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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-14 01:04
Preta's Realm: The Haunting by J. Thorn
Preta's Realm: The Haunting - J. Thorn

Preta's Realm: The Haunting by J. Thorn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When certain people in his life start disappearing, Drew Green struggles to keep his mind and family intact. Something whispers to him at night; a voice of a person no longer living. It tells him of a time long past, and a curse set to haunt the bloodline. As events eventually spin out of control, Drew finds himself at the mercy of a creature that should only reside within nightmares.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

After about a year or more of having this on my kindle and eventually forgetting about its existence, it finally caught my eye once again. What followed was a last minute read of the month - it's a short book, which I was later thankful for. Initially I didn't know what to expect, but the words akin to "disgusting" and the likes on other reviews piqued my interest. Just how bad could it be? At this point I'd say I'm pretty used to the extreme use of gore and other similar themes, so my curiosity got the better of me. My concluding opinion is that whilst involving some nasty and sensitive elements, it was largely poor in regards to story. I found myself confused most of the time, not only questioning certain plot decisions, but also of how it was paced. A scene would suddenly jump in time without it being properly conveyed, yet I'm not sure if that was supposed to be intentional or not. Either way, it came across as not entirely thought out - like Thorn rushed through the process.

I can't say I particularly liked any of the characters, nor did I understand their actions. I found Drew to be dislikeable as a person; how he treated his family was a large part of that. It was hinted throughout that he suffered from something in the past, perhaps some form of mental illness, yet it was never explained, and thus I settled into a state of aforementioned confusion whilst trying to garner what I could of the backstory. I know Ravna was a decent man in the grand scheme of things, but I didn't get a good first impression of him and unfortunately that stuck. His introduction consisted of him fantasising about a younger waitress, which I honestly found to be offputting. He referred to her as his "gothic princess", and the moment he noticed her in a colour other than black, the fantasy was apparently ruined. Clearly this information wasn't relevant in any way, shape, or form, yet it was still relayed like it was somehow crucial. The others? I don't have much to say about them, other than they lacked memorable presence.

"Preta" and "Gaki" essentially mean the same thing - "hungry ghost" - and is a supernatural being present in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Chinese and Vietnamese folk religion. I can't say I was familiar with the lore of this creature until I did some homework. It's a good concept - I always like when authors include their on take on weird and wonderful monsters. I did find some discomfort in Thorn's representation, but I was simply too distracted by other elements to really appreciate the depravity. The accounts of the past, told through the spirit of Drew's grandfather, honestly bored me enough that I wanted to skim over; the narrative was written in such a way that didn't pull me in, or make me care for what was happening.

If I were to detail how this could've been a better read for me, then it would go like this; the focus solely upon Drew or Ravna, with either one being fleshed out instead of the back and forth. Drew was supposed to be a devoted family man, yet I didn't see that. Ravna was supposed to be some sort of hunter, yet I felt I was merely given a brief glimpse. Of course, this is my personal opinion; plenty of others thoroughly enjoyed it as it is.

In conclusion: I originally rated this three stars, however I've retracted one to better fit my thoughts. It was a definite miss for me - I didn't like much about it other than the somewhat disturbing scenes of "Gaki".

Notable Quote:

"The 'cesspool' you mention is humanity itself. The 'gateway' is the greed, lust and insatiable suffering of humankind. You can no more rid the universe of Gaki than you can of air or water."

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/14/pretas-realm-the-haunting-by-j-thorn
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-10 22:50
Darkest Hours by Mike Thorn
Darkest Hours - Mike Thorn

Darkest Hours by Mike Thorn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With monsters that hunger for flesh, ghosts that lie in wait, and brutality at the hands of humanity - this collection certainly has it all. Delving into the satirical, chilling and downright disgusting, this is a must read for those that like a bit of horror in their lives.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Mike Thorn for giving me the opportunity!

This anthology has sixteen individual stories, each offering varying degrees of horror in different forms; bizarro, quiet and psychological are just a few of the sub-genres that are incorporated. Chances are you'll find something that tickles your fancy within the wide spectrum that is Thorn's imagination, just as I did. I do, however, feel the need to mention the reoccurring themes that present themselves throughout the majority of the book. Despite each short being unrelated and diverse in form, there were certain factors that kept resurfacing; the heavy metal, the smoking (specifically marijuana and Camel cigarettes), and lastly, academia. It just didn't work for me all that much - instead of characters blending together, I would've preferred differentiating attributes.

I always find it difficult to review these type of books, for the sole reason that I feel there's so much to write - I can get carried away with my thoughts and write paragraph upon paragraph. For my own sanity I've decided to forgo a ten-page essay detailing each and every short, and instead highlight the the top three that I enjoyed the most.

A New Kind of Drug
This is the first story that really piqued my interest, primarily due to the fact I've never read anything quite like it before, and it caused me to think of how we, as a species, are awfully enticed by substances that alter the state of consciousness. It's said that we're always looking for the next big thing, the next high that will affect us in new and oftentimes dangerous ways. I liked how Thorn took that aspect, and spun something that didn't seem so far-fetched in regards to human cruelty. Whether the creature was a demon, an alien, or whatever else, I felt pity for it and thus viewed the people themselves as the monsters. The added possibility of there being another plane of existence only interested me further.

And maybe I was screaming too, I don't know, but I'm quite sure I would've done something to stop this awful spectacle if I'd had the time, or the will, or even just a modicum of bravery.

Economy These days
Clearly the ugliness of humanity's a personal favourite of mine; the type of horror that's closer to home and more real than any supernatural beast. This particular short reminded me of the film Hostel, with the concept that people pay money to hurt a stranger. The difference was, in this case, both parties acted upon a consensual basis, where rules and regulations were strictly set in place. I have no doubt that something like this exists today, and whilst I don't consider it terrifying in the traditional sense, it's immensely thought-provoking.

But in this moment, money seemed like some grotesque abstraction; these terrible means dwarfed the process of reaching agreeable ends.

Lucio Schluter
Yet another example of human savagery, yet in an entirely different manner. Appreciating art as much as I do, I couldn't help but feel fascinated by Schluter's work and the way in which Thorn truly captured its disturbing essence. To turn actual people into such ghastly pieces of craftsmanship, it's delightfully macabre. The artist himself was a character I favoured because of the unnerving, yet obvious way he felt strongly for his victims - perhaps even a sort of love for them.

To really look at one of Schluter's subjects was like seeing a reflection of yourself ten years from now, somehow locked in a stasis of fear and eternal nakedness.

Other honourable mentions are The Auteur, Long Man, Sabbatical and Fusion.

Of course, due to the differing of story-types, there were some I didn't care for, and some I outright disliked. With Mired, Fear and Grace, and Speaking of Ghosts, my attention considerably waned until I just wanted them to end as quickly as possible.

In conclusion - A well-written concoction of the dark and twisted. My interest fluctuated depending upon the concept, but it's clear that Thorn has talent. An author to keep an eye on, for sure.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/10/darkest-hours-by-mike-thorn
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review 2018-03-04 00:40
John Dies at the End by David Wong
John Dies at the End - David Wong

John Dies at the End by David Wong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Soy sauce" is the name for the mystifying new drug that begins to plague David Wong's life. David Wong isn't actually his real name. Did you know that "Wong" is the most common surname in the world? And "John" is the most common first name in the world? And yet there's not a single person named John Wong! Wait, where was I?

(WARNING: This review doesn't actually have any spoilers, but here's a warning anyway.)

I'll be truthful - I was hesitant to read this one. I actually contemplated altogether skipping the monthly read of HA, as after scanning over some reviews I wasn't left with a great first impression. A plot that many didn't even consider a legitimate plot? Juvenile humour, including penis and... uh, toilet jokes? Suffice it to say, I was severely put off by the amount of criticism. Fortunately I bought it anyway, as I took into account the thoughts of the select few that largely share my literary tastes. They seemed to enjoy it, so surely it wasn't as bad as I thought.

Well, turned out that it was as bad as I thought, but it was also so, so good.

“Every man is blessed with his gifts from the Lord. One of mine happens to be a penis large enough that, if it had a penis of its own, my penis’s penis would be larger than your penis.”

It's hard to adequately describe this book without calling it a steaming hot mess, because that's what it was, and it didn't apologise for it. It revelled in being bizarre, ridiculously far-fetched and downright stupid, yet in amongst the rolling of my eyes, I couldn't help but laugh out loud. In fact, I chuckled so loudly that my partner enquired as to what was so funny, which resulted in me reading some passages aloud. Said partner, who is a man by the way, responded only with a reluctant nod. He simply proved that the assumption that this is a man's book is, quite frankly, inaccurate. It's entirely up to the individual, and plenty of women adored this just as much as I did, just as I'm sure plenty of men hated it.

“You're the kind of man a man wants when a man wants a man.”

Rife with conspiracy theories, pop culture references, outlandish ideology and crude irreverence, I thoroughly succumbed to the entertainment that was Wong's narrative. I admit, it seemed a bit odd, almost like two or three books were stuck together into one volume. It later made sense when I took the time to look into the book's origins, and how Jason Pargin ultimately created the chaotic adventures of Dave and John through webserial episodes on Cracked.com. I'm so very happy he didn't give up after the novel was initially rejected by publishers! I firmly believe the world needed this in it.

“I keep the gun in a hollowed out copy of the Koran. And there the big book was, tossed on the bed, open and gunless. Nothing else disturbed. I mean, they actually checked my Koran to see if there was a gun inside. I knew I was dealing with a sick son of a bitch.”

I didn't even entirely like Dave either; he was so very disrespectful and vulgar to nearly everyone he met - certainly an unorthodox "hero". John, whilst endearing in a man-child sort of way, was hugely self-obsessed (with his genitalia). Amy was the sole character that was truly likeable, well, that's not true. How can I forget the actual star of the show? The lady that brought just as much characterisation, if not more, than her human counterparts?

“And watch out for Molly. See if she does anything unusual. There’s something I don’t trust about the way she exploded and then came back from the dead like that.”

In conclusion: It was difficult to write this review and put into words how my brain regarded this disorganised heap of madness. Give it a try - you'll either love it or hate it.

Notable Quote:

“People die. This is the fact the world desperately hides from us from birth. Long after you find out the truth about sex and Santa Claus, this other myth endures, this one about how you’ll always get rescued at the last second and if not, your death will at least mean something and there’ll be somebody there to hold your hand and cry over you. All of society is built to prop up that lie, the whole world a big, noisy puppet show meant to distract us from the fact that at the end, you’ll die, and you’ll probably be alone.”

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/03/john-dies-at-the-end-by-david-wong
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text 2018-03-03 23:58
February in Review

January in Review


(Read: 5 / Reviewed: 6)


February sure flew past! I have to say, I had so much fun this month! There was a lot of coffee, wine, and book-related delights! I also had the chance to take part in a Q and A for Booklikes, which really made me feel warm and fuzzy inside! I know it's not that big of a deal, but it's nice to be acknowledged for something you work hard on. See my post about it here!






John Dies at the End by David Wong - It's surely becoming a regular enjoyment; taking part in the monthly group reads of Horror Aficionados! I honestly wasn't sure about this one at all - it sounded way too silly for my taste. How wrong I was! What a great start to the month!



The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson - I was requested to read and review this one by the author. I'm glad I did, as it was a bit different than my usual reads, but in a good way. I promptly consumed it and reviewed it.


Hidden by Benedict Jacka - I started this series in 2015, whilst still in my Urban Fantasy phase. What intrigued my about it, was that it had a male protagonist, something that's not all too common in the genre. This series has never been perfect for me, but I still like to see what trouble Alex gets himself into.


The Fallen Kind Vol I: Ghosts Of Nunchi by M. Almelk - After being contacted by the lovely author, I quickly accepted his request! Post-apocalypse but on another planet? It certainly piqued my interest. I reviewed it here.


Preta's Realm by J. Thorn - A last minute read for the month. Having been on my Kindle for a long time, I decided to finally give it a shot. It was short, and it included some truly disgusting scenes.




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Morium by S.J. Hermann

Splatterpunk Fighting Back by MULTIPLE

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter (WORST READ)

The Magic Cottage by James Herbert (2017 Review) (BEST READ)

The Awesome by Eva Darrows (2017 Review)

The Fallen Kind Vol I: Ghosts Of Nunchi by M. Almelk


I strive for two reviews a week, but I had extra space this month, so I included reviews from last year. I think I'll do that - start to post old reviews, just to have them on this blog. On Goodreads I have over a hundred reviews, dating back to 2011! This month also included a trip to Waterstones, and a basket full of books! All horror, of course.




So how did February go for you? Read anything good? Let me know!


Red xx

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/28/february-in-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-20 00:34
The Magic Cottage by James Herbert (2017 Review)
The Magic Cottage - James Herbert

The Magic Cottage by James Herbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Top Read 2017 * * * * *

Tired of the hustle and bustle of the city of London, young couple Mike and Midge are determined to find a home that offers them a brighter - and quieter - future. Much to their delight, that perfect home comes in the form of Gramarye; a breathtaking, isolated cottage that appears too good to be true. Eager to move right in and settle down, they soon experience the enchanting wonders Gramarye has to offer, along with the sinister ugliness that lurks just beneath its surface.

(WARNING: this review contains spoilers.)

I genuinely didn't expect to discover such a hidden gem when I selected a book at random from my shelf. Having never picked up a Herbert novel before, I was soon stunned by the sheer beauty of the story, which included the subtle, yet increasingly unnerving horror element that primarily lingered in the background. I could be considered a nick-picky reader, or downright pessimistic; someone who doesn't dish out top ratings all too often because even the tiniest things can impact my enjoyment, so it's a surprise and a special occasion when I find something that ticks all the right boxes. And tick all the boxes it did, and then some. This one will stay with me for several reasons, the foremost being quite personal. I know very well the longing for the perfect home - somewhere that brings happiness and contentment. Gramarye in itself sounded like my dream cottage; it simply fascinated me with its extraordinarily close ties to nature, and the magic that enveloped its walls.

I quickly became attached to Mike and Midge, and rooted for their relationship throughout the entirety of the book. Both had their flaws; Mike could be selfish, whilst Midge infuriatingly stubborn, but I found them to be more relatable due to these faults. When they were on the verge of separation, I actually felt something; a sort of dread that perhaps a happy ending wasn't in store. That's the thing about this genre; happily-ever-afters aren't a certainty, there's just so much potential, and I couldn't stop my mind from racing. Of course, there were the side characters, and each and every one had their part to play. Val, in particular stood out, especially when she displayed such bravery and loyalty to her friends in the end.

The plot itself wasn't non-stop scares or gore, but rather a slow progression of laying down the foundations, and setting the tone, before the explosive finale. I can't say this way of storytelling works for everyone, but I found myself completely immersed, and never did I believe it to be stale. Herbert truly struck me as a writer that favoured the development of his characters, and of making the reader truly care for what's happening. I daresay it's so much better than cheap thrills that ultimately mean very little.

I really do need to mention the descriptive writing, and how it truly conveyed what Herbert wanted it to. There's a particular scene that takes place in the loft of Gramarye, involving Mike and a large number of bats. Don't get me wrong, I adore bats and have no fear of them, but I don't think I've ever been as disturbed when reading before - it almost made me feel a bit sick. Such in-depth detail that worked together extremely well, resulting in the magical moments positively feeling magical, and the eerie moments giving a clear sense of unease. This is what writing's really about.

Lastly, I should probably include that I actually cried at a certain point in this book. I'm usually not such an emotional reader, where I shed tears often, but I really loved that squirrel.

I'll never forget Rumbo.

Notable Scene:

The pink, hunched thing grew in size, frail shape glistening in the light of the torch. The tiny body oozed out, smoothly and wetly, taking form - an unsightly form - discharged from the womb like an oval blob of pink topping squeezed from an icing bag, to plop onto the mother bat's stomach, caught there and suspended by its life-chord. The mother immediately wrapped wings and pouched tail around the newborn, its head striving upwards and tongue flickering out to cleanse the sticky flesh body.

© Red Lace 2017

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/20/the-magic-cottage-by-james-herbert-2017-review
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