Writer of Horror Fiction

Posts tagged “adventure

Review of Bryan Way’s “Life After: The Arising”

Life After: The Arising tells the story of Jeff Grey and his experiences during the first few days of the zombie apocalypse.  When the dead rise up his hometown suburb of Philadelphia, Jeff seems to be the only person prepared to do what it will take to survive.

Jeff is a college freshman who has returned home to visit his girlfriend who is performing in a high school band competition.  He is a band geek himself as well as a zombie fanatic who has written several stories about the undead and knows about all about the ‘rules’ of dealing with the living dead.  So when corpses start crawling out of a nearby cemetery during the band competition, he is able to react to the threat immediately.  Taking charge, he leads a handful of terrified survivors, including his girlfriend Julia, into a building on campus while the rest of the people at the school are torn to pieces on the football field and in the stands.

Jeff becomes a somewhat reluctant leader when those he has saved look to him for guidance since he seems to know what he is doing.  Jeff does indeed know a lot about zombies, but he isn’t some sort of survivalist, just a freshman college student who’s read a some books and watched a few movies about the undead.  Fortunately for him, an old high school friend who is in the National Guard arrives on the scene a day or so later and takes on a leadership role to help keep the survivors alive.

The story takes place over a period of about ten days with the characters migrating to different hiding spots in their suburban environment in an effort to escape the constant barrage of corpses trying to hunt them down.  The zombies are a mix of fast and slow moving based on how long they have been dead as well as how much damage they’ve suffered.  The story is told in first person present tense, though thankfully not in a journal format, which has been a bit overused in the zompoc genre.

The action in the tale is solid, with the sequences surrounding the attacks by the undead moving at a fast clip.  The gore is effective, though not over the top.  The characters are, for the most part, solidly fleshed out.  Of course, this is a story of one man’s journey above and beyond all else-this is Jeff’s tale, and it is through him that we allowed to understand the other characters and the world in which they must survive.  As such, whether the reader enjoys this tale or not will likely hinge on what they think of Jeff and how he sees the world through his eyes…which see the world as a zombie obsessed fan who knows the drill when it comes to the undead and how to deal with them, or at least so he believes.

Though the pacing of this story is solid when there are zombies on the page, it is a not as even when there are only other humans interacting with Jeff.  He spends a bit more time than necessary elaborating on his loving relationship with Julia.  Though much of the arguments and discussions with other survivors are pertinent and critical to developing a better understanding of the other characters, there are occasions where things drag.  An example is when several of the characters get into a debate about God and religion that felt unnecessary to the plot.

The dialog, for the most part, is snappy and moves things along.  It wasn’t overly dramatic or overbearing and felt natural for the characters who were speaking it.  A minor editing critique was the fact that in a lot of conversations in the book didn’t make it immediately apparent who was speaking what line.  Tossing in a few more ‘I said’ or ‘Julia replied’ would solve that little issue.

Overall, Life After: The Arising is a solid freshman writing entry by Bryan Way.  He shows a great deal of promise as a new voice in the zombie genre and I look forward to checking out the next installment in this saga.

Life After: The Arising can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0615851827/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Review of “Cthulhu Unbound 3” by Permuted Press

Cthulhu Unbound 3 consists of four novellas, each with their own slant on Lovecraft’s mythos.  Overall, the writing and storytelling is solid and the stories are what you both desire and expect of tales told about the realm of dark gods and menacing monsters.

Unseen Empire by Cody Goodfellow is a western that takes place primarily on and beneath an abandoned Indian reservation in Oklahoma, where a half-Indian tracker must go beneath the earth to find out what happened to the people who suddenly disappeared from the reservation.  As he and the detachment of U.S. soldiers go deeper into the underground lair where they suspect the Indians have fled to, the reader is treated to several flashbacks of the main character’s past life and it slowly becomes clear what dark forces he is being compelled to face within the dark depths.

Mirrorrorrim by D.L. Snell focuses on an odd therapy group and its even odder therapist.  The main character has blank spots in his memory and another member of the group, a woman who he is drawn to, shares a very strange connection with him.  They fit with one another like pieces of a puzzle, or like the title suggests, mirror image parallels.

Nemesis Theory by Tim Curran introduces the reader to a maximum security prison and a select group of inmates who are beginning to realize that they are on a crash course with a gruesome nightmare that none of them will be able to avoid.  Death and far worse is creeping closer and closer to them all every night, from far out in the galaxy.  If you are familiar with Tim Curran’s work, you know he is a maestro when it comes to describing gore in loving detail and this story is no exception.

The R’lyeh Singularity by David Conyers & Brian M. Sammons is a tale of espionage and the efforts of two spies to stop greedy governments and corporations from tampering with inter-dimensional ‘goodies’ they have discovered on earth, as well as preventing the end of all humanity when darkness tears through a rift at the bottom of the pacific ocean where a mega-corporation is drilling…not for oil, but for something far more menacing and alien.

I enjoyed each story for their unique spin on the Cthulhu mythos, with my favorite being the last member of the quartet.  The story was high energy spy thriller that integrates the horror of the Cthulhu mythos effortlessly.  My one critique of this story is that there were a noticeable amount of typos that weren’t as prevalent in the other three stories.  It was a minor distraction but worth mentioning.  The other three stories were equally entertaining, for different reasons.  Tim Curran does an excellent job in his tale building the dread levels to an almost unbearable level for the inmates in his doomed prison, with both mysterious events and visions riddling them with newfound terrors on a daily basis.  D.L. Snell has created an intimate tale of technology gone amuck and strange interpersonal relationships, while Cody Goodfellow’s plunge into the old west and an underground city of the damned felt like a diabolical quest that I was cursed to complete alongside the main character.

For fans of Cthulhu and Lovecraft, this is a solid contribution to the mythology and one worth checking out.

Cthulhu Unbound 3 can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009O3XFBA/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Review of Gregory Solis’ “Rise and Walk: Pathogen”

Rise and Walk: Pathogen is Gregory Solis’s sequel to his 2007 debut novel, Rise and Walk.  The sequel has been a long time coming and I would be lying if I said I remembered all of the details from the original novel Mr. Solis put out six and a half years ago.  Thankfully, a refresher of my review of the first book and jumping right into this new tale brought me up to speed.  In Rise and Walk we are introduced to Tony and Mason, two members of a paint ball team who have arrived in the mountains for a tournament.  Not so far away, parts of a strange meteor have landed, causing a pathogen to infect the living, turning them into the undead.  As things go south and the dead begin devouring the living wholesale, the two men join up with two young women who work at the local general store at the lake where the tournament is supposed to take place.  Together, they flee into the mountains and must cope with the onslaught of the undead while also dealing with the even more dangerous living.

The original novel, as I had described it in my review, was entertaining zombie fare, though the author’s writing was a bit rough, as is often the case with a debut novel.  There was a lot of enthusiasm for the material and the story was fun, if perhaps lacking in emotional depth.  This was a simple adventure novel for the zombie enthusiast to enjoy, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The book was fun-a quick and easy read.  I say all this not to disparage this original story, but more as a way to point out the differences between it and this new book.  Rise and Walk: Pathogen is a distinctly different novel from the first.  Not the story itself.  It starts off where the last book ended, and follows our four survivors on day two of their efforts to avoid getting devoured.  Mason wants to return to Berkley, where he and Tony are from, to make sure his family is safe, while Tony is more inclined to help Nikki and her quest to find her own parents in the small town of Whisper where this story takes place.  Where things differ between the two books, by my estimation, is in the character development and the polish the author shows in his writing.  The tension and dialog between the characters feels more real, this story has a broader scope (with a villain that is both far more menacing and yet far more subtle than in the first book), and the author caused me to care about what happens to these people.  Even his secondary characters are far more intriguing, especially Margaret, whose story is quite touching.  There are a few typos here and there, but nothing too noticeable.  Overall, this is a far more well-crafted effort.

It has been a long time coming since Mr. Solis wrote his debut novel, but the sequel was worth the wait and was a very pleasant surprise.  My hope is that the third book in the saga takes a few years less than the six to get published, because I am definitely looking forward to what I presume is the climax of this zombie saga.

Rise and Walk: Pathogen can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D1WXA2O/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Review of Bryon Morrigan’s “The Desert”

The Desert is author Bryon Morrigan’s debut novel and tells the tale of a mysterious abandoned village buried deep in the Iraqi Desert found not once, but twice by the U.S. military.  The main story takes place in 2009 and introduces the reader to Specialist Densler and the Captain he is carting around in a Humvee on the hunt to find WMD’s.  They stumble onto an area where GPS doesn’t work and come across the body of a soldier and his journal.  It becomes immediately clear that the solider went missing six years earlier along with the rest of “Eight Up Platoon” near the beginning of the invasion of Iraq.  The Captain is excited to find the journal and possible clues as to what happened to the rest of the men, but when reading the journal it becomes clear that something strange is at work in the small village.  Green mist flows out from the ground at night and there are hints of shadowy creatures wandering about.  Plus they can’t find anyone else’s body.

This is a fast moving horror story that reads easy and keeps the energy up throughout.  Short chapters give the story a sense of urgency, and flashbacks to the old journal entries sparked my curiosity about what was really going on.  Densler’s thoughts about his Captain get a little bit repetitive-the Captain is an incompetent coward in Densler’s eyes and nothing that happens in the story disputes that belief.  This served as a bit of a distraction for me, but I enjoyed this story despite this minor irritation.  The author comes up with a creative batch of monsters rising up from the bowels of the earth through a dark pit in the ground, and even some pretty interesting theories about where they came from, which kept me tuned in the whole way.

I previously read the author’s follow up novel, Archeron, so I sort of got things backward.  While it would have been best to read this book first, Archeron does a solid job of standing on its own, as does The Desert.  I have to admit I enjoyed this, the author’s first effort, more than his second.  My review of Archeron details my issues with that story, which definitely has its merits and was a fun read in its own right.  The Desert was a more intriguing and provides more of an introduction to this strange new world that intrigued me.  I am gathering there will be a sequel to Archeron.  It is clear there is more story to tell.

Much like I stated in my other review, I give high praise to the author for crafting an intriguing mythology that give his book a unique flavor.  He has an excellent knowledge of the military and that shows in his work as well, though his disdain for commissioned officers is hard to miss and is somewhat distracting.  The Desert is a fun read, and while Archeron is, in my view, not quite as good, it is still an entertaining continuation of this saga, and gives me plenty of reason to want to check out the author’s third act when it comes out.

The Desert can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004XJKYKU/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Review of Gareth Wood’s “Age of the Dead”

Age of the Dead is the sequel to Gareth Wood’s Rise, which was released by Permuted Press last year, but was originally created in a serial blog format several years back.  The first story tells the tale of Brian and his experiences during the weeks and months following the rise of the undead.  It provides us with his efforts to survive with his sister and the woman he meets who eventually becomes his wife.  It ends with him the leader of a scavenging team sent out from Cold Lake, where the military has created a safe haven for most of the survivors in Western Canada.  Age of the Dead continues where Rise left off, with Brian and his crew going on missions to either retrieve much needed supplies out in the wastelands or to find more survivors.

Both books were written in first person, with the first book being done in journal format.  Everything is told from Brian’s perspective with all the limitations and advantages that format yields.  The author changed things up a bit with Age of the Dead, and while the story is told in first person once again from Brian’s perspective, it is no longer in journal format.  There is dialog and there isn’t that sense of premonition you get from a journal where the author hints at the action to come at the beginning of every journal entry.  A journal is like reading a newspaper article about something that happened the day before, whereas the new format the author uses in his second book puts the reader right into the action.

The writing here is smooth and the story flows well, though there really isn’t any specific direction the author seems to be taking with the story.  I had mentioned in my review of Rise that the book could have cut off earlier-when Brian and company find their way to the safety of Cold Lake, but carried on with his first missions doing salvage.  This story, much like the last part of the previous book, carries on with that theme.  The action is more intense and there is a willingness here to let some of the characters die, which was a change from the first book.  The adventures Brian and company have were enjoyable to read about, but I was often left wondering where things were headed.  There are hints toward the end of the book that the story might get more focused in the third installment, which shows good promise.

Overall, the quality of this installment is good and the writing format is more satisfying than the first book.  There is more emotional heft to Brian here-the stakes are higher than before.  At the same time, I would like to see the story take a more specific direction.  The missions Brian takes on with his crew could go on indefinitely.  But as I already alluded to, there are indications that the third book will have a more specific direction and a more defined objective in mind.  I look forward to seeing what the author does with this tale going forward.

Age of the Dead can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1618680501/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Review of Tim Curran’s “Cannibal Corpse, M/C”

Tim Curran’s Cannibal Corpse, M/C is a wild ride into a post-apocalyptic wasteland with John Slaughter, Pittsburgh Chapter President of the Devil’s Disciples, leading the way.  He is the last of the free members of his motorcycle club, one of the 1%ers that commits everything they have and everything they will ever be to the patch they wear on their sleeve and what it represents.  The world has ended, or so it seems, and the dead have risen from the grave.  Strange rains filled with mysterious red worms have infected much of the population, turning them into something that resembles zombies, though this crop of the undead are pretty unique.  They crave human flesh, but they continue to have some semblance of the minds they once had.  They are evil, semi-demonic puppets that not only devour but gleefully torture the living.  The western half of the U.S. is a wasteland of the dead now, with what remains of the country under government control a sliver of what it once was.  The dead rule, along with the barbaric living militias like the Red Hand and the mutants that were created after nukes were dropped to stem the tide of the dead.  Into this wasteland heads John, who has too many people chasing him and too much desire for the freedom of the open road to remain in civilized territories.  At least until members of the military catch up with him and put him on a mission he can’t refuse.  They’ll free some members of his club that are in prison to ride with him into the wastelands where they need to save a biologist who may have a cure for the plague that has caused the rain of worms to fall. 

Cannibal Corpse, M/C is definitely not your typical apocalyptic zombie tale.  The author seems to know quite a bit about biking culture and John’s rough demeanor and loyalty to his friends kept this one entertaining from start to finish.  John is almost fearless, almost ruthless, almost like his club’s name would hint at: a disciple of the devil.  He kills without remorse, he is brutal, and he is vicious, but there are hints of his humanity as well that sneak through during this story that made him an interesting character and someone who you can find just palatable enough to root for when he is dealing with the hell on earth that surrounds him.  While the story starts out as more or less an adventure tale that takes place on the open road, it becomes something more dark and sinister with every page.  I didn’t expect the twists and turns that came about, especially in the second half of the story, but found them intriguing nonetheless. 

Where things bogged down for me with this saga was in the hyperbole the author uses to describe things, especially in the latter half of the book.  Not only is the gore in Technicolor 3D, which is in and of itself not a bad thing (in fact, for the gore hounds out there it is probably a big plus), but many of the details of the story are over described in lurid detail, distracting from the narrative in some ways.  I don’t consider this to be a major issue with the story, because it still read fast and easy and I was compelled to finish this intriguing story, it just felt like the descriptions went further than necessary in several instances. 

Despite this minor gripe, this was a fun, entertaining apocalyptic tale.  If you like your zombies traditional, this one probably is probably going to be hard to swallow, but it is worth checking out even for the zombie “purists” out there, because Slaughter is a fascinating and entertaining anti-hero and a one bad mutha.   

Cannibal Corpse, M/C can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1618680587/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Review of Michael S. Gardners “Death in the Times of Madness”

Death In The Times of Madness is Michael S Gardner’s compendium of short stories, many of which have a zombie slant to them, as that is his first passion in writing.  He’s also published a novella and novel that are zombie-centric too.  There are some stories here that diverge from that path though, giving the reader a bit of diversity, though the author ‘sticks with the scrip’ and doesn’t move too far off from what a zombie fan will enjoy.  From tales of personal woe to stories that are far grander is scope, the author explores some interesting topics and provides the reader with some moments that really resonate.

Of course, not every story packs the same punch and not all of them were hits in my opinion, but overall, this collection showcases an author who has grown as a writer over the past few years, with his ability to craft characters and stories getting sharper and stronger with time.  Some of the tales have no message, just provide simple entertainment, while others pack more emotional heft and lingered in my mind after their completion.  Overall, this is a fun, easy-to-read collection of mostly zombie tales that shows the talents of an independent author who continues to get better with every story he writes.

Death In The Times of Madness can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1481228196/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Review of Iain McKinnon’s “From The Torment of Dreams”

Iain McKinnon, known for his apocalyptic zombie novels Domain of The Dead and Remains of The Dead moves into the realm of science fiction with From The Torment of Dreams, which has absolutely nothing to do with zombies.  In deep space, a war is being waged between the Terrain Alliance and one of their subjugated colonies, Neotra.  The author doesn’t provide the reader with an in depth political explanation of why the Neotrans have fought to separate themselves from Earth and its allies at the start of this tale, instead choosing to thrust us right in the middle of a battle in space, or to be more exact, a rebellion ambush of a ship filled with ground troops being brought in to fortify the Alliance’s positions.  The only survivor of a devastating attack on the ship is Lan, a young man who joined the military to get away from a lost love.  Unfortunately for Lan, his cryogenically induced deep space dreams are filled with visions of Nicola, his former love, playing in his head like a broken record.  Even as he awakens to make his way to an escape pod as the ship is breaking up, visions of the woman he loved and who dumped him plague him relentlessly.

We are also introduced to Captain Jackson, one of the rebel leaders of the assault on Lan’s ship, who crosses paths with the injured soldier as the battle rages on aboard ship.  Mistaken for another rebel when Terrain reinforcements arrive, Lan is imprisoned along with Jackson and his crew.

At the same time, we are introduced to Zinner, who is a Bavashee, a part of the Terrain military Special Forces who are genetically grown to be the perfect warriors.  Only a few remain in the galaxy (they were plentiful during the Apocalypse Wars in the ancient past), and Zinner is one of the best still around.  In his efforts to infiltrate Neotran on a secret mission, he comes across and wipes out a small, somewhat primitive village far away from the main civilized outposts of the colony, in an effort to maintain secrecy.  He kills them all out except for Nasim, who was away from the village at the time, returning to discover the horror Zinner and his team have left behind.  Nasim, who has some intriguing talents of his own, chooses to pursue the Special Forces leader in an effort to get revenge.

The author pulls together a great many ‘smaller’ and ‘bigger’ subplots while the threads of the main story get weaved together with the others at a steady pace.  The author leaves the main path a time or two, but always returns to it in time.  With these diversions we get to see the war in a bigger picture format-from the Terrain General discussing strategy with his right hand man to one of the men plotting to assassinate a key political figure.  The plot does meander a bit, but the stories kept my interest throughout.

The writing here is solid, and Iain has a strong concept of military tactics and makes the science fiction plausible-allowing the tale to not get gummed up with over the top details that would have been a distraction.  The characters make sense and fit well into their environments-with enough background details to enlighten but not smother.  Zimmer is understandably brutal and vicious, while Lan is tortured but transformed by both his military training and the torture of his body while imprisoned and by the dreams that endlessly haunt him.

I thought it interesting that the author was able to deftly steer me away from rooting for either side in this war (or so it seemed).  Sure, there were reasons for believing that the Neotrans deserved their freedom, but it was the characters major and minor, including the Terrain General who plots and plans both the attacks and defense of his forces, that really mattered here.  Iain McKinnon has a knack for crafting characters that you feel an emotional attachment to-whether you love them or hate them, they get under your skin and stay there for a while.

Overall, this is a fun sci fi tale of rollicking space battles and the soldiers who fight in them.  But this story told could take place in space, on earth, in the future or in the far flung past and it would still make sense.  It is a saga of men and the wars they wage, which is a timeless concept, and one that is endlessly intriguing.

From The Torment of Dreams can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D4DVCHU/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Review of Michael Ivan Lowell’s “The Suns of Liberty: Revolution”

The Suns of Liberty: Revolution is a superhero fable that takes place in an alternate time stream where the Great Recession has turned into a new Great Depression.  As a result, power has been handed over to the most potent remaining corporations to run the country.  Dubbed the “Freedom Council” they control things while the government remains in control in name only.

Rising up in the aftermath of this transition in power is a superhero dubbed “The Revolution” who is an armored warrior willing to fight to stop the tyranny of this new form of despotic government.  Others rise as well; copy-cats who want to be heroes who fight crime and give the people hope.  Some have legitimate talents, like Paul Ward, who has crafted an armored flight suit and can fire darts that knock his enemies out, while others are less impressive.  Some, like Lithium, are state sanctioned and fight crimes that are set-ups made for the TV audience-they support the new government and while they have real superpowers, they are more-or-less at war with The Revolution and those who would oppose this new form of government.

The main character of this tale, for all intents and purposes, is Paul, who has been dubbed the “Spider Wasp” after a confrontation with a gang of bank robbers.  He is seeking revenge for the death of his son at the hands of thugs, which also caused his wife to commit suicide.  He is a doctor and a former Harvard Professor who is fascinated with The Revolution and the mythology surrounding the rebellious hero.  This tale follows Paul’s experiences with The Revolution and the group of underground heroes that work with him fomenting a new American Revolution.

Michael Ivan Lowell has written an intriguing tale of new superheroes for a world where corporate power has gotten out of control-with a shimmer of our reality mirrored on its pages.  Taking place mainly in Boston, the reflections of the original Revolutionary War are easily recognized within the story.  The author has crafted a set of heroes that mostly utilize technology rather than having any innate superpowers, except in one particular case.  In some ways, this story reminds me Watchmen with its alternate history (though this takes place in the near future rather than in the near past).  Superheroes that aren’t quite immaculate in how they operate and how they function-while they may wish to do well, they are far from perfect.

The story is fun and the creation of a set of heroes is creative-while there are similarities to other superheroes the reader already know and recognize, they do have their own unique flavor and take on things, especially in a world where the United States has essentially turned into a dictatorship.  It is easy to see where this saga could carry forward with several additional volumes by the author.  It will be interesting to see what new characters (both good and evil) he can craft to carry the story forward beyond this tome.

As I always attempt to do, I try to point out any issues or concerns I had with a book, and with The Suns of Liberty: Revolution it came down to the fact that the author spends much of the book telling the reader things rather than showing them.  The history of many of the characters is revealed not through interactions with them, but by a synopsis of their past and their personality type.  This is a bit distracting-I tend to prefer characters being revealed by inches and often not knowing everything about them right away.  I realize that with a book that has this many complex characters it would be difficult to really dig deep without the book being twice as long, but as mysterious a character as The Revolution is, the rest of the cast was much more of an open book.  Again, it is clear with a book such as this, it is often hard to let the characters do a slow reveal-especially those destined to become superheroes or villains-unless it is an origin story.  Instead, we are introduced to what amounts to The Justice League or Avengers in full swing here, so it’s not surprising that a few liberties with the story telling style were taken to get the reader up to speed.

The Suns of Liberty: Revolution provides a solid new world filled with darkness and a new hope for the downtrodden, and was a fun read.  It will be interesting to see where the author takes this tale in future volumes.

The Suns of Liberty: Revolution can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C0HB7DK/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Review of Michael S. Gardner’s “Downfall”

Downfall starts out fast and rarely lets its foot up off the gas pedal throughout.  There is plenty of action, blood, guts, and mayhem to keep the zombie fan’s adrenaline pumping.  The story introduces us to Matt, the main character, and Cole, his best friend, who have managed to make it through the first few weeks of the zombie apocalypse with a small group of other survivors, including Cole’s girlfriend, in a suburban area of Virginia.

We are also introduced to a wide variety of undead.  There is danger not just from the shambling, slow rotters that surround them, but from mutations that cause them to elicit attributes that range from speed, greater predatory instincts, to having unnatural strength and size.  Included in this mix are undead dubbed titans.  Rarely seen, but virtually unstoppable giants, they hint at an ongoing cycle of mutations among the undead.

Matt and Cole are making due as best they can out in the wastelands, saving who they can while realizing that survival means that they sometimes have to be ruthless, not only with the undead but even with the bitten that have yet to die and turn.  Naturally, there are human predators as well who pose a threat to others who wish to survive.  The world, as it has always been, is filled with dangers both inhuman and human alike.

Among the survivors they come across is a scientist who claims to know where there is a safe haven-a research facility turned military base down in North Carolina.  Though skeptical, the survivors continue to work at protecting themselves out in the wilds while the lure of this promised sanctuary weighs on each of them, especially as the loss of life piles up.

The relationship between Matt and Cole drives this story.  While they have suffered at points they seem to be enjoying the apocalypse with their penchant for weapons and weed going hand in hand.  We often see characters that are endlessly distraught or seem to be near-superheroes in the face of a zombie onslaught.  Rarely have I read a story where the characters seem to be more like the fans of zombie fiction, or least how many of us who are fans of the genre picture ourselves.  There is a bit of a devilish delight in being able to let loose and lash out at the world at large with no moral repercussions.  Don’t get me wrong, the boys aren’t impervious to the despair this new world causes them and the tough decisions it forces them to make, but they seem to appreciate finding new ways to kill the creatures that destroyed their lives.  In a world getting flushed down the toilet, they’ve found a way to gain some enjoyment on the trip down.

I read a version of this tale a couple of years ago, after the author’s first draft was completed.  He did modify it somewhat, with some new and interesting elements.  As this is his first novel, he also did some polishing to the tale that gives his characters some added emotional heft.  The fun Matt and Cole have in crafting plans to keep their people safe and to gather supplies in a dangerous, dead world remains, while the depth of their emotions has grown.  Still, it avoids getting bogged down in the melancholia that can often plague apocalyptic tales.  The pacing is solid, and while the story tends to meander a bit, with minimal direction for the characters to take, the action remains fast and furious, with a lot of entertaining splatter and action for the zombie fan to sink their teeth into.

Downfall can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CS94UL6/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Review of Vincenzo Bilof’s Necropolis Now: Zombie Ascension Book 1

Necropolis Now: Zombie Ascension Book One starts out introducing us to Bob, a mercenary for hire who is looking for a serial killer named Traverse, a former Special Forces operative.  Traverse is wanted alive despite the gruesome crimes he’s committed over many years of being on the run.  When he finds Traverse, the madman speaks of a gate being open that will cause the end of the world.  Captured, he is committed to an insane asylum in Detroit.

Three years later, Bob is called upon again, this time with two of his best mercenaries-Miles and Vega- in tow.  He has to capture Traverse again, pulling him out of the same insane asylum he was put in for his crimes.  The only problem: Detroit is in the throws of a brutal riot, with the city tearing itself apart piece by piece.  It is fast becoming clear that this is not your normal riot because the rioters are eating one another.

The story follows Bob’s mission, but also introduces the reader to several other citizens of Detroit who are coming to grips with the situation they’ve found themselves in, including a lawyer, his drug-addled brother, a gang banger, an ex-cop pornographer and his former girlfriend, and a porn starlet currently residing in the same insane asylum as Traverse because she has a penchant for cannibalism.

While Necropolis Now: Zombie Ascension does share similarities with many other tales focused on the initial hours and days that the dead rise, with plenty of panic, gore, and horrific frights, it is how the dead rise and the characters that inhabit this story that make it unique.  Detroit has a reputation for being a rough city and it makes for a gritty urban setting for this story.  The ensemble cast is headed up by Vega, the female mercenary, Traverse, an insane prophet and murderous madman, and Griggs, the ex-cop who wants to keep on making porn movies while the world unravels around him.  This is a very interesting story with Traverse and Mina meeting up at the asylum on the day the undead rise taking center stage.  Mina is Griggs former girlfriend and star of his porn movies, at least until she ate the last actor she worked with.  Traverse has plans for Mina, and knows that she is more than just another run of the mill psychopath.

The pacing is fast and the action steady in this tale, while the characters are a mixed bag of oddities.  They definitely kept me guessing from start to finish, with some of the deaths being rather surprising, and their actions even being more surprising.  It’s hard to argue about realism when the characters are so strange and different than the norm.

There is a bigger picture here.  The rise of the dead is not through the traditional means readers of zombie fiction are used to, and it is clear by the title that the author intends to reveal all that is kept secret in this book over the course of a likely trilogy.

The author took on a sizable cast of characters and did an admirable job of allowing the reader to see the world through many of their eyes.  The characters of Traverse, Vega, and Griggs were intriguing to me.  Some of the other characters, such as the lawyer and junkie who were brothers, didn’t resonate.  The author makes a game effort to give their story emotional heft, but their story felt hollow to me.  And while I didn’t necessarily like most of the characters in this book, I don’t consider that a negative.  They kept me intrigued, even if I wasn’t necessarily rooting for any of them.  Some of them grew on me in small amounts, and it will be interesting to see how the characters that remain at the end of the book grow and transform through the rest of this series.

Overall, Necropolis Now: Zombie Ascension Book One, has way too long of a title, but is a very interesting contribution to the zombie genre.  This isn’t your workaday saga about average people trying to make due in a world gone mad, but is about a bunch of mad people living in the eye of the undead storm.  Mr. Bilof has me intrigued enough that I feel compelled to check out the next book in this series when it becomes available.

Necropolis Now: Zombie Ascension Book One can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/098747653X/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Beyond The Dark is available in all formats!

Permuted Press has completed the release process for Beyond The Dark with paper, ebook, and audio versions all now available.  This finishes off the new version of the trilogy, and as I mentioned when the ebook version was released, this version of Beyond The Dark has the Dark Stories that were included in the original ebook trilogy release, plus some new additions, including a short story originally seen in “Eyewitness: Zombie”, an anthology produced by May December Publications.  This is a tale of a National Guardsman told in first person which takes place in the early days of battle to fight the undead plague.  There is also a brief appearance by two of the characters that appear in the trilogy toward the end of the story and hints at their future plans.  A brand new Dark story makes its debut in this novel.  Lydia, one of the characters introduced in Into The Dark was one of the few key secondary characters who didn’t get the flashback treatment.  One of the reviewers of the original Dark Stories was disappointed she didn’t get the same treatment as everyone else did.  I agreed, and since I always knew what Lydia’s history, I was able to craft her story for the release of this book in short order.  I have a great fondness of Lydia and I hope that you enjoy the tale of her first exposure to having her world turned upside down by the undead plague. When people ask me what my favorite book of the trilogy is, its sort of like being asked to to choose between your children.  I sort of feel awkward answering that question.  But, since I have always thought of the trilogy as one saga, I do feel that Beyond The Dark does comprise the parts of the tale that are the most compelling, the ones that wrung the most emotions out of me in writing it.  It is also the book that gets the highest praise-a lot of ‘he saved the best for last’. There is more stories to be told in this world and I plan on revisiting it, but the Dark Trilogy stands on its own, and Beyond The Dark is my favorite part of the trilogy.  There, I said it.  I still love Comes The Dark and Into The Dark, but this is the piece of the puzzle I’m most proud of…and I hope you enjoy it.  Just click on the cover and you’ll be taken to a page that lets you choose which version of the book you want.  Thanks!

Beyond The Dark

Beyond the Dark now available in ebook format!

Permuted Press has released the final chapter in the Dark trilogy, Beyond The Dark, in ebook format.  Soon to be followed by audio book and paper formats, this completes the updated and revised version of the trilogy, with Dark Stories included-two of which even those folks who read all the Dark Stories I had to share in the previous electronic version have missed out on.  One of which is a story told in first person, called “A Soldier’s Lament” which is tied into the world of Jeff and company-with a couple of characters from the books showing up.  This particular story, which also appears in “Eyewitness Zombie” from May December Publications, an anthology of first person accounts of the apocalypse, is a bit different, and is definitely one I’m proud to have in this tome.  The other story was written specifically for this book, and tells the back story of Lydia, one of the key secondary characters introduced in Into The Dark.  In many ways, it is my favorite, because Lydia is a character who has grown to mean more to me in the past couple of years-she has elements of my late mother and sister in her, and she is a strong character who I love dearly.

And while everyone will assume something about the new cover of this third book…as in, the girl on it is a zombie, I will say this: don’t be so sure.  You’ll have to read the story to find out more.  😉

So please, check it out, and stay tuned for further updates for the paperback and audio formats of the book, coming soon.

Here is the press release from Permuted Press:

The 3rd and final book in Patrick D’Orazio‘s Dark Trilogy, BEYOND THE DARK, is out now in eBook!

“Grabs you by the ears and does not let go. We’ve heard the phrase save the best for last … well, that is exactly what happened with this trilogy.”
Heather Headshot Faville, Doubleshot Reviews

Amazon Kindlehttp://www.amzn.com/dp/B00CELKAR6/permutedpress-20



Beyond The Dark

Into The Dark now available in all formats!

Things keep moving along quickly with Permuted Press and the Dark Trilogy.  Their latest wonderful move?  Releasing Into The Dark in all formats.  So you can get this re-released version, with all the additional Dark Stories, in ebook, paperback, and audio versions.  Just click on the cover below and you can go to Permuted’s website, where you can pick your poison.  So check it out in all its glory:


Six weeks ago a mysterious virus came out of nowhere and engulfed the world.

Jeff Blaine did his best to hold his family together and protect them from the horrors scratching at their door. But, in the end, they were ripped away from him like everything else that ever mattered.

Lost and alone, Jeff’s only option is to destroy as many of the monsters as he can. But when he discovers Megan, George, and Jason, three other survivors not interested in giving up just yet, he reluctantly accepts that there might still be a reason to fight and live to see another day.

Traveling through the blasted landscape of their new fallen world, the quartet discovers that the living dead aren’t the only danger with which they must cope. Even other survivors who promise safety and security from the hordes of ghouls roaming the wastelands will test loyalties and their faith in humankind.

Jeff and his small band of newfound friends must forge a semblance of life in the newly blighted world. And they will have only the light of their own humanity by which to navigate as everything around them descends into the dark.

Permuted released “Into The Dark” in ebook format!

Things move quickly around here.  It wasn’t too long ago that I was touting the re-release of Comes The Dark from Permuted Press.  Suddenly, it’s time for the release of the second book, Into The Dark, in ebook format!  As with the first book, the Dark Stories I originally created to be a part of the books are back in each individual release, added to the end of the main story.  So the reader has the opportunity to delve deeper into the lives of the secondary characters introduced in each book in a short story format.  Check it out…and if you don’t mind, leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or at Barnes and Noble if you have the time.  Thanks!

Six weeks ago, the mysterious virus came out of nowhere and engulfed the world.

Jeff Blaine did his best to hold his family together and to protect them from the horrors scratching at their door, but in the end, they were ripped away from him like everything else that ever mattered. 

Lost and alone, Jeff’s only option is to destroy as many of the monsters as he can. But when he discovers Megan, George, and Jason, three other survivors not interested in giving up just yet, he reluctantly accepts that there might still be a reason to fight and live to see another day.

Traveling through the blasted landscape of their new fallen world, the quartet discovers that the living dead aren’t the only danger with which they must cope. Even other survivors who promise safety and security from the hordes of ghouls roaming the wastelands will test loyalties and their faith in humankind. 

Jeff and his small band of newfound friends must forge a semblance of life in the newly blighted world. And they will have only the light of their own humanity by which to navigate as everything around them descends into the dark.

Stay tuned for a full selection of links to all versions of the book, but for now here are the links for both the Kindle and Nook:




Review of Vincenzo Bilof’s “Nightmare of the Dead”

Nightmare of the Dead introduces us to a young woman who wakes up on a train during the civil war, her memory lost, but her sense of what she is capable of with a gun still intact.  As a strange green mist appears in another one of the train cars and seeps into hers, she discovers that some sort of horrific transformation is taking place among the men that surround her.  Not all are affected by the gas.  At least one other boy-a soldier for the confederacy-does not transform into a creature that dead yet still living like the others, and neither does she.  These creatures are violent, deadly monsters that lust for flesh and must be killed with a bullet through the head.  For all intents and purposes, they are zombies, and their introduction comes as quite a shock to her.

While seeking to discover her identity as faint traces of her past seep into her mind, the woman is pursued by a group of outlaws who know about her past and have plans for her.  At the same time, we are introduced to a mad scientist who is the creator of the toxic gas she was exposed to on the train.  He has been employed by Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, in an effort to turn the tide of the war with his new invention, but the scientist’s main goal is to gain membership into a dark, underworld organization that is intrigued by what he has wrought.  The story slowly reveals his relationship with the amnesiac woman and how she is valuable to both him and the “Nightmare Collective.”

Nightmare of the Dead is a zombie tale, though the zombies here are more mutations than anything-it does not appear that they infect you through their bites, but by the exposure to the gas, or other variations of the ingredients the scientist has mixed to cause the zombification.

The story has a different take on the zombie genre in some ways, and the undead play a very secondary role to the main characters and their quests to both understand more themselves and gain revenge upon one another for a very complicated past.  I’ve read historical zombie tales-those of the old west included-but this one foregoes many of the traditional elements found in most and carves out its own path.  Fans of the genre will get their fair share of zombie gore and action, and both the main character and villain are well developed, especially when the story dives deeper and deeper into their shared history, but don’t go in expecting a traditional tale of the apocalypse.  Both the main characters are vile in different ways, but the author is able to give us at least a reason or two to feel sympathy not only for the obvious one of the two, but the other as well.

I think it only fair to share concerns that come to mind with any book I review, and with Nightmare of the Dead it came down to some overly descriptive verse and stiff dialog.  This wasn’t something that was pervasive throughout, but came up enough to serve as a distraction.  By no means did it wreck the story for me, but it did make some characters feel a bit more forced and awkward than others.  The flow isn’t always natural with how they speak.  Again, this served as more of a distraction than a major issue, but it was noticeable and I feel compelled to point it out.

Outside of this issue, the story is solid, enjoyable, and I liked discovering and learning about these characters.  It is clear that a sequel must be forthcoming, and I look forward to checking that out as well.

Nightmare of the Dead can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1479129496/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Review of Nathan JDL Rowark’s “Infatuation: The Story of the Snow Queen”

Infatuation: The Story of Snow Queen by Nathan J.D.L. Rowark is not a story that is all that easy to describe.  In fact, for my period of reading at the beginning of this saga I wasn’t sure I quite understood what was going on in this fantastical tale of love, lust, and revolution, and wondered if I ever would.

The story begins with the introduction of Kay and Grace, a brother and sister who are in the Garden of Remembrance when a flight of snow bees separate them.  This is a place where loved ones return from death in London, and where Kay will find his destiny in the arms of the icy Snow Queen, who will cause his demise but also receive his undying devotion.

We are granted a very slim understanding of how all these elements come together at the beginning of this tale-why there are these snow bees, which are both necessary to this world but are also a great menace to it-and why the dead come back to life.

Infatuation takes place in the far future, in a world where implants have tied the living together and granted them a form of immortality.  Bodies are stowed away and the essence of a person can be transplanted into a new body after death.  All of this is controlled by a mysterious religious leader who keeps everyone within the city under his control through the use of a pervasive social network.

When Kay and Grace get separated in the garden, they go on their own journeys-Kay with his new found love, the Queen, and Grace, in her efforts to find her brother, even though he has sacrificed his body for a new, dead one so that he can endure the touch of his icy maiden.

The story gets more complicated from there, but as with any intriguing story, much is revealed in time, and in the case of this tale, that is both a literal and figurative statement.  The adventurers travel back and forth in time, with the meaning as to why this is happening to them not quite clear at first, or even throughout much of this tale.  This story is a maze of alternate existences and discoveries of one mystery after another that intertwine Kay, Grace, Eternity (the Snow Queen), Reneta, the strange scientist who seems to be at the heart of much of the main mystery within the saga, and both her husband and son, who have rebelled against her and the religion-fueled government.

Describing this storyline in clear, precise details would be next to impossible, but at its heart, this story is about two souls destined for one another, despite so many seemingly good reasons for them not to be together.  Nothing is as it seems in this story, which each chapter revealing a new twist and new surprise, both from the past, the present, and on into the future of the characters.  This is a complex and layered mystery, which can be daunting at certain points, but once certain aspects of the tale were revealed, it kept me intrigued and fascinated to the very end of its pages.

Pigeon holing this story in a particular genre would be impossible.  It is an amalgam of science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, and adventure, with a frosty haze layered over all of that.  Admittedly, there is plenty here to confuse, and I more than likely missed a few key details in my initial reading that may require further review to understand all its elements, but I grasped more than enough to feel satisfied with its ending, though as with any tale where time travel plays a part, there is no real beginning or end, just different cycles in time and the hope that things can be changed, perhaps for the better, as they repeat themselves.

This is a tale for someone who is willing to stick with a story to the end-someone who likes it when an author doesn’t reveal more than is absolutely necessary at any given point.  It is for someone willing to embrace the fantastical and magical mixed in with the technological while it has an almost a fairy tale-like sensibility.

Infatuation: The Story of Snow Queen can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00946F0L0/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Arthur Graham interviews me over on the Bizarro Press Blog

Arthur Graham, fellow author and editor for Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 2, for which I wrote a science fiction comedy story called “The Interstellar Quest for Snack Cakes”, took the time out to interview me about my story, about zombies, and about all sorts of strange things.  Okay, I admit it-his questions weren’t all that strange, just my answers.  But please check it out at:  http://bizarropress.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/patrick-dorazio/




Review of John McCuaig’s “Escape From Dead City”

Escape From Dead City begins at a London hospital, where the story abruptly introduces us to an infection that turns its victims into the undead.  We meet Pauline and Gordon, two doctors who are in a relationship with one another.  When the military arrives at the hospital to deal with the onslaught of the undead after the two doctors have already dealt with one of the undead, it becomes readily apparent that they need to escape the hospital.  Not soon after they realize that they better flee the city as well, because it’s clear that the trouble isn’t localized to their area, but is everywhere.  The dead are rising up and overwhelming the living in uncountable numbers.

At the same time, Pauline’s sister, Margot, and her boyfriend Arthur are coming to the same conclusion from their apartment in the city.  After communicating with one another, the two sisters agree to meet and get out before the whole city is overwhelmed by the undead.  Arthur, who is a train engineer, convinces the other three to make their way to the train station, where he can get them all aboard one of the last trains out of the city.  Little do they know that the military have commandeered the station and the specific train Arthur has in mind for their escape.  Soon, the quartet discover that the train might grant them a form of escape from London, but will take them on a journey with both the military and scientists doing everything in their power to put an end to the plague that threatens to engulf the entire world.

Escape From Dead City doesn’t necessarily introduce its audience to anything new in the zombie genre.  The undead are fairly traditional and the key characters include a scientist who is passionate about finding a cure and a military man who will do whatever it takes to maintain control over those under his supervision.  What the tale does bring to the table that is somewhat unique is the rapid-fire pace with which it moves.  The story takes place within the first 24 hours of infection.  There is little time for the reader to pause and reflect as the two sisters and the rest of the cast of characters move from one challenging situation to the next at a breakneck pace.

The story offers up plenty of entertainment, gore, and action, though the characters are perhaps what I would call a bit lean.  This just means that we aren’t given a tremendous amount of depth with them-there isn’t enough time for us to get to know them all too well.  Not necessarily a major drawback, since the focus in this tale is on the action and a race against time.  I did feel that Colonel Page, the hard-nosed commander of the squad of soldiers responsible for the safety of the scientists, was the most interesting and detailed character of the lot.  He was rough but pragmatic, with limited time to deal with any BS that might interfere with him getting the job done.  The dialog is a bit stiff at times, with some turns of phrase being used a bit repetitively (‘soldier man’ was one that felt a bit overused by several of the characters), but overall the pacing is smooth with very few disruptions to the flow of the tale.  With a planned sequel, the author has the opportunity to delve deeper into each of the surviving characters, which will give me more reason to root for or against their survival as they race to both stay alive and find a cure for the plague that has been unleashed on the world.

Escape From Dead City can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Escape-Dead-City-John-McCuaig/dp/1479186058/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351917573&sr=1-1&keywords=escape+from+dead+city

“No More Heroes” is now available on Amazon!

I announced about a week ago that No More Heroes, an anthology filled with all new superheroes and villains, was available over at Creatspace.  I’m thrilled that it is now on Amazon as well.  While it appears only in paperback at this time, I’m sure that it will be available in e-book format very soon as well.  This project was a labor of love, as my past posts have explained.  A fully developed and detailed world of new good guys and bad guys with all new super powers and abilities to cause mayhem and destruction.  Definitely worth checking out for those who are looking for something new and different.  You can read my tale of bad guys and good guys: “Slow Goth and St. North” there, along with a great lineup of other stories about plenty of other baddies and do gooders.

Check it out by clicking on the image of below.

“No More Heroes” is finally out at Createspace!

This one has been years in the making.  I held on to the hope that this one would come out, sooner or later, even though the original publisher let it languish for quite a time, then promised to release it, but let the contracts lapse.  Then one of the editors, Wayne Goodchild, did his absolute best to find this book a new home.  But it was a rather unique concept, one which bound all the authors together under the same umbrella, but also meant that a new publisher had to buy into the concept of a whole new realm of superheroes and villains being created.  Yep, this alternate universe has an entirely new set of good guys and bad guys, and a very intriguing concept behind it.  A cataclysmic event causes most of the superheroes on the planet to get evaporated, allowing the villains to take over…but a new group of superheroes have revealed themselves, ready to provide the resistance the world needs to save itself.

Fortunately, Matt Nord, who had a personal investment in this project, wanted this book to be released as badly as Wayne did, and thus, like a Phoenix, it has risen from the ashes.  Now all we can ask is that you check it out…on createspace, and when it becomes available on Amazon and elsewhere.

The editors crafted a back story that was tremendous and should be included within the book.  Dozens and dozens of evil villains and superheroes, ready for their stories to be told.  My tale provides the origin of a angst ridden teen known as “Slow Goth” and his superhero mentor, “St. North”.  Naturally, the story is called “Slow Goth and St. North”.  I was pretty thrilled when my tale was accepted into the book, and fought along  with Wayne and Matt to see this project to completion.  The original vision was to not only see this project to its conclusion, but to hold out hope that it would be successful enough that we could craft more tales in future volumes…giving this world a real complexity, with as many of the bad guys and good guys used and involved in an ongoing saga.  It remains to be seen whether or not that will happen, but for now, I hope you have the chance to check out No More Heroes!  Just click on the cover to get sent over to Createspace.

On November 20th, 2009, a catastrophic event dubbed The Cataclysm wiped the world’s greatest heroes and villains off the face of the planet and created a death toll stretching into the millions.

Though most of the world survived, it is now in the grip of the super villains who avoided The Cataclysm. It may not have been quite the victory they expected, but it is the outcome they wanted: all the heroes are dead and the world is theirs…

Or so they believe…

Review of “Loose Ends” by Jay Wilburn

Loose Ends by Jay Wilburn is a bit different style zombie apocalypse tale for several reasons, the main being the characters that inhabit this particular world.  We are introduced to our main character, Mutt, a fifteen year old boy who also happens to be mute.  He is hiding from a zombie pounding on the door of the panic room he has been in for a couple of days when the story starts.  The compound he’s lived in for most of the time since the dead rose up (about a decade) appears to be several buildings that have been connected and has been the dwelling place for a decent sized group of people.  Over the years, it has suffered attacks from zombies and humans alike, but the tenants have always persevered.  Not this time.  The only survivors are Mutt and the three men he works with in the kitchens: Chef, Short Order, and Doc.  Naturally, just like with Mutt, these are nicknames, but the reader isn’t provided real names of the characters until we are well into the story.  After cooking a few last meals and competing with one another to see who can outdo the others in taste and extravagance, they decide that it is time to hit the road, and find a new home.

The wide world is a dangerous, depraved place, with not only the biker types that assaulted them (along with the undead) this last time out there, but numerous other tribes of survivors that range from the deadly to the demented.  Mainly what our team of travelers finds at first is the undead.  They set out with their modified truck filled with supplies with the hopes of discovering a new and safe home-but they go in the direction that some of the men know and remember, and might not be their safest bet.  We get to know the characters better on their journey of attempting to one up one another in their cooking of meals they scrounge out in the wild.  Details are revealed about each of them, including their real names and their past.  Mutt too reveals more about himself and the brief childhood he had before it was torn apart by the undead.  Some of what is revealed seems almost better off remaining buried, with tragedies from the past that are hard to deal with, even after ten years of living with the undead.

Loose Ends definitely takes a different approach to introducing and revealing its characters.  These men are tightly bonded to one another, and the fact that Mutt is unable to speak allows their stories to be told with little interference from him, though it all through his eyes, including some very disturbing things.  While these three men are friends who protect and take care of Mutt (Doc especially, who Mutt is apprenticed to) they also have conflicts that stem from the fact that they are out of the safe and neutral environment of the compound and back out on the road traveling through the places where they are given the chance to revisit their pasts.

This book is not just a character study, it is a zombie apocalypse actioner, with plenty of scenes filled with harrowing attacks and attempted assaults of the small crew of survivors.  I am a fan of fully developed characters and human conflict that arises in apocalyptic tales-revealing the truth that is forced to come to the surface because of the harsh realities that surround the people trying to survive-and this tale definitely delivers that.  But I also love action and the horror that comes from the unrelenting nature of the undead, and Loose Ends delivers in that respect as well.

As far as the negatives with this story, as there are with every tale, it was my reaction to the beginning and something that happens not too far in that I had issue with.  I have a pet peeve about perspectives, and committing to the perspective chosen.  The author tells this story in first person, through Mutt’s eyes, and true to that, we never see anything from someone else.  But the author decides to bend the rules a bit and allows Mutt to imagine, in great detail, what is going on somewhere else.  Imagining what is going on isn’t a big deal, unless it reads like a very detailed and factual part of the story.  It felt forced here, but thankfully it is only a brief part of the story.  It does, however, happen very early on, which made me a bit fearful that it would crop up on a regular basis.  Thankfully this is not the case, and after another very minor dip into doing this again, the author leaves this behind and lets Mutts true perspective lead the way.

Overall, the storytelling here is solid.  Mutt lacks a voice but his ability to see what is going on around him and relate it to the reader adds a distinct flavor to the tale.  He both fears and relies on the men he is traveling with, in particular Doc, who he shares several harrowing adventures with and yet distrusts in many ways.  Mutt is not passive-he is an active participant in choosing his own destiny, which makes the story all the more satisfying.

Loose Ends tells the story of three men and a boy who all have issues from their past and have different levels of desire to confront these issues under the guise of searching for a new place to call home.  Some want to lay them to rest while others appear to be more interest in ripping open old wounds and remembering the darkness.  It is an interesting journey that I’m glad I tagged along for.

Loose Ends can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Loose-Ends-Zombie-Novel-ebook/dp/B008ISXOYU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1348935151&sr=8-3&keywords=jay+wilburn

A new cover for Comes The Dark coming soon

Hello folks.  I figure it has been a while since I shared any information with you on the re-release of Comes The Dark as well the other two books in the trilogy by Permuted Press.  After all, they won’t be available until 2013, right?  So there is some time before that happens.  But of course, things are always happening behind the scenes.  Comes The Dark has already been re-edited for the new version and is in the publisher’s hands.  More to come on a release date-for paperback, ebook, and hopefully even an audible version (which will make some people I know very happy).

Well, I wanted to share a bit of recent news with you which made me as giddy as a school girl.  Well, maybe not THAT giddy, but I thought it was pretty cool.  I was just show the new artists rendition of the cover for the book and it was, in a word, AWESOME!  Nope, I can’t share any significant details with you at this time, mainly because it is still a work in progress, but suffice it to say that it will look completely different than the original cover…as will the covers for Into The Dark and Beyond The Dark.  Now let me state very clearly that I absolutely love what Philip R. Rogers did with the original covers.  He took my vision for the first cover and transformed it into something wonderful, and then did the same with the second and third books as well.  He is an incredible artist and I love not only my covers, but just about everything else he has ever done for the anthologies I’ve been in and the other writers he’s worked with.  His stuff has a distinctive air to it that is instantly recognizable to me.  He tells a tremendous story with his images that draw the eye.

The new covers have gone in a completely different direction.  I’ll just say that there will likely not be a zombie in sight on any of the three, but for anyone who has read my books, they’ll see some things from the stories that they’ll recognize right away with what is on display.

Just as a refresher, the new books will have a significant volume of new material-they’ve jumped from being three books at each roughly 60,000 words to each being anywhere from 80,000 to over 100,000 words each.  Since much of that is the Dark Stories that I have posted on my website, but with even more additions, I will likely be pulling those stories down prior to the release of the books next year.  I figure, if you haven’t read the rough versions of them already, you can check them out all polished up and shiny for the new books.

In other news, I continue to work on the fourth book in this saga, which, as I have stated before, isn’t the fourth book in the trilogy (and I know saying a phrase like that sounds like a bad joke) but the start of a new two-book saga.  A duology, if you will.  The trilogy will stand on its own and these two new books will as well, though they will be tied together by characters and a shared world.  The book has been outlined for a long time, but what I truly love about writing is how the story changes and morphs as I write it, so even I don’t know what to expect from page to page.  It is a heck of a journey, and I look forward to sharing with you on down the line.  I apologize that I don’t share more of what I write on a daily or weekly basis, but I’m a bit shy with that.  I do have a plan though, to start sharing some of my zombie short stories, or some tidbits of them, that have either been previously released, or yet to be, just to keep you folks entertained a bit when you come to my blog.  I know my reviews are just fascinating (har har!) but I hope some of my own work might be of interest as well.

Until next time…which I hope will be in the next few days…see ya!

Review of Keith Adam Luethke’s “Ravenous: Through The Eyes of Bigfoot”

Ravenous: Through the Eyes of Bigfoot is a short story that gives us a brief insight into what the life of a Bigfoot creature may be like.  Terrill goes by that name only because it is the sound his mother made before abandoning him.  He is a lone hunter, wandering the wilderness facing off again bears and smaller prey, but has crossed paths with men before.  He does not fear them-he does not fear anything.  They appear to be weak and like him, are not animals.  Terrill has created his own goes in lieu of having any guidance from any other Bigfoots, and sacrifices to them.

The story covers his experience with mankind, learning that while they are weaker in many ways, being much smaller and soft, but have weapons and don’t act like the animals, who flee and never return when one of them gets attacked.  Humans are willing to hunt him and try to destroy him before he wipes them all out.

Again, this is a short story, but it still provides the reader with a good understanding of both the violent and somewhat sad existence of this solitary hunter.  The best story I’ve read from Keith so far, and this certainly has the potential to be expanding into a larger tale.

Raveous: Through The Eyes of Bigfoot can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Ravenous-Through-Keith-Adam-Luethke/dp/1475221681/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342284182&sr=1-1&keywords=ravenous%3A+through