Writer of Horror Fiction

Archive for June, 2015

Cover Art and Final Contributor’s List for “At Hell’s Gates: Bound By Blood” released!

I’m happy to announce that the third installment of the At Hell’s Gates anthology series has revealed the final list of contributors and the finalized cover art.  Sticking with the cover design style started with the first book, Bound By Blood is a different color but has the same compelling imagery.

The theme of Bound By Blood means that the stories that appear in this book are all about family. Here is an informal description of what to expect on these pages: There is no greater bond, especially in times of great fear, than that between mother and fathers, sons and daughters.  The third AT HELL’S GATES anthology will focus on parents and children.  The power of the parental bond is demonstrated as Rick Grimes is reunited with his son Carl in the middle of the zompocalypse or Grendel and his mother terrorize the mead hall in tandem.  It is even perverted when Jack Torrance turns on his family in the Overlook Hotel.

My short story, “Little Lost Lamb” is my contribution to this work.  Originally scheduled to be a part of another anthology for a book that ended up not getting published, I am thrilled this twisted piece of love (and hate), family style, has found a home.  I am quite proud to be a part of this book, mainly because the proceeds are, as they have been with the previous works, being donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.  You can find out more about this great cause here: http://athellsgates.com/our-cause/.

I don’t have a link to buy this book just yet, but stay tuned.  Once it is available, I will share the link over on my Bio and About Me pages-just click on the cover art.  For now, check out the impressive list of contributors and the awesome cover art below.

AHG3 is scheduled to release July 31st, 2015.

Returning Authors:
Shana Festa
Devan Sagliani
Sharon Stevenson
Stephen Kozeniewski
Lesa Kinney Anders
Stevie Kopas
Tim Marquitz
Sean T. Smith
Curran Geist
Paul Mannering
TM Caldwell
C.T. Phipps
S.G. Lee

New Authors:
Timothy W. Long
Chris Philbrook
Sarah Lyons Fleming
M. Lauryl Lewis
Douglas Draa
RJ Kennett
Christine Morgan
Kerry Alan Denney
Mikhail Lerma
Suzanne Robb
Brian W. Taylor
David Sakmyster
Patrick D’Orazio
Terry Maggert
S. P. Durnin

Other Contributors:
Formatting: Kindra Sowder, Burning Willow Press
Cover Art: Artwork by Martin de Diego Sadabo. Cover design by J.M. Martin. PoD Formatting: Alan MacRaffen
Editors: Dane Hatchell, Terri King, S. Kay Nash

AHG3-COVER

At Hell’s Gates: Bound By Blood

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Review of Patrick James Ryan’s “The Night It Got Out”

The Night It Got Out is the first full length tale from author Patrick James Ryan, who previously wrote Blood Verse, a compendium of horror influenced short stories and poems.  He dives into the equivalent of the classic B-Grade monster movie here with zeal, telling parallel accounts of a virtually unstoppable creature whose only purpose is to kill anyone and everyone who stands in its way.

Don Girard is the police chief of Magnus Pass, the town where a cargo truck carrying the imprisoned beast crashes, freeing it to go on a rampage of blood, guts, and utter chaos.  Once the beast is freed, the government rushes in, with retired Green Beret Colonel Elliot Harmon leading the charge to kill or capture the beast.

Through flashback, we learn of Harmon’s unique relationship with the beast and the covert operations that created this genetically mutated killing machine.  Though the police chief and Green Beret combine forces in an effort to stop the monster, it’s clear that neither trusts the other, and the motivations of each might be at crossed purposes.

This book moves quickly, shifting from one killing field to the next.  From the cover of the book, the beast looks almost like a werewolf or something similar, but the way it’s described makes it more of an amalgam of various predators, including man, with razor sharp claws and teeth, plus incredible strength and speed.  It is intelligent, cunning, and hunts humans out of hatred as well as a food source.  Though there may have been some possibility of sympathy for this beast that has been manipulated and imprisoned by men its entire life, it was hard for me, as a reader, to see past its desire for unlimited slaughter to perhaps try and understand what it has been forced to become.

Since things move at such a rapid pace with this fairly short book, the reader’s relationships with both Girard and Harmon are rather clipped and terse, much like the relationship these two men share with one another.  The bulk of the other characters and what we get to know about them serve only to migrate us from one scene of blood drenched death to another, just like classic monster movies do.  We are given very brief glimpses into the lives of the creature’s victims, typically just before they are gone in a blink of an eye; eviscerated, decapitated, and devoured.

Of course, with the government involved, there is a subplot of secret government experiments and diabolical plots revolving the use of such an ultimate killing machine, but it is heavily overshadowed by the gore splattered action that crosses almost every page.

Overall, this is a fun, over the top gore fest.  Readers looking for more subtle horror would probably be more inclined to read the author’s other book.  Because The Night It Got Out splashes you in the face with buckets of blood, meat, and bones from start to finish.

The author continues to hone his craft with his second book and has done a bang up job with vivid descriptions with this story.  I did, however, find it hard to make an emotional investment in either main character, Girard or Harmon.  Perhaps it was the quick pace of the story and the limited time to get to know either of them, but I wasn’t drawn to either and found it hard to care what fate had in store for them.  With that said, that isn’t a major stumbling block with this type of fast paced, vicious horror tale.  Instead, just prepare to strap in and ride this gnarly carnage coaster until the end.

The Night It Got Out can be found here:     http://www.amazon.com/Night-Got-Patrick-James-Ryan/dp/0692329781/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1434824559


Review of Eloise J. Knapp’s “The Undead Ruins”

The Undead Ruins doesn’t pick up immediately after the second book in the trilogy, The Undead Haze, but about a decade after the start of the zombie apocalypse and years after Cyrus reconnected with Blaze near the end of the previous book.  They have spent the past few years working for the leader of three rebuilt towns as mercenaries for hire, doing the tough jobs no one else wants, including executing those who have disobeyed the laws about hiding undead family members.  As has always been the case, Blaze and Cyrus are aloof, not befriending many of the people they now interact with except for a select few that have a military background like Blaze.  She still has every intention of finding her lost brother, the brother that Cyrus knows about and has kept secrets about since the events that took place in the prior novel.  That isn’t the only secret he’s keeping from Blaze-secrets if revealed might mean his death at the hands of his closest companion.

At the start of this trilogy, Cyrus V. Sinclair proclaimed himself a sociopath.  Much of the frustration with the author from the bulk of reviews I have seen have been with this proclamation.  Either he is not a textbook definition of a sociopath or he softens in the second book to the point where even Cyrus is no longer sure what he is anymore.  Whatever he truly is, since all three of these books were written in first person, we have only the narcissistic and egotistical Cyrus to rely on for his diagnosis.  It would be fair to say that Cyrus liked the idea of being a sociopath and indeed has some of those tendencies, though even he had to acknowledge he has transformed into something else by the time the events of this book take place.  Blaze, Cyrus’s companion and sometimes nemesis, is perhaps closer in definition to a sociopath, although the love she shows for her brother puts a chink in her armor with that designation. More important, Blaze would be unlikely to care what someone labels her.  She is what the world has made her.

Things start out fairly calm at the beginning of this book, with Blaze and Cyrus dealing with grunt work no one else wants to do.  They aren’t necessarily popular with most of the town folk due to the roles they take on, but they are needed and appreciated by the leadership.  Unfortunately, with an attack on one of the towns, there are hints that the crazies they thought had faded into history have returned, stronger than ever and with a new and even more vicious leader.  With this new turmoil comes the possibility that the lies that Cyrus has been telling Blaze to keep the peace between them will be revealed.

It is interesting how the voice of Cyrus has changed during the course of these books.  A smug, unrepentant loner when we first meet him, he still remains aloof but has transformed in many ways.  He still loathes cowardice and weakness, but has gained a respect for those who fight to survive and the necessity of civilization, even if aspects of it make him nauseous.  The relationship between him and Blaze has gotten more complicated.  They are not lovers, but soldiers who have been through wars together.  They would fight and die for one another but at the same time it seems clear that one would kill the other if it suited their needs.

Overall, this has been an entertaining trilogy.  The main character made a proclamation about himself early on that does not play out as he expected.  If it had, this story would have run the risk of predictability.  A criticism I had for the first book came back to haunt this one when the author slips away from first person for a brief moment-a chapter-near the end of the novel.  It could be argued in both cases of the necessity of these diversions although I believe that the author could have found a way to keep on telling the story from Cyrus’ perspective and gotten the same point across.  I had few other quibbles when it came to the writing itself.  It was interesting that here in the third book about Cyrus that the story is as much about someone else, Blaze, as it was about him.  It added depth to the tale and made their relationship that much more compelling.

The Undead Ruins can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/Undead-Ruins-Situation-Book/dp/161868471X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-2&qid=1433201326