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review 2017-11-17 19:44
Hell House by Richard Matheson
Hell House - Richard Matheson,Ray Porter

Bought during Audible's $2.99 sale (10/13/17)! . It's more now, sorry about that.

 

A rich guy offers to pay a group of people to stay a few nights in a haunted house to prove there is life after death. All previous attempts to do such a stupid thing at this particular house have ended very badly for the suckers brave or stupid or hard-up enough to have a sleep-over. It’s no different this time around.

 

I read this book closely on the heels of finishing up Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House which was probably a big mistake on my part as the premise of these two books is nearly identical and Jackson’s story didn’t thrill me the way it did most people. Same goes for Hell House though I did like it a wee bit more than Jackson’s story but probably only because it was more lurid and crazy-pants and I like that kind of thing but it does suffer from the same over the top characterization.

 

This story is much more sexually horrifying. Some of the things that happen within these pages are upsetting. Trust me on this. The house was basically turned into a pit of debauchery and hellish events when its original owner cuts loose with a group of hangers-on who dip into orgies, drugs, murder, cannibalism (as you will, I guess) and every other nasty thing your brain can imagine! The house is tainted and incredibly haunted by a horny ghost who eventually infects the woman folk and does shocking pervy things.

 

I listened to this story on audio and the narrator, Ray Porter, does an excellent job. He is deadly serious which suits the story and he manages to deliver the lady voices in a way that doesn’t make them sound completely ridiculous even when they’re forced to behave in overly hysterical ways. He does a good job with the men and the evil inhabiting the house as well.

 

I’m going to give this the same rating as the Jackson book. 3 Stars.

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review 2017-11-14 19:06
Halloween Carnival Vol. 1
Halloween Carnival Volume 1 - Lisa Morton,Kevin Lucia,John Little,Brian James Freeman,Robert R. McCammon

Halloween Carnival is a collection of 3 short stories and two novellas. It would’ve been perfect reading on Halloween night but I’m a slacker and watched movies instead.

 

Strange Candy by Robert McCammon

 

A man thoughtlessly and rather stupidity (if you ask me) eats a strange looking piece of unwrapped candy out of his child's Halloween bag. Seriously, who does that?! After ingesting the gross thing, he finds himself no longer in his living room and begins to meet strangers who give him final messages to pass along to their loved ones. He writes nothing down but manages to remember it all. Ah, to have such a brain, what must that be like? Anyway, it has a twisty-twist at the end. It’s sad and I really enjoyed it all. 4 Stars

 

The Rage of Achilles or When Mockingbirds Sing by Kevin Lucia

 

Father Ward wasn't expecting a visitor on Halloween but he got one anyway. A grief stricken father begs for absolution. This is another sad story about love, grief and regret and a dedicated priest who witnesses the supernatural. It’ll haunt you with its beautiful sorrow. 4.5 Stars

 

Demon Air by John R. little

 

This story? I don’t know what it was besides a great disappointment to me. A woman is on a flight to find herself and she does a lot of navel gazing for most of the story until things finally go strangely awry. When the pilot thanks everyone for flying “Demon Air” I was entranced. Gross things begin to happen, passengers are tormented and then it abruptly ends and the fun is over nearly before it’s begun. Such a tease! This story had quite a bit of promise but in the end was a total let down. It felt rushed and unfocused and as if two stories were smashed together and neither ended up satisfying in the end. 2 Stars

 

La Hacienda de los Muertos Lisa Morton

 

Trick is a washed up actor ready to film a horror flick in the most haunted town in Mexico. Before the film can get going, Trick must deal with the supernatural. I thought this was interesting but pretty standard stuff. It wasn’t sad, or horrible or particularly scary either. I’d give it a 3.

 

#MakeHalloweenScaryAgain Mark Allan Gunnells

 

A horror writer posts a hashtag on his Facebook page hoping to drum up a little interest in his novels but he attracts a weirdo who takes it way too seriously instead. Now he’s involved in a murder investigation and spends the days leading up to Halloween hunting down the madman terrorizing his town. This was a decent, if slightly predictable, tale of mystery, murder, and Halloween that kept me turning the pages to discover if I was right about the killer and I was! I feel so smart :) 3 Stars

 

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.

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review 2017-10-12 19:21
Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar
Gwendy's Button Box - Stephen King,Richard Chizmar

I listened to this as an unabridged audiobook read by Maggie Siff who starred in Son’s of Anarchy. I never watched that show because there’s no monsters in it (I know, I am a terrible person, no need to tell me) so I don’t know her work. I learned this from listening to the Q&A with King & Chizmar at the end of the audio. Methinks they might’ve been enamored a little with her work on the show. She’s a little flat at times but overall does a decent enough job with the material but, honestly, I’ve heard better narrators and her performance wasn’t anything to get all that excited about.

 

Since this is a short story and I am a lazy bum I’m going to be brief. One lovely summer day when Gwendy is a tween doing her best to get healthy and shed herself of a nasty nickname by exercising herself silly, she spies a strange man who offers her a very special button box. This box, he sinisterly promises, will dispense magical chocolates that will curb her hunger. It will also spit out silver coins that’ll help put her through college. Well, Gwendy is a smart girl and she takes that box home despite her misgivings about keeping a box that has a potentially very dark side . . .

 

This was an eerie little story more magical realism than horror but I enjoyed it even though I wish it had been longer. I kept waiting for something dreadful to happen and eventually it does. It is partially a King story, after all! Honestly, I would’ve liked to have seen even more dreadful events and to have had a darker ending but I did get that in the second story included in this audio “The Music Room”. That story gets five stars. It was short, comical and as pitch-black as it gets.

 

I'll be using this book for the Magical Realism Square.

 

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review 2017-10-11 15:57
Blanky by Kealan Patrick Burke
Blanky - Kealan Patrick Burke

Blanky is a grief saturated read that will ring true for anyone who has ever lost anyone prematurely.  It nails those dark, hopeless feelings that envelop you in the early stages of grief. It’s sad and it’s scary and it packs an incredible punch in so few pages. This kind of writing, the kind that is able to creep into my heart and shatter it, is what  keeps me coming back to books when there are always so many other things trying to pull me away from them.

“One rainy night I put her to bed and when I woke up, she was dead. That was the beginning of the end of my world. This is the rest of it.”

Steve is drowning in grief and he is all alone. His wife, unable to deal with their loss, has left to live with her parents for a while and Steve’s isolation and sadness is a living, breathing, soul sucking thing.

"We always said nothing would come between us, that there was nothing we couldn’t conquer. I know at the time we never imagined in a million years it would be something this fucking apocalyptic, but still...I meant it then and I mean it now. We’re stronger together than we’ll ever be alone.” “I know, but...I see her in you, Stephen. She had your eyes, and it got so that looking at you felt like looking at her, and all I could see was the accusation, the blame. I couldn’t bear it. I still can’t.”

Ouch, right? Talk about raw emotion. The writing here is so strong that it almost physically hurts to read these thoughts and experience the sadness that engulfs both of them.

One day Steve ventures into his deceased baby’s room and finds her blanky. The blanky that he could’ve sworn she was swaddled in when she was handed over to the paramedics. The blanky that should not be in her room . . .  Finding the blanky stirs a series of events that become increasingly sinister. Is Steve experiencing something supernatural or is it something far worse? I’m not a jerk and am not going to be the one to tell you!

This story gets all the stars. It is bleak and it may haunt you but I think all of you horror people should read it.

 

I'm going to use this for the American Horror Story square.

 

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review 2017-10-10 19:37
The Halloween Children by Norman Prentiss & Brian James Freeman
The Halloween Children - Brian James Freeman,Norman Prentiss

I’m giving The Halloween Children a solid four stars because it created a smothering sense of creepiness and managed to maintain it throughout the entire story and it held my attention from beginning to end. You know from the beginning that something terrible is coming but you’re never sure exactly what form that terribleness is going to take and when it’s finally revealed in all its gruesomeness it is quite terrible indeed!

 

But this isn’t a five star read for me because it is told by two very unreliable narrators and in the end many things were left unanswered. So many things! The authors could potentially write another short story just tying off all the dangly bits. I don’t need everything wrapped up in a bloody little bow but when I finished this story I felt like I needed to read it again in an attempt to learn more.

 

Basically it’s a story set in an apartment complex that may or may not be inhabited by insane occupants, murderous humans small and large, soul-stealing demons, or perhaps evil, whispering ghosts. Take your pick or choose them all, if you wish. Harris and Lynn are our main narrators and neither are very stable personalities, though usually entertaining to listen to. They have two children and they each favor a particular child and don’t work too hard at hiding their feelings. That’ll mess a kid up, just saying.

 

Harris is the building maintenance man and starts to notice some very strange and usually smelly events occurring when he’s out on late night calls. When the party pooping property manager cancels the Halloween party the events ramp up and this strangeness begins to infect his personal space and, well, I can’t tell you any more without spoiling too much.

 

This is a great little story to read on Halloween. It has some delightfully ghastly imagery, creeped me out and even made me laugh a few times. I am very glad that I no longer live in an apartment complex and that I always bought candy for the brats when I did! I received an ARC of this story from Netgalley, thanks Netgalley. I also read this book to participate in the Horror Aficionados October Group Read.

 

I'm going to use this for my Chilling Children square.

 

 

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