Tag Archives: suspense

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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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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Soul Reckoning by Nancy E. Polin (Book Review)

Rowan O’Herley figures the old tavern bequeathed to her by her uncle is a chance at a fresh start. When otherworldly presences begin to make themselves known, she soon realizes she inherited much more than just a 200 year old building.

Luke Meunier holds a tragic past close to his chest. When he sees Rowan O’Herley for the first time, he’s drawn to her but can’t bear the thought of getting close. He’s determined to erect a wall between them, but when he realizes she may be in the very same danger that killed her uncle, he can’t help but get involved.

For some vengeance is powerful beyond the grave and can only be satiated when it is steeped in blood…

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

 

New Orleans (Nawlins) is a city full of life, wonderment, great food, and great music. It has a rich history, apparent by the beautifully preserved buildings. It also has deep roots in the realm of magic. Whether you believe in voodoo, caplata, bokor, spiritual beings, New Orleans will draw you in and leave you captivated by what you experienced there. 

I’ve been to New Orleans on a few occasions. I’ve never seen or felt any ghostly beings; however, many others have claimed they have. Shops line many streets catering to the spirit world, anything magically based. 

Rowan has come to New Orleans, inheriting a tavern. With the tavern, she also inherited a handful of spirits and a curse. As you can imagine, not all spirits are peaceful. Having ones rearrange furniture, cause sounds of glass shattering, alter temperature, or create flowery scents in the air can be annoying. They are harmless, but their antics might unnerve a nonlocal. As for the curse, well, those never mean anything good. Luckily for Rowan, she didn’t have to fight off Marcus (bokor) on her own. She had the living and spiritual world watching her back. 

As for my overall feelings on Soul Reckoning, from the moment Rowan drove down the streets of New Orleans till the end of the final page, I felt the love and respect Nancy E. Polin (the author) had for this historic city. 

You did Nawlins proud! 

 

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

 

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Nancy E. Polin began writing as a child and returned as a late bloomer to add experience and the occasional quirk to her work. She’s published four novels and several short pieces to date and is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. Nancy shares her life with her husband, kids and critters, nestled within the towering firs of the Pacific Northwest.

 

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Grave Fortune by Nancy E. Polin (Book Review)

Gifts are not always welcome…
The accident which claimed her husband’s life left Dana Chambers with a unique ability.

Gifts are not always beautiful…
A long ago promise puts Alex Kelly in the reluctant role of guide and protector.

Gifts cannot always be returned…
270 years of life is more than Joseph ever wanted, but the long road may have just become a bit more interesting.

For some gifts are destined to evolve…

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

Before I cracked open Grave Fortune, Nancy (the author) informed me this story would be the first in a series currently in the works. So, I went in expecting a lot of information thrown at me because most authors do this with the first novel. Nancy did deliver a lot of action, mystery, bloodshed, and heartfelt moments. However, she also left a lot of unanswered questions.

1.) Who created V-Guard? What’s in it that causing humans to smell unappealing to vampires?

2.) Why does the law protect vampires?

3.) Why did Alex leave the Army?

4.) Why are Dana’s powers unlike another seen by another vampire? 

5.) What’s Joseph’s story? Maggie’s?

As much as I loved the creativity in the story/plot, I would’ve liked more background information. Small nuggets into characters’ pasts help readers connect to their futures. With the next installments in the series, I hope Nancy does some flashbacks. 

This series has enormous potential, and I can’t wait to discover the depths of Dana’s powers. 

 

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

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Nancy E. Polin began writing as a child and returned as a late bloomer to add experience and the occasional quirk to her work. She’s published four novels and several short pieces to date and is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. Nancy shares her life with her husband, kids and critters, nestled within the towering firs of the Pacific Northwest.

 

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The Midnight Exhibit Vol. 1: Rewind or Die by Unnerving Magazine (Book Review)

Wealthy couple drunkenly ditch their car and a strange tow truck driver regales them with off-putting stories, stories relating strangely to their personal lives. With short fiction by Stephen Graham Jones (Mongrels, Mapping the Interior, The Only Good Indians), Philip Fracassi (Behold the Void, Sacculina), and Renee Miller (Cats Like Cream, The One You Feed).


Contents:
Eddie Generous – editor and wrote wraparound
Stephen Graham Jones – Too Little Too Late
Renee Miller – Another Pretty Face
Philip Fracassi – My Love, Do Not Wake
 

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(review request submitted by Eddie Generous, the editor, for an honest critique) 

 

I’ve tried to think of some witty, ingenious way to describe the stories in Midnight Exhibit. Then, I realized I could best sum them up by saying two words… fuck’d up. 

Yes, every contribution to the anthology was disturbing. 

 

Stephen Graham Jones – Too Little Too Late: Decomposing, coherent bodies… just eww. Cue the puke bucket!

Renee Miller – Another Pretty Face: This story will have men grabbing their junk for sure! 

Philip Fracassi – My Love, Do Not Wake: The story started off reminding me of a scene from Harry Potter. The one where Lord Voldemort’s face is on the back of Professor Quirrell’s head. Anyways, it might’ve started off like HP but then it took a weird-ass turn into the land of fuck’d the hell up.

 

I’m still shaking my head on this collection. So disturbing it’ll stick in my mind for a long while. 🙂

Recommend? Of course! 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Infested by Carol Gore (Book Review)

Swarms of powerful mosquitoes sucking victims dry. Insatiable horseflies feasting on living flesh. Huge roaches with a ferocious bite. No tent is safe at the Green Swamp Zip-Line Adventure and Campground. Camp manager, Casey Lovitt, and entomologist, Dr. Phillip Edwards, must go up against powerful business interests and cover-ups from the local sheriff’s department to stop the deadly infestation. And with the busy tourist season fast approaching, time is running out. Will Casey and Phillip stop the onslaught of hungry bugs, or will the bodies continue to pile up among the long-buried secrets of the Green Swamp?

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

 

Besides arachnids, I’m not overly fond of most bugs or insects. Before reading Infested, I didn’t suffer from myrmecophobia (fear of ants), pteronarcophobia (fear of flies), or scolopendrphobia (fear of centipedes). I do have a fear of spiders, but arachnophobia is a pretty common phobia. However, after reading Infested, that’s all changed. I now suffer from entomophobia, fear of ALL bugs. 

I don’t care if it’s a ladybug or butterfly, I’m going to be cautious of everything for a long while. 

After you read Infested, and I implore everyone to read it, you’ll understand my previous statement. No insect should be the size of a teacup poodle. No gator should be taken out by an insect or multiple insects. And, no way should pests be the predator while the humans are the prey

Infested will make your skin crawl, but that means Carol Gore completed her mission. She wrote a story that’ll leave a lasting impression with the reader. 

 

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

 
 
 
 
 
 
Carol Gore examines the absurdity of life on earth by writing horror and humor, sometimes at the same time. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in Fourteen HillsPunchnel’s, and Dark Moon Digest. Aside from writing, she’s a yoga enthusiast, a painting hobbyist, and a lifelong voracious reader. She lives in the rural south with her husband and two sons.
 

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