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, New Books 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
Warning: The Book of Onions contains no onions at all. Instead it contains darkly humorous single page cartoons about life.
Have you ever wondered how Ronald McDonald got his job? Or whether kitchen matches are happy to be chosen for important jobs? Even if you have never had any curiosity whatsoever, I guarantee you will enjoy this madcap dive into the bleakness of life. I doubt you will soon forget the panda face of war. If war turns men into animals, you really do not want to know what it turns the animals into.
Laugh-out-loud moments make this the perfect waiting room read. Some of the themes are rather dark so the Book of Onions is not for children. However, for everyone else it is great. 4 stars!
Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror Tagged with: ironic, Oct 9 2018
Infidel is a modern-day haunted house story set in a bomb-ravaged New York City pre-war apartment.
Aisha is Muslim. She is engaged to non-muslim Tom. Tom has a daughter named Kris and a mother named Leslie. When they all move into Leslie’s apartment after it is partially blown up by a white supremacist resident, Tom thinks his mother is racist and wants to leave. Aisha convinces him to stay despite her constant nightmares about the dead bomber. As the ghost starts to appear in her waking life, Aisha turns to the neighbors for help. One, a writer, believes another resident in the blast was heavily into the occult.
Infidel is a creepy little horror tale reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby, the Legend of Hell House—both old school 1960/1970s movies—and Get Out. The addition of race politics both modernizes the tale and ups the terror substantially. No wonder this tale was optioned for a movie after only two episodes were released. The scariest part is the 1 on the front cover. Will the building return in future outings? 5 stars!
Thanks to Image Comics and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror Tagged with: Oct 2 2018
We Sold Our Souls and all we got was this lousy band t-shirt. High concept but ultimately unsatisfying book about a fictional heavy metal band.
Kris, Scottie, Tuck, Terry and first JD and then Bill started Durk Wurk, a heavy metal band, in high school. They were good but not great. Terry, the male lead singer, breaks up the band one night by stealing their music and going solo as The Blind King in his (new band) Koffin. Terry becomes rich and famous while the other band members stumble through life.
Kris, the guitarist and song writer, decides to confront Terry during his final farewell tour show at Hellfest. As she contacts her other former band mates, she finds out more than just thievery may have happened the night the band broke up.
Similar to what occurred with the author’s Horrorstor, We Sold Our Souls has an intriguing and high concept plot. Unfortunately, its promise is never fully realized. The conclusion was exactly what was seen only a few pages into the story. There are also some credibility issues. I don’t listen to metal. But I know the Dead Kennedys and the Plasmatics were punk—not metal. I found it hard to believe that a guitarist could stop playing for years and immediately be able to play at the same level when she is handed a guitar. Also, while there are illusions to Hell, there were absolutely no scary moments in this book. If you are into heavy metal, you might enjoy this book. However, for me it only rates 3 stars.
Thanks to Quirk Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Horror Tagged with: Heavy metal music, Sep 18 2018
A pregnant Brazilian lands in an airport in Switzerland. She calls the police because an assassin is hunting her. When the police fail to stop the killer, a young girl appears saying she just wants the lady’s fetus. So begins Undead Messiah 1, an exciting thriller wrapped within a horror manga.
Who hasn’t been entranced by a video game, movie or book and after it’s over you still feel like it has leached into your real life? Tim loves ZAC, a zombie video game, and the Walking Dead television show. He begins to see zombie threats everywhere. However, just because he’s paranoid, doesn’t mean there aren’t zombies running amok.
I loved the innovative plot. Unfortunately, I can’t describe my favorite part since it will spoil the surprise. As a huge fan of the Walking Dead comics, I thought this book would be perfect for me. And it was. Nerdy gamer thinks he can kill real zombies until he meets one. If only there was a wireless controller for real life (heavy sigh…). The art, especially the chapter titles, perfectly set the mood and clearly illustrated the plot.
Undead Messiah 1 has elements of horror, mystery, fantasy, post-apocalyptic thriller and even romance. I can’t wait for the second volume, which comes out November 6, 2018. It is highly recommended for all manga fans looking for something different. 4 stars!
Thanks to ToykoPop and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Romance Tagged with: Jul 19 2018, Manga
Babyteeth Vol 2 begins with a nice summary of Vol 1. While that is nice for readers beginning here, it spoils the surprises in Vol 1 so I would recommend reading them in order. Also, if you want to read Vol 1 first, please don’t read the rest of this review since it contains SPOILERS for that volume.
I loved Vol 1 of this series. As I stated in my 5 star review of Vol 1, I couldn’t wait for volume 2 and grabbed it off NetGalley as soon as it appeared.
This story begins immediately after the first with Heather, Sadie and baby Clark travelling on a commercial airplane flown by the girls’ dad. The group is accompanied by the wizard Dancy and headed for the Maine castle built for Clark by the dark cultish group, the Way. In the meantime, the quasi-governmental group, the Silhouette, is trying once again to kill them. Both groups believe that Clark is the antichrist, born to usher in the end times. For the Way that is good news but for the Silhouette it is not. Are both groups insane? Well, little Clark does only drink blood and when he cries people bleed and sometimes disappear.
While still a good horror story, this volume doesn’t have the big ‘Clark is who?’ surprise element of Vol 1. There are a few smaller twists in the plot to keep it interesting. An adorable “fire-breathing murder raccoon” and Sadie’s backstory are intriguing. The relative of a past adversary also appears.
Babyteeth Vol 2 collects issues #6-10. Single issues continue to be published so I can’t wait for Vol 3. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Aftershock Comics, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror Tagged with: Jun 26 2018, paranormal
Peril in the Old Country is a hilarious quest fantasy!
Sloot Peril is an accountant who has a nervous condition. He lives in the Old Country where swearing causes goblins to physically appear. There is so much bureaucracy that a union provides professional line waiters. Sloot is a patriot who despises the country just past the Old Country’s giant wall, Carpathia. What happens when he:
- Is recruited to be the financial manager of his mega-rich boss’ son
- Finds out a shocking truth about himself
- Is recruited to be a Carpathian spy
- Does the one thing his boss told him not to do—on his first day
The puns come fast and furious in Peril in the Old Country. There are running gags about swear words and shoes throughout. It is a zany ride. The world building is terrific and hilarious. Is it fantasy? Is it horror? I don’t know but it is highly recommended for readers looking for something different. This book is perfect for fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s style of humor. 42 stars! [sorry, wrong book] 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Black Spot Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Horror, Humor Tagged with: Jun 5 2018
Kamo, a sixteen-year-old boy, is dying from a defective heart. Crimson from the underworld offers him a deal. Trap twelve spirit souls that will allow Crimson to live again and Crimson will repair Kamo’s heart permanently.
Despite a non-Japanese author, the artwork has an authentic manga feel. The ambience is very international. The setting is Bern, Switzerland. The female lead is a Spanish immigrant who occasionally uses Spanish phrases. The plot, based on Goethe’s Faust, is just different enough to be enjoyable without throwing off the manga vibe. 4 stars!
Thanks to ToykoPop and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, Paranormal Tagged with: Manga, May 2 2018
Roderick is the leader of the Fiat Lux, the fighting arm of the Catholic Church in 1347. The Fiat Luz is tasked with taking the Pope to a safe house in England from his residence in the French countryside.
The world is in the middle of the plague of the Black Death. Eventually 20 million, or 60% of the population of Europe, will perish. Plague victims begin to rise from their graves becoming eaters of the living.
Wow, just wow! The art and especially the lettering of Pestilence Vol 1 perfectly set the mood and evoke the era. I loved the revisionist plot. It is hard to explain why without ruining the wonderful surprises within this excellent comic. Pestilence Vol 1 combines the best of historical fiction, adventure, horror and mystery. It is definitely for adults only and may offend some Christians, especially Catholics. For all others, it is highly recommended. While this is marketed as volume 1, it can be read as a stand-alone story. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Aftershock Comics, and NetGalley for an advance copy. Pestilence Vol 1 will be published February 20, 2018.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Graphic Novel, Horror Tagged with: Feb 20 2018, Historical fiction
Have you ever thought, “Every plot has already been used so what’s the point in reading (or writing) another”? If so, Smoke City is going to surprise you. No book or movie is anywhere near its plot for imagination and creativity.
Smoke City is a captivating genre-smashing novel. Here are the major genres that are colliding like atoms within this novel:
- Historical fiction (Joan of Arc’s death)
- Horror (ghost story)
- Tragedy (predestination during reincarnation)
- Adventure (adult male bonding during a road trip)
- Literary fiction (famous artist hits the skids)
- Magical realism (see above)
It sounds like it would be a huge mess. But somehow it works!
Half-visible wraiths nicknamed smokes are appearing in Southern California and northern Mexico. Mike Vale, a washed up previously famous artist is desperately trying to get to a funeral in Los Angeles.
Mike picks up Marvin Deitz after Marvin is unceremoniously kicked out of his record store’s lease by his shady, possibly mob-connected, landlord. Marvin is convinced that he will die violently before his 57th birthday in a few days. Why? Throughout his multitude of reincarnations, he never lives to 57. Marvin is convinced he is being punished for executing Joan of Arc in 1431. His therapist thinks it is just a delusion. Convinced he has seen the current incarnation of Joan of Arc on a talk show, Marvin is going to Los Angeles in the hopes of finding forgiveness from a woman he has never met–at least in this lifetime.
On the way to LA, the pair pick up a stowaway, Casper. The plot continues to get curiouser and curiouser from there.
Deciding to read this book takes a leap of faith. There is no comparable book or movie to say it resembles. Smoke City was written by a relatively unknown writer and published by a small press. However, take this reviewer’s advice and read this book. It is truly fantastic and totally different from any other book you will read this year! Kirkus Reviews gushed (for them) that it was “strangely satisfying”. It is worth 5+ stars!
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Horror, Literary Fiction, Paranormal Tagged with: Historical fiction, Jan 23 2018, magical realism