“Marriage problems? I’d recommend divorce before rerolling in ‘The Method’”
A few months back I nominated ‘The Method’ for possible publication for a new venture by Amazon called ‘Kindle Scout’ where by reading previews and a voting system readers can help choose which books will be published on kindle. As Duncan is both well known in the horror community, and has an entertaining online presence, I was not surprised ‘The Method’ was picked up for publication. Because I voted for this book, I received a free copy prior to release. This was a nice touch from Amazon.
I recently watched Predator with my teenage daughter. I hadn’t actually seen it since the ‘90s but I thought it was still a fantastic movie. Imagine how I felt and how taken aback I was when my daughter later asked me if all the men in action films - "back in the day" - were so over the top? Forced to reply in the affirmative, I received the 'eye-roll of death' and I was left feeling embarrassed at enjoying such a display of overt machismo. Cthulhu Armageddon had much the same effect on me. C. T. Phipps has created an interesting contribution to the Cthulhu mythos here. He is a self-professed gamer who has utilised his comprehensive knowledge of the role-playing game, Call of Cthulhu, to produce a novel that clearly shows its influence throughout. Fans of Mad Max, The Dark Tower and the computer game franchise Fallout will feel right at home with the post-apocalyptic setting of this story. Cthulhu Armageddon is the first in a series of novels that are set a century after the great old ones such as Cthulhu, Hastur and Nyarlathotep have risen from their watery resting places. They have remade the Earth to better suit themselves, after nearly wiping out the whole of humanity in the process. The chief protagonist of the story is John Henry Booth, an elite ranger for the United States remnant and an overall badass with a level of masculinity that would make Schwarzenegger blush. The tale is a classic one of vengeance and retribution with Booth hunting the mad scientist/ arcane sorcerer Ward who plans to remove the problem of humans once and for all. Helping Booth on his travels are a range of supporting characters that includes a woefully underused, centuries-old ghoul who provided both comic relief and an interesting link to the world before it fell. The issue of supporting characters now brings me to my main critique of the novel. The author’s female characters are, without exception, terribly one dimensional. In fact, his portrayal of women came across as quite immature - with every female encountering Booth falling in love and acting quite irrationally. At times their lack of character development meant I had to stop and check which person was in dialogue with Booth. Hopefully, as the series progresses that might change and I sincerely hope it does. While I did have some gripes with the novel, I can say I rather enjoyed it. It’s a welcome addition to the mythos and I'm also looking forward to reading the second novel in the series. After all, there's always room for a little bit of machismo in our lives.
“Under an alien sky where gods of eldritch matter rule, the only truth is revenge.” CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON is the story of a world 100 years past the rise of the Old Ones which has been reduced to a giant monster-filled desert and pockets of human survivors (along with Deep Ones, ghouls, and other “talking” monsters). John Henry Booth is a ranger of one of the largest remaining city-states when he’s exiled for his group’s massacre and suspicion he’s “tainted.” Escaping with a doctor who killed her husband, John travels across the Earth’s blasted alien ruins to seek the life of the man who killed his friends. It’s the one thing he has left.
So once upon a time there was this guy. He meant well. Or at least...51% well over 49% ill. On average he meant well. And then he made a mistake. One teensy, tiny little mistake. But clearly not one that shifted the balance the other direction. Clearly he's still a good guy. Who at least still means well.
One teensy, tiny little mistake after another, and he's not sure where he is anymore. Did he mean well? Or ill? Or something else? Is ANY of this his fault? Surely not all of it is his fault...
You've read that story before; it's the classic tale of a life gone wrong. Almost always, for reasons that vary from book to book, it was already going wrong anyway, before the monsters and uncanny stepped in.
What sets The Boulevard Monster apart is the warmth that fills the pages. Unlike many of the anti-heroes that carry out their own self-destruction, aided by the supernatural, bad luck, and Very Bad Men, our hero Seth Fowler is actually, genuinely likable, not just a self-justifying jerk of an unreliable narrator. He spends his time caring for other people, trying to make their lives a little easier. He has fond and even delightful memories of the past; he is grounded in solid realities rather than ambition and drive. When the time comes for him to make an ethical choice (at the very beginning of the book), he makes it without hesitation: in fact it's his ethical choice that gets him in trouble. When he digs himself deeper and deeper into gray and then black areas of morality, you know that he's making a very clear-cut choice between bad and worse. The mistakes he makes are the ones that we all make every day, out of the desire to help our loved ones, or prevent them from coming to harm. And his family is actually worth it.
This is no whiny, self-centered character who you secretly wish would get a two-by-four-sized clue stick to the side of the head. This is a genuinely nice guy, which gives the classic tale a lot more impact than I expected. I couldn't hold myself back and go, "Well, if only he'd admitted that he was wrong here, here, and here, then he would never be in this place." There was never a moment where I could say that. The actions that the character take throughout the novel have nothing but admiration and sympathy from me. Even during Seth's worst moment, I went, "Ahhhhh...I'd have at least been tempted."
The ending, in my opinion, nailed it. I'd like to see more in this universe, too. Recommend.
You say that I am a madman. You say that I am dangerous. You say that I am the one who has been abducting women, slaughtering them, and burying their corpses all around this city for years. You are wrong, because only part of that statement is true…
I AM NOT A KILLER
I know that you probably won’t believe me. Not now. Not after all that has happened, but I need to tell my side of the story. You need to know how this all began. You need to hear about the birds, but most of all, you need to understand…
I AM NOT THE BOULEVARD MONSTER
DeAnna Knippling is a writer and editor of dark speculative fiction, mystery, and horror. She has ghostwritten over a million words since 2013, and has had multiple short stories published in Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Black Static, and more. She's currently working on a series of cheesy 80s horror novels involving fairies. The first novelette, By Dawn's Bloody Light, about three women who take revenge on a serial killer, will be released July 1. You can find out more at www.WonderlandPress.com. You can also find her on Facebook andTwitter.
Ezekiel Boone’s “The Hatching” was a thoroughly enjoyable pulp fiction novel about the global emergence of a prehistoric species of carnivorous spider and humanity’s desperately ill prepared response to this invasive threat. It was just a really fun escapist creature feature full of thrills and spills with enough eight legged action to send any self respecting arachnophobe scurrying for cover. Alas, lightning hasn’t struck twice with its sequel, “Skitter” and what you have is a book that manages to be light on scares, heavily reliant on exposition and cut out and keep characters. Following the events of the first novel, millions have died and the world is bracing itself for what follows next. The initial wave of spiders has died out, leaving egg sacs secreted throughout the world and humanity bracing itself for their inevitable return. Set against a biological countdown, the characters face hard decisions about how to best combat the impending threat and save humanity.
Melvin Brown is a loner. A strange pariah who skulks and mutters through his days, drawing monsters in his notebooks and talking himself out of doing terrible things. He is picked on and bullied and one tragic day, he has his fill. Shooting himself in front of a cafeteria full of fellow students and the bullies who brought him to that point. But hatred is tough to kill.
Years after his death, in the town of Lynwood, a strange young man shows up in town. He's the splitting image of the dead Melvin and he's dating one of the smartest girls in school. Another of the town's teens is lured to the old school while jogging and introduced to someone or something with grand designs . Soon after, things start to change. The jocks and the brains and the popular kids all start to transform into that which they never understood and readily tore apart. They dress in black and seem paler. They are angsty and the air around the thickens with malevolence. Their numbers grow daily, they earn a nickname from the faculty-and then the town- The Lynwood Vamps.
Their epicenter seems to be the condemned school where the tragedy took place all those years ago. They have a plan and they have a leader and before long, the entire town will understand that sometimes bygones can't just be bygones. Things swept under the rug don't always disappear, sometimes they grow fangs and slither. Sometimes turning the other way will get your neck broken. Patrick Lacey's novel is a truly fun and well-rendered throw back to those glory days of pulp horror. We Came Back is the gory and shadow-shrouded offspring of Salem's Lot and Sixteen Candles. It delivers honest portrayals of troubled teenagers as well as flawed and troubled adults. The struggles of both groups to come to grips with what's going on and played parallel and perfectly so. The pacing is quick and logical and the prose is lean and mean and licked-bone clean. Recommended, very much so. We Came Back is available from Sinister Grin Press.
"WE CAME BACK is an emotional trip through our darkest fears. One of the best books I've read in years."--Kristopher Rufty, author of SOMETHING VIOLENT and DESOLATION.
Growing up dead.
Melvin Brown sees things that aren’t there. Monsters with tentacles and razor-sharp teeth. Ever the social outcast, he is bullied to the point of suicide. And his hatred of those who did him wrong does not die with him.
One decade after Melvin's death, something strange is happening to Lynnwood High School's smartest and most popular students. They begin to act out and spend time at the former high school, now abandoned and said to be haunted. And their numbers grow at an alarming rate.
Is this just a passing fad or are the rumors true? Does Lynnwood really have a teenage cult on their hands?
The task of a reviewer is straight-forward, to appraise the material and give an honest opinion. With a novel, short story or movie there’s more of a singular focal point of whether or not the entirety of the story is any good. With anthologies and collections things are not so simple, as there are far more individual stories to assess, and I think it would be fair to believe that there’s no anthology or collection in print anywhere where every story is as good as the others. Terror Tales of Cornwall, for me at least, has three levels as there are good stories, very good stories, and excellent ones. That’s good news right? I think so. Though it’s going to be a very personal opinion as to which stories did it for me and which didn’t, this being based on my experience of Cornwall as I lived there for a dozen years or so.
There’s much to be said on the subject of body horror, that flesh-rending subgenre of fiction which turns our own meat against us and cranks the squick factor up to 11. Curious, then, that it’s taken this long for a publisher to release a non-fiction compendium studying it.
Funded on Kickstarter (with portions of the money raised also going to Epilepsy Action Australia), The Body Horror Book is clearly something of a passion project for Australian author Claire Fitzpatrick and her newly founded Oscillate Wildly Press. It brings together essays by nearly two dozen writers—including both established names from the Aussie horror scene and relative newcomers—with engaging albeit mixed results.
It’s a good idea. Take a renowned Victorian author of horrific fantasy and make him the central character in a fantasy comic-book. Plenty of scope for some amazing storylines, or so you would reasonably think, though in this case it’s hard to tell from the first issue the sort of direction it is going to take. What I am reviewing is actually the first comic in a 12 part run, which although I may raise criticism for not reviewing the run in its entirety it’s actually like reviewing the first chapter of a book to see if it’s worth carrying on with on the basis of that introduction. This is where things are a little problematic. The storyline is quite straight forward in that Poe falls asleep and continues to fall, this time into a nightmare in which he is accompanied by a giant talking rat in a waistcoat. The rat in question becomes Poo’s guide (No, that’s NOT a typo) through the nightmare scenario in which many fantastical things happen. I won’t say too much about the story as basically I can’t. Reason being that it’ll give spoilers, and also that I only have the first issue so cannot say what it’s like in entirety, but based on the first issue I have a feeling that it could be at the very least a fun journey worth following. Whilst the story remains to develop, the same cannot be said about the artwork. Rendered in a cartoonish style it fits the story perfectly. Excellent cartooning and skilful inks make it a pleasure to look at. The characters have a stylish simplicity with each personality clearly defined and each panel is used to maximum effect. It’s all in all a very good start to what I can only assume would be a fun adventure.
Chapter I: Falling Down Edgar Allan Poe has lost everyone he ever loved and now he is losing his mind. Haunted by his dead wife and his literary failures, the poet tumbles into a fantastic world created by his genius...and his madness.
“A surprise return to the world of ‘The Girl with all the Gifts’”
In 2014 M R Carey (who also writes under Mike Carey) released ‘The Girl with all the Gifts’ which was a surprise word of mouth hit in both the horror world and beyond, a film followed last year. The 2014 novel was both a clever and original riff on the apocalyptic zombie story and I can’t say I ever expected a follow-up…… However, ‘The Boy on the Bridge’ isn’t really a sequel and the events take place round about the same time as the earlier novel. So you could easily read this novel without having read the other, but the problem is this new book is simply not in the same class as its predecessor.
You don’t need little ol’ me to tell you The Madness of Dr. Caligari is a top-notch anthology, do you? As of this writing, it’s been nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award, for starters. Besides that, it’s got Joe Pulver’s name on it, and that damn near says it all.
Besides being a gifted weird fiction writer himself, Pulver is one hell of an anthologist, most notably putting together such attention-grabbing compilations as the Robert W. Chambers tribute A Season in Carcosa and the Thomas Ligotti tribute The Grimscribe’s Puppets. The subject at the heart of his latest anthology? Robert Wiene’s 1920 German Expressionist silent film masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, of course.
Through a shadowy, angular aesthetic, the film tells the story of a somnambulist driven to murder by the machinations of a carnival hypnotist. Or maybe it tells the story of a delusional asylum inmate who envisions himself a valiant hero opposing the dastardly plots of his scheming doctor. Or maybe…