The Sea was a Fair Master
Calvin Demmer, 2018
5* Book review
Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads: “The world’s fate lies with a comatose young girl; an android wants to remember a human she once knew under Martian skies; men at sea learn that the ocean is a realm far different from land, where an unforgiving god rules; a school security guard discovers extreme English class; and a man understands what the behemoth beneath the sea commands of him.
The Sea Was a Fair Master is a collection of 23 stories, riding the currents of fantasy, science fiction, crime, and horror. There are tales of murder, death, loss, revenge, greed, and hate. There are also tales of hope, survival, and love.”
I love horror shorts, short films and short stories. Some are downright terrible, while others are terrifyingly great. It’s surprising what can be packed into a 5 minute video of a few pages in a book. I’m one who loves to be scared, I want to be clinging onto my fiancé Andy, the child in me scared of what might be lurking behind the sofa or under the bed. There is a damsel in distress within me who loves the feeling of being protected by my man during scary scenes.
This collection of short stories from Calvin Demmer titled ‘The Sea was a Fair Master’ is quite frankly a masterpiece. I would absolutely love to see a few of these, Hangman and Trashcan Sam in particular, expanded into novellas if not full novels. Within the pages of ‘The Sea was a Fair Master’, are great stories; I was genuinely unnerved by a few.
‘Hangman’ is one of my favourites from the collection. An unsettling tale of the ‘Extreme English’ class, one class you absolutely cannot fail. The penalty is death.
Another I particularly liked was ‘Graves’. This is a sad story of death and the struggle to move on. This is one that tugged on the heartstrings a little.
‘Trashcan Sam’, now this is an interesting one. I would love to read more of this, to see where it started and how it develops. This is creepy world of garbage looters and the random oddities they find in peoples trash. It’s rather disturbing I thought, and possibly my overall favourite. It’s hard to choose as they are all so good.
You can find ‘The Sea was a Fair Master on Amazon here:
It’s also free via Kindle Unlimited.
Check it out, please, it’s worth your time.
5/5 I LOVED IT
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)
Hindered Souls Press
“There is an urge inside you”
“Dr. Gary Phillips, the resident hematopathologist at Claybrook Medical Center, is a lonely man struggling with the duress of an all work and no play lifestyle.
Burdened with an unhealthy infatuation with his co-worker, a burning disdain for his boss, and an abusive relationship with his grandfather, Gary just can't catch a break.
That is, until a workplace accident ushers in a bizarre, but empowering experience that evokes a new sense of self, forcing repressed memories to surface while encouraging him to pursue his fantasies with unconventional methods.”
Well what can I say? WOW... this is a really great intense story. I got lost within this during my lunch breaks at work. They say everyone finds something different within a story, a different meaning. To me this was a story of neglect, a boy who lost his parents when he was small. He was never told the whole truth on the matter, and was forced to live with his cold unsympathetic grandfather. This is also a story of resentment, a man, trapped in the mundane cycle of day to day life. In a job that he didn’t really want; a hard ass boss always on his case; a turbulent home life; and the unrequited love of a woman. It is also a story of obsession. Gary is infatuated, lustful, completely obsessed with his colleague Wendy. He is obsessed with her to a dangerous level; this obsession becomes his eventual undoing.
I was bearing witness to a descent into madness. This was the steady mental decline of Gary as the tolls of his work, his grandfather and his isolation fed on him, akin to vultures preying on the wounded.
His unquiet mind is silenced by the blood; it felt like this was his comfort, and his release. It presented him with something tangible to focus on during his waking hours. His ‘possession’ by another force was his mind's way of dealing with the unnatural acts he was participating in. I feel it was also his mind's way of processing his guilt over the eventual murder of his grandfather. The idea of this split personality, a separate being, a godlike creature, taking over one’s body and doing what he couldn’t do gave him the sense of self he needed. The blood, giving him a new found confidence, as what do they say ‘blood is life’.
I highly regard this story; this is a most definite re reader for me. It will be going on my personal favourites shelf. I felt a real sense of connection with Gary. He is just a guy, struggling to find his true way in the world and he lack of self identity, his fear and his repression is his eventual downfall. It’s heartbreaking in its own way.
I cannot recommend this enough. A.A. Medina is one talented writer and I for one cannot wait to read more from him!
5/5 – Perfect in every way
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)
The Siren and the Specter
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)
Getting to Eden brought Emmett and his crewmates one step closer to their promised fortune. But surviving Eden may be the biggest reward of all. Discover book two in the trilogy Marie Lu called, “a high-octance thriller.”
Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.
Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.
But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?
UGH I'M SO UPSET WITH MYSELF FOR FINISHING THIS because it was SO EXCELLENT and I don't even know what to DO with the world now. (Maybe read my Backman? Okay, there are worse situations to be in.)
This was super delightfully pacey also. I have had zero free time to read because I've been hanging out with people and I think these people have become annoyed with me because they'll walk away for five seconds and come back and have me not talk to them because I'm suddenly absorbed in finding out if everyone's gonna die (LIFE LESSON: KEEP NYXIA IN YOUR SHOE. OKAY? Yes, I mean the book, what do you think I'm talking about?)
I do wish that I had reread the first before I had read this because I remembered adoring all the characters and... of course, I couldn't remember any of them. I enjoyed getting to know them all more, and characters like Isadora really brought some excitement, but I kind of want to take notes now for when I read book three. I didn't often forget that they were teenagers, which was nice--they're quirky and playful and resilient and I want to be friends with them all.
This didn't feel as much like ENDER'S GAME as a more sci-fi dystopian book--most of it takes place on the new planet and there's a lot of world building. I would have liked more, but what was there was very well thought out and intriguing. I want to learn more, and I loved all the culture and history built in.
Some plot points felt too well planned... but who'm I to criticise alien species for being smart?
The cliffhanger, while having significantly more on the line than the last, wasn't half as bad. Thank goodness. But I still want the final installment right now!
I'm reminded why I am going to shove my copy of NYXIA down everyone's throats because everyone needs to love this book.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Crown, this one was one of my most anticipated books of the year!