Review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Quirk Books (July 2017)
336 pages; $10.19 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

Let’s skip the synopsis. The title and the cover say it all. And it was the cover that sold me.

Is the ’80s retro VHS/tattered book cover thing a dead horse? Not for me. I love nostalgia. I’m all about it. The ’70s, the ’80s. Anything that takes me back to carefree days, void of responsibility. Give me extra helpings please.Continue Reading

Review: The Same Deep Water As You by Chad Lutzke

The Same Deep Water As You by Chad Lutzke
Static Age Books (January 2019)

120 pages; $6.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie Hartmann

In 1990-1993 I was a skater girl groupie. I wore high-top Converse sneakers, ripped jeans, a flannel shirt tied around my waist and garage band tees. After school and on the weekends, the boys would skate and a few other girls and I would watch. They let us sit on their old boards and we would smoke weed or cigarettes and laugh when the boys ate it and cheer when they landed something.

We listened to The Dead Kennedys, NOFX, the Sex Pistols and the Pixies (theme song: “Where is My Mind”). So when I say that I could immediately relate to Chad Lutzke’s coming-of-age novella, The Same Deep Water As You, it is because I lived that lifestyle and in that same era.Continue Reading

Review: The Nightmare Girl by Jonathan Janz

The Nightmare Girl by Jonathan Janz
Flame Tree Press (February 7, 2019)
256 pages; $16.48 hardcover; $10.37 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

Jonathan Janz’s name is everywhere lately. With Flame Tree Press sneaking up out of nowhere and snatching his back catalog, and his most recent effort The Siren and Specter making the rounds of Twitter feeds and Instagram posts alike, he’s hard to ignore. It was only a matter of time before I broke down and read my first Janz. The Nightmare Girl was the book that deflowered this Janz virgin. Continue Reading

Review: Everything is Horrible Now by Edward Lorn

Everything is Horrible Now by Edward Lorn
Lornographic Material (February 5, 2019)
372 pages; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

Right up front, allow me to get past the part of the review where I’m forced to write something cliché—a statement proclaimed in reviews since the beginning of time. Well, since the beginning of Goodreads and Amazon at least:  

This is my first by this author, and it won’t be my last. Continue Reading

Review: Skullface Boy by Chad Lutzke

Skullface Boy by Chad Lutzke
CreateSpace (August 2018)

202 pages; $9.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

This book had me at the dedication:

Dedicated to the bullied, the parentless and the unique. May the shallow assholes one day envy you.

Continue Reading

Review: Body of Christ by Mark Matthews

Body of Christ by Mark Matthews
CreateSpace (January 2018)
94 pages; $7.99 paperback; $0.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

I picked up this book for review at just the right time. Horror has bored me as of late. I’m seeing a lot of the same tropes. Blood here, blood there. Running from monsters, maniacal cannibals, and other dead horses. These things do nothing for me. They’re good on the screen when you’re in the mood for a body count, but in the written word, for me, it’s trudging through mud I’d rather have walked around. My eye starts to wander toward my small shelf of Nicholas Sparks and Louis L’Amour spines — none of which I’ve read, but have wondered if I’m missing a good time. I’m okay with losing horror points for that little confession. For me, there are no guilty pleasures. Just good books, good music, good movies.Continue Reading

Review: Stirring the Sheets by Chad Lutzke

Stirring the Sheets by Chad Lutzke
Bloodshot Books (April 2018)
130 pages; $8.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Read enough horror, and you start feeling like you can predict where a book or story is going to go within a few pages or chapters. I’m not saying that all horror is predictable or formulaic; just that enough of it is that some reviewers (like me) might find themselves getting a little cocky after a few successful predictions. Then someone like Chad Lutzke comes along with a novella like Stirring the Sheets, and gleefully knocks you off your high horse.Continue Reading

Review: The Boulevard Monster by Jeremy Hepler

The Boulevard Monster by Jeremy Hepler
Bloodshot Books (April 2017)
300 pages; $14.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

Once in a while I’ll start a review with some poetic prose plucked from the pages to give the reader an idea of the skills the writer may possess.  The Boulevard Monster has none of that. Instead, it’s a straightforward, entertaining story with a thrilling Koontz-ish vibe…and the best book I’ve read so far this year. There’s good reason it was nominated for a Stoker award. Hepler’s no-filler prose is designed to simply tell a story with no literary glitter, which makes perfect sense considering the protagonist. Continue Reading

Review: Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
Tor (2017)
112 pages; $7.07 paperback; $1.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

Mr. Jones doesn’t know it yet, but we have a lot in common. When writing, we both dig deep for the little boy inside that’s packed full of maybe too much emotion, then put him in a situation where maybe we could never survive ourselves; maybe we wouldn’t want to even try. Then dig deeper still for all that hurt and confusion from our own lives invested in this and that, take it and use it in stories that are meant to do much more than entertain, but to touch people, make them consider. Mapping the Interior does that perfectly.Continue Reading

Review: Those Who Follow by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason

Those Who Follow by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason
Bloodshot Books (July 2017)
206 pages; $14.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

The moon was rising over the desert on the other side of the doorway, casting its long yellow fingers over the treetops, reaching out to the dilapidated church.

The above passage depicts the main location for the horrors that lie within. The church acts as a prison in another dimension for a group of women who have found their way into the hands of an evil “traveler”—one who has been given other-dimensional property to call his own. Continue Reading

Review: The Magic Wagon by Joe R. Lansdale

The Magic Wagon by Joe R. Lansdale
BookVoice Publishing (2018)
$50 limited edition signed hardcover (500 copies)
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

First, a word about the introduction by Lansdale himself––a backstage pass to Mr. Lansdale’s writing method and history of The Magic Wagon. There’s a chance I liked it so much because we happen to have the same view on what makes a story and how to have fun writing and how pantsing (for us) is what keeps the fun going. The discovery as we write. Personally, it was like a nice little validation from the man himself that there ain’t nothing wrong with writing words down and just letting them take you wherever. Continue Reading

Review: The Warblers by Amber Fallon

The Warblers by Amber Fallon
Eraserhead Press (September 2017)
86 pages; $10.95 paperback; $5.95 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

I stood on our rickety old porch, looking out towards the peeling paint on the back shed as the sunset drained like a stuck pig, bleeding out red all over.

In this first-person, coming-of-age novella, a warbler is a winged creature that isn’t welcome. And after young Dell and his family try to ignore the pack of them, it turns out they’re rather dangerous, too–-–even tearing apart poor Dell’s dog. So Dell and his father set out to rid their back shed of the beasts, but the means to which they do so could prove even worse a predicament than what they’re already up against. Not just for their family, but maybe for the whole town.Continue Reading

Review: Spungunion by John Boden

Spungunion by John Boden
Dynatox Ministries (2017)
123 pages; $12.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

The reality is this:  Life is just a balloon floating dangerously in a roomful of lit cigarettes.

A lonely truck driver sets out on a desperate course to find the one who killed his wife. A path that leads to mingling with the oddball, the grotesque, and the surreal in this weird fiction trucker tale by an author who is certainly no stranger to offering heartbreaking stories, of which Spungunion is above par.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror’ by Jasper Bark

Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror by Jasper Bark
Crystal Lake Publishing (September 2017)
123 pages; $12.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

Quiet Places opens with a prologue presenting mysterious goings-on in the small village of Dunballan. Right away we’re given a potentially exciting premise as a lone woman aids local residents in their vegetative states, picking random citizens to assist while they stand slack jawed and wide eyed, empty bellies and soiled clothes.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Behold! Oddities, Curiosities, and Undefinable Wonders’ edited by Doug Murano

Behold! Oddities, Curiosities, and Undefinable Wonders edited by Doug Murano
Crystal Lake Publishing (July 2017)
280 pages; $16.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

This is Crystal Lake Publishing’s second anthology with Doug Murano acting as editor—the first being Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories. It’s also their second anthology that brought in some very big names, which no doubt aided in healthy sales, securing a nice spot at the top of Amazon’s anthology charts. The ironic thing is, those big names (Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, and Ramsey Campbell) brought the weakest stories to an otherwise very solid collection. Continue Reading