Tag Archives: horror

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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Howl by Mariposa Cruz (Book Showcase)


Howl and Roar were originally released as two separate titles with the same cast of characters. Based on reader feedback, I decided to roll both stories under a single title when I re-released Howl. I had dedicated Roar to honor my dad so I kept his dedication and referenced the story as Book II, Roar. Find out what happens to Kate and Jack and the rest of the pack in Book II.

 

Evil often strikes in unlikely places, outside an office in broad daylight or at secluded cabin at dusk. This unflinching pair of shifter tales reveals the beasts in our midst. After surviving a brutal attack, a single mother’s days become a battle to maintain control while her nights are a disturbing blur of dreams. A workaholic is plunged into turmoil when her weekend romantic rendezvous becomes a desperate struggle to survive. Will love save them or be their undoing?


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Excerpt

     Jack’s fists clenched.

     “A month after Mom died, I started receiving newspaper articles about missing women. I knew Pierce picked up where his parents left off. I’ve been trying to track him down.”

    “Have you talked to the police?”

    “Except for the clippings, I have no proof. Even if they were to apprehend him, can you imagine what he’d do to a prison population?” Without more tangible evidence, enforcers won’t pursue the case.”   

    “Enforcers?”

    “Since criminal behavior risks exposing the entire were population, we have our own methods of dealing with illegal activity. Enforcers investigate, evaluate and execute if necessary.”

    “That’s harsh. How can one person act as judge, jury and executioner?”

     “It’s necessary, to avoid exposing the community. Do you want to spend the rest of your life caged in a lab?” Jack asked.

     “No.”

     “I did get one woman away from him and brought her to the lodge. I assume Lillian helped her sort out her life. I haven’t heard from her since. It’s probably better that way.” Jack hesitated.

     “What else?” Kate prompted. 

     “Pierce called me this morning.  He’s here. He left cigarette butts near your window.  I spent all day tracking him.”  Kate hugged her knees trying to shake a sudden chill.

      “When I think about what he did to you…” 

     “I’m all right. I want to be with you in any way, shape, or form.” Kate put her arms around him.  She felt the tension in his shoulders. Kate turned his face toward hers and kissed him slowly, her free hand stroking his beard.

     “I never realized you could be such a tease,” Jack murmured into her ear.

     “I never knew you could be such a beast,” Kate replied and she kissed him again. 

     He returned her kiss, pulling her onto his lap, his hands slid up her shirt caressing her bare back while she snuggled closer and wrapped her legs around him.

     The first howl startled them both.

     “Damn,” Jack muttered. Kate sighed.

     “We can’t be late for dinner?” She murmured.

     “No. I’m not going to rush this time. We’ll continue this later in bed. I’ll wait for you outside.” His fingers traced the curve of her bare thigh when he released her. He kissed her hard on the mouth then turned abruptly and left her to change alone. If he lingered around her much longer, they would miss dinner.

    Jack paced restlessly outside while he waited for Kate to join him. Changing in the chilled night air cooled his ardor. He heard the others in the distance and his stomach growled. Searching the forest for Pierce, he hadn’t eaten all day. What was taking her so long? It wasn’t as if she needed to freshen up her make up or curl her hair. Finally, after several long minutes a small silver wolf joined him. She nipped at him playfully as they raced to meet the others.

 

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Mariposa Cruz balances writing with working as a full-time corporate paralegal. For her Create on the Side blog she has interviewed a variety of real life characters from artists to romance authors. She works, writes and dances Salsa in Reno, Nevada.

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Dead and Breakfast: Rewind or Die Book 11 by Gary Buller (Book Review)

When Eddie gets a flat in the middle of nowhere, the last thing on his mind is death. Then as darkness falls and the storm worsens, he’s forced to seek shelter alongside his significant other, Banksy. Big mistake.

Bed and Breakfast, the sign said, but there are no eggs and bacon on the menu here. Instead, their host serves up four tales of terror with a little murder on the side. And as the other residents of the mansion gradually reveal themselves, Eddie and Banksy begin to wonder if they’ll ever check out alive. 

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

 

Dead and Breakfast is a collection of 5 short stories, but they are not disjointed. I won’t say how Gary’s connects them, but I will say it’s twisted…morbid…and creepy AF! 

No matter if you are reading CordsThe Brace, The Weight of Nostalgiaor The Greyfriarsyou’ll discover something in each of these tales that’ll cause you to make the eww, grossed-out face. Case in point, in The Greyfriars, there were BIG, FAT MAGGOTS. I found them equally or more disturbing than the phantoms/ghosts/spirits. Yeah, I hate insects that much. 

Don’t get me started on all the various other haunting creatures… 

Without a doubt, Gary’s mind is as twisted as Stephen King’s. One day, I hope to see Gary’s workings brought to life on the big screen. Of course, I’ll be watching the movie through parted fingers. 


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

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Gary Buller is an author from Manchester England where he lives with his long suffering partner Lisa, and his daughter Holly. He is a huge fan of all things macabre having grown up reading King and Koontz and loves a tale with a twist.

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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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Curse of the Blacknoc Witch by Tori V Rainn (Book Showcase)

Page Count: 162 pages
Cover Design: Abigail Owen

 

Be good, or the Blacknoc Curse will come for you.

Samuel dreamed of being a lot of things, but a monster trapped in a forest realm never entered his mind. The Blacknoc Curse wasn’t supposed to be true, only a children’s story meant to persuade them away from evil. Yet, here he was tasked with hunting cursed kids. There’s nothing left for Samuel except the horror surrounding him.

Layla, a young girl tormented by the same curse, is dropped into the terrifying forest every night, running from the monsters intent on taking her life. She meets Samuel and vows to save all the children, especially Samuel, from their torment.

Working together can they defeat the Blacknoc Curse?

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I crouch down next to the girl, careful not to touch her. “Look. You’ll be okay as long as you stay with me.”

She sniffles and cups her face. “This can’t be happening.” She wipes a tear off her cheek. “The legend of the curse is really like what my great-aunt said.”

I stand and pace. My monster self cannot be still when on constant alert. “It’s all true. A real cesspool of teeth.”

“When I woke back in my room, the scratches on my skin from last night were still there. Grandfather thought I’d done it to myself. I told him what happened, and he didn’t believe me.”

“He won’t be able to help anyway.”

She moans, and I stifle a grunt. There I go again with my optimism. As long as I am cursed to this flesh, there just isn’t any room for the stuff. But I can’t avoid the truth of her fate.

I kneel to her level. “What’s your name?”

“Layla Marlowe.”

I smile. A fitting name for a gorgeous girl. “Layla,” I repeat, as if the name carries me back to a reality where humans live in harmony away from monsters. I hurriedly add, “Nice to meet you.” Then I remember our situation. My comment is inappropriate. There’s nothing nice about the forest. Social etiquette must have died along with my soul.

“And you?” She looks up at me with a curious gaze. “Do you have a name?”

It’s been so long since I’ve heard my name. Who said it last? Josh? Pa calling me to supper? I stop to think for a second and then allow it to roll off my tongue.

“Samuel Fawcett.”

She hugs her knees, leaning forward, dangerously near my barbed hands. “What a keen name for a monster.”

An odd musk from between the trees reaches me. The stench of fear grows potent as low branches snap. Someone small and clumsy runs toward us.

I leap up. “We need to go now.”

 

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About Tori V. Rainn

Tori V. Rainn is a Texas-based fantasy novelist who is on a lifelong mission to inspire her readers through the power of imaginative storytelling. During her creative journey, an array of her short stories have been showcased in various online zines. It all started when she took a writing course at Writer’s Village University, which earned her a Creative Writing Certificate. The moment she penned her first story, she knew writing was her ultimate calling and greatest passion.

When she isn’t crafting thrilling plots, you can find this avid video gamer watching her favorite shows, collecting unique knives, or going on meditative walks in the heart of nature. She is also a chocoholic and tea aficionada with an unquenchable sweet tooth. Above all else, Tori enjoys spending quality time with her loved ones.

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