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review 2019-01-28 18:45
PSYCHOTOPIA by R. N. Morris
Psychotopia - William Morris

 

PSYCHOTOPIA. The cover, the synopsis, the title, and the review of a friend all prompted me to request this book from NetGalley. I'm so glad I did!

 

There are several threads working together in this speculative fiction story. One from the POV of a policeman. Another from a young woman recently used and used hard by a handsome rogue. And lastly, there are chapters from a video game designer, talking about the architecture of a new, interactive, virtual reality experience. Such contrasting views, yet somehow I knew they would eventually come together, and they did.

 

PSYCHOTOPIA takes a hard look at the world and how it has evolved. Specifically, how humans have evolved. Is it possible that in an age so dark and hopeless a psychopath could be viewed as the natural evolution of mankind? A person who doesn't recognize the feelings of others, is free from the guilt that hurting others can bring. Is that a good thing or a bad thing in this new world?

 

What would happen if someone invented a machine which could determine if a person was a psychopath or not? Would you want to be tested? What kind of preventative measures could be taken if a person tests positive for psychopathy? Would such a test be a violation of civil rights? Would it become mandatory testing for certain jobs, like police officers or politicians?

 

I know I'm asking a lot of questions here, but that's what this book did to me. It wasn't a matter of simply reading it and saying "good story!" It made me think a lot about what this world is coming to, and about how we treat each other- not only our equals, but how we treat others both above and below what we believe to be our stations in life. I love books that make me think and this is definitely one of them.

 

I also loved the creativity and imagination that went into the world-building here, and I especially liked how I couldn't predict how the characters would come together. An urban setting full of psychopaths, (known or unknown), leaves a wide open field of crimes and misdemeanors and Mr. Morris exploits that field to the max. I enjoyed the hell out of it!

 

Highly recommended!

 

*Thank you to Severn House Publishers and to NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2019-01-15 12:45
THE PIGEON by Andrew Lennon and Christopher Motz
The Pigeon: Nothing Goes Unseen - Christopher Motz,Andrew Lennon,Ryan C. Thomas

Don't let this rather vague-looking cover trick you into thinking this is not a full-fledged horror story. THE PIGEON is not some little psychological tale with a talking bird or poetry like an Edgar Allan Poe story. And it's not some fancy literary fiction either. It's an in-your-face, fast paced, gory, twisty-turny little novella that might even make you laugh at times. How much fun is that? A lot! It's a LOT of fun.

 

When Andrew Lennon asked me if I could review this book last fall I think it was, I said sure without really knowing what I was getting myself into. If I had known it was this short, I probably would have tried to squeeze it in even sooner.

 

A young lady hates her job and is being stalked by her ex-boyfriend. He shows up at her house and things just go downhill from there. Fast! There's no way I can get across to you how surprised I was at nearly every turn this story took. And it's because of the fact that I want you to be surprised too, that I'm not going to go further into the plot.

 

If you like your horror unpredictable, bloody and gory, with a sense of humor on the side? THE PIGEON is for you!

 

Highly recommended! Get your copy here: THE PIGEON

 

*I was provided an e-copy of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-10-11 18:45
THE FUNGUS by Harry Adam Knight
The Fungus - Leroy Kettle,John Brosnan,Harry Adam Knight

Mushrooms: I'll probably never eat one again! THE FUNGUS is a fast paced, funny and disgusting 80's horror story that contains everything you'd ever want from a fungi-based creature feature. 

 

I recently read another book by this author, (two authors, really, using the pseudonym of Harry Adam Knight. Get it? HAK?), called SLIMER. I liked that one slightly more than this because there was no real science, just a fun, slimy, creature. In this narrative, we do have an attempt to be science-y, but not overly so, which I appreciated.

 

We follow several characters from the beginning, including the scientist who accidentally created this rapidly mutating fungi. Before we know what hit us, all of London is infected and not just people either. There are several types of fungi attacking concrete and other building materials eventually resulting in the literal crumbling of the city. Will any of the plucky characters survive? What about the doctor who created this mess? Will London itself make it through? You'll have to read THE FUNGUS to find out!

 

These two authors, John Brosnan and Leroy Kettle were actually very talented, (I say were, but one is still alive-Leroy Kettle,) and they knew how to write a creature feature without getting too bogged down in the fake science. Just enough to make it plausible to non-biologists is fine. Of course, using the old trope of science making a mistake and thereby destroying humanity is always rich with possibilities, maybe even more so these days than back in the 80's when this was written.

 

Being that this book was written back then, there are some sexist views, (a few racist ones too), and a few other things that don't fit in with today's culture and attitudes. There are also a few extraneous sex scenes thrown in there, because hey-in the 80's that's how the horror genre rolled. None of which bothered me much because this tale is just. that. much. fun.

 

Valancourt Books is dedicated to bringing back these out of print books, some of which have become nearly impossible to find. (If you are lucky enough to find one, you'd better be prepared to pay through the nose.) Over the years I've watched as they've become more and more popular and with their forthcoming PAPERBACKS FROM HELL series, I think they'll have reached the pinnacle as far as retro horror publishers are concerned. (They publish other lines as well, if you're interested, check out their website.)

 

THE FUNGUS isn't trying to masquerade as scientific or serious, it's just trying to provide imaginative, fast paced, creature feature fun. It has succeeded!

 

Highly recommended!

 

*Valancourt Books provided me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-07-26 22:25
RATTUS NEW YORKUS by Hunter Shea
Rattus New Yorkus - Hunter Shea

 

How much more fun could this book could be? The answer is none! None more fun!

 

 

I had to hold myself back from finishing this novella in just one sitting. I wanted to try to savor it, but it was too hard.

 

A man and his soon to be ex-wife run an extermination company in Manhattan and are chosen to try out a new rat poison. After dispensing some healthy doses they thought their job was done, but it turns out the poison seems to have backfired, (isn't that always the way?) Now there are more rats than ever. Not only are there more, but they're more aggressive AND let's just say they're happier in their little rat bedrooms. Soon, they've taken over the sites where they were treated and many more sites as well. Can Manhattan escape this scourge of aggressive,  horny rats? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

RATTUS NEW YORKUS is flat out FUN! It doesn't get bogged down in philosophical questions or literary mumbo-jumbo. We're here for people killing rats and boy, do we get them!

 

I've been slow to come around to Hunter Shea and I'm not sure why, exactly. Maybe I was trying to fancy myself as more of a literary reader? Don't get me wrong, I love literary horror, cosmic horror and all kinds of stuff, but lately? Creature features have been bringing it as far as I'm concerned, and Hunter Shea is up there with the best writers of them, EVER. I love me some James Herbert and Guy N. Smith, but Hunter? This is pure unadulterated fun and if you want some for yourself? Pick up RATTUS NEW YORKUS when it comes out. You won't be disappointed!

 

This gets my highest recommendation! You can pre-order your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Rattus-New-Yorkus-Hunter-Shea-ebook/dp/B078LPXDK1/chashorcor-20

 

*Thanks to Lyrical Underground and NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2018-06-04 18:45
HYENAS by Michael Sellars
Hyenas - Michael Sellars

 

HYENAS is a post-apocalyptic tale that is unlike any other I've read! There were at least two aspects that made it unique for me and I'll elaborate on those below.

 

The set up is as follows: 5 months ago there was a "Jolt" or "Spasm." Since that time, most people have been turned into "Hyenas" or "Jokers," and the world as we know it has ended. These people have changed from humans to insanely fast creatures that do nothing but laugh and eat other humans. And books, they eat books. (That's one of the unique aspects I mentioned above.) We follow along with Jay who has been hiding out in a bookshop and was rescued by Dempsey, who promises salvation in the form of a boat. To get to the boat, they will have to avoid the hyenas as well as the Beatles-loving militia that has recently formed. (Yes, you read that right.) Will Jay and Dempsey be able to float away from the horror that life in the city has become? You will have to read HYENAS to find out!

 

I don't want to get too far into the book-eating aspect of this tale as I believe the author should relate it to you as he intended. However, the second aspect of the story that I found original was the fact that these creatures are technically zombies; but somehow, I thought of them more as wolves. Granted, fast moving wolves that eat human flesh and books, but wolves just the same. Perhaps that's because they had some intelligence? (They could recognize when regular people were speaking to them, for instance.) Whatever term you want to use for these creatures, I found them to be simultaneously fascinating and terrifying.

 

Since this world-ending event is rather recent in the book, different people refer to it, (and to the resulting beings), with different words and phrases. There hasn't been time for people to get together and come to a consensus on what the event and the resulting individuals should be called. I thought this was a realistic way to portray how different characters viewed the occurrence.

 

There's a lot of action packed into this book and with it came my only problem with this story. I thought there was a bit too much focus on the street names, alleys and city squares. We only raced through them for the most part, so I don't think we needed to know the name of every road down which they fled. As far as problems go, it's rather picayune.

 

Overall, HYENAS was a hell of a good time! Action packed, with a unique premise that turned the typical post-apocalyptic story on its ear. I'll state it bluntly: I want a sequel!

 

Strongly recommended for fans of dark fiction, post apocalyptic fiction and horror!

 

*This book was free on Kindle and I picked it up as such when Mr. Sellars requested a review. This opinion is my own, regardless of the cost of the book.*

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