Ginger Nuts of Horror
Despite what the cover art would have you believe, Angler in Darkness, the first short story collection from Edward M. Erdelac (author of such novels as Andersonville, Monstrumführer, Terovolas, and the Merkabah Rider series), contains approximately zero razor-toothed mega-fish snacking on grizzled old sailors. The title of this collection, and the image on its face, instead refers to Erdelac’s philosophy of storytelling: That is, he fancies himself something of a mariner, trawling the briny murk of his imagination for whatever prizes he’s lucky enough to catch.
Jack Bantry is mainly known as the man behind the wonderful DIY-flavored Splatterpunk Zine. He has recently begun to show himself as a writer as well, through a few short stories that have appeared in chapbooks. The Lucky Ones Died First is his first novella, put out by the fine folks at Deadite Press. It is a gore-oaked love letter to the glory days of 80's pulp, when a fast pace and lots of bloody action were all that mattered.
In and around the English town of Hambleton, people are dying. Not just dying but being ripped to pieces. Partially eaten. While a newspaper photographer and a woman who knows firsthand what is going on try to get to the bloody bottom of things, they discover that the thing they seek is large and furry and very angry, hungry and horny. They meet up with a local scientist/ex-Nazi bigfoot hunter to figure out a way to stop this creature before the whole of the town is torn to pieces.
Bantry writes simply and straight-forward. This is not a story that requires a light and delicate touch. This is a story told with fists and a terrified grip. It's violence and gallows humor and a little satire thrown in for flavor. It's fun with a capital F, written in blood on your front door.
The Lucky Ones Died First is available from Deadite Press.
“It’s like Jaws but with Bigfoot” - Shane McKenzie, author of Muerte Con Carne
Crushed heads, entrails, and piles of body parts are littering the woods surrounding the quaint English vacation town of Hambleton. A hungry cryptid is on the loose and is biting and tearing to pieces whoever and whatever it can catch. Now the residents must team up with a former-Nazi Bigfoot hunter to save themselves and their livelihood from this monstrous horror.
People must fight. Many of them will not live to see the next day…
Part horror story, part thrilling road adventure, part historical drama, Before is a novel like no other. Described as "the dark fantasy version of Cloud Atlas," Kane's Before is as broad in scope as it is in imagination as it tackles the greatest questions haunting mankind-Who are we? Why are we here? And where are we going?
By Gavin Kendall
I've always enjoyed reading anthologies, particularly those with a theme. Monsters Exist ticks that box nicely by having 14 tales all about Monsters. I was not familiar with any of the authors prior to reading this book, something which may be of benefit as I would then have no expectations based on previous reading experience.
There are not many anthologies I've read that have had a 100% hit rate. In fact from memory there are 2, Clive Barker's Books of Blood and my current book of the year, Richard Chizmar's A Long December. Monsters Exist is incredibly close to having all its tales hitting the spot, and I really do mean incredibly close. There were so many positives crammed within it's 148 pages, it was a blast discovering what Monsters Exist!
Allow me to make a confession, and you can just drop those pebbles in your hand, pal!!
I am not a big fan of science fiction. I mean the "Laser gun/space ship/computery-beep-boop-beep!"stuff. So when this came to my doorstep and I read the back copy, I cringed. It sounds so damn science fiction...and it is. But, I was wrong. Really really wrong.
Paige is a student invited to participate in a salvage mission, to find and bring back a mythical ship called Manifest Destiny. She has never been off the space outpost where she was raised and longs to experience other things. I can't begin to boil down the heady plot other than I will say that as far as world-building goes, Stephen Kozeniewki has hit a grand slam here. I mean, the details of the incredibly bleak and interesting world are amazing. Simply staggering!
I'll touch on some other things that come into play here: We have a cast of entirely women, not just on this mission--but in the whole world. There are no males. We meet a band of pirates called "Skin-Wrappers" who are so ghoulishly bizarre that I have still not stopped picturing them and I finished this book two months ago!? We have the flesh world, a living planet-sized organism, wherein the blood is an oceanic entity, brimming with life of its own--the titular critters, The Hematophages. These psychic space lampreys are vile and smart and they are not to be taken for granted.
All of this wraps around itself and what you get it a Russian nesting doll of 80's pulp inside of hard science fiction inside pointed and pretty fucking spot on social commentary, all in a highly unique and entertaining package.
Buy this book. Read this book. It's fantastic.
The Hematophages is available from Sinister Grin Press
Doctoral student Paige Ambroziak is a “station bunny” – she’s never set foot off the deep space outpost where she grew up. But when she’s offered a small fortune to join a clandestine salvage mission, she jumps at the chance to leave the cutthroat world of academia behind. Paige is convinced she’s been enlisted to find the legendary Manifest Destiny, a long-lost colonization vessel from an era before the corporations ruled Earth and its colonies. Whatever she’s looking for, though, rests in the blood-like seas of a planet-sized organism called a fleshworld. Dangers abound for Paige and her shipmates. Flying outside charted space means competing corporations can shoot them on sight rather than respect their salvage rights. The area is also crawling with pirates like the ghoulish skin-wrappers, known for murdering anyone they can’t extort. But the greatest threat to Paige’s mission is the nauseating alien parasites which infest the fleshworld. These lamprey-like monstrosities are used to swimming freely in an ocean of blood, and will happily spill a new one from the veins of the outsiders who have tainted their home. In just a few short, bone-chilling hours Paige learns that there are no limits to the depravity and violence of the grotesque nightmares known as…THE HEMATOPHAGES.
BY GAVIN KENDALL
A tale of three gunslingers who hear of a small town church full of silver, the trouble is, between them and unlimited riches, a band of brutal werewolves!
Does this western/horror hybrid have teeth or is it shooting blanks?
By Tony Jones
“The slasher film inspires an entertaining thriller”
First and foremost Riley Sager’s “Final Girls” is an old fashioned page-turner and I really don’t read enough of them. You’ll quite easily begin on a Friday evening and munch up the 342 pages finishing it in good time for the Sunday roast. I most certainly did. Like huge selling “Gone Girl” and “Girl on the Train” it’s also probably one of those books will readers will devour and then claim not to like at all, even though they just read it in two days flat! A guilty pleasure.
An interesting twist on the vampire myth as the last vampire learns that his partner since the Stone Age has killed herself. Rather than face eternity alone he decides to commit suicide by waiting for the sun to claim him. His plans are thwarted however when he's stabbed as the sun rises, his suicide remains successful, yet he retains a degree of consciousness as his soul is now being spread through each subsequent victim that falls to the blade. He must get the knife back and reclaim his soul, the problem is, someone doesn't want him to get it back.
The Truants is a tale of the social underclass, of knife crime, drug abuse and poverty with a clever new interpretation of the Vampire mythology woven between the rat infested tower blocks. It's beautifully written, almost poetic at times, there were several passages that literally stopped me reading for a moment it was so powerful. The way Markham details the grief of a murdered childs mother were stunning, the vile descriptions of poverty and abuse in a small flat where drug addled parents fester whilst their dirty, lice ridden child is in another room desperate for love and attention is simply heartbreaking.
The story is certainly not an easy read, but the elegant way in which it's written pulls you through the blood and filth.
The Truants is a remarkable piece of work that demands to be read.
Following the suicide of his lover, the last of the ‘old-ones’ – ancient immortal beings, as clever as they are ruthless and unable to withstand the light of the sun – has decided to end his immortality. As he sits on a bench on the edge of a council estate to await his demise with the rising of the sun, he is mistaken for an old man, held up at knifepoint by a young man and stabbed before the sun burns his body to ashes. His assailant scurries back into the belly of the estate with the knife in his pocket, the blood of the old-one seared into its sharpened edge.
But once the blade cuts another person, the congealed blood mingles with that of its victim, and awakens in them the old-one’s consciousness from the depths of the afterlife. It is not long before the knife draws blood again, and one by one the youth living on the estate are taken over by the old-one’s mind. Determined to die, he must find and destroy the knife before his soul becomes irrevocably dispersed in the bodies of the city’s children, trapped forever in its feral underbelly. But someone is out to stop him…
By Tony Jones
“Abstract horror which seriously disappoints
“I Am Behind You” is John Ajvide Lindqvist’s first novel to appear in English since “Little Star” in 2011, being a major fan of this highly versatile Swedish author I was really looking forward to reading something new. However, this was a major disappointment and it does not compare favourably to any of his previous four novels. Interestingly, it appeared in Sweden way back in 2014 and the translation has taken a while to materialise, perhaps they struggled to find a home for it? If that was the case, it really would not surprise me. However, a second book (in this projected trilogy) has recently been released in Sweden, so the story does continue. The original title, in Swedish, translates into English literally as “Heaven’s Beach”.
"those who still enjoy the Mythos-inspired stories of Frank Belknap Long, Brian Lumley, or even August Derleth, The Fiddle is the Devil’s Instrument offers the literary equivalent of comfort food"
In genre fiction circles, the name H.P. Lovecraft has long been revered. These days, the most noteworthy of the many, many writers who invoke that name tend to take influence from the man’s more “literary” qualities. They craft subtle, atmospheric, often quite poetic tales of philosophical horror with cosmic implications and an emphasis on suggestion over explication. It’s worth remembering, though, that Lovecraft’s legacy is equally rooted in the realm of pulp fiction.
Indeed, what originally attracted both readers and writers to Lovecraft’s output was not so much his style or worldview (as largely seems the case today), but rather the open-source mythology he created as a background for his tales. From pantheons of alien gods to whole bookshelves stuffed with arcane grimoires, Lovecraft’s sandbox has always been flush with toys practically begging storytellers to jump in and play with them.