Featured review: 'The Fireman' by Joe Hill

the-firemanThe Fireman by Joe Hill
William Morrow (May 17, 2016)
768 pages; $18.82 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Bev Vincent

The Fireman, Joe Hill’s fourth novel, is an apocalyptic tale in which a deadly disease destroys the world. If this conjures thoughts of The Stand, it’s not a coincidence. Hill is on record as saying that the book is his version of The Stand “soaked in gasoline and set on fire.” In his dedication he says he stole “everything else” about the book from his father other than the title.

The illness that spreads like wildfire is Draco incendia trychophyton, a spore rather than a virus. People exposed to it do not burn with a fever—they simply burn. First, lesions develop. Some are almost decorative, resembling scales, hence the illness’s nickname: Dragonscale. Victims are mostly asymptomatic until they suddenly catch fire, usually when under stress. It’s a devastating and terrifying disease, because the conflagration takes out others in the vicinity. Buildings burn, then city blocks, and cities, and more.Continue Reading

Review: 'Kill Switch' by Jonathan Maberry

Kill Switch-2Kill Switch by Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin’s Griffin (April 26 2016)
544 pages; $9.99 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Is it to early to add this to the list of my ten favorite reads of 2016? Kill Switch, by Jonathan Maberry, is that good. It’s hard to imagine many books to be published the rest of this year being better than this new adventure in the Joe Ledger series.Continue Reading

Review: 'Suicide Stitch' by Sarah L. Johnson

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00040]Suicide Stitch by Sarah L. Johnson
EMP Publishing (March 2016)
188 pages; $12.00 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Josh Black

Suicide Stitch is the debut collection of Sarah L. Johnson, a writer whose work runs the gamut from horror to literary to science fiction to erotica. The stories here reflect that range of style and voice. They’re billed as “sexy, transgressive, and intelligent, comprised of eleven tales that explore the sinister side of love,” and that’s an apt description for the highlights of the bunch.Continue Reading

Review: 'Altar' by Philip Fracassi

altar_20front_originalAltar by Philip Fracassi
Dunhams Manor Press (April 2016)
53 pages; $7.19 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Josh Black

Have you ever been swimming in a lake, far from shore, and found yourself wondering what might be lurking in the black depths below? There’s a primal fear being tapped, and with Altar, Philip Fracassi taps into it not through a lake, but a public swimming pool. Brightly lit, sections clearly delineated, lifeguards at the ready should anyone find themselves in need of assistance… A few rough patches notwithstanding, it says a lot about Fracassi’s skill as a storyteller that this novelette works as well as it does.Continue Reading

Review: 'The Damned' by Andrew Pyper

the-damned-9781476755120_lg-1The Damned by Andrew Pyper
Simon & Schuster (February 2015)
304 pages; $21.24 hardcover; $13.82 paperback; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Jonathan Reitan

Canadian author Andrew Pyper began his career by writing “literary thrillers” but now he’s been focusing his time on some amazing works of “literary horror” such as his latest, The Damned.

Twins Danny and Ashleigh Orchard are polar opposites. While Danny is timid and kind, Ashleigh is overpowering and downright evil. Ash harbors early psychotic tendencies and terrorizes anyone near her. A house fire ultimately claims her life and almost takes Danny’s as well.Continue Reading

Review: 'I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After' by Skottie Young

FairyI Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young
Image Comics (April 26 2016)
128 pages; $8.41 paperback
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Okay, I’m not the biggest fan of comic books, but when I Hate Fairyland came into Cemetery Dance for review, I took one look at the synopsis and knew I had to check this out.

What a trip. Artist and author Skottie Young has concocted a colorful, imaginative, raw blood fest that’s reminiscent of the old Fractured Fairy Tales…on acid. I love the artwork. It reminds me of the old Garbage Pail Kids cards I collected back in the day, only with more blood.Continue Reading

Review: 'Psycho: Sanitarium' by Chet Williamson

SanitariumPsycho: Sanitarium by Chet Williamson
Thomas Dunne Books (April 2016)
288 pages; $19.73 hardcover; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Norman Bates has been institutionalized with the deaths of four people on his hands, four murders that we know about.

If you’ve never read Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel Psycho, not to worry, Chet Williamson provides an excellent synopsis to get the reader up to speed on the events which precede Psycho: Sanitarium. Personally, I went back and read the original work so it was fresh in my mind as I read this new volume. I’m glad I did as this gave me a feel for the writing in both books. If I didn’t know better, I could easily see how the two could have been written by the same author.Continue Reading

Review: 'The Sound of Time' by Jeremy Essex

soundoftimeThe Sound of Time by Jeremy Essex
Samhain Publishing (February 2016)
60 pages; $2.10 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

The Sound of Time is a quick and surreal novella. The story takes place during the late night move of a business from its old location to its new. As the old place is emptied out, it becomes rather creepy. A discussion of time, and the perception of it, sets the mood for some truly bizarre events.Continue Reading

Review: 'Underwater Fistfight' by Matt Betts

underwaterfistfightUnderwater Fistfight by Matt Betts
Raw Dog Screaming Press (April 2016)
98 pages; $12.95 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

Matt Betts has been making a name for himself as a novelist lately, but that isn’t how I got to know him. I was first introduced to Matt as a poet, via his superb collection See No Evil, Say No Evil. A guy who wrote poems about cool stuff, like Godzilla and Monsters and Why You Should Totally Leave The Beach. A guy who reveled in the silly and absurd, but could find glimpses of the sublime and occasionally heartbreaking between the lines. Underwater Fistfight is a return to form that I have been waiting for, lo these many intervening years.Continue Reading

Review: 'A Mixed Bag of Blood' by David Bernstein

bloodA Mixed Bag of Blood by David Bernstein
Sinister Grin Press (March 2016)
130 pages; $11.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

I’ve read several works by David Bernstein in the last few years and I’ve mentioned once or twice that no one is safe in one of his stories. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this observation. Author Kristopher Rufty echoes that sentiment in his introduction to A Mixed Bag of Blood, saying “Nothing, or no one, is safe in Dave’s worlds.”

There are some very good stories in this new collection of ten horror tales from a writer who knows how to push all of my buttons: scary, gory, gross and, at times, humorous.Continue Reading

Review: 'Greener Pastures' by Michael Wehunt

greenerpastures_smGreener Pastures by Michael Wehunt
Shock Totem Publications (April 2016)
238 pages; $12.59 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Josh Black

With stories in publications like The Dark, Nightscript, and Shock Totem, Michael Wehunt has been making a name for himself and his own brand of dark, weird fiction. I hadn’t read anything of his before this, but if Greener Pastures is any indication, readers have some fantastic stories to look forward to. It’s a highly impressive debut collection; chock-full of imaginative plots, flesh and blood characters, and universal themes, all delivered through prose so lyrical it practically sings.Continue Reading

Review: 'Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts' by Jasper Bark

stuckonyouStuck on You and Other Prime Cuts by Jasper Bark
Crystal Lake Publishing (September 2014)
274 pages; $12.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Brian Moser

Stuck On You and Other Prime Cuts is a series of short stories which range from the gut-wrenchingly grotesque to the more unsettling horror that keeps the reader guessing the whole way through.Continue Reading

Review: 'Demon with a Comb-Over' by Stuart R. West

DemonDemon with a Comb-Over by Stuart R. West
Samhain Publishing (March 2016)
168 pages; $4.50 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Demon With a Comb-Over is a novel that combines the world of stand-up comedy with a compelling tale of horror.

Here’s the setup:

Talk about a tough crowd.

Take Charlie Broadmoor’s life. Please. Charlie sucks at stand-up comedy. He gets by, though. Things are okay. His life is decent. Until the night he makes fun of a demon’s comb-over. Big mistake. What kind of demon wears a comb-over? The sensitive kind. The kind who’s not going to let an insult slide. A demon who’s going to take Charlie down. As in down to Hell. And he intends on dragging everyone Charlie cares about along for the ride.

Continue Reading

Review: 'Ghost Heart' by John Palisano

GhostGhost Heart by John Palisano
Samhain Publishing (February 2016)
218 pages; $14.99 paperback; $4.24 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Get this book.  Don’t even bother reading my review, just drop everything and get yourself a copy. You won’t regret it.

Here’s the synopsis you’ll find on the first page:

Live fast, die young, and leave a bloodthirsty corpse.

That’s the saying of a new pack of predators infesting a New England town. They’re infected with the Ghost Heart, a condition that causes them to become irresistible and invincible…as long as they drink the blood of the living. But these vampires don’t live forever, and as the Ghost Heart claims them, their skin loses color and their hearts turn pale. When a young mechanic is seduced by the pack’s muse, he finds falling in love will break more than his heart.

Continue Reading

'Misery' on Broadway – What Every Other Review Won't Tell You

misery0Misery on Broadway – What Every Other Review Won’t Tell You
by Jason Sechrest

In the Fall of 2015, Misery came to Broadway – but that’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds.

The stage adaptation of the novel by Stephen King made its run at the Broadhurst Theater from November 15th, 2015 to February 14th, 2016, starring Bruce Willis as romance novelist Paul Sheldon (who has suffered a near fatal car accident in a snow storm), and Laurie Metcalf as Annie Wilkes, his “#1 fan” who has rescued him from said crash only to hold him captive in her home.

Now, we could have reviewed Misery on Broadway during its run, but where is the fun in all that?Continue Reading