At Hell’s Gates is the initial horror volume in a series anthologies produced with the proceeds going to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The overall theme of this series is general horror, but this volume leans heavily on zombie apocalypse related tales from authors with books already out on that subject matter. The stories told here are tied in with their other works, giving a short story that sometimes lies at the periphery of the world they have created or serves as an new slant on characters a reader of those works is already familiar with.
Overall, the work here is solid and the writing entertaining. This book serves more as a sampler platter of various author’s works rather than standalone tales except in a few cases, although little is lost in translation if you hadn’t read any of the books from the author’s bibliography. For example, I have read Stephen Kozeniewski’s work, The Ghoul Archipelago and his short here is based on the world we see in that novel, but I have not read anything from Stevie Kopas, but her tale of murder and insanity stands on its own quite well, though it is a part of a bigger world the author has created in her novels. The only criticism I have of the layout of this work, at least in the e-version, is that the introduction of the authors comes after the stories, when the ‘teaser’ description of the story and how it relates to their greater works should have come prior to each tale. A minor quibble, but one worth mentioning.
Anthologies are always a mixed bag, and some stories grab you more than others. That is inevitable with such a wide assortment of writing styles, authors, and story types, and such was the case here. I didn’t dislike any of the stories, but a few stood out and will remain with me for quite some time. The aforementioned author’s tales fall into that group, as well as stories by Paul Mannering, Tim Marquiz, Frank Tayell, and Jacqueline Druga. Their stories made the leap from the page into my imagine more so than any of the others. Of course, anyone who enjoys a good zompoc tale will likely find a good primer for a larger series of books by various authors to check out-with traditional slow moving zombies as well as infected and fast moving, talking zombies being found within these pages. And while some of these stories weren’t as compelling as standalones, they did intrigue me enough to perhaps take a closer look at the bigger stories being told.
With future volumes having specific themes, it is more than likely that the stories will be standalone tales of horror rather than shorts tied into a larger saga as was the case here. This is a solid start to a promising anthology series with the proceeds going to a very worthy cause.
At Hell’s Gates can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/At-Hells-Gates-Volume-One/dp/150254539X/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Well it is Friday the 13th and while many folks consider that bad luck, I think it is a great day…and the start of a great weekend. Especially for fans of great apocalyptic fiction. Permuted Press, my publisher, has decided that this would be a great weekend to promote the heck out of virtually every one of the books they offer on Kindle by having a sale that runs through Sunday. So go on over to Amazon to check things out. Just click on the picture below and you’ll be sent to the list of books for sale, including all three books in my trilogy: Comes The Dark, Into The Dark, and Beyond The Dark. Plenty of other fantastic books can be found on sale, including plenty of ones that I’ve reviewed here. So here is your chance to pick them up for either 99 cents or $2.99 when they’re regularly around $7.99. So check it out, and as they say over at Permuted, Enjoy the Apocalypse!
The Girl From the Blood Coven gives the reader a short story introduction to Brian Moreland’s novella, The Witching House. Back in 1972, a slaughter occurred at the old Blevins House in Texas. A blood drenched girl stumbles into a bar in the nearby small town and the sheriff must go investigate when she tells him “they’re all dead”. What he finds is both shocking and does a very effective job in setting the stage for the novella that follows. We are given hints at what supernatural darkness is at work within the old stone house and its gore splattered walls. They are tantalizing, disturbing hints, but left me intrigued and hungry to find out more.
The Witching House takes us 40 years into the future and we are introduced to Sarah Donovan, a timid girl who recently started dating Dean Stratton, an adventurer who loves exploring old buildings with his friends. Taking a chance, Sarah agrees to go on a trip with Dean to check out an old haunted house in rural Texas where 25 hippies were murdered 40 years earlier. Their heads were severed in many cases, and others hung themselves, but in some other instances, the bodies of the victims were never found.
The quartet enter the house with the assistance of a local guide and find that the old stone house isn’t just a creepy old place, but seems to be an almost living, breathing entity that seems bent on their destruction. Whether it is the house itself or some dark unknown menace it is clear something hungers for their flesh and blood.
I’ve read Brian Moreland’s two previous novels and was impressed by his ability to spin a horror tale. There is a certain level of dread that builds in his works that is based both on his talent as a researcher who provides his readers with a very detailed and vivid world and a knack for creating suspense with solid pacing. This story is simpler than the historical horror tales he has crafted previously-a ghost story that still has a depth to it because of the believability of the characters and the underlying secrets that are causing the horror to take place.
If I have a criticism of this tale, it perhaps has to do with the character Otis, who I wanted to understand better, especially given his ominous yet sad existence. There was more to him-I could feel it, and wish I could have gotten to know him better. This is a minor quibble though, as this tale is another solid effort from the author that did not disappoint.
The Girl From The Blood Coven can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Girl-Blood-Coven-ebook/dp/B00CI3WCEO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374729375&sr=8-1&keywords=the+girl+from+the+blood+coven
The Witching House can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Witching-House-ebook/dp/B00CJ96E78/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374728045&sr=8-1&keywords=the+witching+house
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
Tales of the Undead-Hell Whore is the first in a series of anthologies, with this one specifically having as its theme devilish women. The overall title “Tales of the Undead” is perhaps a bit inaccurate, since many of these stories have nothing to do with the undead, but the subtitle is certainly more of a description of what is included within its pages. In some stories, this association is obvious, while in others that association to evil women is a lot more subtle.
It is often difficult to provide a review of an anthology because almost without fail, they are a mixed bag. A consistent theme often allows for a more comprehensive overview-each author provides a story to the mix that sticks to a sometimes loose, but understood guideline. TotU-HW does have a theme, but it runs the gambit with stories of vampires, ghosts, demons, witches, Satan, human-animal hybrids, werewolves, ancient gods, sexually voracious women, and even more of a mix of swirling horrors. And that isn’t even mentioning the poems, which are as diverse a lot as the short stories.
There were some gems in this book from my perspective, including “Entre of the Damned” and “Girls are Icky”, both appreciated for entirely different reasons, and of course some stories that did not click, which I will admit is more due to personal preference rather than the quality of the work, at least in most cases. The writing styles here are quite diverse, with everything from the delicately subtle to in your face. I enjoyed “Who F&*ked Up Kelly Yesterday?” because I have a taste for bizarro horror, while I know that there will be plenty of folks who would be repulsed by this story’s audacity. There were a few stories that I felt that the writing was a bit rough, with both the story itself and the way the author telling it making it feel forced and hard to get through, but there those were only a select few out of this bunch. There were some sagas that felt incomplete to me-either telling instead of showing and letting the tale reveal itself, or in one case where the writing style seemed a bit forced and awkward- like the author was providing a summary rather than providing the reader with the story itself.
Anthologies are journeys where the road is both smooth and bumpy at different times. Rarely do you find a short story compendium where every story hits the mark. But finding a short story or poem you really enjoy and that will stick with you makes the journey through the good, the great, and the bad worthwhile. Tales of the Undead-Hell Whore is such an anthology.
Tales of the Undead: Hello Whore can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BLR40A2/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Yep, I did it again. I’ve returned to the bizarro world with my offering to the folks over at Rooster Republic Press…which is their new name. It’s their new name, because they had a different name when I was in Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 2, not so very long ago. But I’m happy they accepted my humble little tale about family dysfunction “Hell in the Family” that appears in Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 3, regardless of their name. It should be available for mass consumption on February 26th, right around the time Comes The Dark reveals itself in paperback and in audio book format. So it is a great double whammy for me.
I’m looking forward to being apart of another wild and raunchy compendium of screwed up stories about screwed up things. While I can’t speak to what the other authors have contributed and what strange topics they have dived into, my story is my own take on the ever popular nerdy vampire sub genre. Well, just because you haven’t heard of this sub genre doesn’t mean it isn’t popular. Well, it might still be a bit of an underground revolution in the making, but I swear it’s gonna be huge someday!
So I’ll be sure to add links once the book is available for purchase, but for now, feast your eyes on the very shiny, purty cover of this latest edition of Tall Tales with Short Cocks.
Sunfall Manor tells the tale of Edgar, a ghost who has no memory of who he once was, living in a farmhouse divided into five apartments. This novella explores the inhabitants of those five apartments with Edgar, who is mostly repulsed by all of them, with each of them lost, sad, or sick in their own ways. We spend the night with him-a night where he has decided to intervene, to manipulate things when before he remained separated from the living, content to watch their lives fall apart night after night. Tonight will also take him on a journey of discovery about them and who he once was, and also how Sunfall Manor played a part in the life he once led.
Sunfall Manor reads like a slowly unraveling mystery, though most of the answers Edgar receives are in a sudden, dramatic burst near the end of the tale. Still, there are details to be discovered about him and about those around him before that-how perceptions can change shift in an instant as more is revealed. This is a well-crafted ghost story that is filled with sadness and regret that left me with a bittersweet aftertaste after the last page-echoes of what the story reveals on its pages.
With the author promising more tales of Sunfall in the future, I look forward to finding out more about this little town in the middle of nowhere and all its deep dark secrets.
Sunfall Manor can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1938644050/ref=cm_cr_thx_view