The Devil’s Colony Review (Supernatural Horror Mystery)

Title: The Devil’s Colony | Series: The Fatal Folklore Trilogy #3 | Author: Bill Schweigart  | Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Hydra | Pub. Date: 2017-7-11 | ISBN13: 9780399180347 | Genre: Supernatural Horror Mystery | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley for review consideration


The Devil’s Colony

The greatest monster is man. From the author of The Beast of Barcroft and Northwoods comes a chilling descent into the depths of horror and human depravity.

Ben McKelvie had a good job, a nice house, a beautiful fiancée . . . until a bloodthirsty shapeshifter took everything away. Ever since, he’s been chasing supernatural phenomena all across the country, aided by dedicated zoologist Lindsay Clark and wealthy cryptozoologist Richard Severance.

Now they face their deadliest challenge yet. In the New Jersey Pine Barrens, a man named Henry Drexler operates a private compound called Välkommen, which is Swedish for “welcome.” Indeed, Drexler welcomes all visitors—so long as they’re racists, neo-Nazis, or otherwise in cahoots with the alt-right. But Drexler is no mere Hitler wannabe. Once he was Severance’s mentor, and his research may well have summoned a monster to the Pine Barrens.

To find out the truth, Ben and Lindsay must enter the camp incognito. There, under the watchful eyes of Drexler’s bodyguards and sociopathic son, they will learn that the most dangerous beasts lurk in the human heart.

Book cover for Devil's Colony

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Embers (Horror Short Story Collection)

From the author of the short story collections These Old Tales and Fresh Cut Tales comes his latest effort, Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing.

There’s a little something for every reader. These 25 short speculative stories represent the smoldering remains of a blaze, the fiery bits meant to ignite the mind with slow-burning imagery and smoky twists and turns. These are the very embers of Cain’s soul.

In this collection, Cain features stories of troubled men and women, both living and dead. Themes of loss and the afterlife take on many forms, as he explores the unknown. For instance, “The Chamber” focuses on a hardened veteran of World War II who has committed heinous crimes. He seeks only to find peace from his conscience, but sometimes that comes at a great loss. “Valerie’s Window” visits a small town amid a tragic end to humanity. Only things are not as they seem, and the more Valerie comes to know herself, the more her reality is revealed. “The Benefit of Being Weighty” has a humorous side, but the theme of this story revolves around fat shaming and the price one must pay for being so ignorant. Hopefully, these three short descriptions have increased your curiosity.

When the dark comes, light a match. Let the fire burn bright and hot. So that when it dies the embers warm you.

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The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror Review

Title: The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror | Author: John Llewellyn Probert | Publisher: Pegasus Books | Pub. Date: 2017-3-7 | Pages: 336 | ISBN13: 9781681773872 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 (LG) | 4 out of 5 (GK) | Source: Received a copy from the publisher for review consideration | Pre-order / Buy on Amazon


The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror

There has always been something wrong about All Hallows Church. Not just the building, but the very land upon it stands. Reports dating back to Roman times reveal that it has always been a bad place—blighted by strange sightings, unusual phenomena, and unexplained disappearances.

So in the 1990s, a team of para-psychiatrists is sent in to investigate the various mysteries surrounding the Church and its unsavory legends. From the start, they begin to discover a paranormal world that defies belief. But as they dig deeper, not only do they uncover some of the secrets behind the ancient edifice designed by “Zombie King” Thomas Moreby but, hidden away beneath everything else, something so ancient and so terrifying that it is using the architect himself as a conduit to unimaginable evil.

After four days and nights, not everybody survives—and those that do will come to wish they hadn’t. Imagine The Haunting of Hill House, The Amityville Horror, The Entity and The Stone Tape rolled together into the very fabric of a single building. And then imagine if all that horror is accidentally released . . . GoodreadsThe Lovecraft Squad Book Cover

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Emerging by Thomas S. Flowers #BookReview

Title: Emerging | Series: Subdue #2 | Author: Thomas S. Flowers  | Publisher: Limitless Publishing LLC | Pub. Date: 2015-12-15 | Pages: 254 | ASIN: B018RK2OR6 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy free from the author for review consideration. |


Emerging

Traumatized by war, friends gather for a reluctant reunion…

A historic house in Jotham, Texas harbors a malevolent force, and as her fear grows, widow Maggie Smith pleads with three lifelong friends to gather in her home. But will their presence combat the darkness…or feed it?

Minister Jake Williams fears Maggie has had a breakdown…

Feeling he has no choice, Jake locates the other intended guest, Bobby Weeks, who agrees to go with him but struggles with keeping his lycanthropic curse hidden.

Jonathan Steele, a wounded veteran battling PTSD, arrives with his disgruntled wife. After drinking too much at dinner, Jonathan insults the homeless Bobby, and Bobby is missing from the house the next morning.

The dark past of Maggie’s home awakens in the present…

Jake, whose faith is in doubt, confides in a local priest while he and Jonathan search for Bobby, and Ricky’s ghost makes another visit to Jonathan, causing him to become fixated on saving Maggie from the evil that surrounds her.

As the danger intensifies, trust is elusive, and betrayal is certain…

Maggie might be lost, Bobby confronts a terrible choice, and Jake and Jonathan fight to save them all—before they become more victims of the horror emerging beneath the deadly house in Jotham. – Goodreads

Book cover of Emerging by Thomas S. Flowers

Emerging Review

 

Emerging is the second book in the Subdue series by Thomas S. Flowers. I reviewed the other book, Dwelling, several months back.  Dwelling gave the reader interesting characters, and a good setup, but basically no action. Emerging, thankfully, drops right into the thick of things. Also, even though it had been a while since I’d read the last book, I had no problem picking up the threads of the story again.

Emerging is an easy read for the most part. I finished the first half of it in a ridiculously short amount of time. The pacing in this one is better than in the other. The dialogue is fine. There are some great lines in it. I giggled at the Pastafarian reference in particular. It was the first time I remember seeing His Noodliness mentioned in a book, and it cracked me up.

The characters are just as good in the second book as they were in the first. But Ricky is probably the most interesting character. Well, the most memorable at least. It’s hard to not to fixate on the insect-infested zombie who keeps showing up to his PTSD-affected best friend. Especially when you realize that he’s not there to haunt Johnathan. Instead, he’s trying to care for his wife from beyond the grave for as long as he can. Bobby was a close runner-up.  I did find that I didn’t feel as much for Jonathan as I did in the first book. He pulled some stupid moves in this book that just made me want to slap him.

But, the repetition got to me. Emerging got off to a great start, and it held strong at first. But I got tired of reading about cicadas, and bulbous red eyes, mandibles, and the sounds that they make. The odd emphasis on the word cicadas near the end of the book. Flowers has talent, but he seems to have let himself fall into lazy writing habits for the last part of the book. It brought the quality of the book down a good bit. It could have ended on a such a strong note, but didn’t. In fact, the closer I got to the end, the angrier I got about what I was reading, because I knew he could do better.

Overall, Emerging is a decent read, but it doesn’t come close to being as good as it could have been.

Purchase on Amazon

Emerging (Subdue Book 2)

Deadlight Jack Review (Horror Thriller)

deadlight-jack-1Worse things than gators lurk in the Louisiana swamp. . . . The author of The Faceless One fuses the twisted imagination of Fritz Leiber with the razor-sharp plotting of Joe Hill in this rollicking horror thriller Deadlight Jack.

Appearances can be deceiving. Take Jimmy Kalmaku. Anyone passing him on the streets of Lake Nisqually, Washington, would merely see an elderly man. But Jimmy is actually a powerful Tlingit shaman, with a link to the god Raven and a résumé that includes saving the world.

Or take his friend and roommate, George Watters. Another ordinary retiree, right? Wrong. Like Jimmy, George is more than he seems to be. He too has a link to the supernatural. He too has saved the world.

Then there’s Professor Foxfire—also known as Deadlight Jack. Dressed in the garb of a stage magician, he seems a figure of magic and fun. But he isn’t fun at all. He isn’t even human. And his magic is of the darkest and bloodiest kind.

When George’s grandson vanishes on a family vacation to the Louisiana bayou, George and Jimmy fly across the country to aid in the search. Once they arrive, family feuds and buried secrets bring George face-to-face with the ghosts of a forgotten past; Jimmy finds his powers wilting under the humid Southern sun; and deep in the swamp, Deadlight Jack prepares his long-awaited revenge. – Goodreads


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Let’s Bring Objective Morality Back to Horror

Every Sunday during October, Sci-Fi & Scary will be bringing you a fresh article from an indie horror author.  They’ll be talking about everything from why they love horror, to their favorite parts, and everything in between. Our first guest post comes from David Dubrow. You can find more information about David at the end of this article.

Let’s Bring Objective Morality Back to Horror

by David Dubrow

Supernatural horror has turned away from its roots, replacing the traditional battle of Good vs. Evil with Us vs. Evil. In large part this is reflective of cultural trends; mainstream writers and movie makers tend to take their thematic cues from the less-religious metropolitan areas of the East and West Coasts, which drive culture more than flyover country. The replacement of an objective power of Good with expedience, the need to survive, has dulled the effectiveness of the genre of supernatural horror, reducing vampires to fanged superhumans and Hell-born demons to savage mutants.

For the purposes of this piece, the objective power of Good, simply defined, is God. Specifically, the God of the Bible. Regardless of your personal feelings about religion, the idea of God as the representation of objective morality has incredible power in Western fiction. Love Him, hate Him, or decide He doesn’t exist, God is a necessary check on evil, the standard against which monsters must be measured. He’s as vital an element of supernatural horror as the monster itself, because without Him, the monster’s evil is situational, even relative. God sets the rules of what should, and, more importantly, what should not be.

From Unholy to Sparkly

Thematically speaking, what is the difference between a vampire and a comic book super-villain without God’s judgment? To introduce the power of the Christian cross against a menacing vampire is to acknowledge that with the unholy there is a holy, and that holiness is granted by God. If the cross repels a vampire, it’s because Jesus Christ really is the Son of God, an idea discussed (and later thrown away) in F. Paul Wilson’s novel The Keep. The Hammer horror films of the 1960’s and 70’s depicted Dracula as being thwarted by crosses, as was Jerry Dandridge in Fright Night (note that in the latter case, just showing Dandridge a cross didn’t bother him; instead you had to believe in God to evoke God’s power). In From Dusk Till Dawn, the snakelike vampires were susceptible to holy water, and until he succumbed to a vampire bite, former pastor Jacob Fuller was an effective vampire slayer.

sas-dub-1 objective morality
In Stephen King’s novel Salem’s Lot, the vampire hunters needed to go to confession to be cleansed enough to fight evil, and the vampire Barlow was only able to defeat Father Callahan by persuading him to cast aside his cross, the symbol of God. Later, after Callahan is made unclean by drinking Barlow’s blood, he is scorched by lightning when he attempts to enter his church: a clear indication of God’s displeasure. Unfortunately, King doesn’t do much else with this idea in his later Gunslinger novels, where Callahan becomes a dimensional traveler; instead, Callahan dies holding a magic turtle idol, a symbol of a less God-focused and more spiritual concept King calls the White.

Not surprisingly, it was a movie based on a comic book that pushed the idea of vampires being areligious super-villains into the mainstream: Blade. Garlic and silver harmed them, but to quote the titular protagonist, “crosses and holy water don’t do dick.” As fun and exciting as it was, Blade set the stage for the theme of vampires existing not as an affront to God (and hence in opposition the objective Good), but as superhumans existing just one link higher than humans on the food chain. Now there are sparkly Twilight vampires, the CW’s Originals/Vampire Diaries vampires, Underworld vampires, Supernatural’s vampires, The Strain vampires, etc: all irrelevant to the Good.

Exorcise This

In horror involving demons, the idea of God as the Devil’s opposite is integral to the theme. On the Evil side you’ve got Satan, demons, and black magicians/witches. On Good’s team there’s God, angels, and priests. In both print and film formats The Exorcist is the ultimate demonic tale and continues to horrify even today; note that the demon possessing Regan could not be exorcized without the efforts of two Catholic priests: Merrin and Karras. Despite Merrin’s physical frailty and Karras’s wavering faith, these were men of God, and back then when you needed an exorcism only a priest could do the job.

sas-dub-3 Objective MoralityThe Omen’s Father Brennan was also a force for good, though in a more ethically complex fashion: he had the unenviable job of telling Robert Thorn that his son Damien was the Antichrist, and that the child must be slain with a holy dagger. In Omen 3: The Final Conflict, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ coincided with the death of Damien, finally killed by that holy dagger. Good triumphed over Evil in The Exorcist and Omen 3, and that Good was an explicit representation of God, with priests acting as His agents.

Recent depictions of priests in horror fiction typically portray them as powerless buffoons or predatory pedophiles, sometimes both. The popular horror film The Conjuring seemed like it was going to buck this trend, when the Warrens claimed that they needed a priest from the Vatican to exorcise the demon/witch/evil spirit haunting the Perrons, but backed away from it and just had non-priest Ed Warren throw the demon out at the end.

Just as priests are often described as useless or evil in today’s horror offerings, angels get very similar treatment. Gregory Widen’s The Prophecy was as instrumental to promulgating the theme of evil angels as Blade was to areligious vampires, though in The Prophecy there were some good angels.sas-dub-2

Supernatural’s angels are indistinguishable from demons in ethics or behavior, for the most part, and while God was absentee in the earlier seasons, He takes a more active role in Season 11. The show does occasionally portray priests, but they’re irrelevant except when you need holy water. Which is odd, because if only a priest has the ability to infuse God’s blessing into a mundane object like a font of water, you’d think priests would make excellent Hunters. Despite the presence of angels, demons, God, the Darkness, and Lucifer, the show’s theme hews closely to Us vs. Evil, making it muddled, at best.

Lacking God’s presence and explicit expressions of religious faith, an angel isn’t thematically different from a pretty superhero or space alien. The further you take an angel away from the Bible, its source material, the less miraculous the angel becomes.

Human beings in real life don’t need God or religion to be good; they can be decent, moral people without those things, and often are. This piece is concerned with fiction, not the reader’s personal religious beliefs. In the horror genre the pendulum has swung away from tales of Good vs. Evil and is stuck on Us vs. Evil, which reflects a cultural shift that hasn’t improved storytelling or thematic clarity. There’s a part in (most of) us that aches for Good to triumph over Evil, or at least fight it, and the moral relativism, areligious anti-heroes, and misunderstood monsters of today’s supernatural horror don’t satisfy that.
Maybe it’s time to bring back the crucifix-fearing vampires, the decent priests, the power of God back to the supernatural horror genre. Go old school: you’ll find a larger audience than you think.


David Dubrow has published two novels, a novella, several short stories, and a non-fiction book on surviving a zombie apocalypse. He is hard at work on the third and last book in his Armageddon series. Find him online at http://davedauthor.com.

Featured Novel:

the-ultime-guideMost people are unprepared to face a basic survival situation, let alone a zombie uprising. What happens when all of the trappings of civilization are ruthlessly stripped away? The electricity stops running, and there’s no easy way to preserve food or get water from the tap. The law of the land becomes the Law of the Jungle. When you throw in the extra difficulty of defending against hordes of ravenous zombies, it will be a miracle if most survive overnight, let alone a month or a year. Life expectancy has just dropped to next winter . . . if you’re lucky.
That’s where this book comes in. What will see you through this horrible zombie apocalypse is not only the knowledge of how to survive but also the confidence such knowledge brings. After reading this book, you will learn:

• The different classifications of zombies, along with their strengths and weaknesses

• How to deal with the overall zombie-caused breakdown of society

• Zombie-fighting tactics and techniques

• How to find food, water, and shelter in a zombie-overrun world

• Skills for dealing with other physical dangers, such as rogue government agencies, zombie animals, and other humans who are competing for scarce resources

• How to prepare a zombie bug-out bag today: a kit that will get you through that critical first week of a zombie apocalypse

Legal issues prevent the author from revealing exactly what he knows about current and future undead-related events. But he will say that you need to read this book now and start preparing for the zombies invasion.

Dwelling Review (Subdue #1)

Book Cover for Dwelling by Thomas Flowers (Subdue Book 1) - for Dwelling Review on Sci-FI & Scary

A group of inseparable childhood friends are now adults, physically and psychologically devastated by war…

A horrifying creature emerges from a sandstorm just before Ricky Smith dies in battle. Forced to leave base housing, his widow Maggie buys a home on Oak Lee Road in the town of Jotham. Maggie is isolated in the historic house…and disconcerted by strange clicking sounds inside the walls.

Jonathan Steele attempts to drink the painful past away… Jonathan was wounded in that fateful battle and now suffers from PTSD. He wants to put the nightmare behind him, but when Ricky’s ghost appears with cryptic warnings about Maggie’s house, he begins to question his sanity.

Bobby Weeks is a homeless veteran struggling with a lycanthropic curse… Afraid of bringing harm, Bobby stays far away from those he loves. But after a full moon, a mysterious woman approaches him and reveals a vision about a house with a sinister presence, and he realizes staying away might no longer be an option.

Minister Jake Williams lost his faith on the battlefield… While Jake will do anything to reconnect with God, he turns to vices to fill the religious void. But a church elder urges him to take a sabbatical, and a ghost tells him to quit the ministry, and his life is more out of control than ever.

When Maggie wakes in a strange subterranean cavern, she can’t deny her home harbors dark secrets. Desperate, she sends letters to her old friends to reunite in Jotham, and events conspire to draw them all to the house…unaware of the danger awaiting them.

The friends have already been through hell, but can any of them survive the evil dwelling beneath the House on Oak Lee? – Goodreads Synopsis

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Northwoods Review(Supernatural Horror)

Northwoods

Northwoods Synopsis: Some borders should never be crossed. From the author of The Beast of Barcroft comes a waking nightmare of a horror novel that’s sure to thrill readers of Stephen King and Bentley Little.

Ex–Delta Force Davis Holland, now an agent for the Customs and Border Protection, has seen it all. But nothing in his experience has prepared him for what he and the local sheriff find one freezing night in the Minnesota woods.

Investigating reports of an illegal border crossing, the two men stumble across a blood-drenched scene of mass murder, barely escaping with their lives . . . and a single clue to the mayhem: a small wooden chest placed at the heart of the massacre. Something deadly has entered Holland’s territory, crossing the border from nightmare into reality.

When news of the atrocity reaches wealthy cryptozoologist Richard Severance, he sends a three-person team north to investigate. Not long ago, the members of that team—Ben McKelvie, Lindsay Clark, and Alex Standingcloud—were nearly killed by a vengeful shapeshifter. Now they are walking wounded, haunted by gruesome memories that make normal life impossible. But there is nothing normal about the horror that awaits in the Northwoods.- Goodreads


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The Kalbrandt Institute Archives Review

Kalbrandt Institute Archives ReviewAs a psychic, Eva is over the moon with her new job at the Kalbrandt Institute. But as she delves deeper into the Institute’s archives, Eva soon realises that she has stumbled onto dark secrets from which she may never escape…

Five ghost stories across time and space are tied together by Eva’s research as she discovers the secrets that the Institute seeks to protect.– Goodreads Synopsis


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The Beast of Barcroft Review (Supernatural Horror)

Beast of BarcroftThe Beast Of Barcroft Synopsis: Ben McKelvie believes he’s moving up in the world when he and his fiancée buy a house in the cushy Washington, D.C., suburb of Barcroft. Instead, he’s moving down—way down—thanks to Madeleine Roux, the crazy neighbor whose vermin-infested property is a permanent eyesore and looming hazard to public health.

First, Ben’s fiancée leaves him; then, his dog dies, apparently killed by a predator drawn into Barcroft by Madeleine’s noxious menagerie. But the worst is yet to come for Ben, for he’s not dealing with any ordinary wild animal. This killer is something much, much worse. Something that couldn’t possibly exist—in this world.

Now, as a devilish creature stalks the locals, Ben resolves to take action. With some grudging assistance from a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the crackpot theories of a self-styled cryptozoologist, he discovers the sinister truth behind the attacks, but knowing the Beast of Barcroft and stopping it are two different animals. – Goodreads


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