Tag Archives: death

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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Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3 – Six Authors, Twelve Chilling Stories (Anthology Review)

Brace yourself for another two-barrel blast of unrelenting horror and suspense. Volume 3 of the ‘Double Barrel Horror’ anthology series delivers two chilling tales from each of six talented authors for a twelve-story onslaught that will blow you out of your sneakers. This time around, your fate lies in the hands of Christine Morgan, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer, Glenn Rolfe, and Robert Essig.

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(review request submitted by Theresa Braun, contributing author, for an honest critique)

There are twelve stories in this gory anthology. I am going to share my favorite story from each author. 

 

I had no idea so many phrases had the word “eye” in it. Christine Morgan’s Eye See You discussed mentioned several. 

  • keeping an eye on you
  • look with your eyes, not your hands
  • eye spy with my little eye
  • eyes in the back of your head
  • eat with your eyes first

When a child hears these phrases, their minds might translate to a literal form. Maybe a child believes EYES are in the back of heads. If you step into their mindset, this phrase is creepy. That’s why I think many will find Eye See You disturbingIt makes you rethink and picture a not so pleasant scene. 

 

 

If you have a weak stomach, as in the mere mention of puke causes you to gag, then pass on From Unclean Spells by Robert Essig. There was so much vomit in this short story. I mean, you could slip- n-slide in the slimy stuff if you wanted to… not that I am suggesting you ever do so. I am just giving you a nasty visual of how much upchuck was involved. Oh yeah, there’s a grotesque monster in this tale as well. He made me wanna relieve myself of my breakfast foods as well. 

 

 

Wicked Smart Carnie by Mark Matthews solidified what my mother told me every year of my childhood when the carnival came to town… “Never trust a carnie. Never talk to a carnie. NEVER, EVER, go off with a carnie alone!” 

I’m sure carnies are lovely people, but they give off a creepy vibe to me. I’m assuming Mark Matthews (the author) has felt the creep vibe from them as well. 

 

Theresa Braun’s Stillborn had a great combination of science fiction, mystery, suspense, gore, and shock. I mean, first, she had body parts in jars. But, she topped herself when more jars were exposed. (no spoilers)

Mad scientist… Invasion of the Body Snatchers… I’m not sure what the heck is going on in that hospital, and I’m not sure if I want to know. Who am I kidding… I so want to know. I didn’t want the story to end! 

 

Calvin Demmer drew me in with Highway Hunger. His monster was a seven-foot squid/octopus with two large eyes that fed on dying animals or humans. Ok, that sounds good on paper. In-person, not so much. 

And the ending, wow, I DID NOT see that coming. I bet Dudley didn’t either. 

Oh and the rat scene… SHIVERS! 

 

 

When I was a child, there was an urban legend that a Cabbage Patch Doll came alive and suffocated a baby in her sleep. I immediately tossed all my big dolls in the trash. Even now, as I shop in stores, I give them the side-eye. I know it’s my imagination, but I swear them look a little too intently at me. Plus, they can blink their eyes. That’s creepy. 

Oh, and don’t get me started on the dolls that look, feel, and act like real babies. Those dolls are nightmare inducers! 

After reading The House on Mayflower by Glenn Rolfe, I have a new fear. I’d tell you, but I don’t want to ruin the story for others. 


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Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
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Christine Morgan (Author), Mark Matthews (Author), Theresa Braun  (Author), Calvin Demmer  (Author), Glenn Rolfe (Author), Robert Essig (Author), Matthew Weber (Editor) 

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