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Search tags: ladies-of-horror-fiction
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review 2019-03-07 20:02
The Tragedy Man by Staci Layne Wilson
The Tragedy Man - Staci Layne Wilson,Andy Garrison

Cary works at a dreary art gallery and he does not like his boss. He may even wish ill upon him, if only in his thoughts. As he sinks further into his own little world of misery, he daydreams about creative deaths for the jerk in charge of his work life.

When his boss turns up dead, Cary decides he’s going to become an Important Literary Writer of Important and Smart Literary Things. Instead, he sells a pulp horror novel all the while despising himself for writing such drivel and he becomes very successful in spite of himself but his success has a steep price. Cary really should’ve read the contract before signing it . . . 

The rest of the book follows the insufferable and always morose Cary as he falls further and further into a fever dream of sex, violence, madness and poor-me-ism. 

I liked some of the story even though it’s quite easy to guess at what’s going on here and the terrible images in the latter half had me laughing at Cary’s expense but I did not like a single thing about Cary. He’s a depressing, pompous sad-sack, lacking charm and self-awareness and he is also weak and insecure and has a mommy issue or two. He’s just really douchy, hateful and hard to stomach. I guess I wasn’t supposed to like him but his terrible snobbery and constant jabs at horror fiction made this story a not-so-fun time for me. He and his lover were constantly denigrating the genre I love most in the world, as well as its fans, and I found it all very unpleasant and wished painful death upon him a million times over. But the ending was spectacular so I am torn about a rating. I suspect I’ll go with a three after stewing on it for a bit. 

I listened to this story as an unabridged audio (and, YES, that counts as reading – fight me) and the narrator does a terrific job of bringing Cary’s arrogant and bitter tone to life. 

*I received a copy of this audio courtesy of the author.

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review 2019-02-27 19:47
The Between by Tananarive Due
The Between: Novel, A - Tananarive Due

The Between is a story about a man on the verge of a breakdown. Is this breakdown caused by supernatural forces or is it all in his mind? Well, I’m not going to be jerk who spoils it all for you!

 

I bought this book years and years ago and I’m glad The Ladies of Horror Fiction finally forced me to unearth it, blow off the dust and read all of its pages. This book was their featured Community Wide Readalong and it was a good time. You should all join in on the next one.

 

When Hilton was seven he found his beloved Nana cold and dead on the kitchen floor. He ran to get help and when he arrived back home Nana was alive but she was never quite the same again. Many years later, Hilton is married with children and spends his work hours helping addicts get their lives back together but there is trouble brewing beneath the surface and his dreams are becoming increasingly more disturbing as the days pass.

 

Here’s a little quote snippet that’ll either make you want to read more, make you run screaming or maybe do both!

 

“There’s no joy in fucking the dead.”

 

Still with me? If so, you need to know this is a books rife with stress, marital woes, suspense and a flawed protagonist who makes a lot of mistakes. I’ll be honest, Hilton made me a little crazy angry at times. There's one scene where he nearly lost me because I’m not a very forgiving type when it comes to that particular way of dealing with stress so it may not bother you but it bothered me. It bothered me so much. As the story went along he grew on me and his love for his family was apparent and strong but it was touch and go there for me for a few chapters, I cannot lie. In the end, it is a compelling read with some truly nightmarish and disturbing images and I thought it all ended exactly the way it should’ve ended. There are a lot of surprises that kept our entire group guessing and I can easily recommend it to anyone looking for a nail-biter with some chilling scenes and very strong characterization.

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review 2019-02-14 18:44
Black Wings by Megan Hart
Black Wings - Megan Hart

“My mad feelings just want to come out so much.”

Black Wings is a brooding tale about a mother being ravaged by her own internal feelings of guilt and the escalating terror posed by her young daughter and her new creepy raven friend. 

Briella is only ten when she begins to lose all of her childhood friends. She has a terrible “I’m smarter than everyone” attitude that doesn’t exactly sit well with, well, anyone. But she doesn’t particularly care what anyone thinks and she is quite content to do her own thing and hang out with her new raven buddy. But mom is concerned. When Briella earns a free ride to a school for the gifted her dad isn’t thrilled. He says it’s the place where they stick the weird kids. But Briella loves it. Her ego, oddness, obsessiveness and creep factor soon start to bloom out of control.

I’m just going to flat out say it. I despised this kid. She was rude, full of herself and, as I was reading, I kept thinking to myself how lucky I was that I birthed two sweet kids instead of two holy terrors. It probably could’ve gone either way, haha, but I know I would not be equipped to handle a little monster like Briella. I felt for Marion even when I wanted to give her a good shake for allowing her brat to disrespect her and everyone around her. This story is told from Marion’s point of view so we see everything from her eyes which leaves you wondering what, exactly, Briella is up to almost all the time. Marion is a little clueless and has a bad habit of ignoring all warning signs. She also talks herself out of her gut feelings out of a sense of guilt and maternal love. It’s a complicated thing, motherhood is, and this story does a great job of putting it all out there similar to the mother in Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. I think I may have enjoyed the character of Briella more had we seen things from her perspective but alas, as written, she was an arrogant, insufferable brat with some very dangerous thoughts.

The dread hides in the shadows for a long time before horrorish things begin to happen so you’ll have to hang in there with this one. I admit I struggled at times, but I was rewarded in the last quarter. If you have a black heart you’re going to LOVE this ending. Or maybe it’s just me.

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review 2019-02-14 17:32
Without Condition by Sonora Taylor
Without Condition - Sonora Taylor

I fell into this dark character study from the very start and never fell out of it which is a bit of a rarity for me.

Without Condition takes its time building the story and focuses on the coming of age of a lonely little girl named Cara who lives on an isolated former pumpkin farm with only her mother and a farm hand for company. Cara looks forward to school and meeting kids her age but a bad encounter in kindergarten sets the tone for the rest of her school years. She’s bullied and whispered about and as a result she withdraws and doesn’t bother making friends with the girls. It’s easier with the boys anyway because they don’t whisper about her. But as she grows older she realizes they do something even worse. They talk and they embellish and her reputation gets trashed by everyone. Those ugly voices Cara hears whispering in her head get louder and louder until she finds an outlet to quiet them . . . 

I LOVED the first half of this story. It’s a slow build but it is such an interesting tale. I was 100% invested in Cara as a character. She is most definitely “off” but it’s an understandable type of “off” because we get to know Cara intimately. She is prickly and she is intense but I never disliked her. It’s dark as hell and it doesn’t shy away from any of the viciousness dwelling within people and Cara most especially. Would she have turned out the way she did had she not been bullied and shunned and failed by the adults in her life? That’s hard to say. I thought the author did a great job creating Cara and all of the life events and complexities filling her tortured mind. 

About halfway or so in the book changes focus and it becomes a dark romance. Cara meets a man named Jackson. He’s the first man that she hasn’t wanted to kill, lol, and things get very complicated in Cara’s head. Her life of work and spending time with her slightly off mom, who supports her long truck rides to “quiet” the voices, starts to morph into something else. Cara is falling in love but she has so many secrets that a normal life with Jackson may be impossible no matter how badly she now desires it. This section of the book is most definitely a romance with some wickedly dark edges. That’s my favorite kind, to be honest, so I was the perfect reader for this one. Cara isn’t the only one with painful memories in her past. Jackson is a wounded person and his head is a wee bit messed up as well but is he damaged enough to accept someone like Cara? 

This is not an action packed, slice and dice type of horror novel and it’s a little slow in the middle but that worked just fine for me. The entire book is a deep dive into the tortured mind of characters deeply scarred by the words of others and I found it endlessly fascinating. The writing grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I can honestly say my heart was worried for both Cara and Jackson which lends itself to the strong character development. Without Condition is about 75% dark romance and 25% horror novel so if you enjoy the two as much as I do you’ll want to put this moody little gem on your must-read RIGHT NOW list.

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review 2019-01-16 19:43
The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish
The Haunting of Henderson Close - Catherine Cavendish

I received this book in for review from Flame Tree Press. I’m going to do my best this year to read as many new ladies of horror fiction as I can and I snapped this up as soon as I noticed it was available without even reading the blurbage. I love all kinds of horror but the creepy, slow atmospheric kind has been working for me lately and this story has all of that and a little bonus gore too!

 

Way back in 1891 a do-gooder is brutally murdered in front of Henderson Close. Many moons later, the building is now a tourist trap where tours are given and it’s reputed to be haunted. When Hannah arrives as a new tour guide, the ghosts all seem to come out of hiding and it’s on her to figure out what the heck is truly going on. Is she losing her mind? Is she in danger? Why is she experiencing time jumps where she’s certain she’s been thrust back in time to 1891? What is going on and why won’t her bitchy employer believe her? Why am I asking so many annoying questions?! Hell if I know, these reviews write themselves.

 

Anyhow, this book has incredibly well written atmosphere. The author has taken care to create and set her scenes and create her characters and I appreciate that so much. You can nearly smell the stench that permeates the streets in 1891 and the dark corners of Henderson Close when the ghosties appear. It’s also very moody and creeptastic and the reader, as well as Hannah and a few friends, are left in the dark to figure out what the heck is going on. When the reveals are made in the last quarter, I have to admit that I was a wee bit confused by it all because there was too much going on and too many characters involved and it made my head hurt a little. Still, what I understood was pretty satisfying . . .

 

But up until that point, I was digging the story. There may (or may not) be ghosts, demons and gargoyles and there was even a surprise moment of serial killing gore. Call me crazy but I wouldn’t have minded a little more of that sort of thing!

 

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