Review: Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry

Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin’s Press (March 2018)
352 pages; $20.19 hardcover; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Those fans who are hoping to find the swashbuckling heroics of the Joe Ledger novels or the zombified madness of the Rot and Ruin series will be in for a big surprise with Glimpse. Maberry has penned a decidedly different book here, a thriller that delivers for that genre yet still hits on the edges of reality, stretching the imagination in a manner that is utterly human, but entrenched in a Twilight Zone-type story.Continue Reading

Review: The Changeling by Victor LaValle

The Changeling by Victor LaValle
Spiegel & Grau (March 2018)
448 pages; $12.30 paperback; $10.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

There are relatively few new authors in the horror/speculative field today who can make a reader both disappear into a book and later sit back in awe of the pure storytelling and the ease in which the language flows in such an enthralling, dark manner. John Langan is one. Sarah Pinborough is another. Victor LaValle ranks near the top of the list.Continue Reading

Review: The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
G.P. Putnam’s Sons (June 2017)
320 pages; $15.42 hardcover; $12.39 paperback; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

This breakout novel has been hailed as the book of 2017. Karen Dionne decided to leave the high concept science thriller behind (the wonderful Freezing Point and Boiling Point) in favor of something much more organic and disturbing. The Marsh King’s Daughter succeeds on all levels because of what it sets out to do—simply tell a story without all the bells and whistles. Dionne’s writing features a songstress’ voice and rhythm, yet doesn’t overwhelm the reader with the love of language. It embraces the feel of the setting and story, pulling the reader deep into the marsh’s realm, only relenting when the final page is turned.Continue Reading

Review: The Goat Parade by Peter Dudar

The Goat Parade by Peter Dudar
Grinning Skull Press (March 2018)
300 pages; $23.58 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Peter Dudar hit the scene hard with his Stoker finalist A Requiem For Dead Flies, offering a style that evoked the best of Bentley Little and Rick Hautula. He returns with The Goat Parade, a novel that hits the gas full throttle in a thrilling supernatural tale that might remind readers of some other guy from Maine.Continue Reading

Review: Skyjack by K.J. Howe

Skyjack by K.J. Howe
Quercus (April 10, 2018)
400 pages; $26.99 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Last year’s surprise thriller by K.J. Howe, The Freedom Broker, hit the field hard, introducing both a razor sharp writer and a series featuring Thea Paris, a character tough enough to stand toe-to-toe with Reacher and Repairman Jack. The kidnap and rescue team delves into dark territories that combine the thriller aspects with a character development rarely found in the genre.Continue Reading

Review: Where Nightmares Come From: The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre edited by Joe Mynhardt & Eugene Johnson

Where Nightmares Come From: The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre by Joe Mynhardt & Eugene Johnson
Crystal Lake Publishing (November 2017)
368 pages; $16.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Books on writing usually bring on the snoozes, even from the authors who read them. Of course, exceptions exist, like the one from the King guy and Morrell and Steve and Melanie Tem, but reading most of these kinds of books feels like dragging eyeballs across sandpaper.Continue Reading

Review: Down There & Others by Keith Minnion

Down There & Others by Keith Minnion
White Noise Press (2017)
206 pages; $10.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Sometimes, people excel in multiple creative fields, displaying talents many would kill for. Folks such as Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Clive Barker, and the author of this collection, Keith Minnion. Those familiar with the iconic magazine Cemetery Dance will recognize the name as the most innovative illustrator in each issue. Those who picked up the Stephen King/Richard Chizmar bestseller of last year, Gwendy’s Button Box, might notice the illustrations in that book look familiar. Continue Reading

Review: Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff
Thomas & Mercer (October 2017)
380 pages; $8.50 paperback
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Alexandra Sokoloff has never strayed away from the controversial in her work, whether it be in her Stoker-nominated horror titles or in her Huntress stories. Plenty has been written about this, the fifth in that series, and it will be pretty easy to figure out why once the final page is turned.Continue Reading

Review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Orbit Books (November 2017)
448 pages; $18.57 hardcover; $15.99 paperback; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Mermaids? Scary? Nope, this isn’t a joke, and if you’re familiar with Mira “Seanan McGuire” Grant, queen of the Feed series, you know she’s capable of some horrific storytelling. Imagine if Michael Crichton and Stephen King mind-melded with someone brave enough to tackle a creature that most readers would not take seriously. The result would be a novel that’s scientifically based, utterly plausible, and with enough rich characters to make you cringe every time a dark corner is turned. Add to that the sheer lyricism of Grant/McGuire’s prose and Into the Drowning Deep is born, a horror novel that’s as frightening as Aliens and mind-bending as Jurassic Park (the concepts, not the dinos themselves).Continue Reading

Review: ‘Goblin’ by Josh Malerman

Goblin by Josh Malerman
Earthling Publications (October 2017)
$50 signed & numbered hardcover (limited to 500)
Reviewed by Dave Simms

It’s that time of year again when horror is in the air, a celebrated author is called up, and Earthling Publications churns out another Halloween masterpiece. This year, the newest superstar in the genre, Josh Malerman, takes the helm and delivers one of the best offerings in the history of the series.

Goblin is Derry. It’s Oxrun Station. It’s Cedar Hill. It’s Green Town. It’s all of us in our home towns and yet, it’s something brand new where the greats would likely fear to live. Think of Goblin as Derry’s disturbed little brother.

This book, comprised of a sextet of short novellas, takes the small town motif and shreds it, molding it into something which fills the reader with uneasy pleasure from cover to cover. Malerman, fresh off the success of his second novel Black Mad Wheel and news that Bird Box will soon be a major motion picture, seems to display more skill, more darkness, with each story.

“A Man In Slices” shows how friendship can be a tricky concept. One boy does whatever he can to help his lonely friend, at any cost.

“Kamp” is a lighter tale about a man petrified of a seeing a ghost. Everyone in his family has, and he knows his time is coming. How Walter copes with the expectation will make many reader feel a bit better about their own issues with things that go bump in the night.

“Happy Birthday, Hunter” displays the heart and obsession of a man who cannot give up the hunt. Nash’s addiction comes to a boiling point during his 60th birthday party when he decides to kill Goblin’s most prized game in the north woods, a place from which no one ever returns.

“Presto” is a love affair with magic, the oldest and darkest kind where a young boy seeks to learn the secrets behind his favorite performer in a story which channels classic Bradbury.

“A Mix-Up At The Zoo” details the inner struggle of Dirk, a man who switches jobs to become a tour guide in a zoo, a far cry from his other employment in the slaughterhouse. He finds a talent for understanding the mighty beasts within the cages but feels a certain darkness brewing when he drifts off in thought.

“The Hedges.” Those mazes built in corn and the famed topiary in the film version of The Shining emerge here in the final story of the collection. Young Margot claims to have solved the unsolvable creation by Wayne Sherman. What she finds at the end causes her to alert the Goblin Police, a decision which might be worse than keeping the secret to herself.

The mythology about Goblin’s history is richly drawn within these stories and connects them with a style that keeps the pages turning. Malerman has created a town which may even be darker than King, Grant, and Bradbury’s nightmares. Goblin is all Malerman and should be listed on every horror reader’s itinerary of places to visit, with the lights turned low and the night breeze creeping into the room.

An incredible Halloween find for all.

Review: ‘Bloodstained Wonderland’ by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore

Bloodstained Wonderland by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore
Earthling Publications (June 2017)
136 pages; $35.00 signed, numbered hardback
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Down the rabbit hole she goes, only this time it’s wrapped in barbed wire and tinged with venom. Bloodstained Wonderland rambles through a nightmarish land which Lewis Carroll could only have imagined if his mind melded with Clive Barker on a weekend bender of LSD and Absinthe.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Meddling Kids’ by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
Doubleday (July 2017)
336 pages; $18.32 hardback; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

If you need to ask where the title of this book comes from, you’re probably too young to understand the references within (unless you enjoy classic reruns of the great cartoon), but not too young to enjoy this fun story, which is pure entertainment. Continue Reading

Review: ‘3 Minutes’ by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström

3 Minutes by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström
Quercus (July 2017)
432 pages; $18.35 hardback; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Now for something quite different: a Nordic thriller set in South America. While several Scandinavian authors continue to invade the bookshelves of American readers, almost all of them are set in those countries, which isn’t a bad thing. Unknown settings make for exciting reads. Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström have exploded onto the scene, most recently with 3 Seconds, and here, with the sequel, 3 Minutes. Continue Reading

Review: ‘Black Mad Wheel’ by Josh Malerman

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman
Ecco (May 2017)
304 pages; $17.29 hardback; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

When Bird Box hit the horror scene three years ago, something special happened. Readers discovered a new voice, one which was lyrical and rhythmic but could also turn brutal on the next page. Josh Malerman wrote like a musician carving away at an album of great songs.The result was a true original which should have won the Bram Stoker award.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Blood Sacrifice’ by Barry Hoffman

Blood Sacrifice by Barry Hoffman
Next Century Publishing (March 2017)
408 pages; $12.95 paperback; $7.95 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Barry Hoffman is back with a kick-ass thriller that is also a horror novel, crime novel, supernatural novel and more, all wrapped up in a story which races by in what can easily be called his best effort since his “Eyes” series. Blood Sacrifice brings into the fold a set of new characters which hopefully will be returning in future entries. Continue Reading