Review: 'Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel' by Louis R. Pisano and Michael A. Smith

Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel by Louis R. Pisano and Michael A. Smith
BearManor Media (September 2015)
362 pages; $34.95 hardcover/$23.02 paperback/$9.95 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Jaws2As sequels go, Jaws 2 had one of the hardest acts to follow in cinema history: Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, which stands today as one of the most revered movies of all time, a near-perfect blend of casting, acting and visual storytelling that wears its 40-years-and-counting quite well.

Likewise, Louis A. Pisano and Michael A. Smith’s book, Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel, has a big mountain to climb. Spielberg’s classic has spawned a couple of excellent making-of books: The Jaws Log, a bird’s-eye-view recounting of the film’s production from Jaws screenwriter Carl Gottlieb; and Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard, Jim Beller and Matt Taylor’s lushly illustrated, exhaustively researched account of the filming as told by the residents of the small New England island Spielberg and company took over.Continue Reading

Review: 'The Madness of Cthulhu Volume Two' edited by S.T. Joshi

madnessThe Madness of Cthulhu Volume Two edited by S.T. Joshi
Titan Books (2015)
304 pages; $13.01 paperback/$8.69 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

From the intro to The Madness of Cthulhu Volume Two – “If there is a dominant theme in this volume and its predecessor, it is that of alien incursion, the notion that ‘we are not alone in the universe.'” For me, it’s all about the stories and in this anthology the stories are, for the most part, excellent.Continue Reading

Review: 'The Sandman: Overture' by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III

The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman (writer), J.H. Williams III (illustrator), Dave Stewart (colors), Todd Klein (lettering), and Dave McKean (original series covers) 
DC Comics/Vertigo (November 2015)
224 pages; $14.99 hardcover/$14.24 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

OvertureWhen a series reaches the level of fan adoration and critical acclaim that Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman has, there’s always going to be a clamoring for more. Yes, it has been nearly 20 years since the 75th and final issue of the comic series was published by DC, but the work has aged magnificently, standing even now as a testament to what the medium is capable of, and as a standard which is rarely equaled.

Gaiman has demonstrated on more than one occasion that he’s not opposed to revisiting his creation if he’s got a good story to tell. He wrote The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, and a handful of stories for the Endless Nights anthology, and now he’s come back again with a prequel to the original series. The Sandman: Overture was a six issue limited series that began in 2013, and is now collected in its entirety in a beautiful hardcover edition.Continue Reading

Review: 'Lost in the Dark: A Collection of Short Stories' by Joe Mynhardt

LostDarkLost In the Dark: A Collection of Short Stories by Joe Mynhardt
Crystal Lake Publishing (2012)
200 pages; $6.99 paperback/$0.99 ebook
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Joe Mynhardt is a South African writer of horror with more than 50 published short stories to his credit. He is also the owner and operator of Crystal Lake Publishing, publishers of horror and dark fantasy.

Lost In the Dark: A Collection of Short Stories contains a dozen examples of Joe’s writing covering a wide variety of horror tropes.Continue Reading

Review: 'The Unhinged' by David Bernstein

The Unhinged by David Bernstein
Samhain Publishing (November 2014)
226 pages; $14 paperback; ebook $5.50
Reviewed by Damon Smith

UnhingedIn some ways reading David Bernstein’s The Unhinged reminded me a lot of Brian Keene’s The Rising; not in themes or setting, but in terms of emotions the book got out of me. I felt emotionally drained after finishing The Unhinged.  While Keene’s zombie magnum opus earned that emotional drainage on me with character development and interesting plotting and twists in its respective genre, The Unhinged is merely an unpleasant slog at best.Continue Reading

Review: 'Hot Blood' by Tony Richards

Hot Blood by Tony Richards
Samhain Publishing (September 2014)
362 pages, e-book $6.50, paperback $17.42
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

hot-bloodHot Blood is the story of Tanya Merrit, a Ykraal. Ykraal are night based creatures who burn in the sunlight and require the blood of human beings for strength. They are not, however, vampires. Ykraal have a more symbiotic relationship with their victims, and Tanya is often seen seducing and making love to her victims before drinking their blood, mesmerizing them in the process so there is no pain or fear. When Tanya’s girlfriend, Kathy, is stolen away by a true, parasitic vampire, Wolkran, the novel follows Tanya as she chases Wolkran across the globe in an attempt to stop him and get Kathy back.

For readers looking for an international adventure story, Hot Blood delivers. Continue Reading

Review: 'At the Lazy K' by Gene O'Neill

LazyKAt the Lazy K by Gene O’Neill
Written Backwards (May 2015)
162 pages; $10.00 paperback
Reviewed by W.D. Gagliani

All the best storytellers get it done without verbal fireworks. In fact, too much style can easily get in the way of the story – in part sparseness is what makes hardboiled fiction still work so well decades after it was written. While it’s not in the hardboiled vein, Gene O’Neill’s novella At the Lazy K is a good example of the simple art of storytelling. It’s not as easy to do as it looks, but when it works it should look easy. O’Neill always does well with common man narrators and/or characters, presenting events from their perspective with an old-fashioned street-smart approach that’s winningly convincing.Continue Reading

Review: 'Dead Ringers' by Christopher Golden

Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden
St. Martin’s Press (November 20150
320 pages, e-book $12.99 , hardcover $17.76
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

DeadRingersChristopher Golden adds another quality horror/thriller to his immense body of work with Dead Ringers, a tale of supernatural dopplegängers tormenting a small group of colleagues and friends.

Some authors lay all their cards on the table at the beginning of the story and let readers watch how everything plays out. In this book, Golden chooses to reveal details to us as he reveals them to his characters, making for a much more immersive and, at times, disorienting experience. This approach, coupled with Golden’s solid character work and relentless pacing, makes Dead Ringers a thoroughly enjoyable read.Continue Reading

Review: 'It Waits Below' by Eric Red

It Waits Below by Eric Red
Samhain Publishing (2014)
282 pages, e-book $4.24, paperback $14.13
Reviewed by Damon Smith

ItWaitsBelowOnce it hits its stride, It Waits Below has a blistering pace that is only helped by the relatively short chapter length. But it sadly takes a bit to build up to that breakneck pace, and during that phase the book is somewhat of a slog.

Hundreds of years ago, a meteorite crashed into a Spanish Galleon, sinking both it and a massive hoard of gold to the bottom of the sea. Now in the modern day, a salvaging company is sending down a three-man sub to retrieve that treasure. Little do they know, the meteorite brought an organism to earth with it; a parasite that is more than ready to come to the surface and infect anything it touches…Continue Reading

Review: 'An Exorcism of Angels' by Stephanie Wytovich

An Exorcism of Angels by Stephanie Wytovich
Raw Dog Screaming Press (May 2015)
163 pages, e-book $4.99, paperback $13.95
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

exorcismofangelsSo that we are clear, An Exorcism of Angels is a book of poems about love, but they are a far cry from the images of roses and violets and fleas as sex metaphors. Stephanie Wytovich presents us with love born of need instead of desire. Love that is desperate, angry, bitter and spewing bile and that red, red kroovy all over the place. Love with no happily ever after, ending in padded rooms and jail cells with screams echoing outside and in. Continue Reading

Review: 'Childhood Fears' by Various

Childhood Fears by Various
Samhain Publishing (October 2015)
306 pages, e-book $9.99, paperback $16.99
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

FearsIn May of 2015 Samhain Publishing released four new novellas exploring things that go bump in the night, the things that scared us as kids, and in many cases still frighten us as adults. Now, those four stories are available in a single volume called Childhood Fears.Continue Reading

Review: 'Brother' by Ania Ahlborn

Brother by Ania Ahlborn
Gallery Books (September 2015)
336 pages, e-book $7.99, paperback $12.97
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

brotherThis is the second book I’ve read this year from Ania Ahlborn, having read Within These Walls back in April and now Brother. Both works are fine examples of literary horror and each is well worth your time as a reader.

Brother is the disturbing story of the Morrow family who live deep in the heart of the Appalachians in West Virginia. This is a family that has managed to take all of the fun out of dysfunctional. There is definitely a strange family dynamic at play here, with abusive parents and siblings that are just as bad. “Folks like the Morrows didn’t have much. They got by living off the land.”  This is a quote that goes much deeper than what’s on the surface.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #185: 'The Bazaar of Bad Dreams' review

Featured Review: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

There’s something for everyone in Stephen King’s latest collection. Even the most avid fans who try to track down each short story as it is released will find several new tales in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

bobd-cover-reveal-5Some of the stories were published in the customary places: magazines like The New Yorker, Playboy, Esquire, Tin House, The Atlantic, and Cemetery Dance or in anthologies like Turn Down the Lights and A Book of Horrors, but others were released in less usual places. “Ur” and “Mile 81,” for example, were only released as eBooks. “Blockade Billy” was originally a limited edition novella. “Drunken Fireworks” was previously available only in audio. You’ve only read “Under the Weather” if you bought the paperback version of Full Dark, No Stars. And “Bad Little Kid” is the strangest case of all, previously available only as an eBook in French or German. Two of the stories, “Mister Yummy” and “Obits,” have never been published anywhere before, in any language or using any technology.Continue Reading

Review: 'GodBomb!' by Kit Power

GodBomb! by Kit Power
Sinister Horror Press (September 2015)
190 pages, e-book $3.99, paperback $11.99
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

GodbombI’ve been lucky enough to be reading Kit for a couple of years now. Admittedly, I have not always given him the most positive of reviews, but he’s always been gracious and has continued to work diligently on his craft.  I have to say his perseverance has paid off.

I think I’ve just read the best book I’m likely to read in 2015. Godbomb! is that good. No, not just good.  It’s great. Kit has written a story that takes the reader into the heart of the kind of story we see every day on the news. The kind of story that leaves us shaking our heads at how crazy this world we live in has become.Continue Reading

Review: 'Seize the Night' edited by Christopher Golden

Seize the Night edited by Christopher Golden
Gallery Books (October 2015)
544 pages, e-book $13.99, paperback $11.93
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

seizeChristopher Golden is a very busy writer. If a project involves the written word, it seems as if Christopher is willing to give it a go. This includes comics, media tie-ins, YA novels, and books for adults. Oh, and let’s not forget editing anthologies. Christopher’s latest project is one such anthology. Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror is built upon the premise that “once upon a time vampires were figures of terror…And they can be again.”

The twenty-one authors collected in this volume have accepted that challenge and have largely succeeded in returning vampires and their ilk back into our nightmares where they belong. Although a few stories had me scratching my head looking for the vampiric connection, each tale delivered the goods. And by goods, I mean terror.Continue Reading