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review 2017-09-24 18:30
The Devil's Woods - Brian Moreland
The Devil's Woods - Brian Moreland

Brian Moreland is simply money in the bank. I have yet to read anything of his that I didn't love and The Devil's Woods is his best yet. Kyle and his brother and sister, Eric and Shawna, grew up on the Cree reservation until their mother divorced their father. Eric and Shawna have grown distant from their father, a university archeology professor and an alcoholic, but Kyle has still kept in touch with him through the years. When the siblings receive a call from their uncle Ray inviting them back to the reservation for a visit, Kyle thinks this may be a good way for all of them to reconnect after all these years. Unfortunately, when they arrive, they learn that their father is missing. Kyle attempts to piece together his father's last whereabouts with what he was investigating. What he learns is that their idyllic Canadian hideaway in the woods has an evil buried deep within where things are not as they would seem.

 

 

You can tell that Moreland did his research for The Devil's Woods. Its all in the details and his writing is spot on. You get invested in the siblings. Kyle is still mourning from the loss of his wife and you root for him to find happiness. Shawna is the free spirit rebellious type that shows her immaturity from time to time. Eric is the obnoxious womanizer that you want to see get what he has coming to him, yet there are times when he shows his human side and you almost sympathize with him. All of Moreland's characters have depth, no two dimensional cardboard stereotypes here. He also brings the Canadian woods to your doorstep. It feels like you're crunching over leaves, swatting the occasional mosquito and seeing that shadow disappear behind a tree trunk out of the corner of your eye. He really immerses you in his story. He also has done his homework to get the Cree culture and Canadian landscape just right. Moreland delivers another fantastic read and I can't wait for the next one.

 

 

5 Float Planes out of 5

 

 

 

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text 2017-09-24 18:24
For Fear of the Night - Charles L. Grant
For Fear of the Night - Charles L. Grant

The term "quiet horror" gets thrown around everytime you read any review of a Charles Grant story. What exactly is quiet horror. Simply put, its a moniker created by Charlie himself, as a way to describe his writing style. Quiet horror is a slow crescendo of dread that builds in the story. It's subtle, not in your face. Its a creepy feeling that something isn't right. It's also not for the person who has the attention span of a highly caffeinated squirrel with ADD. You're not going to find blood spattered on every page of a Grant story. Nor will you find non-stop action. This isn't a Marvel comic. Grant's stories are all about the ride and not necessarily the destination. Patience is key. If you have it, chances are you'll see what he's trying to create and you'll enjoy it. Now, is every one of his stories a hit? No. But, there is always a certain level of quality in every Grant tale. For Fear of the Night is no exception. Is it his best? No, again.

 

 

As Labor Day nears, a group of teenagers are preoccupied with the big changes that have already shaped their lives and the ones that are about to. Going off to college looms in around the corner. Couples are about to become apart and wonder whats in store for them. Career decisions have to be made. Their friend, Julie, was recently killed in a fire that happened in a building near the pier. Devin, the groups older photography friend, receives a message on his answering machine from their dead friend. Was it really her? Is it some sick prank? He doesn't know, but it sparks off the mystery of what really happened to Julie.

 

 

For Fear of the Night is not Grant's strongest story. Very little action happens for the first 100 pages. It's his typical slow burn. The storytelling and atmosphere are still there. The ending strikes me as a bit muddied and leaves more questions than answers. If I were looking to read Grant for the first time, this wouldn't be the one I'd start with. But, if you're looking for that quiet horror that he specializes in, you could do a lot worse.

 

 


3 Popped Balloons out of 5

 

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

 

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review 2017-09-18 05:44
Savage Woods - Mary SanGiovanni
Savage Woods - Mary SanGiovanni

The woods are alive. At least that's what Mary SanGiovanni would like you to believe in her latest offering, Savage Woods. The Nilhollow section of New Jersey's Pine Barrens has had its history of weird happenings. People tend to go missing here. Think of it as New Jersey's answer to the Bermuda Triangle. This has dated back tens of thousands of years. The Native Americans knew this and avoided this area like the plague. But what causes it? SanGiovanni attempts to explain it by introducing us to a chasm in Nilhollow that is allowing the bad mojo to escape it and pollute the wood spirits like a plague. This causes the woods to constantly shift and trap anyone who enters and then the wood spirits form these little tree creatures to off their victims. If you suddenly went "Huh?", you're not alone. Savage Woods has a few good ideas surrounded by an absolute mess and that's the most frustrating part for me. SanGiovanni can write. I've read so-called authors who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. She is not one of them. Unfortunately, the two stories of hers that I've read, she tries to take amazingly unrealistic material and breathe life into them. Instead, we get a laughable plot, uninteresting characters and pacing that makes a snail look like a top-fuel dragster. The possessed trees and vines in the Evil Dead. Now that was scary. Not so here. The tree creatures come off as hokie. Native American folklore can make for a great storyline, much like Brian Moreland did in The Devil's Woods and Dead of Winter. Again, not so here. She does throw in quite a bit of the red stuff, but you're beyond caring at this point and that makes the characters nothing more than cannon fodder. I simply found myself yawning through the whole thing eagerly anticipating the ending to come and put me out of my misery.

 

 

2 Killer Oaks out of 5

 

 

* this ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

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http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

 

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

 

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review 2017-09-03 20:41
Children of Chaos - Greg F. Gifune
Children of Chaos - Greg F. Gifune

Philip, Jamie, and Martin are young teenagers when they stumble upon the mysterious stranger in the rain. The encounter ends with the stranger mumbling odd ramblings about destinies and then, before their very eyes, the children see the scars that line his back move and change shapes. In an act of self defense, the boys murder the stranger. Their lives were never the same again. Fast forward to the present. Philip has failed at his marriage, is failing as a writer, and is worried that he'll fail as a father to his teenage daughter. The only thing he seems to succeed at is being a full-blow alcoholic. Jamie has failed as a priest due to his inner demons with girls that aren't of age. And Martin? Well, let's just say that Martin is not of his right mind. His last destination was at the end of a lonely stretch of road called the Corridor of Demons. It's because of Martin and his cult of followers that the road gained it's nickname, and reputation. Martin's ailing mother back home pays Philip to bring her mentally ill boy back to her. Is this a suicide mission or something more?

 

 

The description of Children of Chaos is that it's an homage to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I've never read Heart of Darkeness, so I wouldn't be able to tell one way or another. (Put your pitchforks away, literature snobs) One thing that I do know is that Children of Chaos is Gifune clicking on all cylinders. It has the trademark shadowiness, for which I have come to know him. It has disturbed and flawed characters with layers and layers of depth within them. It has a story that slowly unfurls itself and makes you turn the page to see what's on the other side, not quite figuring it out until the last act. It makes you ask the question, What are we? Are we the masters of our own destiny or simply pawns in a game played by higher powers? Is everything chaotic and random or preordained? These are question I've often pondered in my own life, as I'm sure many of you have as well. The ending kind of ties things up with a neat little bow, maybe a little too conveniently for some, but I still enjoyed it. For myself, I pulled bits and pieces of Mystic River and Angel Heart from the story. This is one that will stick with me for a while and that's the sign of a good one.

 

 


4 1/2 Cult of Personalities out of 5

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

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review 2017-08-22 20:21
Optical Delusion - Hunter Shea
Optical Delusion - Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea has tapped into our childhood for his latest offering of fear. Remember those ads in the backs of comic books? Muscles like Charles Atlas. Sea monkeys. Joy buzzers. Fake ice cubes with a fly in the middle. Gum that turns your mouth black. Oh, and the ever popular, X-ray glasses. I certainly remember them. More specifically, I remember wanting them and my mom saying "absolutely not". Well, what would happen if she did allow me to get those x-ray glasses and after 10 minutes of making my eyes hurt, I tossed them aside only to have my dad pick them up and put them on. And, what if, in between the fuzzy-eyed headache it produced, he saw a glimpse of a girl's panties she had on underneath her clothing? And what if, in desperate attempts to get more than a glimpse or two of what the females looked like under their winter clothing, it caused something else? Something more hideous, more macabre, and it wouldn't let you turn away?

 

Optical Delusion was a fun ride into every boy that grew up in the 1970s and 80s past and warped it with a Twilight Zone twist and an EC Comic turn. My last couple of reads from Shea have been my favorites. He's honed his chops the last few years and is churning out nothing but quality lately. So much so, that he's quickly become one of my go to writers that can't miss.

 

 


5 Victoria's Secrets out of 5

 


* This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

 

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

 

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

 

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