Review: Scribe by Michael R. Goodwin

cover of ScribeScribe by Michael R. Goodwin
Dark Pine Publishing (September 2023)
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

In Michael R. Goodwin’s Scribe (the Smolder prequel), an ancient force prowls and feeds in the woods, hungry for women, children, hunters, and whoever should be misfortunate enough to enter the shadows. The Penobscot natives lost several to the evil of the woods, with nothing left of the bodies, only scorched patches of earth.

Finally, an elder arranges a deal, trading sacrifice for immunity.Continue Reading

Review: The Gathering by C.J. Tudor

cover of The GatheringThe Gathering by C.J. Tudor
Ballantine Books (April 2024)
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Full disclosure here: not a vampire fan, because most fiction and movies aim for the tried and true tropes rather than injecting new blood into the subgenre. Once in a while, a novel changes that view. The Gathering is one of those, an enjoyable, left turn of a blood-sucking story that can make the reader forget about the bad stories.Continue Reading

Review: Shadows Abyss by L. N. Frost

cover of Shadows AbyssShadows Abyss by L. N. Frost
Independently Published (December 2020)
116 pages; $10.24 paperback, $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Luna Nyx Frost (Nicole) is a native to Baltimore, Maryland, and has been writing for the last twenty years. She is a blind author and writes poetry, urban fantasy, and paranormal. Her debut novel HUNTED: The Immortal’s Kiss cowritten with Emberly Lily Summers is available on Amazon. After publishing her poetry book. Shadow Abyss: A Book of Poetry, she has had other poems featured in anthologies such as Maryland’s Best Emerging Poets by Z Publishing and in Fae Thee Well by Dreampunk Press. Her passion for writing and reading doesn’t stop at sonnets and novels. Her inspiration mostly comes from nature, ancient history, and classic literature. Luna has also looked up to the magnificent work of poets such as Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickens. She has also read many works by Shakespeare and fables by The Brothers Grimm. Luna has also been intrigued by the great ancient civilizations. Her collection, Shadows Abyss, is available now. Continue Reading

Review: Necrotek by Jonathan Maberry

cover of NecrotekNecroteck by Jonathan Maberry
Blackstone Publishing (May 2024)
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Military science fiction crossed with Lovecraftian horror with a cast of offbeat characters in an adventure that begs for a film adaptation? Yes please!

Jonathan Maberry has conquered a bit of everything in his career, from the straight-up horror that won him a Bram Stoker award to the popular weird adventure series starring Joe Ledger to resurrecting the Weird Tales franchise in style. His style combines Matheson and Bradbury, a pair of giants he knew as a child, along with the fun adventure tales that filled drugstore spinner racks. This is all strong praise, especially for this new novel, which promises to be the start of another successful series.Continue Reading

Review: Hellweg’s Keep by Justin Holley

cover of Hellweg's KeepHellweg’s Keep by Justin Holley
Flame Tree Press (November 2023)
256 pages; $16.77 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Horror in space has always held a special place in many readers’ hearts. However, for the most part it’s been more prevalent on the screen than on the page. Thankfully, the subgenre has been making a comeback in the past few years, striking a fine balance between science fiction and dread.

Justin Holley has added an interesting entry into this canon with Hellweg’s Keep. a novel that brings to mind several elements of well-known and well-loved stories, including The Thing, the worlds of Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft — all while keeping it grounded, no pun intended.Continue Reading

Review: Ink Vine by Elizabeth Broadbent

cover of Ink VineInk Vine by Elizabeth Broadbent
(April 2024)
118 pages
Reviewed by Dave Simms

The horror novella can be a powerful entity. When handled properly, it’s a gut punch, a blade twist to the heart, and a mind screw all at the same time. Elizabeth Broadbent has penned one of those stories here in Ink Vine, a tale that is deeper and more dangerous than the swamp she created within. At 118 pages it hits hard, managing to build an effective setting in a South Carolina that reeks of the dank water, humidity, and scent of the trees which smother visitors who dare to enter. The story manages to be a strong character study with a taut element of horror, yet is so much more.
Labeled by many as a sapphic horror tale, which is true, it’s also an entertaining, quick read that begs to be savored slowly.

Continue Reading

Review: My Darling Dreadful Thing by Johanna Van Veen

cover of My Darling Dreadful ThingMy Darling Dreadful Thing by Johanna Van Veen
Poisoned Pen Press (May 2024)
384 pages
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

My Darling Dreadful Thing by Johanna Van Veen exceptionally invokes gothic tropes such as unearthing buried secrets at a dire cost, and relics of her predecessors to craft a chilling, sapphic love story that is possessive, haunting, and beautiful.Continue Reading

Review: The Werewolf at Dusk and Other Stories by David Small

banner that reads The Comic Vault

cover of The Werewolf at Dusk and Other StoriesThe Werewolf at Dusk and Other Stories by David Small
Liveright (March 2024)
192 pages
Reviewed by Danica Davidson

The Werewolf at Dusk and Other Stories is a haunting triptych of tales about “the dread of things internal.” Done in an illustrated format, it’s kind of like a picture book for adults, and it shows the depth and artistic aesthetics possible in graphic storytelling. This is a book to stay with readers long after they’ve finished the last page, and I’ve never seen anything else quite like it.Continue Reading

Review: Horror Movie by Paul Tremblay

cover of Horror MovieHorror Movie by Paul Tremblay
William Morrow (June 11, 2024)
288 pages
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

In his classic, fatalistic tone, Bram Stoker Award-winner Paul Tremblay cleverly assembles a haunting level of empathy between readers, the narrator, and characters in Horror Movie. At times the story felt all-too real, which will appease fans of Tremblay’s previous work like A Head Full of Ghosts (2015) and The Pallbearers Club (2022). Down the road, maybe even a few weeks from now, the characters’ names from Horror Movie may evade you but you’ll never escape the reality-bending and unsettling “horror void.” Continue Reading

Bev Vincent explores You Like it Darker by Stephen King

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

“Lack of belief is the curse of intelligence”

It’s a short story collection. No, it’s a novella collection. No, it’s two…two…two things in one! OK, you have to be really old to get that reference to an old Certs commercial. They don’t even make Certs anymore, I’m displeased to discover.

Anyhow, You Like It Darker is a hybrid of two types of books we’ve come to expect from Stephen King. It’s a collection of the seven short stories published since The Bazaar of Bad Dreams but it also contains five brand-new long works ranging from a novelette (“The Dreamers”) to novellas (“The Answer Man,” “Two Talented Bastids” and “Rattlesnakes”) to a story long enough to be considered a novel by the SFWA and other awards criteria (“Danny Coughlin’s Bad Dream”).

Continue Reading

Review: Where the Worm Never Dies by Quinn Hernandez

cover of Where the Worm Never DiesWhere the Worm Never Dies by Quinn Hernandez 
Swann + Bedlam (June 1, 2024)
114 pages; $18.00 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Quinn Hernandez loves the full spectrum of speculative fiction, and he is currently working on expanding his fiction universe. His poetry collection Life and Other Unfortunate Horrors is available from Madness Heart Press, and his short story collection Viva La Muerte! is available from Nightmare Press. His second poetry collection Where the Worm Never Dies is forthcoming from Swann and Bedlam Press.Continue Reading

Review: Where the Dead Wait by Allie Wilkes

cover of Where the Dead WaitWhere the Dead Wait by Allie Wilkes
Atria (December 2023)
400 pages; $20.49 hardcover; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

What do you get when gothic horror goes to the arctic? Pure poetry with a fiendish dark heart.

For those who read the pitch-dark All The White Spaces from Allie Wilkes two years ago, this is a worthy follow-up. It’s not a true sequel, meaning readers can start with this novel and enjoy it, as Wilkes covers the backstory in a manner that isn’t overkill with infodumps. Instead, readers are treated to another great study in character building and setting.Continue Reading

Review: When the Rain Begins to Burn by A.L. Davidson

cover of When the Rain Begins to BurnWhen the Rain Begins to Burn by A.L. Davidson
Disturbances by Alycia (October 2023)
140 pages
Reviewed by Chandra Claypool (Instagram) (TikTok)

Noland and Judah are finally on a vacation together and they stop in the Appalachian wilderness to be one with nature and enjoy the gorgeous views.  Well off the beaten path to avoid the local yokels, they get stuck when an unexpected storm leaves their RV cemented into the mud.  As if things couldn’t get worse, a deadly rain has come upon them, which Judah finds out about when a few drops eat away at his hand.  As this acid rain continues, there appears to be no ending and they watch animals being consumed in disgusting fashion making their beautiful view into one of death and despair.  Now they’re trapped inside their RV, not knowing when this will end.  Not only do they have to endure what is happening outside, but they quickly have to deal with their own personal demons as well.

Oh my freakin’ beating black heart.  Yes, this is an eco-horror novel with some gruesome scenes, but it’s the relationship between Noland and Judah that truly shines. Their forced isolation truly brings out the good and the bad within themselves and to each other. All I want to do is take them both into big bear hugs and tell them everything is going to be okay.  Each moment of their tenderness pulled at my heart strings and each time they put themselves in danger, in their relationship and in the terrible death rain, I held my breath and hoped for a happy ending. I really want to discuss more but I feel you should read this with little information and let the words pierce you as they did me.

This is a fantastic read for those seeking a haunting and introspective horror story that explores the complexities of personal relationships and the terrors of the unknown.  Come for the dread and stay to see what happens to the cutest couple in horror history.

????

Review: Inkblots by Jeff Oliver

cover of InkblotsInkblots by Jeff Oliver
300 South Media Group (February 2024)
240 pages; $16.99 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Jeff Oliver is a writer of intense emotions, having started composing his dark poetry at just 11 years old. His poetry has an ethereal quality. When others may have been destroyed by such devastating darkness, he manages to weave lyrical justice into an otherwise unfair world. His newest collection of poetry is Inkblots.Continue Reading

Review: Eynhallow by Tim McGregor

cover of EynhallowEynhallow by Tim McGregor
Raw Dog Screaming Press (February 2024)
178 pages; $17.19 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chandra Claypool (Instagram) (TikTok)

Eynhallow is a beautiful gothic piece of horror literature taking place in the Orkney Islands way back in 1797.  Our protagonist, Agnes, is a pleasure to get to know.  She lives on a remote island and is in an abusive marriage, trying to get through the days and raise her kids the best that she can. Then one day a stranger comes and occupies a house that really is uninhabitable and here our story truly begins.Continue Reading