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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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review 2018-03-15 18:37
Afterage by Yvonne Navarro
Afterage - Yvonne Navarro

AFTERAGE was a whole lot of freaking fun!

 

The vampire apocalypse has already occurred and entire cities have been decimated. With isolated survivors cut off even from each other-how could a premise this good go wrong? The good news is, it didn't.

 

What I liked most was the...I guess I'll put it as...different levels of vampire. They have differing levels of energy and power. I won't even get into the Queen. (That's what I'm calling her.)

 

I also liked how the story of each survivor, (or surviving group), was introduced. I think it takes a special skill and confidence to jump into a story with a large cast and Yvonne Navarro did it deftly and with panache. I never felt that the story was lost or unwieldy. It all came together in a most satisfying way.

 

With a lot of strong female characters populating the landscape of vampire-ridden Chicago, how could I not enjoy this book? I especially liked Louise and her little dog, Beau, and of course, I had a fondness for Jo as well. (Though I could not help being reminded of Swan, a character in another GREAT post apocalyptic tale. Bonus points if you know what character and/or book I'm talking about.)

 

AFTERAGE was written in the 90's but it doesn't feel dated. I think that's because there's no electricity in this world, so phones and the internet would be out of the picture anyway. Even though decades have passed since this was written, the characters and themes involved are timeless. They still worked their way into my heart, and perhaps if you let them, they'll work their way into your heart as well.

 

Highly recommended!

 

 

You can get a copy here:  AFTERAGE

 

 

*I read this book because of THE HORROR SHOW WITH BRIAN KEENE podcast. (They're doing an online book group and this is the second book they're reading.) I probably wouldn't have made time to read it otherwise, so thanks to the HORROR SHOW crew for bringing it to my attention. *

 

 

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review 2017-10-27 15:42
Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Strange Weather: Four Short Novels - Joe Hill

 

Strange Weather is the novel I most anticipated this year and I'm happy to report that it lived up to my high expectations. It consists of four short novels, (Joe Hill dislikes the term novella), and I enjoyed them all!

 

Snapshot is a story about memory and a camera that steals them. Set in the 80's with a teenage boy as the protagonist, this story packed some powerful imagery along with a bit of nostalgia for good measure.

 

Loaded is a tale about guns. Joe Hill says it's not political, but I think that both pro gun and anti gun proponents will bring their own views to the party. I tried to keep my politics out of it and enjoy it for the fast paced horror story that it was. Oh yeah, and the ending was KILLER.

 

Aloft was the story of a man on a cloud. It wasn't cloud 9, in fact, it wasn't a cloud at all, really. What imagination and creativity this story showed! I can't seem to put my finger on why this tale appealed to me so much, but the fact remains that it did. It reminded me somewhat of Hill's short story Pop Art , in that the tale doesn't break its back trying to provide explanations or reasons why...it just IS. And what it IS, is fantastic. (Junicorn!)

 

Rain was my favorite story in the book. The protagonist, Honeysuckle Speck, was one of the most interesting characters I've ever met. She is so much more than what you first suspect and I would love to read more about her in the future. It's hard to say what one would do if the sky suddenly began raining sharp crystal nails. I would love to think that I would act with the same bravery and smarts as Honeysuckle did, but I suspect I don't have the strength. Hill says in the Afterword that this book was sort of his anti-Fireman story, but one thing they both have in common is strong female characters and I like that. I like it a lot.

 

I received a digital review copy of this book from Edelweiss, but I also received my own (signed) copy, (whoohoo!),courtesy of Joe Hill at a book festival. This gave me a chance to check out the VERY cool illustrations, before and after each story, and also the little icons at the top of each page. They give the book a unique look and feel.

 

I've come to love and admire Hill's work over the last few years and I think he has developed a strong voice, independent of, but respectful, of his father's. Strange Weather was worth every minute of my time and I'm sure I'll be devoting more time by reading it again in the future.

 

Highly recommended!

 

You can get your copy here: Strange Weather

 

*Thank you to Edelweiss and to the publisher, (who I unabashedly emailed for the e-ARC of this awesome book), in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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