Hunter of the Dead does its best to shed new light into vampire mythology with a story spanning the ages from the early days of vampires and the inquisitors who wage a constant war with them to today, when a strange monster, shrouded in mystery, has come forth, slaying both vampires and inquisitors alike.
The story passes through multiple time periods, flashing back into the history of characters both significant and petty, while the main story focuses on events occuring in present day Las Vegas. Cicatrice, the strongest immortal in the world and leader of the most powerful house of vampires, is locked in a war with all other rival houses, including house Signari, led by Father Otto, Cicatrice’s greatest rival. Cicatrice has just found his true heir, Idi Han, a freshly turned but incredibly powerful young vampire who shows remarkable skills and control over her powers. We are also introduced to Nico Salazar, night manager of a convenience store who is thrust into the world of night dwellers when his store gets attacked by a strange, vampire-like creature and only by luck and the assistance of an employee does he manage to survive. It turns out that his ragged compatriot is Carter Price, an inquisitor who looks like he’s been run through mill a few too many times to be classified as much of a vampire slayer.
There is a lot going on in this story, with the authors own unique take on the world of vampires and immortality being shared on its pages. Kozeniewski does bring some fresh takes to the genre, with his own brand of dark humor steeped in heavy doses of gore drenched horror. The main characters are solidly developed-in particular Idi Han-the young vampire whose powers are growing at a far more rapid rate than normal, along with her resentment toward being seen as some sort of savior of her kind. Also intriguing is Carter Price, the washed out, rough and tumble inquisitor that likes to go it alone in a profession that typically requires massive teamwork to survive given how much power immortals wield.
This story is jam packed with characters and flashbacks that lend a healthy appreciation for the history of the immortal bloodlines and the wars they’ve waged with one another and humankind. The advantage with that is that the story moves at a very fast clip-there is very little downtime in its pages. Unfortunately, this also means that some of the flesh on its bones I would have liked to have seen within the pages is hard to find. This is a tale that could have been further developed with a much larger work, or perhaps sliced into multiple novels about the diverse characters populating its pages. The Hunter, a malignant and yet fascinating monster, could have garnered for more pages and storyline here, but so to could have Idi Han, Cicatrice, and Carter Price. It is clear that there is more to tell with each of them and given that the author has left the door open for a sequel (or a series of books), perhaps we will see a great deal more of each of them in later works.
Overall, the writing here, as is typically the case with Kozeniewski, is rock solid. He knows how to weave a creative, darkly funny, and diabolical tale. Perhaps it isn’t much of a criticism that his story could have been more fleshed out-after all, leaving the audience wanting more isn’t the worst sin in the world.
Hunter of the Dead can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Hunter-Dead-Stephen-Kozeniewski/dp/1944044310/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491760206&sr=8-1&keywords=hunter+of+the+dead
I shared not too long ago that a short story of mine had been sitting in limbo for years. Originally intended for an anthology that was never published, it went through several gyrations with other potential homes and publishers. Long story short, my self-help guide for the Apocalyptically-challenged has arrived and appears in the “Zombies Galore” anthology, just released this week by Knightwatch Press. It appears with several other tales of zombie goodness that are definitely worth checking out for those who craving for the undead is only equaled by the undead’s craving for living flesh. Well, and even those who aren’t quite that hungry. My contribution is a guide book rather than a short story, though it will regale the reader with exciting bits and pieces of stories of survivors who learned how to cope with both the flesheaters and warmbloods who tend to make themselves pests during the end days. So go on an check it out. I have posted two cover images below, because there are separate links for the kindle and paperback versions of this book. Just click on one or the other and it will shoot you over to Amazon where you can acquire this wondrous tome of zombie gory-goodness and guidance through the treacherous parts of the undead apocalypse. And here is a list of the contributors so you can see what you are in for:
- “Monday Matinee Madness” by H.G. Bleackley
- “Cinnamon Road” by A.A. Garrison
- “Son of Anubis” by Christian A. Larsen
- “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Zombie Slayers” by Patrick D’Orazio
- “Pascal’s Wager” by David Johnson
- “Birthday Boy” by T. Fox Dunham
- “The Palace of Dead Rock Stars” by Theresa Derwin
- “Road Whore” by Timothy Frasier
- “Fire Team” by Al Halsey
- “The Dripping Nose That Wouldn’t Wipe” by James S. Dorr
- “The Last Line of Defence” by J.S. Lawhead
- “So They Ain’t Yankees” by Melanie Browne
- “Life Sentience” by Kaye Inglis
- “The Chicken in Black” by Nathan Robinson
- “Zombie: Death Day” by Johnny Andrews
- “Hungry” by Nicci Murphy
So give it a try. I think you’ll come back for seconds.
Several years ago a good friend of mine over at the now defunct Library of the Living Dead Press was looking to create survival guide that would be chock full of semi-serious and totally comedic advice on surviving the zombie apocalypse. I decided that it would be my responsibility to create a guide that would be the end all of self-help zombie slaying manuals. So in plagaristic fashion, I decided to swipe from one of the best known self-help guides available to create my very own “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Zombie Slayers” replete with cited examples of said successful zombie slayers personal tales of victory over the undead. This wasn’t so much a short story as a down and dirty guide to not only zombie slaughter, but how to live high on the hog during the apocalypse.
Unfortunately, the tome that this wondrous guide was supposed to be a part of never was published and as such my guide book sat dormant for several years. Then some other good friends of mine who had published “Zombies Gone Wild” (which one of my shorts of a more comical sort appeared in entitled “What’s Eating You?” about zombies with eating disorders) wanted to create a follow up to that delightful little anthology. Unfortunately, that particular antho was shelved as well, leading me to believe that fate, or some giant zombie loving super being was doing their super mightiest to prevent my guide from ever seeing the light of day.
But fear not! “Zombies Gone Wild, Part 2” has been transformed into “Zombies Galore” and is being published by Nightwatch Press. In fact, it is getting a big unveiling on August 30th. Now I can’t attend this unveiling, but rest assured that I will be sharing more information on where you can find this delightful book that will be filled with my helpful guide as well as many other exciting tales of zombie gore and glamour. So stay tuned. But for now, check out this announcement to whet your appetite: http://exlibrislarsen.com/2014/08/20/zombies-galore-anthology-launch-set-for-august-30-in-walsall/
Romance For Men: Pandora’s Box introduces the reader to the author and main character, Jack Icefloe Jackson, who is, without a doubt, one of the most vile, depraved, wretched human beings ever to exist on this planet. He is also irremediably raunchy, sleazy, and worse than the worse excrement to ever walk upright. With that said, this story of his exploits is satire at its most debase and hilarious. Not meant for the squeamish or anyone with taste, this book explores Jack’s adventures as a newly assigned agent for the United States Government responsible for saving the world. You see, Jack has a unique set of skills that no man has ever had in the history of the universe. Jack is short, fat, bald, and gross. He also has a penchant for throwing dynamite at anyone who annoys him. All this plus the fact that he treats every woman as nothing better than a resting place for one of his, uh, appendages, makes him scum. But his seemingly unnatural talents makes him the one person who can unlock the code to Pandora’s Box, which threatens to destroy the world if left unsatisfied.
Yep, I managed to avoid actually saying anything too offensive in the above paragraph that is even remotely on par with the graphic nature of this book. So let me be clear. This book is sick, disgusting, and with the right frame of mind, hilarious. Jack is a parody of a parody of the concept of men as pigs. This is satire mixed with sarcasm mushed together with huge dollops of parody. Read it with this in mind and you may survive the reading, though chances are you won’t make it out unscarred. You might go blind too, or at the very least suffer from a rash that even the strongest penicillin won’t be able to get rid of.
This is a quick read, laugh out loud funny, although you will probably be far too embarrassed to do so anywhere near anyone of the female persuasion. Letting a woman you love or even remotely care about know you are reading this book might get you banished from nooky-land for the rest of eternity. So my friends, tread carefully when you read this tome of wondrous knowledge. Oh, and make sure you wash your hands after you do so, because you are gonna feel dirty after touching this book…even if you get it on the kindle. You may have to sterilize the device to get it to work again properly.
Romance For Men: Pandora’s Box can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Romance-For-Men-Pandoras-Volume/dp/0990381315/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1407946592&sr=8-1
Bob The Zombie is a short story that reads more like the first chapter of a much larger tale, and given the fact that the author has already produced a sequel, it is clear that this is destined to become something of a serialized saga of this Griswoldian zombie.
Bob is a hapless zombie who was killed in a tragically comedic way and was brought back to life at the request of his mother, who didn’t realize he would come back as a rotting version of himself that needs to staple various body parts back on when they fall off, which they do with great frequency. Bob has made new friends-others like himself who lives on the edges of society. Zombies aren’t like the slobbering Romero monsters here. They do need meat to continue their undead existence, but they tend to refrain from chowing down on humans.
There is a flavor of urban fantasy to this tale. Zombies aren’t the only supernatural characters. Though mostly just hinted at, there are plenty of other beasties out there, including vamps, mermaids, and ghouls. What is the difference between ghouls and zombies you ask? Well, zombies have free will, whereas ghouls are controlled by the witch who brought them back to life. And if they don’t rein them in every now and then, they tend to go all Night of the Living Dead on humans. That particular nugget plays a part in this brief tale, but again, this short reads more like the introduction to a longer story, including hints of what is to come.
So the main thing to keep in mind if you choose to take the plunge and give Bob The Zombie a try is that there is much more to the story, and unless I missed my guess, we will be getting it in single short story installments for some time to come. Bob is a likable character and it’s clear there is more to learn about him as well as the rest of his not-so-menacing horde of buddies.
Bob The Zombie can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D0VPURO/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_img_sol_0
Phineas Cavanaugh is a hack Necromancer living near Seattle who scrapes by tracking down lost souls or by occasionally helping the police out with a murder investigation. He left his guild pretty much in shame a few years back and has had a hard knock life ever since. Things start to get interesting when he is hired to seek out the lost soul of an elderly woman’s dead husband and a demon tries to devour him in a park while on the job. At the same time the police call upon his services to track down a vicious shape shifter who seems to know Phineas and might just be hunting him as well.
Things get worse from there as Phineas’s old mentor is attacked and brutally murdered at his guild and he is called upon to return to his old stomping grounds to figure out what has happened by attempting to speak to his departed friend’s soul. That is when all hell breaks loose, literally. Phineas is thrust into a mystery where old enemies and friends are drawn into the fray with him smack dab in the middle. He has to figure out what is going on and what part he is supposed to play before demons and the dead alike tear their way into our plane of existence and destroy everything that Phineas cares about.
At The Behest Of The Dead is told in first person and one can’t help but be reminded of noir detective potboilers with its urban sensibilities and snarky attitude. Phineas is a self-effacing schlub with a good heart even if he does work with the dead and rubs elbows with demons and other questionable sorts. It has a bit of Simon Green’s Nightside going for it, as well as Glenn Cook’s Garrett Files. Urban fantasy with as much irreverence as mystery, with a bit of romance tossed in for good measure. And Phineas, like other hard luck P.I-types, seems to attract the attention of the ladies despite perhaps looking and acting like he has been ridden hard and put away wet most of the time. Even though he has rough edges (or maybe because he does), Phineas is a likable sort, making his tale easy to read and entertaining.
Tim Long stretches himself beyond the zombie apocalyptic genre he normally haunts with this one, although he gives a winking nod to his roots with a few zombies showing up, though they are not anywhere near being a critical part of the telling of this tale. He has crafted an interesting world with the magical elements fantasy fans will appreciate while putting his own slant on things, making this world his and his alone. The characters are interesting and diverse enough to make them stand out and I can imagine some pretty intriguing adventures in their future. A fun read that has excellent potential as the start of an enjoyable series of books.
At The Behest Of The Dead can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EZCXA9M/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Dead Drunk provides the reader with a different take on surviving the zombie apocalypse. Often times the moral of the story when it comes to apocalyptic fiction is that the screw ups tend to get their comeuppance. Someone might have some dumb luck and avoid getting slaughtered right away, but for the most part, if you are a coward, an imbecile, or a callous, crass, self-absorbed fool you either wise up right away, transform into some sort of crony to the chief bad guy, or die in a very gruesome and often satisfying way, presuming that the author has made you despise said person throughout the tale.
In Dead Drunk we are introduced to Charlie and his band of misfit friends. Most of them are thirty-something slackers who are horny, drunk, drug addled party boys focused on little more than where they can get their next buzz. Some of us remember guys like these from college-or at least our first year of college, before many of them flunked out. Of course, Charlie does have some friends who are responsible adults who like to have fun every now and then, and that is where our story begins. One of Charlie’s more responsible buddies is getting married and that is an excuse for a rager of a bachelor party. Things get wild, of course, but it isn’t until the next day, when everyone is nursing their hangovers that the real party begins.
An infection has spread through Chicago, where the story takes place, and suddenly people are chomping on one another, spreading whatever infection has caused them to crave human flesh and go completely nutso. Charlie and his friends hunker down in his rundown apartment, trying to figure out how to survive with minimal food but a whole lot of booze.
This story is a mix of traditional zombie survival and crazy party-boy lunacy, with a rogues gallery of characters that most of us would find hard to like, except perhaps if you are in that period of life where getting drunk, trying to get some action, and being permanently buzzed supersedes all else. Certainly, the author does a commendable job of showing hints of maturity among the group and slivers of humanity amongst them. Charlie shows signs of becoming a better man and Big Rob, one of his best friends, for all his oafishness, is probably the best person of the lot. It helped prevent me from rooting for the demise of all of them from the beginning.
Of course, this is an amusing book, not meant to be taken too seriously. I didn’t go in expecting there to be an emotional attachment to any of the characters, though a few were formed and there were a few touching moments buried in a sea of booze, bongs, and boners that reside within its pages. The writing is solid and the humor rude. So if you are someone who easily offended or doesn’t appreciate the humor of movies like The Hangover, this probably isn’t for you. But if you enjoy low-brow comedy mixed in with your zombie gore on occasion, give this one a shot.
Dead Drunk can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C6AGNM6/ref=cm_cr_thx_view