Tag Archives: dark fantasy

Pivot: Jack Harper Trilogy, Book 1 by L. C. Barlow (Book Showcase)

From the age of seven, Jack Harper is raised by the leader of a mystical cult, Cyrus Harper. Through Cyrus, Jack receives a full education in all usual subjects―economics, literature, mathematics, history―as well as one unique skill useful to a person in Cyrus’s position: assassination. With the help of Roland James, a man incapable of dying, Cyrus hones Jack into the perfect weapon to use against all who oppose him.

It is not long, however, before Jack discovers that Cyrus and Roland are not the only ones living in Cyrus’s mansion. There, too, exists a mysterious creature in the depths of the house with supposed immortal magic. According to Roland, this creature is responsible for all the miraculous things Jack has witnessed throughout her childhood, including Roland’s resurrection. The creature, potent and powerful, only weakens in the presence of Cyrus’s red velvet box―a dark, enchanted tool that grants Cyrus his invincibility and ensures his reign.

Lonely and terrified by her life in the cult, under Cyrus’s neverending watch, Jack desperately pursues the mysterious being. When they finally meet, her world is turned upside down, as he offers her more than she could have ever expected―the possibility of escape and her own secret, magical power.

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Excerpt:

“The repetition of these particular lessons helped me—the time and effort I devoted to them. Winning a fight had nothing to do with an instantaneous surge of power and awareness but was about maintaining a sense of normality in the moment. It was about what I could forget. I got used to the sensation of a body against my body, of someone coming at me, the foreign twisting, pulling, and driving. When it became the norm, then it all fell away, much like a common denominator. Only the crosshairs, the target, the wind, the heart, the head, the veins were left. Training meant learning what one should remember and, more importantly, what one should forget. The winner is the one for whom the fight feels most like home.” – Jack Harper, PIVOT

 

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L.C. Barlow is a writer and professor working primarily in the field of speculative fiction.  She has an MA in English from the University of Texas at Arlington and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program.  She has studied with popular writers, including Nancy Holder, Elizabeth Hand, Ted Deppe, James Patrick Kelly, Elizabeth Searle, David Anthony Durham, and Theodora Goss.  Her work has been published in Oak Bend Review, Flash Fiction World, Linguistic Erosion, Flashes in the Dark, Separate Worlds, Every Day Fiction, and Popular Culture Review.  Her fiction has reached over sixty-five thousand readers and garnered praise, including a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Awards, a winner of the IndieReader Discovery Awards, a winner of the eLit Awards, and IndieReader’s Best Books of 2014.  On Quora, her posts have received over 1.4 million content views. Barlow’s horror trilogy – PivotPerish, and Peak – was picked up in 2018 by California Coldblood Books, an imprint of Rare Bird Books.  The first of the trilogy, Pivot, was released in October of 2019.  Perish will be released in October of 2020.  Peak will be released in October of 2021. Barlow lives in Dallas, TX with her two cats, Smaug and Dusty.

 

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The Kelping: Rewind or Die Book 9 by Jan Stinchcomb (Book Review)

Print Length: 68 pages

Doctor Craig Bo has everything: a perfect wife and children, a thriving dermatology practice, and a house in a lovely coastal town. Nobody is surprised when he is chosen to be the Sea King of Beachside in his hometown’s annual festival.

But after the festival Craig’s world turns upside down. Something starts growing on his skin. His son tells him a story about a sinister mermaid who lives in the attic of the local history museum. And his beautiful wife, Penelope, can no longer hide her dark connection to the sea.

As Craig grapples with his own secrets and misdeeds, he finally understands the woman he married and the plans she has for him.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

When you think of mermaids, your mind probably first goes to The Little Mermaid; sweet, singing, happy go lucky, under the sea people. 

Jan (the author) DID NOT write a Disney tale. Instead, she wrote a story that would make the Grimm Brothers proud. 

As a reader, Penelope was throwing up red flags all over the place. Certain phrases in conversations would lead any smart man to run for the hills. Example: Penelope wants him to “worship” only her. 

Craig didn’t see or didn’t want to see the warning signs that something was off about his wife. Heck, if he looked hard enough, I bet he could see she had crazy eyes. That’s the problem, he didn’t stop to look. Craig thought with his little head, and Little Craig got him into a particularly sticky situation. 

I didn’t feel compassion for Craig. I didn’t care about the outcome of anyone besides Dash. 

While I did like the progression of Craig’s inevitable transformation, I wanted more horror, much like we glimpsed in the opening credits. 

No doubt, this was an intriguing short story and one worth reading.

 
Heart rating system:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)
Score: ❤❤❤1/2
 

 

 

Jan Stinchcomb is the author of The Kelping (Unnerving), The Blood Trail (Red Bird Chapbooks) and Find the Girl (Main Street Rag). Her stories have recently appeared in WigleafHobart and Pithead Chapel. A Pushcart nominee, she is featured in Best Microfiction 2020 and The Best Small Fictions 2018. She lives in Southern California with her family. Visit her at janstinchcomb.com or on Twitter @janstinchcomb.

 

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Two Moons Rising by Ernest Solar (Book Showcase)

When Lance Juddit looks up into the night sky, he sees two moons, but he’s learned not to mention it to other people. He also doesn’t mention the things he sees when he drops off to sleep—and he falls asleep all the time, everywhere. He doesn’t mention the place with the golden fields, the purple sun, the emerald sea. And he definitely doesn’t talk about the slender silver creatures that stalk this landscape and menace his fitful dreams, which aren’t dreams at all.

In the space between waking and dreaming, between this world and the next, between body and soul, the silver Mysts feed on human souls. For a thousand years, a select few seekers have found a way to fight and defeat the Mysts where they live and set free the souls they’ve trapped. But the seekers have all but disappeared and it is up to Lance to end the battle once and for all and liberate humankind from the Mysts.

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~~ Excerpt ~~

I write this for all who find their way here through God’s will. The terrain of this place is void of any resemblance of trees or bushes from our own. Therefore, this is foreign land to my eyes. Nevertheless, thy eyes still recognize the similarities of our world. The only vegetation recognizable to our kind is the golden stalks of grass that sway in a forceful wind that I have determined blows from the Northern Hemisphere. The calm and silent oceans in the Southern Hemisphere are an emerald green and the waves drift across the surface of the water in eerie silence. The barren terrain with the rolling hills of golden stalks link the mountains of the north to the seas in the south.

As far as I can tell, no living creature inhabits this land. Albeit, life does dwell in this land. Life I have never seen in my own land. Life different from my own appearance. Similar to us in structure. Different than life I have ever experienced in my years. They move and change in ways unbeknownst to my most vivid imagination. Be them demons I think not, for I feel their souls. I feel their souls in this land and recognize their souls among our kind, hidden in the corporal flesh of our family, friends, and neighbors. Hellions they are not, nonetheless life unknown to our kind filled with an intent to remove us.    

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Ernest Solar has been a writer, storyteller, and explorer of some kind for his entire life. He grew up devouring comic books, novels, any other type of books along with movies, which allowed him to explore a multitude of universes packed with mystery and adventure. A professor at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, he lives with his family in Virginia.

 

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The Night House by J. C. McKenzie (Book Review)

What would you pay for your freedom?

Caught by a powerful lord from the alternate realm of Arkavia, Taya’s offered the chance to avenge the dead, save her home world, and win her freedom.

Her days of stealing supplies and surviving among the remnants of Earth are over, but can she afford the price of Lord Thane’s deal?

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Thane clenched his jaw, took two giant steps forward and bent to catch her by the middle. When he straightened, he threw her over his shoulder. His gauntlet armoured fingers dug into her thighs. His swords’ hilts stared back at her, tempting and teasing. Her fingers itched to wrap around the smooth leather and yank one from its sheath.

If you’re going down, go down fighting, her dad’s life motto played in her memory.

If only her hands weren’t bound. Instead, she flopped uselessly as Thane strode toward the gate. His shoulder dug into her stomach and her face smacked against the cold metal back plate of his black armour. She had a perfect view of his ass. Fitting, since he acted like one.

What did she expect? Preferential treatment for a captive? How was she any different than any of the other slaves brought through this portal?

Thane walked unhindered through the thick air. The blue haze cleared. The buzzing stopped.

She wasn’t dead.

Thane pulled her down from his shoulder and set her on her feet in the snow in front of him. Over his shoulder, the other men walked through the gate leading the horses.

Cool air brushed her skin. The winter breeze contained exotic scents of Arkavia, smelling of pine, but different, more floral.

Thane watched her expectantly.

“I may have overreacted.”

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

In The Night House, death surrounded Taya for much of the story. At the start of this book, Taya lost her friends to a magical blue wave. This blue wave turned many people to ash and made all electronics useless. It was almost the perfect weapon against our civilization.

Taya, now she wielded a weapon that I thought was absolutely brilliant. She stumbled upon two swords that had flashes of blue and white light, which travelled in bolts of lightning from the pommel to tip of blade. Not just anyone could harness its power but Taya could. Whether she was swinging a sword, staff, or knife, Taya impressed me with her fighting skills and her quick thinking. She wasn’t a woman anyone should underestimate.

Thane, from the House of Jericho, was a multi-layered character: fierce, loyal, a great leader and loving. He was likable and so were the soldiers that followed his commands.

I think it’s worth noting, J. C. McKenzie wrote tremendous battle scenes and in these scenes we were able to see the camaraderie between the soldiers. We saw teammates become family, foes became friends, and unbreakable bonds form between many key characters. 

Through J. C. McKenzie’s gift of storytelling, readers will fall in love with Taya and Thane as they defy all odds and making their coupling work. Together, they are unstoppable.

 

I highly recommend reading this book. 

 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

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View More: http://photos.pass.us/headshot2J.C. McKenzie is a book-loving, gumboot-wearing, unapologetic science geek. She’s the author of the Carus Series, an urban fantasy five-book saga published by the Wild Rose Press. Born and raised on the West Coast, J. C. sets the majority of her books in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance with sassy heroines and brutish, alpha-type men.

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The Night House by J.C. McKenzie (Book Showcase)

What would you pay for your freedom?

Caught by a powerful lord from the alternate realm of Arkavia, Taya’s offered the chance to avenge the dead, save her home world, and win her freedom.

Her days of stealing supplies and surviving among the remnants of Earth are over, but can she afford the price of Lord Thane’s deal?

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~~ Excerpt 1 ~~

The Tarka chuckled and shoved her away. She stumbled a few steps, dropped the sticks and unsheathed her blades. Her fingers gripped the smooth leather wound around the hilts. The power vibrated against her skin. The electrifying blue energy danced along the shafts and whined, begging for blood. She whirled around and her hood fell back. The wind pushed her hair across her face.

The Tarka remained expressionless and drew his second sword. He now wielded two blades like her. “Ah. Now we see the true you.”

She lunged. He parried. The power of the swords pulled at her. She fused with them, merging into one, as if the blades became extensions of her arms as she danced. The light reflected off the metal and she became a flurry of sharp edges. Each slash propelled her faster and she spun, transforming into a whirlwind of blades.

 

~~ Excerpt 2 ~~

The Tarka held perfectly still, gray gaze flashing, white-blond hair shining under the setting sun. He looked like a warrior angel sent to Earth to smite the pest-like humans.

She clutched her staff and brought it up with numb fingers.

He raised a dark eyebrow. “You plan to fight me with a stick?”

“I can hand it over and tell you what to do with it, if you promise to follow directions.” She moved the stick slowly. Not fast enough to give away her skill, but enough to warm her wrists and get blood flowing back into her limbs.

“I’ll take option number one, thank you,” he said.

“Fine with me. I’d prefer anything to becoming your next sacrifice.” They’d never confirmed the Arkavians were responsible for the bloody sacrifice they’d stumbled on, but no crazy magical beasts had roamed the forest since the portal opened, so they made an assumption. She glanced behind her at the trees and George’s exposed foot. What the hell had the Tarka done to him?

“He’s incapacitated. You won’t find any help from him.”

Taya snarled while her mind raced. The man hadn’t used any magic yet. Maybe he didn’t have any. Maybe only some of the blondes had power. Could she outrun him? She wasn’t fast, but he was bulky with muscle, and wore lightweight armour and a heavy cloak to stave off the damp cold.

Where would she run to? She couldn’t lead him to the others, and she couldn’t survive long in the woods without supplies.

The man cocked his head, studying her and probably reading every thought screaming through her head. “Sacrifice? Exactly what kind of fantasies have your kind concocted about us?”

“I would hardly call them fantasies.”

“What would you call them, then?”

“Nightmares.” Duh.

He nodded. “Is this where you tell me my evil ways are done?”

“I’m not sure. Is this where you make some grand speech about ridding the world of my kind or do you plan to preach about the superiority of your race and how you deserve to leach off our planet?”

“I’m waiting for you to finish warming up so we can get on with it.”

She fumbled and almost dropped the staff.

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View More: http://photos.pass.us/headshot2J.C. McKenzie is a book-loving, gumboot-wearing, unapologetic science geek. She’s the author of the Carus Series, an urban fantasy five-book saga published by the Wild Rose Press. Born and raised on the West Coast, J. C. sets the majority of her books in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance with sassy heroines and brutish, alpha-type men.

J.C. McKenzie’s Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter |

Goodreads | Amazon | Newsletter

 
 
 

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