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IntoTheMacabre

IntoTheMacabre

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For Fear of the Night
Charles L. Grant
The Devil's Woods
Brian Moreland
The Border
Robert R. McCammon

Reading progress update: I've read 58%.

The Lost - Jack Ketchum

I don't know who is more of a whackadoo, Ray or Katherine.

Wrathbone - Jason Parent

Wrathbone and Other Stories - Jason  Parent

This is my second read of Jason's and this one is a short story collection. Without further ado, here we go:

 

 

Wrathbone-

 

 

The "title track" of this collection and it's an eerie display of watching a man sink deeper and deeper into madness. What makes this story even more unsettling is that it's based of true historical facts. Henry Rathbone was indeed a major in the Union army. He, and his wife Clara, were the guests of President Lincoln and his wife attending the play at the Ford theater where Lincoln was fatally shot. Rathbone did suffer from extreme guilt and eventually went mad from not being able to prevent the assassination of the president. This is Parent's imagining of what went on in Rathbone's mind after that fateful night. Impressive.

 

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 


The Only Good Lawyer -

 

 

Bradley is a scum bag lawyer. A damn good one and he defends other scum bags for obscene amounts of money with no conscience hampering his ability to defend these lowlives. He gets a taste of his own medicine when a victim's father takes the stand. A fun ride that you know where it is leading, but still love the ride.

 

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

 

 


Dorian's Mirror -

 

 

What if your looks were what made you a success and defined you? What if every mirror you now gazed in reflected you as hideous and aging more every time you looked into it? For Dorian, the mirror was his best friend. Now it is his enemy.

 

 

 

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

 

 


For The Birds -

 

 

Nev's parrot has a peculiar craving. One warped story that is guaranteed to make you cringe!

 

 

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

 


Revenge is a Dish -

 

 

Maurice is hired to be a chef aboard a private yacht. Everything was going great until Maurice gets caught sampling the owner's wife's goodies. Oops. So what do you do with a guy when you're out in the middle of a vast ocean and days away from any land? Well, for Maurice, he gets tossed in the drink wearing nothing but his skivvies in shark infested waters. Needless to say, Maurice isn't in good mood after he's been floating on life ring for days fighting for his life. The only thing that keeps him going is his burning desire to enact revenge. Pass the salt, please.

 

 

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

 

 

 

Parent keeps getting better and better. There were 3 absolute gems out of this collection and, overall, there wasn't a clunker in the batch. That's saying a lot. His writing style is fluid and easy to read with an impressive vocabulary without being pretentious. I'm a reader and I read many books. It's been a month since I finished Wrathbone and these stories are still clearly tattooed in my brain. That's the sign of a good writer.

 

 


Overall - 4 1/2 President's Friends with Blood on their Clothes out of 5

 

 

 

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

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The Eighth - Stephanie M. Wytovich

The Eighth - Stephanie M. Wytovich

I like my horror much the way I like my whisky - high quality, straight up, excellent from the beginning to the end, and leaving me wanting more. I can be all over the board when it comes to horror that I like. The biggest thing is suspension of disbelief. If I'm not buying into the story, it's a struggle to get through. That's why dark fantasy is a tough one for me to choke down. Most of the stuff that I encounter is so comic book-ish, it's hard for me to swallow, like cheap whiskey. So, when I was asked to read and review Stephanie Wytovich's dark fantasy tale, The Eighth, I was apprehensive, to say the least, eyeing it with the same kind of scrutiny as if someone poured me a glass of whiskey made in Cleveland. This may be Wytovich's debut novel, but she's no rookie in the writing world. Poetry seems to be her calling and she's been nominated for Bram Stoker Awards in that area. You can see it in her writing which, by the way, is very good. Her descriptions are top shelf. The girl has quite the vocabulary and she's not afraid to use it. She paints a landscape of hell with liberal strokes of Dante's Inferno along with accents of Clive Barker and Neil Gaimon, for good measure. The tale itself centers around Paimon, Satan's top soul collector. Paimon has been assigned to harvest Rhea's soul. In an unusual lack of preparedness, Paimon goes about the task withouth reading her file first. Bad mistake. If he had, he would've learned that Rhea is a spitting image of Marissa, Paimon's long lost love who he killed so many years ago. He struggles daily with this decision and, upon seeing Rhea, he immediately falls in love with her. There's no way he can deliver her to Lucifer. He has to have Rhea for himself. Well, you can see how this can become problematic and to no surprise, it does.

 

 

Wytovich's elegant writing style breathes life into the story. You can feel Paimon's sadness and pain. She's also no stranger to the red stuff, which this book has plenty. The "rules" of hell are a bit jumbled, but that may also be something that I missed on the initial reading. And that's really my only complaint for the whole story. I feel like I was missing something to tie it all together. Now, that's more of a problem for me and not the fault of the writer. If you're a fan of dark fantasy, pour yourself a tall glass of The Eighth. The writing is excellent from start to finish.

 

 

4 1/2 Deadly Sins out of 5

 

 

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The Jack in the Green - Frazer Lee

The Jack in the Green - Frazer Lee

Mild-mannered Tom McRae keeps having the same night terrors over and over. He keeps reliving that horrific morning when he was six and his parents were brutally murdered. His wife isn't able to provide any relief. She's trying to recover from her own nightmare of having a miscarriage and is in a semi-catatonic state from all of the meds she's on. Tom's boss sends him to Scotland to secure a large tract of land to be used in extracting biofuels. The small village of Douglass isn't too keen on the idea of someone coming in and hacking down all of their trees. They still cling to pagan rituals and celebrate their holidays, such as Samhain. On top of that, a group of hippy protestors also have a beef with the whole thing. Last, but certainly not least, Tom is stuck with his overbearing and obnoxious co-worker, Dieter along for the ride. Tom's nightmares begin to spill over into his time in Douglass when he's not sleeping and he begins to question his sanity. Is Douglass more than it appears or is Tom losing his mind?

 

Frazer Lee slowly unravels this tale with a sophisticated voice and a nice vocabulary. Tom seems like a sad sack that you can't quite put your finger on whats going on. This was turning out to be a solid 4-star read before it ground to a halt towards the end and then the "tie-it-all-together" ending felt too rushed to me. Almost as if the story ran out and there wasn't a better way to explain things, so lets just throw all our cards down and show you our hand. Or, I wonder if this story suffered from the dreaded editors knife in an attempt to keep it under so many words for the publisher. This dropped it down to a 3 1/2 stars for me. Other than that, Lee can write his ass off. I have no doubt I'll be reading much more from the Brit. Theres a reason he was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. In The Jack in the Green, you can see why.

 

 

 

3 1/2 Jack and Jills out of 5

 


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Savages - Greg Gifune

Savages - Greg F. Gifune

Greg Gifune has outdone himself yet again. He has established himself firmly as one of the finest horror authors out there and anyone that has read my reviews knows that he's definitely one of my favorites. Simply put, I have yet to read anything mediocre by him. If he has a clunker in his catalog, it hasn't passed my eyes yet. And that brings me to Savages which, in my opinion, is an absolute masterpiece.

 

A group go sailing in the remote South Pacific when a storm sinks the boat they were on. Drifting for days, one of the crew dead, a passenger missing, and the captain along with another passenger badly injured, they fight dehydration, the scorching sun, and hungry sharks to finally drift onto an uninhabited and uncharted island that no one even knew existed. With no supplies, no tools, no food, and barely any clothing on, the harsh reality of their bleak situation hits home like a ton of bricks. Just when they thought that things couldn't get any worse, they discover that their deserted island isn't so deserted and it's inhabitant isn't happy to see them.

 

The strength in Ginfune's tale is it's realistic characters and the way he ratchets up the dread as the story goes along. I'm not joking. You could literally cut the tension in this book with a knife. He also adds some fantastic top secret WWII setting in here. Damn this was so good. I'm going to stop drooling all over this one and give it to you straight - quit reading reading reviews trying to decide what book you want to buy next. Your search is now officially over. Immediately grab this one and start reading!

 

 

5 Hidden Tunnels out of 5

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

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Ghoul - Marc Alexander

Ghoul was originally published in 1980 under the name Mark Ronson. Fast forward to 2016 and the same story is published under the name Marc Alexander. Why? I have no clue. But what I do know is that Ghoul is one of the better pulp horror to come out of the early 1980s. It reminds me greatly of the type of slow-burn horror that J.N. Williamson or Charles Grant used to write and there are days that I miss that style. So, if you're one that likes that kind of horror...

 

In the fictitious Middle Eastern country of Abu Sabbah, Julia Sword is an archeologist that discovers a sealed tomb after a landslide uncovers it in the Valley of the Jinn. Sound spooky? It's supposed to. It seems that this valley was named after King Solomon had a problem with an evil Jinn and had the power to seal it away so that it wouldn't cause any more trouble. Add a few thousand years and Julia is on the brink of busting open this hidden tomb thinking that it contains an unknown Egyptian mummy. Her rich father is the bankroll for this expedition and Julia has an admirer in the King of Abu Sabbah, King Hamid. It all plays like a female Howard Carter scenario. In fact, Carter is mentioned a couple of times throughout the telling. Now, throw in the Middle Eastern version of The Spy Who Loved Me James Bond type, Israeli Head of Intelligence, Moshe Leohr and the Arabian spy love interest, Leliah, as well as the evil uncle hell bent on taking over, Sheikh Ahmid. If that wasn't enough, we have a tall drink of water love interest for Julia, named Andrew, and a Manson-like cult hanging out in the valley just waiting for shit to go down with the opening of the tomb. Last, but certainly not least, we have an attempt by the bad guy uncle to extract information out of the Israeli by hooking up a set of jumper cables to his balls. Yes, that would make me sing like a canary and throw my own mother under the bus, if that was what was needed to bring that particular torture to a stop.

 

While my description does sound a bit hokey, it actually works better than what you'd think. The story really does have a nice slow burn to it with a decent payoff at the end. Yes, the King is unlike anything you'd hear about in the Middle East on CNN today (or in 1980, for that matter). Things are a little too liberal and friendly to the English to be believable, but it is a fun, pulpy horror offering that screams I'm From The Eighties. Pop some popcorn, don't think too much about the holes, and enjoy the ride!

 

 

 

4 Hidden Tombs out of 5

 

 

*This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 


You can also read my other reviews and author interviews at:

 

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The Night Parade - Ronald Malfi

The Night Parade - Ronald Malfi

There are writers and then there is Ronald Malfi. From the first chapter of The Night Parade, it was evident that Malfi's caliber of writing was a notch above what I'm used to seeing from the genre. The verbiage and imagery raised the writing into something majestic. It makes me want to throw away my laptop and quit pretending that I could ever write something of this quality. OK, maybe that's a bit harsh, but you get where I'm going with this.

 

The Night Parade starts out with David and his daughter Ellie on the run from the government. There's an illness going around called Wanderer's Folly and it makes people hallucinate and bleed out of their noses before they either drop dead, kill themselves or kill someone else. The CDC doesn't know if it's spread by air or contact or if it's somehow imbedded in our DNA and something has caused it to turn on in some people. All they know is David's wife, Kathy, was immune before they killed her off testing her to death and that Ellie is also immune...and they want her.

 

The story has a nice slow build up that ratchets the tension to the breaking point. Malfi also uses a series of flashbacks that slowly unravel the past slowly before our eyes. It's extremely effective in teasing the reader with just enough information that only leads to a whole slew of more questions that need answering. The characters are vivid and masterfully three-dimensional where you can literally feel the tension and exhaustion that David is going through in your bones. The Night Parade has shades of Firestarter, Swan Song, and The Dead Zone all mixed within, yet at no time does it feel derivative. It has everything that I look for in a great story - strong characters, realistic dialogue, a slow build up of tension that leads to a climactic ending, and a lasting impact that keeps you thinking about the story long after you've closed the cover.

 

 

5 Oriole Eggs out of 5

 


* I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

 


You can also read my other reviews and author interviews at:

 

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https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 28%.

The Night Parade - Ronald Malfi

David discovers his daughter's secret ability.

Resurrection - Tim Curran

Resurrection: Zombie Epic - Tim Curran

The rain kept falling and falling and falling...and like the rain, the story kept going and going and...well, you get the idea. This one ran the gamut with me, good and bad. Resurrection is listed as a Zombie Epic and you better believe it when they say epic. The problem was that it was too epic. You may wonder, "is that even possible?"and the answer is yes. Resurrection needed editing in the worst way. It suffers from a bloated mass of verbiage. If an editor had come along and slashed a good 300 pages from this tome, the story would've been a much tighter and fun read. Now, don't get me wrong. There is some really good stuff in Resurrection, but the reader was constantly assaulted by the same descriptions of the constant rain falling and the smell of the zombies. I bet the reference to something being "putrid" was used at least 50 times. After a while, it begins to feel like you've read it before and you want to scream "I get it! They fucking stunk to high heaven. Now get on with the damn story!!" The other thing that kept becoming a sore spot with Resurrection was all of the grammatical errors. Usually, I'm pretty forgiving for a misspelled word here and awkward sentence structure there. If you've ever read any of my reviews, I can be a little light on the proofreading at times. But, this was so often that it became quite distracting. So, yes, an editor was sorely needed for Resurrection.

 

OK. Let's get on with the review. In the river valley of a small Wisconsin town, it begins to rain endlessly for days on end. Within this rainy period, there comes a few mysterious showers that are yellow and anyone that gets caught in the dreaded yellow rains gets eaten away and dissolved as if it was pure hydrochloride acid. With the endless torrential rains, the river breaks its banks and the town is flooded. So much so, that the local graveyard, located on a hill, is washed away like a sand castle during high tide. And wouldn't you know it, there's something about the rain that makes all of those people, that have been laid to rest, get up and start coming after the town folks that haven't evacuated the flooded city. Enter our likable heroes, Mitch and Tommy. A couple of regular Joes that you instantly feel like you know. Mitch is looking for his daughter, Chrissy, who went off to the mall and hasn't come home yet. As you can imagine, the shit hits the fan and the zombies start doing what zombies do. But Curran's zombies are a little bit different. There are some that are mindless killers, while others seem to have some intelligence (and speed). Another trait that I liked was that bullets to the head didn't take these guys out, but they discover that salt does. Kinda cool. It also seems that our heroes figure that the explosion at the nearby military base is responsible for all the mayhem. Now it's up to Mitch and Tommy to save the town.

 

Resurrection has some great ideas inside it. Curran knows how to develop realistic characters that are easily identifiable. Along the way, Resurrection felt quite a bit like the bastard child of Stephen King's It and The Stand. The biological weapon gone wrong and threatening to destroy mankind. Also, the main antagonist was an evil clown that I couldn't help but compare with Pennywise. How could you not? One more thing - the salt. Our heros discover that salt is the key to killing the walking dead, not guns. So, you'd think they'd be smart and use what works. Nope. They kept shooting and blasting away throughout the story even though they knew that guns were pretty much ineffective. Again, I had a hard time not screaming at the pages when I would read this. Use the damn salt, you dumbasses!

 

So, to paraphrase Dickens, It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. And that's pretty much Resurrection in a nutshell. There's some really good stuff, but oh what it could've been if only there was an editor.

 

 

3 putrid corpses out of 5

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

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Chasing Ghosts - Glenn Rolfe

Chasing Ghosts - Glenn Rolfe

Jason and Davey invite the new kid in town, Luke, to hang out and participate in a little game they call "Chasing Ghosts". On a dare, they ride their bikes way out to the old Cobb place. The Cobb's were a bunch of backwoods inbreds that either died off or left town. At least, that's what the rumor was. What they find is a little than trouble for trespassing. Near there, a band is setting up to play a party at a rented cabin. They were only looking to score some quick cash for playing and having a good time. When the intoxicated lead singer wanders off, the rest of the band are led into the woods to find him. They'll wish they stayed back in the cabin.

 

When I look at Glenn Rolfe's body of work through the last few years, it makes me smile to see such a talented writer mature in front of our very eyes. With Chasing Ghosts, that trend keeps climbing ever higher. With shades of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th, Rolfe also summons his inner-Laymon and, in my opinion, outdoes what his predecessor couldn't do. Now before you start rounding up the villagers and handing out pitchforks and torches, let me explain. My complaint with Laymon is that his stories attempted to capture that B-movie magic and fun. The problem has always been that everything that I've read by him falls short. A good story, whether it be on the silver screen or written page, has to have good, realistic characters that you care about. To me, Laymon's characters always felt like cardboard cutouts that became cannon fodder when they behaved unrealistically, their dialogue was borderline moronic, and the whole thing seemed hokie. With Chasing Ghosts, the characters feel like people that we already know facing problems that you can honestly believe - a missing son, infidelity, working stiffs looking to blow off some steam on the weekend. It's all there and done very well by Rolfe. If I have a complaint with the story, it's that the dialogue can be a tad confusing by his lack of identifying who is doing the talking from time to time. Again, it's a minor complaint, but I do think it would help the story. Other than that, I dig it. Now, does he break any new ground with Chasing Ghosts? No. But, I don't think that was ever his intent. What he does is deliver one kickass tale of backwoods bumpkins gone wrong.

 

 

4 Billy Bob teeth sunk into your leg out of 5

 


* This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review

 


You can also read my other reviews and author interviews at:

 

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In Perpetuity - Tim Lebbon

In Perpetuity - Tim Lebbon

The latest from Tim Lebbon, In Perpetuity, is a murky fantasy tale cloaked with shades of horror. A father and his son, Sammy, enter a strange store that they've never seen before. Inside, Sammy is taken away by a man that goes by the moniker, The Keeper, and demands that the father go out and find him proof of love, if he ever wants his son back. The Keeper has a strange collection in his mysterious store - a saber-toothed tiger pacing in a cage, Kennedy's smashed skull, Hitler's testicle, etc - and he want to add to it by forcing people to go out and bring him whatever rare oddity he desires.

 

In what sounds like a promising premise, is anything but. In a feigned attempt at trying to create a profound story about how a father's love knows no boundaries when it comes to saving his son, Lebbon delivers a half-baked fantasy tale that comes across as muddy, unclear, and hard to swallow. On top of it all, this one needs some serious editing because there are grammatical errors all over the place. I've enjoyed other Lebbon stories. Unfortunately, I can't put In Perpetuity among them.

 

 

2 Green Men out of 5

 


* I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

 

 


You can also read my other reviews and author interviews at:

 

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

 

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

 

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

 

Charnel House - Graham Masterton

Charnel House - Graham Masterton

John Hyatt works for the Dept of Sanitation in San Francisco. One day, an older gentleman comes in with an unusual complaint - his house is breathing. Breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Hyatt wants to write the guy off as a kook, but there's something about his demeanor that tugs at his heart making him feel sorry for him. So, he decides to stop by his house after work to check out this mysterious breathing sound with his engineer friend in tow. At first, nothing happens. Then there's the sound and yes, it does sound like breathing. John doesn't believe in any of this hocus pocus and is convinced that the sound is a practical joke. When he attempts to confront the responsible party for the breathing sound, a blast of energy hits the room like a bomb. What happens next is the beginning of mysterious events that lead John to seek the help of an old Indian medicine man that might know a thing or two about what the heck is going on.

 

Charnel House is a fun read that actually ages well (It was originally written in 1978). Yes, there a few times during the course of reading the book that you kind of roll your eyes and chuckle - doctors smoking and drinking in their hospital office, a couple borderline sexist remarks by the male characters, attempting to call someone in the days of no cell phones or voice mail, etc. But, those are very minor and Charnel House has a nice creepy atmosphere with extremely good visuals and character development. The final scenes are a tad bland and slightly formulaic, but remember that this was the late 1970s. A very solid read and worth picking up.

 

 

4 evil coyotes out of 5

 

 

This ARC was provided my NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


You can also read my other reviews and author interviews at:

 

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

 

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

 

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

 

 

 

Sleep Paralysis - Patrick Lacey

Sleep Paralysis - Patrick Lacey

 

Worm Garden -

What would you cause you to feel more guilty - sleeping with your best friend's girlfriend behind his back or taking him to a sacrificial altar on a ghost hunting trip?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


Operation Parasite -

Conspiracy theorists. Manny is one. Is he onto something or is he a dangerous whack job?

4 out of 5 stars


Pen Pals -

Who's on the other end of those pen pal letters? That's what James is afraid to know. Great Twilight Zone-ish tale!

5 out of 5 stars


Drowning in Filth -

The next time you're flipping the channels and you see a show about hoarders, you might think twice that it couldn't happen to you. Excellent creepy-crawly tale.

5 out of 5 stars

 

Lost and Found -

A stuttering boy finds strength from the body of a murdered girl. A little too thin of a plot and more questions than answers for me.

3 out of 5 stars

 

First Bell -

A survivor of a high school shooting can see the ghosts of that horrific day a he relives it over and over. More like a victim having a flashback than a real story.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Send Your End -

A website called Send Your End where people send in video of them killing themselves is addicting to high school senior, Marissa. She tries to enlist her favorite teacher into helping her. But some things are beyond our control.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


The Lynnwood Vampires -

If the high school kids in your small town start dressing all in black, dye their hair black, bleach their skin and get numerous face piercings, it may not just be a goth phase. Great storyline and character development make this one a fun read.

5 out of 5 stars


Norton -

Ritchie's daughter, Veronica, finds a beat up stuffed bunny outside of a burger joint and wants to take it home. Ritchie agrees out of feeling guilty that his wife has recently left him and Veronica. She names the bunny Norton. Oh the things Norton can do. With shades of Chucky from Child's Play, Norton was a good story that could've benefitted from not ending so abruptly.

4 out of 5 stars


Cold Call -

A struggling single mother gets a telemarketing call like no other. Make sure, when you're walking home with your friends from the bar and complaining about your life, that you don't offer to sell your soul for a better life. You just might be heard.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Bad Egg -

A woman who can't have children is raped by a reptilian-like creature. How bad does she want to have a child?

3 out of 5 stars

 

Critter Marrow -

Odd sounding name in an odd SPAM email that Gary can't seem to delete from the company email. What do you do with a haunting email that you can't delete?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Last Words -

How well do we know our family? Everyone has two sides. One is who you really are and the other is what you show other people. Are you sure you know who your father really was? Great story about how we think we know our families only to find a hidden side and what would you do with that knowledge.

5 out of 5 stars

 

The Boss -

No one rarely sees the boss of the grimy fast food dive that Perkins is sitting at. When a drunk customer complains about her food and demands to see the boss, she quickly understands why.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


Mrs. Alto's Garden -

Death makes the best fertilizer. At least that's what Mrs. Alto says. An enjoyable story that has shades of Charles L. Grant and H.P. Lovecraft.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Big Bertha -

Big Bertha is one of those older arcade games where you throw balls into her cavernous mouth while cheesy carnival music plays as she's bellowing, "Feed me!" Now imagine how creepy this game could be in the dark. A fun and silly read.

4 out of 5 stars


Full Disclosure -

A tale from a ghost's perspective as it tries to help out a beautiful girl who has moved into his old apartment and unknowingly brings home a demonic clock.

4 out of 5 stars


A solid effort from Lacey. Some of the stories were silly, but fun. It was best to just sit back, don't take things too seriously and enjoy the ride.

 


Overall, a solid 4 out of 5 stars.


This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

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Stolen Away - Kristin Dearborn

We've all done things we've regretted, especially in our twenties. Sometimes you're looking to let off a little steam, maybe forget all about the one that broke your heart. Trisha is not different. A single mom who's lived a hard life filled with hard drugs. When her and her boyfriend, Joel, break up because he's bailed for another woman, Trisha decides that she's going to party her ass off at a club and hook up with someone to forget about him. She accomplishes all the above and hooks up with a guy that has DEMON tattooed on his back. DEMON gives Trisha some Extacy like she's never had before. This stuff was potent. How else would you explain his skin turning red and horns emerging from his head while her body turns into sometime reptilian with iridescent scales? After the crazy night of rough sex with DEMON, Trisha ends up pregnant with his baby. She decides to clean up her life, no drugs, get a decent job and become a real mother to her daughter and newborn baby boy, Brayden. All seems like it's looking up until the night she's awakened by her daughter screaming. When she enters their bedroom, she discovers that the baby is gone and her daughter says that a monster took him away. DEMON has returned to claim his son. With nowhere else to turn, Trisha enlists Joel's help to return to the life she has tried so hard to put in the past to get Brayden back.

 

Kristin Dearborn has concocted an excellent tale of demons infiltrating our seedy underworld, taking what they want and no one being the wiser. Stolen Away isn't a story with superhero angels and devils. Demon and his entourage feel like people we've all seen at the clubs. Kristin and Joel haven't made the best choices, but they're trying to do the best they can. By showing their flaws, Dearborn gives the story a sense of every day realism which, in my opinion, is the only way to pull this story off. It's gritty and grimy, just like the real world. I have to admit, I couldn't quite get into Dearborn's earlier story, The Woman in White. The characters felt too wooden and unreal. With Stolen Away, I'm pleased to announce that there isn't even a slight hint of that. This one is the real deal and if you're looking for a tale about demons, go ahead and pass up the subpar Horns by Joe Hill and pick yourself up a copy of Stolen Away. It's the best story that I've read in 2016.

 

 

5 cloven hooves out of 5

 

 

This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

 


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Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell - Paul Kane

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell - Barbie Wilde, Paul Kane

I have a confession. Before reading this book, I had no clue who Paul Kane was. Apparently, to the people in the know, he is the leading guru on Clive Barker's Hellraiser films and mythos (outside of Barker, of course). So you'll have to excuse me for being late to the party. What I do know is that I love Clive Barker's Hellraiser films and I enjoy Sherlock Holmes stories. So when I stumbled across the title of this book, I was instantly intrigued. In what seems upon first glance as a farce, started sounding pretty damn full of possibilities the more I thought about it. After jumping head first into Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, I am pleased to announce that the possibilities were right on the money and Kane delivered one hell of a fun read.

 

Sherlock Holmes is moping around since he defeated his archenemy, Moriaty. Cases don't seem to be that intriguing or challenging and Holmes is apparently a ball of irritability if his mind isn't challenged. Dr. Watson is worried about his dear friend, especially since he's had a tangle with the opium demon from time to time. Then a missing person case comes in. Apparently, a Francis Cotton went inside his attic room, locked the door, and never came out. Disappeared. Holmes and Watson take the case and are stumped. Other missing person cases come trickling in with the same descriptions. Holmes is convinced that they are tied together. But how? When investigating one of the other disappearances, the duo discover a secret society that focuses on the forbidden pleasures of the flesh and a pillar that contained a small box. Sound familiar?

 

Kane's tale weaves in and out of tie-ins with previous Sherlock Holmes stories and the Hellraiser films. And it works. Very well, I might add. The story is told Arthur Conan Doyle-style through a re-telling by Dr Watson. We also get a nice perspective from it rotating back and forth from Watson to Holmes POV and back again. Who would've thought that the marriage of Sherlock Holmes and Clive Barker would work so well? You know what? Don't question a good thing and Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is a good thing.

 

 

5 Elementary, My Dear Watsons out of 5

 


This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

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Mayan Blue - Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason

Mayan Blue - Melissa Lason, Michelle L. De La Garza

Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason are described as "The Sisters of Slaughter" and Mayan Blue is their debut. And a confused debut it is.

 

Four students and their assistant professor head for the mountains of Georgia where they are to meet up with their professor who feels he's made a great discovery that will change the way history books are written. Once near the rendezvous point, all hell breaks loose. In what they think is the professor crying out for help, Wes and Alissa go off to find him. What they discover an open doorway to a Mayan underworld located deep within a cave inside the mountain. Mayans in Georgia? I like the idea. Unfortunately, that's about as good as it gets.

 

Mayan Blue had some promise. The premise of a Mayan underworld in Georgia had lots of possibilities. Instead, it ended up being one long chase scene where way too little happens. The beginning of the story starts out as a B-horror movie style story. Annoying cannon fodder characters that scream I'm going to be killed before the story even gets going. Then it opens up into the Mayan underworld with good shapeshifting characters. Then the last 1/2 to 1/3 ends up being a murky chase scene where characters are introduced for no apparent reason adding nothing to the story. Our heroes get injured so many times that you start wondering why they haven't dropped long ago from blood loss. Too little character and plot development dampens what could've been a great story.
You can see the talent is there. They simply need to focus on tightening up the story, spending more time on plot.

 

 

2 1/2 Sacrifices out of 5

 

 

This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

 

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

 

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

 

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley