WHO

WHO'S COMING DOWN YOUR CHIMNEY TONIGHT?




Charles Stross, "Overtime"

2018: CTHULHU FOR CHRISTMAS

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Review: DEVIL SHIP by David Longhorn


5 Spooky Stars 
Sainte Isabel,  a tiny isolated Caribbean island,  is the home of an ugly history and uglier legend;  as American investors Joe and Sara discover,  sometimes legends bear truth. The resort development into which they have sunk all their funds lacks workers, the local police appear to be riddled with corruption, then they are assaulted, and then arrested! But is the source laziness, corruption--or the sadistic,  violent,  late 17th-century privateer turned pirate, and his demonic familiar?

Review: THE BETRAYED by Heather Graham


5 Stars 
KREWE OF HUNTERS 13

In tiny Sleepy Hollow, New York,  the main attractions are the Headless Horseman and his author,  Washington Irving.  When a psychopathic killer determines to mock the Headless Horseman legend in brutal and gruesome ways, it's up to the FBI Krewe of Hunters to search out and stop the killer. A new member,  a childhood friend of one of the first victims,  has been personally summoned by that victim's spirit [though he doesn't believe it].

As usual,  author Heather Graham Krewe of Hunters in the history and the literary history of the area, and brings plenty of tense Suspense while the Krewe and civilian counterparts hunt an unexpected,  twisted villain. 






Review: THE HEXED by Heather Graham



5 Spooky Stars
Krewe of Hunters 13
Salem

Although I enjoy each novel in this exciting Series,  simply because each is geographically and historically based, I'm bound to have some favorites! (Smile) THE HEXED is one, because it's set in Salem, Massachusetts and environs, and the history is, of course, the infamous 1692 Witch Hysteria.  I enjoy the exposure to history through this Series, especially when it relates to an interest of mine. I also enjoy the ghost interactions,  and the hoops characters put themselves through trying to convince others and themselves that they really don't see or hear ghostly apparitions. 

Review: THE CURSED by Heather Graham


5 Spooky Stars 

KREWE OF HUNTERS 12
Key West

I'm quite enamoured of this Series and have enjoyed each installment I've read.  Even though my Reading order has been due to availability rather than to Series order or publication date, each novel is still enjoyable because the author provides sufficient,  but not an overflow,  of backstory,  and in each installment some Series characters will reappear, not always the same. Each has intriguing Paranormal elements,  individual personal tension,  and a romantic involvement.  A plethora of Suspense and some remarkably twisty villains maintain interest. 

THE CURSED is set in Key West,  primarily at a popular bed-and-breakfast,  and includes the up-to-date plot thread of an elusive criminal organization involved in finding and thieving artifacts and treasures.  Bed-and-breakfast owner Hannah O'Brien owns an antique home, replete with ghosts, and quite possibly treasure!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Review: SEEING DARKNESS by Heather Graham







5 Stars

KREWE OF HUNTERS #30





Although I enjoy this entire series (Krewe of Hunters) for its foundational Paranormal basis and the opportunity to learn of different geographic settings,  so far SEEING DARKNESS (of this writing,  the newest) and SACRED EVIL are my absolute favorites. SEEING DARKNESS is set in Salem,  Massachusetts [yes, THAT Salem]. [SACRED EVIL is set in Lower Manhattan and very much involves late 19th century New York City history,  London's Jack the Ripper, and a possible American Ripper of that era.]

Four professional women from Massachusetts,  all in careers,  all Harvard graduates,  return to Salem to celebrate one's upcoming wedding.  A past life regression for one, Kylie, backfires as instead she experiences her own murder. Except it's not hers, but a killing taking place in Salem simultaneously to her vision experience.  Later that evening,  Kylie sees and identifies aloud the murderer in her vision,  and a Salem native,  FBI Special Agent Jon Dickson of the Krewe of Hunters, is on the scene already,  tracking a serial killer moving North from Virginia to New England. 

As well as a compelling plot and tons of suspense,  the characters are excellently delineated. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOLUME 20 by Scare Street

5 Spooky Stars
3 Spooky Scary Stories!

"Proof" by Ron Ripley: Kudos to protagonist Joel for his creative inventions! Especial kudos to the author for the immensely unexpected plot twists and that twisty but morally gratifying ending! 

"Ice Fishing " by Ron Ripley: Do NOT read this at night alone! I still cannot stop thinking of this story and of "Proof" [above]! I admired so much the deep characterizations; that's one of the author's gifts. Two brothers, at a moment in time: then bang! [figuratively] and everything changes and oh my word how that change is affected! Sheer implacable horror!!

"The Last Light" by Rowan Rook: A small-scale Apocalypse [as far as reader and characters know, limited to one community] but unavoidable and implacable and scared me senseless. Then, that Ending!!


Friday, May 22, 2020

Review: ROADKILL by Tom Coleman

5 Stars

Whoa! What a reader's hook! At first I thought,  is this an instance of "Nature fights back?" but then as the story continues, "Oh my! What is really happening on this isolated road?" The story could have taken any of many different paths from that point. High drama and high tension render a frightening tale with a strong "What If?" factor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Review: TOMB OF GODS by Brian Moreland



4 Stars

TOMB OF GODS is a very complex horror/fantasy which delves deeply into mythology (not just Egyptian,  but also Sumerian, Akkadian, Mesopotamian,  Celtic) as well as into philosophy, psychology,  and metaphysics. Certainly there's never a dull moment. Archaeology in Egypt is the surface focus,  but the story reaches far beyond and much deeper than that.

Review: UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND by Glenn Rolfe

4 Stars

UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND is a compelling coming-of-age with a "disabled" protagonist (severe scoliosis) and his summer encounter with a beautiful girl who happens to be...inhuman. Although the plot and action are riveting, I give praise to author Glenn Rolfe's talent at characterizations.  As he has proven time and time again,  he gets inside his characters' psyches, knowing them perhaps better than they know themselves (although protagonist Rocky and first-love November are both quite self-aware).

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Review: SACRIFICE AT ST. NICK'S by F. R. Jameson

4 Spooky Stars

An entry in F. R. Jameson's GHOSTLY SHADOWS novella series. I perused the sample, and couldn't resist the book. The conclusion is SO twisty! I 'm still pondering "What?? Who?? What??" which will be understandable when you read the story. I definitely wanted to delve deeper.

An adolescent girl, considered a "freak" by her sister and peers, discovers a "famous" (cult famous) schlock horror author is interred a half-mile from her highly dysfunctional home, apart from the other interments in a crowded cemetery. Soon she begins to obsess, studying the author's works, visiting forums, hanging out at the grave, heeding a voice...



A quick but scary, thought-provoking, read. Definitely reminiscent of the late Dennis Wheatley,  with maybe a frisson of James Herbert. 

Review: THE UNSEEN by Heather Graham

5 Stars

The formation of a second Krewe (the elite FBI unit of exceptionally trained agents, who are also paranormally Gifted) comes in response to a bizarre case pattern in San Antonio, Texas, site of the Alamo. In fact, the historic site seems to be the nexus of strange multiple disappearances,  all of young women,  some local, others visitors. 

Twists and surprises abound in the investigation,  along with romance and much heartfelt introspection. THE UNSEEN is KREWE OF HUNTERS Series Book 5.


Sunday, May 10, 2020

Review: TALES FROM THE GAS STATION VOLUME TWO by Jack Townsend


5 Spooky Stars 


In the continuing saga of unassuming but unusual Gas Station Jack, the man who takes a licking (repeatedly) and keeps on ticking, Jack now faces, not a dark god beneath the station, but a shapeshifter,  a dimensional horror, and the imminent approach of a Cosmic Entity determined to destroy the Universe [as we know it]. Meanwhile. Jack is tasked to train a new full-time employee,  Rosa, while learning to cope with his newly altered physique and developing friendship with part-time Jerry and with Deputy Amelia O'Brien.  Still in the background but never really absent is the "secret admirer" who terms him/her/itself Jack's "Biggest Fan," a seemingly omniscient individual who holds the secrets of Jack's absent memories: is it Live? Or is it Photoshop?
In a town--and a workplace--where Unreality is the norm, on whom-or what--can Jack rely?

Review: CERTAIN DANGER by F. R. Jameson

 5 Stars

I do admire strong female protagonists.  When such an individual is "ordinarily" a retiring and unassuming person who tries in general to be "invisible," product of an extraordinarily gory childhood, who suddenly [in a rather Jekyll and Hyde transition,  but without the potion] becomes a powerful person animated by---well, please discover for yourself--I feel that "Casper Milquetoasts" everywhere have suddenly been vindicated. 

After reading the book, but before composing my review,  I saw a comment by the author, F. R. Jameson, that one role here was written for portrayal by the late lamented and much admired actor Peter Cushing. Light bulb moment! The entire story then replayed in my mind, and I totally agree.  Mr. Cushing would have been exceptional in this particular role [which you, reader, should discover for yourself]. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Review: TALES FROM THE GAS STATION VOLUME ONE by Jack Townsend


5+ Spooky Stars!!

I totally LOVED this horror novel, and I hope there's 20 sequels! I have little sense of humor,  but even so I frequently laughed aloud at some of the scenes or turns of phrase, so yes, I guess this is a "horror comedy." I also totally emphasized with protagonist Jack. Man, this dude can't get a break! But he still perseveres,  despite permanent insomnia and, I think,  more than a touch of Asperger's [witness his encounters with the vain psychoanalyst], bullies, weirdos,  and gods under the gas station.  Like the Energizer bunny, he keeps on keeping on. [Like a Timex, he keeps on ticking. ] Assaults, broken bones, insomnia,  betrayal: NOTHING stops this unassuming feckless hero. Gotta admire. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Review: BELLE VUE by C. S. Alleyne


Release from Crystal Lake Publishing August 2020

5 Spooky Stars!

My reaction to BELLE VUE,  from first page to end, is an enormous resounding chorus of "WOWS!!!" and "MORE! MORE! MORE!" BELLE VUE is fantastic and exceptional,  one hundred percent riveting--I wished to never stop! I want sequels!! The characters,  the history, the backstory: author C. S. Alleyne has clearly spent time in the research caves studying Asylum history in Great Britain and the United States, and "organizations " such as the Hellfire Club. She certainly has a finely attuned characterization of Human Evil, whether it stems from innate depravity, or from life tribulations [as is the case with Mary Grady]. Excellent character delineations, exciting plotting,  and oh! What a plot! I want to drop everything and read it all over again!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Review: SCARY STORIES by Ron Ripley and Scare Street



5 Spooky Stars

"Walking": an experienced outdoorsman, solitary by nature, camps too close to the dreaded community of Anger, New Hampshire. What he discovers is beyond belief.

"The Bridge ": oh, poetic retribution! A long-married couple check out an odd structure, near deathly Anger, New Hampshire: a Bridge constructed to "Nowhere."

"Squatting ": Of the 5 stories in this collection, this one and "Maker's Hill" gave me the most chills. In fact, they're "screamworthy." A veteran with PTSD seeks a shelter for the winter--in an "abandoned" house in Anger.

"Maker's Hill": New England may be the setting, but this tale could have come right out of the 19th century South. Shudder, Shudder. Shudder.

"The First Bad Thing ": A fascinating explication of a young boy's autism, and its gifts of eidetic memory, wisdom, and will.

There's a plethora of chills to be provided in this collection, and once again I am reminded of the wise adage: "DON'T READ AT NIGHT! DON'T READ ALONE!" All but one of these tales focuses on a Sole Protagonist, a man (or in one case, a boy) out and about all alone, confronted by unbelievable terror. What that terror is, and how they respond, provides for deliciously twisty fear. In "The Bridge," the protagonists are a middle-aged couple, out alone, in the Woods.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Review: THE STALKING by Heather Graham [KREWE OF HUNTERS #29]


5 Spooky Stars 

KREWE OF HUNTERS #29

THE STALKING is edgy Romantic Suspense,  set in New Orleans and Southern Louisiana.  I especially enjoyed the Paranormal elements: since this is in the Krewe of Hunters Series,  there are several characters who see and communicate  with ghosts,  including protagonists Special Agents Cheyenne Donegal and Andre Rousseau, both South Louisiana natives.

Author Heather Graham provides a goodly view of history and culture and brings the New Orleans scene to vivid life while unrolling a sharp-edged plotline with unexpected Denouements.  There's also romantic tension for readers who want Romance in their Suspense.  I plan to delve into the other novels in this extensive series. 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Review: HOUSE OF SECRETS by Darcy Coates


4 Spooky Stars 
When a family is cursed, escape is never easy; maybe impossible.  It doesn't seem to matter that the family home is gone, the ancient monster won't be avoided.  Sophie and husband Joseph are in for more terrifying adventures, potentially fatal encounters.  

I enjoyed the clever creation of the "monster " and the spooky events. However, I found Sophie's co-dependence on her husband annoying.  After all she's been through, before marriage and at the family estate, Northwood,  ought to have built character and independence. 

Review : HOUSE OF SHADOWS by Darcy Coates


4 Spooky Stars

As a youngster one of the subgenres on which I "cut my literary teeth " was the then-popular "Gothic Suspense," with gloomy covers featuring brooding mansions in the moonlight and frightened heroines in full escape.  I devoured those, both the historical and contemporary settings.  Probably reading so deeply in this type helped formulate some of my concepts of life: independence vs. Dependence on  others, poverty vs. Wealth, romance vs. "Convenience."

HOUSE OF SHADOWS and its sequel HOUSE OF SECRETS hearken back to those halcyon days of Gothic Suspense. Its Victorian Era setting,  the family home so intensely isolated,  the oddly-behaving kinfolk, and the Supernatural events that dog the Argenton lineage creates a suspenseful read.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

STREETS OF ANGER by Ron Ripley

5+ Spooky Stars
The revelation we've awaited throughout this Series arrives...at least in part..leaving protagonist Dan Tate, sufferer of PTSD and OCD,  worse than before,  physically as well as emotionally and psychologically. Perhaps though, now that he's had the underpinnings of his current status destroyed, he will become more determined than ever to discover the remaining truths about the deaths and destruction in his tiny home community of Anger, New Hampshire, lately very aptly named. Shane Ryan continues to be an important player in this Series,  now more so than ever. I only regret the waiting between installments; once the Series completed, I plan to binge-read the Series in consecutive order.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Review: HIGH CROSS by Paul Melhuish


5 Spooky Stars

HIGH CROSS caught my attention immediately and what's more, maintained it throughout.  Never a "ho-hum" moment here. Really intrigued by the premise [without spoiling: I refer to the medieval historical background] and the working out of that premise. Always left with that "what is she really?" question,  but that never detracted from the story, for me. I must caution: there's tons of extreme violence included, and forbidden taboos are violated, so take heed, readers with high sensitivity or touchy stomach. Good bit of obscenity too. For those who don't mind these aspects, or will not be fazed by same, go for it. Definitely worth reading.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Review: NIGHT OF THE MANNEQUINS by Stephen Graham Jones


5 Stars

Stephen Graham Jones has been a must-read author for a while now. I read THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS in February and was delighted in April to discover NIGHT OF THE MANNEQUINS  (July Release). Wow--I'm left at a loss for words. I want to call this coming-of-age: certainly it's loss-of-innocence, moral integrity vs. pragmatic expediency,  save the many vs. protect the few.... Underneath an amazingly self-analytical adolescent brain and attitude and self-deprecatory humor is an incredibly Kafkaesque metamorphosis of the Psyche, only in this case not into a cockroach,  but into a pragmatic instrument-of-protection, of destroying in order to effect salvation.  My mind shall be spinning on this one for quite a long time. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Review: TRAIN GIRL: A SHORT STORY



4 Stars 

Unsettling and Spooky; I'm not sure I agree with the outcome.  That is, the story was going in one direction and working very well at it. Then an enormous twist, which made the story a psychological thriller rather than a Supernatural or Paranormal one. I thought it was better with the Paranormal approach and was intrigued to follow that.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Review: LEVIATHAN by Sara Clancy (Bell Witch #5)


3 Spooky Stars 

The survivors of The Harvest orchestrated by the entity known as The Bell Witch are experiencing hallucinations and worse, dangerous unidentifiable entities.  For Mina, history is unfolding,  an arcane and esoteric history. As each learns of individual unexpected abilities,  they must bond and develop an effective defense...or lose their lives and sanity. 

Review: THE GRAVEYARD APARTMENT


5 + Spooky Stars!
YARC 2020
I find in Japanese Horror and Mysteries, two genres I quite admire, a certain delicacy of approach, which may be cultural. I've not tried to identify a particular story as Japanese based on this delicacy of approach [although that would be intriguing: reading a story without knowledge of its authorship to see if I could identify its culture]. Nonetheless,  that "delicacy" and "order" is clearly apparent in this delightful supernatural horror. 

"The Graveyard Apartment " is exactly as it sounds: a brand-new eight-story apartment complex,  constructed with staggered balconies overlooking the dormant cemetery overseen by a Buddhist temple.  Quiet and parklike, the cemetery is suffused with cherry blossoms and a multiplicity of flowering plants,  providing a secure and peaceful nook apart from Tokyo's overcrowded urbanity.

Or so it should be: but then why are the condo apartments selling so inexpensively? Why are so many empty, and the current inhabitants moving out? And what is going on in the Basement? It's not natural....and what about the long-ago plans, long since defunct, for an underground shopping complex at the rail station? The new family are about to discover....

Subtle Horror creeps like little cat feet, all the more terrifying for being invisible: an excellently written exercise in Quiet Horror [think, as comparisons to Western Horror,  Henry James' "Turn of the Screw," Susan Hill's "The Woman In Black."] Subtle Horror, in the end, is so much more effectively nightmare-inducing.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Review: THE BRIGHT LANDS by John Fram


Release July 7

5+ Spooky Stars!

Oh my! This debut novel hit it out of the ballpark! Or considering the focus sport: threw a touchdown into the End Zone. I read with excitement, enthrallment--and a whole lot of trepidation,  because I just KNEW something terrible was about to happen--and of course,  something did, and has, and will. Little, economically-depressed, Bentley, Texas--the town under the shadow of empty, unowned Flatlands [could there be a location in America where the property is not owned by "someone"?], the town that gives an entirely new Sinister meaning to the overworked phrase "Friday night lights," is not a town where any sane person should live. Nor anyone in any way divergent. Just reading about this town brings out the screams, the shudders, and the nightmares.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Review: THE WISE FRIEND by Ramsey Campbell


5 Spooky Stars

Beautifully infused with lyricism as only this Master can, THE WISE FRIEND builds its Horror subtly from a seemingly mundane foundation.  Chills abide as academic Patrick and his adolescent son invest in unraveling the Mystery of Patrick's Aunt Thelma, a noted and acclaimed painter with an untimely end,  whose life and art took unexpected and inexplicable twists. Attentive reading encompasses the strong if not quite identifiable perception that one is not alone--a perception which Mr. Campbell delivers exquisitely as always. 

My suggestion: definitely read, but don't read at night. And if you live anywhere surrounded by woods, as do I, close your curtains first, and don't glance outside. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Review: THE HAUNTING OF TOWNLEY MANOR by

4 Stars

I gave this horror novel 4 Stars because it offers some really terrifying Scares; in fact, in terms of Frights, this novel "keeps on keeping on." I enjoyed it, but I  didn't give 5 because something in the story progression just felt a little "uneven " to me. For example, early on the protagonist tells her unwanted psychiatrist what a "good " man is protagonist 's husband; but the story doesn't bear that out, even before the character devolution later on. And why is she seeing a psychiatrist she considers of no use (she constantly harps on "thirty pounds a session!") both at the  beginning and for one final roundup after the conclusion. That didn't ring true for me. ["Thirty pounds a session!" paid by a protagonist without employment?]

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOL 18 [SCARE STREET]


5 Stars
"End Game" by David Longhorn: Classic British Gothic horror, with history fraught with danger and destruction, a cursed lineage, a bumbling American newcomer. Finely tuned story.

"Hush" by Taylor Charendoff: Although I could summon absolutely no empathy for the foolish protagonist, I did find his comeuppance both surprising and very pertinent. An unusual and intriguing approach.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Review: SEVEN CLEOPATRA HILL by Justin Holley


12 Stars!

12 Stars!!

Fascinating! First I've read from this author. I enjoyed the plotting, the creative premise, the interweaving of history (Native American), the characterizations.  I liked the gentle,  subtle,  handling of the LGBT subplot. I admired how several of the characters demonstrated moral integrity, courage,  devotion.  This was a plot in which there was much opportunity to "make the right choices" or to fail miserably,  many points along the plot line when characters had to be stand-up and righteous,  or succumb to fear, despair, or even evil. My only objections [other than the recurrent obscenity, which actually was understandable in terms of one of the several subplots,  a version of demonic Tourette's] was a crying need for proofreading for spelling errors [especially "vile" for "vial": there's a plethora of "vile" situations and entities,  but  the container is "vial."]

Monday, April 13, 2020

Review: THE BOY IN THE BOX by Marc Fitch


5 Stars!

Super cool horror novel in which the "coming of age" trope is applied, not to boys of 13 or 10, but to adult males, lifelong friends and neighbors, who really ought to "know better," but instead are overruled by their Ids, by their cultural expectations, and very possibly by a Supernatural force beyond their comprehension or control.

My only complaint about this very engrossing story is that off and on there is an excess of "Woe is me" and reiteration of the guilt, the pressure,  the stress, especially concerning protagonist Jonathan. Yet that was no more than a mild critical note as my intrigue continued unabated. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Review: THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES


5 Stars 

Not once has a Grady Hendrix novel disappointed me. This author manages to interweave the Deep Issues with a keen grasp of psychology and human relationships,  strumming in Paranormal elements while suspending disbelief in readers [who proceed to gleefully gobble it all up]. As I recall from HORRORSTOR and MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM, Mr. Hendrix is also a Past [and Present] Master at bringing the A-Game when it comes to Setting--and Setting.  Another DON'T MISS!

Review: PLAGUE PIT by Marc Alexander


3 Stars

Totally apropos to the current global situation [and shiver-producing] is this 1981 horror novel, republished in 2016. Once germs from a City of London accidentally-excavated "plague pit," initially filled during the Bubonic Plague of 1666, alight on a crew of greedy, treasure-hogging construction workers, the same epidemic is set loose to decimate unprotected modern populations. 

I appreciate the comparisons of unprepared health agencies and the speed with which the Pandemic expands with today's conditions.  However,  the initial occurrence, caused by a not-so-intelligent, angry, antisocial,  heavy equipment operator, acting out his aggression, was a little too "staged" to be readily believable,  as was the conclusion.  Though probably,  if Younger Me had originally read this in the 1980's, I might have more likely accepted the premises. After all, in 1980's Horror,  "anything went" and a lot of readers ate it up, no matter what  form "it" took.

Review: DEAD END by Chris Dileo



5 Woodsy Stars
DEAD END is a Horror novel that is both disturbing and perturbing,  and rampantly unsettling.  I foresee nightmares for a lot of us. It's not only the potential for Supernatural interplay that's terrifying,  it's the "what is wrong with these people??!" inspired by and surrounding so many of the humans. I really urge it not be read at night, nor if you live alone, in the country....near the woods, the dark, impenetrable,  waiting,  Woods...

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOL. 17 by Scare Street


5 + Spooky Stars

"Early Medicine " by Ron Ripley: what a tremendously twisted plotline,  and what a great interweaving of History with the contemporary setting! Enjoyed the character delineations also. 

"Ex Machina " by Ron Ripley: WOW. I'm left speechless with this one. There're some great lines here I'd really like to share, but would spoil your pleasure in finding those for yourself. 
Just a reminder: All that glitters is not gold; and DO look a gift horse in the mouth--then DON'T buy it!

"Dueling Frogs" by David Longhorn: There ARE Swamp dangers worse than what happened in "Deliverance": and They're Not From Around Here!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Review: BURNING BONES by Christopher Golden and Rick Hautala

5 Stars!

BURNING BONES is #7 in the delightfully intriguing and satisfying BODY OF EVIDENCE Series by Christopher Golden and the late Rick Hautala. Jenna Blake, Massachusetts university student, is very intelligent as well as insightful. In her part-time employment with the Chief Medical Examiner,  Jenna has encountered much and also proved quite helpful.  The current series of fatalities is a riddle wrapped in puzzles interwoven into an enigma. People suddenly ignite, with no trace of an accelerant or any logical cause. Detectives must discover the Who and the How to prevent any more disasters. They are facing a clever, arrogant,  and very capable villain.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Review: HALLOWDALE by James Colton



5+ Spooky Stars

Wildly imaginative, yet founded firmly in traditional ghost tropes, HALLOWDALE is lyrical in imagery, poetic. I often found myself pausing to reread a sentence or phrase. Set in a tiny, nearly abandoned, forest village, the main character is the ruined mansion atop the hill, the source and consequence of all the village's ills. Stumbling in inadvertently are a newlywed pair, plus an older man who hunts the evil, intending to destroy it for eternity.

Non-stop enjoyment!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Review: DEATH WATCH by L. V. Pires


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

Review: THE HOUSE WITHOUT SUMMER


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

SPRING INTO HORROR 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!!

Titles Read: (48)

HE COMES IN THE NIGHT by Ricky Fry
COLERIDGE by Tom Deady
DEATH WATCH  [WAITING MORTUARY 3]
NOTHING TO SEE HERE by Kevin Wilson
HALLOWDALE by James Colton
BURNING BONES [BODY OF EVIDENCE #7] by Christopher Golden and Rick Hautala
KILLING FLOOR by Mark Gillespie
LITTLE CREEPING THINGS by Chelsea Ichaso
TEENY WEENIES: THE EIGHTH OCTOPUS AND OTHER STORIES by David Lubar
THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES by Grady Hendrix
SHORT HORROR STORIES VOL 17 by Scare Street
DEAD END by Chris Dileo
NO WOODS SO DARK AS THESE by Randall Silvis [Mystery,  with Human Horror]
PLAGUE PIT by Marc Alexander
THE BOY IN THE BOX by Marc Fitch
STEPHEN KING'S THE BODY BOOKMARKED by Aaron Burch 
 SEVEN CLEOPATRA HILL by Justin Holley
SHORT HORROR STORIES VOL 18 by Scare Street
THE HAUNTING TOWNELEY MANOR by Jack Lewis
SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS by Charlie Donlea
THE SUICIDE HOUSE by Charlie Donlea
THE WISE FRIEND by Ramsey Campbell
THE BRIGHT LANDS by John Fram
THE GRAVEYARD APARTMENT by Mariko Koike
EJECTA by William C. Dietz
9 BY NIGHT by Michael Hamm
THE BURNED MAN by Jason Vail
IN THE DRIFT by Michael Swanwick
TRAIN GIRL by Kristina Rienzle
BAD TRUST by Michael A. Kahn
MOTHER OF FLOODS by Madeleine F. White
THE HERON KINGS by Eric Lewis
THE TRAINS THAT CLIMB THE WINTER TREE by Michael Swanwick
NIGHT OF THE MANNEQUINS by Stephen Graham Jones
THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE HOUNDS OF HELL by Peter Cawdron
SIX CLOVES UNDER by Gin Jones
IF IT BLEEDS by Stephen King
THE GREAT DOME ON MARS by Arthur Leo Zagat
HIGH CROSS by Paul Melhuish
STREETS OF ANGER by Ron Ripley
GHOSTS UNVEILED! (CREEPY AND TEUE #2] by Kerrie Logan Hollihan
THE SEVENTH SUN by Kent Lester
THE SEVENTH PLAGUE by James Rollins
A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS by Linwood Barclay
THE BAT by Mary Roberts Rinehart
WHEN ENEMIES OFFEND THEE by Sally Whitney
INTO THE DARK by Asher Blaise
THE RED HOUSE MYSTERY by A. A. Milne





Friday, March 13, 2020

Review: THE MOOR by Sam Haysom


5+Stars!

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 
Read THE FOREVER HOUSE to 64%


Reading: 10:00 AM-10:00 PM = 12
Finished THE FOREVER HOUSE 
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.