Tag Archives: horror

Come One, Come All by E. Gilliland (Book Review)

The Pied Piper Circus lures in the lost, the lonely, people who wish to be stronger or faster or prettier…but once you join, you can never leave. 

Louisa knows the dangers of the traveling carnival, but she cannot afford to stay away. Not if she wants to get rid of the white owl that’s been haunting her, invading her dreams. Not if she wants to know about the dark, sinister mark in her eyes that convinces people to follow her every whim, no matter how terrible. Not when she fears what she might do with that power.

Ringmaster Amos Cain has the answers Louisa seeks, but like everything else in the Pied Piper Circus, they won’t come without a price. And there’s something hungry living in the heart of the carnival that will never be satiated, no matter how many lost souls She consumes.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from R&R Book Tours.
I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

Years and years ago, I grew up in a tiny town. Every fourth of July weekend, a carnival would be set up less than a block from my house. During the day, the carnival didn’t look scary. At night, I had the opposite feeling regarding the place. I’m sure the carnie workers were friendly enough, but at night, I was afraid of them and who might grab me on the way back to my house. This story made me remember all those uneasy feelings from years past. 

The Pied Piper Circus had an acrobat, clown, a strong man, and a tiger that entertained the visitors. The circus also housed a very dark secret – a monster that feasted on the souls of the lost and lonely. When hunger struck or anger boiled over, the monster, referred to as “Lady,” would peel the skin off her victim’s flesh. She was the stuff of nightmares! 

Amos was the circus’s ringmaster, but he also helped corral the Lady when she awoke. It was no easy task keeping the Lady pleased; she was a jealous and heartless beast. 

The book’s summary was an attention-grabber. The cover and title are perfect! The story itself left me with mixed feelings. The story’s plot was unique. However, the first half often gave off a sequel vibe. For instance: It was written as if I should know who certain characters are, their past interactions, and why they behaved or reacted in certain ways. I looked up the book to verify this was not a sequel in a series. 

Since this book is labeled “horror,” I craved more Lady feasting scenes. Her hunger wasn’t capitalized on enough to make this a typical horror book. This story was more supernatural in nature. 

I was pleasantly surprised who came out of nowhere to help Louisa when we saw Lady’s anger unleashed. I thought they were gone forever. (No spoilers.)

With the superbly written book summary, I was ready to be blown away by the contents. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. It felt incomplete. Even though I had mixed feelings regarding the story, I recommend you read it. It was a nice supernatural read, and the ending opened it for a sequel. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 1/2

 

 

About the Author

Writer Elizabeth Gilliland was photographed in Mobile, Alabama.

Elizabeth Gilliland mostly believes in ghosts and other supernatural spooks, but she has a standing agreement with them to keep a respectful distance. When she isn’t writing, she is most likely sneaking classic Gothic novels into her class curriculum, or arguing why we need to value adaptations as art. She is also the author of the Austen University Mysteries, and she lives in Alabama with her husband and son.

Bayou Wolf Press | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads 

 

 

 

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Peel Back and See by Mike Thorn (Book Review)

In spaces both familiar and strange, unknowable horrors lurk.

From the recesses of the Internet, where cosmic terror shows its face on an endless live feed, to a museum celebrating the sordid legacy of an occultist painter, this chilling collection of sixteen short stories will plunge you into the eerie, pessimistic imagination of Mike Thorn. Peel Back and See urges its readers to look closer, to push past surface-level appearances and face the things that stir below.

 

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

 

Peel Back and See is a collection of sixteen (16) short stories that are heavy on unforgettable encounters with hungry creatures, blood and gore, fear, Satan, and (weirdly enough) sexual arousal. 

Some stories stuck with me more than others. Below are my top five (5). 

1.) Mr. Mucata’s Final Requests: Everyone knows you don’t try to double-cross Satan. I mean, come on, don’t even try. Deals with him are also a bad idea. Seriously, the worst possible choice a person can make. If you believe in the devil, demons, and hell, say NO to anything offered. Period!

2.) @GorgoYama2013: We’re raised to know you NEVER go into a stranger’s car. Horror movies have ingrained in us to NEVER go into a strange basement, especially alone. Victor broke all the rules. What he met could best be described as a horrific version of Krang (the brain) from TMNT. If you don’t know who I am talking about, look him up! 

3.) Vomitus Bacchanalius: Okay, people are vomiting. Aliens are eating the regurgitated food. There are goo-faced men. Ugh, this story was gross, BUT good! I loved the nod to Gordon Ramsay too. 🙂

4.) The Furnace Room Mutant: This story stood out more because you’d think an unnatural being would be the monster in the story. I like it when authors step out from the paranormal norm. 🙂

5.) Havoc: This was the first story in the collection, and it made me close my laptop and take one giant step back from it. Read the story, and you’ll understand why. There was only one part I wasn’t too keen on — a flashback scene between student and teacher. I don’t want to divulge too much, but it made my score drop from a five to a four. (for this story only, not the overall score of the anthology)

 

 In Peel Back and See, thirteen of the sixteen stories scored three and above. That’s impressive! I encourage others to read the collection and see which story has you cowering under the covers. 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link
Journalstone.com

 

 

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Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast, Tales to Terrify, and Prairie Gothic. His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, and Vague Visages. He completed his M.A. with a major in English literature at the University of Calgary, where he wrote a thesis on epistemophobia in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness.

Connect with him on Twitter (@MikeThornWrites) or visit his website for more information: mikethornwrites.com.

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Sand and Shadow by Laurisa White Reyes (Book Review)

Winner of the 2015 Houston Writers House Competition!

SandandShadowEbook2

Seven Survivors.

One Monster.

Nowhere to hide.

Mission Specialist Adán Fuentes awakes from cryo-hibernation to discover that most of his fellow crewmates are dead and the shuttle Carpathia is not where it’s supposed to be. Surrounded by a vast barren landscape, he and the other survivors wonder how they can accomplish their mission, to establish a home for future colonists.

When an unseen creature attacks them, the Carpathia’s crew must turn their attention to surviving and solving the true purpose behind their mission.

Inspired by the 50’s sci-fi flick FORBIDDEN PLANET, SAND AND SHADOW plumbs the depths of the human psyche and the power of its influence. As the Carpathia’s crew’s secrets and flaws are revealed, readers may find themselves compelled to examine their own dark places.

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Europa, Jupiter’s moon

Zarmina, Gliese 581g

I received a complimentary copy of this book from R&R Book Tours.
I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

What makes Sand and Shadow by Laurisa White Reyes so spectacular is it capitalizes on the possibility and probability certain events in the story can happen. 

Earth is dying. Leading experts are trying to buy us more time, but is it working? And if their efforts aren’t working, would they tell us the truth? Would they disclose how close we are to the end of life on Earth?

See, I do believe it’s probable NASA would be secretive in this knowledge. Humans would go bat-shit crazy if they knew we had so many years…weeks…days…or even hours left. The world would erupt in chaos. 

In the story, life in space wasn’t without major pitfalls. When the astronauts woke up from their cryogenic state, things did not go according to script. When you are exploring or starting over on a new planet, you have to expect the unexpected. The crew members had no way to predict or prepare for what attacked them or what would continually attack them. 

Earth has perished.

Numerous astronauts have died as well. 

But, hope is not lost. 

Recommend: Yes! 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

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Bonus material

 

 

About the Author:

AuthorPic

Laurisa White Reyes is the author of the SCBWI Spark Award winning novel The Storytellers and the Spark Honor recipient Petals. She is also the Senior Editor at Skyrocket Press and an English instructor at College of the Canyons in Southern California.
Laurisa White Reyes | Skyrocket Press | Facebook | BookBub


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Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition by Mike Thorn (Book Review)

cover image / art by Mikio Murakami

 

Between the covers of Darkest Hours, you will find academics in distress; humans abusing monsters; demons terrorizing people; ghostly reminiscences; resurrected trauma; and occult filmmaking. Ranging from satirical to dreadful, these sixteen stories share a distinct voice: urgent, sardonic, and brutal.  

This expanded edition includes a new foreword by Sadie Hartmann (Mother Horror) and author notes for every story describing Thorn’s process, influences, and more. This updated release also features seventeen of Thorn’s essays on horror cinema, which cover films by Tobe Hooper, George A. Romero, Rob Zombie, M. Night Shyamalan, Wes Craven, and Dario Argento, among others.   

Journalstone.com

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

 

When I look at anthologies (multiple authors) or a compilation of works by a single author, I hope to walk away loving 1/2 of the short stories. With Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition by Mike Thorn, 11 out of the 16 horror tales scored a 4 or 5. That’s huge! It just shows you how well Mike Thorn crafted each storyline. 

Each story caused various reactions from me. Here are some examples:

 

HairAs a germaphobe, the idea of hair getting in my food or the possibility of eating hair is nightmarish. Ugh, just thinking about it makes my stomach turn. However, the inquisitive part of me wanted to know about hair fetishes. Oh my word, my browser history would raise some eyebrows. Curiosity made me read about hair eating (trichophagia), Rapunzel Syndrome (basically, hairballs), trichophia, and pubephilia. I’ll let readers of my review look those up for themselves. 🙂

While the plot 100% disturbed me and grossed me out, I was fascinated by the medical information surrounding the perversion to hair. 

Economy These DaysThis story wasn’t gory or horrific. It was, however, very plausible. In desperate times, people will do anything for money. So, I can absolutely fathom someone using their body as a punching bag. $450 a day, $2,250 a week, 9K a month, that amount of money is too irresistible to resist. Economy These Days made me wonder what I would do if there were no hope in sight. What would be my price? 

Lucio Schluter: In real life, humans are the real monsters of the world. They are the ones who abduct, inflict pain, suffering, torture, and kill. Every adult has probably watched at least one documentary of a famous serial killer, so you know the horrors that lurk in this world. For me, when Mike Thorn writes about plausible scenarios, that’s the stories that haunt me the most. The ones I won’t soon forget. 

 

Quick responses to 5 more stories featured in the Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition:

 

I’m never camping, thanks to Fusion!!! 

Mirrors are overrated, so I have no issue tossing all of mine in the trash. The possible result if I don’t is scary as shit! (Story, Long Man)

Mired: The absolute horror of the story was the blob eating all the textbooks. 😀

I’ve had many conversations about ghosts, so I loved the philosophical and theoretical discussions in Speaking of Ghosts. I wouldn’t want to face the actual outcome presented in the tale. Nope, I like to live in a world in hypotheticals. Leave the “seeing is believing” for other folks. 🙂

Mike Thorn ended the compilation with a fascinating tale. It’s a story through the eyes of a ghost. Remembering Absence wasn’t gory. It was another “thinker” story. While I love a good gory tale, I found this type of story sticks with you much longer because you’ll find yourself talking about the possibility of such an occurrence with your friends. 

 

After reading the sixteen stories, I learned several important facts.

No sober person had any supernatural encounters. Nothing good happens after dark, so stay the F*** home. Oh, and mirrors are evil so get rid of them! Now! 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

Journalstone.com

Amazon Purchase Link

 

 

 

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Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast, Tales to Terrify, and Prairie Gothic. His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, and Vague Visages. He completed his M.A. with a major in English literature at the University of Calgary, where he wrote a thesis on epistemophobia in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness.

Connect with him on Twitter (@MikeThornWrites) or visit his website for more information: mikethornwrites.com.

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Death Perception by Lee Allen Howard (Book Review)

Kennet Singleton cremates the dead—and then they speak… “Avenge us!”
 
Nineteen-year-old Kennet Singleton lives with his invalid mother in a personal care facility, but he wants out. He operates the crematory at the local funeral home, where he discovers he can discern the cause of death of those he cremates—by toasting marshmallows over their ashes.

He thinks his ability is no big deal since his customers are already dead. But when his perception differs from what’s on the death certificate, he finds himself in the midst of murderers. To save the residents and avenge the dead, Kennet must bring the killers to justice.

 

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

 

The gift of knowing a cause of death without insider information would come in handy for specific jobs — coroner and law enforcement. However, it’s more of a parlor trick for non-detective related occupations—unless you work in a crematory and the dead seek your help for vengeance. Then, it’s absolutely a welcomed gift. 

Kennet’s super power, gift, or whatever you want to call it, really came into play during the last 100 or so pages of the story. During this portion, things started to heat up. 😀

The dead wanted vengeance. Kennet wanted vengeance. 

Spirits communicated with the living to carry out their plan, and not all the angry souls were rooting for the good guy (Kennet). 

While the cover screams horror, in my opinion, I didn’t find Death Perception scary at all. I’m pretty sure I’d be singing a different turn if spirits wanted me dead and if one (or two or more) appeared before me. 

Was Death Perception weird? YES. 

Was it creepy? Yes! 

Seriously, roasting marshmallows over ashes and then eating them is WEIRD and CREEPY!

I only wish we would’ve seen more interactions between the spirits and the living. I wanted more creepiness. More horror. More suspense.

I was pleased by the ending, though. If anyone deserved a HEA, it was Kennet.

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤1/2

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

About the author

I write dark fiction: horror, erotic horror, dark fantasy, dark crime, psychological thrillers and suspense. And technical manuals. All terribly horrifying.

Lee Allen Howard has been a technical writer in the software industry since 1985. (Why do fiction writers pretend like they don’t have day jobs? I like to eat just like everyone else!) I also edit fiction and non-fiction projects. I’ve done book layout and publishing consultancy.

A long time ago I earned a BA in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I also received an MA in Biblical Studies from CI School of Theology and an MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.Pride Flag

My publications include, but are not limited to:

I’m also the founder, editor, and publisher at Dark Cloud Press (http://www.darkcloudpress.com), publisher of horror, dark crime, and psychological thrillers.

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