Twenty-six short tales make up the Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven.
Ghosts and vampires are if course present in a compendium of horror tales. Surprisingly, there are also stories about thumb-suckers and a town where it really is raining men.
Of course, with any short story anthology, there will always be some stories you like, others you love, and a few which are just not for you. However, it is hard to imagine any horror fan that dislikes stories by Laird Barron and Joe Hill. Plus, all the stories are well-written and comprise the breadth of modern horror. Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven would make a great gift for any horror fan. 4 stars!
Thanks to Night Shade and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Horror, New Books Tagged with: Sep 3 2019, short stories
Frank Carter, the Whisper Man, has been in prison twenty years for kidnapping and murdering five young boys in rural Featherbank. His m.o. was whispering through each child’s window before luring them to their death. And now the whispering has begun again…
Did Frank have an accomplice all those years ago? What happened to the last child’s body? Is the nightmare reoccurring?
The less you know going into the Whisper Man, the more terrifying and disturbing it will be. The atmospheric plot seems like a cross between a hazy dream barely remembered and a horror movie. If you enjoy horror movies, I think you will like this thriller. 4 stars!
Thanks to Celadon Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Aug 20 2019
You know that something is wrong when your mo-fo’s (aka human’s) eye falls out of his head and he isn’t concerned. So begins the totally original post-apocalyptic tale of the Hollow Kingdom.
S.T. is a pet crow. His mo-fo, Big Jim, is sick and won’t stop poking his finger at the wall. Eventually, Big Jim gets hungry for a live dinner forcing S.T. to leave home with Dennis, his none-to-smart bloodhound brother. As S.T. and Dennis search for a cure for Big Jim’s illness, they encounter both domestic animals and zoo escapees.
Filled with both humor and pathos, Hollow Kingdom is a unique post-apocalyptic tale. This must be the only book written from the point of view of a domesticated crow. It is strongly recommended for anyone looking for something different to read. 4 stars!
Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Horror, Humor, Literary Fiction, New Books Tagged with: apocalypse, Aug 6 2019
Twenty-five years ago Dixie’s entire family was murdered by her father with an axe. Her father then proceeded to cut his own throat leaving eighteen-month-old Dixie alive in her high chair. The Theme Music playing was Baby Blue by Badfinger, which is a break-up song about the singer’s girlfriend also called Dixie.
When the house where the tragedy occurs goes up for sale, Dixie buys it over her boyfriend’s objections. She then starts going crazy.
The prologue is fantastic. The rest of the book was bloody, violent, and grim. If you enjoy shock scares in a horror film (the killer jumps out from behind the shower curtain with an axe), this may appeal to you. It didn’t do much for me and seemed surprisingly boring in a “just get to the plot” type of way. I’ll give Theme Music 3 stars from me but your enjoyment may vary.
Thanks to Dutton Books and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: family drama, Jul 23 2019
Jake is slowly losing his memories. Is it mental illness or early-onset Alzheimer’s disease?
On a plane trip to Denver, he meets the Dead Girl in 2A and she seems familiar. The girl, Clara, says the same about Jake. It won’t matter much longer because Clara is going to Colorado to kill herself.
After losing Clara in the airport, Jake desperately tries to discover his connection to her. What he discovers is mind-blowing!
The Dead Girl in 2A is a thriller but its subject is sci-fi horror. A rogue medical experiment gone awry is a great topic for a thriller that hasn’t been used since Robin Cook’s books in the 1980s. The characters seem real and it is easy to empathize with them. This would make a great Netflix series along the lines of Stranger Things. Most thriller readers will enjoy it. However, if you have suicidal thoughts, you should avoid it as it glorifies suicide a bit. 4 stars!
Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: Jul 2 2019, medical thriller
A collection of fifteen previously published stories plus two new ones fill Flight or Fright.
If you haven’t read Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, or seen the iconic Twilight Zone episode, join one man’s solo terror when he sees a man (or does he?) trying to destroy the wing of his plane.
One of the stories original to this collection is You are Released by Joe Hill. It is a too-close-to-true story about air travelers during a possibly nuclear incident.
Stephen King’s original story, The Turbulence Expert, is about a mysterious organization that perhaps Mr. King is a member of in real life?
The stories are varied enough for most readers’ taste. There are a few stories written when flight was still brand new and are more curiosities than entertaining. There are stories about time travel, terrorism, and even a poem about a real life incident. The majority are horror stories.
Spend an enjoyable few hours reading Flight or Fright and you won’t be sorry. Joe Hill’s story alone is worth picking up the book. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: Jun 4 2019
There is a new drug in town in the horror/crime graphic novel, Bone Parish Vol 1. Just don’t ask what they make it out of…
Ash is a new hallucinogen that allows user to experience someone else’s life. It is incredibly popular but also so strong it kills some inexperienced users. The creator and her family can’t keep up with demand—no matter how many gravediggers they hire. Ash is composed of the burned remnants of dead bodies. The more interesting the life story, the better the high. When the family’s profit becomes the talk of the drug underworld, other gangs try to take over the family’s business.
The mixing of necromancy, New Orleans’ gothic atmosphere, and a noir crime family is almost as intoxicating as the drug, Ash. Bone Parish Vol 1 is concerned more with introducing the character’s stories and is rather short on plot in the middle section. However, the beautiful and atmospheric artwork makes the trip stimulating. The conclusion also promises more excitement in the next volume. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to BOOM! Studios and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: May 7 2019
With insane killers imprisoned in a castle fortress rumored to house the Devil himself and a brutal serial killer terrorizing nearby Prague, the Devil Aspect has plenty of plot and a whole lot of creepy, gothic atmosphere.
It is 1935 in a rural village outside Prague. A new psychotherapist arrives at a mysterious castle, an insane asylum that houses the six most dangerous killers in Czechoslovakia. The therapist, Victor, has a theory that all evil comes from the Devil Aspect in each of us. Once under control, the desire to kill will be conquered. However, when talking to the inmates each states that someone who looked like the Devil did their crimes. Victor believes that their subconscious is attempting to deal with their guilt by disassociating themselves from their crimes.
In a parallel story set in Prague, a serial killer is menacing the populace. Kapitan Lukas thinks he has found the killer through forensic evidence but his suspect insists that another person, who looks just like the Devil, committed the murders.
The book has several sub-plots. Nazis are beginning to make themselves felt in newly formed Czechoslovakia. Victor’s love interest, Judita, a Jew who is deeply worried about the mood in her adopted country. The villagers are convinced that the castle covers a warren of tunnels that lead to the gates of Hell.
There is a lot going on in the Devil Aspect. Despite that, it is a compelling and quick moving read. It is highly recommended to horror fans looking for a more psychological slant. 4 stars!
Thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: gothic, Mar 5 2019, Nazis
Undead Messiah 2 explains what is causing the zombie apocalypse and who the mysterious masked messiah is.
Tim is obsessed with zombies. He plays zombie video games. He watches zombie movies. Little does he know how useful that will soon become in real life.
SPOILER for Undead Messiah 1 below. I recommend reading them in order.
Tim watched his parents become zombies, found out he has a red-eyed baby half-brother Elian, and was locked in military prison in volume 1.
Tim awakens in the castle hide-out of the mysterious masked messiah, who is actually Dr. Ritch. Ritch has given him an iv of an unknown purple fluid. Ritch wants Tim to become his prophet and tell the world of his greatness. Tim has other plans as he hasn’t forgiven Ritch for killing his father, though his dad was admittedly a zombie at the time.
The zombie world building is impressive and unique within Undead Messiah 2. If you like zombies, you shouldn’t miss the Undead Messiah series as I’m sure some of the innovations will be quickly copied by other writers. 4 stars!
Thanks to Tokyopop and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror Tagged with: Dec 11 2018, Zombies
The Mansion is haunted by ancient prohibition-era ghosts who seem to have possessed the house’s personal assistant, Nellie. The only hope for the inhabitants are psychic twin seven-year-olds conceived on the estate.
Billy and Shawn were best college buddies who spent the two years following college living in a rural hovel near Shawn’s family’s ruined inn in upstate New York. While there, they tried, and failed, to develop the world’s first intuitive personal assistant they nicknamed Nellie. Instead, they developed the first non-binary programming language, Eagle Logic. When Billy runs off with Shawn’s girlfriend, Emily, Shawn becomes a famous tech billionaire similar to Steven Jobs. Billy marries Emily. He then sues Shawn for his share in the creation of Eagle Logic, and loses. Billy begins to drink heavily bankrupting his family until he is forced to enter rehab.
Ten years after initially leaving the hovel and almost two years sober, Billy is summoned by Shawn. Shawn has remodeled the inn into a modern resort called The Mansion and added an ostentatious personal living space called the Nest. More importantly, he has completed Nellie and installed her throughout the Nest. When Shawn asks Billy to fix a few bugs in Nellie while staying isolated in The Nest with Emily over the winter, Billy is quick to accept. Especially after hearing how much money he will make even if he can’t fix Nellie–$50,000 per month tax-free.
There are three parallel plots: present day with Nellie, the time when Shawn and Billy were living in the hovel, and Shawn’s youth in the now burned caretaker’s cottage. It is fascinating to see them twist around each other as the conclusion is reached.
The Mansion is marketed as a horror thriller, where the horror is driven by technology. However, I think it is better described as three, almost gothic, mysteries. There was much more an atmosphere of dread rather than true horror within these pages. Also, the pacing is too slow and syrupy for a thriller. It’s more Daphne Du Maurier than Stephen King or Michael Crichton. Therefore, it is recommended for gothic mystery fans who want to read something more modern than rain swept cliffs and foggy downs. 4 stars!
Thanks to Emily Bestler, Atria Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: AI, Dec 4 2018
Think Yourself Lucky is not this famed author’s best work.
Co-workers, Emily, Helen, Bill, Andrea and David work in a travel agency. David is a grouch who complains about everything—his job, his girlfriend and his life. Meanwhile, an unnamed narrator is committing horrendous murders. When David discovers a blog using his fantasy blog name talking about the murders, he is concerned. The victims are people at which he was recently angry. Is someone stalking him or is he committing the murders in some sort of fugue state?
The plot of Think Yourself Lucky sounds great but the execution is flawed. I had to force myself to read it because it was so mean-spirited. I loved reading Ramsey Campbell in the 1980s. He was in a close race for perfect horror writer with Stephen King and Dean Koontz. However, please don’t judge his abilities by Think Yourself Lucky. This reads like one of the “drawer books”—books that didn’t quite make the cut for publication in the writer’s heyday but are worth a few bucks on the author’s name alone at the end of his career. Please read Cold Print or Dark Companions or any of the author’s 80s book rather than this one. 1 star.
Thanks to Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Nov 13 2018, serial killer
Hell is for Children in Hellicious TP Vol 1.
Cherry is seven and mischievous. Her grandfather is Satan, literally. Cherry lives in Hell with her mom, Sin, the chief torturer. And she is bored, really bored. She is also the #1 fan of the famous death metal rocker Briggy Bones (think Ozzy in his bat eating days). After getting permission from her reluctant mom and permissive grandfather, Briggy becomes Cherry’s very first reaping.
The plot is intriguing. The art is colorful and innovative. Cherry is cute as a bug, if the bug is a brown recluse spider. A demon who looks suspiciously like our President appears as the other chief torturer set in a fake game show. The fake advertisements for the publisher are true throwbacks to the 70s. I think middle school kids and adults who have a wry sense of humor would enjoy Hellicious TP Vol 1. The next volume comes out in March and I can’t wait for Cherry and Briggy’s next adventure. 3.5 stars.
Thanks to Starburns Industries Press and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, Humor Tagged with: Oct 23 2018
Ready for a paranormal thriller thick with an ominous atmosphere? Don’t miss Gideon Falls Vol 1.
Father Fred is given a new flock and church in Gideon Falls. The prior priest, Father Tom, had died mysteriously. After dreaming of being visited by Father Tom, Father Fred chases him outside into a cornfield. He sees an ominous black barn in the distance. However, stumbling over a church body forces him to stop his search and call the police.
In a parallel storyline, Norton has recently been released from a mental institution. He is convinced that the trash he collects is trying to tell him something. When he has a vision of a black barn harboring evil, he also sees a mysterious stranger poised to help him conquer the evil within.
I expected a horror comic but was pleasantly surprised that Gideon Falls Vol 1 is actually a mystery with paranormal elements. As Father Fred and Norton work to decipher their visions, the feeling of dread increases. Who or what is hiding inside the black barn? The most disturbing part? The Vol 1 in the title implies that I may have to wait to discover the barn’s secrets.
Gideon Falls Vol 1 is highly recommended for fans of Stephen King and Stranger Things. It has the same creepy things-aren’t-what-they-appear vibe. Both narrators are unreliable, which is always fun. The art matches the atmosphere perfectly. Even the lettering is done in an ethereal way to emphasize the frailty of humans. Great art and the terrific plot makes this a 4 star read!
Thanks to Image Comics and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Oct 23 2018
Just in time for Halloween, Pumpkinhead appears.
“For each of man’s evils, a special demon exists.”
Pumpkinhead is the demon of vengeance.
When two young children are killed in a hit and run, their hillbilly parents ask a local witch for help. She summons Pumpkinhead to kill the perpetrator and those who shelter him. The only way to stop Pumpkinhead is to kill him. The perp calls on the witch’s sisters to summon the demon’s five siblings: Sloth, Envy, Pride, Lust, and Greed. Soon Pumpkinhead is the least of the local’s problems.
Pumpkinhead is a southern gothic horror comic that is complete within this one volume. The plot and art were good—not great. It was easy to see the ending from the beginning. I liked the backup story’s plot better.
Pumpkinhead is a good choice for fans of the movie but not many others. I prefer Cullen Bunn’s original stories much more. 3 stars.
Thanks to Dynamite Entertainment and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror Tagged with: Oct 16 2018, Southern Gothic
From Mary Shelley’s 1818 book to The Munsters and beyond, the Vault of Frankenstein is an extensively researched look at the impact of a single book published 200 years ago.
“Only Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan and Dracula have appeared more often in media than Frankenstein’s monster.”
Not bad for a nineteen-year-old first-time writer who only wrote the horror tale on a dare from two older published poets. Her real story is almost as famous as the monster himself. It opens the Bride of Frankenstein and was the entire plot of three other movies.
The Vault of Frankenstein explores how a book written so long ago has inspired so many interpretations. Emphasizing movies and television shows, the book also briefly summarizes plays and books based on Frankenstein. The illustrations include pages from the first edition books, engravings of locations, playbills, movie posters, candid production shots, and movie stills. The final chapter goes beyond film into cereal, cartoons, comics, dolls, models, and music in the Frankenstein genre.
I consider myself a horror fan. I even had the Frankenstein model shown in this book. However, I learned many new facts from the Vault of Frankenstein. Who knew the original silent 1910 Frankenstein film is 13 minutes long, restored and available on YouTube? Or that Igor (or his original incarnation, Fritz) was a device used by plays and movies so the audience would know Dr. Frankenstein’s thoughts? He wasn’t in the book at all.
The Vault of Frankenstein is perfect for a horror fan or Frankenstein memorabilia collector. The hardcover includes replicas of book manuscript pages, a playbill, movie posters, and stills. This book is a fascinating deep dive into Frankenstein lore. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Becker & Meyer, and NetGalley for granting my wish and providing me an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Horror, Non-fiction Tagged with: monsters, movies, Oct 16 2018
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Seek is a continuation of the famous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide. We are obviously playing Hide and Seek.
Attorney Utterson is set to inherit Dr. Jekyll’s substantial estate after the doctor is missing a full seven years. Two weeks prior to his inheriting, a person claiming to be Dr. Jekyll moves back into his house. Utterson believes it is an imposter. For the doctor left behind a confession for his attorney’s eyes only stating he was Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde had been found dead by his own hand in Dr. Jekyll’s house the same night.
The new Dr. Jekyll has a story of assault and amnesia to explain his long absence. He has convinced Scotland Yard, his long-time butler and all of his friends save Utterson that he is genuinely the doctor. Utterson already had ideas on how to spend his inheritance and so is unconvinced. Has Dr. Jekyll returned? Who is the mysterious man who bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Hyde? How will Utterson woo the love of his life, who was formerly the doctor’s beloved, away from Jekyll without any inheritance to bribe her with?
This story is a really intelligent updating and continuation of the original Jekyll and Hyde tale. While reading the original first isn’t required, it is fun to see the subtle twists made to the story in this book.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Seek is intelligent horror like the original. Set in Victorian London, it is historical fiction. It reads more as a mystery than horror. The book is recommended to mystery fans or those who enjoy a slow thriller. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Skyhorse Publishing and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: classics, Oct 16 2018