Clowns by Michael Kamp #BookReview

Title: Clowns | Author: Michael Kamp | Publisher: Tellerup A/S | Pub. Date: 2017-9-25 | Pages: 92 | ASIN: B075XMHWG4 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration |


Clowns

The creepy clown epidemic began when I was 12 years old. 
Creepy clowns roamed neighborhoods at night, terrifying the population. At first it was only in the U.S. 
Soon it spread, turning into a global craze. 
The wave of clown sightings even reached all the way to Denmark. 
Every day, the papers ran stories about clowns scaring people. 
Of course, the vast majority of creepy clowns were just pranksters in costumes. 
But not all of them. 
Not in Ullerup

Clowns Book Cover

Clowns Review

Clowns was an interesting experience for me. The author had submitted it as a children’s horror, but when I started reading it, there were a few things that raised questionable flags. Namely, the amount of cursing in Clowns. I tabled the question about the cursing to ask the author about later, and continued to read the book. And I enjoyed it. This is the first book I’ve read by Michael Kamp, but I will definitely be checking out more of his work when it makes the jump to English. 

In regards to the cursing, there’s definitely a cultural difference present. In Michael’s home country cursing is a lot more acceptable (see my interview with him for more info), so this would be a good book for 10+ there. Here, though, in America, booksellers would probably be publicly shamed if they tried to shelve this in the kid’s section. Clowns would be considered appropriate for a 12+ audience here, and not even that if your undies are kept in a constant bunch by the idea of kids reading foul language.  There were one or two other things that made me aware that this was not a book written by someone who lived in America. Nothing as potentially offensive as the cursing was, just a “Hm. No chance of that happening here.”

However, for all the differences, a small town is a small town. And some things remain the same where ever you are. In this case, you have hooligans hitting mailboxes and pretending they’re big and bad. Gossip that spreads like wildfire. A tale of terror that ends in death. Finally,  of course, there’s the mystery and the intrepid young survivor. Kamp takes familiar elements and, adding his own touch, gives readers a story of blood and guts.  

Clowns was well-written and perfect for anyone who loved the movie Killer Klownz from Outer Space. While it doesn’t quite achieve that level of camp, Kamp’s Clowns channels that same absurd-horror feel. There are a few scenes that are so well imagined that the can easily get a great mental picture of them. Michael Kamp has the ability to put his readers so neatly into the story that you can practically smell the forest and face paint. Oh, and I loved the reference to Night of the Living Dead as well. 

A few lines that made me laugh:

“The whole scary clown craze had started in the U.S. Because of course it did.”

and

“Oscar looked at him in silent amazement. Did adults realize how much their advice usually sucked? ‘Think about something else…’ “

 

Overall, Kamp’s Clowns is a great piece of short fiction, coming in at just 92 pages. It’s definitely the correct length for a younger reader’s book, but parental discretion is advised. This would be a great gift to give to your family coulrophobe for Halloween (or Christmas, depending on how evil you are). 

Also, if you missed it, please make sure to check out my interview with Michael Kamp.

Aaru by David Meredith #BookReview

Title: Aaru | Series: The Aaru Cycle #1 | Author: David Meredith | Pub Date: 2017-7-9 | Pages: 305 | ASIN: B073V7CZ1Q | Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: Paedophilia, Sexual Assault, Child Pornography | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration.


Aaru

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

Book cover for Aaru

Aaru Review

Aaru and I just didn’t click, but I do admire how David Meredith uses technology in it. Some of the reasons aren’t things that I can say are ‘bad’, just things that didn’t work for me. One of those was that the author chooses to write his character’s dialogue in dialect. So you can encounter pages filled with dese, dat, da instead of these, that, and the, etc. I have never been a fan of this style of writing, and every time I encountered it, it jarred me out of the story. It’s personal taste. Some readers may really enjoy it. There’s also a strong Christian element in Aaru. The religious element didn’t particularly bother me, but if you’re strongly anti-religious, it may be a turn-off. 

David Meredith has a fascinating premise here in Aaru. Put simply, those who are going to die can have a scan of their conscious done and be uploaded into a virtual sort o Afterlife. I can see where many people would be attracted to the idea of never really losing their loved ones. The idea intrigued me immediately, but soon the ramifications occurred to me. I was happy to see the author willing to explore the potential problems instead of just acting like it was perfect. This is, in my opinion, the strongest point of the story. Everything about it is pretty well thought out, including how someone would access Aaru that wasn’t supposed to.

In regards to the characters in Aaru, I really liked Rose, Auset, and Kiku, but didn’t really care for the rest of them. They were understandable, but not really likable. Having grown up with an alcoholic father, Rose and Koren’s dad made me want to slap some sense into him pretty much any time he appeared on the page. His blustery, compensating-for-something attitude in general just set my teeth on edge. I felt like he never cared for Koren or Rose, but instead for what he could wring from the situation. I felt sorry for Koren, it was obvious that she was having a hard time dealing with the loss of her sister, and I wanted to protect her from the situation she found herself in. Especially considering her parents were too busy enjoying the ride to look out for their living daughter.

Then there was Magic Man.  Magic Man…hated Magic Man. I hated him so much that he almost turned me off Aaru completely. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it says something for the author that he can create a character so repugnant I would rather not read than have to put up with him. He can make your skin crawl. However, he’s also not entirely believable. It’s not his perversions, but more the way he talks to himself. And this is a problem that is found in more than just this character. The internal (and sometimes external) dialogue that happens with the characters isn’t quite right. 

There are lots of things about Magic Man and the book in general that can make a reader uncomfortable. There is paedophilia and child pornography, and two instances of sexual assault. These are only hinted at by the words “obsession and danger” in the blurb, so to say I wasn’t expecting it to get as twisted as it did is an understatement. Still, crap like that happens. People can be perverts. And young girls can easily be taken advantage of by people who should know better. David Meredith is really good at getting into that mindset of obsession and making you want to take a shower after reading some of it in Aaru.

Overal, Aaru had some really interesting aspects to it, and I think that David Meredith is a talented writer. Aaru and I just don’t work well together. I don’t think I was quite the right audience for the book. 

Buy Link: Amazon

Graveyard Shakes by Laura Terry #Bookreview

Title: Graveyard Shakes | Author and Illustrator: Laura Terry | Publisher: Graphix | Pub. Date: 2017-9-26 | Pages: 208 | ISBN13: 9780545889551 | Genre: Kids Fantasy Graphic Novel | Language: English | Triggers: 2 child deaths, young boys | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Library


Graveyard Shakes

Katia and Victoria are sisters and scholarship students at a private boarding school. While Victoria tries to fit in, Katia is unapologetic about her quirks, even though their classmates tease her. After a big fight, Katia runs away from school. And when Victoria goes looking for her, she accidentally tumbles into the underworld of a nearby graveyard. It is inhabited by ghosts, ghouls, and a man named Nikola, who is preparing a sinister spell that’s missing one key ingredient.

Victoria teams up with adorable Little Ghost and Nikola’s kindhearted son, and together they search for Katia. They must find her before she becomes Nikola’s next victim!

Book cover for Graveyard Shakes

Graveyard Shakes Review

I give Laura Terry props for writing and illustrating Graveyard Shakes. I tend to always think that someone does the writing and someone else does the illustrations, so it’s a pleasant surprise to encounter otherwise.  Graveyard Shakes is aimed at middle grade readers. It’s simply laid out, and easy to follow. Because there are two child deaths (neither graphic, pardon the pun), I would advise parents to pre-read it to see if it is suitable for their child. 

The problem with Graveyard Shakes is, essentially, that it’s just kind of forgettable. Even my 8 year old said “Eh, it was good. Just not great” as soon as we finished it. (And she’s a graphic novel fiend.)The illustrations are nice, but not outstanding. The story is a bit darker than I’m used to seeing in a kids book, with two child deaths in it, but nothing that makes an impression. Immediately after finishing it, I went to write this review and realized that I’d already forgotten the older sister’s name. Considering we spend as much time following her as we do Katie and Little Ghost and Modie, that serves as an indicator to her character.

The pacing of Graveyard Shakes is fine. It’s broken up into three parts, with the majority of the book focusing on the second section. The dialogue is adequate, again forgettable, with not a single line I set aside for a quote. There is a cool scene involving a super ghost. The scene involving the second child’s death was very well done. It wasn’t witnessed on page, but inferred in a way that even young readers can understand.

This is Laura Terry’s debut work, and upon learning that, Graveyard Shakes‘ mediocrity makes perfect sense. This is a ‘safe’ story written by someone who definitely has ability, but hasn’t yet found her niche. Given time and a bit more experience, we may see something unique develop as she pushes her boundaries.

Buy Links:

Amazon | ThiftBooks 

 

Horrors – A Full Year of Horror #40

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

10/07/2017 – 10/13/2017 

 

The horror short-short isn’t easy to master, but more than 100 of the genre’s critically acclaimed authors & hottest up-&-comers have taken a stab at it in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, an anthology that contains a short tale for every day of the year. Steve Rasnic Tem, Wm F. Nolan, Tom Piccirilli, Yvonne Navarro, Peter Atkins, Brian Hodge, Martin Mundt & 166 others give you short, sharp shocks.

If you missed the first post you can find it here.

 

This Friday is the thirteenth. Better not go to any camps, have sex or do drugs. In fact, it’s safer to just not move. So curl up with our site for some scary stories and hope Jason isn’t lurking outside your door.

 

 


Shooting EvilLawrence C. Connolly

Synopsis:
A man and his new lady love take some boudoir photos of her lying on the bed. Afterward, while developing the film, something’s not quite right. She doesn’t seem to be in the photograph…

Review:
I loved the angle this story took on the vampire myth. I also didn’t know that silver was used in black and white photography. Unfortunately for the femme fatale I don’t think she thought her plan through very well.


ShutterGordon Linzner

Synopsis:
Annette is being photographed by an unknown man. Despite various tricks he always seems to be there, click, taking his pictures. While being mugged he carries on, click. a police officer is on hand to help, however, and annette thinks her troubles are over. Or are they?

Review:
This story seemed a little strange to me. Annette thinks to herself that it would be silly to report the man to the police as he’s only taking pictures. I do believe that’s still referred to as stalking. If this were a more recent story it would make good commentary on what certain people think of as their right to take pictures of total strangers and post them wherever they please with no regard for that person’s privacy or possible consequences of doing so.


Sibling RivalryBrian Hodge

Synopsis:
After a traumatic incident a woman buys herself what sounds like a Chucky doll and bizarrely names it Annabel Lee. Then they invite their nephew over for the week and Annabel Lee does not want to share her mother’s affection.

Review:
A creepy doll story that is pretty gruesome, to me. I did think it weird that the doll seems like a boy doll but is named Annabel Lee. I get the reference but it seems rather wedged in.


The Silver and the Damage DoneScott M. Brents

Synopsis:
Walter is a werewolf. He pounces on a peasant girl and is shot down in quick order. It replays again…and again…and again.

Review:
First of all, I’m curious if the author got his title from the Neil Young song ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’ (which is far more depressing than this story). It had an interesting side to it in that the ‘werewolf’ is a VR game called ‘Silver Death’: “A werewolf game so real it should be outlawed”. Walter, the man in question, had hooked himself up to the machine and died of dehydration. Actual cause of death? The quarter he had used was a silver quarter. And we all know silver and werewolves don’t mix.


Silver FuturesStephen Dedman

Synopsis:
A werewolf is under arrest aboard a spaceship. Very cocky he believes that the officer has bitten off more than he can chew. However, leaving the moon’s reach it may be the werewolf has bitten off more than he can chew.

Review:
This did raise an interesting question. Would the Earth moon be the only moon to have an effect on werewolves? And would a planet with more moons have more of an effect or less?


Six Deaths MoreJudith Post

Synopsis:
Teresa’s nightmares are getting worse. They start with a Roaring Twenties gangland slaying as she and her date are gunned don in a restaurant. The next is a nightmare of the Civil War, dying at the hands of the Yankees as she fires on them. The third is as one of the ‘Witchcraft Girls’ in Salem, fingering Tituba as the instigator of the witchcraft panic which claims five more innocent lives. as she dies again in her most recent nightmare she realizes that she will have to ‘die’six more deaths before her sin is purged.

Review:
While I liked the idea behind it, some parts didn’t make sense. For starters, Tituba was not hanged for witchcraft. She was imprisoned and released, which is a bit surprising., given the times. While it was true that most who confessed did avoid the gallows they also had their land and money stripped from them. Since Tituba had no land or property she knew that confessing would save her from the gallows. Also, the story states that five other lives (besides Tituba’s, two other slaves and five other innocent women were dead before the witch panic died down. This also is untrue. In total 24 accused witches had died. Nineteen were hung, four died in prison and one was pressed to death (Giles Corey, who refused to say anything, therefore allowing his family to keep their lands). I know, I know. I’m probably being way too particular for a short story but these are easily obtainable facts, even before the internet. I did like the idea of working out your past ‘guilt’ through the nightmares but it does seem like a bit of a light punishment, comparatively speaking.


SkepticTim Waggoner

Synopsis:
Two teenagers are watching a wrestling bout on tv. one of the boys keeps snarking about how fake and unrealistic it is (a little ironic after my two paragraph harangue on the witch trials in the review above). Finally the other boy turns it off in a huff and accuses the first boy of having no imagination. They decide to head out for a bite to eat…after they sharpen their claws, that is.

Review:
I really liked this story. We all have that friend. You know the one I mean. The one who, when you question the motivations of a character in a movie their only answer is “Because it’s in the script.” And we’ve all been annoyed by them. I liked the twist at the end.


Favorite of the Week:
The run of good stories continues! I attribute it to the Gods of Bookdom and Halloween to be in a favorable mood! It’s another hard choice. I very much liked Shooting Evil by Lawrence C. Connolly as the lady’s thoughtlessness could be written off as cockiness. I also loved Skeptic by Tim Waggoner. It had a fun and amusing twist at the end. Two (presumably) supernatural creatures arguing about whether or not televised wrestling is real or not.


Thank you for joining us yet again for another round of frightful tales! Please join us again next week as we move closer to the horror fan’s ultimate holiday!

Worship Me by Craig Stewart #BookReview

Title: Worship Me | Author: Craig Stewart | Publisher: Hellbound Books Publishing LLC | Pub. Date: 08/01/2017 | ISBN 13: 9780999177617 | Pages: 349 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 1 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for an honest review


Worship Me 

 

Something is listening to the prayers of St. Paul’s United Church, but it’s not the god they asked for; it’s something much, much older. 

A quiet Sunday service turns into a living hell when this ancient entity descends upon the house of worship and claims the congregation for its own. The terrified churchgoers must now prove their loyalty to their new god by giving it one of their children or in two days time it will return and destroy them all. 

As fear rips the congregation apart, it becomes clear that if they’re to survive this untold horror, the faithful must become the faithless and enter into a battle against God itself. But as time runs out, they discover that true monsters come not from heaven or hell… 
…they come from within.

Worship Me Review

I really like the cover for Worship Me. The imagery is great and the title can be clearly seen. I really, really wanted to like the rest of the book as well. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

I will say that after I read the bio and learned that the author is also a screenwriter, the way that Worship Me is written makes a little more sense. The sequences seem more like movie scenes. In fact, that really seemed to come into play in one particular scene that stood out to me. I won’t say much more than a chase scene in the basement of the church. It was written very vividly and it felt as though I could see it perfectly. It was my favorite part of the book. The character in that scene also behaved in a very natural way. The rest of the characterizations felt a little lacking in comparison.

Really, if this book had been written as a short story or novella I do believe it would have been much better. Part of what drags it down is the meandering plot and thesaurus-heavy descriptions. Even the simplest actions are overly described. This tendency drags the pacing down terribly. For example, the first day and night after The Behemoth’s decree about handing over a child takes up most of the book but nothing much happens. A few things happen but they’re so dispassionately described that they lack any real tension or terror.

It’s not a necessity that characters be likable to be good characters. The main character seems to be Angela, who is mostly presented as being the ‘rational’ one. Spending so much time in her head gets tedious, listening constantly to her superiority and whining. Her actions are often inexplicable and contradictory. They don’t really stand out, though, because most of the characters act in ways that are not only incomprehensible but often downright bizarre. It’s hard to go into detail without getting into spoilers One small example:

Spoiler!

The foreshadowing is heavy so when the final few chapters get going there’s not much surprise to it. Well, there is a surprise but it has nothing to do with the story but the actions of one of the characters. The sudden change at the end and the final few chapters just do not make sense with the rest of the book. It seems thrown in for the sake of having a twist at the end.

I honestly can’t say I recommend it.

The Good House by Tananarive Due #BookReview

Title: The Good House | Author: Tananarive Due | Publisher: Simon & Schuster | Orig Pub Date: 2003-8-25 | ISBN13: 9780743296168 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Child Death, Child Murder | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Library


The Good House

The home that belonged to Angela Toussaint’s late grandmother is so beloved that townspeople in Sacajawea, Washington, call it the Good House. But that all changes one summer when an unexpected tragedy takes place behind its closed doors…and the Toussaint’s family history — and future — is dramatically transformed. Angela has not returned to the Good House since her son, Corey, died there two years ago. But now, Angela is finally ready to return to her hometown and go beyond the grave to unearth the truth about Corey’s death. Could it be related to a terrifying entity Angela’s grandmother battled seven decades ago? And what about the other senseless calamities that Sacajawea has seen in recent years? Has Angela’s grandmother, an African American woman reputed to have “powers,” put a curse on the entire community?

A thrilling exploration of secrets, lies, and divine inspiration, “The Good House” will haunt readers long after its chilling conclusion.

Book cover for The Good House

The Good House Review

The Good House was a damn good book. Tananarive Due delivers a story that will make you have every single feel she can drudge up in you. From hope to horror, from tearing down to buildling up, and everything in between. This is a book that will have you going “Oh, Jesus,” and yet unable to look away. The deaths will haunt you. Angela’s journey will rock you.

I’m not a fan of child death in horror. Pretty much anyone who knows me and has listened to me talk about horror knows that. I consider it to be a weak writing prop, and I’ll even snarl at some of my writer acquaintances for it. (Sorry, Mike!) However, sometimes, just sometimes it’s done right. It has shock value – because, hello, child death – but it makes so much sense in the story that you accept it. That’s how it was in The Good House. It wasn’t a couple trying to get a fresh start after a baby’s death. It didn’t linger on a child’s dead body for giggles. The deaths are there, and they are terrible, but they are not lingered upon. And they play a role.

Angela, the primary character in The Good House, is beautiful, flawed, and strong. She’s a woman I spent the majority of the book feeling with. Yes, feeling ‘with’. I know her struggles. The first time I connected with her was when Due writes about her struggles to sleep, and the thoughts and images that bombard her prior to it. Angela is afraid of falling asleep, but not really afraid of sleeping itself, and I get that. I struggle with it every night. I wanted to reach into the pages and share a beer with her, and just say “I know, honey. I know.”

Words have a powerful magic when used well, and Tananarive Due conjures that magic up effortlessly in The Good House. All the characters leap off the page, even if you only meet them for a few moments. There have been several books lately where I’ve had trouble keeping the characters straight or even just remembering their names. There wasn’t a chance of that happening here. Grandma Marie, Myles, Corey, Sean, even Art and Glenn felt so real you would half expect to run into them on the street. And even though the book is set just a short time after the turn of the millenium, the only thing that really dates it is the mention of the music.

Now, mind, I didn’t care for everything in The Good House. There was a lot of sexual stuff involved and that just didn’t do it for me. (Mostly because I was reading this on my downtime at work and didn’t want anyone seeing some heated stuff on my screen! But also, in general, I don’t like sex and horror to mix.) And I have to confess I’m still not entirely sure how Tariq came to play the role that he played in the book. In fact if I could ask the author just one question, it would be to please clarify how he got involved in the very beginning. (But I won’t say more so I don’t spoil anything!)

And, it pains me to say this, but the very end felt like a little bit out of a cop-out in The Good House. I can understand why she did it, but it was just like “Nooo! Don’t weaken it now!”

My favorite quote:

“I’m in the film business, remember — and if this were a movie, this is the part where the audience would be screaming for the woman to get out of the house. So that’s exactly what I’m doing.” – The Good House by Tananarive Due

Overall, even though it didn’t quite hit it out of the park for me, I really enjoyed The Good House. It’s so very well written, beautifully imagined, and almost cinematic in its feel. I’m so happy I finally got around to reading Tananarive Due, and I seriously doubt this will be the last book  I read from her.

Eyeball it on Amazon.

Shine on the Path by Eddie Generous

As part of promoting Horror during October, we’ve asked authors to talk about a horror book or author that has made an impact on them. This first entry comes from Eddie Generous, who operates Unnerving Magazine.


Shine on the Path

 

I’d never read a Stephen King book until about five years ago, maybe closer to six. My jokey motto was that I hadn’t gotten to contemporary books because there was so much old stuff to read. Have you read Sherlock Holmes? It wasn’t just Mr. Conan Doyle, I was heavy into Dostoevsky, I read some Tolstoy, got halfway through Gogol’s stuff, and into a smidge of Turgenev, plus a ton of one offs. There’s a long explanation as to how this came about, but that’s a different story altogether.

This fascination in classics, primarily Russian, existed and thrived despite the fact I’d grown up reading from between the bumpy covers of Goosebumps books and was absolutely hooked on horror flicks. The tendency to reach beyond classics began a year after I wrote my first utter piece of trash novel. I really hadn’t read much of anything contemporary in a decade and in general was not reading nearly enough to be writing, these facts eventually gnawed at the idea that maybe my novel was shit (though still clinging to that absurd rookie author notion of inherit abilities).

I was broke. I was in the midst of a thinning streak of temp jobs and short-term laboring spots, as well as more than fifty unanswered resume submissions. Huzzah to the market crash!

A fully-fledged melancholy desperation had its grips on me. I was selling off hobby items and shedding social expectations; still drinking my face off fairly regularly, but alone. My wife had a good position and was the only reason I didn’t have to head west to the oil fields. A good position meant going into debt a little bit more every month instead of a lot more.

I was down to my last things of easy value (hockey collectables). In the case of this anecdote, it was limited edition Montreal Canadiens stamps. There were no money offers for the stamps, but there was a reply. This dude told me his ex (a woman who had jetted on him in 1990) left hardcovers behind, if I wanted to swap. I went to his house. He was little guy, pudgy with yellow skin, wearing a flannel with the buttons open, clean grey joggers. He said I could take any fifteen books from the shelf. Most were water damaged, but what did I care? I needed to get more writing in me. I halfway saw reading as a chore back then.

Eddie Generous holding his copy of The Shining
Eddie Generous holding his copy of The Shining

Several weeks later I’d read five of the books: Bachman’s Thinner, a couple Koontz yarns, a Mary Higgins-Clark, and some other god-awful crime thriller, and then I opened The Shining. It’s said that sometimes books find you and that really seems like what happened.

Here was something I’d never read before. An uncannily realistic, screaming, arm-busting daddy (a character I had in the household cast growing up) in the midst of breakdown, suffering the burden of being useless to society, drinking his family to pieces (art imitates life and life repeats itself with a new set of players every day).

It was winter, in the midst of cold-snap like I’d never experienced, there were dead cars in lots and on the sides of streets, ice forming around the interior of our window frames, news of homeless succumbing all over the province, and there I was, stuck in this story with these people who felt real to me on so many levels.

I finally understood the full power of the right book.

I was there at the Overlook.

I was Jack.

I was Danny.

The world outside was a desolate winter wonderland and the hedges were aiming to get me.

I read it over two days (I’m not an especially quick reader) and ever since, I’ve been chasing the feeling The Shining gave me, chasing a Shine of my own.

I’ve tried to grasp and pass on what I experienced within those pages with new horrors and old horrors re-told. The Shining was the first step to today and all the words I’ve strung together, it’s how I eventually came to open and manage Unnerving. It’s how I learned there truly are the right books just waiting to be picked up.


Eddie Generous is a Canadian living on the Pacific coast with his wife and their cats. He operates a fledgling literary horror outfit aptly named Unnerving. An anthology he’s compiled and edited, Hardened Hearts, is due out in December. In 2018, Hellbound Books is releasing a collection of his novelettes titled Dead is Dead, but Not Always.

Social Media:

Twitter@GenerousEd @UnnervingMag

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UnnervingMagazine/

Websitehttp://www.unnervingmagazine.com/

Issue 4 of Unnerving Magazine

Synopsis: Issue #4 of Unnerving Magazine is the biggest yet, loaded with monsters, devils, ghosts, the undead, rotten sons ‘o… and so much more. Gwendolyn Kiste offers up literary Halloween costume ideas while Stephen Graham Jones and Mark Allan Gunnells chat life’s most important holiday.

The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth #BookReview

Title: The Stark Divide | Series: Liminal Sky #1 | Author: J. Scott Coatsworth | Publisher: DSP Publications | Pub. Date: 2017-10-10 | Pages: 284 | ISBN13: 9781635338331 | Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQ+ | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration.


Book Tour Banner for The Stark Divide

The Stark Divide

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky

Book cover for The Stark Divide

The Stark Divide Review

The Stark Divide was a nice quick read. It was definitely a book that I didn’t want to put down unless I absolutely had to. It plays with some familiar ideas, but does so in such a way that it doesn’t feel ‘been there, done that’. In it, we’ve basically destroyed Earth, but we don’t have FTL travel yet, so we can’t quickly get to another planet. Naturally, that means we have to turn to colony spaceships in the meantime. And that leads me into what I liked most about the book. From the initial ship that the story starts on, Coatsworth catches your imagination and opens your minds to the possibilities of meat and metal spaceships. From there, we move on to an O’Neill cylinder, but the author’s way of developing one is definitely one you rarely read about. 

Really, the only thing I didn’t care for about The Stark Divide was the decades long time skips. I didn’t mind the first two, but the third one just seemed to rush things a bit. It felt like it was leaping to keep the drama high, and while I normally like full speed ahead, I just wished for a little more regular stuff here. Well, that, and although the characters were interesting, I wish we had gotten to know them a little bit more. Basically, it seems liked we just skimmed the surface for all the ‘good’ parts, and it felt like something was missing as a result.

Speaking of characters, I loved that three of the characters both carried a favorite book amongst their meagre possessions in The Stark Divide. At a time where every ounce counts, a book has to be extremely well loved. In one case, it was a journal. But the others were well-recognized sci-fi classics. It made me reflect on what book I would carry with me when everything was going to pieces. (Answer: My Kindle, because I couldn’t just choose one book.)

While I have read a few science fiction books that had LGBTQ+ characters in them, it was generally only one or two at max. The Stark Divide is inclusive science fiction written by an author who was tired of not finding characters he could relate to in stories. Anyone who is seeking good science fiction within those parameters needs to take a look at The Stark Divide. This is a solid story with a diverse cast of characters where their sexuality and/or gender is present, acknowledged, but really not a big deal. There are same sex marriages, casual relationships, FtM characters, and more.

Earth was believably depressing, the spaceships were awesome, the relationship between the AI minds and some of the humans were great, and there was a solid amount of diversity present in The Stark Divide. This was a very entertaining book and I believe it’s the start to a series with a lot of potential. Here’s hoping J. Scott Coatsworth writes the epic saga this story begs to be the beginning of.

Buy links: 

Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #39

 Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

09/30/2017 – 10/06/2017

 

The horror short-short isn’t easy to master, but more than 100 of the genre’s critically acclaimed authors & hottest up-&-comers have taken a stab at it in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, an anthology that contains a short tale for every day of the year. Steve Rasnic Tem, Wm F. Nolan, Tom Piccirilli, Yvonne Navarro, Peter Atkins, Brian Hodge, Martin Mundt & 166 others give you short, sharp shocks.

If you missed the first post you can find it here.

It’s October!! The month every horror fan waits for. Because people tend to look at you a little weird when you dress up as a Vampiric Easter Bunny. The countdown begins!

 

 

 


Serial KillersStephen Woodworth

Synopsis:
A serial killer stalks the streets. A very unusual one, however. It kills men and women and its victims literally beg for death.

Review:
A very good story, if a little depressing. I really didn’t see the twist coming.


Shades of GraySue Storm

Synopsis:
Janey sees everything in shades of gray. ever since the baby came she feels replaced, as if her parents don’t see her anymore. But they want to…more than anything in the world.

Review:
Well, that was depressing as hell. At first it seems like the typical jealous older sibling type of story so I really wasn’t liking it. But then it takes a turn for the very sad. It’s more affecting but it makes me wonder what happened and who the boy is?


ShadrachAdam Niswander

Synopsis:
Galen loves fire and the former building of the Temple of the Hours stands empty and unguarded. But the Templars’ altar is a Phoenix and that which was burnt may rise again.

Review:
It’s kind of obvious what Galen’s ultimate end will be it comes in a way I didn’t expect it to.


Shattering the SonataDevon Monk

Synopsis:
Leona hates practicing the piano with the bust of Beethoven glaring his disapproval. Finally she seems to be mastering it…but is it really her that’s playing?

Review:
I have a question. If you play or own a piano is it mandatory to have a bust of Beethoven on it? I liked the story but if you hate it that much why play? And even if your parents force you to I think I’d still find a way to ‘accidentally’ break the bust if it bothered me that much.


Sherri Goes to the OfficeYvonne Navarro

Synopsis:
Sherri is a model employee. She will not leave her job until the filing is done. So what if she’s a little smelly? So what if she can’t remember the alphabet? So what if she died two weeks ago and is now a zombie? She’s not going to let a little thing like that stop her.

Review:
The narrator does raise an interesting point. Would firing someone for being undead be discrimination? An awesomely funny story that is a good pick-me-up from the first two depression fests.


She Waits…Kay Reynolds

Synopsis:
Mano and Lela were perfect partners. One would bait the hook, the other would skin the fish. Until one night they pick the wrong mark. A mark who puts Mano in the hospital and Lela in the grave. Mano is prepared when the man comes calling. He and Lela have never worked with anyone and Mano isn’t about to share now.

Review:
One of the best vampire stories I’ve read in a while. Not quite up there with the Dracula is Jesus one from this week but still very good.


ShiftDavid Annandale

Synopsis:
Nielson buys a telescope at a yard sale and is very pleased that it works. It does, however, seem to have a few cracks. He didn’t notice any and cracks don’t move. Be careful when looking down a telescope, though. Something might be looking back. Or the image and reality itself could…shift.

Review:
While this story wasn’t insanely thrilling the writing alone carries it above what it is. For example: “And there are shifts that are all of these, bigger than tectonic, but as easy to get into as a glance gone wrong, and irrevocable beyond the laws of any god.” and this quote: “He didn’t want to turn, didn’t want to see, but he did and in his last second received one more gift: A fear so huge his old universe could not have held it.” *

Great lines, both of them. Some very nice writing.


Favorite of the Week:
Since I’m in the mood for a bit more of a humorous story it is definitely Sherri Goes to the Office by Yvonne Navarro. Shift by David Annandale was well-written with an interesting premise. Another great week for stories, we are on a roll!

*Quotes used fall under the Fair Use Act


Thanks for joining us this week and come back next year for more creepy yarns.

14 Needles by Aaron Deck #BookReview

Title: 14 Needles | Author: Aaron Deck | Publisher: N/A | Pub. Date: 04/09/2017 | Pages: 157 | ASIN: B06Y5WGF4K | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Corpses of children are seen, implied rape (Full Chamber) | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration


14 Needles: An Unsettling Collection

Imaginative, strange, and sometimes funny, the short stories in this collection will take you from a military encampment in Afghanistan, through a trinket shop in California, to the secret, gruesome war being waged in the back alleys of civilization. Each tale strikes a different tone of the horrific and macabre, ranging from creature feature to the depths of the heart of an unstable, entitled man. 

Take a trip through the unsettling imagination of Aaron Deck in his first horror collection.

14 Needles Review

I love tattoos. Fortunately I’m too broke or else I’d probably be a bit more heavily covered than I am now. As most ‘collectors’ would have you believe, every tattoo has a story behind it. This is true, for the most part. However, there are quite a few where you just decide, “Hm. A big-ass purple griffin would be awesome!”.  So I was very intrigued by a collection of stories inspired by the tattoos of the author’s now ex-girlfriend. I particularly like the cover. It suits the subject of the book very well.

The stories begin with the author’s description of the tattoo in question and ideas stemming from it. As I’d rather not give any of them away I’m going to be rating this collection slightly different with the title, a number rating and a general summary.


Dice2

The Last Metro3

The Taxing of the Heart3

The Lady or the Cobra4

Rats and Rat Dogs2

The Gas Lamp2.5

A Stone, A Rose, A Spider2.5

Star Light, Star Bright4

Her Smell3

Movements Under Water4

Roses from My Friends5

Full Chamber5

Heinoclock1

Old Town San Diego Souls3


In my opinion Dice might be a poor choice to lead off 14 Needles. It’s by far the weakest story in the book. This might sound strange as I gave it a slightly higher rating than Heinoclock. But where Dice is just  bit weak and feels somewhat like a flash fiction piece Heinoclock is just gross. Not just the narrator’s thoughts, either. My two favorites were Full Chamber which is quite a bit darker than the other stories but very good. The last sentence is perfect. Roses from My Friends strays from the outright ‘horror’ genre but still has a touch of the supernatural in it. It’s a beautiful story and shows what the author is fully capable of.

14 Needles has a lot of potential if some of the stories were smoothed out a bit. Too many of them ended with no explanation at all that leaves you feeling a bit cheated. It’s a technique that can be used to effect occasionally. In The Lady or the Cobra it’s very effective. In at least three others, though, it only leaves you wondering exactly what’s going on in the story and the endings seem abrupt.

There were very few technical flaws in 14 Needles. The formatting was good but there were a very few misspellings (“per say” instead of “per se” for example). I may be wrong but Dice seemed to be a much earlier story. The writing was much more choppy. As the stories went on they flowed much more smoothly. I do think the author has a lot of promise and I would be interested in reading a later collection after he has honed his style a bit.


3 out of 5 Skulls

    


Check it out on Amazon