Review: ‘The Fisherman’ by John Langan

thefishermanThe Fisherman by John Langan
Word Horde (June 2016)
352 pages; $11.03 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by David Simms

Imagine, if you will, a dark tale co-written by Peter Straub and Thomas Ligotti, filtered through the whimsical sensibilities of Neil Gaiman and spoken to a friend over beers at a campfire. If that image conjures up something quite different than what you’ve read lately, John Langan’s The Fisherman might just be what a jaded reader craves this year.  

The term “literary horror” is often misunderstood, sometimes turning away the casual fan and other times focusing more on the writing than the story itself. Fear not, this intriguing novel dispels the misconceptions as it is a smooth read, almost begging to be read on the porch with feet up and a drink in hand.Continue Reading

Review: ‘The Shadow Fabric’ by Mark Cassell

shadowfabricThe Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell
Herbs House (September 2014)
340 pages; $12.99 paperback; $1.99 e-book
Reviewed by Josh Black

Leo remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day, he witnesses a murder, and the Shadow Fabric—a malevolent force that controls the darkness—takes the body and vanishes with it.

Uncovering secrets long hidden from humankind, Leo’s memory unravels. Not only haunted by his past, a sinister presence within the darkness threatens his existence and he soon doubts everything and everyone… including himself.

Now Leo must confront the truth about his past before he can embrace his future. But the future may not exist.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Odd Adventures with Your Other Father’ by Norman Prentiss

OddAdventuresOdd Adventures with Your Other Father by Norman Prentiss
Kindle Press (May 2016)
217 pages; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

Norman Prentiss immediately distinguished himself from average horror fare with his debut novella Invisible Fences. A brilliant character study about the fears we inherit from our parents, and also about the guilt we carry deep inside us, it embodied the best of the “quiet horror” sub-genre with powerful, creeping atmosphere and an exploration of the human psyche.

Invisible Fences won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in long fiction (as a novella), an award well-deserved. Norman followed this up with his mini-collection Four Legs in the Morning, another brilliant exercise in quiet horror, about the machinations of Dr. Sibley, Chair of the English Department at Graysonville University, and the unpleasant fates of those who try to oppose him. Personally, I can’t to read about this mysterious (maniacal?) character again.

With his first full-length novel, Odd Adventures with Your Other Father, Prentiss has once again distinguished himself from others in the horror/weird fiction field. Continue Reading

Review: ‘Growing Dark’ by Kristopher Triana

growingdarkGrowing Dark by Kristopher Triana
Blue Juice Books (May 2015)
188 pages; $14.95 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Josh Black

Kristopher Triana isn’t a writer with a big back catalog. Nearly half of this debut collection is new material, the rest of it having been published within the past six years. Going by the strength of these stories, it’s a safe bet we’ll be seeing his name a lot more in the years to come.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Wrath and Ruin’ by C.W. Briar

wrathandruinWrath and Ruin by C.W. Briar
Splickety Publishing Group (July 2016)
302 pages; $22.95 Hardcover; $12.45 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

A highly satisfying mix of genres, C.W. Briar’s debut short story collection Wrath and Ruin offers a voice reminiscent of George MacDonald and C. S. Lewis, with a healthy sampling of Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. With a clear moral compass, Briar has crafted several speculative tales which target demons of the human soul: lust, greed, obsession with fame and power, and pride.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Puppet Skin’ by Danger Slater

PuppetSkinPuppet Skin by Danger Slater
Fungasm Press (July 2016)
126 pages; $8.95 paperback; $4.95 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Adolescence is its own kind of horror show, as anyone that lived through it can attest. I’m quite a few years removed from it myself, but reading Danger Slater’s Puppet Skin served as a striking, less-than-fond look back at that time—albeit through a warped and cracked lens.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Floaters’ by Kelli Owen

FloatersFloaters by Kelli Owen
CreateSpace (July 2016)
270 pages; $10.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Two quotes at the start of Floaters set the tone perfectly for the story which follows:

America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil. Before the settlers, before the Indians…The evil was there…Waiting. — William S. Burroughs

Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful. — Mary Shelly, Frankenstein

Kelli Owen’s new book starts out looking like a police procedural involving flood waters causing a riverside graveyard to lose a number of its residents, including several Native Americans. It’s all fairly straightforward, until BAM…tentacles.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Jedi Summer with The Magnetic Kid’ by John Boden

jedisummerJedi Summer with The Magnetic Kid by John Boden
Post Mortem Press (July 2016)
76 pages; $10.00 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

There’s something about coming-of-age stories that resonate with the child we used to be. The nostalgic longing for a simpler time allows us, just for a little while, to escape the often maddening grownup world we live in. When a writer is able to balance that nostalgia with a clear eye, avoiding romanticizing or demonizing the past, you’ve got something special indeed.

That’s what John Boden has done with Jedi Summer with the Magnetic Kid. He’s offered us a clear view to a simpler time which wasn’t without its own complications, but it isn’t a bitter, depressing tale either. It’s simply what it is: a story about childhood, a time which can never be again.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Deadsville’ by T.D. Trask and Dale Elster

deadsvilleDeadsville by T.D. Trask and Dale Elster
Downtown Books Publishing (September 2015)
200 pages; $22.49 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Josh Black

1 TOWN. 2 AUTHORS. 13 TALES OF HORROR.

That’s the short and sweet pitch for Deadsville, the first anthology from authors T.D. Trask and Dale Elster. The fictional upstate New York town of Rock Creek is host to some strange and horrible things. Being a big fan of Kevin Lucia’s Clifton Heights mythos, I was intrigued by the idea and eager to get lost in another town full of stories to explore. Trask and Elster alternate tales here, their styles ranging from subtle to slapstick to gore-drenched, and all this from moment to moment rather than story to story. You never know what you’ll get next, and it’s done in a way that won’t push away readers who lean hard toward any particular aspect of the genre.Continue Reading

Review: ‘The Booking’ by Ramsey Campbell

booking-cover-mockupThe Booking by Ramsey Campbell
Dark Regions Press (2016)

75 pages; $13.00 paperback; ebook $3.99
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

The Booking is a tight little yarn about Keifer, a man flailing to find his place in a new job. Simple enough idea. Of course, that new job is putting together a website for a bookstore that seems as reclusive and crotchety as its owner. A mess of disjointed words cloistered in shabby isolation from the surrounding world that seems to drag Keifer deeper into itself as he tries to bring its contents out to the public.

Though quite short, this is a very slow moving story. For most of it, very little occurs and much of that is quite mundane. Personally, I like how long Campbell took setting up the character and the situation and really cementing the atmosphere of Books Are Life. We spend so much time in the head of Keifer and in the abode of Mr. Brookes that they begin to feel as if they have wrapped themselves around us. The whole bears the feeling of Campbell slowly, meticulously setting up an array of dominoes, full or whorls and loops and inwardly spun spirals. The process is dizzying, but fraught with anticipation.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Psychopomp & Circumstance (Books of Nethermore #1)’ by Adrean Messmer

psychopompPsychopomp & Circumstance (Books of Nethermore #1) by Adrean Messmer
A Murder of Storytellers (April 2016)
186 pages; $9.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Josh Black

Psychopomp & Circumstance, the first in a series of standalone books, is Adrean Messmer’s first novel.

It follows a group of friends and “frenemies” somewhere between the carefree world of high school and the uncertainty of what comes next. Unfortunately for them, what’s going on in the present—and whether they’ll even live long enough to see college or careers take off—is just as uncertain. After one of them posts a Facebook update she has no recollection of, things get weird. People are missing. People are dying. Lurking somewhere around the periphery of it all is the Sewercide Man, a mysterious figure glimpsed only occasionally, but whose mere presence seems to bring chaos and have a disconcerting effect on the recently deceased.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Where You Live’ by Gary McMahon

whereyouliveWhere You Live by Gary McMahon
Crystal Lake Publishing (November 2013)
266 pages, $12.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Where You Live is a varied collection of short stories by Gary McMahon. McMahon is an award winning author of both novels and short stories, and this collection gathers some of his best together. The bulk of this collection was originally published as a limited edition book from Gray Friar Press titled It Knows Where You Live, but the current collection expands that previous collection with newer stories and makes it available to a wider reading public. Overall, Where You Live is a really satisfying collection of horror pieces.Continue Reading

Review: 'The Devil's Evidence' by Simon Kurt Unsworth

devilsevidenceThe Devil’s Evidence by Simon Kurt Unsworth
Doubleday (July 2016)
400 pages; $20.34 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Thomas Fool, The Devil’s Detective, is an Information Man and a human among demons. Fool is the Commander of the Information Office, a position in Hell for which he gets little respect. Along comes a new department in Hell, The Evidence, headed by Mr. Tap. All they seem to do is get in the way of the Information Men: 

They didn’t investigate, they simply tore things apart and reached conclusions that made little or no sense, and then executed justice on the spot.

Continue Reading

Review: ‘The Devil’s Evidence’ by Simon Kurt Unsworth

devilsevidenceThe Devil’s Evidence by Simon Kurt Unsworth
Doubleday (July 2016)
400 pages; $20.34 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Thomas Fool, The Devil’s Detective, is an Information Man and a human among demons. Fool is the Commander of the Information Office, a position in Hell for which he gets little respect. Along comes a new department in Hell, The Evidence, headed by Mr. Tap. All they seem to do is get in the way of the Information Men: 

They didn’t investigate, they simply tore things apart and reached conclusions that made little or no sense, and then executed justice on the spot.

Continue Reading

Review: 'Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow'

JustDessertsCoverJust Desserts: The Making of Creepshow
Synapse Films (July 12, 2016)
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

In 1982, director George Romero and author Stephen King—horror royalty then and now—unleashed Creepshow, an anthology film born out of their mutual appreciation of 1950s horror comics. Realizing that capturing the unique look of those comics was going to be crucial to the movie’s success, they brought special effects superstar Tom Savini on board to help realize their vision. The result was a modest hit that has seen its stature grow among horror fans over time—enough so that its making-of documentary, Just Desserts, has become one of the most anticipated horror Blu-Ray releases of the summer.Continue Reading