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  • Writer's pictureChristina Pfeiffer

03/09/2024 Christina Critiques


Happiest of Sundays, my friends. This week has been full of reading amazing books, short stories, and novellas. I can’t wait to share them with you.



The Stoker nominees are knocking my socks off but those are a bit a later.


Let’s get into some audiobooks I listened to this week.


 

THE GOD OF HUNGRY WALLS

By Garrett Cook


What the fart did I read/listen to? I have never listened to such a unique haunted house story. House control story? Shit fire, I have no idea at this point. All I know is I loved it.


A group of roommates are picked off one by one when they enter a house that thirsts for blood and control.


That’s it. That’s all you get. I can’t really go into more detail because it could give it away. But also it would only confuse you. Cook knows what the hell he’s doing, I can tell you that much. The sex is sexing, the blood is blooding, and the confusion is confusioning. Trust me, it will all make sense after you listen to it.


Narrated by Jim Patton, you will do yourself such a disservice if you only read it. Patton takes you into the house and forces you to watch as these terrible things happen, one right after the other. His voice changes are just as bizarre and unnerving as the book itself and that’s a compliment, I promise.


A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 5/5


ORDER HERE:

 

THE CRUCIFIXION EXPERIMENTS

By Gord Rollo


Jack Mercer is a homicide detective about two steps from being fired. Drunk, alone, and barely hanging on to his sanity he is pulled full force into a serial killers deranged cat and mouse game. With two new partners, Riley and Bello, they must race against the clock as they find body after body. What’s the connection, the reason, and the end hold?


Holy. Shit. (Pun intended, obviously.) I have a few disclaimers to make first: 1) I have never read a Gord Rollo story before and I’m so glad I started with this one and 2) I don’t typical like police procedural novels as they are all the same… boring. But friends, this is ANYTHING by boring.


What I loved most about Rollo’s writing is it’s some of the tightest I have seen. No word is filler on any page. It’s precise, sharp, and deadly. Add to that the vivid imagery, religious zealots, and the world building, it’s a Top Ten for this year for sure.


Narrated by Lou del Bianco, holy Toledo. He pulls you in and doesn’t let go with that gritty, no nonsense cop voice. This isn’t one to miss, friends.


A DOUBLE HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.


ORDER HERE:

 

VAMPIRES (Classic Monsters Book 1)

Edited by Kevin J. Kennedy


I feel about vampires how others feel about zombies, that they are over done and all the same sparkly shenanigans that have become the punch line of jokes. Well, friends, I am happy to eat crow after reading and listening to VAMPIRES.


“Laird of Dunain” by Graham Masterson - A painting getaway turns into an obsession of art and control. DORIAN GRAY for 2024.


“Vampyrrhic Pay-Per-View” by Simon Clark - Two boozed up best friends get more than their $100 worth. Super creative and funny.


“The Nest” by Kevin J. Kennedy - When a group of vampires killer must face a nest they hadn’t planned on, a bite or two is the least of their concerns.


“Chasing Moonlight” by Greg F. Gifune - Two grave robbers believe they have hit the jackpot and their lives will change forever. It does… but not how they envisioned.


“A Cold Morning on Lake Dark” by MIchael Bray - What happens when a serial killer isn’t what people assume? An eight year old boy and an old man meet in this story and find out on one dark night.


“The Proposal” by Lee Mountford - When you have nothing to lose, seeing your traitorous wife could be your saving grace.


“Heroes” by Richard Chizmar - What would you sacrifice to have more time with one you love? Emotionally draining… nudge


“Devil in the Snow” by Nick Roberts - Two brothers find out that moose and Inuits aren’t the only things that want to welcome the younger brother to Alaska.


The stories are stellar but the narration by Steve Gray really brought it together. Gray engages the reader and keeps the suspense at every word. I highly suggest this one on audio.


A HIGHLY RECOMMEND 5/5


ORDER HERE:


 

STOKER NOMINEES - SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN SHORT FICTION


“Silk”

By L.E. Daniels

From HUSH, DON’T WAKE THE MONSTER: STORIES INSPIRED BY STEPHEN KING - WOMEN IN HORROR ANTHOLOGY


A young girl grows up working in a silk mill with her Mother. Death, money, assaults, accidents, suicides and more are remembered as the narrator passes her last days in hospice.


Daniels doesn’t skim on commentary in this short story. Gender roles, workplace hazards, disability and immigration discrimination and harassment are just a few of the topics that the reader will encounter. Even thought “Silk” is set in the early 1900s, the relevancy is too close to home.


Brilliant 5/5.



 

“The Sound of Children Screaming”

By Rachel K. Jones

From NIGHTMARE MAGAZINE - October 2023, Issue 133


Michelle, a middle school teacher, must go on a magical quest with eight of her students while those left behind must deal with the threat.


As a parent, this story is one of my biggest fears and Jones captures the fear, helplessness, and how we are all the problem in some way. This sentence will stay with me until my last breath, “… the chalk-white silence left in the Gun’s wake.”


Be prepared to sob full body sobs. 5/5


 

“If Someone You Love Has Become a Vurdalak”

By Sam J. Miller

From THE DARK Magazine - July 2023, Issue 98


Twin brothers go down two very different paths in life, starting at fifteen. When one is lost to addiction, can the other be his savior before it’s too late?


I don’t know where to start with this one either. Tragic and relevant, the ideas of addiction, familial love and loyalty, the stigma of addiction, and most importantly the enabling of harm to them and the family members are hard realities in this story. “I lost a brother, but I gained boundaries.”


A life changing story from beginning to end. 5/5


 

“Quondam”

By Cindy O’Quinn

From THE NIGHTMARE NEVER ENDS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF HORROR edited by Jennifer Bernardini


A family must come to terms when their parent’s age and health could rip their family apart. They will must face not only their truth but their parent’s as well.


O’Quinn takes us into the world of aging with precision and respect to those who have suffered, personally or through extended family.


Necessary and heart aching 4/5


 

“An Inherited Taste”By Nadine Aurora Tabing

From NO TROUBLE AT ALL - edited by Alexis DeBon and Eric Raglin


Bea realizes, one day, that her life isn’t what she wants for her daughter, Felisia. With a bit of a plan formulated, how far can Bea get before he realizes they are gone.


While hitting on gender roles and generational expectations/traumas, Tabing forces mothers to question themselves and their best of intentions.


Stellar 4/5.

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