Of Men and Monsters is the perfect summer read. It’s short, accessible, and capitalizes on all that wonderful coming-of-age nostalgia so many of us love and crave.
“A Garbage Man with a Gun”
The first time Billy Summers killed a man, he was barely twelve. By the time he’s eighteen, he’s a sniper with the Marines in Iraq, where he notches up another two dozen kills. Instead of re-upping, he tries to find work back in the States. One of his former Marine friends asks him to kill someone. Thus begins Billy’s career as an elite hitman. His only condition is that his victims have to be demonstrably bad men. He’s not a sociopath driven to kill — he’s just good with a gun. He can hit targets from an incredible distance and then vanish like Houdini without being identified or caught. Now, at the ripe old age of 44, he’s looking to retire. One last job and he’s done.
When I saw Christine Mangan had a new book coming out, I jumped at the chance to read it. I read her debut, Tangerine, three years ago and really enjoyed it. After finishing her newest novel, Palace of the Drowned, I realized Mangan has found her niche. Hollywood film-style noir, brimming with atmosphere, and mixed with slow burning tension is what Mangan does best.
No Lesser Angels, No Greater Devils by Laura J. Campbell
Dark Owl Publishing (May 2021)
300 pages; $11.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
Laura J. Campbell’s newest collection, No Lesser Angels, No Greater Devils, is a weighty but impressive short story collection.
Revelation: The Poppet Cycle Book 1 by Donna J.W. Munro
Omnium Gatherum (January 2021}
229 pages; $14.99 Paperback; $3.99 ebook
Reviewed by Anton Cancre
In the decently distant future, most population centers of the United States of North America are domed cities where even the poorer members of society live in relative ease and comfort. Poppets, the reanimated and mechanized bodies of the deceased, have taken over most manual labor. Outside of the domed cities lies the chaos of the wilds. Ellie, the assumed heir of the company that makes and runs the Poppets, is about to learn that life within and without the domes is far uglier and more complicated than she realizes.
Summer Sons takes a long, hot, minute before it reaches down to stir up all those horror vibes simmering just under the surface.
The story centers on the relationship between Andrew and Eddie. Their seemingly indestructible bond is threatened when Eddie decides to go away for school. Ultimately, Andrew feels like he needs to be with Eddie no matter the cost but before they can reunite, Eddie takes his own life.
Inspired (or most likely angered) by the real-life public murder of Kitty Genovese, Barry Hoffman delivers another character-driven novel in which we’re forced to ask tough questions about our own morality and values. Each character is dissected and examined with surgical precision, and long-time readers of Hoffman should recognize some familiar names in the crowd.
Despite the fact that she is still emotionally recovering from the violent murder of her roommate and best friend by a suspected serial killer, Charlie Jordan accepts a rideshare request from a young man she’s never seen around campus before.
Readers will need to suspend copious amounts of disbelief in order to enjoy this ride, but it’s possible; for curiosity’s sake.
Tears on the Glass Desert: Speculative Poetry of Holocaust, Fallout, and Decay by Wesley D. Gray
Marrowroot Press (June 2021)
47 pages; $5.99 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
Wesley D. Gray is a writer of things mostly strange. His newest collection of poetry is Tears on the Glass Desert, which is a post-apocalyptic nightmare that will certainly capture the attention of horror poetry readers.
After a man attempts a murder/suicide with his 13-year-old son, the boy survives, is orphaned, and goes through a heartbreaking journey into adulthood, where the meat of the book begins.
As an adult, Daniel Russel returns to his hometown, where he’s met with more puzzles than he has clues regarding his father and the town’s history, which ultimately leads to a DIY investigation with the help of one-time crush, Ronnie Candles, and a few unlikely locals.
Hallowed Days by Daniel Hale
JournalStone Publishing (November 2020)
156 pages; $15.95 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
Hallowed Days is a dark fantasy- and horror-themed anthology focusing primarily on Christmas and Halloween. What makes Hale’s fiction so potent is the way he builds up to the ominous dread at the end of his stories. Rarely do we see any actual blood and guts, and most of the stories depend on tiny details that are magnified at the end of the tale.
Double Threat by F. Paul Wilson
Forge Books (June 29, 2021)
384 pages; hardcover $22.99; e-book $13.99
Reviewed by Dave Simms
The Secret History of The World is alive and well in F. Paul Wilson’s Double Threat, an unusual thriller that brings together different puzzle pieces of the author’s diverse career into one novel. For the diehard Repairman Jack fans, this story is a bit out in left field, but in the best possible manner, meaning that while the overarching plotline and universe connects with Wilson’s other works, it utilizes more humor and science fiction than what Jack fans might be accustomed to.
A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film. -Lorrie Moore
I discovered Andersen Prunty during the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 when he kindly offered a few of his titles for free to quarantined/housebound readers. I read Creep House and We Don’t Talk About Her, becoming an instant fan. Prunty has an extremely unique voice and writing style, unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
I’ve been a collector as long as I can remember. From Star Wars figures to comics to trading cards to wrestling magazines to movie posters to….well, you get the picture. This continues today as I peer anxiously at my encroaching dotage, indulging in an old(er) man’s passion for vinyl records and vintage books.
I’ve got my grails, for sure, and a few pieces in my collection(s) that I’d vigorously defend, but damn….I’d never kill anybody over them.
This is a possession story with a twist. A few friends gather together to channel their inner witch vibes and unintentionally conjure up an ancient goddess. This sudden presence in the friend group causes some concern among the girls and their parents. A priest is summoned which only manages to make the situation worse and more dangerous.