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review 2017-09-03 18:09
Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction From the 70's and 80's by Grady Hendrix
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction - Grady Hendrix

 

A book about the period of time when the horror genre ruled the paperback racks at the bookstore? A book about the period of time in my life, (about Carrie's age, in fact), when I felt like an outsider, and horror made me feel included? Sign me up! Luckily, Quirk books and NetGalley did just that, and here we are.

 

This book is a reference book, a guide to life and times in the United States in the 70's and 80's. Things going on in the world and in society always affect our fiction and those times were no different. Paperbacks from Hell puts it all into perspective in an easy to read and humorous way. All the while vividly punctuated with those freaking AWESOME horror book covers of that time!

 

I bet you remember those covers too. The Sentinel with the priest looking out at you; Flowers in the Attic with those children looking out at you...and ALL those children from the John Saul books, (though at least one was blind and was NOT looking at you.) I had a mad grin on my face the entire time I was reading this, and with its funny chapter titles like "What to Expect When You're Expecting (a Hell Baby)," and its funny observations about life back then, how could I not? I'd wager that you'll have a mad grin on your face too.

 

 

 

Contributing a great deal to this book was Will Errickson and his blog, Too Much Horror Fiction. You can and should (!) find it here: Too Much Horror Fiction

 

Paperbacks From Hell gets my highest recommendation! Period. You can pre-order your copy here. (I did!): Paperbacks From Hell

 

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quirk books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it. *

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review 2017-05-09 18:35
The Well by Jack Cady, (Introduction from Tom Piccirilli)
The Well - Jack Cady,Tom Piccirilli

"There are Things that do not love the sun. They weep and curse their own creation. Sometimes on earth a cruel shift takes place. Time splits. Corpses possessed at the moment of their death rise from tombs. The dark ages of history flow mindless from stagnant wells and lime-dripping cellars. The corpses, those creatures of possession, walk through ancient halls and rooms."

 

So starts Jack Cady's The Well.

 Extremely well written, this is an excellent haunted house story, but it's also much more than that. It's A tale spanning generations, sprinkled throughout with genius and madness alike.

 

"He thought he knew the look of greed, lust, envy; but he realized without question that he was now looking at the force that embodied them all. He was looking at absolute evil."

 

This edition from Valancourt Books features a touching Introduction from Tom Piccirilli, (who has since passed away.) In it, Tom speaks of the kindness Jack Cady showed him when he first started out, which is coincidental-because I recently read a piece by another author who said the very same things about Tom Piccirilli. Tom goes on further to talk about The Well and how it influenced him and his writing, and now having read the book, I can see why. I'm glad that I bought my very own copy, because I'm sure I'll be reading it again in the future.

 

Note to self: Check out more works written by Jack Cady, ASAP.

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review 2016-10-30 16:48
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume One
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories - Francis King,John Blackburn,Richard Marsh,Michael McDowell,Stephen Gregory

 

The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume One is one of my favorite collections of this year, and that's saying a lot because I've read some STELLAR collections in 2016. This is one of the rare times that every. single. story. worked.

 

The stand-outs to me were: Miss Mack by Michael McDowell. It's McDowell. How could it not be good? This starts out as such a nice story about a friendship between two women and then it takes a sharp turn into darkness. Permanent darkness.

 

Furnished Apartments by Forest Reid (I would be remiss if I did not mention the excellent intro to this little known author's story. This, and the story itself made me want to immediately read more of Reid's work.) This is a creepy little story about (surprise!) a furnished apartment for rent.

 

A Psychological Experiment by Richard Marsh Most known these days for his novel, "The Beetle", Richard Marsh wrote over 80 books and 300 short stories. This particular tale is a delicious story of revenge featuring some creepy crawlies. I absolutely loved it.

 

The Progress of Arthur Crabbe by Stephen Gregory Stephen Gregory is another favorite author of mine. He's not as prolific as I wish he would be. Valancourt somehow dug up this nasty tale, (which, once again, features a bird), originally published in the Illustrated London News back in 1982. I am so glad they did! I have read everything I could get my hands on from Mr. Gregory. Without Valancourt, I would never have had the opportunity to read this gem.

 

California Burning by Michael Blumlein Michael Blumlein is another author introduced to me via Valancourt Books. They published his collection: The Brains of Rats which contains one of the most disturbing short stories I've ever read. Once again, Blumlein knocked my socks off with this story of a man whose bones would not burn.

 

The Terror on Tobit by Charles Birkin A beautifully written tale and one I found to send chills up my spine. Not only because of the spookiness of the story, but because of the amazing prose. I've never even heard of this guy before, but now I want to read everything he's written.

 

The Head and the Hand by Christopher Priest Probably most well known for his novel The Prestige , Christopher Priest's contribution to this collection was superb. It reminded me a bit of Katherine Dunn's Geek Love and makes me wonder if she ever read The Head and the Hand. It's a rather weird tale, but I loved it. Plus it made me REALLY want to read The Prestige which has been sitting on my Kindle for well over a year.

 

I could go on and on, because as I said every story in this collection worked for me. I can't write a review that's a long as the book though, so just a few more things. The intros to these stories were excellent. Many of them talk about how these authors were prolific back in their day and now have been forgotten. I love that Valancourt is dedicated to bringing these authors back into the public eye. I'm going to do my best to read more of the authors that appealed most to me, like Priest and Birkin.

 

This collection receives my highest recommendation! Every single story is thought provoking and even the introductions to the tales are well written and informative. Plus, these aren't a bunch of stories that you've already read in countless other collections and anthologies. Valancourt worked hard to bring you enticing pieces that will likely be unfamiliar to most contemporary horror readers. All I can say to that is BRAVO! (And MORE, PLEASE!!)

 

Get your own copy here: The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories

 

*A free copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review. This is it!*

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review 2016-08-26 22:05
Dark Gods by T.E.D. Klein
Dark Gods - T.E.D. Klein

 

First, I would like to say thank you to my friend Ryan Cagle for so kindly sending me a copy of this book. Thanks, Ryan!

 

Second, this collection of 4 novellas was a find example of literary horror fiction. The stories were well written, dripping with creepy atmosphere, and thought provoking. There were some Lovecraftian references that I enjoyed, as well as a few shudder provoking scenes; most especially with the first novella, Children of the Kingdom. Well done!

 

Highly recommend for fans of literary horror fiction and fans of Lovecraft!

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review 2016-07-19 22:05
Spectral Shadows by Robert Westall
Spectral Shadows: Three Supernatural Novellas (Blackham's Wimpey, The Wheatstone Pond, Yaxley's Cat) - Robert Westall

Spectral Shadows is a collection of three novellas written by Robert Westall. This is my third story collection from Westall and I've loved them all.

 

Blackham's Wimpy is the story of a haunted plane. There's lots of English slang, but it's easy to glean the meanings from the surrounding text. Now that I've read this masterfully told story, I wonder why no one else has thought or wrote about a haunted warplane before? Perhaps it's not really as easy as Westall makes it look, but it's one helluva story!

 

The Wheatstone Pond-is a nifty tale, returning to the framing device of a mature antique dealer, a technique Westall used in his collection Antique Dust (Click to see my review). It worked for me then, and it worked for me now. Also, it's just interesting to think about the history of things only recently unearthed, (or in this case unwatered?) Who did they belong to and how did they get there? Sometimes, curiosity kills the cat.

 

Speaking of which, Yaxley's Cat is the last story here, and even though I didn't care much for the main character, this one was my favorite of the bunch. I'm a sucker for evil in a small town stories and this one certainly fits the bill. An abandoned home in a small village becomes the vacation destination of a young married woman, her son and daughter. Even though there's no electricity, her children beg her to stay and stay they do. I can't say much more without spoiling things, but I thought this tale was fun, even if a bit predictable.

 

Robert Westall is an author I would have never discovered without the aid of Valancourt Books. He was a treasure that I somehow missed and I'm glad he was finally brought to my attention. His stories are usually genuinely creepy and family friendly. I like that and find it refreshing.

 

I highly recommend this collection of novellas and if you decide to give it a try, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

 

*A free e-copy of this book was provided by Valancourt Books in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

 

20 Books of Summer: Book 18

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