Survive the Night is one of several horror novels from up and coming American teen writer Danielle Vega who has been billed as “YA’s answer to Stephen King”. She also writes psychological thrillers under the pseudo-name Danielle Rollins. This author is unknown in the UK and I wonder whether comparing any newish author to the mighty Stephen King really does them any favours? As King’s boots are pretty hard to fill.
I finished Zero Saints about a month ago. Since then, I’ve been struggling with how best to write about it. I mean, I can tell you I think it’s amazing. I can tell you that barrio noir may just be my new favourite sub-genre in fiction. I can tell you that this fast paced crime novel is bleak, violent, and hums with a live wire tension from opening word to closer. I can say that Iglesias is, on the evidence of this novel, a talent as ferocious as Ellroy and as pacy as Wimslow, with an added horror/magical realism streak that is woven seamlessly into the gritty realist setting and characters, such that the whole is frighteningly assured.
So the more impressive among you may just remember how, in my round-up of 2015, I mentioned that my favourite novella I read that year wasn’t due out until 2016. Well, with a release date of 22nd July confirmed, I have finally gotten the green light to talk to y’all about Jedi Summer. And disclaimer: I know John Boden, and I’m proud as hell to count him as a friend. That said, my usual rules of reviewing apply - if I don’t like it, I don’t review it. Also, in John’s case, it’s worth noting I was a fan of the mans work before I got to know him personally
This crossover teen horror/fantasy impressed me tremendously. It recently arrived in the UK without much fanfare, but I am sure it will pick up an audience over time. This is often the case with quality YA novels and I was not surprised to find out that “Nightfall” already has a sequel “Edgelands” projected for a September 2016 release. It’s well known in the YA world that you’re more likely to sell a book is there is a sequel in the pipeline, or even a trilogy.
The year 2016, will probably be noted in future times (you know when we finally get out Jetsons flying cars and all that) as the year Weird fiction broke big. This year has seen some truly amazing work from some cats who are proudly doing their own thing and writing their own unapologetically "left-of-center " fiction.
It has to be commended when authors try something new or challenge themselves to write something that is just outside the canon of their previous work. A good author should grow with every book; they should try to better themselves with each word committed to the page, it doesn't always work, though, sometimes what could have been a fantastic piece of work can be hampered by one or two little niggling factors.
Duncan P. Bradshaw's Hexagram is a novel of epic proportions, in regards to both the story line and the structural makeup of the story. This time-spanning novel of ancient rituals and prophecies is certainly massive in its scope when an ancient Incan ritual is rudely interrupted it sets in motion a series of interlinked events that take in many of the histories most notorious events that threaten to destroy the very fabric of our existence.
In horror fiction, there are varying shades of light and dark, not only within the genre as a whole but also within individual titles. Some books are inherently dark throughout their length, while others balance out the dark with a light and happy ending, and others such as The Grieving Stones from Gary McMahon lurk in shadows between the dark and light. Gary's previous work has, in the main had both feet firmly planted in the dark, he is not an author you should ever turn to if you are looking for a cosy horror story where the hero wins the damsel in distress and beats the bad guy. His books are a dark disquisition on the deepest and most honest facets of the human condition. His books have the power to rip out your heart and crush it on the page. His novel The End is one of only a select few books that have had the power to leave me in tears at the book's conclusion. The Grieving Stones is his latest novella and while it treads familiar McMahon shadowy avenues of the human condition it also breaks new ground regarding resolution and consequences.......
As a reader, I read phrases like that and smile but as a writer, when I read phrases like that, I get a little jealous that I didn't come up with it. So simple yet scalpel sharp and threatening. I knew very little about this book when it was sent other than it was poetry and that the author is a stand up guy with a lot of darkness to channel. The slim but beautiful book arrived and I read it in a single sitting. To call this work powerful would be a slight understatement.
Christopher Ropes does not just dig deep. He strips his skin to show you the corded muscle beneath, muscle worm strong from decades of holding back or holding in. He then flays that muscle to show the vessels that carry his blood, sometimes spill it. We get to glimpse his bones and his lungs...every part of this man is displayed for you on the page. There are honest writers and then there is this: a level of brutality and eroticism razor-fighting in an arena for the damned and the dreaming.
These a tableaus, rendered in ash and grue. Drying on hides and silk tapestries, adorning abattoirs and palaces alike. They are songs for the lost, the dead and the dying. The insane and the sick. This is honesty in broad fat strokes that wriggle like leeches. This is a parade of open wound in words. It is so haunting and so riveting, I read it and immediately went back to page one and read it through a second time. Poetry is hard to review, there is no easy way to synopsize the content. I will say that it is a powerful collection. One that will stain you, probably crimson.
When it comes to promoting your book I have always said that interviews are more important than reviews. Everyone is shouting into the vast void about their latest 5-star review, and nine times out of ten it isn't a review it's a poorly written 1000 word summary of the book with a rating tacked on to the end of it. A well-written interview that asks intelligent questions that get to the heart of the interviewee is a far more potent tool for getting an artistic project noticed. It alls comes down to the promote yourself without actually taking about your project.
So what is a reviewer to do when they are faced with a book filled with interviews?
Psychological thriller author E.J. Henry's first ghost story, The Corpse Lodging (Endeavor Press), is an interesting beast. It reads like a thriller, without a lot of frills and flowery dialogue, but aside from a few sequences it's thoroughly rooted in traditional gothic and folk horror. Ed Donavan is a merchant seaman. After his ship is captured by Somali pirates, he suffers from severe PTSD, hallucinating the restless spirits of his murdered colleagues. Or are they more than just hallucinations? At a psychiatric clinic in Switzerland he meets a troubled American woman named Mary, and the two bond over shared traumas. Soon they're moving off to a small coastal town in the Curraghs (a marshy area on the Isle of Man), where Mary has inherited a house from a long-lost relative. The caveat to bequeathal her is odd: she must keep a grave open in the local cemetery (the "corpse lodging" of the title). Even more bizarre is the behavior of their new neighbors. When Ed begins seeing ghosts again, and hearing ships in the mist-covered waters he can't see, he wonders if he's losing his mind, or if the visions he's seeing are tied to the journal found by the local rector, dating back nearly two-hundred years ago.