Review: ‘The Freedom Broker’ by K.J. Howe

The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe
Quercus (February 2017)
400 pages; $17.79 hardback; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Far too many times, a thriller fails to live up to its name. Formulaic, tired tropes, ripoffs of the same old “high concept” plots which circulate through the shelves as readers’ minds numb to the repetition. Thankfully, a few push beyond the herd with something new now and then. Newcomer K.J. Howe has definitely brought something special to the table.  Continue Reading

Review: ‘The Forgotten Girl’ by Rio Youers

The Forgotten Girl by Rio Youers
St. Martin’s Press (June 13, 2017)
352 pages; $19.03 hardback; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Many readers will consider this novel to be Youers’ first, but fans will be familiar with the author from strong efforts such as Westlake Soul, Mama Fish, and End Times. With a voice demanding greater exposure, Rio’s The Forgotten Girl just might be the breakout novel he’s needed to reach a well-deserved massive following.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Ruler of the Night’ by David Morrell

Ruler of the Night by David Morrell
Mulholland Books (November 2016)
352 pages; $17.70 hardcover; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

What can one say about the conclusion of a terrific trilogy from one of the masters of horror and thrillers, besides wow? Many fans are still marveling that David Morrell, Rambo’s father and author of the classic dark novels The Totem, Creepers, and Testament, embarked on a ride back into the Victorian Age, giving birth to yet another enigmatic character in Thomas DeQuincey (the real life Opium Eater) who in real life penned several stories and essays which directly influenced Edgar Allan Poe.Continue Reading

Review: ‘The Halloween Children’ by Brian James Freeman and Norman Prentiss

The Halloween Children by Brian James Freeman and Norman Prentiss
Hydra/Random House (June 2017)
300 pages; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

A Halloween story is something no reader of horror fiction should ever miss. A broad statement, true, but The Hallowen Children is another Hallowen tale which has knocked it out of the park. This is a disturbing, claustrophobic, beyond enjoyable read which encompasses everything Halloween should be. Of course, parallels will be drawn to The Shining, but that would be extremely unfair to Brian Freeman and Norman Prentiss. The Halloween Children is utterly original and deserves to be given applause on its own merits. This is an everyman’s horror story—the best, most relatable kind—and holds family close to its dark heart.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Norse Mythology’ by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
W. W. Norton & Company (February 2017)
304 pages; $13.66 hardback; $9.32 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Norse mythology has always been a strange beast. Its tenets reach around what most readers know from Greek, Roman, and Christian stories, delving into the darker but wackier side of the tales passed down through our Jungian collective. Whereas most other cultures took themselves a little too seriously for the most part, Norse mythology dances with the devil, tosses him in the air, tosses back a few, and laughs into the great beyond.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Ararat’ by Christopher Golden

Ararat by Christopher Golden
St. Martin’s Press (April 18, 2017)
320 pages; $24.99 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

It has been several years since a novel has truly unsettled this reviewer. This is one which produced nightmares, repeatedly, a read that will nestle under the skin like few others. Christopher Golden has penned some great tales in the past—most recently, the disturbing Dead Ringers—but Ararat just might be his best.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Hekla’s Children’ by James Brogden

Hekla’s Children by James Brogden
Titan Books (March 7, 2017)
400 pages; $8.79 paperback; $7.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Sometimes a book which comes out of left field can be a home run. Hekla’s Children landed on this reviewer’s desk with the invitation to give it a whirl. Whirl it did, and the wild ride became one of the best surprises in recent memory. James Brogden has published three other books but this hopefully will be his breakout effort. Some will call this urban fantasy, others weird, while most will simply enjoy a story which has a bit of everything. Continue Reading

Review: ‘Clive Barker’s Next Testament’ by Mark Alan Miller

Clive Barker’s Next Testament by Mark Alan Miller
Earthling Publications (April 2017)
 $45 gift edition; $100 deluxe edition; $125 lettered edition
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Is there a God? If there is, what is He like? Why would He put up with the hell on earth for the past millennia, and what would He think of what humanity has become? Clive Barker and Mark Miller have posited the answer to these questions in a fascinating graphic novel series Next Testament. Continue Reading

Review: ‘Relics’ by Tim Lebbon

Relics by Tim Lebbon
Titan Books (March 21, 2017)
336 pages; $9.76 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

The first literary hit of the new year has been born. Tim Lebbon, no stranger to penning stories which shrug off the shackles of genre, has hit 2017 hard with the first of a breathtaking trilogy. Equal parts thriller, horror, and fantasy, Relics takes readers back to his best world creating in the apocalyptic Silence, Coldbrook, and The Nature of Balance, along with the more fantastic in Fallen and Echo City. Continue Reading

Review: ‘Of Saints and Shadows’ by Christopher Golden

Of Saints and Shadows by Christopher Golden
JournalStone (September 2016)
340 pages; $29.95 hardcover; $19.95 paperback; $7.95 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

JournalStone has been a treasure trove of new authors and new stories which rarely disappoints. For years now, each release has drawn strong attention from readers of horror, dark fantasy, and other speculative fiction. This time, they made a smart decision to reprint Christopher Golden’s “Shadow Saga” series.Continue Reading

Review: 'Dark Matter' by Blake Crouch

darkmatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
Crown (July 26, 2016)
352 pages; $17.32 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by David Simms

Jason Dessen, Daniela, Charlie—“Are you happy with your life?” It’s a question humans lie about all the time. Some truly are content, but how many torment themselves with enough “what ifs” until anxiety rears its ugly head? When a choice is finally presented in this intense, mind-bending novel, readers might just forget about those roads not taken.

Blake Crouch has written several fine thrillers in the past decade, but it wasn’t until the breakout success of the Wayward Pines trilogy last year that the world was alerted to this talented author (and original drummer of the kick-ass Killer Thriller band). M. Night Shyamalan’s television series gave the writer the spotlight he has long deserved.  Yet, it’s always, “what’s next?” for the author, and can you top this?Continue Reading

Review: 'Panacea' by F. Paul Wilson

panaceaPanacea by F. Paul Wilson
Tor Books (July 5, 2016)
384 pages; $19.79 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

What would the world do with a panacea, a drug which cured all, no matter how severe the illness?  Would it bring peace and prosperity to all, or send humanity into chaos and war?

Also, would the drug be able to cure the longing readers have felt since F. Paul Wilson wrapped up the final tale in the Repairman Jack series, Fear City? Such withdrawal has been painful for the countless fans of one of the most iconic series in thriller history. Panacea might just be more than the new novel from Dr. Wilson; it might satiate his audiences with the tease of a brand new series that entices the reader with wonder, awe, and annoyance that another year or so might have to pass before the next installment materializes.Continue Reading