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review 2017-08-01 18:45
The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford
The Twilight Pariah - Jeffrey Ford

 

Everyone knows that you don't disturb buried skeletons. Everyone except Henry, Maggie and Russell, that is. With the summer off from college, three high school pals get together as Maggie has convinced the other two to help her with her amateur archaeology project. They're going to dig up an old outhouse pit and see what they can find. Not only do they find a buried skeleton, the skeleton is very small and it has horns. Anyone sane of mind would leave that thing alone, fill the hole back up and take off-but that wouldn't make for a very good horror story now would it? And this is definitely a good horror story! So what happens to the demon baby skeleton? What happens to this trio of friends almost immediately after disturbing said skeleton? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Digging up an outhouse pit , (at night of course), near an old abandoned mansion is a creepy endeavor to start with, and when odd things started happening it got very creepy indeed. I especially loved the portions about the mansion and the Prewitts, the people that used to live there. Actually, I would have loved to have learned more about them and the history of the family. Still, what happened to Marlby Prewitt and what resulted from that incident, was a unique and new idea, (at least to me), and I loved what Mr. Ford did with his creation.

 

The Twilight Pariah was a LOT of fun! I read it in just two sittings and when I finished, I was sorry that it was over. There is a lot to be said for lean storytelling and tight prose, but let me be clear, I would have delighted in more! More of the Prewitts, more of the trio and their friendship, more, more, more! In such a tight space, Mr. Ford brought these characters alive, made me care for them, and then boom! It was over and he took them away!

 

I'm embarrassed to say that this was my first book from Jeffrey Ford, but it will not be my last. I HIGHLY recommend The Twilight Pariah!

 

You can pre-order your copy here: The Twilight Pariah

 

 *I received this paperback ARC free of charge by responding to a Tweet from Mr. Ford. This did not affect my opinion of this awesome story.*

 

Find this review and others like it at: www.Horrorafterdark.com

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review 2017-03-28 18:35
Drop Dead Gorgeous by Donald Allen Kirch
Drop Dead Gorgeous - Donald Allen Kirch

Drop Dead Gorgeous is a bizarre and erotic horror story that resonated with me.

 

U.S. Only Audiobook Giveaway at Horror After Dark! Click here to enter.

 

Ray wakes up duct taped to a chair and soon realizes that he is being held captive by the most beautiful woman he's ever seen. She wants to tell him a story, and he wants to stay alive. So begins this wicked tale of revenge, sex, lies, genetic modifications, lust, and, perhaps a bit of social commentary. These are the reasons I say it was bizarre, but bizarre in a good way!

 

 

(Click here to see the Drop Dead Gorgeous book trailer! )

 

I had no idea where this tale was going, so I just hung on for the ride. I'm not going to get further into the plot, because most of the other reviews already do that. I will say that Mr. Kirch deftly strings the reader along until the perfect ending quickly arrives, leaving said reader in a daze. I was worried he would chicken out and shy away from the denouement this story so richly deserved, but he didn't.

 

Steve, Eve, Wells and even the evil Annabelle were well drawn, realistic characters. Not one of them was a cardboard cutout, they each had depth; both good points and bad. Sometimes I found myself feeling sorry for the villains and hating the "good" guy.

 

There's a lot to be learned here too, at least there is to my mind. How society treats women, (and men, really), based on their bodies and their looks. Many women would kill to have the body of Eve, but she would kill to get rid of it. That got me to thinking that I should probably be careful about what I wish for. Also, there are some scary experiments going on with genetic modifications, nanos and science-y stuff, which brought many ethical questions to the forefront of my mind. We all know that scientists are working on ways to make us immortal and while most of us would probably like to live forever, is that actually a good thing? The world is overpopulated as it is. It's rare that an erotic horror story bring up questions of such import, but this one did.

 

All in all, Drop Dead Gorgeous adds up to more than the sum of its parts,  and it delivers over and above what you would expect from the cover. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it and look forward to reading more from Mr. Kirch in the future!

 

*Mr. Kirch provided Horror After Dark a review copy free of charge, in exchange for an honest review. This is it!*

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review 2017-03-24 18:45
At the Cemetery Gates: Year One by John Brhel and Joseph Sullivan
At The Cemetery Gates: Year One - Chad Wehrle,John Brhel,Joseph T. Sullivan

At The Cemetery Gates: Year One is a collection of 14 short stories. Most of them feature cemeteries-if not actually set there, they're at least mentioned.

 

My favorite story of the bunch was An Epistle From the Dead which was a macabre tidbit with a touch of poignancy to it that really brought the story home.

 

Pictures of a Perpetual Subject was also a poignant tale with a haunting outcome that I won't soon forget.

 

The remaining stories were all good, but not outstanding. These are the types of tales to be told around a campfire at night or at a sleepover. In fact, I think they're perfect for those types of scenarios. Seasoned horror fans used to hard-core scares might come away slightly disappointed, but I believe the average horror reader would find these tales satisfying.

 

 

Today, this book is free! Click here: At The Cemetery Gates: Year One

 

Recommended!

 

*Horror After Dark was provided a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is it!*

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review 2017-03-06 15:36
The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett
The Secret of Ventriloquism - Jon Padgett

 

The genre of fiction that I identify as weird tales has always appealed to me, though it's hard to describe. There are also...flavors of weird tales, they're not always the same, even though they may belong to the same genre. For instance, Thomas Ligotti may be described as an author of weird fiction. While I love his style, I often find his work too nihilistic for me. Laird Barron could be described as an author of weird fiction as well, though his style generally leans toward cosmic horror. Lastly, Robert Aickman is admired as an author of weird fiction, but I often find his stories to be rather...unsatisfying. Jon Padgett, however, satisfied ALL of my wants and needs as a reader of dark and weird fiction. These stories have a clear beginning and end, (though some continue on, in other stories), and are as utterly satisfying as short fiction can be. In fact, I'd call them brilliant. That's right. BRILLIANT!

 

Starting with the appealing cover, (what horror fan could resist it?), and ending with Little Evie singing, in the story "Escape to the Mountain," (which makes me shudder just thinking about it.) These amazing stories are beyond impressive, each and every one of them.

 

After "Origami Dreams" I will never look at folded paper in the same way again. I will never see the word "appendage" again and not think of Solomon Kroth and his endless research in the University Library. I will not pass the abandoned paper mills in nearby towns without thinking of those ugly "paper mill days" and the filth they spewed upon the town of Dunnstown. I will never again pass a swamp without thinking of the room in "Indoor Swamp":

 

"Perhaps there is a room that contains a worn vintage tea party set with frilly dressed dolls, but one of those doll's heads gradually rotates completely around, going from an expression of knowing, smiling perversion to an open-mouthed, silent O of horror and back again."

 

I cannot possibly give this book a higher recommendation. As you read it, you may feel dizzy at times, or maybe even a little sick.

 

"You may begin to imagine you hear something that sounds like static or even the roar of an airliner. you may feel lightheaded like you are going to pass out. Ignore these feelings. They are normal."

 

They are a trifle. YOU are a trifle.

 

If you want to fully understand the meanings of these things, you MUST read this book. For me it started with the cover. It was the cover that made me BUY this book, rather than accept the free copy submitted for review to Horror After Dark. That's right, I bought it. You should too. Seriously. Right. Now.

 

Go here: The Secret of Ventriloquism

(You can add the audio for only $1.99 more!)

 

Usually this is where I say I was provided a free copy in exchange for honest feedback. However, (see above), I bought this book, and this is my honest opinion.

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review 2017-02-23 18:30
The Disembodied by Anthony Hains
The Disembodied - Anthony Hains

The Disembodied starts out like a coming-of-age story and then it turns into a psychological horror story of familial love and abuse that will keep you guessing to the very end!

 

Griffin is a boy on the verge of becoming a man, when he loses his father to a somewhat violent death. Luckily he has a sweet and caring grandfather that loves to spend time with him, and a close cousin to hang out with. Unfortunately, he is experiencing feelings of what his psychologist calls depersonalization disorder, but Griffin describes it as feeling like he isn't attached to his own body. His mom is worried, and his aunt is convinced he's possessed. So which is it? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

The characters here were well developed. I really got to caring for Griffin and Tanner and I quickly got to the point where I couldn't care less what happened to either of their fathers. I think the best part of this story was its telling. The author did a great job of releasing bits of information steadily along the way which kept me interested and looking forward to whatever was going to happen next. A few of the twists I did guess, but I did not accurately predict where this tale was going to go, and I always love when that happens.

 

Even as a seasoned fan of horror, there were parts of this book that seriously disturbed me. Mr. Hains is a psychologist himself, which is probably why the bits about depersonalization disorder rang so true. However, there were certain characters that behaved very differently from what I would expect, (like Griffin's mom, for instance), and thinking about why she did what she did added a layer of sadness to this tale. I guess it's a sad truth that sometimes we like to bury our heads in the sand rather than face what's happening right in front of us.

 

Overall, The Disembodied was an excellent psychological horror tale, and even though it involved tweens, this is not a YA story, in my opinion. There are some ugly, ugly truths here and incidents of abuse that made even this horror fan cringe. That said, this book was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the mysteries as they unraveled. I think you would too! Highly recommended!

 

There's currently a giveaway at HAD for 1 signed copy of this book: Giveaway (US only)

 

You can get your copy here: The Disembodied

 

Find this review and others like it at: HorrorAfterDark.com

 

*I nominated this book for the Kindle Scout program back in the day, and when it was accepted and the book published, I was given a free copy with no strings attached. All of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.* 

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