When reading a new work from Jeff Strand, I’m frequently reminded of the popular line from Forrest Gump: “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'” Will I get something in the horror genre, something delightfully demented, strange, or even charmingly romantic like his Kumquat novel from a couple of years back? Or will I just get chocolate all over the pages of the book?
Echoes of Darkness is a baker’s dozen of high caliber horror shorts; some have been published elsewhere and several are new to this collection. I can’t say I’ve read a lot of Rob Smales’ writing, but this collection has propelled him to the top of my list of writers to keep an eye on. His stories are compelling, entertaining and, on occasion, horrific.
Top notch writing, enjoyable prose, a twisted and demented story… but I was a bit lost at times. Seems Good Girls is book 2 in the Motherless Children Trilogy, something the publisher failed to mention when promoting the book. Now that it’s for sale to the public, I see that it’s listed that way, but it’s also being touted as a stand-alone novel. I, personally, would have preferred reading Motherless Child first.
That being said, there is some wonderful story-telling going on here. From the opening line, there’s magic in the words…
It’s been a year since the events in The Beast of Barcroft, and friends Ben McKelvie and Lindsay Clark are still trying to put their lives back together when they each get a call from the mysterious and very wealthy Richard Severance, asking them to drop everything and head to Minnesota.
Richard has a fascination with cryptozoology, a pseudoscience involving the search for animals whose existence has not been proven due to lack of evidence. This includes living examples of animals that are otherwise considered extinct, animals whose existence lacks physical evidence but which appear in folklore, such as Bigfoot and Chupacabra; and wild animals drastically outside their normal geographic ranges.
SNAFU: Hunters edited by Amanda J. Spedding and Geoff Brown
Cohesion Press (February 2016)
327 pages; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington
Admittedly, I’m a bit of a pessimist. I see an anthology series in its fifth incarnation and I fully expect it not to be as good as its predecessors. I’m overjoyed to say that is not the case with the SNAFU series from Cohesion Press. It’s hard to believe that a little over eighteen months ago the very first SNAFU anthology saw the light of day.
Here’s what I said about the first book…
My expectations were not that high for this anthology. Although I love horror in all its many forms, I’ve never been that big a fan of the military story. Well, I needn’t have worried at all. SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror delivers. Every story killed (pun intended).
Each book in the series has taken a slightly different approach to the military horror theme. This time it’s all about hunters, both the hunter and the hunted.
There are so many talented writers working in the fields of horror and speculative fiction that I’m constantly discovering authors I’ve not read before who immediately leave me wanting to read more of their work. Case in point: Hank Schwaeble. Prior to being sent a copy of this new collection from Cohesion Press, I’d never even heard of him. Maybe I just need to get out more or stay in and read more.
Jonathan Maberry, an author I have read and greatly respect, has penned an excellent introduction to Hank Schwaeble in general and specifically to American Nocturne. In essence, he says Hank is the real deal, and that’s good enough for me.
The Last Weekend: A Novel of Zombies, Booze, and Power Tools by Nick Mamatas
Night Shade Books (January 2016)
252 pages; $33 hardcover; $12.22 paperback; $9,99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington
Despite having the word “Zombies” in the title, this novel is far from your typical zombie fare. If you’re looking for a brain munching gore-fest, you may want to look elsewhere.
On the other hand, if you’re familiar with the Billy Wilder directed film-noir, The Lost Weekend, based on Charles R. Jackson’s 1944 novel of the same name about an alcoholic writer, then you’re in for a real treat.
A marriage that’s falling apart, an apparent suicide, and a haunting that turns out to be so much more. Death Do Us Part by JG Faherty is a thrill ride from start to finish. A complex tale of the lengths one will go to for love and what the dead will do for revenge. This is one of those stories that just reaches out from the pages, grabs you by the collar, and shakes and shakes until you collapse from exhaustion.
2016 is only a few weeks old and already it’s showing signs of being a banner year for horror.
Whether you’re snowbound or it’s too cold to venture outside or you’re just looking for a great read, Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast will keep you warm and entertained for hours.
From the description of the book on the publisher’s website:
One building. Five floors. Five doors per floor. Twenty-five nightmares feeding the hunger lurking between the bricks and waiting beneath the boards.
If that’s not enough to drag you kicking and screaming through the front door, let me introduce you to the tenants on the first floor.
I’ve found myself reading more and more anthologies and collections these days. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy story-telling in the long form, but there’s something about anthologies that allow you to get to know a lot of new authors quickly, and then there are the collections for a single author which permit a more in-depth look into what makes a particular author tick.
Prior to reading Flowers In a Dumpster, I had not read anything by Mark Allan Gunnells. Now that I’ve gotten to know his work, I’m pretty sure I’ll be returning for more.
Prince of Nightmares begins with a Traditional German charm against nightmares…
I lay me here to sleep;
No night-mare shall plague me,
Until they swim all the waters
That flow upon the earth,
And count all the stars
That appear in the firmament.
Thus help me God Father, Son, and Holy host. Amen.
I Will Rot Without You is not a book I would have sought out on my own. I’ve never read anything by the author, other than some of the reviews he’s written on Goodreads. I’ve never read anything from the small press responsible for its publication, although I have read a number of short stories from John Skipp, the owner of Fungasm Press.
I Will Rot Without You was sent to Cemetery Dance for review and when I saw it on the list of books offered this month, I recognized the name from Goodreads and thought this might be interesting. I love it when I’m right.
Dark City: A Novella Collection by Brian Hodge and Gerard Houarner
Necro Publications (August 2015)
240 pages; $11.95 paperback/$3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington
Dark City is a collection of three novellas with varying takes on the apocalypse and the times following such a catastrophic event. The book features one longer piece from Brian Hodge and a couple of smaller novellas by Gerard Houarner.
‘Tis the season…for horror? You betcha. Why should Halloween have all the fun? Editor Chris Morey and the team at Dark Regions Press put together an Indiegogo campaign earlier this year and the result is Christmas Horror Volume 1, a wonderfully enjoyable collection of horror stories for this horror fan’s second favorite holiday, right behind Halloween.
First let me say I am ashamed I have never read anything from John Everson before. Why didn’t someone tell me about this guy? Wow. Sacrificing Virgins is Everson’s fourth collection and contains twenty-five of the darkest, most sexually perverse stories I’ve ever read, and I mean that as a complement.