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: ‘Crow Shine’ by Alan Baxter

Crow Shine by Alan Baxter
Ticonderoga Publications (November 2016)
$29.99 hardcover; $22.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

The first short story I ever read by Alan Baxter was “In Vaulted Halls Entombed,” which featured a group of soldiers chasing terrorists into a cave in Afghanistan only to see them trapped by something their training never prepared them for. Since then, I always get excited when I see his name attached to an anthology.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Life in a Haunted House’ by Norman Prentiss

Life in a Haunted House by Norman Prentiss
Amazon Digital Services (May 2017)
175 pages; $0.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

I absolutely love coming of age stories. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m an overgrown kid myself. Maybe there’s something inside me which looks back on those years fondly, but also remembers how hard it was to be a kid. Everyone expects you to “grow up” and figure out what it is you want to do with your life, all before your sixteenth birthday. I remember those years well, and as a high school teacher, I see it enacted before me, in living color, every single day. So I’m always a sucker for a well-told, engrossing coming of age tale. Continue Reading

Review: ‘Savage Jungle’ by Hunter Shea

Savage Jungle by Hunter Shea
Severed Press (April 2017)
198 pages; $11.95 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Fresh from their adventure in Scotland, Natalie McQueen and her brother Austin are called upon to aid Henrik Kooper in his quest to find the lost city Gadang Ur and the elusive Orang Pendek. Go ahead and Google it. You’ll find it’s every bit as much of a thing as Bigfoot, Yeti, The Jersey Devil, and The Loch Ness Monster—all cryptids Hunter Shea has written about in previous books. As a matter of fact, Savage Jungle is a sequel to his book Loch Ness Revenge.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction’ by Kenneth W. Cain

Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction edited by Kenneth W. Cain
Crystal Lake Publishing (March 2017)
217 pages; $13.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction features twenty-five stories. In any collection of this size, there are bound to be some hits and some misses along the way. Fortunately, there are more of the former, leading me to suggest this work be added to your personal TBR list.Continue Reading

Review: “The Fiddle is the Devil’s Instrument” by Brett J. Talley

The Fiddle is the Devil’s Instrument by Brett J. Talley
JournalStone (April 2017)
247 pages; $25.95 hardcover; $8.20 paperback; $3.95 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

I am no Lovecraft connoisseur. There’s a lot by him I haven’t read. My knowledge in all things Lovecraft—other than reading “The Call of Cthulhu” and the Herbert West stories—is probably just par for the course. Maybe below par, as my familiarity does extend beyond pop culture references, which has taken second only to zombies this modern day. And I suspect that most who share the Cthulhu memes and sport the elder god swag haven’t read anything past the title. Maybe it’s because Lovecraft isn’t an easy read. Maybe it’s because smart phones and video games have taken the place of brittle paperbacks and warped hardbacks. And maybe that’s where books like The Fiddle is the Devil’s Instrument fit in best.Continue Reading

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: ‘Feral’ by James DeMonaco & B.K. Evenson

Feral by James DeMonaco & B.K. Evenson
Anchor/Blumhouse Books (April 2017)
320 pages; $9.57 paperback; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Ever read a book with all the right ingredients, one that’s well written, has characters you care about, tells a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, yet leaves you feeling disappointed?

That’s exactly how I feel about Feral, the new novel from the powerhouse team of James DeMonaco and B.K. Evenson. Continue Reading

Review: ‘The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes’ by Michael Kurland

The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes by Michael Kurland
Titan Books (February 2016)
320 pages; $12.95 paperback; ebook $7.99
Reviewed by Peter Tomas

Michael Kurland’s sequel to his debut Alexander Brass novel, Too Soon Dead, manifested itself in The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes: a manifestation which doesn’t disappoint.

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: ‘Jackals’ by Stuart R. Brogan

Jackals by Stuart R. Brogan
CreateSpace (January 2017)
356 pages; $13.95 hardback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

I don’t know about you, but I hate it when I’m reading a horror novel and I know who’s gonna die. Jackals is NOT one of those novels and I loved it. It begins with a big surprise and delivers one powerful punch after another, right to the unexpected end.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: ‘Velvet’ by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting

Velvet Deluxe HardcoverVelvet by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting
Image Comics (April 4, 2017)
416 pages; $33.99 deluxe hardcover
Reviewed by Gef Fox

I grew up with James Bond films as my sole reference for the spy genre, and I considered him a cartoonish one at that, since he became the stuff of parody by the time the ’80s came along. It wouldn’t be until I was all grownup when I learned more of the history of the genre. And  Ed Brubaker’s and Steve Epting’s Velvet, now compiled in a delicious deluxe hardcover, reads like a love letter to the spy genre’s golden era.Continue Reading