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review 2018-01-22 19:15
The Conversationalist by Justin Bog
The Conversationalist: Horrorstruck Novella One - Justin Richards

Patrick doesn't seem to have one normal relationship in his entire life. He's a teacher and he deals with his students as necessary, but he and his sister don't get along very well and other than his coworker Margo, there's no one else in his life. So when he goes out on a date with Wendy, I had high hopes for him-but alas. It goes so poorly that Patrick leaves while Wendy's in the ladies room. Why? You'll have to read this novella to find out!

 

As many of you already know, I think that the novella is the perfect size for a horror tale. The length helps keeps the word count down by making every word count. In this story, it took a little while for Patrick's secrets to be revealed-maybe a bit too long. There wasn't a lot of action, but there was a lot of tension and atmosphere and those are the types of dark fiction stories that usually appeal to me the most.

 

Being an avid, experienced reader of horror, I found the denouement to be poignant, but tame. I also found the author's writing style took a little getting to used to. That said, it did grow on me and towards the end I was enjoying it immensely. (Except for the world "yearning." That one appeared a lot for such a short story.)

 

This novella was a dark and intriguing read with a distinct style that I enjoyed!

 

Recommended, especially for those new to dark fiction/horror stories and to those who don't like their horror too bloody!

 

You can grab a copy here: The Conversationalist: Horrorstruck Novella One

 

*Justin Bog was kind enough to send me a paperback of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.* 

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review 2018-01-22 18:45
Splatterpunk Fighting Back
Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Dave Benton,Jack Bantry,Tim Curran,Rich Hawkins,Duncan Ralston,Glenn Rolfe,Bracken MacLeod,Kristopher Rufty,Adam Millard,John Boden,Matt Shaw,W.D. Gagliani,George Daniel,Elizabeth Power

 For me, this anthology was nearly perfect. Almost every single story hit home with me, and the fact that the purchase of this anthology benefits the fight against cancer makes it that much sweeter.

 

Without further ado-these are the stories that affected me most, in the order in which they knocked off my socks:

 

MOLLY by Glenn Rolfe. I have read a number of Glenn's works now and it's my opinion that he's an author to watch. With this story, he has arrived! A killer doll, a hotel, sexy women and weak men-add them all together and what have you got? Molly. 5*

 

LIMB MEMORY by Tim Curran. It sucks to lose an arm. Turns out that it also sucks when the arm comes back! 5*

 

THE GOING RATE by John Boden. A super short, shocking story! LOVED. IT. 5*

 

EXTINCTION THERAPY by Bracken MacLeod. Beautifully written with one of those punch-in-the-gut endings that I adore. 5*

 

THEY SWIM BY NIGHT by Adam Millard. Who doesn't love a good story about sirens? (Not like on police cars, but like in ancient mythology.) You have to ignore those singing ladies, or they'll get you every time. 4*

 

THE PASSION OF THE ROBERTSONS by Duncan Ralston. This was gross, funny and messed up all at once. 4*

 

FEAST OF CONSEQUENCES by W.D. Gagliani and Dave Benton. This story was a constant stream of Oh No! Followed by YES! I 'll let you guess upon which of those the story ended. 4*

 

DARLA'S PROBLEM by Kristofer Rufty. This being my first Rufty story, I wonder why I've waited so long to check him out. When Darla comes to you with a problem-take her seriously.

 

SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK was an anthology that totally worked for me, and I'm guessing even though it's only January, this will be included in my best anthologies of the year.

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

You can buy a copy here, (remember-proceeds go towards fighting cancer):

Splatterpunk Fighting Back 

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review 2018-01-22 12:30
Infestation by William Meikle
Infestation - William Meikle

A group of soldiers is sent to investigate reports of Russians drilling in cold, Canadian waters. Once the troop arrives though, nary a Russian can be found and their ship shows signs of a bloody battle. What were the Russians doing and where are they now? You'll have to read this novella to find out!

 

Infestation is fast paced creature-feature containing all that you would hope for in such a read. There's not a real lot of character development, or descriptions of scenery, and that's fine with me. There's a lot of bloody battles where you're rooting for the troop to win and I liked that too-it's what I look for in this type of book.

 

The one thing I didn't care for was the ending. It just stopped! I'm all for the gut punch ending, but this wasn't that. It just stopped. I just discovered there is a sequel to this and I most likely will read it, when I get over being mad about this ending!

 

Recommended for fans of creature-features!

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review 2018-01-21 05:07
THE GREAT AND SECRET SHOW Review
Great and Secret Show - Clive Barker

”Mind was in matter, always. That was the revelation of Quiddity. The sea was the crossroads, and from it all possibilities sprang. Before everything, Quiddity. Before life, the dream of life. Before the thing solid, the solid thing dreamt. And mind, dreaming or awake, knew justice, which was therefore as natural as matter, its absence in any exchange deserving of more than a fatalistic shrug.”

 

Behind everything — all of life and non-life — is Quiddity: a metaphysical dream-sea, a sort of collective consciousness that is accessible only thrice in life. Those moments are just after birth, while lying after sex for the first time with one’s true love, and, finally, after death. To access it is nearly impossible, divine; it is the Art. If that sounds heady and über philosophical, especially a dark fantasy/horror novel, it is. And in a lesser author’s hands it would fall apart; this is Clive Barker, however, so 1989’s The Great and Secret Show is a masterwork.

 

At the heart of this novel is a war between two former acquaintances-turned-enemies: one wants to access the Quiddity, to swim that water and know its secrets; the other wants to protect it at all costs. From there spins out a tale of demonic possession and romance; incest and the apocalypse; the shallow face of West Hollywood cracking while a hole is ripped in the universe, exposing what lies beyond the only thing the human mind can comprehend: the carefully balanced façade of modern living.

 

This is a weird novel, and I loved every moment. I picked it up last night and couldn’t put it down. That’s almost seven-hundred pages read in forty-eight hours. Barker is an author whose prose I love to nibble on, suckle at, mull over. But I couldn’t put this book down. By combining the grotesque and fantastical, this novel is a titillating mashup of genres and ideas, all tied together with the confidence of a legendary myth maker.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-01-20 22:01
Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds
High Moor 3: Blood Moon - Graeme Reynolds

Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Top Read 2017 * * * * *

Atrocities committed in the name of war. In this incredibly brutal finale, the world attempts to deal with the fact that werewolves are real, and oh-so-dangerous. Security measures are taken and, on both sides, death is dealt to those undeserving. As the body count increases exponentially, difficult decisions have to be made, and extreme action has to be taken.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

It's no secret that I absolutely adore this bloodstained trilogy with all my heart - each instalment elicited an abundance of excitement, thrilling me with every character and their often perilous ventures. Blood Moon proved to be one hell of an epic conclusion, even if it left me saddened because I just didn't want it to end. It's extremely rare that I consistently rate so high - usually I find highs as well as lows, my overall enjoyment changing, sometimes drastically, throughout a series, but with Graeme's wolf-tastic world, each addition kept me entranced. Not only did it maintain its strong quality of descriptive writing, it continued to surprise, delight and disturb me. There's actually something I feel I need to state, because it's been in my mind and, for me, it holds a lot of significance:

An author doesn't need to be a best-seller, or have a great deal of recognition to be a great writer. I believe it's our job, as readers, to discover the hidden gems out there, to bring acknowledgement to the stories that bring us joy.

It pains me to think of deserving authors going unnoticed, and not even given a chance by the wider community, but I digress. Let's get back to the review, shall we?

There's a lot of characters to keep track of and, I admit, returning after a year since reading Moonstruck was confusing at first. I found myself trying to remember who was who, but it swiftly returned to me the further I went. I daresay these novels are meant to be read in order; context plays a big part in understanding how the war came to be, not to mention the journey each character had to traverse to reach that point. Marie and John were undoubtedly my favourites, as despite being apart for most of the book, they had time to shine in their own individual ways. Marie had to step-up, become what she never thought she'd become, and John had to endure and overcome a great deal.

Of course, amongst the large cast, others stood out as well - Phil and his desperation to return to his beloved wife, and Daniel, who just wanted the best for the pack. Every single one had their own unique personality, and their own agenda that added a considerable amount of substance.

To tell you the truth, it was at times hard to root for either side. Both the human force and the werewolf pack did terrible, terrible things. Just who was the lesser evil? Well, I'm not sure, both were neck-deep in murky waters - the pack just wanted to survive, but in retaliation of their species being killed and imprisoned, they set upon a whole town of human civilians, either savagely butchering them, or turning them into moonstruck. This included children, so I can't quite say the pack was at all innocent in the situation. I felt a whole lot of dread right before that High Moor slaughter; I knew it was coming and the anticipation nearly killed me.

The ending I considered to be bittersweet. I understood why it needed to be so, but I still felt rather bad about it. It was, after all, a last resort, and I couldn't stop thinking about what all those people would lose. I almost had tears it my eyes, and that's another oddity, as most of the time nothing I read renders me so emotional, and if it does, that in itself makes it special.

One more thing, before this review comes to an end. A paragraph in chapter eighteen piqued my interest, specifically, this one:

On occasion, the she-wolf picked up the scent of fresh death in the air, and when the two of them happened across an old stone mausoleum, the air crackled with an atmosphere of malevolence that raised both wolves' hackles and forced them to back track to find another path around the place.

Is it possible that was a hint of another monster? Perhaps it was just me, but I got a vampiric vibe that I just couldn't shake! It's a little - a mere hint - but it certainly stuck out. Since it was confirmed that other creatures did exist, I kept it in mind to pay extra attention for any teasers, and I believe I may have found one.

In conclusion - I was lucky to discover this trilogy, and honoured to read it. Werewolf horror at its finest, and I hope Reynolds one day returns to this world. I'm sure it has much more to offer.

Notable Scene:

Where Amy's pretty face had been, there was only a bloodstained skull. The bone had deep gouges carved into it and Amy's beautiful blue eyes stared out of the gore at nothing. Her friend's body stood on its own for a second, then fell to the floor in a crumpled heap. Anna couldn't help herself. She turned to Matty and was met by a visage from the depths of hell. The boy's eyes were flat, reflective disks in the flicking candlelight. His face is distorted - the bone stretched into a snout filled with row upon row of razor sharp fangs. A mass of bloody flesh and muscle dangled from between those terrible jaws. They crunched once, then swallowed. Matty brought up a clawed hand and wiped his mouth. "Aye, she wasnae wrong. She did have a tasty face."

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/20/blood-moon-by-graeme-reynolds
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