Darkest Hours by Mike Thorn #BookReview

Title: Darkest Hours | Author: Mike Thorn | Publisher: Unnerving Magazine | Pub. Date: 2017-11-21 | Pages: 252 | ISBN13: 9780995975354 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Er… read at your own risk. | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: I received a copy from the publisher for review consideration


Darkest Hours

In the bleak landscape of Darkest Hours, people make decisions that lead them into extreme scenarios – sometimes bizarre, often horrific, always unexpected. Between this book’s covers you will find academics in distress; monsters abused by people; people terrorized by demons; ghostly reminiscences; resurrected trauma; and occult filmmaking. Ranging from satirical to dreadful, these stories share a distinct voice: urgent, sardonic, brutal, but always empathetic.

Book cover for Darkest Hours

Darkest Hours Review

I rarely do short story collections, but Unnerving approached me about one they were getting ready to publish soon, and it looked just interesting enough that I decided to give it a try. (To be honest, I was also counting on the fact that I could foist it off on my short-story loving co-host if it failed to thrill me. ) Happily, the stories in Darkest Hours kept me engaged the majority of the time.

The writing style is consistent, actually overly consistent at times as certain phrases were used a little too regularly across the stories. The ‘type’ of horror is not, however. The author appears to enjoy turning his attention to different ways to disgust or disturb. There is everything from the mundane fetish (Hair) to the supernatural night visitor (Long Man), and from the ridiculous satirical (Satanic Panic) to the not easily classifiable (Party Time) in Darkest Hours.

There are 15 stories in the collection. My favorites were Sabbatical, Long Man, and Hair. (Hair makes the list just because it utterly disgusted me. I admire any story that can make me have to resist the urge to gag when reading OR talking about it.) Most of the stories received a three or four star rating.  There was only one story that I outright didn’t like, which was Fear and Grace.  One, Economy These Days, was interesting because although I could see how it could be labeled as a certain type of horror short, I found it to be simply thought-provoking.

Although the stories vary dramatically in chosen subject, by the end of the collection, certain things make themselves known time and again. Specifically, smoking, heavy metal, and – oddly enough – academics.  I’m sure people who are more into the literary dissection side of things will have fun picking apart the stories contained in Darkest Hours. I’m not one for doing that, though.

Mike Thorn’s Darkest Hours is contains the most diverse selection of stories that I’ve ever read from a single author.  The story order was well chosen, providing a whirlwind of an experience. You could never really be sure what you were going to read next.  Overall, if you’re a fan of horror short stories, you need to give Darkest Hours a try. You might very well just be missing out if you don’t.

Buy Link: Amazon

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

Gods of H.P. Lovecraft Review

Title: The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft | Editor: Aaron J. FrenchPublisher: JournalStone | Pub Date: 2015-12-11 | Pages: 450 |  ISBN13: 9781942712565 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Self-purchased


The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft

The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft: a brand new anthology that collects the twelve principal deities of the Lovecraftian Mythos and sets them loose within its pages. Featuring the biggest names in horror and dark fantasy, including many NY Times bestsellers, full of original fiction and artwork, and individual commentary on each of the deities by Donald Tyson.

About the book: Lovecraft’s bestiary of gods has had a major influence on the horror scene from the time these sacred names were first evoked. Cthulhu, Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Yog-Sothoth—this pantheon of the horrific calls to mind the very worst of cosmic nightmares and the very darkest signs of human nature. The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft brings together twelve all-new Mythos tales from:

Cthulhu (Adam Nevill) – Yog-Sothoth (Martha Wells) – Azathoth (Laird Barron) – Nyarlathotep (Bentley Little) – Shub-Niggurath (David Liss) – Tsathoggua (Brett Talley) – The Mi-Go (Christopher Golden & James A. Moore) – Night-gaunts (Jonathan Maberry) – Elder Things (Joe Lansdale) – Great Race (Rachel Caine) – Yig (Douglas Wynne) – The Deep Ones (Seanan McGuire)

The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft Review

I finished The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft. I finally finished it. Y’all, I’ve been reading this book since June 5th, and I finally finished it. Good gods. Mind you, it wasn’t because it was so horrible I had to drudge my way through it. I actually ranged between mildly entertained to outright fascinated for a good 75 percent of the stories. I just, apparently, have a major issue tackling a thick anthology. So, yes, I’m very, very proud of myself right now. But…that’s beside the point. Lets get to the nitty-gritty.

There were twelve stories in this anthology, with accompanying information on the deities at the end. The stories were separated by artwork that ranged from bizarre and breathtaking to vaguely ridiculous. I’d loved to have framed prints of each of them. Out of the twelve stories, none of them received lower than a three star individual rating. 

My favorite stories in The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft were: Call the Name by Adam Neville, Dream a Little Dream of Me by Jonathan Maberry, In the Mad Mountains by Joe R. Lansdale, and A Dying of the Light by Rachel Caine. Neville’s work fascinated me, Maberry’s made me laugh, Lansdale’s satiated my desire to watch the world burn, and Caine’s work left me thoughtful. My least favorite was Rattled by Douglas Wynne. I had trouble getting into it, and though he is a competent story-teller, I just felt very ‘meh’ about it in the end.

As a whole, The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft was fascinating. I love the premise, and definitely feel like I have a better understanding of Lovecraft’s mythos than I did before. Some of his creations are outright terrifying. Others are just really strange. Aaron J. French did a decent job of arranging the stories. The tension and expectations in the latter stories flowed smoothly from step to step.  Donald Tyson’s commentary on the deities was a bit too dry. Whereas I devoured most of the stories, I had to concentrate to pay attention to what he was telling me. And that sucked, because I wanted to be fascinated by the information he was relaying as well.

Overall, there really isn’t anything to criticize about The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft. I don’t think any of the stories were badly written, they just didn’t necessarily all suit my taste. I don’t know how the anthology measures up to the various works that have came before it because this is the first collection I’ve read. And, truthfully, it’ll probably be the last. I’ve found out from reading The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft that I definitely want to read more Lovecraft-inspired fiction. I just don’t want to read another anthology of Lovecraft-inspired fiction.

Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #10

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

03/04/2017 – 03/10/2017

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.

Each day I’ll be reading one story per day with a weekly wrap-up on Fridays. If you missed the first post you can find it here.

It’s dark, it’s cold…so cuddle close and we’ll find the light in the darkness together. Maybe, providing the flashlight batteries don’t die.

 

Continue reading “Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #10”

Horrors – A Full Year of Horror #4

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories  –  A Full Year of Horror 

01/21/2017 – 01/27/2017

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.

I will be reading one story each day and a weekly wrap-up review of the seven stories that I’ve read over the week.

If you missed the first post you can find it here and follow along from there. I hope you will. Misery and terror love company. Especially tasty company, heh heh heh…


Be Careful What You SayDavid Niall Wilson

Synopsis:
Be careful what you say around kids. You never know how their minds will twist it.

Review:
I wasn’t crazy about this one. It was meh and kind of made kids look stupid (the way I read it anyway).


Bedtime StorySteve Eller

Synopsis:
A father tells his daughter a very dark and disturbing bedtime story.

Review:
This one was a tad meh for me as well. The story is like a reverse Scheherazade in a way. The reason it’s blah to me is at that age I was reading Alvin Schwartz’s ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’. And the story he tells her isn’t that much different than a Grimm fairy tale.


Being of One MindBenjamin Adams

Synopsis:
A man takes his wife on a picnic, hoping for a pleasant day before asking for a divorce. Any Lovecraft reader will tell you that Dunwich is not the best place to go on a picnic.

Review:
I like the Lovecraftian touch. The only thing that beggars belief is why on earth would you bring a cat to a picnic?! It would be the same story without the cat so it just makes the story a little sillier than it needs to be.


Best FriendsLinda J. Dunn

Synopsis:
A two page story about the very definition of ‘frenemies’

Review:
Short, sweet and to the point.


Beware the Truancy OfficerLeslie What

Synopsis:
A school truancy officer takes her job to the next level, teaching negligent parents a lesson of their own.

Review:
I really liked this story. The main character is a bit psychotic but her heart’s in the right place.


The Big OneLisa Lepovetsky

Synopsis:
A man takes his girlfriend out fishing for the Big One. The Big One needs some very specific bait.

Review:
I always like big, unusual fish stories. Probably because lakes can be really creepy, especially when you can’t see the bottom. You never know what can be lurking under the water.


BillyAdam Niswander

Synopsis:
Strangers show up in a small town. When the strangers start killing people, Billy’s parents arm themselves and go to town. After nightfall they return but Billy doesn’t want to let them in. Their teeth look funny.

Review:
Told entirely through the little boy’s eyes it was a pretty good story. The voice of the little boy sounds authentic to his age.


Favorite of the Week:
This was kind of a blah week for the stories I guess. Next week will be better I hope. Of these though, I think I liked Beware the Truancy Officer and Billy the best. Beware the Truancy Officer had a nice little twist to it. Billy was told well from a child’s perspective.


That wraps up this week! I will be back again next Friday as usual with your weekly dose of horror.

Horrors – A Full Year of Horror #3

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

01/14/2017 – 01/20/2017


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.

Welcome back to another week full of horror! There are some very good stories this week. So come join me…in the dark.

 


AsylumBrian Hodge

Synopsis:
Truly gives new meaning to the phrase “I’m fine, it’s everyone else that’s crazy” and “If you can’t beat them, join them”

Review:
Very good with a nice twist to the end. Kind of makes you wonder what if the rules were flipped and crazy became sane and vice versa.


At 3:00 A.M.William McMahon

Synopsis:
A man finds out the hard way that he’s becoming a werewolf.

Review:
A basic werewolf story. There’s not much that can be done that’s original with the werewolf story so I applaud the author for trying to do something with it in the limited space given.


At the Bus StationAlan Rodgers

Synopsis:
In the very early morning at a bus station a man meets a woman. A woman who may not be all that she seems. A woman whom he dreams about later, but cannot remember the dreams.

Review:
I wasn’t too keen on this one. There’s so much story space given to mundane details that what the author is trying to get at is a little obscure. I’m thinking maybe the girl was supposed to be a succubus? I’d mark it as a spoiler but the succubus thing is only a guess.


Autumn in the Clockwork ForestMichael Scott Bricker

Synopsis:
Before Dorothy and The Wizard we get a glimpse of the Tin Man’s desolate and torturous life in The Clockwork Forest, questing for a heart.

Review:
A rather grim tale about the Tin Man and how he became the way he is. Written before the flood of alternate adaptations of classics it is still unique. In just a few pages the writer evokes the feel of The Clockwork Forest. It’s springs, rust and heart. It also gives a slight background for the Tin Man and the Wicked Witch of the East and why exactly she cursed him.


Bad FeelingsDon D’Ammassa

Synopsis:
A psychiatrist gets a bit more than she bargained for when she tells a child to let out all of the ‘Bad Things’ troubling him.

Review:
This story definitely has a ‘Tales from the Crypt’ feel to it. The psychiatrist’s smugness a nice counter-point to the twist at the end.


Ball of BloodKarl Schroeder

Synopsis:
The inside view of why a killer kills. To feed the ‘ball of blood’ within. I think.

Review:
I can’t say I really liked this one. It was a series of random gross images with something to tie it together loosely at the end.


Base of a TriangleNancy Kilpatrick

Synopsis:
A ghost waits for the third of the triangle of his/her death to join it.

Review:
It’s a little unclear if the person the ghost is trying to get to join it was actually instrumental in his/her death or just in the vicinity when it happened. The other third of the triangle is the train.


Favorite of the Week:
Again there’s two contenders for the favorite. Asylum was very good. The plot and pace are perfect and Brian Hodge ends just when he should. But I think for creativity, setting and story I’ll have to go with Autumn in the Clockwork Forest. It was beautifully written and made you feel the Tin Man’s (non)emotions. All in a couple of pages. So bravo to Michael Scott Bricker.


Join me again next week for your weekly dose of horror shorts!

One Who Saw Review (Classic Horror Short)

One Who Saw Cover - for One Who Saw Review

Originally published on Christmas in 1931 and widely regarded as A.M. Burrage’s masterpiece, “One Who Saw” tells the story of a writer enchanted by a spectre of a weeping woman. His obsession builds until her ghostly hand falls from her face and he, in horror, becomes “one who sees.” – Goodreads Synopsis


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Book Spotlight! Omerion by Angel Gelique

Book Spotlight Banner for Omerion by Angel Gelique

Coolthulhu Presents A New Book Spotlight On:

Omerion (Hell is My New Home)

Omerion: (Hell is My New Home)

Omerion (Hell is My New Home) Synopsis: 

“It is a place of unrelenting misery and interminable pain and sorrow. It a place of lost hope, a dismal abyss where remorse is candy, and tears, nectar, to unforgiving monstrosities with endless appetites.”

In life, Samuel Rylandt was a serial rapist and murderer who callously committed heinous acts with no regard whatsoever for the women he victimized. In death, however, he will suffer the consequences of his depravity as his soul undergoes a startling corporeal transformation and he is thrown to Hell (Omerion) to complete three horrific phases of moral reconstruction.

Samuel’s notions of the underworld are broadened as he learns that “Hell” is actually an elaborate civilization where the damned agonizingly learn the virtues that evaded them in life.

ISBN13: 9781500501907

Publication Date: July 12, 2014

Pages: 52

Genre: Horror

Where to Buy: Amazon

Current Goodreads Rating: 4.16 out of 5

Brief Teaser: 

 

There should have been an ear-piercing scream resonating throughout the dank, dismal cavern, but no sound spewed forth from my mutilated, bloodied mouth. That’s because the charcoal-skinned vile creature, having grown intolerant of my incessant screaming, had ripped into my throat with hands like barbed wire and removed my larynx and trachea.  Standing before me mockingly, it dangled the bloody pipe-like organ in front of my tearful eyes for several long seconds, taunting me, before depositing it into its gaping, hot mouth.  I watched on in horror as I heard the crunching of cartilage and the sick smacking sounds of the beast’s tongue against the muscles of what used to enable me to utter human sounds.  I could feel the molten hot spray of blood-tinged spittle escape the creature’s jaws as it noisily feasted upon another souvenir from my body, as it had been doing for several hours.
It had been hours, hadn’t it?  It sure felt like hours…days even.  All the while I prayed—yes, me, the black-hearted atheist—prayed for the sweet relief of a finite sleep.  Isn’t that what death was supposed to bring?  I was dead, wasn’t I?   Very dead, yet still suffering.  Suffering more than I had ever suffered in life.  I had to be in Hell.  The Bible bangers were right.  Hell existed and here I was paying for my mortal sins.

 

 


Angel Gelique Logo

Angel Gelique is an independent author with 9 distinct works under her belt.

She says: “Writing does to the imagination what chicken soup does to the soul, therapeutically comforting the mind by unleashing the fanciful musings therein.  Capturing the figments of one’s imagination, in writing, does not merely bestow pride and a profound sense of accomplishment, but offers the potential to achieve literary immortality.”

Her overall Goodreads rating is: 4.09 (out of 438 ratings!)

Her Amazon page is here.

Her website is: http://www.angelgelique.com

The Dream Beings by Aaron J. French #BookReview

Title: The Dream Beings | Author: Aaron J. French | Publisher: Samhain Publishing | Pub. Date: 2016-1-5 | Pages: 101 | ISBN13:  9781619231658 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Date Read: 2015-11-22 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


The Dream Beings

When Jack Evens’s name appears in blood at the scene of a grotesque ritualistic murder, the private investigator is drawn into a conflict that extends beyond reality, into the realm of dreams…and nightmares.

A serial killer is after him, but this is no ordinary psychopath. This killer is controlled by mysterious creatures from another realm. If he hopes to survive, Jack must finally come to terms with his psychic ability, a gift that has haunted him since he was a child.

At stake are the women the killer has targeted, Jack’s own life, and something much more…something of cosmic proportions.-Goodreads Synopsis

The Dream Beings Book Cover

 

The Dream Beings Review

This novella by Aaron J. French is an entertaining way to spend an hour. He does an almost perfect job of giving you a story that delivers blood, guts, gore, and spook in bite-sized form. The story centers around a psychic investigator fighting demons controlling a serial killer that seems fixated on him. It’s a trippy read at times, and one that may not appeal to all readers. If Lovecraftian style isn’t one you adore, I can’t say I’d recommend this book to you.

None of the actual characters are unbelievable, for all the weirdness that is going on. The creep-factor of the serial killer is high. The theory espoused by the psychic is interesting. The prose is wonderfully (or perhaps a better word would be disgustingly) descriptive. All in all, a fun read and a good introduction to French’s work if you’ve never read him before.

Click here to find The Dream Beings now on Amazon.com