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review 2019-05-13 18:59
GHOST MINE by Hunter Shea
Ghost Mine (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Hunter Shea

 

GHOST MINE was not exactly what I expected and a lot MORE than what I expected, all at once! What a fun ride!

 

Teddy Roosevelt is now president and recruits two of his old partners from the Rough Riders and the Indian Wars to investigate a town out west. Teddy previously sent American troops to investigate the claim that there was gold in the mines there, but now the troops have also disappeared. Teddy tasks Nat Blackburn and his companion, Teta, to find out what happened. Once they arrive in the town of Hecla, Wyoming, they discover a lot more than some old abandoned mines. Will they find out what happened to the men Roosevelt sent? Will they verify that gold is "in them there hills?" Will they even survive their trek? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I had a lot of fun reading this horror/western. Nat is an instantly likable guy, though rough around the edges and his companionTeta, is interesting as well.

Where I ran into a bit of trouble with this book was with the amount of things going on. We have native American legends, the Djinn, shapeshifters, preachers, and dead-speakers, not to mention Satan himself!

(spoiler show)

Not that I didn't enjoy all that, because I did, it just seemed like a bit too much-almost as if the story didn't know quite what it wanted be.

 

That said, I chose to suspend my disbelief and once I did, I had a great time! I was totally rooting for team Nat & Teta and just had to know what happened. From about 60% in, I could not put the book down and ended up finishing it the same day. The story steamrolled right on through to the finale and I was barely hanging on for the ride!

 

I would gladly read any sequel or any other book featuring the team of Nat and Teta, so please, Mr. Shea! Bring it on!

 

Highly Recommended!

 

*Available May 30th, but you can pre-order here: GHOST MINE

 

**I received a paperback ARC from Flame Tree Press for review consideration. I considered it, said Hell Yeah! and read the book.**

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review 2019-04-07 14:46
IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN by Andy Davidson
In the Valley of the Sun: A Novel - Andy Davidson

Rarely do I find myself struggling to find the words I want to say about a book, but today I am. Know why? Because IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN was so beautifully written, powerful, surprising and engaging.. Oh! Apparently, I CAN find the words if I try hard enough!

 

In this dark tale set during 1980, there's everything a horror lover could want. You've got a villain with so many layers to him, reading about him is like peeling an onion. There is no bad guy with a black hat here...well, actually, he does wear a black hat, but you know what I mean. He's complicated. All of the other characters have depth to them as well and even though some of them do bad things, you are privy to the reasons they are doing them and you can understand. You can identify. You can relate.

 

There is a level of trust expected of the reader with this book. There are allusions made to events that you must trust will be made clear later, (and they were.) Even though those events were brought to light, they only complicated, (there's that word again!) my feelings for the characters and I love when that happens.

 

I don't want to give away too much of the story as I feel that it should be related to you as the author intended. Since the book never said the word, I'm not going to say it either. What is actually going on is deftly handled, sometimes gory and disgusting, sometimes poignant and heartbreaking. I find myself thinking about the book days after I finished it and that's always a sign that I've read something special.

 

If you like characters with layers, if you like dark fiction beautifully told, (think Cormac McCarthy or Peter Straub), if you like a little more blood and gore than McCarthy or Straub usually provide, and you like to curl up with a book that surrounds and engulfs you, read this book now!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Right now the Kindle copy is only $1.99!

 

Get your copy here: IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN

 

Find this review and others like it at Horror After Dark.

 

*I received a paperback ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-09-21 12:45
DRAWING BLOOD by Poppy Z. Brite, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Drawing Blood: A Novel - Matt Godfrey,Crossroad Press,Poppy Z. Brite

A good old haunted house story is something I've always loved, so when the narrator of this tale offered me a chance to listen to the audio in exchange for a review, I jumped at it. Poppy Z. Brite is an author I've heard a lot about and I've been wanting to read his work for quite some time. I learned a few things while reading this book and one of them is that Poppy Z. Brite can write.

 

Trevor is a young man returning to the house where his mother and brother were killed 20 years ago. Shortly after his arrival in Missing Mile, his old hometown, he meets a young computer hacker on the run, named Zach. The two immediately feel a connection and together they go to face Trevor's childhood home. What will they find there? Is the house actually haunted? You will have to read this to find out. 

 

While the writing quality here was good, I have to admit that I was disappointed in the story itself. This is not the author's fault, nor the narrator's,  it was my sky high expectations. I expected a scary as hell story- and while there was a little darkness,  there was way too much romance for me. I don't mind explicit sex scenes, (gay or straight),  if they are integral to the story. Now I totally get the term insta-love. These two just met, one of them a virgin, and before you know it they are going at it at a breakneck pace. And going at it again. And again. The sexy times were sexy, don't get me wrong but after a while they finally led me to ask "Can we get to the horror already?"

 

Eventually, we did get to the horror, but after such a long build, it failed to move me much. I'm not sure if I was just bored by that point, or if all the romance had inured me to what should have been an exciting finale. 

 

The narration by Matt Godfrey was excellent as always, I especially loved his Jamaican accent. Yeah, mon! 

 

As I said, I did like the writing, and in a few spots it was nearly lyrical. From what I understand this is one of Poppy Z. Brite's, (now he goes by the name Billy Martin), earlier works. While I didn't find this novel to be a true horror story, I'm told his later works definitely are and I will be tracking those down in the future, maybe even the near future. 

 

Recommended, as long as you're not looking for a horror tale and you don't mind a lot of romance and sexy times! 

 

*Thanks to Matt Godfrey for the audio of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2018-05-03 18:45
WALK THE SKY by Robert Swartwood & David B. Silva, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Walk the Sky - Robert Swartwood,David B. Silva,Matt Godfrey

 

WALK THE SKY is a nice little weird western tale that put me in mind of the work of Joe Lansdale. Which is another way of saying this story is a lot of fun!

 

We start off with George and Clay traveling by horseback and coming across a young boy who is on the verge of death. As events unfold, the reader learns the boy has narrowly escaped something in a nearby town, (DED!), a town in which George and Clay must stop for supplies. Soon after their arrival, all three end up in jail and are introduced to the mad reverend and his posse. Will they get out of jail? What does the crazy reverend want from them? Will anyone survive? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

I loved the western aspects of this story as well as the bits of native American folklore which were woven in. It was nice to read something different than the same old, same old. Even though some popular western tropes can be found here, the authors seamlessly pulled them together with some unique and original storytelling, much as Joe Lansdale does in his westerns. The only thing missing was that oddball humor of Lansdale's, but this wasn't meant to be a funny tale.

 

I listened to this on audio and as always, Matt Godfrey brings it home with a compelling style that only brings honor to the writing.

 

WALK THE SKY is one of those rare pieces of work that successfully straddles genres and brings to the reader a fine sense of satisfaction at the conclusion. Recommended to any fans of westerns, weird westerns, and to horror fans alike!

 

*I received the audio of this book free of charge from the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-04-10 12:45
UNBURY CAROL by Josh Malerman
Unbury Carol: A Novel - Josh Malerman

Hell's Heaven! I haven't been this torn about a book in a long while. UNBURY CAROL was brave in exploring new territory, (weird western, I'd call it), while at the same time it wallowed in repetition.

 

Carol has a rare condition which causes her to fall into a coma for days at the drop of a hat. To anyone unfamiliar with her disease, she appears to be dead. It's important for at least someone to know what's going on with her so that she doesn't get buried alive by mistake. However, Carol is reluctant to tell many people for fear of rejection, and in one case, the departure of her true love who just didn't want to deal with the responsibility. Will she ever find true love again? Will there ever be a cure for her malady? You'll have to read this book to find out.

 

I'm going to attempt to be honest here, while also attempting not to spoil anything. I feel obligated to mention the repetition of certain words and phrases. They had me rolling my eyes repeatedly. "Hell's Heaven" (!), is a phrase that nearly everyone uses to no end. It's this world's version of OMG, or "Holy shit!", I guess. One overused word was "outlaw." (I get it. These are outlaws. We're in the west, they're wanted men.) Lastly "pig-shitters." Low down and dirty are the pig shitters. I get it. EVERYONE gets it. I'm speculating that the author used these words and phrases with the aim of world-building, and perhaps they helped to accomplish that...at first. After that, they just became so repetitious and irritating that it became kind of funny. (Or that could just be me, I'm told my sense of humor is off.)

 

Speaking of that world-building-I've read that the hardcover has a map of the Trail. (Everything that happens in this book happens along the Trail itself, or in the villages and towns located on the Trail.) That map is something I would like to see and I'd also like to read more about the Trail in the future. The villains in this book were interesting and a lot of fun, and they ALL had seemed to have some history that involved the Trail. In most cases, those people and the Trail's history were more interesting than the main characters-at least for me.

 

So, again, I am torn. I loved the creativity and imagination that went into Carol's disease and the building of this western world, while I was bothered by the repetition and what felt like an anti-climactic finale. Where does that leave us? At a 3.5/5 star rating. As always, your mileage may vary and I wold love to hear your thoughts on UNBURY CAROL when you're done!

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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