Review: The Horror Writer: A Study of Craft and Identity in the Horror Genre edited by Joe Mynhardt

cover of The Horror WriterThe Horror Writer: A Study of Craft and Identity in the Horror Genre edited by Joe Mynhardt
Hellbound Books (January 2020)
216 pages; $14.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Books on writing have been churned out by the dozens, and while many have been worthy reads, few have been standouts. In the horror genre, even fewer come to mind, although there are a few classics.

Joe Mynhardt has compiled a wonderful, useful, and frightening insight into the minds of some of the best dark minds writing today. It’s like someone tore straight into the souls of these authors and culled their best, and darkest secrets.Continue Reading

Review: Tales of the Lost Vol. 1: We All Lose Something! edited by Eugene Johnson and Steve Dillon

cover of Tales of the Lost We All Lose SomethingTales of the Lost Vol. 1: We All Lose Something! edited by Eugene Johnson and Steve Dillon
Things in the Well (December 2019)
283 pages; $15 paperback; $3 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Horror anthologies seem to be emerging like gremlins dunked in fetid water these days. While some are stellar, others fill up the pages with reprints from the greats, and some just fall through the cracks because the authors within aren’t household names.Continue Reading

Review: The Best of Both Worlds by S. P. Miskowski

cover of The Best of Both WorldsThe Best of Both Worlds by S.P. Miskowski
Trepidatio Publishing (May 2020)
80 pages; $9.95 paperback; $4.95 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Skillute is one of those towns that has quickly become one to remember in horror fiction. It’s creeping like a tainted tide, inspired by Oxrun Station from Charlie Grant and Cedar Hill from Gary Braunbeck. The land has been poisoned, seeping into the soil of a town that should be long forgotten, but things that refuse to die grasp hold of the frayed threads of reality in this Pacific Northwestern hell. Good people still reside there, and S.P. Miskowski has made them pawns in her playground, a setting that never can shed the shadows which infect everything that breathes within.Continue Reading

Review: The Faces by Douglas Clegg

The Faces by Douglas Clegg
Alkemara Press (November 2019)
106 pages; $11.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Doug Clegg has long been a fixture of superior horror fiction. The Faces is a perfect representation of what the novella form can be—powerful, succinct, and deep. Fans of The Twilight Zone and the best of Bentley Little with a touch of Harlan Ellison will devour this strong tale within hours.Continue Reading

Review: The Reddening by Adam Nevill

The Reddening by Adam Nevill
Ritual Limited (October 2019)
420 pages; $15.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Adam Nevill is a special writer. Those familiar with The Ritual, either the novel or the Netflix adaptation last year, know it’s a story that elevated horror in a way few authors can these days. Those who are fans of Banquet of the Damned, Last Days, and Apartment 16 realize the man writes with a smooth fury that evokes comparisons of Peter Straub, later-Robert McCammon, or Graham Joyce. Still, Nevill has a voice that’s all his own.Continue Reading

Review: The Boneyard by Keith Minnion

The Boneyard by Keith Minnion
Crossroad Press (September 2014)
320 pages; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Keith Minnion has long been a force in the horror genre, both as an author and artist. He made his name as an illustrator for several magazines and publishers, most notably and recently for the Stephen King/Richard Chizmar novels Gwendy’s Button Box and Gwendy’s Magic Feather. His short stories have been making the rounds since 1979 and his two collections have garnered high praise.

His first novel The Boneyard, immensely readable and well-written, tears into ground that feels untrodden and fresh. Finding something new these days is tough; finding something that is both new and successful in execution is much tougher. This novel nails it on both counts.Continue Reading

Review: The Deep by Alma Katsu

The Deep by Alma Katsu
G.P. Putnam’s Sons (March 10, 2020)
432 pages; $18.39 hardcover; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Those who devoured Alma Katsu’s The Hunger (which should have won awards across the board last year—pun intended) will want to take the plunge into The Deep, a beautifully disturbing cross-genre tale that might even top that previous novel. Whereas The Hunger mined the ill-fated travels of the pioneers who traversed the Donner Pass, this one dives into the mystique of the Titanic, yet with a twist. The ship had a sister—the Britannic. This ship was retrofitted to be a hospital to be used during the war.Continue Reading

Review: Doll Crimes by Karen Runge

Doll Crimes by Karen Runge
Crystal Lake Publishing (November 2019)
222 pages; $11.66 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

We could be looking at the next Jack Ketchum here. Actually, Karen Runge is quite her own identity, her own voice that simply delves into the deep, dark places which Ketchum mined so well. Doll Crimes is a novel that will likely disturb while it also examines the human soul, the good, the bad, and the downright evil in a manner that digs so deep, readers will have a tough time forgetting the characters long after the final page is turned.Continue Reading

Review: The Chill by Scott Carson

The Chill by Scott Carson
Atria (February 11, 2020)
448 pages; $24.30 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

What is The Chill?  Answer: the first great novel of 2020 that sets a high bar for the rest of the genre with a story that both mines familiar territory but digs deeper than most.Continue Reading

Review: Dead Aware: A Zombie Journey by Eleanor Merry

Cover of Dead Aware by Eleanor MerryDead Aware: A Zombie Journey by Eleanor Merry
LAC (August 2019)
154 pages; $8.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

When does a zombie story become interesting again, after the glut that’s thicker than the goo between the undead’s ears? Answer: Dead Aware, a tale that’s enjoyable from start to finish, and was an unexpected pleasure. Told from the points of view of an undead couple—okay, that was enough to hook me from the get-go—Merry’s story chronicles Clara and Max Jacobs from living to dead to undead to… whatever.Continue Reading

Review: Bloodlines by James A. Moore

Bloodlines by James A. Moore
Earthling Publications (October 2019)
304 pages; $45 signed/numbered hardcover
Reviewed by Dave Simms

James A. Moore returns to the blood-drenched streets of Black Stone Bay in the third novel of this thrilling series. For those familiar with the spectacular Halloween series from Earthling’s Paul Miller, you know this annual offering is always a special treat. There’s never been a miss in the fourteen entries by the publisher, and this one is no exception. Continue Reading

Review: Tracks of My Tears by Barry Hoffman

Tracks of My Tears by Barry Hoffman
Edge Books (January 2019)
326 pages; $12.95 paperback
Reviewed by Dave Simms

When someone opens a Barry Hoffman novel, they know the story and characters will leave a scar. Like Jack Ketchum and the best of Richard Laymon, Hoffman never shies away from the ugly side of humanity and the horrors they inflict upon one another. His novels, which include the stellar Eyes series, have always tackled tough subjects, and he continues the trend with this story, one that was influenced by the rash of sexual assaults on college campuses across the country in the past year. Continue Reading

Review: Miraculum by Steph Post

Miraculum by Steph Post
Polis Books (January 2019)
320 pages; $17.10 hardcover; $16 paperback; $1.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

If readers haven’t yet discovered the magic of Steph Post’s enthralling writing, Miraculum is a fine place to start, a novel that should put her on the map with a style somewhere between Gillian Flynn and John Connolly, but with a mark all her own. Continue Reading

Review: Unamerica by Cody Goodfellow

Unamerica by Cody Goodfellow
King Shot Press (June 2019)
448 pages; $14.99 paperback
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Weird fiction is making a massive comeback. Several authors are breaking out of a box they never felt comfortable being trapped in. Cody Goodfellow has never fit in any box. He can nail commercial fiction, straight up horror and other genres with ease, and has done so several years.Continue Reading

Review: Empire of the Goddess by Matthew Warner

Empire of the Goddess by Matthew Warner
(July 2019)
392 pages; $9.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Fantasy with horror or horror with fantasy is tough to nail down (unless your last name happens to be Martin or King). There has been a resurgence recently in the genre due to Game Of Thrones and King’s Dark Tower series, but true stars are tough to find among the mess of copycats. Finding something truly original and fun to read is tougher than pulling a thread of gold from a ton of dragon poop. There are treasures out there, though, and a new one just emerged.Continue Reading