Review: ‘Psychopomp & Circumstance (Books of Nethermore #1)’ by Adrean Messmer

psychopompPsychopomp & Circumstance (Books of Nethermore #1) by Adrean Messmer
A Murder of Storytellers (April 2016)
186 pages; $9.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Josh Black

Psychopomp & Circumstance, the first in a series of standalone books, is Adrean Messmer’s first novel.

It follows a group of friends and “frenemies” somewhere between the carefree world of high school and the uncertainty of what comes next. Unfortunately for them, what’s going on in the present—and whether they’ll even live long enough to see college or careers take off—is just as uncertain. After one of them posts a Facebook update she has no recollection of, things get weird. People are missing. People are dying. Lurking somewhere around the periphery of it all is the Sewercide Man, a mysterious figure glimpsed only occasionally, but whose mere presence seems to bring chaos and have a disconcerting effect on the recently deceased.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Where You Live’ by Gary McMahon

whereyouliveWhere You Live by Gary McMahon
Crystal Lake Publishing (November 2013)
266 pages, $12.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Where You Live is a varied collection of short stories by Gary McMahon. McMahon is an award winning author of both novels and short stories, and this collection gathers some of his best together. The bulk of this collection was originally published as a limited edition book from Gray Friar Press titled It Knows Where You Live, but the current collection expands that previous collection with newer stories and makes it available to a wider reading public. Overall, Where You Live is a really satisfying collection of horror pieces.Continue Reading

Review: 'The Devil's Evidence' by Simon Kurt Unsworth

devilsevidenceThe Devil’s Evidence by Simon Kurt Unsworth
Doubleday (July 2016)
400 pages; $20.34 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Thomas Fool, The Devil’s Detective, is an Information Man and a human among demons. Fool is the Commander of the Information Office, a position in Hell for which he gets little respect. Along comes a new department in Hell, The Evidence, headed by Mr. Tap. All they seem to do is get in the way of the Information Men: 

They didn’t investigate, they simply tore things apart and reached conclusions that made little or no sense, and then executed justice on the spot.

Continue Reading

Review: ‘The Devil’s Evidence’ by Simon Kurt Unsworth

devilsevidenceThe Devil’s Evidence by Simon Kurt Unsworth
Doubleday (July 2016)
400 pages; $20.34 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Thomas Fool, The Devil’s Detective, is an Information Man and a human among demons. Fool is the Commander of the Information Office, a position in Hell for which he gets little respect. Along comes a new department in Hell, The Evidence, headed by Mr. Tap. All they seem to do is get in the way of the Information Men: 

They didn’t investigate, they simply tore things apart and reached conclusions that made little or no sense, and then executed justice on the spot.

Continue Reading

Review: ‘Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow’

JustDessertsCoverJust Desserts: The Making of Creepshow
Synapse Films (July 12, 2016)
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

In 1982, director George Romero and author Stephen King—horror royalty then and now—unleashed Creepshow, an anthology film born out of their mutual appreciation of 1950s horror comics. Realizing that capturing the unique look of those comics was going to be crucial to the movie’s success, they brought special effects superstar Tom Savini on board to help realize their vision. The result was a modest hit that has seen its stature grow among horror fans over time—enough so that its making-of documentary, Just Desserts, has become one of the most anticipated horror Blu-Ray releases of the summer.Continue Reading

Review: 'Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow'

JustDessertsCoverJust Desserts: The Making of Creepshow
Synapse Films (July 12, 2016)
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

In 1982, director George Romero and author Stephen King—horror royalty then and now—unleashed Creepshow, an anthology film born out of their mutual appreciation of 1950s horror comics. Realizing that capturing the unique look of those comics was going to be crucial to the movie’s success, they brought special effects superstar Tom Savini on board to help realize their vision. The result was a modest hit that has seen its stature grow among horror fans over time—enough so that its making-of documentary, Just Desserts, has become one of the most anticipated horror Blu-Ray releases of the summer.Continue Reading

Review: 'United States of Japan' by Peter Tieryas

JapanUnited States of Japan by Peter Tieryas
Angry Robot Books (March, 2016)
400 pages; $10.77 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

United States of Japan is Peter Tieryas’s third book. It began as “a story revolving around the tragic events on the Asian side of WWII.” The book is inspired by Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, as well as the author’s time at Electronic Arts and his experiences traveling in Asia.

For the most part, I’ve never been much of a fan of alternate history stories, but John Liberto’s cover art caught my attention and I did enjoy the Amazon Prime series The Man in the High Castle, so I decided to take a chance.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

Review: 'Disappearance at Devil's Rock' by Paul Tremblay

DevilRockDisappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay
William Morrow (June 21, 2016)
336 pages; $17.76 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Quiet horror is the hardest kind to get right; but when it is done right, it’s a showcase of the best the genre has to offer. Stripped of gimmicks and gore, quiet horror takes people you’ve come to care about and makes you watch as something terrible slowly creeps in from the edges.

The “something terrible” happens early in Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, Paul Tremblay’s highly anticipated follow-up to his 2015 breakout, A Head Full of Ghosts. Elizabeth, a single mom raising two kids, gets the phone call every parent dreads when her son, Tommy, goes missing while fooling around with his friends in some nearby woods. But it’s the mystery surrounding Tommy’s disappearance—lost? abducted? running away? sacrificed?—that is the true “something terrible” here, as Tremblay lays out a number of possibilities, each more troubling than the last.Continue Reading

Review: 'The Conveyance' by Brian W. Matthews

ConveyanceThe Conveyance by Brian W. Matthews
JournalStone (June 17, 2016)
260 pages; $16.39 paperback; $4.95 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

The first third of The Conveyance was about ordinary people leading mostly ordinary lives. Before you know it, Brian W. Mathews lulls the reader into a comfort zone brought on by his easy-going writing style.

Mathews has a gift for developing strong characters who interact with one another in the most genuine of ways. Therapist/patient, husband/wife, best friends. Every one of those relationships was one-hundred-percent believable. It’s a good thing, because a lot of what happens in The Conveyance requires readers to check their disbelief at the door.Continue Reading

Review: 'Tales from the Lake Vol. 2' edited by Emma Audsley, R.J. Cavender and Joe Mynhardt

taleslake2Tales from the Lake Vol. 2 edited by Emma Audsley, R.J. Cavender and Joe Mynhardt
Crystal Lake Publishing (March 2016)
382 pages; $16.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by John Brhel

For many, a trip to the lake means relaxation, fresh air, the splendor of nature, barbecues, fishing with grandpa—a break from the worries and stress of everyday life. Tales from The Lake Vol. 2 offers no such escape or reverie. This anthology of dark fiction from Crystal Lake Publishing plumbs the depths, sure—those of human despair, debauchery and dread. Like a trip to the lake, however, this collection is fun, in its own twisted way.

Coming two years after the publication of Tales from The Lake Vol. 1, volume two in what Crystal Lake has said will be an annual anthology offers over a dozen tales, each exploring a different idea: infidelity, revenge, suicide, paranoia, mass violence, *cough* evil dolls.Continue Reading

Review: 'Black Static' #52

blackstatic52Black Static #52
TTA Press (May 2016)
164 pages; $5.99 print; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by David Simms

Black Static is more than a British magazine of horror and dark fantasy. It IS the best magazine of dark fiction that is produced on a regular basis. While many have compared it to Cemetery Dance, including this reviewer, it transcends anything currently in production. Bimonthly, readers are treated to stories that are not of the norm in the genre and often evoke a cross between the Borderlands anthologies and Dangerous Visions. Yes, it’s that solid—and consistent.Continue Reading

Review: 'Freedom of the Mask' by Robert McCammon

freedom_of_the_mask_designFreedom of the Mask by Robert McCammon
Subterranean Press (May 2016)
528 pages; $24.26 hardcover; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

The Matthew Corbett books have historically been hefty affairs—Speaks the Nightbird, the first in the series, clocked in at over 800 pages, and the others have gone 400 or more. The lone exception was the fifth book, 2014’s River of Souls, which was a lean 256 pages. It’s my personal favorite of the series, the perfect mix of Robert McCammon’s incredibly detailed world building and action/thriller pacing.

Freedom of the Mask has put some of the weight back on—my advance copy hit 530 pages—but maintains the breathless pace of its predecessor. There’s enough story packed in it for two books, but it’s filler-free, and for good reason: there’s a ticking clock hanging over McCammon’s head now. He’s announced that the series will go nine books and no further, which puts us deep in the overall Corbett story arc at this point. McCammon is very calculated in the way he handles each book’s immediate plot while moving all the pieces toward the series conclusion. Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #191 — Review: 'End of Watch'

News From the Dead Zone Banner

End of Watch by Stephen King
Scribner (June 7, 2016)
448 pages; $18.00 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Bev Vincent

End_of_Watch_coverShortly after the publication of Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King announced that the book was the first in a trilogy that would be connected by the City Center Massacre (in which a psycho named Brady Hartsfield stole a Mercedes and plowed into a crowd of people who were waiting in line at a job fair in a struggling Mid-western city).

Hartsfield got away with that crime but was—during the commission of an even more audacious and nefarious scheme—eventually brought to justice by a rag-tag group led by retired police detective Bill Hodges. Hartsfield was effectively taken off the playing board at the conclusion of Mr. Mercedes but, at the end of the second book, Finders Keepers, King hinted strongly that this villain would be back, front and center, for the finale. He also suggested that the third book would be closer to a traditional King novel, by which I mean it might have supernatural elements.

The phrase “End of Watch” will be familiar to anyone with more than a passing knowledge of police dramas. In one context, it refers to the day when a cop retires. On another, more ominous level, it refers to a cop killed in the line of duty. Bill Hodges has already experienced the first usage—the question the title of the third book poses is whether he will experience the other.Continue Reading