Review: ‘A Field Guide to Kentucky Kaiju’ by Justin Stewart, Tressina Bowling and Shawn Pryor

A Field Guide to Kentucky Kaiju by Justin Stewart, Tressina Bowling and Shawn Pryor
Apex Book Company (October 2016)
104 pages; $14.95 paperback
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

Any amateur naturalist worth their salt knows that Kentucky is one of the finest states in this dear union. Those great, sprawling acres of wilderness call to us, filled as they are with some of the more interesting species of both man and beast. Given this, it really is surprising it took this long for someone to put together a loose guide to the more unusual of its native fauna.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling’ edited by Jaym Gates and Monica Valentinelli

Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling edited by Jaym Gates and Monica Valentinelli
Apex Book Company (December 2016)
$13.48 paperback; $4.99 ebook
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

Anthologies based on meta-fictive themes can be a bit of a sticky wicket. Sure, we get bored with the same old over and over again, and it is super cool when someone messes with our heads. At the same time, those “look how deft I am at subverting literature” stories are self important in the most boring way possible. Continue Reading

Review: ‘Season of the Witch’ by Charlee Jacob

Season of the Witch by Charlee Jacob
Necro Publications (September 2016)
367 pages; $15.95 paperback; ebook $3.99
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

A book of gorgeously rendered and lusciously poeticized violence. An on-the-cusp scream queen goddess of the local goth TV channel, who survived the brutal violence which tore her family apart, quite literally. A newly appeared 1-900 service that begs you to find the worst in yourself and reveal it to them. Gangs of thematically self-mutilating freaks roaming the streets. All through the background, the seductive voice of Pirsya Profana slithering between neurons. Welcome to the Season of the Witch.Continue Reading

Review: ‘The Train Derails in Boston’ by Jessica McHugh

trainderailsThe Train Derails in Boston by Jessica McHugh
Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing (June 2016)
346 pages; $14.95 paperback; ebook $3.99
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

What in the ever loving…

Okay, the usual review format (hook, blurb, opinion) just ain’t gonna cut it here. Call me unprofessional or just a plain fool if you want. I’m okay with that. When a train runs this far off the rails, honey, you just have to look at the wreckage from a different angle.Continue Reading

Review: 'While the Black Stars Burn' by Lucy Snyder

whileblackstarsburnWhile the Black Stars Burn by Lucy Snyder
Raw Dog Screaming Press (November 2015)
166 pages; $13.95 paperback; ebook $4.99
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

I’ve been a huge fan of Lucy Snyder’s work for years. Her yarns are fun, gutsy and weird as all get out. While the Black Stars Burn, though, has caused me to realize how important it is in the pantheon of full out capital-L Literature.

“Mostly Monsters” makes this indisputably clear from the first page. On the surface, we have the destructive relationship between a father and his daughter and the damage it causes. A sharp, heartbreakingly personal tale of familial horror that kicked me right in the teeth. At the same time, it screams its manifesto to refuse to look away from the small terrors that shape us daily. The sense of causation here, the implications of what went wrong, where and what could be done to keep it from happening in the future are woven through every word without ever stopping the story itself or robbing it of emotional impact.Continue Reading

Review: 'Ritualistic Human Sacrifice' by C.V. Hunt

ritualisticRitualistic Human Sacrifice by C.V. Hunt
Grindhouse Press (October 2015)
200 pages; $12.95 paperback; ebook $3.99
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

So, there’s this guy. Nick Graves. Nick is a bit of a jerk. He hates his wife, but when her surprise pregnancy derails his plan to divorce her, he decides to move them both far from friends, family and anything they know. That’ll show her. Too bad he didn’t look into the neighbors a bit closer as everyone he meets seems to act very strange and they have their own plans for him.

Let’s be straight here: this is not a book for most of you.Continue Reading

Review: 'Familiar Spirits' edited by Donald J. Bingle

familiarspiritsFamiliar Spirits edited by Donald J. Bingle
Orphyte, Inc. (September 2015)
131 pages; $14.99 paperback/$4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

I grew up with ghost stories, passed down from my mother while sitting around a fire or simply hanging out and chatting after watching the X-files or Tales from the Darkside. I am sure that’s why I feel such a comfy, cozy connection to them. Admittedly, I warmed up quite a bit when I saw this anthology arrive in the mail.

Right off the bat, Sarah Hans kicks the door off the hinges with “The Cold Earth,” making it clear that this won’t be a simple collection of traditional drafty-old-mansion tales. We are placed square in the POV of our dear departed, a poor girl murdered by her ne’er do well husband, but it doesn’t devolve into the simplistic revenge story it so easily could have. Instead, we are shown a victim working to stop the cycle of violence and predation of the past, instead of simply exacting revenge for it.Continue Reading

Review: 'The Strange Crimes of Little Africa' by Chesya Burke

Strange-Case-or-Little-AfricaThe Strange Crimes of Little Africa by Chesya Burke
Rothco Press (December 2015)
201 pages; $17.99 paperback/$2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

I’ve been a fan of Chesya Burke’s short stories for years. “The Unremembered” from the Dark Faith anthology floored me, and her collection Let’s Play White is pure fire. Given that, I was extremely excited when she decided to write a novel, but The Strange Crimes of Little Africa had some fairly big boots to step into.

Ostensibly, Strange Crimes is a mystery. Anthropology student Jaz Idawell’s cousin is arrested for the murder of her uncle several years before, but she knows he didn’t do it. With the help of the one and only Zora Neal Hurston, she is determined to find the truth, no matter what it costs her. Of course, like all of the best mysteries, the case isn’t really the point. Jaz’s search becomes a search for her own identity and her own history.Continue Reading

Review: 'An Exorcism of Angels' by Stephanie Wytovich

An Exorcism of Angels by Stephanie Wytovich
Raw Dog Screaming Press (May 2015)
163 pages, e-book $4.99, paperback $13.95
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

exorcismofangelsSo that we are clear, An Exorcism of Angels is a book of poems about love, but they are a far cry from the images of roses and violets and fleas as sex metaphors. Stephanie Wytovich presents us with love born of need instead of desire. Love that is desperate, angry, bitter and spewing bile and that red, red kroovy all over the place. Love with no happily ever after, ending in padded rooms and jail cells with screams echoing outside and in. Continue Reading

Review: 'Red Equinox' by Douglas Wynne

Red Equinox by Douglas Wynne
JournalStone (January 2015)
278 pages; $17.95 paperback/$5.39 ebook
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

RedEquinoxRed Equinox places us in the shoes of Becca, an urban explorer whose Gramma was deep into cultish lore and who stumbles onto something far too real and far too sinister for her to believe. Soon, she finds herself caught between a cult that wants to bring the Elder Gods to bear on us all and a secret government agency that is definitely not the B.P.R.D. Dimensional walls are breached, horrific and barely describable monsters are summoned and it looks like the world may end.Continue Reading