June was a much more productive month for me regarding reading and I managed to get through 13 books/novellas. There were no 5* reads for me but a few came close.
Dream of the Serpent by Alan Ryker
Alan Ryker should be much better known by horror readers. His writing is smooth, his work is well paced and his characters are flawed but somehow likeable even when they're acting in an unlikeable way.
Dream of the Serpent is no exception, it tells the story of Cody who sustains extensive burns caused by an accident at work and the first part of the novel mainly deals with the aftermath of the accident and his recovery. The second part sees Cody get a second chance, as though the accident hadn't happened, however his fiancé, Madison, has disappeared and so Cody sets out to find her.
This read was hard hitting, the descriptions of Cody's rehab were eye watering at times, I swear I felt every dressing change. Ultimately this read asks the question of how much would you sacrifice for the person you loved. A slightly different read from what the author has put out before but I would readily recommend it.
Savage Species (Night Terrors) by Jonathan Janz
Savage Species was my first read by author Jonathan Janz and I have to say it was a lot of fun. I read the 5 instalments of the series but it was the first one that I enjoyed the most.
Peaceful Valley Nature Reserve is about to be invaded by some pretty nasty beings and they are extremely hungry (and horny, ewww).
This is a great creature feature, they reminded me somewhat of Richard Laymon's cellar creatures but I have to say these things were a lot nastier. The characters in the story were well done but perhaps a little clichéd although this may have been intentional by the author as part of the fun. The characters were fleshed out just enough to keep the story going, some great characters to both root for and wish a messy death. Good pacing, nice character set up and lots of grisly action towards the end.
Monstrocity by Jeffrey Thomas
Christopher Ruby helps his girlfriend perform an occult ritual from a book called the Necronomicon, the ritual at first seems to have failed but as his girlfriend starts to change in alarming ways it becomes clear it was in fact successful. Christopher tries to track down the book and in doing so finds out that Punktown holds a lot of dark secrets.
This read had a great noir feel to it, blending cyberpunk and lovecraftian themes effortlessly. The world building done by Thomas is amazing, he deftly reveals Punktown and it's inhabitants, never overloading the reader with detail but dropping it in bit by bit. The characters were interesting, especially the blend of different races and mutants as well as some of the mythology that surrounds them. A great read and a fantastic introduction to the authors work.
The Troop by Nick Cutter
The Troop was a gut wrenching read which sees scouts being taken camping to a small island for the weekend and unknowingly coming into contact with a bioengineered parasite.
The layout of this book was really engaging with chapters of the story interspersed with interviews, courtroom transcripts and news reports. These add to the story, giving information about the parasite and also teasing the reader about who will make it off the island. It also serves to make a few statements about medical ethics and how they can be corrupted.
The characters were engaging right from the start of the story, each one fleshed out nicely with back story that supports some of the behaviour seen on the island. Be warned that this is not a read for those who are uncomfortable with violent situations involving children. It was hard at times to read some of this book as the author does a great job in ensuring that you're heavily invested in the outcome of the scouts. Highly recommended.