The book Hag by Kathleen Kaufman is exactly what I’ve always wanted in a novel about witches. Every night, I crawled into bed and let my mind escape to the Scottish lowlands to hear more about the Cailleach — an ancient, matriarchal entity. The folklore and legend is intertwined with the modern day, coming-of-age story of the protagonist Alice Grace. Alice Grace has the ability to see things before they happen and sometimes it startles and scares her but often times, the gift serves her well.
When the Night Owl Screams by Michael H. Hanson
MoonDream Press (October 2017)
154 pages, $12.95 paperback; $1.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
When the Night Owl Screams is a collection of dark fantasy and horror poetry. It’s a wonderfully designed book with a very appealing cover, and features some very clever ideas. The poems, however, are clunky. Ultimately, this is a weak collection of poems.
Jeremy Shipp has a unique brand of psychological horror. I read his novella, The Atrocities, earlier this year and was taken aback by Shipp’s bold, almost reckless storytelling choices. It seems like anything can happen in his books which can be quite unexpected for the reader. I would say more often than not these strange, almost absurd plot details are successful in creating an enjoyable reading experience; but sometimes, they’re not.
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.
The Willow By Your Side by Peter Haynes
Unsung Stories (November 2018)
330 pages; $5.99 e-book
Reviewed by Meredith Durfy
The Willow By Your Side is a novel that plays with themes of war and humanity. It also uses conventions of fairy tales. The sister of the unnamed main character runs away from their abusive father who suffers from PTSD. The book is told in reverse order. The main character tries to return his sister home while facing multiple obstacles including a Red Cap.
When a novella starts off with a line like, “Turn left at the screaming woman with a collapsing face,” I’m going to sit up a little straighter in my chair and pay close attention. And that was my reading posture during the duration of time it took me to get to the one hundredth page. Focused.
James Newman lives in North Carolina, USA, and Adam Howe makes his home across the Atlantic in England. Thanks to the power of the Internet, collaborations like this one are possible. The result is both wondrous and wonderful.
So what’s Scapegoat about? Well, I’m glad you asked…
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi
Penguin Books (January 2018)
288 pages, $10.87 paperback; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
Ahmed Saadawi is an Iraqi novelist, poet, screenwriter and documentary film maker. He won the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction for Frankenstein in Baghdad, which was recently translated into English and published by Penguin.
Frankenstein in Baghdad is a Dickensian novel, focused on multiple characters. The titular character, also known as Whatsitsname, comes into being when Hadi, a junk dealer, collects the body parts of bombing victims throughout Baghdad and sews them together in order that there be a body to bury and perform holy rituals for. This piecemeal body gains consciousness and begins to take revenge on the people who are responsible for the death of its individual parts; however, once an individual part is avenged, it begins to disintegrate, requiring the body to constantly be updated with new parts. This starts a vicious cycle of finding parts quickly enough to replace the disappearing parts, and soon the bodies of terrorists and criminals are used, which causes a madness in the creature.
John Everson writes some of the darkest horror imaginable, sprinkles it with a healthy dose of sex, and yet it’s easy to believe every word he puts to paper. His latest story, The House by the Cemetery, is the quintessential October release. It’s the tale of a purportedly haunted house by a cemetery being refurbished as a Halloween attraction.
If you think you’re ready for some of the most brutal, sadistic and in-your-face violent horror that you’ve ever read, then continue reading this review and go ahead and add Episodes of Violence to your shopping cart.
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.
To date, I’ve read all but one of the first nine offerings from Flame Tree Press and I’ve been quite impressed with everything thus far. I’ve actually raved about the first seven books, so to experience a hiccough here at book eight is no real surprise.
The Toy Thief is a creepy tale of two siblings and what they encounter over of the course of one summer in their young lives.
Triple Axe is essentially a murder-revenge story involving the serial murder of porn actresses and the decision of a few to fight back. There isn’t much more to the plot itself than that and you likely already know whether or not you want it.
There’s collaboration, and then there’s art by committee.
Art by committee rarely works. The committee might have formed in order to pursue a common goal, but it’s typically made up of people with different agendas and different ideas on how to reach that goal. These individuals are often more interested in how this committee is going to elevate them to the next, more important committee than whether or not this committee achieves its goal.
Collaboration also involves individuals working together in pursuit of a common goal, but the difference lies in the approach. Collaborators blend their ideas and visions and voices in service of that goal. The idea isn’t to stand out, but to choose the right ingredients to achieve the best possible end result.
Silverwood: The Door is a collaboration…and a successful one, at that.
Kill Hill Carnage is the quintessential Halloween book for any seasoned horror fan or avid reader looking to make an October TBR (to be read) list. The story covers a lot of ground for the genre; easily shelved under several horror sub-genres, which makes it appealing for a wide audience. There’s a little bit of everything here: Teen Drama, Creature Feature, Disaster Horror and Comedy Horror.