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review 2020-06-12 18:30
DEVIL'S CREEK by Todd Keisling
Devil's Creek - Todd Keisling

If there were travel guides for places NOT to visit, the town of Stauford, Kentucky would top that list! Devil's Creek is about 15 miles away from Stauford, but that's not far enough to keep the town safe.

 

Devil's Creek was the site of a religious cult back in the early 80's, a site which burned to the ground in 1983. Those that survived suffer nightmares all the time, even though they've blocked a lot of their actual memories. The head of the cult, Jacob Masters, was a charismatic man who persuaded members of his "church" to give up their children to him, for whatever dark acts he wished to perform. One of them rebelled though, (Imogene), and was able to save six of the children. Unfortunately, Imogene has now passed on and her grandson has to return to the town he hates to settle her affairs. But something else has started happening since his return. The nightmares suffered by the survivors get even more vivid and scary, and soon after? They're facing something even worse: something that wants to make up for lost time and all it's asking for? Is their suffering. Will these survivors be able to get to the bottom of things before it's too late? Will the town of Stauford even survive? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I'm struggling to keep this review short, because DEVIL'S CREEK was so epic. Packed with scenes from both the past and the present, there was a lot going on. The author took his time introducing the characters and giving each a thorough history. Which, of course, made it that much more difficult to take when these characters were then put through the wringer and tortured in ways you never thought possible.

 

Evil in a small town is one of my favorite horror tropes. I couldn't help but be thinking of Salem's Lot, or even Needful Things, where the author did the same kind of storytelling: introducing us to a town full of characters and then subjecting them to all kinds of terrors, both human and supernatural.

 

The level of writing here was excellent and the plotting well done. Any seasoned horror reader is familiar with these types of tropes, (evil in a small town, Satanic cults, etc...), so it's up to the author to pull something original and enticing out them. Keisling did that here, in spades!

 

The only issue I had with this book, (and it's a small one), was that it became a little repetitious in some places as events were sometimes told from different points of view. As I said, it was a small thing, but for that, I deducted half a star.

 

DEVIL'S CREEK is going to have a special spot in my memory, along with the corrupted town of Stauford. Give us that old-time religion, baby. Yes, sir!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Available June 16th, but you can pre-order here: DEVIL'S CREEK

 

*Thanks to the author and to Silver Shamrock publishing for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2020-05-26 19:30
A BOOK OF BONES by John Connolly
A Book of Bones: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 17. From the No. 1 Bestselling Author of THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS - John Connolly

Still on the trail of the super creepy Mors, as well as the seemingly ageless Quayle, Charlie Parker and John Connolly never seem to give us a break!

 

Quayle is still trying to put together the Fractured Atlas, and Parker is still trying to prevent it. In this volume, Parker, with his pals Angel and Louis, head off to London along with a book expert to try to figure out where Quayle will strike next. We have creepy churches, stained glass windows, (or what appear to be windows), the Green Man, some moors and so much more. We also have appearances from Charlie's daughters, both alive and dead.

 

This was a long book and it could have been 500 pages longer and it still wouldn't bother me. I never, ever get bored with Connolly's prose or Charlie's thoughts. At this point in the series, I'm expecting things to wrap up, while at the same time, dreading it. I'm hoping that perhaps the series will continue with Charlie's offspring? This is all speculation on my part, but any time now, I'm expecting one or more of these fictional characters I love to die. I'm not sure if my heart can take it, because I've been friends with them for so long.

 

I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, because I can't imagine my life without looking forward to the next Charlie Parker book!

 

My highest recommendation!

 

 

Get your copy here: A BOOK OF BONES

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book through Atria/Emily Bestler Books via NetGalley, but I was approved so late, (I didn't think I'd get approved at all at that point), I bought the hardcover! Either way, this is my honest opinion. READ THE BOOK!*

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review 2020-05-16 13:44
Occulture
Occulture: The Unseen Forces That Drive Culture Forward - Carl Abrahamsson,Gary Valentine Lachman

by Carl Abrahamsson

 

Non-fiction

 

One of the first things I noticed with this book is that the chapter headings have notes below the titles that say each of them was first given at a lecture or printed as an article someplace, so it soon became clear that this is a collection of several years' writings collected by the author into book form for presentation to a new audience. The subject matter is sufficiently different in each to create a nicely balanced volume on occult influence in society and particularly in art.

 

This is not a book for learning to do magic(k), but is more about modern cultural influences and symbols that enter mainstream consciousness through various mediums of artistic expression. In the Forword written by Gary Lachman, he explains the term 'occulture', occult + culture, coined by Genesis-P-Orridge, a cult figure in certain circles of modern day magicians, then goes on to point out connections between art and the occult and the significance of interpreting one through the other.

 

The lectures and articles cover a fascinating variety of loosely related topics. They include commentaries on alternative lifestyles and the rise of occult culture through significant periods like the 1960s and 1980s and the British and German groups and personalities who shaped much of modern occult culture.

 

The reader gets the benefit of a perspective by someone who 'was there' and understands the significance of a variety of cultural influences that still affect the culture today. He speaks of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth as well as about Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey and what he feels were the relevant contributions by controversial groups and personalities.

 

The perspective is very much about the intellectual side of the occult. No new age or airy-fairy crystal hugging comes into it. As occult history goes, this is an excellent reflection of the later twentieth century developments that built on the legacy of earlier magical Orders and traditions and the effects of an expanding cultural awareness that would shake the foundations of pre-twentieth century European occult study.

 

The significance of art and creativity is emphasised as is the freedom of social mores from the staid, limiting celibacy of groups like the early Golden Dawn and the cautions required by Medieval magicians to avoid any sniff of scandal that might lead to charges of heresy.

 

The history of Nazi involvement in the occult is detailed in one of the lectures and makes for interesting reading from a historical perspective as well. That lecture somehow moves from this to beatniks in California, which gives the reader an idea of the broad scope of some of the topics discussed.

 

This book would be of interest to anyone interested in occult history or in cultural development and the influence of art. It fills in the recent gaps in documented history for those of us who are too young to have been there for the changes in the 1980s and before as these periods are often not addressed in earlier books on the subject.

 

It also goes into everything from philosophy to conspiracy theories in recent decades and even Pokemon Go! I found all of the articles interesting for different reasons. A real treasure for anyone with interest in magick or the occult.

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review 2019-08-23 21:45
BLACK HEART BOYS' CHOIR by Curtis M. Lawson
Black Heart Boys' Choir - Curtis M. Lawson,Luke Spooner,S.T. Joshi

BLACK HEART BOYS' CHOIR required a bit of time on my part for everything to sink in. Once it did, I felt liking shouting BRAVO and throwing some roses at the author. A friend took me aside and told me this was frowned upon, so I decided to write this review instead.

 

Lucien has recently lost his father to suicide. Shortly after that, he loses his mother to grief, (among other things.) To top it all off, he and his mother are required to move from their rather posh house, to a humbler home in a condominium. He is full of anger and disgust-with himself, and his weak parents. He begins hearing music in his head, as well as voices, and shortly thereafter he discovers a piece of orchestration that his father began to write but never finished. He sets out to quiet those voices and the music-will he be triumphant? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I became a fan of Curtis Lawson last year and immediately bought another of his books when I finished the first. (I haven't been able to get to it yet-story of my life.) However, when he offered me a chance to read this one early, how could I say no? At first, I was a bit confused as to what was going on, and to be honest, I wondered if this novel was going to require some kind of musical knowledge or at least the ability to read music. I needn't have feared, since all that was required was close attention on my part. That wasn't hard to give because the narrative soon swept me up and carried me to the denouement, much like a wave at the beach carries you to shore.

 

Why did I need time to mull over this story? I can mention some of the reasons here, some I cannot because...spoilers. Lucien was not altogether likable, even before some of the more distasteful events occurred. Luckily, I'm okay with real people being the main character-meaning in real life, people are not all good or bad, so why do some expect that in their fiction? Another reason I needed to mull for a moment is mental illness. (Lucien reminded me a lot of a young man I knew who suffered from Schizophrenia.) In the end, this tale broke another way, but somehow I came away from it with a better understanding of the young man I once knew. (Or at least, I think I did.)

 

As a whole, BLACK HEART BOYS' CHOIR tackles a lot in its few pages: suicide, death, abuse, neglect, teen friendships, (and many of us know the friendships made during that difficult time in life are hard to break), resentments, music, mental illness (?), demons...well, you get the picture.

 

Hopefully, you now understand my reasons for mulling over this tale. I believe I will be thinking about it for quite some time. These are generally the types of stories that stick with me-the mull-ers. If what I've described above sounds good to you and if you enjoy thinking about a story long after it's finished, then I highly recommend BLACK HEART BOYS' CHOIR!

 

*Thank you to the author for the e-ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2019-06-20 20:30
STOKER'S WILDE by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi
Stoker's Wilde - Melissa Prusi,Steven Hopstaken

STOKER'S WILDE is an epistolary novel, blending the styles of Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde. What a hoot!

 

Not since ANNO DRACULA have I had such fun with characters from history. In this tale, Bram and Oscar team up, despite hating each other's guts, to cleanse London of the scourge of vampires and werewolves currently at large about the city. With humor and great talent these authors have written quite an adventure. Will Bram and Oscar be successful? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Having read only a few things from both Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker, and knowing next to nothing about them personally, I cannot speak to the historical accuracy regarding their personal lives. The epistolary portions written by "Oscar" were often hilarious and scathing all at once. Those of "Stoker" were much more serious and weighty. The fictional origins of the THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY are here and of course, Dracula.

 

 

My only issue with this book was the dragon. I thought at first it sounded a little silly, and the authors were able to make it less so, when it finally appeared. Still, it seemed a bit too over the top in the end.

 

(spoiler show)

 

Overall, this book was a blast! I had a lot of fun in London of the early 1880's, in the Lyceum Theater and even at Stonehenge. (Yes, that's here too!) It's clear that the authors did quite a bit of homework and the little bit of actual history I am familiar with is borne out here. Solely because of the fun factor alone, I heartily recommend this book-especially to fans of epistolary novels!

 

*Thank you to Flame Tree Press for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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