Review: The Pandora Room by Christopher Golden

The Pandora Room by Christopher Golden
St. Martin’s Press (April 23, 2019)
320 pages; $18.29 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Christopher Golden returns to the realm of high concept thrillers with The Pandora Room, a novel chock full of action, horror, mythology, and history. Following in the footsteps of Ararat, the story that successfully combined the aforementioned elements in one of the best novels of the year, this entry also keeps the setting claustrophobic and tight, a motif that could be a mess in less capable hands.Continue Reading

Review: I Dream of Mirrors by Chris Kelso

I Dream of Mirrors by Chris Kelso
Sinister Horror Company (February 2019)
158 pages; $15.68 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

File this short novel under the “mind-blowing, mind-boggling, weird horror” category. There. It’s done. Attempting to classify I Dream of Mirrors is nearly impossible to explain or put into a genre box.

Translated: it’s one of the cool, weird stories that can be called horror, dark fantasy, sci-fi, or bizarre fiction. Readers who crave the out-there settings and characters of Jeff Vandermeer, Neil Gaiman, and John Langan will find plenty to lose themselves in here with a tale that, while being  heady and intelligent, keeps itself grounded.Continue Reading

Review: The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste

The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste
JournalStone (November 2018)
218 pages; $17.95 paperback; $4.95 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

For those out there who are unfamiliar with Gwendolyn Kiste’s gorgeous prose, The Rust Maidens would be a great place to start. After last year’s stellar collection, And Her Smile Will Untether The Universe, Kiste steps out with her debut novel, which rattles the soul in a disturbing, yet beautiful read.Continue Reading

Review: The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School by Kim Newman

The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School by Kim Newman
Titan Books (October 2018)
400 pages; $10.37 paperback; $6.15 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Kim Newman has an extensive resume that goes far beyond his Anno Dracula — but YA fiction? Gothic young adult fiction? Newman nails this genre in a fascinating story that will recall both Harry Potter and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in a novel that sets itself apart from the others in style and characters.Continue Reading

Review: The Worst is Yet to Come by S.P. Miskowski

The Worst is Yet to Come by S.P. Miskowski
Trepidatio Pub (February 2019)
208 pages; $11.72 paperback; $4.95 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Small town horror. A coming of age novel. The good girl/bad girl conflict. Readers have read it all before, right? Not so. S.P. Miskowski turns the tropes on their heads in this wrenching novel that is bound to leave a scar.Continue Reading

Review: A Midnight Dreary by David Niall Wilson

A Midnight Dreary (The DeChance Chronicles, Vol. 5) by David Niall Wilson
Crossroad Press (January 2019)
218 pages; $25.99 hardcover; $12.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

A novel that features Edgar Allan Poe is always something worth reading, especially as a character who is larger than life, shedding light into his mysterious past and sad fate. Add in dimensional and time travel, creatures of all sorts, the Brothers Grimm, and classic mythology, and the reader is in for a treat.Continue Reading

Review: Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore
Tor (February 2019)
128 pages; $13.53 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Just when you thought Lovecraftian horror couldn’t get any weirder, Scotto Moore tosses  out this tongue-in-cheek tale of a band that is destined to bring about the end of the world. It’s a fun read that can and will be easily read in one sitting, and is sure to leave the reader with a smile.Continue Reading

Review: Wardenclyffe by F. Paul Wilson

Wardenclyffe by F. Paul Wilson
JournalStone (December 2018)
144 pages; $13.95 paperback; $4.95 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

It’s time for a return to the Secret History of the World by the iconic Dr. F. Paul Wilson. That should be enough reason to pick up this short novel about the plant where Nicola Tesla conducted some of his most dangerous experiments. This should serve as an appetizer to the return of Repairman Jack sometime in the very near future (yes, it’s actually happening). For the many fans of both Jack and the Adversary Cycle, Easter eggs abound everywhere, adding to what is a thrilling story on its own.Continue Reading

Review: A Breath After Drowning by Alice Blanchard

A Breath After Drowning by Alice Blanchard
Titan Books (April 2018)
448 pages; $10.37 paperback; $7.49 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

There are psychological thrillers and then there are books that dive deep into the psychology of the characters; into trauma, and the deep pits that therapy and grief can dig.  Alice Blanchard drags the readers into the pit with A Breath After Drowning, a thriller that—while not terribly original—is as close to perfect as it can get in this genre.Continue Reading

Review: It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson

It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life edited by Eugene Johnson
Crystal Lake Publishing (December 14, 2018)
280 pages; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

There are books on writing that inspire, ones that feed the muse, ones that teach, but rarely has there been one that encompasses all three aspects that result in a must-read, must-have companion for the writer’s lair. Continue Reading

Review: The Crate: A Story of War, a Murder, and Justice by Deborah Vadas Levison

The Crate: A Story of War, a Murder, and Justice by Deborah Vadas Levison
WildBlue Press (June 2018)
358 pages; $12.99 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

There are true crime stories and then there are books that delve so much deeper that they embed themselves under the skin and burrow into the psyche. The Crate is the latter — and beyond.Continue Reading

Review: Fantastic Tales of Terror: History’s Darkest Secrets edited by Eugene Johnson

Fantastic Tales of Terror: History’s Darkest Secrets edited by Eugene Johnson
Crystal Lake Publishing (October 2018)
570 pages; $18.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Sometimes an anthology accomplishes what it sets out to do and nails the concept perfectly. That doesn’t happen often in the glut of tired, generic tomes with the same old names rehashing the same old tropes and writing. But, what if someone suggested using those tropes in an alternate history, utilizing some of the most famous names, monsters, and personalities in the genre and creating fantastic tales that run the gamut from fun and entertaining to chilling and all-out weird? Continue Reading

Review: Fauna by David Benton

Fauna by David Benton
CreateSpace (January 2018)
292 pages; $12.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Nature fights back. It’s a familiar theme that has been around forever. To make it special takes some tinkering and imagination, not to mention strong storytelling. David Benton brings something to the table that keeps the teeth gnashing and adrenaline pumping until the final page. He combines the visceral brutality of an Ed Lee or Richard Laymon with the globe-trotting skills of James Rollins, resulting in an exciting romp that evokes The Zoo by James Patterson, but with a message. Continue Reading

Review: Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

Nightingale by Amy Lukavics
Harlequin Teen (September 2018)
352 pages; $12.91 hardcover; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

1951 isn’t the best time to be a teenage girl, especially if she doesn’t feel compelled to fit into the cookie-cutter demure housewife role that was the norm then. Talk about horror! Amy Lukavics follows up her frightening YA breakout The Wolves in the Walls with Nightingale, which readers may feel is on par with Sarah Pinborough with a plot that twists and turns until it constricts like a snake in the shadows.Continue Reading

Review: Subhuman (A Unit 51 Novel) by Michael McBride

Subhuman (A Unit 51 Novel) by Michael McBride
Pinnacle (October 2017)
400 pages; $7.48 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Imagine if Michael Crichton penned The Thing or crossed writing styles with F. Paul Wilson; it might give an idea of what Michael McBride has accomplished in Subhuman. This novel begins a new series (UNIT 51) that looks to be one of the most exciting thriller/horror series in several years.Continue Reading