WHO

WHO'S COMING DOWN YOUR CHIMNEY TONIGHT?




Charles Stross, "Overtime"

2018: CTHULHU FOR CHRISTMAS

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOLUME 26 (SCARE STREET)




5 Spooky Stars

"Porcelain Elephants" by Ron Ripley: One of Mr. Ripley's best in a long line of great tales, "Porcelain Elephants" is by turns heartwarming, terrifying,  and heartwrenching. For me, the human Evil proved far worse than the admittedly supernatural elements. I found this story very satisfying.


"The Cursed Necklace" by Anna Sinjin: Now that is scary. Kudos for the implacability of this particular horror,  and for the way that the author has interwoven simple, common,  human emotions to create a pathway to Horror.  Very good!

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" by Sara Clancy: I do enjoy my Christmas Horror...but this is TOO SCARY!! 
DO NOT read at night alone! I read it on a sunny, hot, front porch at noon
AND I'M TERRIFIED!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Cover Reveal: THE HOUSE OF A HUNDRED WHISPERS by Graham Masterton


The House of a Hundred Whispers by Graham Masterton
Publication date: 1st October 2020

About the book

On a windswept moor, an old house guards its secrets... The new standalone horror novel from 'a true master of horror.'
All Hallows Hall is a rambling Tudor mansion on the edge of the bleak and misty Dartmoor. It is not a place many would choose to live. Yet the former Governer of Dartmoor Prison did just that. Now he's dead, and his children – long estranged – are set to inherit his estate.
But when the dead man's family come to stay, the atmosphere of the moors seems to drift into every room. Floorboards creak, secret passageways echo, and wind whistles in the house's famous priest hole. And then, on the same morning the family decide to leave All Hallows Hall and never come back, their young son Timmy disappears – from inside the house.
Does evil linger in the walls? Or is evil only ever found inside the minds of men?

About the Author

Graham Masterton is mainly recognized for his horror novels but he has also been a prolific writer of thrillers, disaster novels and historical epics, as well as one of the world’s most influential series of sex instruction books. He became a newspaper reporter at the age of 17 and was appointed editor of Penthouse magazine at only 24. His first horror novel The Manitou was filmed with Tony Curtis playing the lead, and three of his short horror stories were filmed by Tony Scott for The Hunger TV series. Ten years ago Graham turned his hand to crime novels and White Bones, set in Ireland, was a Kindle phenomenon, selling over 100,000 copies in a month. This has been followed by ten more bestselling crime novels featuring Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire, the latest of which is The Last Drop of Blood. In 2019 Graham was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Horror Writers Association. The Prix Graham Masterton for the best horror fiction in French has been awarded annually for the past ten years, and four years ago he established an annual award for short stories written by inmates in Polish prisons, Nagroda Grahama Mastertona “W WiÄ™zieniu Pisane.” He is currently working on new horror and crime novels. 

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2DejwGk
iBooks: https://apple.co/2P3pcFX
Kobo: https://bit.ly/338461g
GooglePlay: https://bit.ly/332yzxP

Follow Graham Masterton:

Twitter: @GrahamMasterton
Wesbite: www.grahammasterton.co.uk.


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Twitter: @HoZ_Books
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Website: www.headofzeus.com



Monday, July 27, 2020

Review: THE HOUSE OF A HUNDRED WHISPERS by Graham Masterton


5 Spooky Stars

Enthralling,  as I expect from Master of Horror Graham Masterton,  terrifying, with implacable,  unavoidable,  horror, whose roots reach back centuries,  perhaps to prehistory,  and which gives no sign of ever stopping. In an antique (17th century) mansion on lonely Dartmoor, an evil old man dies during the Full Moon. His will specifies an unexpected heir, which only riles the offspring,  who are commanded to maintain the property, now in trust. 

But the house contains far more than valuable antiques and ugly memories.  Black magic has been done here, and for centuries.  A charmer, a gleaner, and a Catholic priest will all battle to stop the house's evil, with horrifying consequences. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Review: TERROR IN THE SHADOWS VOLUME 9


5 Spooky Stars!!

The newest electrifying,  hair-raising,  spine-chilling, mind-blowing,  collection from authors Ron Ripley,  David Longhorn,  Sara Clancy,  and Bronson Carey.  Stick your finger in an electric socket while fresh from your shower: you'll get shocks galore, but nowhere like reading these stories, in which the dead are implacable and have a sharp axis to grind.

Recommended for daytime reading on sunny days.  Do not read at night alone....unless of course you like sleeping with all the Lights on.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOLUME 25



5 Spooky Stars

 All Stories in this volume are by Ron Ripley.

"Ricky's Toys": Ron Ripley demonstrates many gifts as an author.  Prominent is his ability to subtly direct readers into suspension of disbelief.  I have no trouble whatsoever accepting appearances by the deceased. I also marvel at his taut use of characterization.  Verbosity isn't needed because a few words do just fine. Then there's Revenge...or maybe in this case, Vengeance.  I wonder if the character Alex will reappear in future stories.

"The Bassinette": wow! About as seriously disturbing as I can handle. Reading this, outdoors in sunshine. Still I had to capture my scream.

"The Girl In the Window": I really enjoy the entertwining of characters and settings from throughout Mr. Ripley's oeuvre, and this story pairs two of my favorites,  the young autistic but highly intelligent Jimmy Hsu, and the beleaguered, troubled,  but admirable Dan Tate, now appearing as Anger, New Hampshire,  Librarian, replacing Diane. These two guys may be disparate,  but they definitely rock!


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Review: THE LOVELIEST DEAD by Ray Garton


5 Stars

I read about half of this thrilling Supernatural novel in the sunny outdoors, the remainder alone-at-night. So.i was appropriately scared. Scary that such human Evil survives after death. Scary such exists at all. 

Ray Garton is an excellent author and THE LOVELIEST DEAD is going to be a favorite. 

I must caution that the subject matter is disturbing--very disturbing. Stomach-roiling in fact, but the characterizations, character evolution [and devolution], and the supernatural horror rivet the reader.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Review: TERROR IN THE SHADOWS VOLUME 8 [SCARE STREET]

5+ Spooky Stars

The Scare Street authors never disappoint and TERROR IN THE SHADOWS Volume 8 terrifyingly and terrifically continues that tradition.  Science Fiction and Horror reign supreme in this collection,  in which feckless fools, criminals,  and yes, innocents, all
discover there is a world or worlds beyond, much more horrifying than we could ever imagine. Get your Scares and Chills on; but first, check your doors and windows,  turn on all your lights, avoid Shadows,  and don't read at night alone. 



Friday, July 3, 2020

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOLUME 24


5 Spooky Stars 

"When the Sun Shines" by Ron Ripley: This story awakened a lot of empathy in me, and the Denouement was unexpected and surprising...but it worked. 

"Riding the Bus" by Ron Ripley: I really liked this story, as it was tautly written,  full of surprises,  with deft characterization. Disbelief was easily suspended so that the story made perfect sense as it played out, even though it was supernatural. 

"Lost His Senses" by Bronson Carey: I think I shall never again go near a hospital.  This tale is so subtle about the horror,  and couched in terms of the patient experiencing possible hallucinations from side effects of his medications...or, on the other hand, maybe not hallucinations.  Serious scares here!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

14th Canadian Reading Challenge!


14th-canadian-reading-challenge-

After an enlightening participation in the 13th Canadian Challenge,  I'm eager and ready for the 14th:
July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

Review: 324 ABERCORN by Mark Allan Gunnells

5+ Stars!!

  First off, this is my favorite title by Mark Allan Gunnells so far. I absolutely adore this novel; it's exquisite. From the "ghostly" presences to the beautiful iteration of the city of Savannah and its history; from the finely delineated characters of Brad, Bias, Neisha, Harold, but including secondary characters [the Detective is a gem]; the humor,  the love, the idealism, to character unfolding and evolution; it's all exciting. I read it in a sitting and could read it again,  right away.

Horror author Brad Storms visited Savannah and fell in love with the house at 324 Abercorn while in his twenties and still struggling.  Fortune smiles on him, and with several bestselling novels,  he purchases the property and sets out on a new life phase. But it seems "something" in the house isn't pleased with his presence.  Are the tales about the house fact after all? Has his residence in the long-empty home disturbed the occupants of the unmarked Slave Cemetery?

Read on and discover!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Review: THE NIGHTINGALE HOUSE by Steve Frech




5 Stars 

THE NIGHTINGALE HOUSE is the second novel bu y Steve Frech, a page-turner of Horror which riveted this reader, providing characters with whom I empathize, plus a horrendous villain who deserves comeuppance.  The author juggles a number of issues and does so seamlessly. 

Review: ANGER'S RUIN by Ron Ripley


5 Spooky Stars 

I've been reading this thrilling supernatural series since its inception,  yet each installment seems more compelling even than the proceeding. Now that we've discovered the identity of the "mastermind" plotting to destroy the populace of the tiny but evil-beset community of Anger, New Hampshire [in STREETS OF ANGER, Book 5], we watch as said mastermind's plot ratchets up and as feckless, vulnerable, hero Dan Tate throws up obstacles against the plot to destroy Anger. Fortunately Dan (capable but with the weakness of his children in danger) calls on ghost hunter Shane Ryan, an individual with terribly self-destructive impulses and a literally "stop at nothing " attitude.  Prepare for an uproarious roller coaster ride through unimaginable danger, as this literal battle of good vs. evil intensifies, introducing a  totally terrifying new character in the "collector."

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOLUME 23

5 Spooky Stars


"Love Me Dead" by Sara Clancy: This story is AMAZING!! Ranks with Sara Clancy's best! Where do I begin? There is one line which encapsulates the story for me and blew my mind; but I can't repeat because it's in the Denouement!! If this tale was a novella or novel, that would be fine; there's a lot of issues going on here, including human evil and horror. But to develop it this excitingly as a short story?! Supremo!

Character Evolution! Character Revelation! Family. Friendship. Night terrors! I LOVE this story!

"Health and Welfare Check" by Ron Ripley:
An admittedly Lovecraftian approach. A nasty neighbor investigates when the attractive lady next door disappears. His nosiness leads him where he couldn't possibly imagine.

"Making Friends" by Bronson Carey: Extremely unsettling. Gives a new spin to "stalking." [Shudder]. Do NOT read at night or while ALONE!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Review: SCARY LIZZY by Clive Fleury


4 Spooky Stars 

A well-developed plot line and characterizations,  aimed at upper elementary age [the protagonist-narrator is in fourth grade] with clever development of bullying, and friendship, and other important issues such as being a child of divorce,  Mom's dating life, etc. I enjoyed the explication of adolescence as the cusp of being able to see the Other Side. The story is positive and affirming [though I entered into it expecting more a "Bloody Mary" type event] so despite the title,  it isn't really Horror.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Review: THE DIRTY SOUTH by John Connolly




5 Stars


I first found this a surprising geographical choice for this Irish author in this particular series,  usually set in New England or New York City and environs. THE REAPERS, of course,  has a backdrop of Mississippi as Louis' backstory,  but primarily the series is set in New England. THE DIRTY SOUTH, obviously,  is not. Where I expected,  from the title, somewhere in the Deep South (U.S.), instead the story is firmly set in Southern Arkansas; and, like THE REAPERS, a sad, sad, tale it is.

My second thought,  which continued throughout,  was how apropos to the immediate cultural/social/political climate.  Although set, for necessity,  during the Presidency of Arkansas's Favorite Son Bill Clinton,  the backdrop might as well be in 2020, amidst the counterculture protests against police brutality and violence against Black citizens. Yes, victims are black; yes, the murders are horrible [and the Denouement is mind-blowing in its multiple perverseness], but the story is highly character-driven and setting-laden, so that I almost think the victims could have been of any ethnicity,  and the story would be only a little different. 

THE DIRTY SOUTH is #18 in the Charlie Parker Series, but in effect it serves as a sort of prequel,  occurring several months after the horribly gruesome murders of Parker's wife Susan and daughter Jennifer,  in Brooklyn.









Sunday, June 7, 2020

Review: THE MASK by Tom Coleman


4 Spooky Stars 

DARK MYSTERIES 2

In an economically-deprived, crime-laden, Acapulco,  tomb raiding proves excruciatingly fatal. A mask of odd design and unknown origin, once unearthed, wreaks havoc. 
The horror is inescapable,  implacable, and terrifying. 



Saturday, June 6, 2020

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOLUME 21

5 Spooky Stars

"Outside Of Town" by Ron Ripley: I wasn't sure at first if I liked the outcome of this story. As I pondered on it, I decided that the portion that concerned me (the abandoned house) actually was pretty seamless, so although the ending did surprise me by its particular specificity,  it fit with the house's own expressed nature [and make no mistake: the House is a Character].

"A Peculiar Song" by Bronson Carey: Unnerving--maximally Unnerving. This tale crept up on me all unawares, then knock-out! The horror is implacable, as the best horror always is. Shudder. Warning: nightmares approaching, fast.

"Scouting" by Ron Ripley: I love the existence of Nature; but I don't trust the Outdoors.  Nor would I ever consider camping. I was only a few paragraphs into this story and I was ready to scream, beg, and plead: "DON'T CAMP THERE!!" I don't camp, but that never prevents the Nightmares....

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Review: BAD PARTS by Brandon McNultu


4 Stars

 Definitely a unique horror approach.  Until I read this,  my Imagination could not have encompassed such a concept. I've read fiction a time or two about Organ-trading and the black market in human anatomy,  but BAD PARTS is way beyond that--out of this world. Lots of gore and violence, overflowing terror; you really don't want to read this at night.

For me, though, other than this Incredible concept, the best aspect was the characters: the good, the villains, the wolves disguised as sheep, character evolution and devolution.  That's what made the story for me.

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!