich and insatiable, as the title tells us, but he is a bit more than your overprivileged playboy. His only true friend in the world, Miss Temperance Jones, attempts to help him find his way and discover his truth, but the results are not quite what you would expect. 

Another story tells of a poor soul that finds himself in Hell for his afterlife but who simply refuses to accept that as his fate. As his spiritual body is tortured without end, he learns to retract his mind from the pain and transcend it. As fate would have it, he somehow transcends himself right out of Hell, and into a wholly different state of being. Again, not what you will ever expect, and nothing predictable here.

You will need to read this for yourself.  

I am not going to detail them all here as I feel it would be unjust. I will say that each one of these tales of terror are exactly that. There is darkness there, there is blood, and there are monsters in those dark places that we all pretend to ignore.  James Carlson has outdone himself with these stories and I cannot wait to see more from him. 

Five out of five stars for this excellent collection.  

Praise for Seven Exhumations: "James G. Carlson's lyrical dark tales steadily unfurl before the reader with the pace of a master. He shows us worlds that exist beyond our own, meeting new people and places that feel terrifyingly familiar, and yet, terrifyingly real. These horror stories now live in my bones."   

-Danger Slater, author of I Will Rot Without You and Impossible James 

"James G. Carlson is a writer of sinister elegance; he approaches you like a gentleman, embraces you like a nobleman, and then slays you like an alleyway strangler." 

-Eric Shapiro, author of It's Only Temporary and Red Dennis 


The Night Silver River Run Red

By Christine Morgan

In her take on the splatter western, Christine Morgan crafts a tale about a once prosperous small town called Silver River. The once booming town has dwindled to just a few dozen townsfolks trying to survive. A traveling sideshow of sorts has come through and set up tents about a mile away and the town is buzzing with the most activity it has seen in a long time. 

As curious kids will do, sneaking out to see the show is far too tempting of an idea to keep them home, minding their parents. As they make their way to the sideshow to see (The oddities! The marvels! The freaks!) for themselves what the fuss is all about, something much nastier is headed their way, along that moonlit path. Silver River is not prepared for the night that is about to unfold!  

Christine Morgan hit it out of the park with this one. There isn’t anything this story does not have! You want gore? You got it! You want monsters, creepy creatures, sideshow freaks, carnies, and dwarves? You got it! How about a notorious outlaw gang destroying everything in their path? Sure, got that too!  

Do you want one hell of a good time? You will want to pick this up and read it right away! This is yet another Splatter Western from Death’s Head press and I really must advise that everyone needs to read these books! They are fun as hell to read, colorful, fast, gory, and just a crazy good time. 

Five stars for this due to the overwhelming amounts of fun, chaos, murder, and mayhem in this tale. This was my first story by Christine Morgan, and I can guarantee it won’t be my last!  


Hunger on the Chisholm Trail

by Mike Ennenbach

This is not your typical horror story! Nor would it qualify as your Grandaddy’s western.  

Welcome to the Splatter Western! A new style of horror brought to you by Death's Head Press. 

I’m talking gore, murder, mayhem, fear and more fun than a bucket of rattler’s in an outhouse! This is an excellent tale woven around a small group of cattle drivers and the simple folk of a town in Texas, along the Chisholm Trail. There is intrigue, a bit of romance, a whole lot of action and a horrifying bid for survival.   
In this tale, a group of cattle drivers run into a bit of bad luck out on the Chisholm Trail. When the weary men stumble across a gory scene not too far from the trail, they can’t begin to fathom what type of beast could have left such a mess of death and decay in its wake. 

Tensions ramp up as they settle in for the night and before too long, a brawl breaks out between two cattle hands. Chaos ensues, Wild West style, but something more is waiting up the trail. 

Meanwhile, in the little town of Duncan, the people have welcomed a stranger that has made quite a stir with his talk of strange tales, and evil among men. The sheriff and the stranger form an unlikely friendship while they wait for the new sheriff and the cattle drivers to make it to town. 

The saloon girls and shop owners are excited for the cattle drivers to get there and are looking forward to a few days of new men and fresh money. But something vile and evil has other plans for these simple folks. 

Something older than the Wild West, something they’ve never seen before, and it’s hungry! 

Step right up and try your luck on the Chisholm Trail! It’s sure to please your twisted senses.  

Five out of Five stars for this excellent read.  

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Ennenbach. Harrison. Miller

Five Stars!

So much to say about this amazing collection of stories by three talented writers. Each author wrote three stories for this volume, in which they excel at horrifying, terrifying, and astonishing the reader. The collection centers around three specific prompts, Cabin Fever, Letters, and Chaos. As you would assume, each writer had to pen a story that incorporated one of those specific themes. The result is Cerberus Rising, nine novelettes of terror that take you on journeys down some very dark pathways.

Let’s start with Ennenbach, the poet, his verses are unparalleled and his every word oozes with raw emotion and intention. Nothing is left to chance with this author, not a bit of filler to be found within any of his pages as he draws you in to his tales of woe and horror.

In his first story, “Fifty Words For Writer’s Block-A Decline”, he brings you inside the mind of a poet. A poet who considers his success a fluke, once a poetic genius, he is now brought to his poetic knees by a strange request from a reporter. A poet who once could write about anything, at any time, suddenly cannot write a single word. He seeks out solitude and isolation to write his next collection of poems, which must include the poem for the reporter that only needs to start out with a specific line. The tale pulls no punches as it details the decline of the poet and his once prolific talent.

The second tale, “Baptized by Lethe” details the life of a young co-ed as she settles into college life, feeling far too isolated and alone than she should. Ennenbach quickly brings her emotions into play as the lonely girl struggles with her feelings and with making new friends. Weird letters begin to appear, and her mental state begins to drift as dreams and strange occurrences take over much of her life. This story is beautifully written and becomes a story within a story as it takes you on a lonely journey.

Ennenbach’s third tale is an all-out horrifying tale titled “The Incident at Barrow Farm”. This story hits shockingly close to home and achieves much of the horror by the reader simply realizing how realistic it truly is, how possible it is. The horror contained within the tale itself is just a bonus. I loved every word of this story as it plays out at the Barrow Farm, as the small-town police try to deal with the reality of multiple murders within the confines of their small town along with other atrocities that the reader will never see coming. The details and the emotional toll this story packs will leave you breathless and wishing for more. If you happen to know these writers, you will love this story for other reasons. I will leave you to discover those reasons for yourself.

Moving on to author Patrick C. Harrison, III or PC3, as he is listed in the book, I have nothing but admiration for his story telling skills. His stories are well-written, original, entertaining and downright twisted. His first tale in the book, “Insides Out” draws you in with a gruesome scene laid out all around the house of the main character in the book. The tragic tale sucks you in as he describes what occurred on that horrible Thanksgiving Day and the days after. The gruesome account of the tragic day hits you like a gut punch as you slowly begin to visualize and understand the horrible scene being painted for you. I loved everything about this sick, and twisted, Thanksgiving tale. I thought it was brilliantly written.


Harrison’s next story “Blame Jonathan Swift” was a swift descent into hell paved by a road with good intentions. By the time I realized what was happening, I was hooked and beyond amused. The horror was real, the writing beautifully done, and the rambling confession of the poor mis-guided soul in the story was as believable as Poe’s earnest madman in the “The Tell-Tale Heart”. I loved everything about this story, from beginning to end. You will not see the end coming, which is how brilliant horror is to be written. Harrison delivers an epic punch to the gut with this one.

The final story penned by Harrison is called “Taking The Loop”.  I hate giving away too much of any story and this one is so well done that all I want to say is kudo’s to Harrison. You will need to read this for yourself, dear reader, from beginning to end and then probably one more time. This was a terrifying story, full of blood, gore, fear, anxiety and anguish. I don’t know what rabbit hole Harrison was down when he wrote this, but it’s one hell of a ride. 

Author, Chris Miller, is every bit as talented as the other two authors in this book. His stories shine with his own unique style and are well-written and deliberate. He sets the tone beautifully in just a few sentences before leading you into a story that will leave you breathless with fear and wanting more.

His first story in the collection spoke directly to the doomsday prepper hidden deep within my heart. “Into the Light” details the sad state of affairs of a family that has been living in an underground bunker for the last ten years. The father insists on keeping his family safe inside the bunker for as long as he can, telling them repeatedly that the surface is not safe. The son begins to rebel against the father, hoping to prove to his family that everything is okay. I felt this one in my soul, their despair and anguish. The constant tension that they exist in, their need to survive and endure. Read this with the lights on.

Miller offers up a second tale with “The Final Correspondence of Thomas Baker Wolfe”.  In this tale, I was transported back in time to Victorian times. This story reminded me of the dark gothic style stories I used to read, and Miller may very well have been channeling Lovecraft with the cosmic horror contained in this story. It drips with horror and madness and will leave you quite chilled and awestruck by the time you finish. The descriptions alone of the tragedy that befell Thomas Baker Wolfe will paint such images inside your brain that they will be seared there for quite some time. Nothing more to say on this except bravo! This was a favorite of mine in the collection.

In the final tale, “Day 69”, Miller delivers a kick straight to the head with his terrifying tale of a mundane trip to the grocery store right in the middle of the Covid-19 quarantine and panic. This will leave you uncomfortable and writhing in your chair from the realism. I was in awe of how realistic the images were, how the entire scenario went down and how utterly spot-on the highly emotional situation played out. Everyone will relate to this story on a very personal level and the horror is undeniably real.

This is a great collection to own, to read and to gift. I loved every word of it, and I look forward to reading much more from each one of these authors.  Get “Cerberus Rising” today!  Five out of Five Stars.


The Devil's Due: Nothing Is As It Seems

Published by Valhalla Books

The Devil’s Due is an excellent collection of 13 short stories, each one written by talented authors. Published by Valhalla Books and edited by Adam Messer, this collection carries one continuous theme throughout, deals with the devil. While there is a theme, none of these stories are anything like the others. Each carry a weight all their own, with a tragic tale to tell. 

“In the Black Rock” by Alledria Hurt, an overall bad day beginning with a fender bender sets off a chain of events that cannot be undone. “Face It” by Carol Gyzander was a tragic tale involving a husband grieving his wife’s fatal illness as doctors continue to tell him there is nothing more to be done. I found this story to be the most gut-wrenching out of the collection. This story will not play out like you think it might. In fact, it is nothing like many of you are already thinking, as you nod along thinking, ah yes, that sort of deal makes sense.  

Another ominous tale with tragic undertones caught my attention, “The Plan” by Josh Vasquez. A plan for revenge plays out with the most curious of twists. I did not see this ending coming, not by a long shot. This story carries a powerful punch as it ends, making you wish that there were more pages to turn. I loved every word of this exceptional story.  

One more great tale, out of 13 great tales, is “Here Comes Mr. Herribone” by Tim Jeffreys. This story truly creeped me out with its disturbing tale. One half of a comedy duo, Jim Game, is still standing after a tragic accident that claimed the life of a long-time friend, Tommy. Clearly haunted by grief and sadness without his long-time partner that played a character named Mr. Herribone in their act, Jim’s tale begins a slow descent into madness and despair. The tone of this story stayed unsettling and disturbing throughout the entire tale.  

The final tale is written by Adam Messer, the editor and founder of Valhalla books and it is an intriguing tale about a Djin. “The Known and True History of the Djin” is an epic short story that tells the tragic backstory of a Djin, or genie, if you will. the legend of the Djin has always fascinated me and I loved this unique take on the creature. Everything about this story was perfectly executed, from the set-up all the way through to the bitter end. The character is relatable, as are his circumstances and the legend that it details is superbly written.  

The Devil’s Due: Nothing Is As It Seems is a perfect collection of horror, despair, sadness, and the overall human condition as told by its authors. It is a perfect name, as none of these stories are what they seem. All 13 stories are well deserving of their place in this collection. Each one is remarkable and will leave you wanting more.  

I strongly recommend this collection to any horror fan, buy it today. Add it to your shelf, buy one for a friend. They will thank you for it. 5 out of 5 stars.


A Review: Hollow Heart

Brief Synopsis: Harold Stoe, once proud Marine, now wheelchair bound, is only proud of two things: quitting alcohol and raising his sixteen-year-old son Dale.  But there is something in the hollow behind his house, something monstrous being built by a being called “The Architect”.  As the Architect nears the completion of his new god, the body count rises all around Harold. Can he, Dale, and two neighbors fend off the Architect and destroy the beast before it wakes?

Harold is faced with deep resentment towards his father, and trauma from his time at war, guilt over the deaths of his squad after he gave the all clear and is trying to raise a son that harbors his own resentment towards Harold. The love of his life, Mary, lives close by but gives up on their relationship because Harold is “no longer a full man.”  Harold must battle all of his demons in order to help his son, and Mary, navigate the inner workings of this beast growing stronger right in their own backyard and destroy it before it takes over the world. 

Eads creates a horror story with fantastic elements of cosmic horror and reaches deep into the human condition to make the reader face hard questions and harder truths.  Can we break the cycle of abuse? Can we learn to forgive our pasts and others?  Can people really unite for a common goal?  With dynamic writing, relatable characters and heartbreaking emotion, Eads weaves an intriguing story that hides more than a monster at its core. Four stars for this fascinating take on terror, trials and tribulations. 

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Roots of All Evil

by Paul Carro