Blood Sacrifices is my first introduction to Moreland's work and what an introduction it was. Plain and simple, Blood Sacrifices is the best read I've read in years. It's that good. Influences of McCammon and King drip from the pages. Moreland's style is so easy and smooth to get immersed in. The characterization is impeccable. The dialogue is completely believable. The settings are layed out so vividly, you'd swear you were looking over the characters shoulders. Blood Sacrifices is comprised of a short story and three novellas. The short story, The Girl From The Blood Coven is actually a prelude into his novella The Witching House. Here's my synopsis of each one:
The Girl From The Blood Coven -
The Girl from the Blood Coven is a short story prelude to Moreland's excellent The Witching House and, in my opinion, should be read as such. Sure, you can read it on it's own, but then you'd be missing out on a fantastic continuation that The Girl from the Blood Coven started. Why have just the appetizer when you can have the 7 course meal??
In 1972, a girl walks into a East Texas roadhouse bar covered in blood claiming that everyone in the hippy commune she was living in has been slaughtered. What the sheriff and his deputies find at the Blevins House is more horrific than they could ever have imagined.
Taste the hors d'oeurves and don't stop there.
4 Blood-stained Tie Dyes out of 5
The Witching House -
Sarah has been dating Dean for 9 months now and it's been nothing but one adventure after another. Dean and his friends are adrenaline junkies. This is all new to Sarah, but so far she's been able to keep up. Now Dean and is friends are taking her on another action-packed weekend in the middle of nowhere East Texas. She learns that their latest adventure will be exploring the boarded up Blevins House. In 1972, the Blevins House was a hippy commune where a massacre occurred one night, killing almost thirty people under strange circumstances. The murders were never solved and the house has been vacant ever since. Dean has hooked up with a local named Ronnie online who has set the expedition up for them. The Blevins House is rumored to be haunted. But what lurks behind the walls isn't what you would see on Ghost Hunters. Not even close.
Moreland creates a pulse-pounding read without falling into the old trappings of so many other stories that have young people in peril while being in an old house. The characters are three-dimensional and never feel cliched. The Witching House delivers the goods. Highly recommended.
5 Hanging Corpses out of 5
Darkness Rising -
Marty has been abused and ridiculed his whole life. His father murdered his mother when he was young. As a result, Marty was bounced around from foster home to foster home. Abused at each stop, Marty is a wreck emotionally and unable to share his true feelings. His only solace is in the poetry he composes in his journal, a present from his mother long ago. Working as a custodian at the local college, Marty meets Jennifer in one of the dorms that he cleans and offers his assistance when he discovers that she is struggling in Poetry and Literature. A friendship blossoms but Marty is too afraid to share his true feelings for Jennifer. Instead, he writes poems and goes to a desolate shore of one of the nearby lakes where he has pleasant memories of his mother bringing him there when he was a child. This becomes his special place where he can truly express his feelings and read his poems outloud to the empty lake. Then one day, he is attacked by three assailants who have gruesome plans for him. What they don't know is that Marty has something special in store for them too.
Another great tale by Moreland who has quickly become my favorite discovery of 2016. He does a really nice job developing Marty into being a likable character without drifting into making him appear pathetic. The setting is vividly laid out so that you feel like you can see the lake, smell the air, and hear the screams. Highly recommended.
4 1/2 Snuff Films out of 5
The Vagrants -
I have quickly become a believer in Brian Moreland. The Vagrants is the final novella in his excellent collection, Blood Sacrifices. I'll review The Vagrant's here on it's own merit and then in Blood Sacrifices as a whole with the other stories.
Daniel is a recent journalism grad from Dartmouth who wants to make a difference in the world. He assimilates himself among a camp of homeless underneath a bridge in Boston. With aspirations to understand them better and gather source material to write a book, Daniel is with them for six months. When a stranger named Mordecai enters the other side of the camp with tattoos all over his head and body preaching about the end being near, many in the camp are recruited to be his followers by what appears some sort of brainwashing. Mordecai attempts to "recruit" Daniel into his following and Daniel is only able to resist at the last second. He returns to his normal life, writes his book, and puts his past behind him. But his past isn't done with Daniel. They have other plans for him.
Moreland writes a gripping tale that uses unique and seedy locations in Boston along with wonderfully lifelike characters that you care about to pull you in completely. The Vagrants is wildly imaginative with shades of Lovecraft that enhance an already wonderful story. Highly recommended reading.
5 All-Seeing Pineal Glands out of 5
All in all, pound for pound, you won't find a better collection of tales out there. I rank this one right up there in the same hallowed ground as The Night Shift. Run, don't walk, and get Blood Sacrifices now!
** This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review
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