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review 2017-01-30 03:26
The Final Reconciliation - Todd Keisling
The Final Reconciliation - Todd Keisling

So, as a fellow metal-head, I feel a kindred spirit with Todd as he unfurls The Final Reconciliation, a story about a journalist who is interviewing Aidan Cross. Cross is an aging guitarist who is institutionalized for going off his nut over the tragic show his band played 30 years ago. Aidan was the guitarist of the prog-metal band, The Yellow Kings. After hardcore touring in support of their EP, the band lands a two-album deal and head to Los Angeles to record their official first record. After a show in Texas, they pick up a groupie named Camille, who was waiting behind the club for the band. She immediately takes a shine to their lead singer, Johnny. Soon, the band learns that Camille is not your ordinary groupie trying to sponge off the band in hopes that they'll be famous. No, she has a different agenda and the band are simply pawns in her evil plan.

 

The Final Reconciliation pulls out it's inner Lovecraft and marries it with story about a heavy metal band. Metal bands have been influenced by all things macabre and Lovecraft is a favorite of many, i.e. Metallica. Keisling has done his homework. As someone who knows a thing or two, not much more, but a thing or two about metal bands, touring, and recording, he executes the story flawlessly. This is where so many writers can go astray - writing about something that they don't know enough about and the cracks show. This isn't the case here. Kudos to Keisling. Not only did he get his facts right, but he delivered one hell of a story, in the process.

 

 

 

5 Guitar Solos out of 5

 


This ARC was provided by Crystal Lake Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

 

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

 

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

 

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

 

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review 2014-04-09 00:00
The Harbinger
The Harbinger - Todd Keisling With the release of the 4th story in his Ugly Little Things series, Todd Keisling doesn’t shy away from getting even uglier...and nastier...and decidedly creepier.

The premise sounds innocent enough. Reporter Felix Proust is sent on assignment to Dalton, WV, famous for its line of life-like dolls which have become the town’s bread and butter since the mine closed down in the ‘70’s.

Soon after arriving, Felix begins to see cracks in the sleepy little town’s facade. The adults in town are solemn and joyless, and the children are strangely hostile toward Felix. Even the town drunk warns Felix that he should get out before it’s too late...but what fun would that be?

Horror story or not, it’s obvious Keisling had a fun time writing this one and readers are in for a tale that is reminiscent of all the best parts of a classic horror story - it scares, it thrills and it may even sicken you a little but that’s a good thing, believe it or not.

This latest tale in Keisling’s Ugly Little Things series shows the author has a firm grasp on what it takes to keep readers entranced until, just like Felix Proust, it’s too late to prevent the inevitable.

Luckily for readers, that means finding your new favorite horror author. Considering what happens to Felix Proust, you’re getting off easy!
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review 2014-01-29 00:00
Radio Free Nowhere
Radio Free Nowhere - Todd Keisling This first story in Todd Keisling’s UGLY LITTLE THINGS collection is an ominous little tale that left me simultaneously shivering and salivating, wanting more.

Ashley and Conrad head out for a little spin through the wilds of West Virginia, but even though it all sounds sultry and romantic, they don’t just hear the dulcet sounds of Chorus Frogs and Hoot Owls. What they encounter is something forgotten, something submerged, something full of false promise.

Have you read “You Know They Got a Hell of a Band” from Stephen King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes?

In it, King’s couple are driving down a country road, lost and when the husband finally asks for directions, stumbles upon a small town diner with a unique little secret.

In Radio Free Nowhere, the couple is not necessarily lost, but they do encounter something shrouded in those dark and winding roads, and Keisling uses the remoteness to his full advantage.

The thing I like about Radio Free Nowhere? Todd roots the story in reality, making it something any one of us can relate to and wonder..."What if that happened to me? Wait...that could happen to me!"

Subtle horror is at its best when it plants a seed and allows the reader not to be led but to imagine what would happen if put in the main character’s shoes. Keisling does this flawlessly, allowing true terror to slither up the back of your neck and make your skin prickle with the thrill of it.

Radio Free Nowhere is just a teaser of what Todd Keisling has in store for readers, and I can’t wait to read what other Ugly Little Things come next.
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review 2013-11-02 00:00
The Liminal Man
The Liminal Man - Todd Keisling Sequels can be difficult. As a reader, you want the 2nd book in a series to live up to the expectations you have after reading the 1st. As an author, you want to enhance the narrative of the 1st by adding, growing, or changing the lives of your characters and the world in which they live.

In The Liminal Man, author Todd Keisling manages to do both by going decidedly deeper into the Monochrome, the world in which title character Donovan Candle only managed a glimpse in book 1, A Life Transparent.

At the end of ALT, Donovan made the vow to change his life, not only for the better, but to prevent himself from “flickering” from existence. In TLM, Donovan finds himself working in a new job as a P.I. with older brother Mike and about to become a father with wife Donna.

But all is not peachy keen, especially when the dastardly Aleister Dullington, his henchman Albert Sparrow and their minions the Cretins and the Yawning are up to their old tricks again.

But TLM is not just a rehashing of the plot from book 1. It adds deeper shades of darkness when Donovan’s nephew Quinn goes missing. The return of Dullington and his hordes plunge Donovan into a world just as devoid of color yet teeming with something more sinister and darker than Donovan even realizes.

What he discovers in Dullington’s alternate underworld underlines the message of book 1, while forcing Donovan to realize that by only taking half-measures, he is still at risk of cheating himself out of the very things he desires, not to mention threatening his very existence, the futures of those he loves and the others who have fallen prey to the Monochrome and the creatures residing within.

alt_coverWhere A Life Transparent gave Donovan a glimpse at what his future could hold if he fails to live up to his full potential, The Liminal Man drags him across various thresholds he is too afraid to face and forces him to make a decision one way or another. The question for readers: how will Donovan react when the clock runs out and the time to make a decision is staring him in the face?

The Liminal Man is a thrilling, suspense-fueled ride with good and evil in a showdown, and the fate of one man inadvertently putting the lives of others in jeopardy. Add to that some evil little creatures, a bone-chilling underworld and forces that will stop at nothing until they get what they want, The Liminal Man kept me turning pages well into the night (and a little wary of taking the subway anymore, to be honest).
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review 2013-09-20 00:00
Exquisite Death
Exquisite Death - Benjamin Kane Ethridge,Cate Gardner,Todd Keisling,Anthony J. Rapino,Mercedes M. Yardley It's kind of weird for me, as I am a voracious reader and a podcast junkie, but it's only recently that I started listening to audiobooks with any regularity. And I don't think I have ever reviewed an audiobook on the blog, so when I was offered a copy of this little anthology for review, I decided it was about time to remedy that oversight.

Exquisite Death is made up of six short stories, alternately narrated by George E. Leonard and Ian Baldwin (one of them is apparently female judging by the notably feminine voice, just don't ask me which one). And the contributing authors are very familiar to me save for Todd Keisling, a new name to me, but a guy who wrote a really cool story called "Radio Free Nowhere" for this collection.

A couple of the stories were ones I had already read previously, those being Cate Gardner's "Apheliac" and Anthony J. Rapino's "The Plumber." Between those two tales right there, you can really get a sense of the shared theme of death, as well as the notably divergent styles of each author.

Ethridge's "Chester" kicked things off really nicely with a tale told from a dog's point of view. It started off a little weird, a little disorienting, but it didn't take long for things to turn really, really creepy. The next two were Cate Gardner's stories, and she might be one of the most lyrical writers I've read, certainly of this collection. It's always a treat--and a wee bit of a mind warp--to read her work. And like I mentioned earlier, "Radio Free Nowhere" by Todd Keisling serves well as an introduction to Todd's work, but it was also the story that really exposed the narrator's less than convincing American accents. At the risk of sounding mean, I laughed out loud when the especially southern-fried accent started.

Accents aside, the narrators do a really good job capturing the tone and pacing of each story. I'm also a sucker for a British accent. Something about proper English just really amplifies a horror story, I find. As far as the audiobook format goes, my only gripe would be the absence of bookmarks with MP3 files. If a listener wants to revisit a specific story after listening to the book in full, they'll have to navigate it manually, sliding the media player's progress bar and just hoping for the best. Ugh, first world problems, right?
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