Review: Ignited Melodies by Emberly Lily Summers

cover of Ignited MelodiesIgnited Melodies by Emberly Lily Summers
Independently Published (March 2021)
128 pages; $7.24 paperback, $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Emberly Lily Summers (Lauren Adele) is native to Baltimore, Maryland, and has been writing for the last ten years. She is a blind author and writes poetry, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy. Her debut novel HUNTED: The Immortal’s Kiss cowritten with Luna Nyx Frost is available on Amazon. She has had several poems featured in Maryland’s Best Emerging Poets 2019 by Z Publishing and Fae Thee Well: An Anthology and Rogues and Rebels: An Anthology both published by Dreampunk Press. Her inspiration comes from nature, the fantasy and paranormal literature, classic musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked and of course, her favorite music ranging from showtunes to punk rock. Emberly also loves reading about magic, mythology, faeries, witches, and dragons. Her newest collection is Ignited Melodies.Continue Reading

Review: All the Colors of the Dark by Chris Whitaker

cover of All the Covers of the DarkAll the Colors of the Dark by Chris Whitaker
Crown (June 2024)
Reviewed by Dave Simms

This novel just might be this year’s Whalefall, a story which defies true categorization but is full of darkness, mystery, and enough emotion to bring a lumberjack to tears.

2024 is shaping up to be even better than last year, which was astounding for dark fiction. Making a best-of list is going to be a tough one, and it’s only July.Continue Reading

Review: Slow Burn by Mike Allen

cover of Slow BurnSlow Burn by Mike Allen
Mythic Delirium Books (July 16, 2024)
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

As Christina Sng writes in the introduction to this collection, “Mike Allen is synonymous with the mysterious and the macabre.” He’s been a Nebula, Shirley Jackson, and World Fantasy Award finalist. He’s won three Rhyslings from the Science Fiction Poetry Association. He’s edited a number of award-winning books and anthologies. It’s no surprise, therefore, that his newest collection, Slow Burn, is yet another incredible read by an incredible horror author and editor. This collection of horror and dark fantasy poetry and short fiction needs to be on the shelf of any horror reader. Continue Reading

Review: Unwelcome Guests by David Kopaska-Merkel

cover of Unwelcome GuestsUnwelcome Guests by David Kopaska-Merkel
Weird House Books (June 2024)
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

David C. Kopaska-Merkel is the editor and publisher of Dreams and Nightmares magazine, and was for six years the editor of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Thirty-two books and thousands of poems and stories have been published in over a thousand venues since the early 1980s. The latest poetry collection is Unwelcome Guests.Continue Reading

Review: Cranberry Cove by Hailey Piper

cover of Cranberry CoveCranberry Cove by Hailey Piper 
Bad Hand Books, LLC (April 2024)
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

Hailey Piper creates a haunting atmosphere and writes with stunning prose in her Bram Stoker Award-winning novella Cranberry Cove.

In the desolate halls of the Cranberry Cove Hotel, there’s an evil once called upon but abandoned. Even rodents didn’t dare enter. No one did until Emberly’s boss, Ricard, sent she and her partner, Conner, on a mission after his son was s*xually assaulted. What stands out here is: one, the victim is male, and two, there’s a lot of nuanced information. He didn’t see his attacker. There don’t appear to be secret passages to allow someone to sneak in and out unseen. Still, Richard’s son is instantly believed, a privilege both cisgender and transgender women fight tooth and nail for. Continue Reading

Review: Blood in the Cut by Alejandro Nodarse

cover of Blood in the CutBlood in the Cut by Alejandro Nodarse
Flatiron Books (June 2024)
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Ignacio “Iggy” Guerra returns home, fresh off a three-year stint in prison, to find nothing but turmoil. His mother has passed away in a tragic accident. His father is angry with Iggy for the mistakes that sent him to prison. His family’s business is struggling, and his neighborhood is being reshaped through a series of unwanted changes.

Iggy, just 23, is standing at a crossroads, and everywhere he turns, there’s another bit of trouble waiting, idling, hoping for the chance to gun the engines and run him down.Continue Reading

Review: Scribe by Michael R. Goodwin

cover of ScribeScribe by Michael R. Goodwin
Dark Pine Publishing (September 2023)
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

In Michael R. Goodwin’s Scribe (the Smolder prequel), an ancient force prowls and feeds in the woods, hungry for women, children, hunters, and whoever should be misfortunate enough to enter the shadows. The Penobscot natives lost several to the evil of the woods, with nothing left of the bodies, only scorched patches of earth.

Finally, an elder arranges a deal, trading sacrifice for immunity.Continue Reading

Review: The Gathering by C.J. Tudor

cover of The GatheringThe Gathering by C.J. Tudor
Ballantine Books (April 2024)
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Full disclosure here: not a vampire fan, because most fiction and movies aim for the tried and true tropes rather than injecting new blood into the subgenre. Once in a while, a novel changes that view. The Gathering is one of those, an enjoyable, left turn of a blood-sucking story that can make the reader forget about the bad stories.Continue Reading

Review: Shadows Abyss by L. N. Frost

cover of Shadows AbyssShadows Abyss by L. N. Frost
Independently Published (December 2020)
116 pages; $10.24 paperback, $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Luna Nyx Frost (Nicole) is a native to Baltimore, Maryland, and has been writing for the last twenty years. She is a blind author and writes poetry, urban fantasy, and paranormal. Her debut novel HUNTED: The Immortal’s Kiss cowritten with Emberly Lily Summers is available on Amazon. After publishing her poetry book. Shadow Abyss: A Book of Poetry, she has had other poems featured in anthologies such as Maryland’s Best Emerging Poets by Z Publishing and in Fae Thee Well by Dreampunk Press. Her passion for writing and reading doesn’t stop at sonnets and novels. Her inspiration mostly comes from nature, ancient history, and classic literature. Luna has also looked up to the magnificent work of poets such as Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickens. She has also read many works by Shakespeare and fables by The Brothers Grimm. Luna has also been intrigued by the great ancient civilizations. Her collection, Shadows Abyss, is available now. Continue Reading

Review: Necrotek by Jonathan Maberry

cover of NecrotekNecroteck by Jonathan Maberry
Blackstone Publishing (May 2024)
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Military science fiction crossed with Lovecraftian horror with a cast of offbeat characters in an adventure that begs for a film adaptation? Yes please!

Jonathan Maberry has conquered a bit of everything in his career, from the straight-up horror that won him a Bram Stoker award to the popular weird adventure series starring Joe Ledger to resurrecting the Weird Tales franchise in style. His style combines Matheson and Bradbury, a pair of giants he knew as a child, along with the fun adventure tales that filled drugstore spinner racks. This is all strong praise, especially for this new novel, which promises to be the start of another successful series.Continue Reading

Review: Hellweg’s Keep by Justin Holley

cover of Hellweg's KeepHellweg’s Keep by Justin Holley
Flame Tree Press (November 2023)
256 pages; $16.77 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Horror in space has always held a special place in many readers’ hearts. However, for the most part it’s been more prevalent on the screen than on the page. Thankfully, the subgenre has been making a comeback in the past few years, striking a fine balance between science fiction and dread.

Justin Holley has added an interesting entry into this canon with Hellweg’s Keep. a novel that brings to mind several elements of well-known and well-loved stories, including The Thing, the worlds of Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft — all while keeping it grounded, no pun intended.Continue Reading

Review: Ink Vine by Elizabeth Broadbent

cover of Ink VineInk Vine by Elizabeth Broadbent
(April 2024)
118 pages
Reviewed by Dave Simms

The horror novella can be a powerful entity. When handled properly, it’s a gut punch, a blade twist to the heart, and a mind screw all at the same time. Elizabeth Broadbent has penned one of those stories here in Ink Vine, a tale that is deeper and more dangerous than the swamp she created within. At 118 pages it hits hard, managing to build an effective setting in a South Carolina that reeks of the dank water, humidity, and scent of the trees which smother visitors who dare to enter. The story manages to be a strong character study with a taut element of horror, yet is so much more.
Labeled by many as a sapphic horror tale, which is true, it’s also an entertaining, quick read that begs to be savored slowly.

Continue Reading

Review: My Darling Dreadful Thing by Johanna Van Veen

cover of My Darling Dreadful ThingMy Darling Dreadful Thing by Johanna Van Veen
Poisoned Pen Press (May 2024)
384 pages
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

My Darling Dreadful Thing by Johanna Van Veen exceptionally invokes gothic tropes such as unearthing buried secrets at a dire cost, and relics of her predecessors to craft a chilling, sapphic love story that is possessive, haunting, and beautiful.Continue Reading

Review: The Werewolf at Dusk and Other Stories by David Small

banner that reads The Comic Vault

cover of The Werewolf at Dusk and Other StoriesThe Werewolf at Dusk and Other Stories by David Small
Liveright (March 2024)
192 pages
Reviewed by Danica Davidson

The Werewolf at Dusk and Other Stories is a haunting triptych of tales about “the dread of things internal.” Done in an illustrated format, it’s kind of like a picture book for adults, and it shows the depth and artistic aesthetics possible in graphic storytelling. This is a book to stay with readers long after they’ve finished the last page, and I’ve never seen anything else quite like it.Continue Reading

Review: Horror Movie by Paul Tremblay

cover of Horror MovieHorror Movie by Paul Tremblay
William Morrow (June 11, 2024)
288 pages
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

In his classic, fatalistic tone, Bram Stoker Award-winner Paul Tremblay cleverly assembles a haunting level of empathy between readers, the narrator, and characters in Horror Movie. At times the story felt all-too real, which will appease fans of Tremblay’s previous work like A Head Full of Ghosts (2015) and The Pallbearers Club (2022). Down the road, maybe even a few weeks from now, the characters’ names from Horror Movie may evade you but you’ll never escape the reality-bending and unsettling “horror void.” Continue Reading