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

Review: The Hollow Tree by James Brogden

The Hollow Tree by James Brogden
Titan Books (March 2018)
483 pages; $11.26 paperback; $8.49 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Last year’s dark fantasy underdog breakout, Hekla’s Children, brought the subgenre to life again with a mix of heavy action, horror, and fantasy, with a style that read quicker than a demon on a blood-slicked luge to hell. James Brogden became known in the mix of genres as a voice to be reckoned with, but second novels can be a downfall.Continue Reading

Review: Halcyon by Rio Youers

Halcyon by Rio Youers
St. Martin’s Press (July 10, 2018)
384 pages; $26.46 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Straight from the success of last year’s The Forgotten Girl, Rio Youers bursts back onto the scene with another high-octane thriller that stretches the bounds of reality in a tale which blurs the lines between horror, thriller, mystery, and fantasy. Those familiar with his writing will be treated to another smooth ride that will keep the pages flying. Continue Reading

Review: The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
Grand Central Publishing (June 2018)
352 pages; $17.38 hardcover; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Every once in a while, a book comes along to remind you how much fun reading can be. Thrillers usually fill that void pretty well. Add in some darkness, and opening the covers can feel like a rollercoaster ride designed by Rod Serling when arguing with Clive Barker.Continue Reading

Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Strange Weather by Joe Hill
William Morrow (October 2017)
448 pages; $16.67 hardcover; $16.99 paperback; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

There’s something decidedly different about Joe Hill, besides the obvious relation. His novels and short stories defy categorization, often eschewing the conventions of horror and tropes of speculative fiction in favor of something much more… interesting.Continue Reading

Review: Songs of Dreaming Gods by William Meikle

Songs of Dreaming Gods by William Meikle
Macabre Ink (September 2017)
174 pages; $9.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Haunted house stories have been run into the ground and, in most cases, should be boarded up due to the tropes that lazy writing cannot fix. In recent years, only a few have managed to introduce something new. Examples include House of Leaves, The Unseen, and The Haunted, each bringing a new wrinkle to the subgenre.Continue Reading

Review: Relics—The Folded Land by Tim Lebbon

Relics—The Folded Land by Tim Lebbon
Titan Books (March 2018)
336 pages; $13.09 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Tim Lebbon knows how to spin a tale that envelops the reader in a world they know, and then twists that reality into a unique playground for his characters to battle monsters and create stories which always sidestep cliché.

After a couple of straight-up thrillers, Lebbon returned to the land of weird horror with Relics last year, a novel that detailed the hidden world of the Kin, creatures who existed alongside humans yet are rarely seen. Fairies, nymphs, and monsters beyond description fought for their survival against enemies both human and supernatural.Continue Reading

Review: Cut You Down by Sam Wiebe

Cut You Down by Sam Wiebe
Quercus (February 2018)
288 pages; $15.91 hardcover; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Noir fiction can be a mixed bag in today’s market. Many of the writers seem content to channel Raymond Chandler and roll through a murder-by-numbers plot with the most clichéd characters. Thankfully, a few breathe new life into the mix. Sam Wiebe is one of them. Last year’s The Invisible Dead introduced private investigator Dave Wakeland in the underused but vibrant setting of Vancouver. Coupled with the PI’s journeys into northern Washington State, the book feels fresh and avoids the pseudo-early twentieth century language and tropes.Continue Reading

Review: It, Watching by Elizabeth Massie

It, Watching by Elizabeth Massie
CreateSpace (June 2017)
220 pages; $13.95 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

In her first collection in several years, Elizabeth Massie returns with a thrilling collection of short stories. The Bram Stoker-winning author has put together eighteen tales, several of which are new to readers, and there’s not a clunker in the bunch.Continue Reading

Review: And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe by Gwendolyn Kiste

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe by Gwendolyn Kiste
JournalStone (April 2017)
210 pages; $15.95 paperback; $3.95 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Remember this name. Gwendolyn Kiste will one day rule the world of dark short fiction if there’s any justice. Every once in a while, a new voice emerges and takes the genre by storm. Several have broken the surface lately and shown tinges of greatness to be, but rarely is one “born” with a style and substance this mind-boggling.Continue Reading

Review: The Hunger by Alma Katsu

The Hunger by Alma Katsu
G.P. Putnam’s Sons (March 2018)
384 pages; $16.00 hardcover; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

The release of Alma Katsu’s new historical horror novel brings with it comparisons to The Terror by Dan Simmons, even including both of them in social media ads. Do not be fooled. Yes, both authors bring impeccable research to fine stories and put you right there in the moment with ease. Both examine the human condition and how people can easily be turned to embrace their shadow selves, the monsters within the person.

Yet, there are a couple of major differences. Continue Reading

Review: Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry

Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin’s Press (March 2018)
352 pages; $20.19 hardcover; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Those fans who are hoping to find the swashbuckling heroics of the Joe Ledger novels or the zombified madness of the Rot and Ruin series will be in for a big surprise with Glimpse. Maberry has penned a decidedly different book here, a thriller that delivers for that genre yet still hits on the edges of reality, stretching the imagination in a manner that is utterly human, but entrenched in a Twilight Zone-type story.Continue Reading

Review: The Changeling by Victor LaValle

The Changeling by Victor LaValle
Spiegel & Grau (March 2018)
448 pages; $12.30 paperback; $10.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

There are relatively few new authors in the horror/speculative field today who can make a reader both disappear into a book and later sit back in awe of the pure storytelling and the ease in which the language flows in such an enthralling, dark manner. John Langan is one. Sarah Pinborough is another. Victor LaValle ranks near the top of the list.Continue Reading