Review of Stephen Kozeniewski’s “Skinwrapper”
I haven’t read Stephen Kozeniewski’s The Hematophages, but this novella serves as a prequel. Based on what I have read, Kozeniekski has created yet another darkly creative universe where the horror is fresh, fantastical, and yet quite real and very disconcerting.
The main character is a teenage girl living on board a space freighter called the Blue Whale. She lives with her two mothers, and corresponds with a friend who is on another ship far off in another shipping lane in the galaxy. She is at an age where she is not yet ready to move into a career role on the ship, which is the only home she has ever known. While it is clear the corporation that owns the ship controls all aspects of its inhabitant’s lives, she seems pretty happy with her existence.
That’s when the ship gets attacked. In the space of a few words on the page, our main character’s life is irrevocably changed and we understand the grave danger she is in as she races through the ship and the scattered zero g carcasses of her crew mates, victims of the Skinwrappers, pirates whose methods and motives are ghastly. Relying on a voice inside her head to force her to remain calm while doing her best to hide from the interlopers, she struggles to survive this abrupt and grisly nightmare in deep space.
I’ve read several works from Kozeniewski and despite the fantastical nature of the environments he creates, there is a realness to them, a sense of place and time that puts you in the story. This tale is no different. While this is a novella, I would say it has the jarring feel of a short story that moves at a breakneck speed. You don’t know every detail of the world the characters inhabit and you don’t need to know them all to get a sense of their reality. The telling of the tale is precise, with little to no fat left on the bone. You’re moving forward, racing to a conclusion that is nearly impossible to guess at, and holding on to the ride the entire time.
While this tale takes place in deep space, it is as real and down to earth as a horror tale can get. Nothing but good old fashion humans doing ill to other humans, in so very many creative and unspeakable ways. Definitely worth a read, and an excellent appetizer to what I suspect is a pretty darkly detailed horror novel in The Hematophages.
Skinwrapper can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Skinwrapper-Stephen-Kozeniewski-ebook/dp/B07TNPP4NZ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1S5ZWZ6IU6UWJ&keywords=skinwrapper&qid=1572196944&sprefix=skinwrapper%2Caps%2C168&sr=8-1
Review of Patrick James Ryan’s “The Maggots Underneath The Porch”
The Maggots Underneath the Porch is another gory, graphic tale from the mind of Patrick James Ryan, who loves crafting stories where the splatter is spectacular, the horror is shocking, and the payoff is quick and merciless. After reading his full novel The Night It Got Out and his anthology Blood Verse, I wasn’t surprised when this one had the same violent, gruesome flavor to it.
The Maggots Underneath the Porch takes place in the mid-70s in a small Indiana town where Jimmy Turner, a young boy who lives with his housebound grandmother, is coping with growing up, a love of baseball, and the tragic loss of his parents. On top of this, his grandmother has gone from being obese to completely immobilized, stuck in a chair in the family room. It has become so bad that a hole has been cut in the floor so she can cast away her garbage and also take care of bodily functions. She is coated in filth and flies when Jimmy’s Uncle Pete visits and makes an effort to get her better care and to support Jimmy, but things are quickly getting worse. Grandma is rotting from both the inside and out. Even worse, something is growing inside her guts…something rotten that wants to break free.
It’s pretty simple. If you love grindhouse gore, this is a novella for you. It is a quick read that provides some decent character development for Jimmy and his Uncle Pete, but the focus is on the action and the terror they and everyone deals with when they come face to face with the horror inside Jimmy’s house. The pace is fast and in several instances we are introduced to a character moments before they meet their gruesome end. This is not for the faint of heart or those without an iron constitution.
The author does tend to shade into the ‘tell vs. show’ arena here and there with how he spins his tale, but nothing that is too distracting from the story itself. After reading prior works, Patrick James Ryan continues to sharpen his story weaving skills. He loves playing on the nostalgia elicited by the good old summer days of kids playing baseball and spending their time out in the sun rather than inside playing video games. While I was not in my early teens in the 70s, I can appreciate what the story represents-a simpler time where Jaws was on the big screen, collecting beer cans was a fun hobby, and getting a wiffle ballgame together in the front yard was a blast. There is a lot of innocence to the kids that are Jimmy’s friends. Innocence that gets shredded and devoured once the horror begins. This is good B-Movie, grindhouse horror for those who love their stories full of pulpy carnage.
The Maggots Underneath the Porch can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Maggots-Underneath-Porch-Patrick-James-ebook/dp/B074VG8BTX/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1519435992&sr=8-1
Review of Craig DiLouie and Jonathan Moon’s “Children of God”
Children of God by Craig DiLouie and Jonathan Moon is an unexpected surprise from these two horror writers. I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever read something quite like this, even though I’ve read quite a bit of poetry. This is a book that shares the tales of tragedy lived through by ten survivors, most of who can only do so through the poems they craft years after the events that destroyed the lives of everyone they knew and with whom they shared a slavish faith.
Going in, we know that the Family of God cult, led by David Prince, came to a horrific end via a mass suicide and bloody massacre on August 17, 2008, when well over three hundred members holed up in their mountain compound died with barely thirty surviving. Years later, as a form of therapy, a psychiatrist suggests the survivors write poetry as a way to express themselves. This book shares what theses ten survivors who chose to offer up their words had to say.
How the two authors craft an overarching vision of what led up to that day of tragedy, through it, and beyond is haunting, vivid, and gut-wrenching. This diverse group of poets includes children, a former prostitute, seminary student, an elderly woman abandoned by her biological family before joining the cult, a mentally impaired man, an organist, gangbanger, war veteran suffering from PTSD, and a young man who lost his immigrant parents in an accident years before joining the Children of God. Their poetry speaks of sacrifice, devotion, desires for a better world, regret, and a heavenly reward beyond this realm promised but never realized.
A story takes shape through their words and despite being a fairly short book, it paints a vivid picture of what takes place, especially on THE day where the cult comes to its brutal and horrible end. It’s easy to say that such slavish devotion to a charismatic leader is misplaced and to convince yourself that you could never fall for such lunacy, but all one has to do is to take a look at the world at large to see how desperate so many of us are, and how willing so many are to believe in false prophets and leaders who promise extreme and distorted visions of a better world. Which makes this book of poetry all the more poignant.
Children of God can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Children-God-Dreams-Nightmares-Family-ebook/dp/B01ENXYWU8?ie=UTF8&qid=&ref_=tmm_kin_swatch_0&sr=
Review of Brian Moreland’s “Darkness Rising”
Darkness Rising is the latest novella from author Brian Moreland, who has written a diverse slate of supernatural horror stories over the course of the past few years. I believe I have read most of his works and my reason for coming back is because his tales are vivid with a healthy dose of gore and grimness that splash across the pages in bright, primary colors.
Darkness Rising starts out as a somewhat traditional revenge tale, or so it seems to lead in that direction initially. Naturally, it takes its fair share of dark turns that lead the reader far astray from its original intent. It is clear that our main character, Marty Weaver, who is a janitor at a local college, is a sensitive soul who has been trodden upon one too many times and is ready to take out his anger on three sadists who catch him reading poetry next to a lonely, quiet part of a local lake while he pines for the woman he loves.
Of course, the author has something else up his sleeve and the story takes several wicked twists and turns. The sadists in the story are real pieces of work, reminding me briefly of the villains in the movie “You’re Next” thanks to their use of animal masks and their lust for pain and anguish that they heap on their victims.
Marty is a likeable character, someone who is easy to root for. While the author pulls no punches when it comes to what he must face (as well as memories of a tragic past that won’t let go), he is provided with the opportunity to release the darkness that resides inside him, as the description of this story alludes to. This leads us to an even darker tale, one where revenge is still wafting through the air, but in ways that even Marty cannot fathom.
All in all, this is an entertaining, quick read, though I had a desire to see certain elements expanded upon-including the ‘dark artist’ aspect of the horror that is revealed to Marty. His backstory is an interesting one, and Moreland has a deft touch when it comes to crafting creatures built out of nightmares. The love story aspect of the tale is perhaps a bit fluffy, for lack of a better term, though not too cloying or maudlin given what horrors the reader and Marty have to come to grips with throughout the rest of this tale. This is a fun, horrific story of revenge and regret by an up and coming author.
Darkness Rising can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Darkness-Rising-Brian-Moreland-ebook/dp/B00Y05TVUG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Review of “Oil To Ashes Part 2 and Part 3” by Lee Brait
Oil To Ashes continues with part two of this three novella story about Linc Freemore, a man living in a shattered society where the United States is at war with the Middle East. It doesn’t matter if it is a single country or a coalition, all the reader needs to know is that Linc has worked tirelessly for a company providing supplies to the soldiers overseas while things have deteriorated back home. Biker gangs are plentiful and the police are scarce. There are terror attacks and bombings, while oil has diminished and everyone is desperate. Part 1 took Linc out on a road outside the city where he attempts to save a woman who has been attacked by a biker gang. He manages to escape, only to discover that the gang now knows who he is and wants to get revenge on him and his family. Part 1 ended abruptly and Linc’s efforts to save his family are spotlighted here in Part 2, Oil To Ashes: Truce. With a backdrop of a potential truce between the West and the Middle East, Linc is forced to do battle with more biker gang members who want to tear his family apart.
For such a short tale, there are ample twists and turns in this story, with a much larger backstory being revealed bit by bit, including how the biker gangs are associated with corrupt corporate officials who are interested in war profiteering more than anything. Unfortunately for Linc, wherever he turns, he ends up getting buried deeper in the trouble he kicked off in part one. A biker with a brother who wants revenge turns into a larger family looking for a way to either use or kill Linc. Linc gets himself and those he loves into nearly impossible situations and manages to find a way out of them. While it isn’t revealed what his background is, it is once again clear that he has some military experience dealing with life and death situations.
Part 2 ends as abruptly as Part 1 did, but fortunately Part 3 was immediately available for free on the kindle.
Oil To Ashes: Truce can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Oil-Ashes-Truce-ebook/dp/B00M5LSUMM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431386149&sr=8-1&keywords=lee+brait
Oil To Ashes: Warehouse wraps up this trilogy of novellas about Linc Freemore, a man who, on the surface, appears to be a working class everyday Joe caught up in a very bad situation. It became pretty clear in Part 1 of the trilogy that he has to be ex-military with, as they say, ‘a very particular set of skills’. Up to this point, he has gotten in and out of more trouble than even James Bond, and the threat of danger to his family is far greater than it has been. The story has also come full circle, making much clearer who is behind the plot to destroy Linc and what forces are diametrically opposed to those who want him dead, though they have little interest in keeping Linc’s family safe, either. Instead, they choose to use him to advance their cause against the corrupt corporate leaders who continue to profit off the war with the Middle East that appears to be coming to an end.
Much of this novella takes place in and around the warehouse that Linc must gain access to so he can fulfill his part of a dangerous bargain he made with people holding his wife and son hostage. Yet again, he goes through perils that would kill most men, and yet does not reveal how he is capable of enduring such trials. A desperate urge to protect ones family can only take you so far if you have no training to deal with combat situations and torture. Still, this is an entertaining final chapter in this tale. While this story is complete, there is a promise of more from the author with hints on how a new story about Linc might unfold.
Oil To Ashes: Warehouse can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Oil-Ashes-Warehouse-Freemore-Apocalyptic-ebook/dp/B00UY66YOG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1431386149&sr=8-3&keywords=lee+brait
Review of Matheus Macedo’s “We With Daisies Lie”
We With Daisies Lie is a short story/novella about one man’s journey during the first few days and months of the zombie apocalypse. Told in first person, it sticks with tradition, bringing nothing new to the table as far as the undead are concerned. Whether you get bit or not, when you die you turn and the undead are slow moving. The main character meets up almost immediately after the dead start to turn with a group of three younger kids led by a bully. They search for places to survive and they overcome several incidents with the dead while dealing with turmoil within the group. The living continue to be a major threat later in the story as the character grows stronger and more equipped to handle himself with the undead. With new friends in tow, he tries to lead them to his grandparent’s farm and the fallout shelter they had made during the cold war, which is filled with enough supplies to last them several months.
The author makes a solid attempt at developing his small group of characters, though the length of this tale does limit most of them from being more than archetypes. The main character and Emily, the girl he grows attached to, are the most fleshed out. There were some good components to this tale, including the brief conversation the main character has with an ex-girlfriend on the phone after things go haywire. She is surrounded by the undead in her sky rise apartment in New York City with no way to escape. The blunt suggestion the main character makes was startling but at the same time made all the sense in the world. Emily’s work on a poem was a nice touch as well. There was also something that stretched believability related to an incident surrounding a stab wound to the gut. I won’t provide further details, but suffice it to say it was a stretch buying what happens. Otherwise, the story is a pretty straightforward analysis of how people cope with unbelievably horrible circumstances and what they must become to survive. There were some typos and missed words here and there-the story could have done with another editing run through, but overall, it is a quick read with definite entertainment value. The author shows solid promise here and I look forward to checking out his other works.
We With Daisies Lie can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/We-Daisies-Lie-Matheus-Macedo-ebook/dp/B00M4M32IY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408377720&sr=8-1&keywords=we+with+daisies+lie
Review of Patrick Rutigliano’s “Surviving The Crash”
Surviving the Crash is a series of three novellas set in an alternate universe where the stock market crash of 1929 adds the additional horrific feature of the world also crashing into darkness. Strange, alien creatures out of nightmare have come to earth and rule the night, devouring those who are foolish or unfortunate enough to be caught out after the sun goes down. Hiding in the bowels of the buildings that have survived the destruction of these monsters isn’t enough to keep them at bay-they hunt by night and set traps to lure the living into darkness by day.
George is a man ready to end it all. He’s barely hanging on, and about to jump off the ledge of a building he wanders into when he meets up with Francis. Tough and defying all feminine stereotypes, Francis is a woman who is called upon by the local mobsters, who now rule New York City, when they need a dirty job done. Francis calls George’s bluff on killing himself and gives him a place to crash while he sorts himself out. George, who is a World War I vet, knows how to handle himself but he’s never met anyone quite like Francis. And when she is called upon by the biggest crime boss in town to do another job, George decides to partner up with her. Their assigned task is to begin the process of killing the monsters that rule the city with a little help from some of the mobster’s goons. It’s an impossible job-a suicide mission-but is right up Francis’s alley. Especially since she has no reason to trust the man she’s working for and suspects he has reasons beyond the desire to protect the city and those who still live in it.
Surviving the Crash is essentially one novel broken into three distinct, chronological chapters. Francis is the tough as nails heroine-tougher than any of her male counterparts by far, which could have come off as contrived if it weren’t for the fact that the author does such a good job of making her a both believable and thoroughly likable badass character. She is human and shows occasional vulnerability that George can see, though no one else does. He is her confidant. To everyone else, including the creatures which hunt and terrorize the human race, she is something to be feared.
Each tale takes things up a notch, transforming this story from becoming a run of the mill apocalyptic tale with some unique monsters to fear to something far more exciting and suspenseful. There is a bigger picture, and Francis and George will find out what part they play in the last stand humanity may ever make. The author does a good job of developing his characters, allowing Francis and George to grow and change thanks in part to their relationship and their interactions with the people and creatures of the dark world in which they live. I believe the author could have crafted multiple tales that somewhat mirrored the first novella-a series of serialized adventure tales-giving us more of the same. That might have been fun. Instead, he chose to increase the tension and the profound significance of Francis’s journey, which culminates in a very dark and enjoyable ride straight into the depths of hell.
Surviving the Crash is both an entertaining adventure tale and a chilling horror saga. I loved the characters and feared for them. The world they live in is dark, dank place filled with plenty of reasons to give up hope and despair. But with a heroine like Francis on our side, it seems clear that there is always reason to hope.
Surviving The Crash can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Surviving-Crash-Patrick-Rutigliano-ebook/dp/B00KWPO5CC/ref=la_B006WSAVUS_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403213430&sr=1-13
Review of Nathan Robinson’s “Ketchup on Everything”
Ketchup on Everything is a bit of a surprise of a novella. I went into it not knowing anything about the story except for the brief blurb of a description, and came out of it with some mixed emotions. It begins innocently enough, with a man traveling the countryside in his RV stopping at a roadside diner to grab a cup of coffee. He seems to be talking to his wife in the vehicle before he steps inside, but it is a one-sided conversation that leaves the reader puzzled as to whether she is there or not. Elliott seems like an affable, pleasant man, though there is a sadness about him that is only hinted at during the introduction to this tale.
Through flashback, we discover that Elliott’s young son disappeared years before. He was playing in the family’s garden and all the sudden was gone. The author makes the process of facing first the horror and dread of this experience quite vivid and real-especially for someone who has children and cannot escape the fear that your child could go missing. From there it becomes a helpless, mind-numbing agony of frustration the more time passes without knowing what has happened. The idea of an innocent child that you love more than life itself vanishing without a trace is something hard, if not impossible, for most of us to fathom. Nathan Robinson allows the reader to ride along with both Elliott and his wife, who take too different roads in coping with the loss of their son, for the years of torture they suffer through.
By the time we return to the present, past the flashbacks, the sense of having lived in Elliott’s shoes makes what happens next all the more intriguing, though perhaps not as intense as the first part of the story where there is both pain and an undeniable hope that somehow, their lost boy will be found. This is not a criticism of how the story comes to completion, just a tribute to the writing that leads up to that part of the story, which adds an interesting twist on Elliott’s sad and tragic tale.
Ketchup on Everything can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Ketchup-Everything-Nathan-Robinson-ebook/dp/B00JANUJXQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1403144275
Review of Scott Carleton’s “Collapse: A Survival Thriller”
Collapse: A Survival Thriller is a novella that tells the story of Matt Avery, a regular guy working in a downtown office building who gets caught up in the middle of a blackout and the riots that follow. With the roads jammed and roaming bands of looters and others who are looking for a reason to get violent, Matt is forced to take to the road on foot to get back home. With him is his hotheaded co-worker who feels that the rules of society no longer apply. Matt is a prepper and is prepared with survival items in his office, in his car he must abandon at work, and is focused on getting home to wife and child, where he has more supplies to ride out the storm. This short tale tells of the perils he faces and the preparations he has made so that he and his family could survive when things go bad.
I was provided a copy of this novella by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. The story is easy to read and I was able to finish it within a couple hours. The premise behind the tale is more generic than anything. The city is anonymous, the cause for the blackouts is limited, outside of hints at a failing power grid, and the riots are caused initially by a woman being accidentally shot by the police when they were trying to maintain order in the city. My interest in apocalyptic fiction mostly leans toward those with a fictional bent. Zombies, alien invasions, and nuclear holocausts populate many if not most of the apocalyptic tales I read. This is a far more straight forward and generically plausible meltdown of society scenario. While the author made an effort to give Matt and his co-worker some depth, both characters are, unfortunately, as generic as the background on the story itself. Outside of his knowledge of Matt as prepper, there is very little detail about him that made me interested in what was happening with him. His co-worker, a thinly veiled sociopath from the get go, acts as an obvious foil to the character, with his urges to throw off the shackles of the rules of civilization barely restrained from almost the beginning of this tale. Unfortunately, the story felt far more like an educational pamphlet on prepping than it did a story about real people. There are hints within its pages of an author with some potential to create something with more gravitas and emotion than this piece and I hope to see something like that in the future.
Collapse would be most interesting to someone who is looking for a beginners guide on being prepared for disasters, both man-made and natural. For a fan of apocalyptic fiction though, the story is a bit forced and fits too easily into the format of a guidebook on prepping rather than a story of people desperate to survive the rapid breakdown of society.
Collapse: A Survival Thriller can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Collapse-Survival-Thriller-Scott-Carleton/dp/1624090206/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1389659728&sr=1-3
Review of Evan Ramspott’s “Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment”
Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment is a mouthful of a name for a novella written by Evan Ramspott. The story introduces us to Tom and Gary, brothers who have come to the town of Biter Hill, one of the few locations within the Plagued States where the zombie slave trade occurs, to search out records on their lost sister, Larissa, who was infected ten years earlier and who may have come through the town as a slave at one point. Thorough records are kept on the zombies who pass through and they have been ordered by their father, a powerful senator, to find her. They return to this same place, year in and year out, in an effort to fulfill their father’s wishes.
Tom feels guilt for what happened to Larissa, since she was in his care when she was bitten. But Tom was twelve at the time, and had no experience with dealing with zombies. He struggles with the idea that he shouldn’t be held responsible, but feels guilty nonetheless. It doesn’t help that his father and brother both blame him, in their own particular ways, for what happened.
Tom comes across a half-breed zombie in a slaver’s cage while in Biter’s Hill. She looks like a normal uninfected human. There are claims that half-breeds are creatures born of a human who is infected while pregnant, some other, unknown reason for their existence seems more likely. Though she is savage, there is a connection between the creature and Tom. She also seems rather interested in the picture of his sister when she sees it.
Tom is separated from his brother when the prison in Biter Hill maintaining most of the zombies who are being held for the slave trade has a breakout. Tom has to flee with several zombie hunters and slave traders at that point; including the one who has the half-breed who Tom has discovered is named Penelope. Together, they must enter into the wastelands in an effort to find their way to another place of safety. Tom suspects that Penelope knows something about his missing sister and uses his clout as a senator’s son to get the ragged band of survivors to head to a place where he believes Larissa have migrated to in the decade since she’d turned with the promise of rescue and wealth if they do. And he is going to need Penelope’s help to find her.
Plagued is definitely a different type of zombie apocalypse tale. It is focused on Tom’s personal journey and the relationship he forms with Penelope along the way. The craggy old slave trader Peske was probably my favorite character though, as someone who is gruff and seemingly uncaring about anyone else, he does what it takes to keep everyone alive and seems to have a soft spot for his half-breed who he insists isn’t for sale. Tom is well developed as a character and Penelope, as a confused creature of two worlds generates both intrigue and sympathy.
It’s clear that this will be the first of perhaps a series of zombie stories set in this world, and this is a positive start. The zombies themselves are fairly Romero-esque and traditional, but the introduction of half-breeds other factors like potential cures and being able to eliminate a zombie’s ability to spread infection once they are captured adds some unique elements to this saga. This is a quick read and the world the author created, long past the initial terrifying days of the zompcalypse, had an air of believability to it as the survivors adapt and cope with the fact that the undead are most likely a permanent fixture in their universe.
Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Plagued-Midamerica-Half-Breed-Experiment-America-ebook/dp/B00DTCT26O/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Review of Jessica Meigs’ “The Becoming: Brothers In Arms”
The Becoming: Brothers In Arms is a prequel novella to The Becoming series of zombie apocalypse books by Jessica Meigs. It introduces us to the brothers, Theo and Gray, who were introduced to the main characters in the first book of trilogy. It provides another perspective on the beginnings-the initial days of the virus and provides a more detailed understanding on these two peripheral characters to the main storyline found in the trilogy.
Theo, the older brother, is a paramedic who is on call the night that the infected come back to life. Not the best profession to be in when the accident victims who appear to be dead are trying to tear into your flesh. Gray is the younger brother who Theo feels more than just a brotherly obligation to. Ever since their parents died, he has been taking care of him. Especially since Gray has severe asthma attacks. Gray is working as a mechanic but is shooting pool at a local bar with a friend when things go haywire.
Most of this quick read takes place on the first night, where the two brothers face off against several harrowing experiences against the undead, while they do their best to survive long enough to reconnect with one another. The pacing is solid and the story could serve as a standalone first night of the apocalypse tale, thought it bridges the brother’s experiences from their initial experiences up until they meet with the rest of the characters from the trilogy.
For those who have read some or all of Jessica’s Meigs’ trilogy, reading this tale is a nice way to learn more about a couple of interesting characters. For those who haven’t ready any of her work, it is a nice brief introduction to her take on the zombie apocalypse.
The Becoming: Brothers In Arms can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007K1KO26/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Review of Brian Moreland’s ‘The Girl From The Blood Coven’ and ‘The Witching House’
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
Review of Michael S. Gardner’s “Betrayal”
Betrayal is one of those quick getaways that doesn’t require a lot of time but packs a nice little punch. A novella that is a very easy read, this is a zombie tale that perhaps might not give you as much time to get emotionally invested in the characters as a full blown novel, but it’s more than just a tidbit you get from a short story that might elicit a smirk or a gasp of revulsion, but not much else.
The story is pretty simple. A group of survivors have built walls around a farm to keep the undead at bay and a few select members of the group go out via helicopter to collect whatever supplies they can gather on a weekly basis-into a city that is filled with zombies and less and less supplies each trip they take. The author adds the twist that people are dying-not just from whatever turns people into the undead, but from a variety of regular ailments that are much more difficult to deal with the lack of modern medicine at everyone’s finger tips. So the desperation of the survivors is even greater.
A supply run goes wrong, as have others before, and this time a couple of marines are left behind when the helicopter pilot, an unrepentant self-absorbed jerk, decides that they are taking too long to get back to the meeting place where he set down. Despite his urge to take off and abandon the camp, he returns and goes on another mission later, where he discovers the cost of his betrayal.
Betrayal is a quick, brutal trip to hell-a rip-the-band aid-off type of story that I would say goes down smooth because it is such an easy read, but the ride is a bit bumpier than that-with a few twists put into play for those who like to mix things up with their undead.
Betrayal can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C0BVS1C/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Review of Peter Giglio’s “Sunfall Manor”
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
Review of Alan Draven’s “Spooky Showcase”
Spooky Showcase offers the reader a return to Alan Draven’s world of the supernatural and surreal. Bitternest is a city in Louisiana where ghosts, vampires, and other creatures exist and terrorize the inhabitants in pretty much all of the author’s novels and short stories. All but one of the tales in this book take place in Bitternest, including a novella entitled “The Paradigm” which is noir-ish detective tale that takes place back in the 80s and starts out like all the classic detective tales you’ve ever seen with the gruff private eye and the sultry dame in trouble, but dives into the deeply supernatural from there. Three short stories follow, two of which involve children and the real terrors that haunt them in Bitternest, before the reader is treated to a re-imagining of the classic Jack the Ripper saga with “Vengeance is Mine”.
I’ve been impressed with Alan’s ability to craft a real, vibrant city filled with all kinds of spooky and scary monsters since I read his first book about the strange place near New Orleans. While he does hint at future tales with Jim Coffin, the detective in his first story here, I felt that there was something missing from this particular story-a more fleshed explanation of what was happening to him was desired, though I’m sure more will be divulged in the future. Despite the desire for more, I thoroughly enjoyed the flavor of the piece. Future installments should be interesting, and I could see something along the lines of Glenn Cook’s “The Garrett Files” or Simon Green’s John Taylor series if Alan puts a bit more spit and polish on his next few Jim Coffin stories.
The short stories are all enjoyable, each with a surprise attached-that quick rabbit punch that often makes a short piece all the more enjoyable. I especially liked “The Rattling Man” with its Halloween ambiance.
While “Vengeance is Mine” is perhaps more of a homage than anything-a variation the Jack the Ripper mystery with the author’s embellishments, I did enjoy his take on what might have been with good ol’ Jack. Plenty of gore for those hungry for it, and the author used the historical elements so that they fit around the story he created quite nicely.
Overall, this was a fun read that went by fast. I look forward to more of the author’s Bitternest sagas, and will be curious to see where he takes Jim Coffin from here.
Spooky Showcase can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0981021336/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Review of Gerald Dean Rice’s “The Zombie Show”
The Zombie Show is Gerald Dean Rice’s newest novella swipe at the zombie genre, and as was the case with Fleshbags, he has crafted a zombie that is a diversion from the traditional.
In this tale, we are introduced to Cole Green, an undercover agent trying to find a Mexican Cartel baddy by the name of Mazatlan. The zombie apocalypse is over and humanity won, though there are still zombies out there. Naturally, criminal minds think of criminal ways of using them when the law is to shoot the undead on sight. And these zombies are, as I mentioned, a bit different. Not only do they regain a small amount of cognitive ability when they devour flesh, they also have another basic urge that goes along with their insatiable hunger. The urge for sex remains, at least in the male undead, and this serves the purpose of Mazatlan and other criminals who like to put on illegal sex shows south of the border for bored, jaded American college kids. While many of the shows put on end up being some guy in zombie makeup, Mazatlan, with a science background, has managed to concoct a drug that creates new zombies, though these hybrids are a bit different than the regular undead.
This story has a lot of elements to it. Uncover action, zombie horror, surprising twists and turns, plus a zombie name Jose that shares the spotlight with Mazatlan and Cole as a main character who was perhaps the most interesting character of them all. The author likes to give his zombies a bit of humanity despite their monstrous nature, and in both this tale and Fleshbags before it, and he delves just deep enough into their minds to give his audience an appreciation of what they’re going through and perhaps forces us to have some sympathy for them, even as they’re tearing into their latest victim. This story also had a Dusk Till Dawn flavor to it, with zombies replacing vampires in the club setting where the story takes place. Certainly, the place turns into carnage central before the story is resolved.
The author has a flare for taking traditional horror monsters and turning them into something new and intriguing, while also crafting some well done traditional scary tales as well. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen so far from Gerald Dean Rice, and The Zombie Show is no exception.
The Zombie Show can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Show-Gerald-Dean-Rice/dp/0983854718/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340893572&sr=1-1&keywords=the+zombie+show
A fantasy anthology, for a bit of a change of pace.
Well, I’ve been doing my best to expand my writing horizons with the stories I choose to write, though many of them have been zombie tales, just like my novels. Still, I have managed to produce other types of horror, comedy, bizarro, science fiction, western, spy/action-adventure…so it was only a matter of time before I got back to my roots and decided to dive into the realm of fantasy once again. When I would write as a youngster, that was the type of stories I wrote: fantasy tales that transformed into fantasy adventures during my days of role playing. It was rough stuff that I didn’t want to share with anyone else, which was okay, because publishing was not on my mind back then-it was for the pure joy of writing. I still have some of the dust covered stories buried in a paper file, because back in those days I was using a typewriter. Yep, in the days of yore we didn’t have the arcane sorcery of computers to save our work, we got a paper copy of it and that was pretty much the best you could do. Fortunately, that means that none of my more atrocious early attempts at writing are circulating around on the internet. Now as for my more recent atrocious attempts at writing…that is a different story.
Anyway, I digress. I saw a posting perhaps six months ago calling for traditional tales of swords and sorcery in the style of the classic Conan the Barbarian stories and that potential authors should draw inspiration from paintings of Frank Frazetta, among others. In other words, plenty of pounding base lines, thunderous orchestras, spurting blood, voluptuous maidens, heroes NOT with six packs, but with eight or ten packs at a minimum. We were to have fun with it and flavor our tales with plenty of fearless, steely-eyed warriors who fight nasty monsters and perhaps a dark god or two, thrown in for good measure. It was to be entitled, appropriately, Tough As Nails.
I didn’t start out with a plan to write for this anthology. I loved the idea, and thought it would be great to dive back into the fantasy pool, as it were, but I was focused on some other projects at the time, and this one had a due date that was out past the horizon, in the new year. So I put it at the back of my mind and as time has a tendency to do, it sped up and flew past me to where this submission call had perhaps a month left before the deadline. I still was hesitant until the editor, someone who I have worked with before, started asking me if I planned on submitting something for the anthology. He wanted me to do so, because he knew I loved the concept and for some odd reason he’d liked my work in the past. So there I was, scrambling to come up with an idea. I initially crafted the first scene, which takes place in a tavern (the classic locale for the start of many an adventure tale), and gave my story a name, just because I liked how it sounded: “The Sunken Lands.” It sounded cool, and I knew I could wrap a quest around the idea of my hero/anti-hero needing to get to such an ominous place.
So I kept on writing, adding one scene after another, and introducing my different characters, putting them in harms way, etc. It occurred to me about five or six thousand words into this thing that there was no way this story was going to qualify as a short that would fit within the word count guidelines set up by the editor. At that point, I was in too deep, and told him that I planned on writing this tale whether it was acceptable for the anthology or not, since I was back in the mode of writing fantasy, with all the intricacies that go along with that, including all the behind the scenes “stuff” (that is the technical term) you have to put together to make the world you have crafted in any way believable. This stuff usually starts with a map, then you add history, cultures, alliances and enemies, the habitats of strange creatures, what those strange creatures are, etc. etc. And believe me, there is a lot more than that to it, but you get the idea. Fortune smiled upon me, and the editor, Matt Nord, encouraged me to write the story to its completion and he would look at it regardless of whether it fit the size limitations he had put forth (8,000 words) or it went significantly beyond that, because he wanted to see what I had come up with.
Well, as fantasy tales have a tendency to get expansive (as anyone who has read any of the more involved fantasy series out there can testify to) and it was fast becoming clear to me that this story was in no way, shape, or form going to end up being considered a short story. The only thing short about it would be the fact that it would be shorter than a novel by a good stretch. But at approximately 23,000 words, this was definitely in novella territory. Having that high a word count was the only way to effectively tell the tale in my humble opinion (for better or for worse) and also presented me with a cast of characters who could carry on in more tales of this world I had created, if I so chose. Matt did take a look at it and I think the fact that I broke the story into two parts gave him the flexibility he needed to fit it into the book. So despite the fact that I crafted something almost three times as long as what the editor wanted, he somehow liked what he saw and took it anyway. Actually, he really liked it, which was great, because I wasn’t so sure, which is pretty normal for me as a writer. I tend to never be all that sure whether what I have written is worth a damn. I had other folks read my story before Matt ever got a look at it, naturally, and got some good constructive criticism from them, which helped shape and transform it into a sharper story than the original. They liked it to, so I am hopeful others will as well.
Below is the cover of the book, and while I have absolutely LOVED the covers of my novels and most of the anthologies I’ve been in, the idea of something I’ve written being in a book with fantasy cover art makes me as giddy as a child.
More details to come as the book is released. I hope some of you fantasy lovers out there will check this one out when it hits the shelves.
Review of Rebecca Besser’s “Undead Drive-Thru”
Undead Drive-Thru is a novella that tells the tale of Betty Jones, whose husband Sam comes stumbling home one night after having apparently been abducted and experimented on, or so it seems. Before she can even help him, he is dead on the floor. Moments later, he is back on his feet, lunging at her, possessed by the desire to feed on her flesh. Betty understands immediately what must be done…and no, it’s not what you think.
A year later and Betty, now known as Aunt-B, is opening up an old diner with the help of her nephew, John, two hired teenage girls, Ky and Colleen, and Jose, another young man. At the same time, Aunt-B and John are trying to keep a dark little secret from the hired help and the rest of the world. Because you see, Aunt-B couldn’t imagine being without Sam, even though he is dead, and she has plans of moving him from the basement of her house over to the basement of the diner before it’s up and running, so she can keep an eye on him during working hours. The problem is that Sam occasionally gets out of his prison, and his yearning for flesh tends to become a serious issue.
This was a fun little zombie story that I was able to read in a little over an hour. While brief, we get enough background on the characters that none of them felt wooden or artificial and the author even manages to give Sam a bit of a personality; a zombie that looks like it is smiling at you, which is a pretty disturbing proposition. I enjoyed this one, though I think John rubbed me the wrong way in more than one instance. While I get that he is trying to stay out of jail (he is on probation for theft, I believe) and as such blindly obeys his Aunt to keep in her good graces, I felt he was perhaps a bit spineless, which made it hard for me to feel any sympathy or empathy for him. But he, like the teenage girls and especially Aunt-B were quite vivid characters for such a short amount of “screen time” as it were. Overall, a creepy, entertaining tale that I could imagine translating into a movie or even an episode from Tales from the Crypt.
Undead Drive-Thru can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Undead-Drive-Thru-Rebecca-Besser/dp/1611990092/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1324756066&sr=1-1
Review of Gerald Dean Rice’s “Fleshbags”
Fleshbags takes place over the course of the initial hours on the what might be the first day of the zombie apocalypse, though the creatures involved are enough of a variation on traditional zombies to be considered their own subspecies. Of course, they would fall into the zombie category, but have some different characteristics, that’s for sure. The author has taken time to create a man-made virus that is fascinating in its assault on its victims. The story itself goes from hour to hour of the growing infection, with the elements of confusion and hysteria that come along with it. We get to see where the virus is being developed (and still tweaked), with hints as to why it’s been created. We see how far it has spread, or so we think, though once again, there are hints at a larger story at play, with the military getting involved pretty rapidly. There is plenty of confusion and no clear understanding of what is going on by virtually anyone running through the pages of this story, including the victims themselves. Each is focused on their own desire to survive with a lot of the plot taking place in and around a daycare that is close to the epicenter of the virus’s release.
As I mentioned, it would be tough to call the victims of this virus zombies. They certainly share enough traits with that category of monster, but they still live, or at least retain a level of cognition for a time, that allows the reader to see what is going on inside their minds. The author hints at more hidden beneath the depths of their gory exterior, with expressions on some of these creatures faces that show they seem reluctant to carry out the violence they are prone to perpetrating on the innocent. As the author (and one of the characters in the story) has dubbed them, they are fleshbags. Parts of their anatomy seem to go runny around their midsection, and their skin appears to be more like a transparent bag showing their insides rather than skin. Again, these zombies are different…they act different in many ways, they look different, and on some level, retain the ability to think, if only for a short time.
The story itself follows several different characters maneuvering through the northern suburbs of Detroit. I recognized many of the streets mentioned due to my travels in that city. This is a novella-length story, and there are quite a few characters, so we move from place to place and person at a quick pace. There are loose ends at the end, which lead me to believe that this might be the start of a larger project by the author. As a stand alone, it is an entertaining bit of gore splashed apocalyptic fiction that moves at a quick, and sometimes blurred pace. I liked how the author delved into the minds of some of the fleshbags as they transition-they seemed as confused and bewildered as the living surrounding them. I would be curious to see more of this tale, if indeed this develops into something larger from the author. Especially with the so many questions left unanswered at the end.
As an added bonus, the author includes two more zombie-centric short stories and excerpts from two of his other long form works as well. The short stories were both non-traditional tales of the undead that were interesting and thought provoking reads for me. Overall, a fun zombie-centric read that make me interested in seeing more from this author.
Fleshbags can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Fleshbags-ebook/dp/B005IDGQNY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323548281&sr=8-1
Review of Craig Saunders & Robert Essig’s “Scarecrow & The Madness”
Blood Bound Books has brought together two novella length stories and put them together in one nice package. Two stories about the twists and turns of the human mind, both of these tales are horror stories, but don’t expect any supernatural elements or creatures from beyond from these pages. No, the bogeymen that inhabit their pages are straight from the scariest place on earth: the human mind. In other words, both of these tales could take place in our world with no hint of assistance from other worldly forces…and that is what makes both of these stories so wonderfully diabolical.
Scarecrow, which is the shorter of the two stories, tells the account of a band of gypsies that come to town for a few days and set up camp in a farmer’s field in the British countryside. Margaret, a no nonsense farmer’s wife, has no quarrel with the rovers, despite her husband, Bernard, and everyone else’s belief that they are all thieves and scumbags. Unfortunately for the two of them, they find out just what this band of gypsies are capable of when they perceive that they’ve been insulted and abused. The results are a satisfyingly twisted tale of tragic revenge that left me squirming.
The Madness is a bit longer tale, telling the story of Tony, an assistant bank manager caught up in a huge snowstorm in Colorado, who is forced to take refuge with a family when the storm turns into a blizzard. It doesn’t take long for Tony to realize that he might have been better off freezing to death rather than to enter the home of Dan, Sue, and their boy Phillip. Sue and Phillip seem fine, but Dan isn’t too thrilled with Tony for being there, and there is something about him that seems a bit…off. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear that Dan isn’t the only one with problems. The Madness is, in its own way, just as twisty and as devious a tale as Scarecrow, though how it plays out is quite different.
Together, these two stories were a quite satisfying duo of psychological twisters. I am so used to stories that rely upon supernatural, or at the very least unnatural forces to elicit a terrified reaction, that it was refreshing to see something that reminded me of how wicked and demented the human animal can be when it thinks of ways to mess with other human minds.
You can find Scarecrow & The Madness here: http://www.amazon.com/Scarecrow-Madness-Craig-Saunders/dp/0984540873/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1315272626&sr=1-1
Review of Keith Luethke’s “A Zombie Apocalypse”
A Zombie Apocalypse is a pretty simple, straight forward novella written in journal form. Rachel Cormac spends half the story hiding away from the undead and the second half as a zombie, after having injected herself with a “cure” some scientist handed to her before dying from a zombie bite. Instead of curing her, it turns her into a new form of zombie that can still read and write (but can’t speak), looks pale and ghostly, doesn’t rot, but otherwise has the same cravings as the other zombies it surrounds itself with.
The idea of writing a story from the undead perspective is not a new one, though many folks haven’t seen it done too much. Typically because most zombies are brain dead monsters without much to offer as far as insight into their affliction. The author has created a new tactic, a psuedo-intelligent zombie that has the urge to feast on flesh but has some reasoning abilities still remaining, making them both more crafty and also guilt ridden for what they are doing.
As a standard zombie story, this one is entertaining enough, though the editing problems were a distraction. It became clear that the author needed to inspect his work with a human eye and not just spell check due to the replaced words here and there, which were repetitive. While it did distract, I knew what the author was getting at, which allowed me to look past that. The basic story has the main character trying to get back to her sister and her niece in Ohio, both before and after she is bitten, and details her experiences with the people, both living and dead, that she meets along the way. I would have preferred a sharper, more defined “new” zombie with this creation the author made. She is still driven by her hunger, and while she seems a smart hunter, her humanity never seems to get in the way of a good feast, so the deliberation or interesting debate on if she is more human than monster really never takes place in this tale. Still, I see that there is a sequel on the Kindle, and I felt that this was enjoyable enough, and priced right, for me to pick that one up as well. I have to admit, I am curious where the road takes Rachel.
A Zombie Apocalypse can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/A-Zombie-Apocalypse-ebook/dp/B003WEA0H4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1298882344&sr=1-1
Review of David Dunwoody’s “Unbound and Other Tales”
David Dunwoody has written some fine zombie fiction, and I was curious about this combination novella and short story compendium he’d written, since it steers clear of the rotting folk completely. There isn’t one story about zombies in this book, although the dead do pop up in a couple of different instances. Unbound, which carries the bulk of the pages in this offering, is a story about Emil Sharpe, a man with albino white features dressed entirely in black. He is supposed to be a character in a series of books, but for reasons unknown, he has come to life, and is terrorizing the people who live and drive up and down I-15 out west as he takes his 18 wheeler, the Yankee Rose, and carries cargo for some darkly mysterious people. Several folks are after him, including the author of the novels he appears in, because Sharpe has made their lives nightmares as he has demands that his story, his real story, be told through the author’s pages. The story starts out with a bang, and the intensity doesn’t let up throughout. Emil Sharpe acts like a demon and yet at the same time, there is something distinctly human and vulnerable about him, though he most assuredly is neither. It isn’t until the very end of this tale that we discover the truth, and there will be hell to pay when we do.
The rest of this book is made up of eight short stories, more than one of which ties into Unbound in one form or fashion. They provide the reader with a nice creep factor, with odd characters, dark magic, and other elements of a good, jarring nightmare. I particularly enjoyed “Clowns”, knowing that anyone who has ever been afraid of these painted devils will probably feel at least a tad bit uncomfortable while reading that tale.
It is Unbound that holds sway here, overshadowing the rest of the stories, though I found them enjoyable and certainly devious. It is just that Unbound could be expanded or contracted into a full length novel or be turned short story and would likely leave its taste in your mouth long after you’re done with it. It has the flavor of Peckinpah with just a dash of Lovecraft and larger helpings of Stephen King. There were perhaps echoes of The Dark Half, by Stephen King, in my head as I read this tale, but Dunwoody takes the concept of a character come to life off the pages of a book and molds and shapes it like clay (in more ways than one) to make it his own. Emil Sharpe is just one of those characters that starts out fascinatingly scary and grows on you from there.
Unbound and Other Tales can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/UNBOUND-Other-Tales-David-Dunwoody/dp/1451511582/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1297787359&sr=1-1
Review of Tony Schaab’s “The Eagle Has Reanimated”
The Eagle Has Reanimated is a short story that takes a look at the world Romero created with Night of the Living Dead and takes one of history’s most famous moments from that time period and puts them on a crash course. What if zombies had been real back in the late sixties? What if the world was just beginning to fall into the grips of the undead as NASA planned its launch of Apollo 11, putting the first man on the moon?
This is a short story, so I won’t elaborate on the plot too much. I will say that the author did some research here and gives us some interesting tidbits about each of the astronauts and other details surrounding the real elements of Apollo 11, while embellishing things with zombies in a fun and creative way that had me entertained from start to finish of this brief tale. I particularly liked some of added touches, which includes references to two characters from the movie Day of the Dead, as well as how a zombie and a breathing human would actually react to the vacuum of space.
If you are a fan of the classic Romero zombie, and especially his first trilogy of movies, this story fits in perfectly with that world…and beyond!
The Eagle Has Reanimated can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Eagle-Has-Reanimated-Zombie-ebook/dp/B004KSPX00/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1296487842&sr=1-1
Review of “Barriers Beyond” by Tim Long
Barriers Beyond is a Kindle novella that I decided to check out once I got a kindle for Christmas because I’ve read plenty of Tim Long’s other works and have enjoyed them. Barrier’s Beyond tells the first person perspective of one survivor during the zombie apocalypse, a former military man who shares his experiences during the first few months of survival after the dead rise.
Tim adds a nice twist to the story by giving us a new form of undead-the ghoul. Zombies in this story are your traditional undead flesheaters, while ghouls are humans who get desperately hungry enough to eat zombie flesh to survive after things go south and food is scarce. The taint of that flesh turns those who eat it into something along the lines of a half undead, half human creature (or at least some of them, while others go the full zombie route). These ghouls retain some of their smarts, craft traps, and crave the flesh of humans and other ghouls. They lead the undead in their charge on those few humans who remain. It was a nice little addition to the zombie pantheon.
The story itself is a pretty straight forward apocalyptic thriller-Erik, the main character, reacts to the initial days of infection and prepares for the impending end of humanity by traveling up to the mountains to a friend’s log cabin to escape the assault of the undead. While he is safe there, he finds the loneliness enough to drive him back to civilization, or what remains of it, several months later. The story at that point goes into overdrive and the action gets amped up quite a bit until the end of the story. Again, this is a novella, so it is a quick read and the storyline not too complicated, but it is fun if you enjoy stories about the zombie apocalypse. The window is left open by the author for future novellas, or perhaps a tie in of this story with one of his other apocalyptic novels.
Barriers Beyond can be found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Barriers-Beyond-ebook/dp/B0042G0QZ2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1293518750&sr=1-1