Review of Stephen A. North’s “Tusk and Sedation Dentistry”
Tusk and Sedation Dentistry are two horror short stories with dentists as their main characters. Tusk has us sitting down next to the young, beautiful neighbor of an older dentist who enjoys regaling her with tales of his adventurous youth. You see, he has countless trophies from trips abroad adorning his office walls. But one particular trophy, an oddly elongated tooth, has caught her eye and she is insistent on hearing how the good doctor came across this strange artifact. Though reluctant, the dentist begrudgingly shares his journey of dark discovery.
Sedation Dentistry is like the sickly sweet dessert after devouring a darkly delectable meal. Weighing in at only a couple of pages, this tidbit reveals how tremendously horrifying dentistry might be. Spending every day starring into the deep, dank abysses that are people’s bacteria infested mouths and then being forced to stick your fingers inside those vile maws must be a nightmare for some. Even worse must be the secret fear that those horrible ivory pillars could come slamming together at any second to grind the flesh off the bones of your fingers…
These two ‘toothsome tales’, as the author describes them, are a quick, painless read, poured through faster than it’ll take you to go through your next six month checkup. Tusk leads us into a chultun-an underground chamber on the Yucatan Peninsula where our dentist friend is hunting for treasure with a couple of comrades. This dark lair shares some disturbingly similar characteristics to the open, steaming holes that are the mouths he deals with as a dentist, including the sharp, pointed teeth. Sedation Dentistry fooled me in the first couple of sentences, with its description of a cavernous, plague infested mouth that was as ominous as the caverns found in Tusk.
Quick easy reads for those chomping at the bit for a taste of horror.
Tusk and Sedation Dentistry can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Tusk-Sedation-Dentistry-Stephen-North-ebook/dp/B074PTDDJD/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504145557&sr=8-1&keywords=tusk+and+sedation+dentistry
Review of L.M. Labat’s “The Sanguinarian Id”
The Sanguinarian Id introduces us to Hael, a child found abandoned and left for dead in the woods outside of an asylum in England in the late 1800s. Taken in by the doctors there, they are fascinated by this little girl who remembers little of her past and appears to be supernaturally resilient and strong. They search for but fail to find anyone who knows who she is, which is completely satisfactory to Dr. Strauss and especially Dr. Mendelson, who run the asylum. They have spent much of their time experimenting and torturing their mostly female patients and have devious plans for Hael as well.
This story combines elements of gothic horror with a journey of self-discovery. Hael doesn’t truly understand what she is, but begins to grasp the truth while doing her best to escape her nightmare existence. Despite her efforts to escape the clutches of the mysterious and purely evil Mendelson, it appears that their destinies are firmly intertwined long term.
The first part of the book takes place in Hael’s childhood years, and the author has given it a strong flavor of gothic horror like we get from the classics of the era: Dracula and Frankenstein. The latter half of the book leaps forward a half century when we are thrust into the middle of World War II Germany, where Hael continues her lifelong quest for redemption and revenge.
The story is intriguing, pulling us deeper into the dark underworld Hael both lives in and tries to make sense of-she has been abused, beaten, terrorized, and violated throughout her life. In turn, she has worked to extract revenge on those who have done this to her and those she cares for, while trying to find some sense of self. She lives both in the real world painted black with despair and misery the Nazi’s have unleashed, and in the supernatural world-a world filled with pure blood and half-blood vampires and other monsters far worse.
This is the author’s first novel and in many ways is an impressive bit of storytelling, especially for someone who is barely into adulthood. The depth of research and understanding it must have taken to develop this world and underworld filled with supernatural characters and creatures must have been substantial. The author has developed a vibrant, bloody, dark, grim world and a character that successfully manages to give the reader someone to both respect and care for, while also fearing them and the dark acts they are capable of doing.
There is a fair bit of tell vs. show in this story and the dialog, at points, is a bit awkward. The main character’s use of the word “bitch” on multiple occasions as an insult to her male enemies in the World War II era felt a bit out of place, though that is a minor complaint. There are some awkward turns of phrase here and there while some of the story transitions are abrupt. We go from knowing little to nothing about the monsters that inhabit this world early on in the story, to Kael having extensive knowledge of them later on. We did not get to join her on that journey of discovery and it felt a bit like an opportunity lost.
Despite these quibbles, this is a strong first entry in this potential series of books and a very promising start to the career of the author, who will continue to refine her writing style and sharpen the dialog with the more stories she creates. Her foundation in storytelling is solid and I look forward to seeing more from L.M. Labat in the future.
The Sanguinarian Id can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Sanguinarian-Id-L-M-Labat/dp/1937769445/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Review of Stephen Kozeniewski’s “Hunter of the Dead”
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
Review of “At Hell’s Gates, Volume 1”
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
Review of Craig Jones’ “Son of Blood (The Secret of Skerries)”
Son of Blood (The Secret of Skerries) introduces the reader to Martin and his son, who live off the coast of Ireland on a small island with an ancient castle. The island sits across from the quaint town of Skerries, where the local town folk know of the man and his teenage son, as well as their secret. Martin has committed himself as protector over the town and is friends with the town’s mayor, who has gained power and wealth due to Martin’s steadfast loyalty and unique talents of keeping undesirables out.
Martin is a vampire. His son is one too, although he has not fed on the living, and Martin hopes that Christian will never do so. More than anything, Martin wants to protect his son and has kept him from interacting with the townspeople throughout his life, but much like his father, Christian has fallen for a pretty girl from the town and wants to be more than just the mysterious freak who lives on the island across the way. The fact that the girl he is interested in is the mayor’s daughter who has friends who despise Christian and his father poses a serious threat him and his father’s peaceful relationship with the town.
Son of Blood could be deemed a young adult paranormal romance with a healthy horror twist to it. I’ve read some of the author’s other works and he doesn’t shy away from the gore, giving his vamps not only a desire for blood, but flesh as well. These vamps are far more traditional bloodsuckers than what we have seen as of late in this genre, and Martin, for all his love for his son and desire to shelter him away from the curse that has taken him is truly a monster and a remorseless killer. He claims to feed on only those who would not be missed, like the destitute and homeless, as if he is doing society a favor by eradicating them, but mixed in with those unfortunates are others who have loved ones who acutely feel their loss.
Martin and Christian’s relationship is by its very nature, strained, but despite the fact that Martin knows he is cursed by his affliction, his only real desire is to do everything he can to make sure Christian does not suffer that same fate. Of course, that means keeping his away from those who his son might be tempted to feed upon. Naturally, since Christian has grown into a teenager who has been kept isolated all his life, he is compelled to make connections with others his own age, and in particular with Sinead, the mayor’s daughter, who is as intrigued with him as he is with her.
The story moves at a brisk pace and is an easy read. The main characters-Martin, Christian, and Sinead, are fairly well developed. Unfortunately, some of the other minor characters are not as fleshed out. Owen, the bullying friend of Sinead who despises Christian and thinks of him as a freak, is more or less a stereotype of most teen bullies we’ve seen in other tales, though the forces spurring him to hurt Christian offer up a bit of a twist.
Overall, this is an entertaining tale geared toward an audience who long for vampires with a bit more traditional heft and bite to them than what has been unleashed on the world over the past few years in the young adult genre. While a teen romance drives this story, it is a far darker tale than we’ve seen and more than likely will grow darker still with future volumes.
Son of Blood (The Secret of Skerries) can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Son-Blood-Secrets-Skerries-Book-ebook/dp/B00MWCPE82/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-3&qid=1412733720
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 Rebecca Besser’s “Twisted Pathways of Murder & Death”
Twisted Pathways of Murder & Death is a compendium of grim short stories, each with their own interpretation of the title of this work. No one is safe here, with a rogue’s gallery of villains that range from the tragic to the demonic that all lust for blood, flesh, and the demise of all who cross their paths.
I read the paperback version of the book, which note that there are 4 bonus tales vs. the electronic version. I will provide a brief synopsis of each tale without providing any spoilers.
Deadly Mistakes tells the tragic tale of a man out for revenge after a clerical error at a law office that lets a murdering monster free to slaughter his wife.
Turn of Events turns the tables on the traditional sad tale of domestic violence.
Stalkers Beware provides some new ideas of how to deal with all those pesky groupies if you are a rock star.
Hope of a Future takes a look at a bleak apocalyptic future where hoping for even the most simple things can make things even more grim.
Game Gone Wrong mixes science fiction with the very prevalent fear of the government watching your every move, and doing whatever it takes to find out what you know.
Mystery Meat is a simple tale of a meat packing facility trying to find out where several bins of prime cuts of meat came from that no one knows about…with morbid results.
Father’s Revenge is a succinct, blunt tale of a father’s revenge when his wife betrays him, as seen through the eyes of his daughter.
Innocent Blood starts out much like the previous tale, but with the desire for revenge going dreadfully wrong.
On Account of Bacon speaks of how unspeakable tragedies can occur for the most innocuous reasons…or in this case, thanks to a delicious breakfast meat.
Evil Mountain asks the question ‘what do you get when a werewolf, vampire, witch, zombie, and dragon walk into a poor, innocent villager’s hut?’ Nothing pleasant, I can tell you that much.
The Heart of Heroism tells the tragic tale of Billy Jack, a mentally handicapped man-child who simply wants to be a superhero and gets his chance when the zombie apocalypse starts up in the tenement he lives in with his overbearing father.
Historical Significance is a traditional ghost tale with a demonic twist.
Memories starts out asking the question ‘Have you ever heard a rabbit scream?’ and goes deeper down the rabbit hole from there.
Overall, this set of macabre tales are solidly written, though some are stronger and more compelling than others. Each share a very fatalistic perspective, though they range from the gore splattered to the sinister. Hope of a Future, Innocent Blood, Evil Mountain, and The Heart of Heroism were my favorites of the lot, while a couple of the very short tales didn’t do it for me, like Turn of Events and Father’s Revenge. When the author works with more than a page or two, she is able to craft characters that are real, vivid, and accessible.
Twisted Pathways of Murder & Death can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Pathways-Murder-Rebecca-Besser/dp/0615858163/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401418967&sr=8-2&keywords=twisted+pathways+of+murder+%26+death (paperback) and here: http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Pathways-Murder-Rebecca-Besser-ebook/dp/B00E1LPQZS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401418967&sr=8-1&keywords=twisted+pathways+of+murder+%26+death (kindle).
Permuted Press Kindle E-Book Sale!
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!
Review of Patrick James Ryan’s “Blood Verse”
Blood Verse is Patrick James Ryan’s first published work and is an anthology of horror tales interspersed with poems. Each poem follows the same format of rhyming couplets-there is no free verse poems in the mix.
As is usually the case with most anthologies, you reach into the goody bag and aren’t sure what you will get each time, especially when there is no set theme. That is the case here. Certainly, each tale has a horror bent to it, but they range from the supernatural to the more ‘regular’ every day type tales of serial killers and grim misfortune. Kudos to the author for giving the reader a diverse set of shorts and poems with some unexpected and entertaining twists.
The good: the author does a solid job of backing up his stories with decent research that allows him to provide us with a book rich in diverse locales and plotlines. It’s clear that effort was put forth to give each tale some heft and a solid background that makes them feel more real. Though not every story has that ‘blink with surprise’ type ending that readers often expect, when they do happen here many were quite satisfying and enjoyable. There are some genuinely entertaining stories on these pages that I enjoyed a great deal. I know the term ‘fun’ is not always associated with horror, but I had fun reading them.
The challenging: I’m not going to say the ‘bad’ because that wouldn’t be fair to the author, because while some of the shorts found here didn’t resonate with me, they were still solidly crafted. I could see the potential in most of them and I admire the author for putting together a very diverse compendium of tales and taking some risks here and there. They just didn’t all hit the mark for me. One of the reasons is that there is a healthy dose of tell vs. show mixed into several of the stories. It is a challenge all authors face-attempting to avoid making the yarn they are spinning feel more like a newspaper account of what is happening. They instead want to give the reader a feeling of immersion, as if they are experiencing everything alongside the characters. The author does accomplish that immersion in many cases, but in some instances it wasn’t there. There were also some typos throughout, noticeable but not a major distraction.
While some stories just didn’t click for me (Pain and the Boxer, Desert Death, Hair as examples) others were very entertaining (Bus Stop, Road Rage Bigot, Walking the Dog, Elevator…among others) and that is what reading an anthology is all about: finding those gold nuggets that make reading a mix of different tales well worth the time, which Blood Verse succeeded in doing for me. Chances are, if you are a horror fan, you will find a few solid nuggets in this book as well.
Blood Verse can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0988659034/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Review of Michael S. Gardners “Death in the Times of Madness”
Death In The Times of Madness is Michael S Gardner’s compendium of short stories, many of which have a zombie slant to them, as that is his first passion in writing. He’s also published a novella and novel that are zombie-centric too. There are some stories here that diverge from that path though, giving the reader a bit of diversity, though the author ‘sticks with the scrip’ and doesn’t move too far off from what a zombie fan will enjoy. From tales of personal woe to stories that are far grander is scope, the author explores some interesting topics and provides the reader with some moments that really resonate.
Of course, not every story packs the same punch and not all of them were hits in my opinion, but overall, this collection showcases an author who has grown as a writer over the past few years, with his ability to craft characters and stories getting sharper and stronger with time. Some of the tales have no message, just provide simple entertainment, while others pack more emotional heft and lingered in my mind after their completion. Overall, this is a fun, easy-to-read collection of mostly zombie tales that shows the talents of an independent author who continues to get better with every story he writes.
Death In The Times of Madness can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1481228196/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Review of “Tales of the Undead: Hell Whore”
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
Come soon…Tall Tales with Short Cocks Volume 3, featuring a short story by moi!
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.
Review of “The Revenants-I Kill Monsters” by Tony Monchinski
The Revenants, book two of the I Kill Monsters series, picks up where Fury left off. Boone has been imprisoned by a vampire lord who is intrigued by the power of his blood and has hand picked him to complete a mission with several of his men.
Much like the first book in this series and the other books I’ve read by Tony Monchinski, the story hovers around New York City, though we depart that area to head over to Europe for a time, and Rainford, the Dark Vampire Lord, takes the reader and Boone on a journey to the distant past, where he relates the story of his history in Russia and the love of his life during his youth as a vampire. While Boone finds the telling of this tale as he is imprisoned annoying at first, he is sucked into it much like the reader is, seeing things through the eyes of Rainford while he recounts his tragic tale. But rest assured, this is no sappy romance with Rainford playing the role of tragic hero. As is the case with Fury, vampires are relentless, vile creatures who have no regard for the living and in many cases no regard for their fellow undead.
The story has numerous plotlines going, all intertwined in different ways, though sometimes it is hard to see the ultimate connections. As the author has a sizeable series planned, it is clear his plan is to reveal things in dribs and drabs here, and not divulge the meaning behind different portions of the overall story too soon. Vampires, Furies, and now Revenants are revealed as supernatural creatures here, though it is clear that the Revenants here are not the typical zombies we are used to seeing in books and movies these days, but a more traditional form of enslaved dead. The world as a whole doesn’t realize they exist, but the author is pulling back the curtain to show us more and more of the dark underbelly of the world.
Tony knows how to spin a complex tale, but therein lays the challenge with reading a book like this. It was exactly two years ago that I completed the first book, and the extensive secondary stories took some time to come back to my mind after such a long absence. Reading a complicated tale with sizable time gaps between each chapter makes it tougher to remember all the critical details from the previous book. But that is not a gripe related to the storytelling or the story itself; it is just a desire for the author to produce these books faster. Because both have been compelling reads, and I am already anxiously awaiting the third book in the saga.
You can find The Revenants here: http://www.amazon.com/Revenants-Kill-Monsters-Tony-Monchinski/dp/1478204303/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351442918&sr=1-14&keywords=tony+monchinski
Review of Scott M. Baker’s “Rotter World”
Rotter World starts out in the post apocalyptic environs of Maine, where a group of survivors that have set up a safe haven and are asked to go after a small group trapped and surrounded by zombies out in the wastelands by their leader, which is a far more dangerous undertaking than normal. But they soon discover why they’ve been asked to take such a risk when they conduct the rescue and recover a doctor who claims to have created a vaccination for the undead virus. This virus was created by the government but was never intended to be used as a weapon…at least not until vampires stole it and unleashed it upon the human world with the hopes of preventing the living from wiping them out for good.
Among these survivors is a small band of vampires who have made a truce with the humans. Their race did unleashed the virus, not realizing that the zombies created with the plague would crave vampire flesh as much as human and proceed to find root out the vamps when they were at their most vulnerable-during daylight hours while they sleep. Now the few that remain must work side by side with those they once considered to be cattle to avoid going extinct.
The rescued doctor proposes a mission for the survivors. He needs to get to his government lab in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to retrieve his research and craft the initial doses of the vaccine. They survivors will serve as his escort through rotter infested lands. They agree but insist that most of the vamps go along with them despite the fact that the doctor, along with his military escort, despise the vampire race and would like nothing more than to see them all wiped out for the curse they unleashed on humanity.
Rotter World starts out at a slow pace, with plenty of flashbacks to get the reader up to speed with most of the characters, then picks up speed as the mission to Gettysburg gets underway. The action is intense and the gore graphic enough to satisfy most zompoc fans. The conflicts between the humans and vamps are interesting, but I wished they had been explored in great depth. The vamps in this story are, for lack of a better word, honorable. They avoid causing conflicts with the humans and tend to avoid getting near anyone who don’t trust them or even hates them. It would have been interesting to see more of the dark side of the blood suckers, even though there is plenty of human drama to deal with in this tale. As is the case with most quality zombie tales, the flesh eaters are a nightmarish menace but they are nothing compared to the few devious humans who tend to cause far more trouble than the undead ever could for the rest of the survivors.
I enjoyed this story, especially toward the end when things got quite intense and the danger everyone was facing felt tangible and made my heart race. The author offers up a creative new twist on the traditional zombie tale with the introduction of another undead race. Plenty of the human and vampire characters were well developed and gave me someone to root for (and to root against). The story can certainly stand on its own though I suspect the author will be crafting a sequel, which won’t elicit any complaints from me-I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next with those who made it through to the last page of Rotter World.
Rotter World can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Rotter-World-Scott-M-Baker/dp/1618680285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1341547213&sr=1-1&keywords=rotter+world
Review of Monique Snyman’s “Charming Incantations: Enticed”
Not too long ago, I was approached by an author friend of mine with a request to help promote their new fantasy novel on my blog, which I did, happily. I tend to write reviews of horror novels, but I thought that since I am a big fan of fantasy as well I would also read her book, and not just promote it. So here is my review of her book, which I would say fits nicely in the realm of young adult fiction, with both fantasy elements as well as a bit of horror-with werewolves and vampires playing a prominent role.
Charming Incantations: Enticed tells the story of Lisa, a young woman whose parents were tragically killed in a fire, which thrusts her into a world she never knew existed: one with supernatural creatures that expect her to do her part as the surviving heir to the human representatives on a council that works to keep the world safe from darkness.
While the story provides a prolog explaining the alliance between the six races: human, werewolf, vampire, shape-shifter, witch, and banshee, the first chapter of this tale bypasses Lisa’s initial realization of what she must do or any revelations she has that there is an entire world that has been hidden from her. Instead, her tale begins with her knocking on the door of the meeting place of the six representatives of the six races. There she meets the five other generals, or leaders of the armies that hold back the evil known as goblins from taking over the world. One of them, Romulus, the leader of the werewolves, will take her in and protect her from danger until she can be trained to protect herself and take over her duties as a leader.
Lisa faces a great deal of challenges, not the least of which is the fact that she is falling hard for Romulus while she is trying to grasp this new world that surrounds her. She fears these supernatural races but must come to terms with them all so that she can insure that her status as protector of humanity comes to pass.
This tale is part romance and part fantasy adventure. There is magic here, and I am sure there will be passing comparisons to Twilight, but this is a tale on a far grander scale. Lisa is learning about this new world as we learn about it, and is forced into battle even though humans are deemed the weak link in the alliance. She cannot raise her own army of humans because the secrets of the other races must be kept, so the burden is even greater for her than for her counterparts. In some ways, this is a coming of age tale as well, with Lisa doing her best to find her place in a world that is scary, exciting, and quite dangerous.
This is the first book of what I believe will be a series, but this story can certainly stand on its own as a tale of a young woman coming into her own in a world filled with both dangers, delight, magic, and mayhem.
Charming Incantions: Enticed can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Charming-Incantations-Enticed-Monique-Snyman/dp/0987874721/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336631184&sr=1-1
Review of Tonia Brown’s “Railroad!: The Three Volume Omnibus”
Railroad! is a hard book to categorize. Certainly, it would be easy to say that it is a steampunk tale of the old west, but that seems like a limiting description. I am the first to admit that I haven’t read a tremendous amount of steampunk literature, but I would venture to say that this book has elements that make it somewhat unique in that genre, combining fantastical elements along with the technological, turning this story into something utterly unique.
Tonia Brown, the author, wrote this tale as a serialized adventure, releasing a chapter at a time online, and then releasing each of the three different volumes separately. This book has all three volumes thus far: Rodger Dodger, The Dogs of War, and The Trouble with Waxford. The story is told from the viewpoint of Rodger Dodger, a man curious about an ad posted that is looking for a hired gun to work aboard a steam locomotive. The setting is the old west of the 1870s, and while Rodger has a mysterious past as a gunman, everything else about him seems rather normal. So when he meets up with Professor Dittmeyer, Ched, and the rest of the crew of the Sleipnir, a steam powered locomotive that requires no tracks to run on, he is as baffled as we are. And things just get stranger from there for the man with a mysterious past but a far more intriguing future as the hired gun for an wild band of adventurers.
Of course, the wondrous technology that the author describes with great delight is quite fascinating, and gave me pleasant reminders of my youth, when I used to watch repeats of ‘The Wild, Wild West.’ I do, of course, mean the classic television show starring Robert Conrad and not the atrocious movie starring Will Smith. You will find gadgets galore here, including guns that fire multiple rounds at the same time, horseless carriages that allow one to travel at speeds near a hundred miles per hour across the desert, and trains that need no tracks to make their way from place to place. But that is only the beginning. The author allows us, alongside Rodger Dodger, to enter a world filled with the fantastic-with ghosts, vampires, and genetic mutants filling its pages. As it is described within this tale, the strange, cursed, and fantastic seems to follow Professor Dittmeyer, owner and inventor of the Sleipnir Steam Locomotive, everywhere he goes. After all, he hasn’t been banned from 90 different countries for nothing.
The characters are colorful, detailed, and fun getting to know. And when it comes down to it, this story may be best described as a weird western steampunk story, but it is the characters that keep things interesting, and kept me glued to each page. A well-crafted, entertaining story that is a lot of fun, Railroad! is a trippy ride.
You can find Railroad! here: http://www.amazon.com/Railroad-The-Three-Volume-Omnibus/dp/1468185543/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335136282&sr=1-9
Fellow author Suzanne Robb interviews me on her blog.
I got the chance to answer a few questions (in my normally snarky way) that fellow author, and editor, Suzanne Robb came up with for me. You may know Suzanne from her fantastic book, “Z-Boat”, or because of her numerous other short story projects. She is in the process of editing an anthology that I have a privilege of being a part of entitled “Read The End First”, which is about 24 different tales about the end of the world…one specific to each time zone. That should be coming out soon, and more details on that later. But enough about Suzanne! Check out her interview of yours truly over on her blog: http://suzannerobb.blogspot.ca/2012/04/paatrick-dorazio-his-thoughts-on.html, and check out some of Suzanne’s stories as well!
Dark Dispatches is now available on Amazon!
I’m pretty excited about a newly release anthology that one of my short stories appears in. I had the opportunity to write a story that was a bit different for me, though at the same time, still shared a bit of DNA with many of the other stories I’ve written over the years. This particular one was originally intended for another anthology, and fit the it to a T. Unfortunately, before that particular anthology got very far, it was cancelled by the publisher. I was ‘stuck’ with this story at that point, which was unfortunate, because I thought it was one of my better tales. It was my effort at writing a war story set in the future, but having some very traditional horror elements to it-a particular menace that I had never written a story about before, and was a new challenge for me. So when I heard about Static Movement producing an anthology entitled Dark Dispatches, which wanted tales of war, real or imagined, here on Earth or elsewhere, in any time period–past, present or future, I knew my story might have a second life. So I submitted my tale, entitled “One Shot, One Kill”, and George Wilhite, the editor, responded within a couple of days, snatching it up.
And now this tale has been released to Amazon, and I am asking you to check it out. I’m not sure how Static Movement works on ebooks, but the paperback version is now available. Keep an eye on the link for further information on the kindle release, and probably over on smashwords for other ebook releases.
I would ask that you consider getting a copy of this book in paperback-a slew of war stories that contain supernatural, alien, and plain old human warriors-all with compelling story lines. I have had the privilege of reading one of the other tales in this book already, by Richard Marsden, and I can tell you that it is excellent. Well worth the price of admission for these two tales alone…but there are many, many more!
So go ahead: click the picture, and head on over to Amazon to pick up your copy of Dark Dispatches. Thanks!
A slight divergence from horror into fantasy
Most folks don’t know it, but I am just as much a science fiction and fantasy fan as I am a horror aficionado. Up to this point, my attempts at writing most fantasy were well in my past, and while I plan on giving it a genuine shot down the road, I am dedicated to writing mostly horror stuff for the moment.
With that said, a friend of mine who has more of a talent for writing fantasy, and in particular, YA fantasy, is having her first book released through Knightwatch Press. But it is definitely worth noting that this YA Fantasy has horror elements as well, with vampires and werewolves playing a role in this tale. So for you horror fans who are looking for something that might be something you and your kids can read, I would check this out. I know I will be, and will hopefully have the chance to review it here soon.
Who is this friend, you ask? It is none other than Monique Snyman. Monique is a South African writer and reviewer of books, movies, and games, who runs her own website over at http://www.killeraphrodite.com/. The book, the first in a series, is entitled Charming Incantations: Enticed. Here is a description of the story:
When Lisa Richards’ parents die in a horrible accident, she never thought her life would change as drastically as it did. Not only does she have to take over the family business as being the Human Representative in a supernatural council, bound to protect the world from the common threat, but she also has to deal with falling in love with a werewolf that has a vampire best friend and try to keep herself alive long enough to defeat the goblin army.
Not sure about you, but to me that sounds like the start of a pretty wild ride! And I know that plenty of horror fans out there dig all sorts of speculative tales, so keep your eyes open for this one. Monique was kind enough to get me a copy of the cover for your viewing pleasure below. I’m sure it’ll be popping up on Amazon quite soon, among other locales, so check it out!
Review of “MonsterMatt’s Bad Monster Jokes, Volume 1”
What can I really say about this book? It is well over a hundred pages of some of the most groan-inducing jokes about monsters and monster related topics I have ever seen. Not just jokes, but rhymes, raps, and song parodies. MonsterMatt does his best to make you want to stick a fork in your eye, and then, after you’ve gotten over the pain from such an agonizing injury, use your remaining good eye to read more of his jokes. I’m not really sure what kept dragging me back in for more, but I suppose part of it has to be the fact that there is no deception used here-no attempt to convince you, the reader, that any of these jokes will do any more or less than make you cringe at how pun-ishingly bad they are. Of course, if you are like me, and don’t try to take the world we live in too seriously all the time, there is a place for a book like this one. One that you can share with your kids and get them to moan and roll their eyes at you for telling them such bad jokes…ones that they might just tell their friends and not let you know that they did so.
You get everything from the classics: jokes about Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, Wolfman…and jokes about some of the newer stuff out there, like True Blood, The Walking Dead, and movies like Dead Snow. Given that this book is entitled Volume 1, I fear that MonsterMatt is not finished, so be warned. The bad jokes apparently shall return to induce even more headaches and heartburn!
MonsterMatt’s Bad Monster Jokes, Volume 1 can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/MonsterMatts-Bad-Monster-Jokes-1/dp/1617060941/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329709231&sr=1-1
Review of Carole Lanham’s “The Whisper Jar”
Carole Lanham has compiled a series of intriguing poems and short stories that all revolve around the experiences of children in dark and strange places-sometimes these places are in the mind, and in other instances, geographically and chronologically distance lands that seem like dreamscapes, even if they are in places as commonplace as a farm in rural Iowa. The stories here have a way of tantalizing without revealing too much, too soon. Many of the stories tease about the relationships among boys and girls-their dreams and fears, lusts and passions. And while what the characters are experiencing seem so real and within your grasp as a reader, there is a magic allure to them that makes them fleeting and illusive. They have an otherworldly quality about them. It is not just the tales with obvious magic, like ‘Keepity-Keep’ or ‘Friar Garden…’, or the tales beset with monsters, like ‘The Good Part’ or ‘The Blue Word’, but every tale and every poem within this compilation. Even though ‘Maxwell Treat’s…’, ‘The Reading Lessons’, and ‘The Forgotten Orphan’ all seem as if they could take place in the real world-our world-the author manages to transport us to mysterious and alien realms in them that are fascinating and dark beyond the realities most of us will ever deal with.
I enjoyed this compilation. I had read ‘The Blue Word’ previously, and while I normally skip a tale when I come across it for the second time, I found myself compelled to read it again and was filled with the same level of sadness and regret that I felt the first time, even when I knew what was coming at the end of the story. It is one of my favorites in this book, along with Keepity-Keep. Some of the other tales didn’t resonate with me quite as much, but they still had a flavor to them that is hard to pin down or describe-like a meal in a restaurant you’ve never been to before. They sort of leave a odd taste in your mouth, but not in a bad way…in more of a fantastical way that sticks with taste buds long after the food is gone. There wasn’t a particular story or poem I didn’t like-the author pulled me in with each, and even if there may have been a certain aspect or one or the other that didn’t click for me (the ending of ‘Friar Garden’ seemed rather abrupt for my tastes), they all made sense in a strange, dream-filled way.
Carole Lanham has a tremendous talent for the written word. I don’t just mean this because she can craft a story, which she most certainly can do, but because there is a particular quality to each story that transports you, like some authors are able to do-taking you elsewhere with just a few words in the first few sentences. Some authors make you feel at home with their writing, as if you are reading about people you feel like you know and could find yourself surrounded by even if they are in a environment that is pure fantasy or beyond belief. Carole Lanham does not do that here, in this book. Instead, she has the knack of introducing characters and places that take you out of that comfort zone and puts you on alert that there is something strange going on, both in the world at large and within the characters themselves that make them different from you or I. You may not be able to figure it out right away, and even if you think you do, you realize that there is probably more to it with every passage you read. And in the end, things don’t all fall into place. You are left wondering what just happened.
The Whisper Jar is a compelling read, sweet and savory while often times leaving you squirming with discomfort as you journey through its pages.
You can find The Whisper Jar here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Whisper-Jar-ebook/dp/B0062ID33K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324185038&sr=8-1
Soul Survivors Hometown Tales: Volume 1 is out!
Knight Watch Press brought together a community of writers to create stories of their hometowns and the apocalypse. Essentially, the mandate was to craft a story with one of the last living people after things fall apart or extinction event occurs. We could use pretty much any humanity annihilating excuse to see how fun, or how scary it could be under those circumstances. So my little story, “Love Thy Neighbor” takes place in Cincinnati, but the same thing could happen in any town, any city the world over. I can’t wait to get my copy of the book to check out the rest of the stories-the reviews I’ve read thus far are quite complimentary. And what’s even better is that a second volume of stories is due out early next year, with even more world toppling excitement.
So check out Soul Survivors Hometown Tales: Volume 1 over on Amazon, or where ever you can get your hot little hands on a copy! Click the picture to head on over to Amazon.
Cover revealed for upcoming KnightWatch Press anthology “Soul Survivors-Hometown Tales, Volume 1”
Yep, another anthology coming out soon that I am thrilled to be a part of…and there were so many good stories, they filled two volumes with all of them! My little story, “Love Thy Neighbor” appears within the pages of Volume 1. While I am showing the cover for Volume 1, what is really cool about Soul Survivors-Hometown Tales is that the two covers fit nicely situated next to each other, each showing one half of a face…but they are each distinct from the other. I am really proud of my very sick and disturbing story that takes place right here in Cincinnati that I wrote for this one, and I guess the publishers did as well! The premise behind the stories we were asked to write was to tell a story of the end of the world based on our own hometowns, giving it sort of a personal touch. It could be with any sort of disaster…natural, man made, supernatural…so I am positive there are some really twisted tales in both of these tomes that take advantage of some really unique potential world shattering events. So check out the artwork for the cover of the book I appear in, and I will of course be promoting this book and its partner in crime once both are released later this year (or early in 2012).
Review of S.A. Gambino’s “Twisted Tales of Terror”
Sheri Gambino has put together an assortment of tales that spring from her dark and vivid imagination for Twisted Tales of Terror. This anthology has several zombie apocalypse tales, but the author mixes things up with an assortment of other stories to stir the pot. Included in this book are a few twisty, surprise entries that were unexpected, including one about a mad scientist, a vampire waging a war against evil, a truly killer clown, and the author’s own slant on “Kiss of the Spider Woman”. She includes a dash of voodoo and a couple of tales of menace from space along with her zombie stories, most of which are traditional survival tales, but with an assortment of demonic invaders thrown in for good measure.
The author creates some solid characters along with a few throw away ones that come with the typical short story. I grew attached to a few of the characters that I felt like could have been delved into deeper, with grander tales crafted around them. They drew me in and kept me intrigued. As for the “throw away” characters, I don’t mean that in a negative way-but when you are dealing with the apocalypse, you tend to need a lot of grist for the mill, and Sheri carves up the bodies here quite nicely.
Overall, this was a brisk, easy read that entertained me and was done far more quickly than expected. The editing is sharp and I could see making a commitment to a full sized novel by this author with one, or several of her more intriguing characters that she has to offer.
Twisted Tales of Terror can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Tales-of-Terror-ebook/dp/B004YQVOXS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308014835&sr=8-1