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review 2017-04-10 18:55
Elizabeth by Ken Greenhall
Elizabeth: A Novel of the Unnatural - Jonathan Janz,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton

 

NEVER have I been so unsettled reading a book narrated by a 14 year old girl. But perhaps that is because Elizabeth is not your ordinary teenager. She's descended from a long line of witches and is now discovering the power within her. Or is she? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

The prose in this book is simply outstanding. It's chilling at times because the narrator seems to have no feelings whatsoever. She talks about sex, acts of violence, and eating breakfast all in the same tone. Sometimes I would need to read a sentence or paragraph over again to be sure that I read it correctly.

 

Then, there's the sex. It's not graphic at all, there are no mentions of sex organs or the mechanics of the act itself...it's just there. Perhaps that is why it never bothered me, as sex between a 14 year old girl and adults should. Then again, perhaps it is because Elizabeth herself never expresses any feeling about it, she only mentions it as a...tool, (please forgive the half-hearted pun), to get what she wants.

 

The entire time I was reading, I was wondering if Elizabeth, indeed, possessed supernatural powers. Was everything going on simply a matter of coincidence and her overactive imagination? Or were these things actually happening because of her actions? (In this regard, Elizabeth reminds me of one of my favorite books, THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR by Anne Rivers Siddons.) It was the masterful writing of Mr. Greenhall that had me turning this fact over and over again in my mind. I know what conclusion I came to, I'm interested in yours!

 

This novel reminds me of why I became a horror fan in the first place, it wasn't the gore or the blood, (though those DO have their place and I love them too), it's human nature and what people can be capable of, underneath their ordinary facades. These days we have tons of books and TV shows about sociopaths/psychopaths/personality disorders-all of which are trying to explain things to us. Mr. Greenhall wrote this back in the day, (the 1970's), before FBI profiling and Criminal Minds. Even without all of those studies and the psychiatric manuals, he had this criminal profile down PAT.

 

Is Elizabeth continuing on her family's tradition of witchcraft, or is she another type of animal altogether? I HIGHLY recommend you read this book, and then come talk to me. We'll discuss it together!

 

*Thank you to the most awesome Valancourt Books for the free review copy in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

 

**Furthermore, thanks to Valancourt for bringing back these horror gems that may otherwise have been entirely forgotten. Bravo, guys! Bravo!**

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review 2017-03-22 18:50
Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall
Hell Hound - Grady Hendrix,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton

 

In the late 70's, I started reading horror in earnest, and I honestly thought I was familiar with most horror writers of the time. I was wrong. I'd never heard of Ken Greenhall until Valancourt Books brought him to my attention. Now, I want to get my hands on everything he's written.

 

Baxter, the bull terrier, is a sociopath. But he's just a dog, you might say! It's true, but he's observant, willful and extremely dangerous. With some portions of this book being from his point of view, the reader gets a clear look into what's going on in that doggie head of his. I know this book sounds cheesy, and perhaps like a rip-off of Cujo, but the facts are that it's not cheesy at all, and it was written before Cujo. Featuring keen insights into human behavior, precise but spare prose, and bringing to the reader a growing sense of dread and horror, I'm pretty sure this will be among the best books I will read this year.

 

My highest recommendation! You can get your copy here: Hell Hound

 

*Thanks to Valancourt Books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2017-01-21 13:52
Dominoes by John Boden
Dominoes - John Boden,K. Allen Wood

 

A Little Golden Book of Horror!

 

Surreal scenes, bits of song lyrics, shout outs to all kinds of authors, and a little beheading!

 

Clever, cool and a heck of a lot of fun! Highly recommended!

 

You can get your copy here: Dominoes

 

 

*Thanks to my friend Andi for the loan.*

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review 2017-01-06 14:55
Little Heaven by Nick Cutter
Little Heaven: A Novel - Nick Cutter

 

Little Heaven is an extraordinary story! That doesn't mean it was a perfect story, but it was a lot of fun.

 

I'll refrain from going too deeply into the plot, but I will give a brief summary so I can talk about the few things that bothered me. Three bounty hunters meet up in the 60's, (and again some years later), and agree to help a woman check on her nephew, who had been taken by her brother-in-law to an isolated spot in the mountains. This spot being where the cult known as Little Heaven is located. Together, they all discover there is a LOT more going on in this settlement than just a warped, cruel "religion".

 

What I liked most about this story was its creativity. Yes, I saw similarities to Stephen King's work, (a lot of them, really), but I didn't find this tale to be derivative-I took it as an homage to the King instead. In fact, I think some of the scenes with the leader, (read: insane cult leader), the baby, (oh, that baby: SHUDDER), and the "Long Walker" (you'll see), would have made Stephen King himself jealous.

 

At times though, it seemed like Little Heaven didn't know what it wanted to be-between the main cult story, the interactions of the bounty hunters, the current and past time lines, the things in the woods and in the rock-there was a lot going on. I'm not exactly sure why, but at times I found my mind wandering. Maybe if the story were a little more tight and focused that would have helped? As I said, I'm not quite sure.

 

Whenever I found that happening, some piece of writing or a creative incident would set me right back on the path. I found this particular quote to be beautiful:

 

"It’s all so goddamn fragile. Your life and the thread you carry it on. And the more love you carry, the more stress you put on that thread, the better chance it will snap. But what choice do any of us have? You take on that love because to live without it is to exist as half a person. You give that love away because it is in you to give, not out of a desire for recompense. And you keep loving even when the world cracks open and reveals a black hole where all that love can get swallowed."

 

Overall though, this tale's creativity and imagination beckoned to me like a bright star moving across the sky, and I willingly followed it-right down into the dark below the big, black rock. What's hiding down there? You'll have to read this book to find out! I recommend that you do.

 

Available January 10th here: Little Heaven: A Novel

 

*Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2016-12-06 19:14
Odd Man Out by James Newman
Odd Man Out - Pete Kahle,James R. Newman

 

It is with tears in my eyes that I finish this novella.

 

As an important church vote looms, Dennis suddenly remembers with clarity an incident from his childhood. All of a sudden, the reader is transported to the Black Mountain Camp for Boys.

 

During this one week summer camp, an atrocity is committed. One that will haunt Dennis, the other boys, and this reader. I doubt I will ever be able to forget Dennis or his former best friend, Wesley. Maybe I am not meant to. You're not meant to forget it either.

 

"We build walls to keep us separate, and when those walls eventually crumble and fall we blame the other for chipping away at the foundations. We point fingers right up until the moment we are crushed beneath the weight of our own intolerance. Everyone loses. In the end we all bleed red."

 

Timely quote there, isn't it?

 

Odd Man Out gets my highest recommendation. You should read it.

 

You can buy your copy here: Odd Man Out

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