Alabaster Shadows by Matt Gardner #BookReview

Title: Alabaster Shadows | Series: Alabaster Shadows 1 | Author: Matt Gardner | Illustrator: Rashad Doucet | Publisher: Oni Press | Pub. Date: 2015-12-9 | Pages: 184 | Genre: Horror Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Comixology Unlimited


Alabaster Shadows

Carter Normandy knows there’s something weird about the neighborhood he and his family move into. Maybe it’s the physics-defying leak in the basement, or the way all the adults seem to look down on kids like they’re scum. With the help of his new friends, Carter discovers a whole other world alongside his seemingly normal community-a world filled with terrifying monsters. A world the adults of the community already know all about. Now it’s up to Carter and his friends to keep these monsters from crossing over into our world, or face the dire consequences! 

A gorgeously illustrated mystery perfect for fans of Gravity Falls with just a hint of Lovecraftian horror.

Book cover for Alabaster Shadows

Alabaster Shadows

Alabaster Shadows is one of the few kids’ comics on Comixology Unlimited.  It is perfectly suited for a middle grade audience, though even younger kids will probably get a kick out of looking at it. (They may just not understand the story line.)

I love the bright and warm color palate used in Alabaster Shadows.  It draws the eyes, and makes each panel into a pleasing visual experience. The illustrations are great as well. The illustrator does a great job of conveying the character’s emotions without a single word needing to be said.  Though when words are said, they do match up perfectly. I found myself grinning every time the character Polly was on the page, perhaps because she reminds me (in spirit) of my own daughter.

Alabaster Shadows features a diverse family in a non-diverse setting. The mother is African American, the father Asian. The houses in their neighborhood all look the same. The rest of the people all appear to be white. So, it isn’t really a surprise that the Normandy family is an obvious catalyst for change.

It does follow some typical middle-grade tropes, such as the parents not really being part of the story. (They are, at least, both present, though!) Its very much pesky kids against evil adults. The dialogue, pace, and action are perfect. I love that the kids use their heads consistently.

There are some positive reinforcements mentioned in Alabaster Shadows as well. As when one adult tells Polly early on that “…you don’t need to wait to grow up to be important.” And showing that stuff like ‘throws like a girl’ isn’t something that should be said by showing that a girl can really throw.

There is a Lovecraftian bent to the story, but nothing scary. At the most, all that the reader sees is some people staring off into space mumbling weird words. There are a few ‘monsters’ but considering how brightly colored they are, they’re not scary at all. Even Polly goes ballistic over how ‘cute’ something is.

Alabaster Shadows would be a great way to introduce middle-graders to the ‘weird fiction’ and horror of Lovecraft. It’s got a story line which will keep young (or older minds) engaged. The characters are likable ‘normal’ ones (no trace of super powers here!), and range from the scaredy-cat, to the confident and calm, to the ‘weird’ one, so some sort of character there for every one.

I love Alabaster Shadows. It’s a gorgeous book with a good storyline.  I would love to have a hard copy of this one. Definitely recommend this.

This is Horror, Issue 25: Nightmare on Elm Street, The Invasive, and The Ghost Club

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Horror post on Sci-Fi & Scary

This is Horror, Issue 25 is a sampling of Horror News, including book and movie releases, and more. A little bit of everything to make the horror hound in you feel all fuzzy and warm. Or tingle with anticipation. Whatever works for you.

This is Horror’s Weekly Quote

“I have seen the dark universe yawning
Where the black planets roll without aim,
Where they roll in their horror unheeded,
Without knowledge, or lustre, or name.” 
― H.P. LovecraftNemesis

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Horror Movies

Let’s face it, it’s the last two weeks of the year. Horror is squelched right now.  So, instead, I present four of my favorite scenes from the Nightmare on Elm Street films. These films are single-handedly responsible for most of my night terrors as a child. (And yes, I had actual night terrors, to the point they medicated me.)

Nightmare on Elm Street - Suspended by Veins
This one is perhaps the least scary – it never gave me any nightmares, but it just deeply disturbed me. The look on the guys face, the fact that its his – what – arteries? No thanks!
Nightmare on Elm Street - Claw in the Bathtub
Y’all, I still can’t keep my eyes closed for very long in the bath tub. Seriously.
Nightmare on Elm Street - Pushing Wall
The only reason this one doesn’t still creep me out is we no longer live in a place that has wallpaper. And yes, that’s the way my mind works. Freddy can push through wallpaper, but not actual walls.
Nightmare on Elm Street - Waterbed
After I watched this movie, I went to spend the night at a friend’s house, and she had a waterbed. It took every speck of bravery I had in me not to call my mom and ask for her to come pick me up.

Oh, in case you missed it, if you’re interested in how the Nightmare on Elm Street movies did, you can check it out in our handy little infographic.

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Horror Books

Featured New Release

Book cover for The Ghost club

The Ghost Club – William Meikle – December 9th, 2017

Writers never really die; their stories live on, to be found again, to be told again, to scare again.

In Victorian London, a select group of writers, led by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Henry James held an informal dining club, the price of entry to which was the telling of a story by each invited guest.

These are their stories, containing tales of revenant loved ones, lost cities, weird science, spectral appearances and mysteries in the fog of the old city, all told by some of the foremost writers of the day. In here you’ll find Verne and Wells, Tolstoy and Checkov, Stevenson and Oliphant, Kipling, Twain, Haggard and Blavatsky alongside their hosts.

Come, join us for dinner and a story:

Robert Louis Stevenson – Wee Davie Makes a Friend Rudyard Kipling – The High Bungalow Leo Tolstoy – The Immortal Memory Bram Stoker – The House of the Dead Mark Twain – Once a Jackass Herbert George Wells – Farside Margaret Oliphant – To the Manor Born Oscar Wilde – The Angry Ghost Henry Rider Haggard – The Black Ziggurat Helena P Blavatsky – Born of Ether Henry James – The Scrimshaw Set Anton Checkov – At the Molenzki Junction Jules Verne – To the Moon and Beyond Arthur Conan Doyle – The Curious Affair on the Embankment

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths

Gracie’s review.

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Goodreads Horror Giveaways

Book cover for The Invasive Book cover for Horror Everywhere Book cover for The Zee Brothers, Zombie Exterminators

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Horrorific Trivia

Going with Lilyn’s Nightmare on Elm Street scenes I was going to drop in my favorite ludicrous deaths. But then, I remembered that the eighties was the birth of tie-in merchandise and A Nightmare on Elm Street was not exempt from this madness for merch. So, my friends and fellow horror lovers, I present to you some of the weirdest, most ridiculous movie tie-ins for A Nightmare on Elm Street:

The Freddy Toaster: What better way to start your day than with a famed murderer! That’s right, you can now, literally, eat Freddy. I guess that serves him right for eating the People Pizza.

 

Call 1-900-Freddy: Feeling lonely? Wanna talk to someone you can really spill your guts to? Never fear, while you’re staying awake, chugging your coffee and No-Doz you can always call 1-900-909-FRED and for two dollars a minute you can have a pre-recorded heart to heart with Freddy himself.

Freddy Krueger’s Tales of Terror: A book tie-in to a movie isn’t so strange. In fact, I have a Freddy book myself. I feel like the concept for this series went a little something like this: “Let’s see, R.L. Stine is having a lot of success with his Fear Street series why don’t we do a series? We’ll aim it at teenagers and get the crappiest Fred Krueger make-up we can find and slap it on the cover. Gold!” Honestly, I don’t know if they’re good or not (and I’d love to find one to see) but the covers are so Nineties Neon I can’t help but giggle.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Nintendo Game: Freddy has been popping up here and there as a special guest in various horror games lately. However, once upon a time Freddy had his very own Nintendo game. It started out as you being able to play as Freddy but that was scrapped, presumably for fear of backlash. This was before Manhunt and GTA, after all. In concept it sounds at least somewhat close to how a real Freddy movie would play out. You play as a teen with up to three other players (using the NES Four Score). Your goal is to collect Freddy’s bones scattered around. It also had a Sleep Meter that would go down and when it ran out you would be warped to the Dream World where you could get killed by Freddy that much the quicker. Despite some…odd choices of enemies (like minotaurs) and weapons. Apparently shurikens became very popular in Springwood.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010): Why?? Just why?? I know, I know. It’s not a tie-in but, I ask again, why was this necessary?

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Horror on the Web

Check out this very interesting article on how horror movies can help anxiety and why on Broadly.

While we couldn’t score an interview with William Meikle on his new book The Ghost Club gingernutsofhorror.com did

Well, this sounds interesting…and terrifying. Insidious: The Last Key will be trying something a little more high-tech with it’s new movie. Check it out at Bloody Disgusting

Have a happy Ash-filled holiday (with or without chainsaw)

The Schoharie #BookReview

Title: The Schoharie | Author: Diane M. Johnson | Publisher: BookBaby | Pub. Date: 08/30/2017 | Pages: 222 | ASIN: B0758BHKR5 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Domestic Abuse, rape | Rating: 2 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for review consideration


The Schoharie

Thirty years ago a major Thruway bridge was built across a small creek near the town of Fort Hunter, New York. It had its problems with construction delays and local protests, but it was built and it was strong. 

Thirty years later the bridge collapses when spring floods transform the meager creek into a raging torrent. The collapse takes several lives and almost includes the life of Aaron Bonner, volunteer firefighter, who swears he saw a vengeful Indian spirit take the bridge down. He just needs to convince Sheriff Ben Harrigan that the same Indian spirit seeks more vengeance. But the sheriff knows that Aaron is just like his father, who tried to sabotage the bridge when it was first built, while in the throes of a mental breakdown. Has Aaron gone crazy? Or does the sheriff have something to hide? 

A near death experience triggers Aaron’s sensitivity to supernatural forces at work in the town of Fort Hunter. But his father’s history of mental instability makes Aaron doubt his own sanity. He confides in Sheriff Harrigan, the father of his girlfriend, in a moment of desperation– but memories are long in small towns like Fort Hunter, and the sheriff remembers well Joe Bonner’s attempt to sabotage the original construction of the bridge. He was there. And it was his fault. 

Harrigan knows the town isn’t being attacked by an Indian spirit seeking revenge. He knows Aaron is suffering from the same mental illness as his father. But when other things begin to happen– things that can’t be explained by a man experiencing a nervous breakdown– the sheriff must come to terms with his own role in Joe Bonner’s mental collapse in order to save himself, his daughter’s boyfriend and the rest of the town.

The Schoharie Review

The prologue starts out with a dedication to the actual Schoharie Bridge that collapsed and assures us that the story itself is fictional.

First, the good. The book itself flows pretty well (action-wise, narrative speaking is another story) and only lags here and there. The people in The Schoharie, for the most part are fairly well done. I say fairly because at times I had to ask myself how old Sara is. Her attitudes and reactions make her sound like a petulant seventeen year old half the time. For as much as the narration and Sara try to make the sheriff sound like an intolerant hard-headed jerk it never really struck me that way. It probably would have helped if it had been more consistent with what he disapproved of, exactly. On one page he disapproves of the main character, Aaron Bonner, implying it’s because he’s Native American. But in the next paragraph we find out that the sheriff was “friends since kindergarten” with Aaron’s father. Again, in another chapter he’s upset because his daughter is divorcing her husband. Two pages later it says he didn’t want her to marry that guy in the first place. And then he’s ‘judgmental’ about her seeing another guy before divorcing her husband. It was very uneven. The side characters are there to either give background, fill out the cast or be the villain. That’s about it. And it’s pretty easy to figure out who/what is behind the happenings.

Most of The Schoharie centers on the supernatural forces at work, waffling on whether it’s true or not and a lot of people looking accusingly at Aaron because of his father’s history and because he’s Native American. The rest is filler on what really happened in the past and a few action pieces. The writing is stilted and overly dramatic at times. Too many thesaurus words and apparently witnessing someone get shot can make things defy the law of physics. Example: “The fresh coffee in her hand slipped away in slow motion before it hit the floor…” It may be a nitpicky but that’s just one example of where the wavering narration just sounds weird. At times we’re in one head or another and then it will flip to an omniscient third-person and back again, often in the same paragraph. Action pieces are broken up by meanderings of “If so and so knew this…” and then eventually find it’s way back to the original point.

There were two other points in The Schoharie that really stuck out to me and not in a good way. Even though the book avoided the literal ‘evil Indian’ it was still “Indian sorcery” behind it all. Domestic abuse and rape also seemed to be treated in a way that somewhat made it sound acceptable. “he’s sick” “he’s possessed”, it’s the war. All of these are brought forward and they are used as actual excuses. To say I lost my patience with it would be an understatement.

I gave The Schoharie a two because the author does show some promise and with a better editor to help trim out the extraneous sentences and thesaurus words this might be a pretty decent book. On the plus side The Schoharie is formatted well and there are no typos.

Artemis by Andy Weir #BookReview

Title: Artemis | Author: Andy Weir | Publisher: Crown Publishing Group | Pub. Date: 2017-11-14 | Pages: 305 | ISBN13: 9780553448122 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 (barely) | Source: Library


Artemis

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

Book cover for Artemis

Artemis Review

When I first heard that Andy Weir was coming out with a new book, I cringed a little.  But wait  – I hear you say – you love The Martian!  This is true, I do love The Martian. It remains my go-to science fiction book when I need a laugh or a dose of sarcasm to brighten up my day. However, I have no faith in my fellow man. So, I thought to myself “What are the chances that Weir is going to try to repackage the Snarkonaut we all know and love, and put him in a new situation?”  Because this is what he knows works, and people do tend to go with a working formula…

Jazz Bashra is Mark Watney. With boobs.   Sarcastic, foul-mouthed, extremely intelligent, a bit rebellious, with a drive to survive.

That’s not the only similarity that exists, though. Artemis begins with the drama of a spacesuit being ruptured. Even some of the jokes from The Martian are recycled in Artemis.  Weir’s appealingly (at times) juvenile sense of humor means that boob jokes get trotted out as frequently as possible. And references to other bodily functions.

“Holes in EVA suits are bad.” – Yes, we learned this from The Martian.

“All that hydrogen had met the oxygen at a high temperature and they’d had a brief chat” – Yes, we learned hydrogen + oxygen + fire = big boom in The Martian.

“Rim Shot!” – Sensing a recyclable theme yet?

On the other hand he had some great lines in Artemis that were fresh (from him at least).

“It’s important to vary your profanities. If you use the same one too often it loses strength.” had me giggling.

“Attack of the Moon Woman Who Made Bad Life Decisions.” – Amen, sister

“Nope!” I said.  | I spun on my heel and stormed back into the hallway. “Nope, nope nope!” – This is me. This is me on such an epic level.

“I might have been on the run for my life, but I wasn’t willing to go without email.” 

So, given that Jazz is Watney (with boobs), it’s no real surprise that I liked Artemis, is it? However, in comparison to the attraction that The Martian had, Artemis doesn’t exactly measure up. It’s kind of like the first time you drink 2% milk after years of only drinking whole milk. Yes, it’s milk, but it’s not nearly as tasty as the real thing is.  But it’s not quite the horrible experience that your first drink of white-colored-water-that-is-called-skim-milk is. And eventually you get used to it, and even start to like it.

Yeah, I had trouble really getting into the book because once the first impression had been made… Well, you only get one first impression. However, by the halfway mark, I was properly enjoying it. A reveal made around the 60% point perked my interest up a good bit as well. I was giggling quite a bit from there on out.  Still, it was a solid ‘okay’ and that was it. Weir’s already proved he can make me laugh. Nothing new there.

What saved it (for me) was the relationship between Jazz and her father. Well, that relationship and a few others.  Weir is surprisingly adept at writing relationships that make me go gooey.  Jazz’s dad loves her. He doesn’t approve of her life decisions, but she is his daughter, and so help him, he’s the only one that can call her an asshole.  (As a parent, this is a sentiment I heartily agree with. I can call my kid a jerk. You do it and I’ll hunt you down and pull your underwear up so far you’ll have to gargle with bleach to rinse the racing stripes off your tighty-whiteys. Got me? )

Setting aside my issues with the recycled content, Artemis was an enjoyable read. It was fast-paced. The quips had me laughing. There was just enough danger in the air to make it nicely tense.  I’m not really one for ‘heist’ books, so it didn’t hit me right in my G(ood Reads) spot, but it came close enough to give me a mild-to-moderate happy.

I can’t say I’ll be eager to pick up the next book that Weir puts out because if he tries to pull the same tricks in another setting again, I won’t come even close to having a happy. Good, but not great.

I would suggest borrowing over buying.

Buy link: Amazon

 

 

The Ghost Club #BookReview

Title: The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror | Author: William Meikle | Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing | Pub. Date: 12/09/2017 | Pages: 189 | ASIN: B077SWFLZM | Genre: Horror, Classic Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Child death | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Received from Crystal Lake Publishing for review consideration


The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror

Writers never really die; their stories live on, to be found again, to be told again, to scare again.

In Victorian London, a select group of writers, led by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Henry James held an informal dining club, the price of entry to which was the telling of a story by each invited guest.

These are their stories, containing tales of revenant loved ones, lost cities, weird science, spectral appearances and mysteries in the fog of the old city, all told by some of the foremost writers of the day. In here you’ll find Verne and Wells, Tolstoy and Checkov, Stevenson and Oliphant, Kipling, Twain, Haggard and Blavatsky alongside their hosts.

Come, join us for dinner and a story:

Robert Louis Stevenson – Wee Davie Makes a Friend | Rudyard Kipling – The High Bungalow | Leo Tolstoy – The Immortal Memory | Bram Stoker – The House of the Dead | Mark Twain – Once a Jackass | Herbert George Wells – Farside | Margaret Oliphant – To the Manor Born | Oscar Wilde – The Angry Ghost | Henry Rider Haggard – The Black Ziggurat | Helena P Blavatsky – Born of Ether | Henry James – The Scrimshaw Set | Anton Checkov – At the Molenzki Junction | Jules Verne – To the Moon and Beyond | Arthur Conan Doyle – The Curious Affair on the Embankment

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror

Saturday is generally Kid’s Day around here but the regular programming will be interrupted to bring you the launch day review of The Ghost Club. And since we do like working with Crystal Lake Publishing (and because they have fantastic anthologies and collections) we were happy to oblige. While this might not be classic horror, per se, classic horror is a great place for kids to start since the language is clean (and helps build vocabulary skills as my son will attest) and sex rarely rears it’s head (or other parts). So I hope you won’t mind the interruption too much. Next week it will be back to normal (or, as normal as it gets around here, anyways).

I love classic horror. Sometimes it can give me the creepy crawlies much more than a modern book will. I think it’s partly the restraint of them. Not restraint in the amount of words they used (some of them can be a bit…wordy) but in their topics and what they were and were not allowed to say. Modern authors can be as graphic as they please and it can take away a bit from the terror at times.

So you can imagine how quick to grab this book and run. I may not have been so eager if I hadn’t known the author was William Meikle. As anyone who has read his “Carnacki” books can attest, Mr. Meikle is very comfortable with writing in period language. From the very intro I was sucked in and, for the most part, I can say he does a fantastic job of recreating several different author’s voices. The only ones that I’m not 100% sure on were the authors whose works I am not very familiar with such as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling. I always had trouble getting into his stories. I have liked a few but they just don’t grab me and say, “Read me!”

I also loved the forewords to the book and the stories themselves. The foreword at the beginning has a cleverly worded paragraph about the dubious authenticity of the “find” that I thought was amusing. The forewords to the stories were great. They evoked each writer very clearly and were a nice way to shift the ‘mood’ between stories so the style changes were less jarring.

That being said, let’s check out the stories, shall we?

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Wee Davie Makes a FriendRobert Louis Stevenson
I very much liked it. It was a bit sad but you could kind of tell where it was going to go. I also loved how William Meikle worked in Louis’ own childhood experiences in ‘The Land of Counterpane’.


The High Bungalow‘Rudyard Kipling’
An enjoyable tale that centers around an interrupted rendezvous and an unexpected encounter with something rather unusual beneath a bungalow. It also ends, dare I say it? A bit clearer than some of Kipling’s own tales did.


The Immortal Memory‘Leo Tolstoy’
The Empress has summoned Captain Marsh for one reason…and one reason only. He must find her a Scotsman to repeat the works of Robert Burns into perfectly translated Russian. Should be a snap…I’m not familiar with Tolstoy’s works so I’m not sure how faithfully the story is to his writing style but the story itself is a good one. It is true that an author can have immortality like no other


In the House of the Dead ‘Bram Stoker’
Bram Stokers shorter works have always been either/or with me. I loved ‘The Judge’s House’. This story evokes his writing style very well, including the epistolary style that Dracula is well-famed for. The story itself is quite beautiful. A story of love, loss, hope and, perhaps, reuniting.


Once a Jackass‘Mark Twain’
It certainly has the dry wit and terseness of any story I’ve read of Twain’s. He always seemed to me to write merely for the fun of a ghost story, not really trying to get down to the emotional depths that others plumbed. The concluding lines are funny in their own way and also, in their own way, could be applied to anyone at anytime.


Farside‘Herbert George Wells’
I have never read much by H.G. Wells (no, not even War of the Worlds) so I’m not sure on how close the style is. A machine in which your aura is shown seems to be the crux of this tale and I won’t say anymore as the ending is great. As is the rest of the story. Is it ghostly vengeance? Or something more?


To the Manor Born – ‘Margaret Oliphant’
I thought this story was excellent and could have come from the pen of Ms. Oliphant herself. The more I read on the more I am impressed. Mr. Meikle is not just talented at pastiching writers, he can create stories in their voices. It might seem like mere imitation to be able to do that but I assure you, it is not. It takes a talent all its own and the ability to not just imitate another writer but to get within their mindset as well. I loved this story and although it’s sad it kept me captivated until the end.


The Angry Ghost‘Oscar Wilde’
I did think Oscar Wilde a bit of an odd choice. As far as I am aware the only supernatural writing he had ever done was ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ (if I’m wrong please point some out to me, new stories are always welcome!). Which, I have to admit, the first time I read it I didn’t get past the first couple of chapters. I may give it a go again one of these days. The Angry Ghost is darkly funny and a brisk, to the point tale.


The Black Ziggurat‘Henry Rider Haggard’
I have to be honest. I wasn’t that enthused with this tale. I’ve never been one for adventure stories and I’ve read one or two of Haggard’s work. Enough to know they’re just not for me. Someone else might like this story a lot more because from the admittedly limited exposure I’ve had to his stories they do imitate his style quite well.


Born of EtherHelena P. Blavatsky
A very good story taking a more unusual subject and blending it with a good ghost story. As far as I can tell the style seems somewhat consistent with what I’ve read of her Theosophy writings.


The Scrimshaw Set‘Henry James’
What is it about chess sets? You wouldn’t think something so prosaic and commonplace (and, some people might add, boring) would be able to summon up dread or horror but yet there are quite a few tales of chess sets – haunted, cursed or otherwise disagreeable. Meikle, with a superb rendition of James’ sometimes prolix writing conjures up a tale of a haunted chess set with a most unusual apparition. Definitely not to miss.


At the Molenzki JunctionAnton Checkov
I’m not really sure if I have ever read anything by Anton Checkov so I can’t speak to style but if this story is representative of his real stories I am certainly going to be looking him up.


To the Moon and Beyond‘Jules Verne’
This story was a bit more of a mix of fantasy and sci-fi (to me at least) and although it was interesting I did catch myself skimming certain parts. Not high on my list of favorites from the book but someone else may like it much better than I.


The Curious Affair on the Embankment ‘Arthur Conan Doyle’
The book winds up its tales with a story from Arthur Conan Doyle, the same writer who has been providing the introductions to the tales. With Lestrade at its center (we all know Mr. Holmes would sneer at the thought of magic) it’s a very good Holmesian tale of magic. And it’s nice to see Lestrade not presented as the bumbling ijit so many modern Holmes writers portray him as.


To wrap it up, these are some very fine stories and William Meikle does a very good job of trying to create the voices of each author. As I said, no small feat. I do have to question the inclusion of Blavatsky and Wilde as there were many other lady Victorian writers who I think would have been great to see represented here. In fact, it would be interesting to see what Mr. Meikle could do sticking strictly to writers such as Mary Wilkins Freeman, Edith Nesbit and so on. Maybe we’ll get lucky and get another Ghost Club anthology.

Shadow Weaver by Marcykate Connolly #BookReview

Title: Shadow Weaver | Series: Shadow Weaver #1 | Author: MarcyKate Connolly | Publisher:  Sourcebooks Jabberwocky | Pub. Date: 2018-1-1 | Pages: 320 | ISBN13: 9781492649953 | Genre: Middle-Grade Dark Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley for review consideration


Shadow Weaver

The shadows that surround us aren’t always as they seem…

Emmeline has grown up with a gift. Since the time she was a baby she has been able to control shadows. And her only friend and companion is her own shadow, Dar.

Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble’s mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.

With the noble’s guards on her trail, Emmeline’s only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline’s not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it’s hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.

The first in a dark middle-grade fantasy duology, MarcyKate Connolly weaves a tale filled with shadows, danger, and magic that has the feel of a new classic.

Book cover for Shadow Weaver

Shadow Weaver Review

Shadow Weaver is an atmospheric, haunting story that immediately ensnares the reader. This may be written for a middle grade audience, but it begs for adult readership as well. MarcyKate Connolly weaves a tale that keeps you trapped in her world until the very end.

Emmeline is a child that’s easy to like and want to protect. Also, like most children she’s also easy to manipulate and scare. Throughout the story I continually wanted to step into the pages and mother her. To whisper in her ear the truths that she needed to hear. To watch her story unfold, knowing that she had to discover things for herself, was almost painful. But her Shadow Weaver journey was exquisitely told.

Shadow Weaver is a book that will draw me back to it for more than one read. And when the second book comes out (for this is part one of a duology), I’ll be reading it as well. Emmeline and Lucas could be extremely powerful together and seeing these two kids take on the evil introduced in this first book will be well worth the wait.

One of the other things I liked about Shadow Weaver (not that there was anything I didn’t like) was the resolution with Dar. I’m not going to say what it was, but the author handled it very nicely. She could have went a few typical routes but she didn’t. And while I’m almost positive the solution will come back and bite them in the butt, I’m still happy things ended the way they did.

Well-written, with believable dialogue, nicely paced action, and fantasy kept on a level easy for middle-grade readers to understand, Shadow Weaver is an exquisite example of how to write darker fantasy for kids. MarcyKate Connolly did a phenomenal job, and I will be shocked if Shadow Weaver doesn’t make it onto the best seller lists for middle grade fiction. I loved it!

 

Horrors – A Full Year of Horror #47

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror 

12/02/2017 – 12/08/2017

 

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.

The one upside to that nasty white stuff falling outside my door is that no one questions it when you curl up with a book. In fact, I truly believe that is what winter was invented for just that purpose. So let the snow fall (or the sun shine, lucky) and let’s get to some wintry horror…or whatever comes our way this week!


UpstairsLawrence Watt-Evans

Synopsis:
All the couple upstairs do is fight and yell. They are also very inconsiderate about leaving the tap running and something is stinking the place up. Jack says he’ll go talk to them…now something else is leaking through the ceiling. It’s not water though.

Review:
An ok story. I’m assuming the upstairs neighbors are probably serial killers hence all of the thumping and stink. However, they are usually smart enough to not kill their neighbors unless he literally walked in on them killing someone.


The Valley of the ShadowFrancis Amery

Synopsis:
A reading of the Bible leads one man to the conclusion that God smiles on industry…and industry requires sacrifice.

Review:
I don’t mind a little Biblical horror every now and then (which is different than horror or thrillers geared to Christians) but this was just weird. I almost think that they might have gotten inspiration from Centralia, perhaps.


Vampire NationThomas M. Sipos

Synopsis:
Count Farkas has awakened to a nation and a time of apathy. No one believes in the old superstitions anymore. What better climate for a vampire to exist in? But apathy can be contagious.

Review:
A good story about contagious indifference and boy, is it ever! It made me want to curl up and go to sleep!


The Vampire’s BurdenTippi N. Blevins

Synopsis:
While hunting among the vampire pretenders at the club Teddy finds the perfect victim. He thinks she’s all too human. He’s mostly right.

Review:
A little on the eh side. Miranda doesn’t really give Teddy an actual chance to change and she seems to be a forerunner of “Oooh, pretty vampires!”.


The Vampire’s CaravanIlona Ouspenskaya

Synopsis:
One enchanted evening a peasant girl watches the majesty of the Vampire’s Caravan and is offered a place in it. What will her choice be?

Review:
Very beautifully described and it makes me curious which path she is trying to take.


Vengeance is MeTom Piccirilli

Synopsis:
A woman sleeps, imagining her husband’s death, over and over while he lies awake amidst hallucinations born of his guilt. Or are they?

Review:
I did not like this one. It had a good guilt theme to it but there are two refrains repeated over and over that are just gross and unnecessarily repeated.


VocabularyAdam Troy-Castro

Synopsis:
Trying to find that word that’s on the tip of our tongue can be frustrating. So frustrating, in fact, that you might try checking other people’s tongues. And you’ll let them go, of course. They just need to figure out the word.

Review:
A rather gruesome story. Not torture porn descriptive but your imagination does the work for you.


Favorite of the Week:
Hmm. While not a terrible week it was sort of blah, wasn’t it? It would have to be Vampire Caravan by Ilona Ouspenskaya for the sheer loveliness of the prose and description.


Thank you for joining us this week and come back next week for another seven days of Horrors!

The Evil Within #GraphicNovel

Title: The Evil Within, Volume 2: The Interlude | Author: Ryan O’Sullivan | Illustrators: Szymon Kudranski and Damien Worm | Colorists: Szymon Kudranski, Damien Worm and Guy Major | Publisher: Titan Comics | Pub. Date: 11/07/2017 | Pages: 64 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Child death, murder | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received from Titan for an honest review


The Evil Within, Volume 2: The Interlude

Coinciding with the release of the new game, get ready for the hotly anticipated comics sequel to Tango Gameworks’ blood-curdling survival horror series. Still shell-shocked by the horrific events that took place at the Beacon Mental Hospital, Detective Sebastian Castellanos finds himself investigating a gruesome murder in Krimson City that might be his key to understanding what happened in his terrifying encounter at Beacon. From the mind of Shinji Mikami – creator of the seminal Resident Evil series – The Evil Within represents the pinnacle of survival-horror gaming with its mind-bending environments, intricate story lines and blood-curdling scares.

I loved the video game The Evil Within so when this was offered I quickly said, “Yes, please!”. The Evil Within: The Interlude collects The Evil Within #2.1 and #2.2 into one book. Since they’re “coinciding” with the release of the second game they do a very good job of catching you up with the characters from the game.

I haven’t looked into The Evil Within 2 (most game reviewers are complete jerks about spoiling the story) so I’m not sure if these are supposed to lead into the game or not. They do feel like they’re supposed to be a lead-in. I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone who hasn’t played the game as you’ll most likely be very, very confused as to what’s going on. They do give you one of these “The Story So Far…” in the beginning but it’s just a paragraph telling you who Sebastian is. It also doesn’t really feel written for the casual reader. It feels like it was written specifically for people who have played the game.

While I wasn’t crazy about one of the art styles I did like how they used the two different styles to evoke two different worlds. They drab colors and cleaner lines fit the “real” world (I use quotations because if you’ve ever played The Evil Within you’ll realize that “real” is a hard concept to define in that world. I also liked the vivid oranges and reds for the other sequences. I loved the cover art. These are also included, along with a section on panels going through the steps, which was interesting.

The writing was good and didn’t stick out as being out of place for the characters. I did have one issue with the way the character of Sebastian is portrayed but I am not faulting the writer of the novel for this. I think it’s where they’re taking his character in The Evil Within 2. If it is…all I can say is The Grizzled World-Weary Alcoholic Detective has been done to death in every genre. Let him retire. 

These were made to tie into the series. There’s no way around that so someone who hasn’t played The Evil Within probably won’t enjoy it. I’m a little on the fence with this approach. The gamer half is very appreciative that books and merchandise are finally being marketed to what businesses used to think was too small of a crowd to have any financial impact. My general reader half though thinks it’s a little elitist and not likely to draw in new customers to either the games or the novels. The novels tell you just a tiny bit, hardly enough to make you think (if you generally don’t play games) “Gee, maybe I should try this”. And the side of me that has played it, it’s a little unsatisfying. There’s just not enough story to it and I sometimes wonder if they’re winging it for the sequel.

Although it piqued my interest it didn’t get me saying “Oooh, now I have to get The Evil Within 2!” which I’m pretty sure was its main objective.

Frostbite – A Graphic Novel by Joshua Williamson #BookReview

Title: Frostbite Vol 1 | Series: Frostbite | Author: Joshua Williamson | Illustrator: Jason Shawn Alexander | ColoristLuis Nct | Publisher: Vertigo | Pub. Date: 2017-8-1 | Pages: 144 | Genre: Science Fiction Apocalyptic | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating 5 out of 5 | Source: Barnes & Noble random grab


Frostbite

In the arctic wilderness of post-apocalyptic America, death comes in many forms—but none is worse than the terrifying plague that freezes its victims from the inside out. They call it frostbite, and it is slowly, inexorably infecting the struggling remnants of humanity. Frostbite has no vaccine, no immunity, and no cure.

Until now.

In snowbound Mexico City, Dr. Henry Bonham and his daughter, Victoria, have found the key to destroying the disease. In order to make their theoretical cure a reality, however, they have to travel 2,000 treacherous miles to a secret government installation on Alcatraz Island.

Enter Keaton, captain of the cross-country cargo hauler Icebreaker, and her hard-bitten mercenary crew. They’ve spent years learning how to survive on the ice, but they’ve never before gone on a run with such high stakes—or with such determined enemies.

Will these unlikely saviors make it across the frozen wasteland, defeat the relentless forces gunning for their lives, and bring warmth to the world? Or will frostbite continue to consume all life in its icy jaws?

Discover the shocking answers in FROSTBITE. Collects FROSTBITE #1-6.

Book cover for Frostbite

Frostbite Review

 

I loved this. Holy crap. I loved this so much! The cover art of Frostbite caught my attention – reminded me strongly of one of my favorite sci-fi women – and so I grabbed it while I had a coffee at the local Barnes & Noble. I knew I wasn’t going to buy it, but I’m a quick enough reader that getting through a volume like this in the time it takes me to drink a cup of coffee is fairly easy.  So, even if it was a dud, I was good. It wasn’t a dud. It was freaking awesome!

The resemblance to Zoe from Firefly doesn’t just end with the outfit and (apparent) race of the main character. Keaton is firm, but kind. She makes a decision and follows through on it. She might regret her actions later, but she does what she feels needs to be done at that moment. This means she succeeds where others fail. It also means a lot of people would gladly see her dead. In comparison, though Victoria is strong in her own right, she seems to pale in comparison. Still, there were moments when I rooted for her as well.

Jason Shawn Alexander did an amazing job here. While I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the stuff I’ve seen from his past, I definitely enjoyed his work in Frostbite. It wasn’t amazingly detailed,but everything was communicated, and it was a pleasure to look at. I don’t know exactly what was different, but this just felt more ‘real’ and clean to me. His drawings were only enhanced by colorist Luis Nct’s work. Luis didn’t use a lot colors, let alone bold ones, and yet he still managed to perfectly set each scene.

While I’m sure the set-up for Frostbite is not unique (I’ve seen similar scenarios many times in regular novels), I still enjoyed it immensely. I was completely immersed in Frostbite from the first page to the last. There was at least one scene where I muttered a rather crude word under my breath, and another where I remember drawing a quick breath in surprise. 

I can’t wait for the next volume of Frostbite to come out. I’ll definitely be having a coffee and mooching another read from the local bookstore!

Buy Link: Amazon

Press Release: Titan Comics to Publish Bloodborne Comics!

TITAN COMICS TO PUBLISH BLOODBORNE COMICS – BASED ON THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED VIDEOGAME SERIES!

Bloodborne Cover C

New original comic adventures based in the eldritch world of the best-selling video game!

Discover the terrifying secrets of Old Yharnam in a brand-new Bloodborne comic series from Titan Comics, which spins out of JAPAN Studio and Fromsoftware’s critically-acclaimed Bloodborne videogame!

The Bloodborne videogame series debuted on PlayStation®4 in late March 2015. As announced at the SCEJA Press Conference 2015, Bloodborne went on to sell more than 2 million copies, as well as expanding the game world with an expansion DLC, “The Old Hunters” which launched on November 24, 2015. Nominated for eight Golden Joystick Awards, the blood-chilling videogame won “PlayStation®4 Game of the Year” and “Best Original Game” in 2015’s Golden Joystick Awards.

In Titan Comics’ new Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep – written by Ales Kot (Generation Gone, Zero), with art by Piotr Kowalski (Wolfenstein, Dark Souls) – a nameless Hunter awakens in an ancient city where horrific beasts stalk the shadows and the streets run slick with the blood of the damned. Seeking an escape from the endless Night of the Hunt, the Hunter embarks upon a dangerous, gore-filled quest with the hopes of ending Yharnam’s twisted endemic.

Bloodborne is one of my all-time favorite games. I put close to two hundred hours into playing it and researching its universe, and that was before I even knew there would be a comic — I was obsessed,” said Bloodborne writer Ales Kot, “I am honored to be working within the Bloodborne universe. There will be mystery, the weird, the eerie, the horrific and the bloody — and there will be an undercurrent of decaying romanticism, walking hand in hand with brain-mashing, soul-cleaving action, together ascending towards the Blood Moon as drawn by the talented and depraved Piotr Kowalski. Ascend with us, Hunters old and new. And do remember — one has to seek Paleblood to transcend the hunt.”

Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep will be available to order from Diamond’s upcoming December edition of PREVIEWS Catalogue. Issue #1 is scheduled to hit comic stores and digital devices in February 2018!

Advance Art Previews and Cover Alternates for Bloodborne Comics 1st issue – Click to see full size

 

 

Advance Art Preview 1 – Courtesy of Titan comics
Advance Art Preview 2 - Courtesy of Titan comics
Advance Art Preview 2 – Courtesy of Titan comics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bloodborne #1 – B
Bloodborne #1 – A
Bloodborne #1 – D

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