Review: Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire edited by Vince Liaguno

Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire edited by Vince Liaguno
Evil Jester Press (October 2017)
404 pages; $14.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

In his introduction, accomplished author and editor Vince Liaguno describes the theme of Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire as “desire gone awry.” This theme winds through a strong slate of stories selected by Liaguno for his follow-up to the Bram Stoker Award-winning collection Unspeakable Horror (2008). As we often see in real life, these stories portray desire as a catalyst for more than pleasure; often, desire leads to unintended consequences, bad decisions, and terrible results.Continue Reading

Review: Teeth of the Sea by Tim Waggoner

Teeth of the Sea by Tim Waggoner
Severed Press (October 2017)
182 pages; $10.95 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Teeth of the Sea begins from the point of view of some very large sea creatures and returns to that viewpoint periodically throughout, to great effect.

Most of the action takes place in and around the relatively new luxury resort, Elysium, far from anywhere, in the middle of the ocean. Ancient sea creatures return to the place where they’ve come every ten years or so to lay their eggs and they are terribly hungry.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Buffalo Soldier’ by Maurice Broaddus

Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus
Tor (April 2017)

144 pages, $9.57 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

So, we’ve got Desmond Coke, right? He’s a former James Bondian spy (full of all the expected baddass, class and Dapper Dan style that goes with the title) who found out a little too much. There’s also this boy, Lij Tafari, stuck at the center of the “too much” I just mentioned. They strike off from their home to find a place where the boy can live a normal life in peace, without being the pawn of political figureheads.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Black Bottle Man’ by Craig Russell

Black Bottle Man by Craig Russell
Great Plains Teen Fiction (February 2012)

176 pages, $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Black Bottle Man is a young-adult horror story based around the traditional “deal with the devil” plot. Russell, however, makes the plot seem fresh with his historical take. He also twists the traditional roles of the devil’s bargain into a unique novel which is sure to entertain audiences.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Cthulhu Blues: A SPECTRA Files Novel’ by Douglas Wynne

Cthulhu Blues: A SPECTRA Files Novel by Douglas Wynne
JournalStone (September 2017)
302 pages; $16.93 paperback; $4.95 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Cthulhu Blues is a fitting conclusion to the SPECTRA Files series which began in 2015 with Red Equinox and continued last year with Black January. I’m going to miss Becca Philips and Jason Brooks as they battle the cosmic horrors found in the Lovecraftian mythos. I’ll even miss Becca’s dog Django.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror’ by Jasper Bark

Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror by Jasper Bark
Crystal Lake Publishing (September 2017)
123 pages; $12.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke

Quiet Places opens with a prologue presenting mysterious goings-on in the small village of Dunballan. Right away we’re given a potentially exciting premise as a lone woman aids local residents in their vegetative states, picking random citizens to assist while they stand slack jawed and wide eyed, empty bellies and soiled clothes.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Strange Weather’ by Joe Hill

Strange Weather by Joe Hill
William Morrow (October 24, 2017)
448 pages; $17.10 hardback; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Earlier this year, people began calling 2017 “The Year of King.” The “King” in question is Stephen King, who’s had a busy year even for, well, Stephen King: new television series based on his novella The Mist and Mr. Mercedes; a milestone birthday (his 70th) in September; a critical and box office smash hit in IT; two more critically acclaimed adaptations for Netflix in Gerald’s Game and 1922; and a brand new novel, Sleeping Beauties, co-written with his son Owen.

Now, as the year is winding down, it’s King’s other son, Joe Hill, who has stepped up to claim his place in “The Year of King” with Strange Weather, a collection of four short novels and one of the strongest overall works in Hill’s already illustrious career.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Angler in the Darkness’ by Edward M. Erdelac

Angler in the Darkness by Edward M. Erdelac
CreateSpace (April 2017)
384 pages; $14 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chris Hallock

Versatile scribe Edward M. Erdelac is a whiz at seamless genre-blending, exemplified by his popular Merkabah Rider series featuring a demon-fighting Hasidic gunfighter and his exploits in the Wild West. Erdelac occupies a special place in literature, honoring the tradition of high concept fantasy engineered by luminaries Robert E. Howard and Jules Verne, spliced with the gritty DNA of Elmore Leonard and Joe R. Lansdale.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Hap and Leonard: Savage Season’ adapted by Jussi Piironen

Hap and Leonard: Savage Season adapted and illustrated by Jussi Piironen
Short, Scary Tales Publications/IDW (October 2017)
124 pages; £39.95 signed, numbered hardcover; $17.99 paperback; $7.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Joe R. Lansdale’s “Hap and Leonard” series isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind when considering what books would benefit from being adapted in graphic novel form. Lansdale’s series, about a couple of blue collar buddies whose keen sense of right and wrong gets them into escalating amounts of trouble with bad guys and good guys alike, is elevated by the author’s sharp dialogue and natural storytelling ability—two things which could easily be lost in translation when moving to the more visual medium of comics.Continue Reading

Bev Vincent reviews Gerald’s Game

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

The Moonlight Man

There’s a lot to like in Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of Gerald’s Game, a book long thought to be unfilmable since so much of it consists of internal dialog, with the main character handcuffed to a bed for much of it.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Goat Song Sacrifice (Death Metal Epic II) by Dean Swinford

Goat Song Sacrifice (Death Metal Epic II) by Dean Swinford
Atlatl Press (May 2017)

201 pages, $13.00 paperback
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

Welcome back to the continuing adventures of David Fosberg, intrepid aspiring purveyor of the metallic arts most black. If you read Book One (The Inverted Katabasis), that is. If not, you’ll probably still be okay. We start off with Davey living la vida nekro in Belgium with his new bandmate, Svart. Surfing couches, drinking beer and playing only the most kvlt riffs as a part of Desekration. New members are discovered and more things happen.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Goblin’ by Josh Malerman

Goblin by Josh Malerman
Earthling Publications (October 2017)
$50 signed & numbered hardcover (limited to 500)
Reviewed by Dave Simms

It’s that time of year again when horror is in the air, a celebrated author is called up, and Earthling Publications churns out another Halloween masterpiece. This year, the newest superstar in the genre, Josh Malerman, takes the helm and delivers one of the best offerings in the history of the series.

Goblin is Derry. It’s Oxrun Station. It’s Cedar Hill. It’s Green Town. It’s all of us in our home towns and yet, it’s something brand new where the greats would likely fear to live. Think of Goblin as Derry’s disturbed little brother.

This book, comprised of a sextet of short novellas, takes the small town motif and shreds it, molding it into something which fills the reader with uneasy pleasure from cover to cover. Malerman, fresh off the success of his second novel Black Mad Wheel and news that Bird Box will soon be a major motion picture, seems to display more skill, more darkness, with each story.

“A Man In Slices” shows how friendship can be a tricky concept. One boy does whatever he can to help his lonely friend, at any cost.

“Kamp” is a lighter tale about a man petrified of a seeing a ghost. Everyone in his family has, and he knows his time is coming. How Walter copes with the expectation will make many reader feel a bit better about their own issues with things that go bump in the night.

“Happy Birthday, Hunter” displays the heart and obsession of a man who cannot give up the hunt. Nash’s addiction comes to a boiling point during his 60th birthday party when he decides to kill Goblin’s most prized game in the north woods, a place from which no one ever returns.

“Presto” is a love affair with magic, the oldest and darkest kind where a young boy seeks to learn the secrets behind his favorite performer in a story which channels classic Bradbury.

“A Mix-Up At The Zoo” details the inner struggle of Dirk, a man who switches jobs to become a tour guide in a zoo, a far cry from his other employment in the slaughterhouse. He finds a talent for understanding the mighty beasts within the cages but feels a certain darkness brewing when he drifts off in thought.

“The Hedges.” Those mazes built in corn and the famed topiary in the film version of The Shining emerge here in the final story of the collection. Young Margot claims to have solved the unsolvable creation by Wayne Sherman. What she finds at the end causes her to alert the Goblin Police, a decision which might be worse than keeping the secret to herself.

The mythology about Goblin’s history is richly drawn within these stories and connects them with a style that keeps the pages turning. Malerman has created a town which may even be darker than King, Grant, and Bradbury’s nightmares. Goblin is all Malerman and should be listed on every horror reader’s itinerary of places to visit, with the lights turned low and the night breeze creeping into the room.

An incredible Halloween find for all.

Bev Vincent reviews ‘Sleeping Beauties’ by Stephen King and Owen King

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King
Scribner (September 26, 2017)
720 pages
Reviewed by Bev Vincent

The world has ended in many ways in post-apocalyptic fiction, but Owen and Stephen King have created a scenario unlike any other. It happens all at once, around the globe. Women who go to sleep (or are already asleep when the epidemic begins) won’t wake up. They form cocoons and go into a kind of hibernation. Disturbing sleeping women is a bad, bad idea: they attack anyone who breaks through the gauzy material.

Apparently pitching story ideas is a thing in the King family. Sleeping Beauties came about because Owen King suggested this idea to his father; it sounded like a Stephen King kind of story. The elder King immediately thought of all the possible ramifications of this concept, but told Owen he should write it. Eventually they agreed to work on it together.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Night Moves’ by Mary SanGiovanni

Night Moves by Mary SanGiovanni
Post Mortem Press (July 2017)

216 pages, $16.00 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

Fair warning: you may be disappointed to find out that Night Moves is not themed around the works of Bob Seger and his hallowed band of Silver Bullet miscreants. However, it does contain seven short stories and two novellas by one of the finest purveyors of weird horror in the business. Continue Reading

Review: ‘Bloodstained Wonderland’ by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore

Bloodstained Wonderland by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore
Earthling Publications (June 2017)
136 pages; $35.00 signed, numbered hardback
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Down the rabbit hole she goes, only this time it’s wrapped in barbed wire and tinged with venom. Bloodstained Wonderland rambles through a nightmarish land which Lewis Carroll could only have imagined if his mind melded with Clive Barker on a weekend bender of LSD and Absinthe.Continue Reading