WHO

WHO'S COMING DOWN YOUR CHIMNEY TONIGHT?




Charles Stross, "Overtime"

2016: CTHULHU FOR CHRISTMAS

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Review: Ghosts for Christmas: Four Stories

Ghosts for Christmas: Four Stories Ghosts for Christmas: Four Stories by Lisa Morton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: GHOSTS FOR CHRISTMAS by Lisa Morton

A collection of four newly-published Christmas stories, beyond routine and well worth perusal in any season, GHOSTS FOR CHRISTMAS will delight while expanding the reader's mind and imagination. Take for example, a "haunted house" tale which entirely upends the trope. Altogether a worthwhile read.

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Review: Scarecrow

Scarecrow Scarecrow by Richie Tankersley Cusick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SCARECROW by Richie Tankersley Cusick

This is a seriously perturbing horror novel. Fresh from the author's APRIL FOOL, admiring its clean lines, plot twists, and 80's YA horror, I plunged into this (because scarecrows scare me), and the consequence was akin to falling into a deep abandoned well. Throughout the novel I could never be certain whether the horror was due to paranormal elements, or to human psychological disorder. Additionally certain aspects of the story I found quite personally disturbing. The end result is a real frightener that I can't erase from my mind.

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Review: Curtain Call: and Other Dark Entertainments

Curtain Call: and Other Dark Entertainments Curtain Call: and Other Dark Entertainments by Mark Allan Gunnells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CURTAIN CALL AND OTHER DARK ENTERTAINMENTS by Mark Allan Gunnells

Every story in this superb collection is polished to a brilliant shine. I wonder, why I haven't been reading this fine author so much sooner. (I recently read WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE by Mr. Gunnells and Aaron Dries.) Some of the tales included here are outright terrifying ("The Town That Played Christmas For No One"); some are subtly frightening ("Movie Baby" and "Fates" and "And A Former Child Star Shall Lead Them"). Others are heartwrenching ( "Picnic at Bonaventure") or heartwarming ("Curtain Call"); some are cautionary: be really careful for what you wish "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden"). Every one is the work of a master talent.


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Friday, December 23, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review: Circus of Horrors

Circus of Horrors Circus of Horrors by Carole Gill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CIRCUS OF HORRORS by Carole Gill

Don't be fooled into thinking this is a routine, run-of-the-mill, carnival scary. Nothing routine here: CIRCUS OF HORRORS is a very special story, and I'm glad it introduced me to author Carole Gill, an exceptionally talented writer.

Reading this yanked me on an emotional roller coaster. This past year, I've read so much horror, extreme horror, and weird. I've remarked on great plots, unexpected plot twists, good characterization. CIRCUS OF HORRORS certainly brings all that, and additionally, it inspired me to CARE about its characters: the broken, sad, lost, disfigured inside and out. Early along I adopted the "good guys" [by no means are they perfect] as MY family. Fred, his father, and the performers who comprise his family became my family too, and when the evil ones began to plot to entrap and destroy them, I became like a mother bear with a flamethrower. How DARE these evil ones? Leave my adopted folks alone!!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: The Carnival

The Carnival The Carnival by Lisa McCourt Hollar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Surprisingly extreme. Liked the theme and had some satisfying twists.

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Review: Carnival Freak

Carnival Freak Carnival Freak by Billie Sue Mosiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CARNIVAL FREAK by Billie Sue Mosiman

Life lessons I learned recently from my current perusal of horror: the horror at home is something greater than the horror of war; "freaks" in a sideshow (Diane Arbus notwithstanding) may be milder and less horrifying than the concealed freaks pretending to lead normal human lives. The first I learned from the SUBDUE Series by Thomas S. Flowers, the latter from Billie Sue Mosiman's CARNIVAL FREAKS.

This story illuminates the lives of several characters, some who are members of the carnival, and several gleaned from the audience on a particular evening. I can validly state that some of these "normal" freaks made my skin crawl. And worse, they look like us.



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Review: Bah! Humbug! An anthology of Christmas Horror Stories

Bah! Humbug! An anthology of Christmas Horror Stories Bah! Humbug! An anthology of Christmas Horror Stories by Matt Shaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bah!Humbug! Is first of all a charity anthology. Second, it's a wide-ranging collection which is not anti-Christmas but beyond, above, and below Christmas. Some of the stories are subtle horror, some really cross boundaries (and violate taboos). So the queasy of stomach and easily sensitive can just gift it (helping charity), and those who enjoy extreme horror and boundary jumping, come on in.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Review: Whispers: Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's "The Whisperer in Darkness"

Whispers: Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's Whispers: Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's "The Whisperer in Darkness" by Kristin Dearborn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WHISPERS by Kristin Dearborn

The always perfect author Kristin Dearborn has excelled even herself with this tribute to the Old Man of Providence, H.P. Lovecraft. I truly believe Ms. Dearborn is a reincarnation of Old Grandpa, or she is channeling. WHISPERS extols the anxiety, the fear, the wonder, of Alien Contact. Ms. Dearborn strums every single chord in the panoply of the otherworldly of HPL and of extraterrestrial sentience. She also interweaves some of the most painful and shocking elements of humanity, displaying these against the background of the Otherworldly and Beyond Earth. This is a tale I shall read again and again and again. This is the tale that gave me a series of stunningly vivid and horrifyingly implacable nightmares.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: Brazen: A Dark Chapter Press Unlimited Short: B

Brazen: A Dark Chapter Press Unlimited Short: B Brazen: A Dark Chapter Press Unlimited Short: B by Matt Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the twists in Matt Hickman' s stories!! This one is as fast as a one-two-three knockout!! Punch-punch-punch, WOW!!

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Review: The Rose Man

The Rose Man The Rose Man by Terry M. West
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Twisty, very satisfying. Loved its implacability!

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Review: Jeremy: Evil Has One Name - A Horror Novella

Jeremy: Evil Has One Name - A Horror Novella Jeremy: Evil Has One Name - A Horror Novella by Matt Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well-done! I didn't at all expect the twist!! Author Hickman makes the story very vivid (especially in the visions) as well as very visceral. The twists alone would make a great story, so it's doubly exciting. I very much anticipate Matt Hickman' s next--and future-project.

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Review: Conceiving

Conceiving Conceiving by Thomas S. Flowers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CONCEIVING by Thomas S. Flowers (Subdue #3)

In many ways, I am very fond of CONCEIVING. I appreciate the reader's opportunity to get to better understand and empathize with the characters of Bobby and Luna, plus some newly-introduced characters. I really enjoy the Voodoo of Luna's paternal grandmother, Memaw. The author superbly paints the aura, the "feel," of the rural South, nowadays, and back in the 1950's and 1960', when often the choices were: vote and die, or maybe don't vote and die anyway, just because no one can abide your color. Reading these passages is as clear as living it. And of course, that includes lynching.

After reading in sequence all three of the novels in this engrossing series, I just have one question: Could this be a 7 book series? I don't want to say goodbye!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Review: Emerging

Emerging Emerging by Thomas S. Flowers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: EMERGING by Thomas S. Flowers
(Subdue #2)

The horrifying, electrifying, EMERGING is second in author Thomas S. Flowers "Subdue" series. The first, DWELLING, weaves the background during Operation Iraqi Freedom, showing us in vivid color some of the human costs, and weaves in the Suicide Squad's backstory, EMERGING is the contemporary story of Johnathan, Jake, Bobby, and Maggie, plus Maggie's younger sister, Karen, and Karen's daughter Tabitha. Maggie, widow of Ricky, and only girl in the long ago "Suicide Squad" club, invites Jonathan, Karen, and Tabitha, Jake, and Bobby, to her isolated farmhouse on a country back road outside Jotham, Texas. During the visit, illusion rules, alcohol loosens tongues and feelings are deeply hurt. Worse is the hidden agenda operating beneath the surface, an agenda millennia old, an implacable and inescapable horror with an inexorable hunger for humanity.


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Review: Dwelling

Dwelling Dwelling by Thomas S. Flowers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DWELLING by Thomas S. Flowers
(Subdue #1)

DWELLING is the first war-related novel I have read since Philip Caputo's A RUMOR OF WAR, decades ago. Now DWELLING is not solely a war story; it's also coming-of-age, slice-of-life...and chilling, terrifying, horror. Jonathan, Ricky, Jake, Bobby, and Maggie, have been a tight group since childhood, naming themselves "Suicide Squad" after the 80's comic book. As young adults, Jake, Bobby, then Johnathan and Ricky together, enlist. Ricky and Maggie had married, and Johnathan had married the pregnant Karen, Maggie's younger sister.

As the novel unfolds, deeply examined characterizations frame a story that is heartwrenching, uplifting, and ultimately, seriously frightening. For war is not the only threat to the remaining group, and the threat at home may be far more terrifying.

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Review: Collected Christmas Horror Shorts

Collected Christmas Horror Shorts Collected Christmas Horror Shorts by Kevin J. Kennedy
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: COLLECTED CHRISTMAS HORROR SHORTS

A great gift choice for horror lovers or gift to oneself, COLLECTED CHRISTMAS HORROR SHORTS provides a wide range of eclectic horror, to read straight through, or sample a story or a poem at a time, like poisoned candy. The anthology showcases 24 authors, including publisher Kevin Kennedy, and includes a foreword by Nev Murray (edited by Brandy Yassa).

Curl up with frightening Christmas horror.

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Review: The Seventh Ward

The Seventh Ward The Seventh Ward by Patrick Logan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SEVENTH WARD by Patrick Logan

A wildly imaginative second installment in a wildly imaginative series, SEVENTH WARD showcases some really scary characters, both alive and not, and monstrous. Following the horrific events of SHALLOW GRAVES, the trio are "summoned" to clear the seventh ward of isolated, abandoned, Pinedale Hospital, of its specters. Not that easy. Very dangerous, very terrifying, a knockout ending.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review: Chelsea Avenue

Chelsea Avenue Chelsea Avenue by Armand Rosamilia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CHELSEA AVENUE

CHELSEA AVENUE is a riveting supernatural thriller, full of likable characters and implacable supernatural immortals. The good guys have failings, and the author makes that clear. The bad guys have some positives. In the end, they're human, confronted by immortals, kind of like grasshopper vs. gorilla. In a truly Lovecraftian cosmos, humanity is either prey, or lost to the indifference of immortals, and both are capably demonstrated here. I highly recommend this novel.


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Monday, December 5, 2016

Review: The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror: A Novel

The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror: A Novel The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror: A Novel by John Llewellyn Probert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE LOVECRAFT SQUAD ALL HALLOWS CHURCH by John Llewellyn Probert

This novel is the first in "The Lovecraft Squad" series, created by Stephen Jones and written by John Llewellyn Probert. If you love Lovecraft Mythos, black magick, medieval history, or Dante, this book has it all (plus eternal zombies and shapeshifting and horror-horror-horror. Excellently written, articulate, this is a rereader.

Set in a historic decommissioned parish church in Blackheath, South London, a motley group of parapsychology "investigators" set up for four days and nights at Christmas time, organized by a tabloid newspaper. They should have stayed well clear.



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Review: Refuge

Refuge Refuge by A.I. Nasser
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: REFUGE by A. I. Nasser
(THE SIN #2)

In my review of the first in this trilogy, KURTAIN MOTEL, I raved about how enjoyable and imaginative a story it is. REFUGE keeps the bar high. Those of our characters who escaped the Kurtain Motel find asylum and a settled home in Refuge, Maine, a seemingly pleasant small community where everything is just fine. Or is it?? With Rev. Clancy and his constant "confession" harping (he makes Sinclair Lewis's Reverend Dr. Elmer Gantry look like an angel) and the commencement of unending revelations, protagonist Patrick Lahm and his cohorts remain on the edge of destruction. REFUGE continues the same heart-in-mouth thrill ride of KURTAIN MOTEL.

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Review: Christmas Eve on Haunted Hill

Christmas Eve on Haunted Hill Christmas Eve on Haunted Hill by Bryan Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CHRISTMAS EVE ON HAUNTED HILL by Bryan Smith

CHRISTMAS EVE ON HAUNTED HILL rocks! Good gory horror, overtones of supernatural, good scares; and best of all, Mr. Smith creates a taut construct, peoples it with realistic characters, understandable drives, and writes it well. I originally started reading Bryan Smith for the gore, but I've stayed for his writing talent. This is a rereader--keeper.

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Review: Witching Hour Theatre

Witching Hour Theatre Witching Hour Theatre by Jonathan Janz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WITCHING HOUR THEATER by Jonathan Janz

I can't praise WITCHING HOUR THEATER highly enough! This novella was author Janz' first publication, but it is the work of a horror master. In a short duration, we are introduced to protagonist Larry Wilson, and subtly his character and personality are revealed. Better yet, Larry elicits our empathy: he's a genuinely "good guy," the kind seldom seen. (In retrospect, Larry reminds me of Arland D. Williams, the altruist of the Potomac River plane crash in 1982.) Larry isn't perfect, but he is a heroic Everyman.

Mr. Janz is a staunch admirer of author Richard Laymon, and his understanding of Laymon's mastership is evident. WITCHING HOUR THEATER is incredibly paced; I turned pages so fast that I'm surprised my Kindle didn't ignite. I read with heart in throat, the suspense ratcheted to maximum.

Now I must mention the author's clearly demonstrated admiration for horror cinema: all of it, the good, the bad, the poorly-executed, the ugly. He loves it all. So does Larry, and between them, so do we. (Made me want to go watch "The Omen" again!)

This is a story I can and will read over and over, and a blueprint for beginning (and practiced) writers.



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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: Kurtain Motel

Kurtain Motel Kurtain Motel by A.I. Nasser
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: KURTAIN MOTEL by A. J. Nasser

I enjoyed this story enormously! As I progressed further and further into it, the more I admired it, and couldn't wait to read Books 2 and 3. The author has a talent for interspersing horror and a metaphysical theme. Additionally, he knows how to wreak emotional havoc in his characters (and elicit readers' empathy. Some of these characters really tug our heartstrings, others inspire admiration for their courage and integrity). But everybody's ending isn't happy.

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