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review 2017-11-20 18:45
The Happy Man: A Tale of Horror by Eric C. Higgs
The Happy Man: A Tale of Horror - Eric C. Higgs

THE HAPPY MAN: A TALE OF HORROR is one bizarre piece of work from the 80's, brought back by Valancourt Books. I finished this book on Saturday and I still am not sure what to make of it!

 

A couple moves in to a new housing development in a suburb of San Diego. Charles Ripley and his wife are mostly on an even keel, despite a tragedy that occurred shortly after the move. Then, the Marsh's move in next door and even though they don't know it, the lives of the Ripley's are soon about to change.

 

First-the good. It is very difficult to put this book down. The chapters are short, (heck, the BOOK is short), and fast paced. Once things start happening, they don't stop happening until the very end.

 

Second-the baffling. I'm not sure what the point of THE HAPPY MAN is supposed to be? I'm pretty sure there's some commentary going on here about housing developments, suburbia, immigration, sex, monogamy, corporate America, family dynamics, drug use, the decline of morals in society and so on, but was that the point? I don't know!

 

Perhaps it's this simple: A man thought he was happy and then was shown that he wasn't? Or that it didn't take all that much to turn a happy, regular guy into something else altogether? Maybe everything is just as much a facade as was Charles Ripley's demeanor? Charles wasn't that good of a guy in the first place and it only took a small nudge to send him down the road of....well, you'll have to read this to find out.

 

I'm going with a 4/5 star rating because I'm still thinking about this short novel days later and also because it was VERY difficult to put down once started. I'm also going with RECOMMENDED, if only so that you and I could talk about it and I could see what you think, when you're done!

 

You can get a copy here: The Happy Man: A Tale of Horror

 

*I received an e-book free from Valancourt Books in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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review 2017-11-14 18:45
Childgrave by Ken Greenhall
Childgrave - Ken Greenhall

 

CHILDGRAVE is a beautifully written quiet horror story, with a sketchy small town lurking in the background. By the time the secrets of the town are revealed, it's too late for the reader to turn back.

 

As I get older, I find myself more and more drawn to quiet horror. I can do without gore and torture and all that if I have a tale that's well written and atmospheric. I also need compelling characters and CHILDGRAVE has that in spades. The main character, Jonathan, is a widowed photographer. He, his daughter Joanne, and his housekeeper Nanny Joy, are so well drawn I feel as if I know them personally.

 

When Jonathan's photos of his daughter seem to show specters in the background, while at the same time Joanne seems to have developed some new invisible friends, Jonathan is intrigued. Are the two events connected? Who is Conlee, the name of Joanne's new invisible friend? Lastly, what is Chilegray and how is connected to Conlee? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I'll get it out of the way now-this is a slow moving story. What kept me interested was the quality of the writing and the characters. Jonathan is a quirky man. He has few friends and little interest in fashion or modern day trends. His housekeeper Nanny Joy loves jazz and Jonathan's daughter, but is concerned about the appearance of Conlee and the specters in the photographs. Jonathan's agent Harry is hilarious and his girlfriend, Lee, is interesting as well. NYC of the 70's is the main setting, and it was fascinating to read about the city during that time of social upheaval and change.

 

I was inexorably drawn to the conclusion which leads the reader to a small town hidden in a valley. "Evil in a small town" is one of my favorite tropes and Greenhall knew how to deliver it in a chilling and shocking- yet believable way. You find yourself wondering what you would do in such a situation and I continued to think about it all night long...hours after finishing the book. I can't say that I blame Jonathan for the choices that he made.

 

While CHILDGRAVE isn't the psychological, fast moving story that both ELIZABETH or HELL HOUND were, it was excellent in its own quiet and compelling way. Slowly drawing the reader down into the valley where secrets are kept for generation after generation, Greenhall deftly brings things to a head and left this reader wishing for more.

 

Highly recommended!

 

You can get your copy here: CHILDGRAVE

 

*Thanks to Valancourt Books for providing this e-book free, in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2017-10-20 22:30
The Travelling Grave by L.P. Hartley
The Travelling Grave and Other Stories - L.P. Hartley

 

I very much enjoyed this collection of Gothic and creepy stories originally released in the 1940's. I generally prefer short tales that pack a punch, and these are definitely not that. However, they often have a good deal of humor and that sense of atmosphere in which I love to wallow.

 

The standouts to me were:

 

A VISITOR FROM DOWN UNDER was, for me, a beautifully told ghost story/tale of revenge.

 

PODOLO A nice little day trip to the island of Podolo takes a nasty turn. This one reminded me that feral cats may not be worth the effort.

 

THE TRAVELLING GRAVE was quite the funny story involving a misunderstanding involving perambulators. (Is that word even used anymore? It's a shame if it's not because it's a word that rolls nicely off the tongue.) Anyway, the humor of the situation quickly changed to horror at the gruesome ending. Always be careful playing hide & seek!

 

CONRAD AND THE DRAGON I wasn't sure what to make of this fairy tale like...tale. It didn't have the usual fairy tale ending, but I found it to be totally charming.

 

THREE OR FOUR, FOR DINNER was another tale involving some humor and a practical joke gone wrong.

 

This was my first experience with L.P. Hartley and I'm so glad I gave this collection a try! Recommended!

 

*Thank you to Valancourt Books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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text 2017-10-16 18:45
Interview with Matt Godfrey, (Narrator Extraordinaire!)
Blackwater: The Complete Saga - Michael McDowell,Matt Godfrey
Haven - Greymore Publishing,Matt Godfrey,Tom Deady
Nightmares and Geezenstacks - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Fredric Brown
All Souls' Night - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Sir Hugh Walpole
The Late Breakfasters and Other Strange Stories (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Robert Aickman,Philip Challinor

 

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing actor & audiobook narrator Matt Godfrey for Horror After Dark!

 

Have you every wondered if narrators read the book first before accepting a narration job? Have you wondered whether they just know how to pronounce everything or if they practice first? Your questions have been answered! I hope you'll take the time to check it out here.

 

 

  

 

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text 2017-10-10 18:45
Blackwater: The Complete Saga by Michael McDowell, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Blackwater: The Complete Saga - Michael McDowell,Matt Godfrey

It's here, it's here, it's finally here! The audio of the Blackwater series by Michael McDowell! All 6 volumes combined into 1! 

It's also available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle versions: here.

(These versions contain an all new introduction from Nathan Ballingrud.)

 

I'll be using this for my 80's horror spot on Halloween Bingo.

How freaking excited am I???

 

 

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