Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Thursday, April 2, 2020

4 Spooky Stars 

DEATH WATCH is Book 3 in the WAITING MORTUARY SERIES.  Quite possibly,  the series increases in gore and shock value as it continues. A seasoned but troubled newspaper reporter (print) is assigned a story on the infamous local funeral home, which has boasted at least two serial killers and a torture chamber.  This indefatigable reporter will uncover far more shocks than only past history, and will suffer unbearably for the discoveries.

Review: COLERIDGE by Tom Deady

4 Spooky Stars

COLERIDGE  (which has gorgeous cover art by Kealan Patrick Burke) has an explosive reader's hook and in fact, blew me away up to about 68%. Repeating diary entries (after the protagonist read them the first time) was distracting.  Actually once the climactic moment is reached, on a very "dark and stormy night," in a windy blizzard,  outdoors [endeavouring to avoid spoilers!] (79%) I wanted the story to end there. I thought that all that came after might have been in a different story.  I don't want a happy ending in a story with this kind of power, horror, and terror,  with implacable villains and a house like "Coleridge." I want to be overwhelmed with the horror, as I was with author Tom Deady 's earlier WEEKEND GETAWAY, an amazing novella. I also, regrettably, failed to discern the rationale for the character Zadie's final decision. So my thoughts on COLERIDGE remain mixed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Review: HE COMES IN THE NIGHT by Ricky Fry

4 Stars

An engaging and creatively imagined dual tale, in which past funnels toward the present,  surface fails to equal substance, nobody is as they seem, and life is facade. Distinctly not your ordinary vampire tale.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOL. 16 by Team Scare Street

5 Scary Stars

"Coffee Love" by Ron Ripley: Anger, New Hampshire, a favorite fictional setting of author Ron Ripley, is a STRANGE litle town. For its size and populace, it's grossly overpopulated with Ghosts. Worse, almost all of them are furious, raging, even evil. One such stars in this story, which illustrates capably (shudder) the definition of implacable (horror): "not capable of being appeased, significantly changed, or mitigated." Evil in life, evil in death (shudder).

"Respect Your Elders" by Anna Sinjin: Grief is all well and good. We respect that. It's understandable when grieving loved ones maintain a room as a shrine to the lost one. But this couple is certainly taking that notion to unexpected extremes....

"Blind Date" by Sara Clancy:     I may entirely give up coffee after this. Thankfully, I don't frequent coffee shops. Definitely foreseeing nightmares from this one. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Review: THE FOREVER HOUSE by Tim Waggoner

5 Weird Stars

Reading THE FOREVER HOUSE was a "it blew me out of the water" experience: so yes, explosive, mind-blowing,  mind-boggling,  psychedelic, and best of all for this reader: Way Lovecraftian.  Multiverses and Hungry Void, almost-immortal races (many), species of Otherness to which all of humanity are only playthings,  psychic food to sate the appetite,  leftovers to offer to the always-ravenous Gyre. Great character evolution, and not all survive. But this is Weird Fiction: can you really expect a Happy-Ever-After?

I loved it. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Review: THE GOLEM OF PRAGUE by Manuela Cardiga

5 Spooky Stars

THE GOLEM OF PRAGUE is a 9-page short story with a ton of impact. Set in 14th Century Prague at the time of the Black Plague ravaging Europe,  it references how human minds seek scapegoats,  one of which for millennia has been Hebrews. When the Plague scourged Prague, citizens turned to the Jewish enclave or ghetto to rape, murder, destroy.  One rabbi decided to fight back, and the method he chose was unusual, effective,  and soul-destroying. I found this powerful story almost Lovecraftian in its portrayal of a protagonist gone mad from the excess of arcane knowledge.

Review: THE TEACHER'S PIANO by Jennifer White

5 Stars 

A creatively imagined Paranormal Romance that will tug the heartstrings, with good character evolution and a gifted interweaving of history, geographic setting, architecture, with contemporary characters striving to live their best lives, with the inevitable trials and difficulties and challenges.  I empathized with almost every character, with one exception.  Carolyn I definitely did not like (although she portrayed a misguided and inadvertently successful villain) and her near-death revelatory confession did not quite ring true to me: I remained unconvinced of her particular character evolution and I wished she had not reaped the benefits of her villainy at all.

Thursday, March 19, 2020


5 Super Stars!

So superb! THE HOUSE WITHOUT SUMMER is excellent historical Weird Fiction with resonances of H. P. Lovecraft, Ann Radcliff,  and Gregory Lewis.  The elements of Cosmic Horror are--totally terrifying! There are evil humans (I thought of the 18th Century London Hellfire Club), evil that is not and never was human, and a Cosmic Otherness that echoes Lovecraft 's worst nightmares! For my mycological sensitivities,  there is an implacable,  constantly spreading,  inescapable, Red Fungus! There is a Mad Scientist [Barnabas], an Evil Earl, a wise neighbor who is also an aspiring author [Lucy], the wild oats-sowing soldier brother matured by the Napoleonic Wars [Marcus], faithful retainers [butler Barton,  and Cook], and many more. I totally devoured this book and would like to give it about 36 Stars!w

Sunday, March 15, 2020


April and October are two of my favorite months, because of
April "Spring Into Horror " and October "Frightfall"!

Sign up at spring-into-horror-2020

My Progress? 2020_spring-into-horror_april

My middle name ought to be Horror,  so I say:

Bring April On!!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Review: THE MOOR by Sam Haysom


THE MOOR is an astonishingly exciting, engrossing,  heartwrenching, horror novel. What a creative premise has author Sam Haysom invented,  compelling eager readers to track its nefarious and multifarious paths, anxious to see Evil put down. 

THE MOOR is a coming-of-age narrative balanced atop a foundation of Horror, and even in the midst of the dangers and the pervasive evil,  readers can  rejoice as a group of early-adolescent friends bond together and as each evolves individually. There are multiple instances of animal sadism, adult psychological abuse of children,  and of course the unavoidable deaths caused by this cleverly constructed and I venture to say, unique in type, Monster. The writing is taut and riveting and the plot cogent, the ending bringing satisfaction and closure. An excellent book throughout; I eagerly anticipate more.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

#StayHome24in48 Readathon

March 21-22 Stay At Home and Read

Reading: 9:30 AM Sat-9 PM = 11.5
Read: PAST MADE PRESENT by Bo Thunboe 36%-end
Read: THE FOREVER HOUSE by Tim Waggoner  to 36%

Reading: 10:30 PM Sat- 12:30 AM Sun 

Reading: 10:00 AM-10:00 PM = 12
Read in entirety PATCH LANE by S. F. Barkley

Total: 3 Books 25.5 Hours Reading 

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOLUME 13 by Ron Ripley 5

5+ Spooky Stars 

All three stories in this volume are by Ron Ripley. 

"The Hanging Tree": What a special--an exceptional--short story! Mr. Ripley's stories are always fine, but "The Hanging Tree" goes "above and beyond" in sheer horrific quality.  If the implacability of this terror doesn't frighten you--well, I feel sorry for you.

"Just For Fun": A successful criminal practices his "trade" by hiding near cemetery gates, robbing and humiliating innocent civilians.  This night,  he chose the wrong cemetery. 

"Late Night Studies": Excitingly terrifying,  with the implacability of horror that Mr. Ripley delivers so skillfully.  A young man with an ulterior motive takes a night shift security guard position at a local cemetery.  Certain aspects of this story when revealed may be upsetting to sensitive readers .

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Review: CLOWDERS by Vanessa Morgan

3.5 Stars

Picturesque,  almost anachronistic, Clerveaux, Luxembourg--tucked into a forest, nearby are an historic castle and abbey, within the tiny village are bakery, chocolatier, veterinary practice,  friendly townsfolk.  And cats: healthy,  people-friendly, delightful cats. What a "purr-fect" environment.  Not!
The townspeople are effectually servants to the cats, more specifically to the cats' Protector. "Nine lives of a cat" means one cat demise = nine humans decease. And woe unto anyone who accidentally or intentionally kills a cat, even in euthanasia!

The premise and the supernatural elements are quite intriguing. But the characters put me off [I quite disliked Aidan, the husband-father-veterinarian, who is more of a Peter Pan than a responsible adult; and Lorenza, the selfish femme fatale], and those I did like, wife-mother Jess, and veterinary assistant David, I found wimpy. Also at times the writing didn't seem the best use of language and was stilted. 

This is a 3.5 rating.

Review: SKELETON TOWER by Vanessa Acton

5 Spooky Stars!

SKELETON TOWER is an early-YA (adolescent)- aimed installment in Vanessa Acton's ATLAS OF CURSED PLACES. Well-delineated characterizations, subtle ramping up of suspense,  an intriguing plotline which also weaves in some history, compassion, and character evolution make the story both compelling and inspiring.  I was particularly pleased with the balance of negative energy (focused on the curse) and compassionate energy from another source. This factor plus the evolution of several characters really made the story for me.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Review: THE MIDWIVES by Duncan Ralston

5 Stars!!

Deep and rich and fully fleshed out, THE MIDWIVES is Folk Horror genius! I loved SALVAGE and admired GHOSTLAND, but  THE MIDWIVES is Horror I can see myself reading over and over again.  How deeply the characterizations range! How giftedly twisted the multiple plot threads! And the Frights! During certain particular scenes, I completely forgot I was "reading a book" and fell into the story,  eventually surfacing to find myself simply suffused in chills!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Review: THE PENNWOOD HAUNTING by S. K. Zurcher

5 Stars 
5 Stars

I gave this spooky novel 5 Stars, despite the occasional grammatical/spelling/punctuation error, because I really enjoyed it. The plot was tightly woven and engrossing, the author balanced a sizable cast of characters and delineated them well, carrying additional secondary plot lines unfolding through character evolution. The hauntings were seriously spooky and scary, and the juxtaposition of a seemingly benign spirit as against a powerful evil spirit worked well in keeping characters as well as reader wrong-footed throughout. I particularly enjoyed the ongoing character evolution of protagonist Shelley, who evolves in numerous respects. 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Review: THE HOUSE OF MADNESS by Kirk Kilgrave

3.5 Spooky Stars 

This is a 3.5 rating, the best I can muster. I tried valiantly "to really get into" this supernatural novel, but I just couldn't maintain interest. There were segments of the plot and themes that quite intrigued me, but the story "felt" too uneven,  plus I couldn't summon sufficient empathy for the characters to maintain a high level of interest in them or their endangerment.  Actually I found the ancestral characters more intriguing,  more lively,  even though many of them were quite nasty individuals sans moral integrity. That said,  other readers may find the story quite fascinating. 


5 Spooky Stars

Nothing but chills throughout in this super-scary supernatural spooky! If the ongoing chills and thrills don't scare you (they sure scared me), then hold your breath because the ending will blow--you--away. Oh my! I can't stop thinking about it! What a fab debut horror this is. Write faster, please!

Monday, February 24, 2020


4 Stars

I quite enjoyed reading this novel, both for the recurring (and escalating Spooky aspects) and for the protagonist's unfolding character evolution. From good-hearted, devoted, mother and wife, thoughtful and well-intentioned Erin gradually morphs into something else. Whether one attributes her mutation to Supernatural elements, or to a growing undiscovered psychological disorder, her process is realistic as she slowly changes.

Review: FALSE VALUE (Rivers of London 8) by Ben Aaronovitch

4.5 Stars
FALSE VALUE is Book 8 in the fantastic (in multiple categories) Urban Fantasy RIVERS OF LONDON Series by Ben Aaronovitch. I adored Books 7 and 7.5 [LIES SLEEPING  and THE OCTOBER MAN]. FALSE VALUE wasn't quite as fantastic to me, quite possibly because the techno theme went over my head and the corporate maneuvering left me uninterested.  However,  Feckless Hero police officer Peter Grant remains as adorable as ever, and the  Denouement in the Super-Secret server warehouse, especially the open "portal to darkness," was scrumptious reading (with Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror resonances) and definitely might be a springboard to further exploration in the next novel or two. I certainly hope so. My 4 Star rating then is actually 4.5, and I imagine many other readers will consider FALSE VALUE a 5.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Review: THE ROOM UPSTAIRS by Iain Rob Wright

5 Spooky Stars!

Gore-laden horror  but rife with deeply detailed characterization and realistic character evolution,  THE ROOM UPSTAIRS makes me glad to live in a single-story home. A blended family in Birmingham,  England,  is poor but mostly happy. Until a visit to a car boot sale (similar to American flea markets) sees the adolescent daughter bringing home an antique-appearing pendant and the eleven-year-old son a doll replica of a film series' evil clown, and real Evil enters the household,  tempting each member into wishes, ranging from the simple and mundane, to life-changing and life-destroying. Author Iain Rob Wright delivers imaginatively-premised unspeakable,  implacable,  Horror.  Just try to sleep after reading this one. That creaking door will keep you wide awake.