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review 2018-09-20 22:30
THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY by John Everson
The House by the Cemetery (Fiction Without Frontiers) - John Everson

 

Bachelor's Grove is a small town featuring a house backing onto a cemetery. There have always been rumors about the house-something about a witch and a haunting. Rumors have no impact on Perry, though. He's an entrepreneur that wants to open a Halloween haunted house there. Great idea, right? Yeah...no. All kinds of things go wrong as you may have guessed and lots of gory shenanigans ensue. Will the haunted house business be a success? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I requested this ARC from Flame Tree Press because I loved the cover and also because I've been wanting to read more of John Everson's work. Ever since I read his book SIREN several years back, I've been meaning to get back to him, and with this book I finally got that opportunity. While I respect his writing, in general, I think he really shines when it comes to the bloody action-plenty of which is too be found towards the end of this story. I just thought it took a bit too long to get there.

 

We are introduced to many characters, maybe too many, and while I did like or care for some of them, I don't think they required the amount of attention they received. Also, it took a long time for us to get to where the story really lived. I would have preferred less of the extraneous characters and more about the main characters and perhaps more about the history of the house. It's hard to add anything else without spoilers, however I will reinforce the fact that the denouement was bloody brilliant and I had a ball reading that portion.

 

Overall, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY was fun in that bloody B-movie way many of us horror lovers enjoy- and if anyone ever does make a film based upon this tale, I would love to see their rendition of the basement at the end of Halloween night!

 

Recommended!

 

*Thank you to Flame Tree Press for the paperback ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2018-09-15 00:19
The Siren And The Specter
The Siren and The Spectre (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Jonathan Janz

David Cane has made a living exploring haunted houses. He has yet to find proof that the supernatural exsists but that may soon change. His latest project is to write about the Alexander house, a place that has a horrifying history for both Daid personally  and for the community surrounding it.

 

The Alexander House was built in the 1700's by a land baron. He used it as a home for his son who practiced black magic and murdered several people in the town near by. David is haunted by the home because 20 years ago he broke up with his girlfriend  who committed suicide in the house. Now his former friend Chris and his wife want him to research the house but they may have an agenda and David may find that the supernatural is real and he has to pay for his past sins.

 

The Siren And The Specter by Jonathan Janz is a haunted house story that rises above other haunted house stories. This book starts simple with a paranormal researcher spending time in a haunted house. Then it builds on that by adding layers with complex characters, plot twists and sub plots. What was really interesting was how every little detail adds to the whole story. For instance at one point we're introduced to a dysfunctional family and after that a love story. When we first got into it I wondered how does this add to the ghost story but it does and it makes the book better. 

 

My favorite part of this book was when David reads from a diary of a paranormal researcher who visited the Alexander House in the 1800s. The diary excerpts show how good of a writer Jonathan Janz is. The way the diary is written is in a style that makes it feel like it was from a different era and then we hear David's findings from the present day. Jonathan  uses two different writing styles and it adds a lot to the book.

 

The characters are brilliant also, they aren't all good or all bad, they have layers and come across as real. For instance the lead character  David is self-absorbed but as you get into his bacstory you see why he is that way. Then you have his ex-friend Chris who is a jerk but you see how he acts and knows he has a sympathetic side.Though some of his acts are unforgivable I found I could relate to him. The Siren And The Specter isn't just a good horror novel, its a good novel period. You don't  have to be a horror fan to like this one, if you love great writing you will love this book.

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review 2018-09-09 20:34
THIRTEEN DAYS BY SUNSET BEACH by Ramsey Campbell
Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Ramsey Campbell

 

Quiet horror is one of my favorite sub-genres and with that in mind I was looking forward to this release from one of the masters. Admittedly, my expectations for this were high and I'm sorry to report that THIRTEEN DAYS BY SUNSET BEACH didn't meet them.

 

A man, Ray, takes his wife and extended family on vacation to an island in Greece. It's the first time that the entire family has vacationed together and everyone has been looking forward to it. It's not long, however, before they begin to notice strange things. Why are there no mirrors in their hotel rooms? Why are different members of the family having similar dreams each night? Even more intriguing, why are those same family members displaying bite marks on their bodies? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

First,  I did like the writing style and quality, and I enjoyed the foreshadowing. (At times, I think the foreshadowing was the only thing that kept me reading.) What brought me down quite a bit was the pacing and some of the characters. I didn't feel much for any of them, other than Ray, the elderly protagonist and Jules, whom I couldn't stand. (Really, I couldn't stand him-a more annoying, fussy, controlling man you couldn't find anywhere.) I hated him enough that I considered quitting this book more than once. Between him and the pacing, I came *this* close. But every time I said to myself "This is it! I'm done!" something happened that kept me going.

 

Overall, I'm sorry to say that this book didn't work well for me. The writing quality is there though, which is why I'm going with 3 out of 5 stars. What doesn't work for me might work exceedingly well for you, so if the synopsis sounds good, go ahead and give it a shot. Ramsey Campbell is a master of the horror genre after all!

 

*Thanks to Flame Tree Press via NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-02 14:44
The Siren and the Specter - Review 3/5*
The Siren and The Spectre (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Jonathan Janz

siren.jpg

The Siren and the Specter

Jonathan Janz

Publication Date: September 6th 2018

Flame Tree Press

 

 

I received this book courtesy of NetGalley and Flame Tree Press in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

This book has had a lot of love over social media and various book review sites; it has popped up on my news feed time and again with its 4 and 5 star reviews and I’ve seen numerous posts about how scary and terrifying it was, and I admit I was very excited to receive it in exchange for a review. I was a little late to the party with this, but thankfully it was still available to request via NetGalley.

 

To me, this was a story about a love lost, and the search for forgiveness, not from other people, but the journey to forgiving yourself. This was a story about moving on, finding peace, and closing the door on a dark chapter of your life.

 

Synopsis: “When David Caine, a celebrated skeptic of the supernatural, is invited by an old friend to spend a month in “the most haunted house in Virginia,” he believes the case will be like any other. But the Alexander House is different. Built by a 1700s land baron to contain the madness and depravity of his eldest son, the house is plagued by shadows of the past and the lingering taint of bloodshed. David is haunted, as well. For twenty-two years ago, he turned away the woman he loved, and she took her life in sorrow. And David suspects she’s followed him to the Alexander House.

 

I enjoyed it, I really did, although I personally didn’t find it scary. From reviews I have read and various posts I have seen in relation to it, I had expected to be shaken to my very core by this one. To me it was a great story no doubt, with an eclectic mix of characters, ranging from the sweet, the decent, to the downright seedy. I found the majority of characters interesting; I became very fond of the lead protagonist, David Caine, as well as growing to love Jessica as the story developed.

 

Two characters I had problems with were Mr Templeton, the caretaker of Alexander House, and his daughter Alicia. To me, they felt to be ‘filler’; they seemed to serve only a gratuitous purpose. The discovery of Alicia’s severed head seemed to be inserted only for shock value and then her father who responds in anguish was a bit of a ‘blink and you miss him’ character, brought in to pad the scene out. One minute he was trying to kill David and Ralph, the next he was helping them escape the house. This was the one part of the book that felt a little messy to me, a tad pointless. Alicia’s character hadn’t been developed enough for me really to be bothered by her grim demise, it felt more like she was just introduced so she could be killed.

 

I wish more had been done with Ralph’s character. After the revelation of what he had done, or more accurately, what he had allowed to be done, I really wished that his story had been allowed to develop a little more. I would have loved to see a bit more before his confession, and a lot more after. I think he was a decent guy overall, he had just made a bad decision to get through life – don’t we all sometimes? We all have regrets, dark secrets that we want to stay hidden, sins we wish we could undo. A part of me wished that he hadn’t have been killed the way he was, but again, it developed the story somewhat with regards to David and the undoing of his perpetual scepticism,so I can see why it was played out in such a way.

 

I really enjoyed the seedy Shelby family, Honey... oh dear lord, what a nightmare of a woman. Her bullish husband and her two innocent children, it was heartbreaking at times. Especially Ivy - the poor girl endured a lot. I really liked David’s interaction with them, the inner monologue of deciding what to do, should he go to the police or not. It really fitted well with the sad times we live in, with this kind of family unit being everywhere. The sad truth nowadays is you find yourself torn, you might want to help, take a child in and feed them, make them feel safe for a little bit, but you can’t. We now live in a world where if you so much as smile at a child you can be accused of all kinds. I have even read ridiculous news stories where a father was arrested for taking a picture of his own child in a park. We have created this madness, this world where we are all too scared of accusation and repercussion, to help people now. I appreciated that it was alluded to within the book, intentionally or otherwise.

 

The Siren aspect of the story is another part that I feel wasn’t touched enough on. We only receive a brief synopsis of this during the book, and it felt a little like a Marvel post credit scene at the end.

 

Overall I very much enjoyed The Siren and the Specter.  I have several issues with it, but with that, it’s a great story. It is about love and loss, as well as the sad truths of some families and the twisted way friendships can end up. It didn’t feel like a great ghost story, and I was definitely more interested and involved with the characters and the developing plot, rather than with the haunting, which just felt more like a secondary side story.

 

It’s a fantastic read despite what I found to be flaws.  It’s interesting and thought provoking and does have a few horrifying moments near the end.

 

3/5 – not terribly scary but a great story nonetheless.

 

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

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review 2018-08-30 18:45
The Siren and the Spectre by Jonathan Janz
The Siren and The Spectre (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Jonathan Janz

 

Alexander House is the most haunted house in the state of Virginia. David Caine is perhaps the most well known debunk-er in the United States and as such, he is called in to stay at the house and write a book about it. The current owners are hoping that David will be persuaded into believing that the haunting is real, and that the resulting book about the matter will draw visitors/tourism to the home. Is David finally persuaded that ghosts and hauntings do exist? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

My brief synopsis above doesn't do this story justice. Unfortunately, that's part of the problem I had with this book. There's a LOT going on-and to be honest? I thought it was too much. I loved the portions about the history of the house, the area where it's situated, and its former inhabitants-specifically Judson Alexander. I would have been happy with a book about him alone.

 

I understand that this story has several layers and I respect what Jonathan Janz tried to do. However, I think the focus of this tale became too wide, what with tons of information about David's old girlfriend, his old friend Chris and Chris' new wife Katherine, the CRAZY neighbors down the way, the local sheriff, and I haven't even mentioned the siren yet! I was fine with all of it through about 2/3 of the novel, but by the last third it just got too busy for me.  Yes, there were thrills aplenty and lots of surprises, but I felt like the denouement went on a bit too long, and tried to cover too much material.

 

The writing itself though, was excellent, as I've come to expect from Mr. Janz. He created  a tense and dense atmosphere-at times I felt I would surely suffocate from it. I also felt the characters were mostly realistic and while David Caine wasn't perfect by any means, I did come to care for him and I wanted him to pull through. This tale was imaginative and to restate, my only problem was that I wished it had been more focused.

 

I seem to be almost the only one who isn't all-out raving about this story, so it's definitely possible that I read it wrong. Even with my complaint, I still enjoyed the heck out of THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER. You probably will too. Jonathan Janz is always worthy of your consideration and if you decide to give this one a go, feel free to come and share your thoughts with me when you're done. You can tell me how wrong I am!

 

Recommended!

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book from FLAME TREE PRESS via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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