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The Monster Librarian Presents:

Reviews of Supernatural and Occult Themed Books

Things that go bump in the night, flashing lights, furniture that moves by itself: here you will find books about ghosts, haunted houses, the occult, as well as happenings and creatures involving other dimensions. 


Hedge End by Peter Mark May*New Review
Samhain Publishing, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1-60928-738-2
Available: New and Kindle


        Hedge End is a horror novel set in the south of England. It tells the intertwined stories of Simon Hay and Matthew Reynolds, two men connected by (and connected to) the small village of Hedge End in Surrey: a village with a dark and ancient secret at its heart. Creatures that have been hidden for centuries are beginning to re-emerge, and, as the village prepares for its May Day celebrations, something evil is released.


        There is a lot to like about the plot of Hedge End – it reminded me of some of Ramsey Campbell’s novels (of which I’m a big fan). However, the book suffers from an overall lack of editing and polish. There are typos, syntax issues and characters who change names, but also too many incidental characters that are developed for a chapter and then disappear. These little niggles become a bit too distracting as the novel progresses, which is a shame because May’s writing shows a lot of promise. Had the book been more rigorously edited (and proofread), this would have been a recommendation. As it is, I found Hedge End rather disappointing.


Contains: sex, violence, sexual violence


Reviewed by: Hannah Kate



Casting Shadows by J. Kelley Anderson*New Review
World Castle, 2012
ISBN: 1937593843
Available: ebook, used paperback

Edward Kelley’s sister and parents are dead: he has nothing to live for, save for the hope that maybe, with the help of black magic, he can make the world pay. Edward’s rage ends up being not-quite murderous, though, and he summons an undead servant who refuses to kill people. Altogether, his plans for human destruction are going about as well as the rest of his life.

Casting Shadows is a surprising little tale. From the beginning this dark magic-themed tale of demons and sorcery and rage is far, far more about one man finding his own soul and purpose. I really enjoyed it. There are some editing hiccups in my copy that might annoy other readers, but I found them easy to overlook in the scope of the story. Casting Shadows is a nice little twist on the demonic youth trope. Definitely recommended.

Contains: language, some violence

Reviewed by Michele Lee

Dead of Winter by Brian Moreland
*New Review
Samhain, 2012
ISBN: 1609286634
Available: Trade paperback, ebook edition



The time is the 1870’s, and in the interior of Ontario, colonists are disappearing.  Inspector Tom Hatcher is sent to investigate the weird happenings at Fort Pendleton and the Manitou Outpost, including insanity and cannibalism.  Hatcher was part of the team that caught Gustave Meraux, the Cannery Cannibal who terrorized Montreal.  Father Xavier is called to the asylum because the warden thinks Meraux is possessed.  Could the same thing be happening at the settlement?

Hatcher must discover the reason for the death and gruesome bloodshed occurring at this remote trapping outpost in the icy frontier of Ontario. The businessmen in charge think it’s some sort of disease, but is it that simple?  The natives believe it’s a Wendigo.  Who is right? Can Anika, a native scout, help Tom Hatcher discover the truth before he also succumbs to whatever has taken hold of the settlers?

A very well-written story, Dead of Winter is bloody, violent, and frightening.  Moreland manages to create a suitably claustrophobic atmosphere, even though the story takes place in the wide open wilderness.  There is a bleakness that runs through the entire novel and stays with you, just as the cold temperatures the characters are dealing with.  Character development is concise and will have you empathizing with (or disliking) them.  I especially enjoyed the dynamic between Tom Hatcher and Anika.  It was an entirely believable relationship.  Dead of Winter is a very entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable read. Recommended.

Contains: Violence, gore and adult language

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund

A take two review by Michele Lee

        It’s Ontario, 1878, at the beginning of the European expansion into the frozen tundra. Two men, Inspector Tom Hatcher and Father Xavier, find themselves thrown together in an isolated, snowed in fort, facing down a plague of cannibal corpses and worse. Claiming the town one by one, this evil is more than the native Wendigo, more than flesh-hungry humans and more than a demonic presence in the woods.

        Dead of Winter reads like typical horror fare. It's exciting and more than a little gory. The characters are not always sympathetic, sometimes outright evil. And, typical of period pieces there's a lot of referencing to natives as savages, and less than human. For readers looking for a scary snow storm read, there's fun to be had, provided you can look past the stereotypical treatment of women and minorities.

Contains: violence, gore, language, rape, sexual language
Reviewed by Michele Lee



Hell Gate by Elizabeth Massie*New Review

2013 DarkFuse

ISBN-13 978-1937771744

Available: New paperback


        It’s 1909, and following a brutal murder in a hotel room in Coney Island, Suzanne Heath is asked by Lt. Granger to aid in the investigation. Suzanne had previously helped Granger’s daughter Coralie after she was viciously attacked. . Since she was a child, Suzanne has had visions of a person’s life when she touches them. Her mother believed her to be evil, and sent her away to school, where she Suzanne makes friends with girls who have similar “powers.”  After a major incident, Suzanne ran away, and now lives in Coney Island with her friend Cittie. Suzanne is determined to discover the cause of the murder. When she discovers a link with a “hidden” show full of zombie-like people, and the proprietor’s sinister motive. Suzanne’s life is in danger.


        First of all, I love the setting for Hell Gate. It contrasts the innocence of the time against the brutality of what is going on with a seemingly innocuous side show, in a place full of distractions from everyday life. Suzanne is a complex character. Despising her powers on the one hand, yet determined to help solve the crime for which the police have arrested her friend Cittie, she holds her own when forced to go up against a cop whose views on women are less than complimentary. As the story unfolded, I thought I knew who was who and what was going to happen. I thought wrong. Massie throws quite a curve ball! Hell Gate is a supernatural thriller that is sure to make your hair stand on end. Recommended.

Contains: some violence

Reviewed by Colleen Wanglund



A Door Unlocked by Calvin Dean*New Review
CreateSpace, 2013
ISBN-13:  978-1492327370

Available: Paperback, Kindle edition

        Bobby Ray Ledbetter, a career criminal, is being released from prison.  He has served his time, and is now free to return to his life.  After a year of odd jobs and no jobs, Bobby Ray decides to break into a house in an upper middle class neighborhood, looking for money.  He breaks into the home of Eric and Vanessa Fitzgerald.

        Bobby Ray attacks Eric, throwing him down the stairs and killing him.  He attacks Vanessa, raping her, and then he kidnaps the Fitzgerald's’ 8 year old daughter. Stealing the family SUV and a credit card, Bobby Ray makes his escape into the unknown.

        Vanessa Fitzgerald is in a coma, and the break-in has made front page news, because Eric Fitzgerald was the son of state senator Sam Fitzgerald.  While in her coma, Vanessa speaks to her late husband.  When she comes out of her coma, the doctors are very skeptical, even when she tells them where to look for her daughter.  She begs doctors to put her back into a coma so she can talk to Eric some more. 

        News reports circulate that Vanessa has claimed to have spoken to her husband after his death. Austrian parapsychologist Dr. Sebastian Dietrich, has a theory about life after death, and he wants to test it on Vanessa. He places her in a medically induced coma, and she releases her husband, Eric, to get revenge on those who killed him, and also to find and rescue his daughter.

    This story was very interesting, and it was very gripping, as the premise of robbery and kidnapping is present in everyday society.  There is also the supernatural aspect of life after death, and the question of whether we go on after we die.  It also deals with greed, revenge, and love.  This book is recommended or adult readers.

Contains:  Violence, rape, kidnapping and murder.

Reviewed by Diana Lord



This House is Haunted by John Boyne*New Review         

Other Press, 2013

ISBN: 978-1590516799

Available: Paperback, hardcover, Kindle edition


        In a departure from his usual historical novels for adults (The Absolutist, The House of Special Purpose) and children (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, now a film), Boyne experiments with another form: the classic ghost story. It is London, 1867, and Eliza and her father go to see a Charles Dickens performance in which he frightens the audience, setting the tone for the book. Shortly thereafter, Eliza accepts a governess position in Norfolk, at crumbling Gaudlin Hall. She finds her charges alone, with no parents seemingly around. Eliza feels from the beginning that she is being stalked by an unseen, malign, and violent force. When she learns that previous governesses have died mysteriously, she decides to get to the bottom of it, taking her life in her hands as she learns the mysteries of Gaudlin Hall. Elements of the 19th Century ghost story are present: the gothic manse, innocent children, murders, hauntings, and a bit of romance. The heroine, Eliza, is a winsome narrator with a no-nonsense determination and a decidedly modern take on things.  Dickensian more in period than in language, this is a creepy, chilling and page-turning read, and one which Boyne’s fans will await. Recommended.


By Julie Adams



Diavolino by Steve Emmett*New Review

Etopia Press, 2011


Available: Kindle edition


        Are you ready for the Apocalypse?  Back in the Middle Ages, a small island in Italy, called Diavolino, was the home of monks who practiced the black arts.  They kidnapped couples from the town of Poggio del Lago, and used them in horrible rituals.   A priest named Clavetti arrives in town and offers to help.  Clavetti goes to Diavolino, sees what is happening, and urges the townspeople to rise up and burn down the monastery.  After the burning of the monastery, Diavolino is wiped off of the map.

Fast forward to the present: Paggio del Lago needs tourists and tourism, although the residents are suspicious of foreigners.  A British millionaire, Sir Roger, has bought Diavolino from the mayor, and wants to build a house there.  The townspeople are vehemently against it, though, and when Roger hires architect Tom Lupton and his wife Elspeth to design his house, the people decide to take matters into their own hands to protect the secret of Diavolino.


        This book started slowly, in building up the characters and setting the mood, but once it got going, it was relentless, non-stop action.  There were plot twist and turns that kept this reader guessing who was on what side-- good or evil—and which side would win in the end.  Recommended for adult readers.


Contains gore, a butchered dog, rape, and murder


Reviewed by Diana Lord





Tropic of Darkness by Tony Richards

Pocket Star Books, 2013

ISBN-13:  978-1-4767-2709-7

Available:  eBook(Kindle)



        Jack Gilliard is an American expatriate who has lived around the world for more than a decade.  A product of an unhappy home, he hit the road at fifteen, armed with the only good thing from his childhood, his cornet, and a six inch knife he picked up in a card game.  Persistence and survival are his lot in life.  He travels to Havana, Cuba in hopes of playing with some of the world's best musicians,  but his search for artistry soon leads him down a darker path. He starts having dreams of the 1950's, when the mob ruled Cuba, and cries of revolution filled the streets, and wakes to a reality that is worse.


        People around him are committing suicide.  Each of the deceased are reported as muttering the classic tune, “I've Got You Under My Skin,” in their final moments.  Spirits from the past call to Jack.  He sorts out that an ancient curse is somehow involved.  He decides to leave the island before it's too late when the tune begins in his head.  Under his skin.... 


        I liked this thriller.  It had great pacing and really drew me in.  The author's description of the setting gave me a great sense of location, providing enough detail without going overboard.  His use of dialogue was very well done, and each of the characters' voices shone.  The use of flashback scenes tied in with the present day action was fun and worked really well for me.  The tension built well as the story progressed and kept me turning pages.  All in all, Tropic of Darkness is a well-crafted tale, and well worth reading.  I rate this work as Highly Recommended for adult readers.


Contains:  Violence, swearing/adult language


Reviewed By:  Aaron Fletcher



100 Ghosts: A Gallery of Harmless Haunts by Doogie Horner

Quirk Books, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1594746475

Available: Pre-order (hardcover)



        100 Ghosts has a simple premise: ghosts are nothing to be afraid of, and, in fact, are harmless and even silly. Doogie Horner illustrates this by displaying a simple black-and-white line drawing (with touches of blue) of each ghost on one page and a brief description, usually one or two words, on the facing page. Each illustration shows a slight alteration of the “classic” ghost drawing, of a white sheet with two eyeholes cut out.  The picture of a ghost “Cyclops-Mythical”, for example, has just one eye hole cut out, and “Cactus” shows a ghost covered in prickles.  In a collection of 100 whimsically described and drawn ghosts, there are hits and misses—some of the ghosts are very creative and will make you giggle (like the Bond Villian and the Fantastic Four), while others (Winged Victory of Samonthrace) will make you wonder what Horner was thinking.


        While this is a cute idea, especially around Halloween, I have trouble imagining the target audience for this book.  The initial description suggested to me that it was a book my seven year old would enjoy, and he did, but the cultural references and design of the book suggest that it is really intended for adults, maybe as a gift book.  However, those who saw the book, while they agreed that the idea is a fun one, did not feel like it was an essential purchase either for themselves or someone else. While it’s a nicely designed little book, and enjoyable to flip through, if you are working with limited funds, there are better choices for building your Halloween collection.


Reviewed by Kirsten Kowalewski


The Bones of You by Gary McMahon

Earthling Publications, 2013.

ISBN-13: 978-0983807155

Available:  Pre-order (hardcover)


        The Bones of You is likely Gary McMahon's most personal work to date. Pretty Dead Little Dead Things and Concrete Grove put him on the map, solidifying his place amongst the brightest rising British horror writers, but this novella should garner him an even stronger limelight. 


        Adam Morris (the name is an admitted nod to Adam Nevill and Mark Morris, two other fine British authors) is rebuilding his life that he broke long ago.  He sees his little girl every other weekend; his ex-wife retains custody even as she spirals into drug addiction. 


        Adam moves into a house across the street from where a serial killer, Little Miss Moffat, once brutally ended the lives of several children.  While setting in and hoping to right himself, he meets Pru, the daughter of a late writer who penned the story of Moffat and the "Radiant" children she murdered.  As Pru and Adam form a friendship, he attempts to discover who he is, and how he can become the man and parent he wishes to be. At the same time, Pru and Adam both want to block out the darkness of the past. Reality turns, however, for both of them, as the house and nearby places begin to warp. 

To call The Bones of You a ghost story would do it a grave injustice. It's much more than that. Those who are familiar with McMahon's writing know he digs deeper than many of his peers for characterization, to the point of creating claustrophobia, due more to the people involved than the settings. The Bones of You is a fine offering from Earthling that truly unsettles the reader, as good horror is supposed to do. Recommended to all fans of good writing.


Reviewed by Dave Simms


Submerged by Thomas Monteleone

Cemetery Dance, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58767-351-1

Available for preorder: Signed limited edition hardcover, deluxe signed lettered edition hardcover.


        Cemetery Dance has a strong reputation for publishing the highest quality of horror and dark fantasy. Four time Bram Stoker winner Thomas Monteleone’s newest novel departs from the horror and science fiction works that have entertained readers for decades with Submerged, his first novel since 2007. Submerged is a thriller in the truest sense of the term; a wild tale of an experimental German submarine carrying a weapon which can end World War II. 


        Kapitaenleutnant Erich Bruckner carries the first narrative as a navy captain who holds no allegiance to the Nazis but is loyal to the sea and his crew.  Bruckner's assignment takes him to the Greenland Ice Shelf where Hitler allegedly has hidden a research facility that belongs in science fiction lore before heading to his deadly final task.


        Former U.S. Navy man Dex Bucklin, is the second voice. Dex works as a diver for the Deep Six, a group of thrill seeking friends that explore the Chesapeake Bay for treasure and sunken ships.

When Dex finds the near intact remains of a German submarine, U5001, a vessel that doesn't exist in any war records, he knows his adventure is only beginning. Dex and his crew find that others are seeking the U5001 as well; a group calling themselves The Guild, who may be behind many of the world's major decisions.


        Bruckner and Dex Bucklin appear to be cut from the same cloth, but with distinct differences; they are extraordinary characters in a masterful novel. Monteleone has created a thriller that harkens to the best of Clive Cussler and Ken Follett, but with a darker tinge that may suggest to the reader what Lovecraft might have sounded like if he took a turn towards this genre. Submerged may be the best thriller of the year. Although a limited number of copies are available, Highly recommended for adult lovers of the thriller genre, large public libraries, and collectors.

Reviewed by Dave Simms



The Immortal Body by William Holloway

Uneak Press, 2012

ISBN-13:  978-0-9832927-5-3

Available:  Paperback, Kindle edition


            Thaddeus Johnson is a cheap hotel drunk with a low level crack habit.  He is also a faith-healer.  His gifts have served him well and he gives all the credit to Jesus.  One day, he heals three people and something goes horribly wrong; the healed immediately go on killing sprees.  The first kills the reverend of the church, and then is hit by a car and killed while fleeing.  The other two people, still on the loose, commit savage, animalistic murders, leaving behind “sculptures” constructed of the body parts of the dead.  The purpose of the “sculptures” is unknown.  Detective Mitchell, who is investigating the case, teams with FBI Agent Eugene Feldman, an expert on ritual murder and Satanism, as more murders and “sculptures” happen.  Along the way the investigators encounter a psychic medium, Sarah Lynn Beauchamp, the only survivor of a séance where the deceased returned with a murderous vengeance. 


Sarah Lynn is also the target of Dr. Crawford Menard, who believes she is the key to his finishing an incomplete mission from his days as a British SAS agent during World War II.  A necromancer known as Liche is trying to finish a project he started for Hitler during World War II, that was interrupted by Dr. Menard.  At long last Liche's efforts to throw the world into a new Dark Age are coming to fruition.  Dr. Menard must stop Liche by any means necessary. 


            I enjoyed this story of intrigue and psychological horror.  The way the author laid out the action using the detectives as the main eye for the reader as the story unfolds was really good.  The tone was great.  The mystery built well and kept me reading.  Each of the characters had strong identities and was easy to distinguish.  The action was well-balanced.  The descriptions were creepy, but not over-the-top to the point of being repulsive.  I have not read any of William Holloway's previous works, but will keep him in mind going forward.  Recommended for adult readers.


Contains:  Adult Language


Reviewed by:  Aaron Fletcher





The Dazzling Darkness by Paula Cappa

Amazon Digital Services, 2013


Available:  Kindle edition


        In Paula Cappa’s The Dazzling Darkness, what starts out as a simple ghost story develops into a many-layered imaginative tale of the supernatural, science, religion, and love. The story is set in Concord, Massachusetts, an area rich in the transcendentalist philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Antonia and Adam, living near Old Willow Cemetery, are torn apart when their 5 year old son Henry slips away from his sister’s grasp and disappears on his way home from school. The panicked parents suspect Elias Hatch, the secretive cemetery keeper, who happens to be a devotee of Emerson’s philosphy. Restless cemetery residents begin to make appearances, even to Henry’s sister.


        Enter Detective Balducci, who has ghosts of his own, doing all he can to help. He even delves into graves with ancient secrets, such as crystal skulls, which emit powers of their own. There are amazing theories of morphogenetic fields of energy in the equation. International intrigue, flashbacks to the early Christian mysticism of St. Helena, and the very nature of death and resurrection all make for a heady tale set against the horrific tension of the search for a missing child.


        As in her first novel, Night Sea Journey, Paula Cappa draws upon a time when nature, science and religion existed together in an alchemical mix. Her magical language adds to the otherworldly feel of the book.



Reviewed by: Julie Adams



Seduction by M.J. Rose
Atria Books, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1451621501
Available: Hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, MP3 CD, Audible


        Seduction twists together three stories of grief and loss. The first is narrated by the author Victor Hugo, desperately unhappy after his daughter dies, and seeking any contact possible through the spirit world, during a retreat to Jersey, in the Channel Islands. While participating in séances, Hugo is contacted by a spirit calling itself the Shadow of the Sepulcher, who offers him the opportunity to bring back his daughter… for a price. The second story is told from the point of view of Jac d’ Etoile, a mythologist. As a teen, Jac was sent to a boarding school that used concepts from Jungian therapy to help its students, One of her classmates from that time, Theo Gaspard, has contacted her with a request to visit him, explore ancient ruins near his family home in Jersey, and to search for Hugo’s account of his experiences with the Shadow of the Sepulcher. Jac is skeptical of the concept of reincarnation, but it turns out that scents can trigger experiences of past lives. The third story is from one of those past lives, from the point of view of a druid who must make a difficult sacrifice. The stories alternate, skipping from the past to the present and back again.

        The strength of this book, and what makes it memorable, is Rose’s incredible recreation of Hugo’s world and the power she gave his voice and emotion. I wasn’t aware of this, but Hugo did have a period of time where he was obsessed with the spirit world, and held or participated in over 100 seances while he briefly lived in Jersey, one of the Channel Islands, after his daughter’s death. To step into the mind and heart of a strong and well-known personality is a difficult task. Rose’s Victor Hugo swept me along even through the most unbelievable events (and even though I personally found him unlikable). In addition to the supernatural events, Rose believably introduces a woman named Fantine, who has a brief affair with Hugo, suggesting that she is the real-life inspiration for the fictional character in Les Miserables.

        Jac and Theo’s story is more frustrating. It’s pretty clear from early on that Jac’s youthful relationship with Theo wasn’t a healthy one, and visiting him on a remote island on an isolated estate is not a smart move. In spite of modern changes to Jersey, the sense of foreboding found in a gothic novel hovers over the story. It was unclear to me how the third story, from Jac’s past life experience, related to the first two. The most interesting part of Jac’s story is the revelation that she is related to Fantine, which changes Jac’s life. Rose does a nice job threading the two stories together.

        While I loved Hugo’s voice, and wasn’t very excited about Jac, the two stories really need each other. Hugo’s is not complete enough on its own, and Jac’s would be a lot less interesting without Hugo’s involvement. I didn’t find the characters to be likable, but if you can get past that, the book has a lot to offer. Seduction has suspense, mystery, the supernatural, terror, grief, and difficult moral choices… and it has Victor Hugo. It’s an unusual and memorable read. Recommended.



Darkbound by Michaelbrent Collings

Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2013

ISBN: 978-1482016994

Available: Paperback and Kindle

        Six people are waiting for a subway one morning in New York. Jim, Adolfa, Freddy, Olik, Karen, and Xavier are six very different people from all walks of life. When the train pulls in, Jim and Adolfa catch an unexpected glimpse of the driver of the train....Jim sees a skull and Adolfa sees a demon. They both quickly convince themselves that what they saw was a trick of the light. Jim gets into the last car, the others who were on the platform with him head toward other cars, but they soon find the only doors that open on this train are the ones in the last car, with Jim. Then the train leaves the station.

        At first, all seems normal, although the other passengers tell Jim that the doors of the other cars wouldn't open. Then the lights go out. Then, when the lights come back on, Olik and Jim see dead people in the other cars. The lights again go out, and this time they stay out and the train begins its journey of terror. Each of the passengers has a secret, and if anyone is to survive, they have to work together to do it.

        This book was a real thrill ride. I'm not claustrophobic, but I felt that way as I read the book and felt I was in the subway cars with the passengers. I really liked Jim and Adolfa; they were very well written characters. The book grabs you from the opening pages and doesn't let go. I couldn't stop reading it. Highly recommended for adult readers.

Contains: extreme gore, zombies, ghouls, mentions rape, pedophiles, internet porn.

Reviewed by: Diana Lord



Charlotte Markham and the House of Darklings by Michael Boccacino

William Morrow (Imprint of HarperCollins) (2012)

ISBN: 978-0062122612

Available: New and used hardcover and paperback; e-book



Set in what appears to be Victorian England, this book puts one in mind of Henry James' Turn of the Screw or Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, each with its own intrepid governess, decaying estate, fog-shrouded woodlands, and otherworldly bumps in the night.


In this case, the governess is the recently widowed Charlotte Markham; the estate is Everton; and the master of the house is the also recently widowed Henry Darrow, who hires Charlotte to tend to the education of his two boys, Paul and James. The themes of the story are the strength of family ties and the lengths people will go to save those they love.


When the boys' nanny is found murdered, Charlotte steps up to become their sole caretaker. Since their mother's death, their father has been a remote, grief-stricken fixture, spending his days sequestered in his study and his nights roaming the vast household. Charlotte is also a nocturnal wanderer, and the two frequently meet to talk about their respective losses. One of the story threads involves Charlotte's growing attraction to her employer (and vice versa).


One day, Charlotte responds to one of Paul's frequent dreams about his mother by taking the boys on an outing in the forest. Following Paul's map of his dream, they find themselves in The Ending, a mysterious place that hosts a number of strange creatures. As they enter, they approach the ominous House of Darkling, where they are—shockingly—met by Lily, the boys' supposedly dead mother, and she's not a ghost.


Darkling is a hugely magnificent mansion full of wondrous, and sometimes horrible, creatures and oddities—like something out of a dark fairy tale. The author elaborately describes each of Darkling’s innumerable freaky knickknacks, but eventually the continuous stream of minutely detailed descriptions becomes somewhat tedious. 


As Charlotte and the boys make several visits to Darkling, Charlotte realizes that Lily has made a horrible bargain with Mr. Whatley, the master of Darkling, in order to be with her sons once more. Whatley is playing a deadly game with all of them, and Charlotte is determined to be the winner.


Most of the creatures in The Ending look like humans, but it is soon obvious that they are wearing human skin over some seriously weird shapes. (Tentacled monsters that look suspiciously like Lovecraft's Cthulhu are a continuing theme.)


Charlotte is a strong and worldly character—definitely not the usual shy, virginal, Brontë-esque governess. She is practical and realistic, even though her disturbing dreams plunge her into a nighttime world of hallucinatory fantasy. The one element that is missing is a sense of fear or awe when she is confronted by the strange and frightening aspects of Whatley’s world. She shows a jarring duality of character as she exhibits dispassionate behavior when confronted with Darkling’s monsters, but pines like a young, naive girl for Henry Darrow's affections.


By the last five chapters, the book becomes a page-turner, with compelling action and escalating suspense driving the plot to the final climactic scene and the ambiguous ending. The descriptive language is lush and lavish, so if you enjoy atmospheric writing, you'll like that aspect of the book. Recommended for all libraries.


Contains: some graphic violence

Reviewed by: Patricia O. Mathews




Inheritance by Joe McKinney
Evil Jester Press, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615690896

Available: Paperback and Kindle


Nominated for this year's Best Novel category at the Bram Stoker Awards, Inheritance brings to the table something that, while not exactly new, is unique in its presentation and delivery.  The results show why it was nominated, and propel McKinney much further than his previous efforts, including last year's winner of the famed haunted house trophy, Flesh Eaters.


McKinney is a cop in real life and dives into his reality to write his most personal story yet, with the supernatural weighing in heavily in the absorbing plot.  McKinney knows his field and how to write about it without sounding preachy or dumping information onto the pages. Instead, he creates a very real, visceral world which feels as gritty as the characters and settings between the covers. It might be described as a police procedural, but it is much more, and that would sell it short. Way short.


Paul Henninger joins the San Antonio PD (where the author currently is employed) and is looking forward to this new stage in his career.  However, Paul's past is dark - pitch dark - and it follows him wherever he goes. When he was younger, his father, Martin Henninger, practiced black magic and delivered to Paul a dark inheritance that he cannot escape. Martin’s intent was to send Paul on a life path filled with pain and death, which soon comes to fruition.


His adversary is Keith Anderson, who is investigating the case as the department's lead detective and might be too good for his own existence. The closer he digs toward the truth, the closer he approaches his own mortality. The two main characters, complex as they are, drive Inheritance even more than the pulse-pounding plot, something a procedural rarely does.The sense of dread and tight suspense bring to mind classic Koontz and John Connelly, a mix that could not yield a negative result.


Open yourself up and fall into McKinney's Inheritance and learn why it will have a strong chance at earning him a second Stoker.  The author found his own darkness here and embraced it, with tremendous results. Recommended for anyone who loves the supernatural combined with a story grounded in reality. 


Reviewed by: Dave Simms

Note: This review was done as part of MonsterLibrarian's coverage of the 2012 Bram Stoker Award nominees.  Check out our Bram Stoker Awards page for more information about the awards and the other nominees.




Requiem for Dead Flies by Peter N. Dudar

Nightscape Press, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1938644009

Available: Paperback and Kindle


I initially had reservations about A Requiem for Dead Flies, the debut from Pete Dudar. Novels about characters returning home to face the demons of their youth have been done to death, especially ones about those on age-old farms with a ghost in residence.


I was completely incorrect.  This novel displays a maturity in character, setting, and storytelling which belies Dudar's experience. The story is one of the most unsettling tales this reviewer has read in recent memory.  I can’t remember the last time a book actually provided true fright.


Brothers Les and Gordon MacAuley return to Battle View Farm in New York to begin a bourbon brewing business. Les, a teacher, and Gordon, a free-spirited college student, are tight, mostly due to a horrific summer they spent at the farm as children with their grandmother. The brothers were sent to the farm to stay with their grandmother after a death in the family, to give their parents time to grieve while allowing the boys to develop. Instead, their grandmother led them into horror, slowly losing her grip on reality while finding something much darker inside.


Dudar uses alternating present day/childhood viewpoints seamlessly, developing character while building true suspense. The story surprises, and, like the best horror, holds most of its power in family and relationships and what people can do to one another while believing their efforts are for the best.  The supernatural does exist in this story, but it is not overbearing, which adds to the slowly building dread.


Very much recommended for anyone who craves old-fashioned horror, when the horror accomplished what it set out to do. Dudar has firmly entrenched himself in the new breed in the genre and it will be a treat to see what comes next.



Reviewed by: Dave Simms

Note: This review was done as part of MonsterLibrarian's coverage of the 2012 Bram Stoker Award nominees.  Check out our Bram Stoker Awards page for more information about the awards and the other nominees.




The Mailman by Bentley Little
Cemetery Dance Publications, 2011(20th Anniversary Edition)
ISBN: 978-1-58767-269-9
Paperback and Hardcover Editions

        The town of Willis, Arizona, is shocked to learn that their friendly mailman has committed suicide. Nothing really bad has ever happened in this small town. Following the funeral, a new mailman comes to town. At first, all he brings is good news to people. However, as time goes on, people in town get mail that is disturbing, threatening, and downright scary. Neighbor turns against neighbor, and the whole town is on edge. Teacher Doug Albin and his family try to fight the evil of the mailman.

        This is a fast paced, well written book, part human horror, and part supernatural; it's also clever commentary on the post office and government workers. Who wouldn't want to receive notice for winning a contest or from an old friend you hadn't seen in ages? I know I’d love not getting any bills in the mail!

        The characters are very likable and you feel the very real fear in some of them as things change in town and some residents get more threatening mail. The author also does a good job of giving the reader a feel for what life in a small town is like. Bentley Little knows how to scare a reader and keep them involved in the book at the same time. Recommended.

Contains: suicide, gore, body parts are sent in the mail to one town resident

Reviewed by: Diana Lord



Come Hell or High Water (Part One: Wellspring) by Stephen Morris
Stephen Morris, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0-9847731-1-4
Available: New


Come Hell or High Water is a self-published urban-historical fantasy trilogy by debut novelist Stephen Morris. Parts One and Two are out now, with Part Three due for release later this year. The series is set in Prague, and draws on the history, folklore and legends of the area.


Wellspring is the first installment of the trilogy, and tells two parallel stories. The first takes place in 1356 and describes the burning of a woman, Fen’ka, who is accused of witchcraft. As she dies, Fen’ka places a deadly curse on her enemies, and also on the town itself. The consequences of this curse are revealed as the book progresses. The second story, set in 2002, is that of Magdalena, a young Czech woman who is fascinated by the occult. After a startling confrontation under the Charles Bridge, Magdalena is drawn into a quest to clear Fen’ka’s name, with the assistance of mystical and mysterious helpers. But can this assistance be trusted?


Wellspring is a rich and compelling read. The unique history of Prague, and a strong knowledge of medieval history, folklore and legend, is woven together with an engaging plot and a good dose of suspense. In places, I felt that the characterization of Magdalena could have been stronger – and we do spend a lot of time in the protagonist’s head, rather than seeing her interact with others. However, it is a strong beginning to a trilogy and ends on a powerful cliffhanger.



Contains: references to the occult, some sex


Reviewed by: Hannah Kate


Night Sea Journey: a Tale of the Supernatural by Paula Cappa
Editorial Department, 2012
Available: Kindle ebook

        In her grandfather’s house by the Rhode Island coast, Kip paints her beautiful but monster-filled seascapes by day and is haunted by demon-filled dreams at night. Meanwhile, in Chicago, two priests battle urban drug culture, their own inner doubts, and the Church’s strictures. One of the priests, Ray, is exiled to Kip’s area, where he falls for the beautiful artist, and is drawn into her nightmares, which seem to come true by day. Together they delve into the history of Abasteron House (named for the angel) and Kip’s grandfather’s lineage, ultimately becoming players in a pantheon of angels and demons. I found this quite an enchanting tale, weaving together ancient Biblical supernaturalism and dream theory, told in dreamy colorful language, with deft characterizations. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Julie Adams



The Haunted by Bentley Little

Penguin Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-101-58018-9

Available: paperback, hardcover, audiobook


Julian and Claire and their two teenagers move into a house in a very strange neighborhood and begin to notice some spooky goings-on: dreams about an evil man in the basement, the laundry basket moving about, heightened sexual desire, the record player coming on by itself, and unusual things hidden in the garage. Young James begins to burrow in the ground and eat dirt; young Megan gets salacious texts and starts cutting herself.  Eventually, Claire researches the Arizona town’s past and finds that their house may be sitting on cursed ground. Some especially haunting chapters go back through the centuries to reveal the sordid history that forever taints their house.  Quite interesting is the idea that historically people have used the supernatural as a crutch to justify human atrocities. The story is creepy and compelling and will surely appeal to Little’s fans, though his often clichéd, monotonous prose style and the overly sentimental ending detract from the overall effect.


Reviewed by: Julie Adams



Carapace by Allan Watson

Candy Séance, 2011


Available: Amazon Kindle


    Robin ventures into the Scottish countryside with his wife, Jess, to attend the funeral of Jess’s sister, whose very existence is news to him. fAt the funeral, the minister topples, dead, into the gaping grave, and the locals are all too eager to get their hands on Jess… for some unknown reason. The seemingly idyllic village of Carapace has hidden, dark secrets which begin to unfold:  the Betrothal Society which conducts an ancient, mysterious “Briding” ritual; grisly appearances by the Black Minister; sinister sexual practices amongst the standing stones; the sordid little lives led by the commoners of the village. Jess is drawn back to her home town against her will just as an ill wind is building and bringing the promise of a bloody apocalypse. Full of very real, intricate characters and rich in detail, Carapace enchants and horrifies  at the same time. You’ll never look at those picturesque Scottish villages in the same way again.  Watson’s other Kindle books are each very different, but all share his signature dark humor and spellbinding stories: 1-2-3-4, Dreaming in the Snakepark, and The Garden of Remembrance… And Other Stories.

Contains: Sex, gore, supernatural occurrences

Reviewed by: Julie Adams





The Dark Side of Heaven by Gord Rollo

Dark Regions Press 2012

ISBN 978-1937128289

Available new paperback

Tyrone Banks is a U.S. Marine serving in Vietnam and a very troubled man.  He killed his own brother in a village under fire, while he was high.  He killed an innocent woman and her child by throwing a grenade into their hiding place.  Out of guilt and shame, he has volunteered for tunnel duty.  While tracking the enemy in a dark tunnel, a grenade blows a hole in a wall that opens on Purgatory.  Thinking he has died, Tyrone goes in search of his brother Tommy, hoping to save him from Hell.

Tyrone winds up in the depths of Tartarus, where he finds Henrik, who helps Tyrone not only find Tommy, but the woman and child he killed.  Determined to save them all, Tyrone leads them all as they race to Heaven before they can be captured by the Scarlet Witch, who is the controller of eternity in Tartarus.  She catches up to the small group, but unexpectedly encounters the Lost Patrol, an almost mythical unit of Marines who disappeared during battle in Vietnam.  Can Tyrone save them all and come to terms with his own guilt?

This is the longest work by Gord Rollo that I have read to date, and I’m very impressed. Rollo is a fantastic storyteller. The Dark Side of Heaven is very well-written and an interesting take on the afterlife.  Character development is excellent, and the characters are engaging. Tyrone, for all of his faults, is a very sympathetic individual.  A balanced mix or horror and fantasy, The Dark Side of Heaven, while at times brutal, is an entertaining read. Recommended.

Contains: violence, gore and adult language

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund




Floaters by James Kinsak

Fiero Publishing, 2011

Available: Kindle e-book

ISBN 978-1619210691/ASIN B008JF3DXE


Ward gets a frantic phone call on Easter Sunday from his ex-wife, who swears she has seen their dead children, Jimmy and Josh, while visiting the cemetery.  Confused, Ward decides to meet her and find out what’s going on.  Ward doesn’t remember what happened the day his sons died while on a fishing trip together. 


Ward meets his ex-wife, Merilee, at the same hotel where he stayed with the boys on their Easter vacation one year ago.  The room seems to trigger some memories, and Ward decides to try and find out how they died.  As his memories return, we discover that Ward was having an affair, and Merilee divorced him, going off the deep end.  Ward soon learns the truth about what happened that awful Easter when he lost his boys.


Floaters is a creepy short story about a man who does the unthinkable to get what he wants.  Well-written, and with memorable characters, the reader discovers just how monstrous a man can be.  It is suspenseful with a few surprising twists near the end.  It’s a quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. Recommended.

Contains: violence and sexual situations

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Lost Girl of the Lake by Joe McKinney and Michael McCarthy

Bad Moon Books, 2013

ISBN 978-0985194049/ASIN B008MM8TME

Available new paperback and kindle e-book

Fifteen year old Mark is on the annual family vacation, at a country club near Gaitlinville,  abandoned town founded by a distant relative.  It is 1961, and Mark is the son of one of the richest men in Texas.  He meets a mysterious girl swimming in the lake, and hopes to see her again.  Mark is also seeing an old woman in his dreams.

Mark meets Ben, a black employee of the country club, who fills Mark in on some of his family’s history and the history of Gaitlinville, which involves a bizarre mix of religion, witchcraft and snake-charming. The young girl returns, but she is not what she appears to be, and the ghosts of Mark’s family’s past have come to haunt him.

Lost Girl of the Lake is a well-written story and a seamless collaboration between McKinney and McCarthy.  The details of the country club party of 1961 really bring it all to life, without bogging anything down.  Mark and Ben are very likeable characters, with Ben easily being the more sympathetic of the two, as Lost Girl also touches on the racism of the time.  It’s a fantastic coming-of-age story, where Mark must face more than the usual horrors of an awkward stage of his life. Recommended.

Contains: violence, gore and sexual situations

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



The Underdwelling by Tim Curran

Delirium Books, 2012

Available Kindle e-book


Boyd, in desperate need of a job, goes to work for the Hobart Mines.  While working the graveyard shift, Boyd is given the chance to finally go underground.  He has a feeling of uneasiness that he can’t shake.  Digging in the lowest level of the mine to look for ore, the men stumble upon a shaft that leads into an odd cavern.  McNair, a paleobiologist from the local university is called in to help the miners determine if they can continue digging.

Boyd, McNair, miners Maki and Breed, and the boss, Jurgens, volunteer to enter the shaft and see what’s there.  They find an immense cavern….another world with a seemingly abandoned prehistoric city and a petrified forest.  Unfortunately for the men, that’s not all they find in the cavern.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Tim Curran is an amazing writer….one of my favorites. Everything I’ve read by him is terrifying, and The Underdwelling is no different.  Curran has obviously done his research on mining to make the details as realistic as possible. His character development is succinct, and I found myself really liking Boyd and Jurgens.  The Underdwelling, with its deep underground setting, complete with the ever present fear of a cave-in, embodies the epitome of claustrophobia, and it made my skin crawl.  Make sure you have time to read this book in one sitting because you won’t be able to put it down!  Highly recommended.

Contains: violence and adult language

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Red Rain by R.L. Stine

Touchstone, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1451636123

Available: New, Used, and E-Book

Plenty of authors are trying their hand at writing YA and children’s fiction these days, to varying success. With superstars such as Suzanne Collins, Stephanie Meyer, and J.K. Rowling, there’s plenty of motivation-- YA fiction can be a gold mine, if the stars align and the story hits home.


What about when the shoe is on the other foot?  Rowling's adult debut hit stores this fall, and now R.L. Stine, the original scaremaster, is back, with a twist. The godfather of children’s and YA horror, who has changed lives with his Goosebumps and Fear Street series for 20 years, returns with his second adult novel, Red Rain. His original audience may now be grown, with kids of their own, but Stine will still frighten them.


 Lea Sutter, a travel writer who lives for the edge, visits a small island off the coast of South Carolina.  A hurricane decimated the town in 1935 and is slated to do so again. The storm hits during a death ritual conducted by the locals. In the aftermath, bodies are strewn everywhere, tears and death raining down upon Lea as she walks the land - along with a true, red precipitation. Out of the rain walks a pair of boys, twins, who appear unharmed but without parents. Lea brings them home without a second thought, although her husband, Mark, and two children, Ira and Elena, rail against the move. Of course, strange events ensue, and life takes a turn for the worse-- the twins are not the attractive, polite, gullible orphans they appear to be.


If the reader finds the storyline somewhat familiar, with the odd children and disaster they bring, it's not déjà vu or a copout. Stine gives credit where it is due and mentions Village of the Damned, Children of the Damned, and Island of the Damned on the acknowledgments page.


Stine's writing has matured with his readers, although it definitely contains the strengths of his YA writing. Red Rain is a fluid, easy read replete with humor, suspense, a strong sense of setting, and yes, sex. Smart but campy, and entertaining from start to finish, Red Rain is recommended for all of Stine's old fans and will hopefully find plenty of new ones along the way.  Highly recommended for adult collections in public libraries.


Review by Dave Simms



Homestead by James A. Moore
Cemetery Dance Publications, 2012
ISBN: 978-1587672309
Available: New paperback

A small town in Texas has six unsolved missing children cases in its past. One of the missing children is the best friend of Kathy, who has begun drawing some disturbing pictures.  Kathy is having quick flashes of some of the dead children, as well as some bizarre memories from the time the children went missing. Kathy has her own young children and is distressed over her growing obsession with the disappearances.  Why did she stop looking for her friend?  Kathy will eventually make a horrible discovery on her family’s farm that will unlock the truth about what happened to those six kids.

Homestead is a quick but frightening read about suppressed memories of the worst kind.  Character development is succinct and to the point, leaving the reader empathizing with Kathy and understanding the ghosts that have come to haunt her.  Pick up this book and you won’t be sorry. Recommended.

Contains : violence and gore

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund




Bottled Abyss by Benjamin Kane Ethridge

Redrum Horror, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984751952

Available: New paperback

Herman and Janet are spiraling out of control Since losing their toddler daughter to a hit-and-run accident a year ago, Janet has become a raging alcoholic and Herman has become apathetic to everything around him.  One day while out looking for his dog, Herman meets a man with a strange bottle of something that saved the dog’s life, after it was attacked by wolves.  When he returns home to find that Janet has attempted suicide, Herman goes looking for the man so he can save her life. 

Janet recovers,  but finds that Herman has disappeared, and the dog has brought a strange-looking bottle home.  Janet discovers that the bottle contains some very unusual properties, not the least of which include curing Janet of her alcoholism and her suicidal tendencies—but those cures come at a high price.  The bottle itself is connected to the fabled River Styx, but something new is happening and a new ferryman is needed.

An excellent and entertaining read, Bottled Abyss mixes modern horror and ancient Greek mythology, with a nod to The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz.  The characters are well-developed; I could easily empathize with Janet and fully understand the motives behind her actions.  They are all flawed people.  The story itself is excellent, moving through a range of emotions and taking a bizarre but thrilling turn.  Etheridge had a hit with his first novel, Black and Orange (published by Crossroads Press and Bad Moon Books) and in my opinion, Bottled Abyss has gone a step further.  It’s a fantastic story and one you should definitely seek out. Recommended

Contains: Violence and gore

Reviewed by : Colleen Wanglund


The Dreadful Doctor Faust by K. H. Koehler

Bandersnatch Books, 2010

ISBN/ASIN:  Not Available

Available: Kindle


               Who is the mysterious Doctor Faust?  A man of science trying to help others, or a power-abusing  madman?  This is a well-written tale of a mysterious doctor who has labored to unlock the secrets of everlasting life--  secrets which carry with them the potential of abuse and madness.  Ms. Koehler explores the topic by taking the reader on a trip that is full of all that such a life can offer.  The story unfolds  as Louise, a murder victim rehabilitated by the mysterious Doctor , works through her feelings towards him. As both their pasts are exposed, themes of love and revenge are revealed. Mystery abounds, and the story moves at a fast pace;  the author did a great job keeping the reader engaged throughout , skillfully handling transitions as the narrative skips back and forth from past to present several times, without losing the thread of the tale.   


               I really got into this as Ms. Koehler pulled me in with the air of mystery as more and more is revealed, and the rich details she always gives.  Other works I have read by her are Slayer, The Blackburn and Scarletti Mysteries, Volumes I & II, and Scarabus.    Recommended for adult readers.

Contains: Gore, Graphic Sex, Rape, Adult Language, Religious reference

Reviewed by:  Aaron Fletcher



Hell Manor by Lisa Morton

Bad Moon Books, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0988447806

Available: New

Haunted houses are supposed be both scary and fun, right?  Well, that's what Jack Lichtner is going for as he creates his annual Halloween haunted house.  This year, however, he wants something extra special for the haunted house, to make it stand out even more.  He finds it in one of the actresses that tries out, Maeve.  She has some extra special talents that make the haunted house a success, but he doesn't find out until too late that she is in a bit of trouble.  On Halloween night he has to dig deep into his mind and pull out all the  tricks and illusions that he has learned over the years to survive.

Halloween expert Lisa Morton shows her talents again in this short novella from Bad Moon Books.  Not only does she write an action-packed scary tale, but she also throws in a lot of Halloween factoids and information on various demons.  I thought Morton had outdone herself last year with The Samhanach, but she continues to surprise me.  This may be her best book yet.  I can't wait to see where she goes next in her writing, but I would love to see some full-length fiction by her.  She's the most powerful female horror author out there from what I've read, and I hope more people take notice of that.  I highly recommend this book to everyone!

Contains:  Adult Language, Violence

Reviewed by: Rhonda Wilson





The Bone Tree by Christopher Fulbright

Bad Moon Books, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0-9832211-2-8

Available: Paperback, Kindle


While tucking his children into bed late one night, Kevin is asked if he and Mommy will die someday. Thoughts of his own mortality remind him of some horrific boyhood experiences that he’s tried to suppress… but which keep coming back to haunt him. He proceeds to tell the story of his early days in rural Texas where he roamed the woods with his best friend, an African-American boy named Bobby.  One day they encountered a neighbor child who was frightened out of his wits and escorted him home, setting off a terrifying chain of events including a scary shadow man, some grisly murders, and, in a nearby cemetery, a gnarled dead tree that emanates evil.  The boys have to grow up quickly, facing life lessons about race relations, obedience to their parents, and taking action against otherworldly evil.


Fulbright’s storytelling style and format are top-notch, right up there with the best ghost story writers. The boys’ experiences seem very real, leaving many unanswered questions about the supernatural events they witnessed. Remember the heart-pounding terror ringing in your ears in your scariest of memories? Prepare to feel that again. At under a hundred pages, this would make a great Halloween read-aloud and is suitable for young adults and up. Recommended!


Reviewed by: Julie Adams




Heart of Glass by David Winnick
Bad Moon Books, 2010
ASIN: B00961GB3O
Available: Paperback, Kindle

            Heart of Glass is a stand-alone novelette by David Winnick. Here we meet a married couple. The wife is clearly falling out of love with her husband. However, he wants to repair their relationship and purchases a glass puzzle for them to work on. As the puzzle progresses, the husband becomes far more attached to it than the wife. The end cannot be spoiled. It’s too deliciously strange and evil.

            This is a great, chilling read. I highly recommend it for anybody 12 or older, and especially for fans of creepy stories, The Twilight Zone,  or occult fiction.

Contains: Horrific Imagery.

Reviewed by: Benjamin Franz



The Caretakers by Adrian Chamberlin
Dark Continents, 2011
ISBN: 9780983160359
Available: Trade Paperback, Kindle

The Caretakers by Adrian Chamberlin is a stand-alone novel. Tom Hughes possesses a deep and ferocious rage inside. Fifteen years ago, at Oxford, he and some of his friends encountered a dark evil that seeks to overthrow the planet in the end days of man. Tom returns to Oxford decades later to confront this evil, and his own dark nature.

This is a book which rests proudly in the English tradition of dark and occult horror. It’s gruesome, grisly and spellbinding. It will scare your pants off. I know I had trouble sleeping after I finished this book. Its images are burned into the retinas of my eyes. I highly recommend this book for fans of the Occult and for older teens and adults.

Contains: Gruesome imagery, Violence, Profanity.

Reviewed by: Benjamin Franz



Tribesmen by Adam Cesare

Ravenous Shadows, 2012

ISBN 9781607774860

Available: new paperback


In the 1980s, Italian horror was at its height in popularity, and Adam Cesare effectively sets his story during this time. Producer Roland Pressberg is sending a small movie crew to a small Caribbean island to make a horror/exploitation movie using the natives as extras.  When the cast and crew arrive, they find the village is deserted, and they stumble upon a mass grave. It turns out that natives were slaughtered, and the matriarch of their tribe cursed the island, and anyone who set foot upon it. 

When filming begins, things go from make-believe to gruesomely real with the on-camera murder of a crew member  by an actor who seems to be possessed. Cynthia, an American actress, flees into the jungle to avoid becoming another victim in what is quickly becoming a snuff film.  Will anyone make it out alive?  More importantly, what will happen to the movie?

I’m a huge fan of Italian horror/exploitation films and I loved this book.  It took an amazing film genre and turned it into a real horror story for the small cast and crew involved.  Tribesmen was just as bloody and grotesque and any 80s Italian horror film and included a major dose of the supernatural.  Cesare writes without the pretense of being a cinema know-it-all….the book is about the characters and what drives their actions while trying to film a low-budget horror film.  I think any fan of horror will appreciate Tribesmen for what it is—a very entertaining read. Highly recommended.

Contains violence, gore and adult language

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund

Heinous by Jonathan Moon

Library of the Living Dead Press, 2012

Available: new paperback

ISBN: 9781461096221


            Gavin and his best friend Joshie are inseparable…..until the day they find a strange hidden hole in the ground of the forest they’ve played in for years.  They also find a weird stone that Gavin is unusually attracted to, and the two boys fight over it.  Gavin becomes possessed by something living in the stone, and the demon that possesses him is only sated through violence and suffering.


          The story of what becomes of Joshie and Gavin is told in a fairly linear fashion but is interspersed with Gavin’s horrifying dreams.  Heinous, the name Gavin gives to the evil entity inside of him, takes him over and commits gruesome acts; but Gavin knows everything that is happening, and what, unfortunately, will happen to the people closest to him.


           Jonathan Moon has crafted a unique story of demon possession and added extreme and grotesque imagery in the chapters dealing with Gavin’s nightmares.  Heinous is a violent story, and bloody as all hell.  The characters of Joshie and Gavin are well-developed, and even after succumbing to the mysterious stone, Gavin is a sympathetic individual.  Moon’s prose flows smoothly and is highly descriptive and the story has a mostly unpredictable and satisfying ending.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Recommended.


Contains: graphic violence, gore and adult language


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund





The Faceless by Simon Bestwick
Solaris, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1-907992-74-2

Available: New Paperback Edition and Kindle


The Faceless is a new horror novel by Simon Bestwick, set in Lancashire, United Kingdom, in the small town of Kempforth. It begins with a spate of disappearances; the victims seem to be unconnected, but sightings of the ‘Spindly Men’ – creepy creatures known only from children’s rhymes and stories – have been reported near each of the apparent abductions. Detectives Joan Renwick and Mike Stakowski head the team investigating the disappearances.


Meanwhile, local historian Anna Mason has returned to Kempforth to be with her brother following a family trauma; and celebrity psychic Allen Cowell has, with his sister Vera, been drawn back to the town where they were born to face their own personal demons. As the protagonists begin to work together, everything that they discover points them to long-since abandoned hospital Ash Fell, a place of horror, brutality and cruelty.


On first glance, this might seem to be fairly standard fare. However, Bestwick’s writing – particularly his creation of character and place – keeps his novel from falling into any genre clichés. The gradual building of the characters’ backstories and his adept handling of pace and suspense make The Faceless a compelling and engaging read. As the story unfolds, the true horrifying history of Kempforth and Ash Fell is revealed, leading to a genuinely startling conclusion.


Based in UK history, and with some local color, the horror in The Faceless is very British in flavor. However, this does not mean that it will not appeal to readers from elsewhere. The originality of the ‘ghosts’ and ‘hauntings’, and the way in which the story builds on its historical basis to create an unsettling and disturbing climax, is very well done. As such, The Faceless is strongly recommended, as an example of recent UK horror at its best.


Contains: violence, supernatural horror, the occult, references to paedophilia and incest


Reviewed by: Hannah Kate




Sacrifice by Wrath James White

Sinister Grin Press, 2011

ISBN:  978-0983911807

Available:  New and Used 


Odd crime scenes are popping up across town, starting with a man being eaten alive by his own dog,  soon followed by a school teacher being brutally beaten by his elementary school students.  The incidents don't stop there, unfortunately, and Detective John Malloy and his partner Mohammed Rafik have a crazy case on their hands.  In addition to these reports, they also have been running an investigation on a bunch of missing little girls.  When Molloy and Rafik visit the parents’ houses, they notice that the parents don't have any pictures up any more of their children, but do have a picture up of themselves with some strange looking woman.  Doing a bit more research around town, they find out that the other woman in the picture is a woman that goes by the name of Delilah, and she is some kind of voodoo priestess who has the power to take away a person’s pain… but at a cost.


I've yet to meet a Wrath James White book I haven't liked and that goes for this one as well.  He always writes a strong story with vivid details and strong characters.  In particular, the character of Delilah that he has created in Sacrifice is one-of-a-kind, and I had a hard time deciding whether I loved her or hated her.  Her reasoning for doing what she does is good-natured, but the results are just so horrific that it's hard to decide which outweighs the other.  That might not make sense to you now but I guarantee that if you read this novella, you will understand my conflict.  If you are familiar with White's work, you will expect over-the-top gore, lots of violence, and hardcore sex in this novella.  Well... maybe not so much in this case.  There is still a little of each, but I'd say the gore and sex is majorly tamed down this time, which should allow readers that have avoided White's work in the past due to those features a chance to give his writing a try.  He is a powerful writer and one that shouldn't be missed.  


Note:  Sacrifice is a semi-sequel novella to White's novel The Resurrectionist as it pulls in some of the same characters and reflects back on some of the events that took place in the novel.  In order to avoid spoilers to the novel, be sure to read it before this novella.  


Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Gore, Sex, Graphic Violence


Reviewed by: Rhonda Wilson





The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine by Peter Straub

Subterranean Books, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1596064416

Available: Hardcover , Kindle, Nook



There are few things horror readers can count on in life. However, Peter Straub winning a Stoker award is never in doubt. Is it his popularity? Maybe, but his writing never fails his fans and he often wins over new ones. The man just never sits on his laurels. This past summer he had a very well-deserved win with The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine, and took home another haunted house trophy with his name inside the doors.


Sandrine Loy and Ballard (no other name given) are two odd characters on a cruise that seems never-ending, floating down the enigmatic Amazon River.  The setting is fine fodder for the tale. They begin in 1969, culminating their journey in 1997 (or so).


There is a strong erotic influence to this offering, but Straub keeps it in the background, never overwhelming the reader.  It is a strange relationship between the two characters as age doesn't appear to matter to either Sandrine and Ballard - or to time itself.  Neither character figures out why they are there in this time warp, but both seem to enjoy the trip in all its decadence, and the subtle horrors the excursions bring.  Indulge in this fine, weird tale for what it is, and you’ll realize why Mr. Straub  rarely goes home empty-handed.

Reviewed by: David Simms



The Thirteen by Susie Moloney

William Morrow, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0062117663
Available: Hardcover, paperback, Kindle ebook.


        Ah, suburbia. It always seems like such a quiet, peaceful place. From Twin Peaks to the Stepford Wives, though, it's practically a trope that under the surface, dark secrets lurk. It's no different in The Thirteen, the story of a coven of desperate housewives who sell themselves and their families to the devil to ensure their prosperity, success, and looks. The author of Thirteen, Susie Moloney, is a comedic writer, and it almost sounds like this could be a black comedy, but the opening pages immediately put that idea to rest. You don't get results from the devil here without sacrificing a loved one.


        When a coven member dies, the other members find themselves under immediate (and unpleasant) pressure to replace her, and they believe Paula, the grown daughter of incapacitated coven member Audra, is the perfect candidate. Paula and her daughter Rowan can sense that something strange is going on under the surface, but it's impossible to explain, and Izzy, the founder of the coven, is able to easily manipulate them.


        Moloney does a good job of creating the sinister atmosphere of Haven Woods, using many details and building the story bit by bit so that the supernatural slides right into place. Character development is finely drawn, with skillfully placed flashbacks to past tragedies filling in the blanks as to the motivations and personalities of the characters. Izzy's daughter Marla, a high school friend of Paula's who is also a member of the coven, must deal with conflicting loyalties, and Sanderson, Paula's potential love interest, turns out to be a steadfast kind of guy. Rowan, Paula's daughter, is a major character with her own personality and interests, and essential to the plot. The battle of wills between the desperate Izzy and stubborn Audra, her first convert from many years ago, comes to a surprising end, as well.


        However, I did find this an unsatisfying read, because the continued existence of the coven over time stretched the limits of believability. The reader gets a vivid, graphic, and disturbing description of Izzy's first encounter with the evil her coven serves, and it's hard to believe that she was able to easily find twelve other women willing to go through the same encounter to lose weight or become a dancer... especially when continued ritual sacrifices of family members are involved. Still, if you'd like a helping of Desperate Housewives with a slant to the dark and gruesome side, Thirteen will keep you occupied and reading up to the very creepy end. Recommended for public library collections.


Contains: gore, violence, graphic sexual situations, decapitation, blood sacrifice, suicide.

Review by Kirsten Kowalewski



December by Phil Rickman

Originally published 1996; Mansion House Books special edition 2011 (with CD and lyrics), Kindle ebook
ISBN-13: 978-0425153772

Available: New, Used, Kindle,


In December of 1980, four musicians were invited to an ancient Welsh abbey to record an album as the band Philosopher’s Stone. It turned out to be a cruel trick by a twisted record producer to exploit these sensitive, psychic artists. The abbey, its walls cemented in blood, had been haunted since the 12th century when the Welsh bard Aelwyn Breadwinner died there. Each of the musicians had his own ghosts or obsessions which came into play that fateful night, December 8… the same night John Lennon was killed. The musicians went their separate ways, living with the damage done that night. The tapes for the notorious “Black Album” recorded that night were thought to be destroyed.


Fourteen years later, the tapes resurface, and another music mogul convinces the group that they must come back together to record again. It becomes a reluctant attempt to heal, and perhaps exorcise the evils which still haunt them, the abbey, and the village.


There are plenty of fascinating characters such as Scottish folksinger Moira Cairns, and Dave Reilly, who has a psychic connection with John Lennon. Rickman’s book intermingles the past and the present of Celtic legend and mystery with a generous helping of music industry lore, and his edgy, sardonic humor keeps the reader interested.  Lyrics to the songs played at the abbey have now been completed by Rickman and musician friend Allan Watson into a CD, Abbey Tapes: the Exorcism, by Philosopher’s Stone, available via Rickman’s website or as MP3s from iTunes and Amazon.  For fans of December, Philosopher’s Stone is the holy grail of fictional bands and the Black Album the album which should never have been made.  Abbey Tapes adds another chapter to the book by uncovering lost material and beautifully resolving some mysteries.  December is highly recommended and interested readers will enjoy Rickman’s other ghost stories such as Candlenight, Curfew, and The Chalice, as well as his Merrily Watkins series which begins with The Wine of Angels.



Contains: Some gore and violence, supernatural, sex, homosexuality.

Reviewed by: Julie Adams



Lucifer’s Lottery by Edward Lee

Cemetery Dance Publications, 2011

ISBN 9781587672545

Available: Limited edition hardcover


While preparing to enter seminary, theology student Hudson receives a visit from a strange woman with a message that he’s won Satan’s lottery.  Only eleven people have won this lottery since Satan’s downfall; one winner every six hundred and sixty six years.  Hudson is an almost pure soul that Lucifer wants.  Hudson decides to go to the address given in the message, and there he begins his grand tour of Hell, with H.P. Lovecraft as his tour guide.  Hudson sees unimaginable horrors along the way and wonders why Lucifer would think Hudson would give up eternity in Heaven upon his death.  However, Lucifer has an ace up his sleeve.


Meanwhile, Lucifer has his minions building a reservoir that is heavily guarded from prying eyes.  He wishes to build a permanent merge point between Hell and Earth.  In another part of Hell Joseph Curwen has built the largest demonculous, which will be powered by his own heart for the glory of Hell.  While all of this is going on, a terrorist group of anti-Satanists, led by the fallen angel Ezoriel plots the destruction of both the demonculous and the reservoir.  They will ultimately get an unexpected helping hand.


I could not put this book down.  The characters, both human and demon are well-written and very interesting.  I liked Hudson but could see that even though he had an almost perfect soul Hell was having an unexpected effect on him.  And I absolutely loved Howard the guide (Lovecraft).  He was so refined and yet so perfectly suited to Hell.  The story is a solid one with an awesome twist ending that I didn’t see coming.  Edward Lee paints such a vivid picture of the city and surrounding areas that is Hell, including some very graphic detail as to each district’s particular form of punishment.  I love the extreme horror of Lucifer’s Lottery and its very frightening depiction of Hell.  Pick this one up, if you can. Recommended.

Contains: Graphic violence, blood, gore, adult language and sexual situations

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Lullaby for the Rain Girl by Christopher Conlon

Dark Regions Press, 2012


Available: Pre-order (available after Feb 2012)

      Ben, a former writer and current high school English teacher, is thirty-six, but he feels a lot older. Depressed, overweight, and in the midst of an unfriendly divorce, he moves automatically through his days. Then one day he meets a girl in the rain who seems to know him, although he’s never met her before. Her presence leads him to open up to memories long since buried, of the events and relationships that led to an old girlfriend’s suicide. Who is this “rain girl”? She’s not a ghost- after he suffers a mild heart attack it is clear from her interactions with the doctors that she’s visible and tangible to others- but there’s something about her that haunts him, and brings him back to life. As the days pass it’s clear that she needs him... maybe a little too much.

      It’s hard to describe Lullaby for the Rain Girl. Its structure is odd. Surreal stories written by Ben that are related on some level to the Rain Girl and to his past are interspersed, and provide a way for the characters to reflect on things, in an oblique way. A big chunk of the middle of the book is a long flashback, but it’s integrated skillfully into the present and sheds light on many things that are just touched on in a surface way in the first part. Both are finally brought together in the third section of the book. So much of the story seems ordinary, yet Conlon brings to it a feeling of dread. It’s an unsettling story that mesmerizes the reader as the threads of past and present are drawn  together, with loose ends that suggest various possible realities. Readers looking for a straightforward narrative ought to look elsewhere, but those seeking an unsettling, emotionally involving, and often mysterious story will have a treat in store. Recommended.

Contains: Sex, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse


Reviewed by: Kirsten Kowalewski



Dead of Winter by Brian Moreland

Samhain Publishing, 2012

ISBN: 1609286634

Available:New Paperback and digital


Historical horror continues to abound in recent months. The most tired clichés can find new life in the annals of history. Dan Simmons has the deftest hand with this subgenre, from The Terror to Black Hills but a few talented newcomers have stepped up and dug into a dark chapter in time. Robert Jackson Bennett thrilled the horror community with Mr. Shivers last year and continued with The Company Man. John Hornor Jacobs gave readers something new in Southern Gods, which should be on everyone's radar for best first novel at this year's Stoker Awards. Brian Moreland first showed readers a glimmer of his talent in the war novel Shadows in the MistDead of Winter takes a major step forward.


In the bleakest of winters, 1878 Ontario is not a pleasant place to be, especially at a fort where people are dying faster than clues can be discovered. Tom Hatcher has taken his son to a frontier post after the death of his wife, seemingly to get away from the depression of Montreal and her memory. Yet in the blizzard, a demon, possibly Wendigo, is terrorizing the wilderness. 

Back in the big city, Father Xavier is picking up the pieces from a former case, a cannibal who is much more than he seems to be. Xavier specializes in exorcisms and his experience will be needed in a way that differs plenty from the obvious William Peter Blatty influence.


Hatcher and Father Xavier cross paths and their stories intertwine in such a manner that Winter blazes its own path. 


Moreland displays a sharp talent for capturing the history and setting of the time, along with carving into his characters a depth not seen often in many novels today. Samhain has struck gold with this effort. Recommended reading for fans of historical horror.



Reviewed by: Dave Simms



Little Boy Lost by T.M. Wright

Uninvited Books, 2011

ISBN 978-0-9830457-4-8

Available: new paperback and digital


CJ is an eleven year old boy with a photographic memory who is seeing a psychiatrist. CJ has lost his mother to murder, and his stepmother, Marie, has disappeared. Now CJ’s younger brother Aaron has disappeared, and CJ may know what happened. The police think CJ’s father, Miles, is responsible for Aaron’s disappearance.  What no one understands, including CJ, is that there are supernatural forces at work in this family. 


Both CJ and Miles have been seeing a densely wooded area, both at the time of Aaron’s disappearance and around their house.  There have also been violent wind storms .  With CJ in temporary foster care, Miles is determined to find Aaron; then CJ disappears, as well.  Miles knows that a demon is lurking…and has taken his sons. 


While it’s bad enough when a child goes missing, T.M. Wright amps up the fear by adding a supernatural element—a demon who has lived for ages.  All of the characters are well-written, and CJ and Miles are both sympathetic and endearing.  The story as a whole is thoroughly engaging right to its dark and surreal conclusion.  Little Boy Lost lays out the events surrounding Aaron’s disappearance and the subsequent police investigation using a mostly linear structure, but at just the appropriate times goes back into the recent past to fill in the blanks, so to speak.  We learn of the disappearance of Marie, the murder of CJ’s mother, and the relationships CJ had with Marie and Aaron.  T.M. Wright has written a wonderfully dark and creepy story that I found difficult to put down.  It’s easily one of the better books I read in 2011. Highly recommended.


Contains: adult language and some sexual situations


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



House of Fallen Trees by Gina Ranalli

Grindhouse Press, 2010

ISBN: 9780982628119

Available: Trade paperback and Kindle ebook


Karen's just starting to get her life back on track after the disappearance of her twin brother months ago. Then a strange voice on the phone tells her ″Two men have the carcass.″ When a man calls claiming to be her brother's partner, both romantically and in a business, a budding bed & breakfast in the small, isolated town of Fallen Trees, Washington,  Karen feels the overwhelming urge to travel there and retrace her brother's last steps. But what she finds at the House of Fallen Trees is a classic creepy ghost tale that might have killed her brother.


House of Fallen Trees is a fast, compelling read. It's dark, twisted and will have readers questioning Karen as much as the strange happenings at the giant ship built in the middle of the woods. Creepy and fun, it's a stellar ghost tale in a thin market. A definite good choice for horror collections.


Contains: Sexual language, foul language


Reviewed by: Michele Lee





The Cranston Gibberer by Martin Mundt 

Bad Moon Books,2011

Available new paperback

ISBN 97820110983779902


In a story told entirely through letters between H and his friend X, The Cranston Gibberer tells of a writer (H) who is asked by his boss to investigate and write a newspaper article about a local monster called the Cranston Menace.  H discovers the monster—also known as the Cranston Gibberer--is centuries old and has some connection to a family called Dirge…one of which is the publisher of the newspaper that H writes for.  Unfortunately for H, the monster has decided to change his target.

Mundt tells a humorous story about H’s decent into madness, while still discussing inanities such as visiting a tailor for a new suit, although even that common occurrence becomes somewhat bizarre.  The writing is funny and clever, and Mundt will leave you wondering if the monster was real or if H was really one crazy SOB?  A quick and enjoyable read, The Cranston Gibberer is one of those rare stories that I can read over and over again.  Get this book! Recommended.


Contains: n/a


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



The Raising by Shawn-a-lee McCutcheon-Bell

Black Bed Sheet Books 2010

ISBN 9780976994763

Available: New


Mike Van Gremor has just lost his wife to a mysterious illness.  In an effort to get past his grief, Mike takes on a new assignment for the newspaper.  He goes to the small town of Gremory to investigate strange fatal accidents happening there.  While there he meets the enigmatic and beautiful Charlotte.  Gremory is preparing for an annual festival that has been celebrated for generations.  Mike now finds himself in danger while at the same time in a position to decide the fate of the world.  The supernatural forces are hard at work in Gremory but Mike is not alone in his fight against evil.


While I liked the basic story of The Raising, I thought its execution was average, at best.  Character development was good overall, but Mike’s connection to the town was fairly evident early on and predictable.  I like the supernatural aspect with fallen angels and such but for the most part The Raising read like a paranormal romance, and I just don’t dig those.  That being said, I think there is some potential here for a darker tale that would appeal to a wider audience.


Contains: violence, gore and sexual situations


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund


The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian 

Crown; 1ST edition, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0307394996

Available: New and digital



Maybe you remember the Miracle of the Hudson, in which a pilot safely landed a plane on the Hudson River, saving many lives. This is not the story of that amazing rescue. It’s the story of a pilot who tried to land a plane safely on Lake Champlain… and failed, at the cost of thirty nine lives, including one little girl.


Unable to return to the life he once had, plagued by PTSD, nightmares, and hallucinations, Chip, his wife Emily, and their twin daughters Hallie and Garnet retreat to an old Victorian fixer-upper in small town New Hampshire to begin again. Then Chip discovers a mysterious door bolted shut with thirty nine carriage bolts… just the number of passengers who died in the plane crash, and he begins to hear a voice saying “She needs friends”. Driven by guilt, he promises to provide his daughters as friends for the ghost girl.


In the meantime, the local herbalists have gone out of their way to welcome Chip’s family to town, bringing them food, showing them around, and showering attention on the twins. Between Chip’s ghosts and the herbalists’ plans for his family, things are about to go very wrong.


The Night Strangers was difficult for me to read in the same way that Alexandra Sokoloff’s The Price was. There is something unforgettable and disturbing about the way guilt and fear color the interactions between parents and children. Bohjalian has created a sense of dread throughout- the atmosphere is chilling and claustrophobic under a superficially pleasant surface. Bohjalian doesn’t spell things out for the reader: he excels at only revealing what is necessary to develop character and advance the plot.


Strong writing, well-developed characters, and a terrifying climax followed by an ending with a twist all conspire together to create a frightening psychological tale of the supernatural that is much more than a traditional haunted house story. Highly recommended.


Contains: violence, murder, possession, sexual situations, witchcraft, blood sacrifice.

Review by Kirsten Kowalewski


Samson and Denial by Robert Ford 

Thunderstorm, 2011


Available: Used

Bob Ford has written a tight supernatural noir piece in Samson and Denial.  Samson Gallows runs a seedy pawn shop and is a small time drug dealer — then a junkie pawns a mummified head, Samson's brother gets iced by the Russian mob, and his wife disappears. With his whole world turned upside down, Samson and his mummy head take to the streets of Philadelphia, streets that are soon awash in blood, violence, and supernatural mayhem.


    Reminiscent of the writings of Elmore Leonard and Joe Lansdale, Samson and Denial introduces us to the seedy underground of Philadelphia and a myriad of colorful characters that ring true. This spectacular debut is over-the-top, violent, and an adrenaline-pumping ride. The supernatural element is an interesting twist to an otherwise straightforward revenge fantasy crime drama. Ford makes it work by pulling no punches and never taking his foot off the accelerator. At less than 130 pages, Samson and Denial is streamlined and action-packed, but a wild ride guaranteed to thrill the most jaded of genre fans. Limited to only 150 copies, Samson and Denial is a must-have for collectors and one I highly recommend.


Review by Bob Freeman


Cinema of Shadows by Michael West 

Seventh Star Press 2011

Available new paperback

ISBN 978-0-9837402-0-9


The Woodfield Movie Palace has seen its share of tragedy in the many years since it first opened as an opera house.  It has been boarded up as of late, with plans to knock it down.  Before that happens, Professor Burke wants to conduct an investigation to see if the Woodfield is haunted.  The professor and some of his parapsychology students venture into the old theater to see what they can find.  Kim, who had her own encounter with a ghost some years earlier, is hoping to face her fears.  Her boyfriend, Dr. Tyler Bachman, has seen some strange and scary things in the ER lately that appear to be connected to the old theater.  When the group goes in, will they make it out alive?


Cinema of Shadows is a very creepy but fun take on the haunted house/building theme.  There are interesting and well-rounded characters and a fantastic history for the old movie theater.  We are given eerie glimpses into the tragic happenings, all the while building to the story’s terrifying climax….except there is more to this story than a final showdown with ghosts.  I really enjoyed the “twist” ending as it veers away from predictable.  If you like ghosts, demons or hauntings then Cinema of Shadows belongs in your horror book collection.



Contains violence, gore, adult language


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 

2011, Quirk

ISBN: 9781594744761

Available:  Hardcover, Kindle ebook, audiobook



Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the first novel written by the greatly talented Ransom Riggs. In this story we meet Jacob Portman, teenage future heir to a Florida drugstore chain.  Jacob lacks motivation to do anything: the only person he really connects with is his grandfather, Abe Portman, who vanishes for long stretches of time on ‘hunting trips’. When Jacob was smaller, his grandfather told him all sorts of exciting stories, which Jacob believed to be fairytales: little did he know that all his grandfather’s stories were true.


When Jacob’s grandfather dies at the hands of an unspeakable monster with a very gross and large tongue, Jacob goes into therapy, and as a result ends up spending the summer on the island in Wales that his grandfather came from. What he finds there is both strange and wondrous, although it’s marred by terrifying experiences with the previously described monsters, known as ‘hollowgasts’. The island exists in two different points in time, Jacob’s time and the 1940s, which are connected by a cairn- the ancient stone grave of a drowned Celtic boy. It’s in the forties, beyond the cairn, that Jacob meets Miss Peregrine and the peculiar children, battles the hollowgasts, and finds his place in the world. The story is accompanied by disturbing photographs representing the “peculiar children”, gathered by collectors: the impact can only be experienced in print. This is an amazing book! If you enjoyed Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, this book is for you. Highly recommended for readers of the supernatural, strange, horror, and genuinely strange but funny books.


Contains: Graphic Violence, Profanity, Gruesome Images.


Reviewed by: Benjamin Franz


Cuckoo by Richard Wright

CreateSpace (2nd Edition), 2011

ISBN: 9781463762032

Available: Paperback, E-Book


Cuckoo was the first book written by Richard Wright. It’s a stand-alone novel, and it’s extremely creepy. In it, we meet Greg Summers. Greg has it all, a beautiful wife, nice family, and a loving mistress named Georgette. But are the things Greg possesses real? Is Greg Summers really his identity? This question comes to the fore when he goes to a hotel and learns that his reservation is, in fact, under the name ‘Richard Jerome’, not Greg Summers. Rapidly, Greg discovers what is true and what is false, and in a dizzying chase, attempts to avoid a fate worse than death.


I will not spoil the horrors which wait for you in this graphic, deeply disturbing novel. However, I will say that this is not a book for anyone under the age of consent. Exceedingly raw, violent and unflinching in its storytelling, Cuckoo will gross you out, just as it absolutely terrifies you. Sometimes you just cannot win. Hopefully no one reading this will ever end up being chased by the Cuckoo. Highly recommended for mature readers.


Contains: Graphic violence, graphic sex, gruesome imagery, profanity, adult situations.


Reviewed by: Benjamin Franz


Carnival of Fear by J.G. Faherty

Graveside Tales, 2010

ISBN 978-0980133899

Available: new paperback


A dark carnival has appeared in the middle of the night on Halloween Eve, and the carnies are hungry for human flesh and souls.  The biggest attraction is the Haunted Castle.  When the castle is full, at the stroke of midnight, everything changes. 


Two groups of teens who clearly don’t like each other end up in the haunted attraction at midnight, and both groups are fighting for their lives.  Upon entering a theme room in the Haunted Castle—witches, zombies, and werewolves—the teens are transported to another world.  If they destroy the evil there, then they will end up back in the castle, cardboard cutouts and all.  The teens discover that they must defeat the evil in each room of the attraction, and then do the same in the final room at the top.  Unfortunately, not everyone will make it out alive.  The final room is each teen’s own personal hell, and only one of the teens can beat his or her own hell and save the others from theirs, as well as saving the entire town from being devoured by demons.


Carnival of Fear is an imaginative and scary story that plays on the fears we all have when walking into a haunted attraction of some kind.  It is a Young Adult title but doesn’t read like one.  The main characters are all kids, but adults can relate to them all in one way or another.  We were scared teens, too once.  The story is well-written and has a nice flow to it.  There were a couple of instances where I thought character development was a little too much, but it didn’t get in the way of the overall story.  Faherty has written a dark and spooky story that will appeal to all ages.




Contains: Violence, gore and sexual situations


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund


The White Faced Bear by R. Scott McCoy

Bellfire Press, 2010

Available new paperback

ISBN 9781926912103


Jeff Bennett returned to Kodiak, Alaska, the place of his birth, to fulfill his father’s deathbed wish of having his ashes scattered on the island he so loved.  The minute Jeff sets foot on Kodiak, a giant bear awakens and Jeff’s nightmare begins.  The bear is an evil magician trapped by Aouachala, a Sun’Aq shaman.  It seems Jeff’s father, a hunter, shot a member of the magician’s bear clan some forty years before, and is now seeking revenge.  Merrick and his grandfather Joe are descendants of the shaman Aouachala, and they help Jeff survive the wrath of the magician and destroy the giant bear.  Joe sends Jeff and Merrick to Russia to find the skull of Aouchala and bring it back to Kodiak.  Along the way both men must deal with the deaths of their fathers and how it has affected their own lives to this point.


The White Faced Bear is an interesting story because it’s not just about a rampaging supernatural bear.  It’s also about how Merrick and Jeff were each impacted by their fathers and how coming to terms with their respective pasts makes them stronger and able to fight back against the magician.  Character development is spot on and the story moves at breakneck speed to its inevitable and satisfying conclusion.  Both Jeff and Merrick are flawed, but still very likeable men, who are just trying to find their way.  The magician/giant bear is not really the focus of the story, but makes an excellent and frightening antagonist.  R. Scott McCoy’s writing is descriptive without being overdone and keeps an even and quick pace throughout.  This is definitely one to pick up if you like your horror full of the supernatural and dangerous animals. Recommended.


Contains: Violence, gore and adult language


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund




The Watching by Paul Melniczek

Crossroad Press & Bad Moon Books; Crossroad Press & Bad Moon Books Digital Edition edition, 2011

Available:Used and Digital

First in Bad Moon Books’ Halloween novella line, The Watching briefly chronicles the life of a young girl named Pat.  Pat lives in a house with her Aunt Margie and Uncle Ray as well as Uncle Ray’s sister, Trish, who takes care of little Pat.  Not only does Trish watch over Pat, but she is also her best friend.  One night Pat has trouble sleeping because Trish had told her a spooky story earlier that day.  Unable to sleep, Pat finally crawled out of bed to look out the window and saw Trish trying to lure one of the family cats back into the house.  A moment later, something reaches out and grabs Trish, who is never seen again. Trish isn’t the only person to end up disappearing from Pat’s life.  Over time others do as well, and only Pat has any idea of the reason behind said disappearances.

Paul Melniczek’s The Watching is definitely a quick and fun Halloween read. However it does fall a little flat.  I think had this been an actual novel, Melniczek would have been able to add some more depth to the characters and create an even creepier tale.  There were moments where I related this story to fairy tales I’ve read in the past, which is probably what made me enjoy this story as much as I did.  So those that enjoy twisted fairy tales would probably enjoy this novella.  Also worth noting are the cover art and artwork within this book drawn by Jill Bauman.  They add an additional charm to this short read.  Recommended.

Reviewed by:  Rhonda Wilson

The Samhanach by Lisa Morton

Bad Moon Books, 2010

ISBN: 9780984460182

Available:  new paperback


Three hundred years ago the McCafferty clan was cursed by something that rose up out of the bog.  During a Halloween party, one of the young McCafferty boys was murdered out of jealousy.  His family chased the perpetrator to a bog where the murderer called up a Samhanach…a bog demon.  Every Halloween the family waits for the demon to show itself and do its worst.  A hundred years pass before it comes to fulfill the curse, and another hundred years pass before it shows itself again.  Now it’s been another hundred years and Merran McCafferty has discovered the journal of Connell McCafferty in a fairie circle.  As Merran reads the journal and discovers her family’s dark secret, ugly and horrible things are happening in her town.  When the Samhanach takes Merran’s daughter Jeannie, Merran will stop at nothing to get her back.


At just a hundred pages, The Samhanach is a quick read and a wonderful story.  Lisa Morton delves into ancient Celtic folklore to weave an imaginative Halloween tale that recalls the origins of the holiday and the bogies that lurk in the dark.  The story takes on a great dark fantasy twist when Merran has to enter the dark fairie realm in order to save her daughter from the shape-shifting Samhanach.  With vivid descriptions of the fairie world and the devastation caused by the Samhanach, as well as beautiful cover art by Frank Walls, this is a great novella to add to your collection. Recommended.


Contains:  Gore, blood and violence


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund

We have a take two review of The Samhanach this time by David Agranoff.

          Lisa Morton is a three time Bram Stoker award winning author. Her first novel, The Castle of Los Angeles, made my personal top ten list for 2010, and I have been a fan of Morton’s very solid short stories for years.

          Morton is also the author of two non-fiction books about her favorite holiday – Halloween.  Who better to write a novella taking place on Halloween than someone who loves it?  Morton brings her amazing depth of knowledge of Halloween folklore to this complex story. It’s amazing just how much story is tightly packed into the page count. Spanning 300 years of Halloween and Scottish folklore, this is the story of a family curse. Every one hundred years on Halloween night, a monster seeks revenge on the McCafferty clan. In 2010, Mother Merran McCafferty looks into the family’s history to see if she can avoid the curse.

          I’ve now reviewed three of Bad Moon’s novellas (the other two are Jade by Gene O’Neil and Blood Spring by Erick Williams). They were perfect plane reads. You can get the whole story in one sitting, the perfect length for a short flight. The books are not cheap, but keep in mind, Bad Moon is an independent press putting out works by fresh new authors, and they are worthy of your support.

          The Samhanach is another home run for Lisa Morton. Fans of Halloween fiction should not pass this one up. Get yourself a copy and read it on Halloween night!  Highly recommended!

Reviewed by: David Agranoff

Finally, a third take on The Samhanach from Rhonda Wilson:

On Halloween, Merran McCafferty discovers a journal by one of her ancestors lying in the yard.  Reading through the journal, she finds out about a curse that has supposedly been on her family for 300 years.  She has trouble deciding whether the journal is the truth until things start to happen to her neighbors, and in particular, her daughter.  When her daughter is taken into another dimension by the Samhanach, the creature that attacks their family every 100 years, Merran goes on a mission to both save her daughter and end the curse forever.

The Samhanach by Lisa Morton is Bad Moon Books’ second Halloween novella.  Having also read the first in this line of books, The Watching, I can compare and say that Morton’s tale is a much stronger one and written a lot more tightly.  The Samhanach creature described in this book is not something I would want to bump into in real life, but I’m truly happy that I did in written form, as it made for a spooky afternoon read.  Morton is extremely knowledgeable on the history of Halloween, having written two nonfiction books on the topic: The Halloween Encyclopedia and A Halloween Anthology. Her knowledge is evident throughout the novella, which is threaded with Halloween folklore.  I would recommend this to anyone looking for a fast and creepy read this Halloween, or any day, for that matter!

Contains:  Mild Violence 

Reviewed by: Rhonda Wilson



Eternal Unrest: A Novel of Mummy Terror by Lorne Dixon

Coscom Entertainment, 2011
ISBN: 978-1926712888

Available: New and Digital

Prior to America’s involvement in World War II, England endured heavy bombardment by the German Luftwaffe, and so decided to send its most valuable artifacts from the British Museum to the Smithsonian Institution.  Unfortunately for Priscilla Stuyvesant, who is overseeing the transport of the artifacts, a bomb has reduced three truckloads to one.  Priscilla and her two companions, Mason and Brigham, barely escape with their lives, and have now picked up some refugees.  One of the refugees decides to ride in the back of the truck, but Priscilla senses something is wrong with their cargo. 

After a harrowing night at a military refueling station, the group finally makes it to the docks and the cargo ship, but with two less people than they had the night before.  Once on board, things go from bad to worse rather quickly.  Priscilla senses the power emanating from the mummies’ crates, but while she is attempting to dump them overboard the crap really hits the fan.  Not only are these mummies former assassins returning to life, but the ship has now been boarded by Nazis on the run from their own government, including a doctor who performed unauthorized experiments on his own people.  Priscilla and her companions must find a way to survive murderous Nazis and powerful mummies all in the enclosed spaces of a cargo ship on the Atlantic Ocean.

If there was ever a story to begin the reign of the mummy in the horror genre, Eternal Unrest is it.  Dixon has woven a tale of war, murder, and revenge—of two powerful civilizations separated by thousands of years, and the magic and horror that has connected them.  Eternal Unrest wastes no time getting into the meat of the story, which is bloody and brutal, and the very claustrophobic atmosphere makes for a truly scary read.  For diehard fans of Hammer Studios’ mummy flicks, this is the book we’ve been waiting for!  With a great introduction by author Nick Cato who sums up the lack of mummy love perfectly, and amazing cover art by C.J. Hutchinson and Jesus Morales, this is a must-read. Highly recommended

Contains violence, gore, adult language

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund

Smile No More by James A. Moore

Miskatonic Books , 2011


Available:  Pre-order.


Smile No More chronicles the life of a kid named Cecil and his afterlife alter ego, Rufo the Clown.  The Carnivale de Fantastique and those surrounding the Carnivale are stumped as to why people from the show keep turning up dead.  Only Rufo knows what’s really going on as he’s the cause of it.  But while everyone is trying to solve the case of the murders, Rufo has a mission of his own: he’s trying to track down the family he ran away from and seek revenge on those who wronged him.


James A. Moore sent me this book after finding out that I had a fear of clowns, and I can tell you this… if I were to ever see Rufo the Clown in person I would cower in fright and probably not be able to move.  I feared what Rufo would do next and felt bad for all the people he killed, but I also felt sorry for Rufo.  I understood what he was trying to accomplish and sympathized with his loss.  In a way, he just didn’t know any other way to resolve the unfinished business he had set out to complete.  Moore really created a heartfelt, yet horrifying, tale with Smile No More.  Readers who get nightmares from reading scary books may want to skip this one, as the visuals throughout could definitely make it difficult to sleep.  However, for anyone else, this should be a book on the top of your reading list.  Moore makes it difficult to put his novel down as you can’t help but want to read more (no pun intended).


Contains:  Violence, Gore, Adult Situations, Adult Language 


Reviewed by:  Rhonda Wilson




A View from the Lake by Greg F. Gifune

Crossroad Press & Bad Moon Books; Crossroad Press & Bad Moon Books Digital Edition edition, 2011

Available:New and Kindle

James and Katherine live a happy and quiet life in Blissful Point, Massachusetts where they own a quaint lakeside resort, until one summer morning a young boy’s body is found floating in the lake. James is devastated, and within a few months of that tragic accident, he slowly loses his sanity and then disappears. 

A year later, Katherine has decided to sell the resort and start over somewhere new.  Strange dreams and the realization that she didn’t really know her husband have begun to weigh on her.  Katherine’s friend Carlo wants to help her find the answers she is looking for, so he goes to find James’ foster mother.  Carlo discovers a past that James kept hidden from his wife that came back to haunt him—and drive him mad—when the boy drowned at the resort.  Carlo tries to get back to Katherine during a blizzard, while she makes her way down the same path as James did over a year before.

Greg F. Gifune has written a beautifully dark story about the fine line between sanity and insanity.  With just a handful of well-developed characters, and frightening ghosts of the past, this nicely paced novel delves into the fragility of the mind and the isolation that comes with the loss of one’s grip on reality.  Gifune highlights this isolation by setting A View from the Lake at an empty resort during the height of a blizzard.  Katherine and Carlo experience their own isolation, both figuratively and literally—Katherine at the empty resort and Carlo attempting to navigate the empty, snow-covered roads.  Carlo is also attempting to keep himself sober long enough to save Katherine from James and his past. 

With a wonderful introduction by T.M. Wright and fantastic cover art by Erin Wells, A View from the Lake will appeal to fans of dark fiction and the supernatural alike. Recommended.

Contains: Violence, adult language and sexual situations

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund




Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Thomas Dunne Books; Reprint edition, 2011

ISBN: 0312680279

Available: New and digital


        One snowy morning, on a small island in Sweden, Anders and Cecilia take their six-year-old daughter Maya across the ice to visit a lighthouse in the middle of a frozen channel. Anders and Cecilia explore the lighthouse, leaving Maya on her own. She disappears, without leaving even a footprint.

        Two years later, Anders returns to the island. Now a perpetual drunk, Anders turns to the inhabitants of the island for answers to his daughter’s disappearance. He can’t accept that Maya is dead: he is certain she’s alive somewhere. Everyone, including his own mother, appears reluctant to speak, the sea seemingly holding a power over them all. Shortly after his return, strange things begin to happen. Items move, including some of Maya’s possessions, and Anders has the overwhelming feeling of being watched. He could never have imagined depth to the mystery and secrets behind the island’s past. Anders commits to doing whatever it takes to find out what actually happened that morning two years ago. Anders will stop at nothing, risking his own life, to discover what happened to his daughter.

        Lindquvist is known for reinventing horror genres, and he succeeds once again in Harbor. The suspense builds slowly and steadily, keeping the reader involved. Characterization is another aspect at which Lindqvist excels: Harbor is a story that takes place over five generations, allowing him to build the history and create familiarity with the members of each of the families involved.

        The beauty behind this book is the author’s writing. This is a book that cannot be skimmed or skipped over. Tiny details mentioned early on come back again in later chapters: missing those details might take away the impact of the story. I don’t often like to compare authors to others, but fans of Dan Simmons and the classic writings of Stephen King will definitely appreciate the style of this novel.
There are not many horror books that I would recommend to those that aren’t fans of the genre, but Harbor is a book that can be appreciated by a wide audience. The writing is rich, the characters multi-dimensional, the storyline compelling. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Lawrence


Black Light by Patrick Melton , Marcus Dunstan , Stephen Romano

Mulholland Books; 1 edition, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0316196710

Available: New and Digital


        Buck’s parents were killed horrifically when he was young. He was left for dead, discovered at the brink of death. Since his parents’ death, Buck now has a unique gift: he can literally swallow evil spirits, regurgitating them into sacred urns, and forever preventing their release. He is now the exorcist of last resort: individuals call on him to get rid of spirits that traditional means won’t remove. When he captures a spirit, he’s taken into the Black Light. The Black Light is where he continues to go, decades after his parents’ death, hoping to find them.

        Buck’s most recent case is an unusual one: he’s been asked to participate in the testing of a high-speed train that crosses the desert between California and Nevada. During one of the test runs of the train, a horrific accident took place. The only survivor of this accident was an employee, originally quite sane, who upon surviving the tragic accident, completely lost his mind.

        When Buck learns the train’s route, he knows he must agree to the job proposed to him. The train’s path takes it directly through one of the worst recorded spots for paranormal activity in the country, the Blacklight Triangle. A host of celebrities, including a man in the running for the Presidency, are accompanying him on the ride. Buck knows accepting this job is quite possibly a suicide mission. Mediums who have visited this area have died: Buck came close to dying himself in this exact location.

        As the train’s journey begins, Buck is forced to re-evaluate everything he has come to believe about his identity, the death of his parents, and those that he trusts. Everything comes into question as the train goes speeding through the desert at 400 miles an hour, heading through one of most dangerous locations in the country.

        Black Light is a unique novel. The action is quite intense and while there are a few bloody scenes, they aren’t nearly as prolific as I thought they would be. Think of it as a combination of Ghostbusters and Die Hard. That said, Black Light probably isn’t a novel for the weak of heart (or stomach) but I can see it being of interest to several types of readers, including fans of horror and action novels. Recommended.

Note: The authors of Black Light are also the creators of the Saw horror movie franchise.

Reviewed by Jennifer Lawrence


The Pumpkin Man by John Everson

Dorchester Publishing, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1428512122

Available: New and Digital


         Just weeks ago, Jennica’s father was brutally murdered just, with his head missing, and bloodied pieces of pumpkin scattered throughout his home. Now, on top of that, Jennica and her roommate, Kirsten, have been laid off. Desperate to get away, Kirsten and Jenn head to California to check out the home Jenn has inherited from her now-deceased aunt Meredith.

        Jenn has always known her aunt was “eccentric” but when Jenn and Kirsten arrive, they find evidence of this. The bookshelves in her home are filled with ancient books on death, potions, and the like. One of the most interesting books is a photo album filled with pictures of intricately carved pumpkins.

        When Jenn and Kirsten arrive at the small town store to stock up on food, they soon discover that the townspeople didn’t think fondly of her aunt. When they head to a local bar for a drink, the townspeople are hostile, serving the girls a rat under a silver dome dish.

        As the days pass, Jenn learns more about her aunt and her uncle, George, often referred to as the Pumpkin Man. George was skilled at carving complex images into pumpkins, and each year, people would look forward to his big creation for that year. Then one year a little boy went missing, and the pumpkin displayed that year resembled the face of the missing boy. Local legend now states that each Halloween, the Pumpkin Man carves the likeness of his victim into a pumpkin, forever trapping that individual’s soul.

        Desperate for human interaction outside of the unwelcoming town, the girls head down to San Francisco. They meet two young men, who come to visit the girls at the house. The four of them bring out a Ouija board and attempt to contact Jenn’s father. The response they get is not what they expect: the girls assume it’s the boys attempting to frighten them and ask them to leave. Jenn begins to question this, however. She feels something in the air…something that compels her to want to learn more. When she finds bits of pumpkin lying in her bedroom she realizes this isn’t a joke. Someone is trying to tell her something.

        The brutal killings begin again. This time, the victims are the parents of the children from the previous murders. The killer cannot be the same individual, for Jenn’s uncle was hunted down by the townspeople and killed. Jenn is certain all of this has to do with her aunt and the mysterious home in which she is living. Something ancient and evil has been unleashed, the only way to put an end to the killings, for good, lies within the books in her aunt Meredith’s library.
As with Everson’s other books, The Pumpkin Man sends chills down the reader’s spine. It is full of everything a good horror book should contain: a spooky setting, mysterious deaths, a small down with dark secrets, as well as rich and detailed characters. It’s obviously not a book for someone with a weak stomach, but if you are looking for a terrifying book to read this Halloween, The Pumpkin Man is the book for you. Read it at night…alone…if you dare! Highly, highly, recommended!


Reviewed by Jennifer Lawrence


This Is My Blood by David Niall Wilson

Macabre Ink, 2010

ISBN: 9780965813532

Available: multi-format digital


This is My Blood is a sneaky, beautifully written Christian horror tale of supernatural damnation and love. In this hard-to-put-down book, a vampire, turned by Lucifer himself to punish humanity, becomes enamored with the mythos of The Christ and finds the love and power radiating from the man himself to be more than she expected. Taking on the role of Mary Magdalene, she finds herself drawn to him, despite Lucifer's promise that she's bound to damn him.


Wilson's tale is enchanting, deeply religious without being judgmental or hypocritical. Beautifully written, it's definitely worth the cost and the time to read. Highly recommended for budding digital collections.

Contains: Violence, religious themes

Review by Michele Lee





As I Embrace My Jagged Edges by Lee Thompson

Sideshow Press, 2011


Available: Kindle

    Boaz is a gay teen whose family has a deep secret—they're the protectors of a shard of the temple of King Solomon. Now that his uncle is dead, his family is falling apart and Boaz must learn to step up and save them all.

    As I Embrace My Jagged Edges is a vivid, beautiful tale that's just too short. Thompson jerks readers around on silken strings in a rare piece of fiction that explores both the Hebrew and gay identities. Furthermore, it’s a powerful horror tale, a unique trifecta for sure. While its length and ebook only (at the moment) format limit its value to public collections which might not be making the ebook transition, I definitely recommend this tale to horror readers, especially those hungering for minority points of view.

Contains: violence

Reviewed by: Michele Lee



The Old One: A Pacific Northwest Horror Story by Todd Brabander

2011, Todd Brabander

ASIN: B005FQN3AI (Kindle edition)

Available:  multi-format digital


        The Old One is the story of David, a man who has had nothing to fear for much of his life, because he had little if anything to lose. When a bridge is flooded over on his way to the Pacific Coastline in the state of Washington, David finds himself in the sleepy town of Myrtle. There he meets the locals and is harassed by one of the local crazies, Rodney. Rodney feels that David is the man who shall release Montagne Le Grand, also known as Montagne the Destroyer.  Rodney apparently wanted to be the one to destroy the world, but he’s now angry and resentful that David should be the one to do it.

David, of course, is thoroughly confused. When he asks the townsfolk about this, most don’t wish to discuss it. One night he sees something that causes him to force them to show the truth. This is story is very short, scary and comes off like a H. P. Lovecraft story. Although I did not care for the nonlinear, out of order chapter set up, I must say the story itself is quite good. This is recommended if you like strange spooky stories, or tales of the occult or the Ancient Ones.


Contains: Violence and gore.


Reviewed by: Benjamin Franz




Bedbugs by Ben H. Winter

Quirk Books, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-523-2

Available: Paperback


        Bedbugs explores the terror and stress that comes hand in hand with moving. Susan Wendt has decided her apartment in Union City – a very nice part of lower Manhattan in New York – is too small for her family, and convinces her husband Alex they need to start looking for an apartment in Brooklyn. After many failed efforts, they locate what seems to be the perfect location for a very low rent (note: $3,000 a month is only a low rent in NY!)  However, no sooner do they move into the apartment, then Susan starts feeling an itch. Soon bedbugs are showing up on a portrait she’s painting. As this occurs Susan slowly learns the story of the former tenants and of the landlady’s husband, Howard Scharfstein. Yet, the bedbugs only seem to be in her mind.  Is she going insane, or is some truly unspeakably awful happening in her new two story brownstone apartment?


        This book is a rich blend of classic psychological suspense and horror. If Alfred Hitchcock were still with us, this is a book he would adapt to film. The scares are wonderful - equal parts weird and gruesome-the drama is very natural in its approach, and Mr. Winter brilliantly captures the fabric of life in Brooklyn, New York. This book is highly recommended, especially for people who like a good scare, or a wonderfully written psychological suspense piece. Without spoiling anything, if you like freaky or supernatural elements, you will adore this book.


Contains: Adult situations, profanity, violence, gore.


Reviewed by:  Benjamin Franz





The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein

Tachyon Publications, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-61696-014-8

Available: trade paperback


When Will meets Livvy he has no idea what he’s getting into.  When Will and his best friend Ben visit Maddie, Ben’s girlfriend, at her family’s farm outside of Berkeley, California, Will is immediately smitten—not just with Livvy but with the whole Feierabend family.  He notices some odd behavior on their part but ignores it because he has been totally enchanted.  And that enchantment may be in the literal sense. 

After a while, Livvy becomes ill and falls asleep.  In his quest to help her, Will discovers a bargain made generations ago in which one girl from every generation in the family must go to sleep for seven years to help fight in another, supernatural world.  The story of the Bondmaid was first told to the Brothers Grimm, but was then forgotten and hidden away.  Now Will must discover the mysterious other world and the meaning of the Bondmaid in order to help Livvy and her family.

The Uncertain Places is an entertaining story about what happens when the real world and the magical world begin to overlap.  I enjoyed how Lisa Goldstein intertwined her fictional story with the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.  The brothers even become characters in the story, creating a bit of historical fiction.  The character development was adequate for the main characters but secondary characters fall a bit flat for me.  Ms. Goldstein is very descriptive when writing about the supernatural realm and its inhabitants but I didn’t feel the story.  Overall I felt it was a slightly above-average fantasy story but I would have liked to have seen more emotion in the writing and in the characters. Recommended.

Contains: N/A

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Fear Me by Tim Curran

Delirium Books, 2011

Available: Limited Edition Mini-hardcover and E-book

Danny Palmquist is fresh meat at Shaddock Valley Prison, which houses some of the most dangerous criminals in the state.  Romero, who is serving a ten year sentence, is Danny’s cell mate.  Romero wants nothing more than to keep to himself and do his time with as little trouble as possible.  Romero hears something moving in the cell on Danny’s first night and it scares him.  There is something different about Danny, but Romero can’t quite put his finger on it.

From Danny’s first night in prison, other prisoners start dying—actually being ripped to pieces.  There are rumors about Danny’s involvement in something very disturbing at another prison.  The cons want Danny dead, but Romero feels the need to protect him.  When Danny goes to sleep something else wakes up…something evil and depraved…and Danny can do nothing to stop it. 

Tim Curran has hit another home run with Fear Me.  It is a gritty and visceral story about a fear so deep that it drives grown men insane.  The creature seems to grow larger as it feeds on the inmates’ fear of what is happening around them and of the unknown.  Romero is a decent guy, especially when compared to some of the other inmates, which include outlaw bikers, gang bangers, drug dealers, white supremacists, rapists and murderers.  Danny tells Romero his story, and Romero believes him….and empathizes with him.  Character development is dead on, and so is the description of the environment.  The creature itself is gruesome and frightening in its detail.  Tim Curran manages to freak me out, yet again—this is why he is one of my favorite authors. Highly recommended.

Contains violence, gore, adult language and adult situations

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund





The Doppelganger Song by Caitlin Sumer and Bill Shears

InfinityBound, 2011


Available eBook edition

Dr. Holly Ambrose, psychiatrist, and her partner Frank Zhelikhovsky, an Iraqi war vet and security expert, have been asked to consult on a case involving a young teacher who may or may not have tried to commit suicide.  Emma Ward went out the fourth floor window of the Gracewynne School, a private girls’ school in the Bronx.  Emma insists she didn’t jump, and there are stories among the students of a Shadow Emma, a mysterious mirror-like image of Emma.

The definition of doppelganger is a ghostly double or counterpart of a living person.  After speaking with Emma and some of the students it seems as though Emma does indeed have a doppelganger.  Holly however is very skeptical.  As Holly and Frank’s investigation progresses there seem to be more questions than answers.  Who is Ms. Grande (the woman who runs the school) and does she know about the supposed doppelganger?  What happened to Emma’s boyfriend Scott the day he died while rock climbing?  Is Emma crazy?  Is Shadow Emma really a doppelganger?

The Doppelganger Song is a smartly written book.  I like the paranormal aspects of the story as well as the questions about Frank and Holly’s personal relationship.  The pacing is quick and consistent while keeping the reader guessing as to the final outcome until the very end.  The character development is excellent, giving the reader ample background without getting bogged down in too much or unnecessary detail.  I genuinely liked Holly, Frank and Emma, and no one is without their flaws.  In other words, they are all very human and realistic.  I also enjoyed the intelligent and witty dialogue, especially between Frank and Holly.  I think The Doppelganger Song would make a great addition to your library if paranormal is your thing. Recommended.

FULL DISCLOSURE-my daughter Darlene Wanglund did the cover art and I think it’s great.

Contains: some violence and mild language

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Lord of the Mountain by William Ollie cover art by Wayne Miller

Dark Regions Press, 2010

ISBN: 9781888993967

Available: New Hardback, Kindle, Nook

In Whitley, West Virginia times are hard for some.  For those prominent citizens who went along with William Pitch and his deal with the Devil, though, times are very good….and will be, as long as they continue to make the necessary sacrifices.  It is 1929 in this small town.  Thirteen years ago three children disappeared at Halloween and they have never been found. 

Earl Peters left the big city to become a small town deputy where the worst crimes consist of a local businessman making moonshine during Prohibition. When the sheriff dies, Earl finds himself the new sheriff, and the crimes he must now investigate involve the murder and the disappearance of more children.  William Pitch has returned to fulfill his part of the bargain, along with others in Whitley who wish to protect their good fortune at all costs.

Lord of the Mountain is a chilling and disturbing story of the lengths people will go to in the name of greed.  The people of Whitley who go along with Pitch not only look the other the other way when these horrible crimes are committed, they become active participants in a blood-soaked ritual, all the while telling themselves that it’s for the good of the town.  Lord of the Mountain is a fantastically dark story that is very well-written with excellent character development. You will absolutely hate some of these people, while embracing others and feeling their despair as though they were real people.  The pacing is steady throughout and Ollie manages to carry the suspense and tension to the very end.  I loved the story and was thrilled with the completely unpredictable and unexpected ending.  Highly recommended.

Contains: graphic violence, adult language and sexual situations

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund




Midnight's Angels by Tony Richards

Dark Regions Press, 2011


Available: New

The town of Raine's Landing, Massachusetts was founded by witches fleeing Salem, in 1692 Now, under a curse that allows no one born within the town to leave, Raine's Landing is filled with magic users of all sorts; from those who just dabble, to great adepts whose every moment seems filled with spells. Ross Devries is a former cop, current trouble shooter, and one of the very few people in the town who does not use magic. When three mysterious objects fall from the sky, landing on the outskirts of town, Ross knows that there is going to be trouble. As glowing, winged creatures emerge and begin turning townsfolk into monsters, can Ross, his former sidekick Cassie, and just a handful of adepts, stop the coming darkness?

Midnight's Angels is the third book in the Raine's Landing series (following Dark Rain and Night Of Demons), but you don't need to have read the first two books to enjoy this one. While there are some plot threads from the previous books woven through the story, Richards makes sure you have all the information you need (Although, if the first two books are a good as this one, you may want to read them first).

"Non-stop action" is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, and though I have never read a book that actually lived up to that hype (there is always room to take a breath), Midnight’s Angels comes pretty close. The action starts strong and barely lets up. As a matter of fact, I was less than a quarter of the way through the story before I started trying to figure out how in the world Ross and Cassie (and friends) were going to be able to defeat a seemingly unstoppable menace. There is some downtime, but even that is filled with tension, as the darkness slowly flows through Raine's Landing.

Richards has crafted a wonderful town filled with fascinating characters. His writing is clear and precise, with wonderful dialogue. The backstory is interesting, but never overshadows the narrative. And many mysteries remain, for future stories in the Raine's Landing saga. I, for one, look forward to visiting again.

I highly recommend Midnight's Angels for libraries and fans alike.

Contains: Strong language and violence.

Reviewed by Erik Smith




Loss of Separation by Conrad Williams

Solaris, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-906735-56-2

Available: New



Reading Conrad Williams’ book Loss of Separation leaves one feeling unsettled. The story is unsettling enough that you will find yourself thinking about it for days after reading.  Paul Roan is an ex-airline pilot who, after moving to a coastal village with his girlfriend Tamara, is hit by a car while out walking. The car drives off leaving Paul to die. Discovered by Ruth, a resident of the village and a nurse, Paul is taken to the hospital where he undergoes extreme surgery to put his body back together. While the surgeries seem successful, Paul is tormented by the feeling that his skeleton is lurking just under the surface, waiting for a time when it can free itself of Paul’s outer form. Williams’ descriptions of Paul’s pain and his disjointedness, literally and figuratively, contribute to the disconcerting atmosphere of the story. I was made more aware of my own skeleton and the desire that it should stay put. Paul’s physical well-being is not the only thing that worries him. Tamara has disappeared and no trace of her has been found. Left with more than just these problems to contend with, Paul also discovers the village harbors a secret…The Craw. Recommended for horror fans and libraries alike.    

Contains: strong language, sexual situations

Reviewed by:  Brandi Blankenship


An Agreement with Hell by Dru Pagliassotti

Apex Book Company, 2011

ISBN: 0984553541

Available: New trade paperback and multiformat digital


An Agreement with Hell is an early comer in the new Biblical-mythos trend in fiction. Pagliassotti pits an aging priest, an aging Christian magician (in the Solomon sense) and a Walker Between Worlds (think a magical version of Neo from the Matrix, who sees reality differently than others and can use the doorways between worlds) against, not demons, but leviathans, creatures outside our dimension. These leviathans are summoned to a college campus when the seal holding them back is broken. From there Agreement is a voyage in shattered or horrific landscapes, where even the angels are creatures humans would not want to meet.

The concept of Pagliassotti's world is interesting, and that the "bad guys" aren't the demons or the angels is wryly amusing as this is a biblically-themed tale. But about halfway through the book character advancement seems to just stop, and what started as an interesting mystery jumps into standard horror novel fare. The addition of ineffective characters stumbling their way to heroism, and worse, the climactic scene of the whole book being told from the point of view of a character who not only has no clue about the mythos behind the story, but also cannot perceive the magic battle going on, just leaves a taste of ineffective storytelling in reader mouths. Given the stellar opening, I expected more out of the second half of the book than what was delivered.

Fans of unique horror and those fascinated by the juxtaposition of religion and horror will find this book to their tastes. Its place in libraries is difficult to determine. The subject matter makes it likely fuel for certain censor-happy types who will not appreciate the dark side of Christian legends. If angels and demons are what readers want, there are better stories out there, such as the Hellblazer graphic novel series.

Contains: gore


Reviewed by: Michele Lee




Alice on the Shelf by Bill Gauthier

Bad Moon Books, 2010

ISBN: 10: 0-9832211-1-1

Available:New Paperback and e-book (Kindle and Nook)

          Brad wakes up in the middle of the night, worried that something has happened to his close friend, Alice. Wait. Her name’s Amanda, isn’t it? He drives to her house to check on her, and instead he finds is a giant white rabbit lurking in the bushes. Brad follows the rabbit, and falls into a familiar literary fantasy world that has gone horribly wrong.


          As Brad searches for Amanda, he meets characters from Lewis Carroll’s stories, and a few assorted fairy tale denizens. While negotiating the difficult trip through Wonderland, Brad is constantly taunted and admonished by the critical voice in his head; it seems to be trying to tell him how ridiculous the whole thing is. Just when the reader is inclined to agree, the story twists into nightmarish scenes where characters become demonic, and some, including most of the main characters, are brutally slain.

          Brad’s quest to find his friend evolves into a journey of self examination and eventually leads to several revelations and a final battle with his own alter-ego, the Brad Hatter. Gauthier makes interesting statements on the mind of a writer, as well as the insecure pathos of a young divorced man.


          The parody of Alice is an effective foil for Gauthier’s sardonic humor, and provides ready-made characters to manipulate in truly bizarre ways. However, the story is not overly dependent on Lewis Carroll’s work; instead, Alice on the Shelf functions as a tribute, and a ghastly interpretation of the original. Recommended.


Contains: sexual content, drug references, mutilation, child-murder.


Reviewed by: Sheila Shedd




Laughing Boy’s Shadow by Steven Savile

Horror World, 2006

ISBN: 978-0979234606 (Book), ASIN: B003L77MN2 (Kindle)

Availble: New and Used

            The author of Laughing Boy’s Shadow, Steven Savile, wrote this book when he was twenty-five. In the years since he has written over forty novels, from original works to tie-in novels adapted from television and movie series (i.e. “Torchwood”, “Stargate SG-1”, Star Wars).

            Declan Shea is a struggling jazz pianist on his way home from a gig when he is involved in an automobile accident, striking a homeless man. In the weeks that follow, his life goes down a spiral of bleakness, despair, and hopelessness as the identity of the man reveals itself (sort of), and tragic events eventually affect his girlfriend and his family. Urban social issues are integral to the plot, and there are events that may evoke philosophical thought.

            As a reader, I understand that I cannot always be privy to all the secrets and reasoning of the supernatural. However, Malachi, the mysterious accident victim, is a major character, and it is never clear exactly what he is (The soul of the city? Its guardian?). The origin of the power of the antagonist, the Bird Man, is also confusing. These are minor quibbles, however, compared to the major flaw in the structure of Laughing Boy’s Shadow: because of its agonizingly slow, laborious beginning, the average reader won’t give this story a chance. Whatever the motivation was, the opening chapters do not capture the reader, but instead gum up the works with overblown descriptions and observations for characters we are not quite convinced to care about.

From pages 66 to 261, the story picks up and is good, even great. Savile replaces histrionics with action and does it well. The retribution scenes, when Declan goes on the rampage, are well-executed and well-paced. Unfortunately, the ending annoyingly returns the book to the haziness of its beginning.

I wish that the older, more mature Savile had reworked this book before its publication. In the afterword he mentions that he left the novel intact in deference to his younger self. If nothing else, though, he could have edited out the amateurish aspects, such as Declan’s observation, as he and his girlfriend are stalked by urban predators, that they need to “make like shepherds and get the flock out of there.” (When I read that line, I physically cringed.) 

Recommended for those of the Gothic subculture and twenty-somethings that like to philosophize around tables in coffee shops—they might have the patience for the ultra-dark, embellished beginning and would be entertained (along with the rest of us) by the remainder. 

Note: Crossroads Publishing just added the original forward by Gary Braunbeck to the e-book version, which includes interesting commentary about the nature of horror and what it means in a social context.


Reviewed by:  W. E. Zazo-Phillips



Shades of Green by Ian Woodhead

Smashwords, 2010


Available: Kindle ebook, Nook Book ebook


An ancient evil has come to the English town of Holburn.  Ernest, now grown, experienced this evil as a child and it scarred him for life.  Six years ago it once again touched another boy, Alan, and two of his friends.  Each boy unknowingly awoke that evil. Each was given special powers, but also suffered permanent mental disabilities. Ernest has spent most of his life in a mental hospital, and Alan has developed a severe form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.


Now Holburn is transforming into some weird otherworldly jungle landscape.  Most of the population has transformed into wild, hungry beasts.  A handful of survivors are left wondering what is happening, how far it has spread and if they can do anything to stop it.  Only Ernest and Alan know what’s going on.  Ernest wishes to fuel the hungry evil and Alan wants to stop it.  While Ernest knows what’s happening and wants it to grow, Alan knows how to end the evil entity’s influence and is determined to stop what’s happening in Holburn, with the help of.his younger brother. Who will win in this battle of wills?


Shades of Green is a very good story with an interesting premise.  Character development was excellent and the visual descriptions of this new jungle landscape and the resulting creatures are vivid and beautiful.  For the most part, the story flows quite well, although there were times I felt it was a bit disjointed.  That was not enough to keep me from enjoying Shades of Green and Ian Woodhead’s writing, though.  Overall, the prose is very tight and engaging.  I thoroughly enjoyed the ending….no nice neat little bow, which is how horror should be. Recommended.


Contains: violence, gore, violence against animals, adult language and sexual situations


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund




Valley of the Scarecrow by Gord Rollo

Leisure, May 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1428511095

Available: Pre-order


A small Iowa town has a dark past tracing back to the 1930s. While other neighboring communities fell victim to drought and disease that plagued the Midwest, Miller’s Grove continued to thrive; crops swelled and their leader, Reverend Joshua Miller, believes all thanks belongs to him. Instead of sharing the bounty, he gouges the neighboring communities for every bit of cash and gold they own as payment for his endless supply of grain. When his followers witness the Reverend’s devilish dealings, they cut their ties to the devil by stringing the Reverend to a cross inside their church, boarding him up inside, and abandoning the town.


Now, in present day Cedar Rapids, Iowa, rumors of Miller’s Grove have resurfaced. Kelly Tucker learns that her grandfather bore witness to the events of 1936- and also learns of the gold and jewels reportedly stashed away. Against her grandfather’s vehement protests, Kelly decides to seek the treasure. Kelly and her friends set out to find Miller’s Grove and its hidden treasure, stumble upon the church, and discover a still-bountiful cornfield. Their search turns up far more than they bargained for when they awaken the Reverend Joshua Miller, still tied to the cross, and very, very angry with his lost flock of followers. Instead of finding the treasure, Kelly and her friends need to find a way out of the woods and to safety before the Reverend takes a sickle to their necks.


Valley of the Scarecrow reminds me of the perfect 80s horror flick; a sort of twisted combination of the Children of the Corn meets Michael Meyers in Halloween. It even reads just like an 80s horror flick, from the oversexed teenagers who always do exactly what they shouldn’t do and get killed for it, to the lone teenager survivor, to the “oh-my-God-no-way”! death and dismemberment scenes. The tale can be a bit predictable at times, but that’s what always made 80s horror flicks so great, too. You know exactly what’s going to happen and want to scream at the characters not to do it, but of course, they don’t listen. And just with any good 80s horror movie, in Valley of the Scarecrow, the tale ends with the Reverend angrier than ever and ready for more blood – leaving the plot wide open for a sequel. I thoroughly enjoyed Valley of the Scarecrow and look forward to more of Gord Rollo’s horrific tales in the future.


Recommended for adult horror fiction collections in public libraries.


Contains: sexual content, graphic language, gore, violence


Reviewed by: Kelly Fann


By Wizard Oak by Peter Crowther

Earthling Publications, 2011

ISBN: 9780979505485

Available: Pre-order (Feb, 2011)

By Wizard Oak is Earthling Publications’ annual Halloween title.  The little town of Magellan Bend was once besieged by witches on a Halloween’s eve.  Parents had their children taken away and eaten before their very eyes.  Years later the witches have returned to Magellan Bend, and terror spreads in their wake.   It is up to a young man just waking from a coma, a young lady who has stayed by his side and a grandmother to save the day.


By Wizard Oak taps into two different fears quite effectively- first, of being erased, forgotten by family and friends with no hints of your existence; and second, of having a loved one taken away from you, never to be remembered.  Crowther’s witches are vile creatures that play with their prey and easily top the most horrific creatures out there.  The book starts in a disjointed manner, and the reader initially struggles to get an idea of what exactly is happening. It is disorienting, but you immediately get the idea that things are amiss, although you will fail to truly comprehend until you delve deeper into the book. 


I would recommend By Wizard Oak, but readers should be aware that there is lots or urinating, sexual imagery, cannibalism, and language that that might make a sailor or two blush.    It is a creative twist for Halloween readers, and an interesting and creepy tale for a night’s read.


Note: Kelly Fann gives us a second look at By Wizard Oak by Peter Crowther.


Eight years ago, an All Hallow’s Eve parade filled with hungry witches devours the children of Magellan Bend as the townsfolk look on, laugh, and seem not to care . That’s the power of the witches: they come for your children, hungry and ready to feed, and then wipe out all traces of their existence with the blink of an eye, with none the wiser. That is, until Jeremy DePlage wakes up from an eight-year coma remembering exactly what happened to everyone that fateful day. With Jeremy’s awakening, the witches are back, and ready to finish off the town.


By Wizard Oak is a unique tale. Crowther puts a different spin on the practices of witches and creates an incredibly terrifying depiction of their abilities, capabilities, needs and wants. He alters our view of what is real, and what is not, and reminds us why Halloween is, and should be, the most frightening of nights. Crowther has brought back the scary witches with hideously disfigured faces, grotesque sights and smells, and their flair for dark magic, and he’s brought them back with a vengeance.


Recommended for a public library’s adult horror collections.


Contains: cannibalism, sexual content, graphic language, frequent scenes of urination and other bodily functions.


Reviewed by: Kelly Fann



Mandrake by Oliver Sherry

Medusa Press, 2010

ISBN: 9780972532440

Available: new

             Mandrake by Oliver Sherry tells the tale of Tom Annesley, who is investigating a missing persons case in two small towns in England. He finds that the villages are being terrorized by Baron Hybdymos and his creation, known in the book as the Mandrake.   Annesley, who is familiar with the world of the occult, is determined to stop the Baron.     Despite being written in the 1920s, Mandrake holds up very well with contemporary equivalents like the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher.  The only eye-rolling moment is when Annesley and Ethel Darrington suddenly find themselves in love with each other.

The other thing that must be mentioned about this book is the treatment of the publishing of the book by Medusa Press. The book has a gorgeous, cloth-bound cover,  and the attention to detail taken in the book’s production is clear.  While Mandrake is a limited edition, libraries who have the capability will want to consider adding it their collection.   Mandrake is an excellent example of a wonderful tale, lost to the public for years, and has also received excellent treatment by Medusa. Highly recommended.

Contains: Gore, violence.



Behind the Stained Glass by Keith Gouveia

LK Publishing, 2010

Available: New

ISBN: 9781453856369


Reggie, a 14-year-old orphan who has been living in foster homes for as long as he could remember, is sent from his home in Florida to a new orphanage in Virginia, St. Martin’s Children’s Home, housed in a former church. Jackie Sullivan, the woman who runs the place, takes very good care of the children in her charge, and only about a dozen kids are living there.  Reggie seems to have gotten a lucky break.

On his first night there, Reggie hears a voice asking for help, so he goes looking for its source.  He finds no one, and is subsequently told by the other boys that it’s probably a ghost.  They also tell him about Chloe, a girl they believe ran away from St. Martin’s.  In a bold plan, Reggie and the boys steal the keys from Jackie and go into the locked room at the top of the stairs.  They enter a room that belonged to Father Murphy, who ran the church.  Dominating this room is a huge and odd stained glass window depicting a purple demon.  Things get bizarre when a book jumps off the desk by itself, open to a particular journal entry.  Things go from bad to worse when Reggie and another boy are drawn into the window and into a strange world created by the demon Thearn. 

This is a great novella by Gouveia.  The story moves at a quick pace, though character development for the most part keeps up.  Gouveia manages to create a colorful but dangerous world inside the stained glass, with amazing imagery that is suitably scary.  While the main characters are children, the story has enough meat to it to keep adult readers happy.  Recommended.

Contains nothing objectionable

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund




Merkabah Rider: Tales of a High Planes Drifter by Edward M. Erdelac
Damnation Books, 2009
ISBN: 978-1615720606
Available: New


The first book in Erdelac’s Merkabah Rider series introduces us to The Rider, the last of an ancient order or Jewish mystics, who seeks out his rouge mentor, Adon, to exact revenge. Erdelac tells The Rider’s tale in four episodes as The Rider traverses the land in search of Adon. Each story casts a glimpse into The Rider’s past and the powers bestowed upon him as a mystic as he battles demons and villainous humans.  In “Blood Libel”, The Rider attempts to save a Jewish settlement from a demonic cult’s stronghold. “Dust Devils” has The Rider fighting against strong voodoo magic and a killer dust storm. The dust storm is traded for a snow storm in “Hell’s Hired Gun”, and the last tale, “The Nightjar Women,” unveils the daughters of Lilith in a demonic bordello.

    The Merkabah Rider has strong similarities to Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, but Erdelac’s tale holds its own and travels in a completely different direction.  Fans of The Gunslinger will likely enjoy the Merkabah Rider.

    Erdelac never fails to amaze and captivate me with his writing. The tales within Merkabah Rider are rich with description, with thoroughly engaging characters and fast-paced dialogue, all rife with terrifying imagery and horrific forms of evil, an emergent trademark of Erdelac’s. If purchased, I recommend purchasing both this title as well as the second in the series, Merkabah Rider: The Mensch With No Name, as the first book leaves the reader at a bit of a cliffhanger. These titles would work well in a public library adult horror collection. Recommended for fans of surreal, bizarre westerns looking for a taste of horror as well as steampunk and bizzaro fiction fans.

Contains:  Gore, violence and sexual themes

Reviewed by: Kelly Fann




Merkabah Rider: The Mensch With No Name by Edward M. Erdelac
Damnation Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1615721900

Available: New

The second book in Erdelac’s Merkabah Rider series contains four more episodes of The Rider’s travels through the American Southwest in the late 1800s as he tracks down Adon, his former mentor, who has betrayed their ancient order of Jewish mystics.  The Mensch With No Name picks up right where Tales of a High Planes Drifter left off with four episodes of frightening adversaries bent on the destruction of The Rider. While all episodes are worth reading, “The Damned Dingus” left me wide-eyed with fright as Erdelac unraveled a tale of an invisible monster living deep within a cave in Elk Mountain that takes extreme joy in ripping the flesh from all living beings that are unfortunate enough to cross its path.

    Merkabah Rider: The Mensch With No Name is my fourth Erdelac book, and he continues to stimulate my mind with well-researched topics, powerful writing, and his other-worldly imagination. He truly is a frightful joy to read.  If chosen to add to the collection, this title should be purchased in conjunction with the first in the series, Merkabah Rider: Tales of a High Planes Drifter, as the first book provides much-needed background information. The second in the series has a brief recap, but not enough to understand the full backstory. These titles would work well in a public library adult horror collection. Recommended for fans of surreal, bizarre westerns looking for a taste of horror as well as steampunk and bizzaro fiction fans.

Contains: Gore, violence and sexual themes.

Reviewed by: Kelly Fann


Ouroboros by Michael Kelly and Carol Weekes
Dark Regions Press, 2010
ISBN: 978-1888993868

Available: New

    Mick and Robbi Hamlin live next door to Tom and Dolly Christiansen. They are not just neighbors, but  are also long time best friends. That friendship quickly unravels after Dolly's death. Try as they might, Mick and Robbi are unable to break Tom out of his cycle of despair. Tom wants time alone to grieve, and shuts his long-time friends out. Unable to cope with the loss of his wife of 35 years, Tom succumbs to his heartbreak, inviting in ancient, mystic forces that are beyond his control.

    An unknown child begins to appear around Tom's house. Birds and other wild animal life congregate around his property, attacking Mick if he tries to interfere. Ghostly figures appear in second floor windows, and Tom is heard speaking to someone, when no one should be around. In concern for his friend, Mick seeks to help Tom in any way he can, but only succeeds in creating a deeper chasm in their friendship. In one last ditch effort, Mick bears witness to more than he bargains for inside the Christiansen home.

    While not lengthy,, Ouroboros is by no means a quick read. Emphasizing ancient Eastern philosophies, Kelly and Weekes have crafted an extremely deep tale of love and friendship, loss and heartache, and the cycle of life and death. Ouroboros forces readers to contemplate their own relationships and mortality in a truly provocative way. If purchased, this would work well in an adult horror collection within a public library setting.

Contains: scenes of mild violence and gore.
Reviewed by: Kelly Fann



The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin
Doubleday, 2010
ISBN-10: 0385533438

Available: New

    Nicholas Close is still recovering from the unexpected death of his beloved wife. Since her passing he’s had the gift of seeing the undead, reenacting the last moments of their tragic deaths. Seeking comfort, he heads to his childhood home of Tallong, Australia. Instead, he’s forced to witness the death of his childhood friend over and over again- a death that should have been his own. He also sees spirits of several other children around the same age. Looking back through the town’s history Nicholas notices a pattern of deaths of children. Slowly he begins to realize there was a reason he didn’t die as he should have, all those decades ago. He was meant to serve a purpose... a horrid & dark path was made for him.

    The Dead Path is the debut novel of Australian author Stephen M. Irwin. Irwin displays immense talent for a “rookie”. The story he wove was intricately detailed and chilled me to the bone. His writing is reminiscent of that of Stephen King & Peter Straub, quite descriptive and full of intensity. At the onset, Irwin makes it seem as though this book is simply about a case of child murders, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The Dead Path is not a book for the faint of heart. Parts are quite dark, disturbing & graphic, but these traits really make this book what it is: an astoundingly chilling piece of horror fiction. Fans of King & Straub will definitely enjoy it. Highly Recommended!
Review by Jennifer Lawrence


The Faithful by Jonathan Weyer
Brio Press, 2010
ISBN-10: 0982668708
Available: New

    Aiden is an assistant pastor at a Presbyterian church in Columbus, Ohio. His parishioners rely on him for his strength and faith, but lately he’s been questioning that faith. His faith is tested even more when he learns his mentor is having an affair. When Aiden’s ex-girlfriend, Amanda, is killed in a ritualistic murder,he becomes part of the investigation, first as a suspect and then as a resource. At the same time, unnatural things begin happening around town. Bare footprints appear in the snow, and a parishioner begins to have prophetic dreams. During his investigation with Detective Jennifer Brown, Aiden learns about a group called The Faithful, ghost hunters led by Father Neal, an Episcopal priest. When Aiden accompanies them on a ghost hunt, he gets a first hand experience with the supernatural. The spirits are attracted to Aiden, the reason unknown.

    The Faithful is the ultimate tale of good versus evil. Weyer is a fresh new voice in the genre of religious horror, and has written the perfect combination of a supernatural thriller and Christian fiction. The storyline is compelling and unique, weaving the supernatural and religion together in a completely new and original way. While it’s obvious that religion plays a key role, it is not overwhelming or engrossing. What I particularly enjoyed about this book was, although it is described as horror, it’s not gruesome or gory, but still chills you to the bone. Highly recommended!

Contains: Reviewed by: Jennifer Lawrence


Sherlock Holmes - The Impossible Cases by Daniel McGachey

Dark Regions Press, 2010

ISBN: 1-978888993790

Available: New


         It is the 19th of February, 2009. An American couple is renovating a cottage they purchased in Sussex Downs as a holiday home. While in their process of renovation they happen upon a rather large, old metal box with a famous name painted upon the lid, "Dr. Watson".  After a ceremonial opening and examination the box is seen to contain many bound documents, scrapbooks and bulky envelopes inscribed with the instruction, " To remain unopened during both of our lifetimes".
Thus begins our journey into the uncanny, supernatural, and until now...undiscovered cases of the great detective Mr. Sherlock Holmes with our narrator  and his trusted friend, Dr. John H. Watson.

        Follow them into a world of horrifying parasitic worms, seances and cursed ancient burial mounds~where even the impossible seems possible.
What really grabbed me about this novel was Daniel McGachey's ability to sucessfully recreate the atmosphere of Doyle's Holmes and Watson.  The language, and the well formed plots all serve to pull you into the world of Sherlock Holmes and truly transport you to another place and time.
Highly Recommended:  Public and High School libraries, also the personal libraries of anyone who is a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  You will not be disappointed.

Contains:  Perilous situations, some mild violence.

Review by:  Rhonda Walton


The Fall of Hades by Jeffrey Thomas

Dark Regions Press, 2010


Available: New

In the remains of a post-apocalyptic world, thoroughly devastated from battles between angels, demons, and rebellious groups of damned souls who refuse to accept their fate, a young woman suffering from amnesia sets out to explore what remains of Hell, her past, and herself.  Vee is alone in her quest, except for a gun that talks, a gun that can help her find the answers she seeks, a gun she names Jay.
        Thomas creates a remarkably vivid world, far, far beyond the standard Christian descriptions of heaven and hell, demons and angels.  His hell is networked, with elements of cyber activity and life, but for all its connectivity, the reader is overwhelmed by the sense of abandonment, solitude and sheer loneliness that Vee faces in her surroundings.  The Fall of Hades questions mortality, morality, and religious expectations. Through straightforward narration, incredible character and plot development, and some flat-out bizarre settings, Jeffrey Thomas has developed a truly fantastic read.

This particular book can be read without having read Thomas’ prior Hades works, but as the author notes, it will enhance the reader’s experience to read his other works as well.  The Fall of Hades will be great in a horror or bizarro fiction collection in a public library.

Contains: violence, gore
Review by Kelly Fann

Erik Smith has done a second look at The Fall of Hades and here is his review.


After centuries as a prisoner in Hell, a young woman finds herself free, naked, and alone, with no memory of who she is. She takes the name Vee and meets a demonic, talking gun, whom she names Jay. With her new companion, she begins her tour of a war-ravaged Hades, meeting demons, the damned, and formerly angelic humans, who help her to piece together the story of what happened to Hell and to recover her shattered memory.


The Fall Of Hades is the fourth in Jeffrey Thomas' series on hell, but you don't have to have read the previous three to enjoy this stand alone novel. A self-contained story of damnation and redemption, Fall is a wildly demented ride through a post-apocalyptic afterworld. All of the action takes place in "The Construct", a place that was formerly a demon manufacturing city, but now a maze of multi-leveled buildings, buried under hardened lava (formerly the sky of Hell). As Vee searches for answers, she constructs a new persona, to replace that which she has lost. When she finally learns who she really is, she must decide if that is who she now wants to be. Thomas has created an intriguing protagonist, one who learns about herself at the same time as the reader. She is a strong woman attempting to navigate through a horrifying world, where danger lurks in every shadow. Hades, as written by Thomas, is a desolate city landscape, akin to a giant factory, in which the "good guys" are just as dangerous as the "bad guys".


The writing is crisp and clean and the narrative flies at a rapid pace. While the story initially reminded me of Edward Lee's Inferno series, Thomas takes Hell and makes it his own. Alll of the horror is just a backdrop for Vee's tale of self-discovery. This is a road trip from the bowels of Hell to the top of The Construct, and Vee must fight every step of the way, for her life, her memory, and her soul. Thomas certainly makes her work for it. There are twists and turns, friendships and betrayals, love and death.

For fans (and libraries) looking for something a little different, something more than vampires, werewolves, and zombies, something with a little more depth, I recommend The Fall Of Hades.

Contains: Violence, string language, sexual situations.

Reviewed by:  Erik Smith



Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0312303785

Available: New


    Jennifer Crusie is one of my favorite authors. Usually she writes contemporary romance, starring strong women, close friendships, witty dialogue, crazy humor, eccentric secondary characters, good food, and incredible chemistry between the main characters. In Maybe This Time she has written an atmospherically creepy, sometimes terrifying ghost story that has almost all of these things. The romance, however, falls flat, or at least it did for me. I think that’s because Crusie isn’t really writing a romance. She is writing a ghost story.


    The story begins with Andie returning her uncashed alimony checks to her ex-husband, North, ten years after their divorce, in an effort to cut all ties to him before she remarries. Instead, she ends up agreeing to take charge of his two wards, living in isolation in a mansion in southern Ohio after their Aunt May’s death, for ten thousand dollars. She arrives to find the house in disrepair, two uncooperative children, and a creepy and controlling housekeeper. Also, the house is haunted, and the ghosts have staked claims on the children, Alice and Carter. Alice is dramatic, angry, and loud, and she gets most of Andie’s attention. Carter is stoic, silent, and prone to setting fires, and fades into the background. As Andie sets about trying to gain their trust, she begins to notice unsettling things. She is visited in her dreams by someone who might be a younger version of herself, or might be the ghost of the children’s Aunt May, who was pushed over the banister and killed by the house’s other ghosts.  To complicate things even more, North’s brother Southie shows up with a reporter he’s dating and her cameraman, a skeptical parapsychologist, and an over-the-top medium with a spirit guide named Harold. They’re followed by Andie’s former fiancé Will, both North's and Andie’s mothers (polar opposites who intensely dislike each other), and finally North, with a private detective determined to prove that there is another explanation for everything that’s happening that does not include ghosts. Except that there really are ghosts. They feed on emotion, so they’re getting stronger, and everyone is trapped in the house together.


    Somewhere in there Andie and North remember that they used to love each other, and decide that they can make it work again. Yet, their relationship dynamic doesn’t seem to have changed in their ten years apart.  She’s unconventional, a wanderer. He’s a workaholic who put work and his family before her.  The main difference is that Andie is willing to change herself for him, something I didn’t like at all. It made it hard for me to cheer for their happy ending. But Andie and North are not really the focus of the book. It’s more what Crusie doesn’t say that drives the book than what she does say.  Alice and Carter’s close relationship, Carter’s interior world, May’s desperation to hang onto life and love, ghosts that are almost purely need… these are the things that drive the story.


    Crusie is a skilled writer who I think let herself be constricted by the structure of the typical romance novel and the expectations of readers familiar with her other work.  Laugh out loud funny in some places and terrifying in others, Maybe This Time offers up a compelling, if flawed, ghost story with a good dose of humor and some very human moments. I wish I could tell you more about what I loved about this book, but it’s impossible without giving the ending away.  Journey over to the romance aisle and find yourself a copy-even if you’ve never been there before, it’s worth the trip. Highly recommended for public libraries and readers of ghost stories. Librarians may want to note for Crusie fans that this is a ghost story, though, and not a paranormal romance.



Demons Among Us By W.E. Zazo-Phillips

K Studio,  2010

ISBN: 978-0984194520

Available: New


            Demons Among Us is the first book in a trilogy. The story follows Elizabeth Townsend, a Coast Guard officer serving on the cutter Surveyor when the end of the world occurs.  What appears to be a virus has attacked a boy in Albany.  When a priest is called in by his mother who fears it’s actually a demon possession, the demons infecting the boy discover they can move from person to person through blood.  They spread like wildfire and civilization is brought to the brink of extinction, with the infected running in packs like wild animals killing everyone it their path.  Elizabeth and her crewmates are brought to a secure facility so they can contact any surviving family members and make preparations to be taken to the West.


            Five years after the infection, Elizabeth is living in a commune in the desert.  Run by what’s left of the U.S. Military, the commune is one of many scattered throughout the Western United States. The communes are segregated according to gender, with the main job of the women being reproduction.  We discover that Elizabeth is a sensor—someone who can detect an infected person.  Unfortunately for her, there are people in the remaining government who wish to exploit that ability.  While at a major conference, Elizabeth discovers this plot to use her, and decides to go on the run.  Unknown to most of the people living in the communes, there are scattered communities of uninfected people living beyond the reach of the military.  What will Elizabeth find?


            This is a brilliant story—demon possession that spreads like a virus.  It’s not overtly religious, but there are references to Christianity, with the communes being named after books of the Bible, and the Biblical quote “I am Legion…we are many”.  There are also people who can make holy water, which rids the demons from the body without killing the possessed.  The characters are well-developed and the story itself is well-written.  I also enjoyed the fact that our “hero” is a strong female.  There are a few mysteries left to be played out, which really holds my interest.  There are two other novellas to come, and I am looking forward to reading them.  Demons Among Us is quite the page-turner.

Highly recommended.


Contains: adult language, cannibalism and sexual themes

Review by Colleen Wanglund




Black and Orange by Benjamin Kane Ethridge

Bad Moon Books, 2010


Available: New

    Imagine another dimension just on the other side of our world, the Old Domain. People from the Old Domain have crossed into our world through secret gateways for centuries and lived among us. There are people in both our world and in the Old Domain who want to permanently open a gateway that will join the two worlds, destroying most of ours. The Messenger will not let that happen, and with the help of the Nomads he (or she) fights every Halloween to see that it doesn’t happen.

    The Nomads have the blood of the Old Domain in them, and this gives them the power to create mantles with their minds. These mantles can be for protection or destruction. Every Halloween, the Day of Opening, the Heart of the Harvest is born into our world. It is a heart whose love knows no bounds. The Church of Midnight in our world, and the Church of Morning in the Old Domain need the Heart of the Harvest to feed Chaplain Cloth’s children so that the gateway can be opened. It is the Nomads’ job to protect the Heart from being taken. When the Nomads are chosen by the Messenger they must cut all ties with family and friends, and constantly be on the move.

    Last Halloween the Nomads Martin and Teresa lost the Heart of the Harvest to the gateway. This year they must protect the Heart at all costs, because this may be the year that the gateway is fully and permanently opened. This Halloween, Archbishop Sandeus Pager, Bishop Cole Szerszen and Bishop Paul Quintana, of the Church of Midnight, are determined to take the Heart, with the help of the Church of Morning’s Priestess, and open the gateway to join worlds and Churches. However, Church politics and personal agendas may play a larger role in what happens this year than what anyone could have anticipated. Can Martin and Teresa protect the Heart of the Harvest?

    Benjamin Kane Ethridge has written a wonderful story combining both horror and fantasy. His character development is perfect without getting sidetracked from the main story and his descriptions of everything from the Old Domain to Cloth’s children allow for some great visuals for the reader. What I’m really impressed with is how Black and Orange held my interest throughout even when I thought I knew what was coming, because Benjamin effortlessly takes the reader through multiple twists and leaves you guessing until the very end. I highly recommend Black and Orange to fantasy and horror fans alike.

Review by Colleen  Wanglund


A Gathering of Crows by Brian Keene

Lesire Books, 2010

ISBN: 9780843960921

Available: Pre-order

    Small and quiet, Brinkley Springs, West Virginia is a dying town.  People move out and no one ever moves in.  Houses go up for sale, but no one comes along and buys them.  Tonight five strangers will pay a visit to Brinkley Springs, and they will commit atrocities the people of this town have never seen.  Will anyone be left in the morning to tell what happened?
    Five crows come to the mountain above Brinkley Springs and turn into human-like figures clad in black.  Everything they touch on their way down the mountain dies.  The animals that sense their presence kill themselves rather than allow the ancient evil they feel to get them first.  These five beings are on a mission for their master.  They will go house to house killing every living creature in Brinkley Springs—people, pets, livestock, all of it.  What the five don’t anticipate is the presence of someone who knows the old ways of magic and knows about what the five are.  Levi Stoltzfus just happened to stop for the night on his way to Virginia Beach.  Maybe he was meant to be in Brinkley Springs on this very night.  A handful of people have been able to elude the five strangers, but not for long.  Can they defeat the evil that has come here?
    Brian Keene has done it again.  He starts the mayhem and murder in chapter one and it doesn’t quit until the final page.  He tells a fantastic story of magic and evil with a bit of history thrown into the mix.  His character development is perfect—the reader gets a great sense of who these people are, with one exception.  Levi Stoltzfus is a bit of a mystery.  We do get a sense of who he is, but are teased with pieces of his past.  He was initially introduced in Keene’s previous books Ghost Walk and Dark Hollow and according to Keene we will be seeing more of Levi.  Overall this is a great read; Brian Keene has one hell of an imagination.  I highly recommend A Gathering of Crows.  I have enjoyed other books by Brian Keene in the past and look forward to more of his wonderful stories.
Blood and gore; some foul language.
Colleen Wanglund


Siren by John Everson

Leisure, 2010

ISBN: 9780843963540

Available: New and Used

    Having lost his son to the ocean, Evan now walks the beach each night trying to deal with his sorrow and guilt.  One night he hears singing and, seeking out its origin, he sees a naked woman in the ocean.  Once spotted, she slips off under the ocean waves, and Evan fears she has drowned.  If only he could’ve been so lucky!  Instead, the next night Evan finds her singing again in the same spot, and a sordid affair begins as he returns to see her night after night.   Needing to tell someone about this woman who has made him do things he thought impossible, Evan turns to his friend Bill, who tells him that it sounds like he is dating The Siren.  Laughing this off, Evan continues his affair until he realizes that there may have been some truth in what Bill had told him.  Having already fallen in love with his “water wife”, Evan has some tough decisions ahead of him.  Decisions that could potentially make worse the grief he had been trying to soothe all along.
    This latest release from John Everson shows him broadening his horizons, as Siren contains neither demons nor any extremely graphic sexual scenes like his previous titles.  However, Siren could be Everson’s scariest novel to date, as some of the fears and challenges Evan has to face throughout the story are things that COULD happen.  This is also an emotional title, as the main backbone of the story is the loss of a child.  There is no greater fear to a parent than that loss, so immediately the reader will sympathize with Evan’s character.  Everson not only plays on the emotional fears of his readers, but he also has created a side story that allows readers to learn more about the background of Ligeia, and what she is capable of.  The flashback sections of Siren are creepy in themselves, but also make the reader fear for Evan’s present day situation.  The siren is one spine-chilling woman and John Everson uses that to his advantage to scare the hell out of his readers!  Highly recommended!
Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Sex, Violence, Mild Gore
Review by Rhonda WIlson


Book of Shadows by Alexandra Sokoloff

St. Martin's Press,  2010

ISBN: 978312384715

Available: New

    Detective Adam Garret is on the fast track in the Boston police department when a terrible murder shocks the city. Garret leads the investigation, hoping to use it as a springboard to a promotion, as well as being driven to catch a predator stalking the streets. After solid police work leads to an arrest, Garret just has to take care of the paperwork. But when Tanith Cabarrus, a self-proclaimed witch, walks into the station proclaiming that the wrong man has been arrested, and that there are more bodies out there, with more on the way, Garret's world is turned upside down, and his Catholic upbringing runs straight into a supernatural world that he never imagined.
    If Book of Shadows doesn't make Alexandra Sokoloff a household name, something is very wrong. It is one of the most compelling stories I have read in quite some time. I spent far too many nights staying up much too late, wanting to know where the story would take me next. Adam Garret is a wonderful leading man who dominates the book. He is a down-to-earth detective with high ambitions, as well as a lapsed Irish Catholic who begins to question what he knows of the world when the supernatural encroaches on his investigation. Garret's partner, Carl Landauer, breaks the mold of the stereotypical overweight, chain-smoking detective. He has his partner’s back, even when he disagrees with what Garret is doing. Throw in an overbearing, ultra-religious boss, and a social climbing D.A. girlfriend, and Sokoloff has a great cast on the 'official" side of the story.
When Tanith Cabarrus is introduced, Sokoloff takes us from a well-written mystery novel into a slightly off- kilter supernatural thriller. Or does she? Sokoloff uses many tactics to make us question whether the "magic" we see is truly magic or just sleight of hand, hypnotism, and drugs. Tanith's natural spiritualism is a nice counterpoint to Garret's "real" world. Is Tanith really a witch, or is she a charlatan? Does she truly want to help, or is she insinuating herself into the investigation for her own underhanded reasons? Sokoloff keeps us guessing until the end.
    Sokoloff beautifully depicts Massachusetts’ autumn, as Halloween approaches. The descriptive passages flow smoothly, never slowing down the action. The language is poetic without being flowery, and I could almost hear the crackling leaves and smell the scents on the breeze. The action scenes are fraught with tension. I found myself holding the book tightly, flipping the pages faster and faster. Compelling barely describes the pace. Anyone looking for a good mystery, a good scare, great characters...look no further. The highest recommendation for libraries and, well, everyone.
Contains: Strong language, violence, some gore, and sexual situations.
Review by Erik Smith


Sideshow by William Ollie
Dark Regions Press 2010
New Paperback 212 pages
ISBN 978-1-888993-83-7
              On an empty field in Pottsboro, South Carolina, a Ferris wheel rises, seemingly out of nowhere.   A black cloud appears into the blue sky above town, and leaves many of the men mesmerized.  Hannibal Cobb’s Kansas City Carnival has come to town, but it is a carnival unlike any other.
Justin Henry rides out to the field with Mickey Reardon to see if the Ferris wheel is real.  What they end up seeing that afternoon couldn’t actually have happened.  The two thirteen-year-old friends decide to go back later that night, as do the same people who were entranced by the black cloud.  They want to know what other tricks Hannibal Cobb has up his sleeve.  What they experience is the best of every carnival they’ve ever been too….almost too perfect.  Justin and Mickey meet Hannibal Cobb in the Sideshow tent where he gets Mickey to make a wish, but Justin is wary and begins to doubt what he sees around him.  Hours after they’ve left the carnival, Mickey’s wish comes true.  Well, you’ve heard the saying ‘careful what you wish, you just might get it’?  
              The protagonists may be thirteen years old but this is not a story for children.  William Ollie has taken a very dark part of American history and turned it into a modern horror story.  Justin and Mickey take us through most of Sideshow.  It is through their eyes that we see the “too perfect” carnival and it’s described with such detail you can almost smell the corndogs and funnel cake.  There is a dark purpose for the carnival that Justin and Mickey were not meant to see.  For those that the carnival is meant for, including some very prominent citizens of Pottsboro, they each see what they want to see….their own “perfect” carnival experience.  It soon becomes their own personal nightmares.  It’s time for payback for good men doing some not so good things to people, as well as for the things that happened many years ago in the very same field the carnival sits on now. There were some cool surprises but what I really liked was the fact that I didn’t see the purpose for the carnival coming.  Sideshow is a brilliant story that I recommend to any horror fan.  Highly recommended.
Contains adult language, sex, violence and gore.
Review by Colleen Wanglund


The Labyrinth Of The Dead by Sara M. Harvey
Apex Publications, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-984553-0-1
Available: New
    Portia Gyony shares her body with an angel, and that gives her power. Power she will need when she enters the underworld to save the soul of her lover, Imogen. Assaulted on all sides by dark forces, Portia must use every tool in her bag of tricks not only to survive, and save Imogen, but to stop the underworld from taking over the world of the living. Can Portia find her way through The Labyrinth OfThe Dead?
The Labyrinth Of The Dead is book two of a "steampunk novella trilogy" (The Convent Of The Pure is the first book) but stands on its own as a thrilling story of the power of love and the dark forces that would use that love for their own evil purposes. While there are a few things that will be fleshed out for you if you read the first book first, all you really need to know is right here. The characters are full-blooded and compelling, even the bad guys, who are deliciously evil. Sara M. Harvey has built two worlds, the steampunk "real" world (of which we see little in this installment), and the world of the dead, a frightful place  filled with horrific creatures who clamor for lost souls, the coin of the realm. Harvey writes cleanly and with style. The story moves at a good clip, but never sacrifices character for action. The love that Portia has for Imogen pours out of every page. But there is more to the story than lost love. Everything, and everyone, comes together at the end for a cliffhanger that has me waiting breathlessly for the next installment. The Labyrinth Of The Dead is a great chapter in what could prove to be a fantastic trilogy. Highly recommended.
Contains: Violence and horror imagery
Review by Erik Smith

Creatures of the Pool by Ramsey Campbell

Leisure Books,2010

ISBN: 9781428508415

Available: New

There is no denying that Campbell’s writing is head and shoulders above the vast majority of his peers. You’d be hard pressed to find a more elegant writer of dark fiction. If there’s a fault in Creatures of the Pool it is that the characters seem almost secondary. This is a novel about a place, Liverpool to be exact. You will find within the ins and outs, overs and unders of this murky, dark landscape, brought to life through the magnificence of Campbell’s unique voice. With a deft hand, the author brings the dark underbelly to life and instills in the reader an unnerving feeling, an uneasiness, as he leads you into a tenebrous black of subtle terror that will linger with you long after the book has been closed. Be aware, though: while I really liked this book, it is not for everyone. Far from it.

Review by Bob Freeman



Strange Magic by Gord Rollo a

Dark Regions Press, 2009


Available: New

Surprising, disturbing, and sometimes heart wrenching, Strange Magic is an ambitious tale that follows Wilson Kemp through the despair of his many failures and the bitter depths of alcoholism. Kemp is wonderfully wrought, a completely broken character who is at once easily pitied. Kemp’s life has spiraled out of control. He is suffering through a broken marriage, substance abuse, and the weight of a tragic past. Rollo masterfully traverses this fractured landscape, dragging the reader easily along as Kemp, faced with a horrific nemesis, is forced to rise above his self-loathing to redeem himself, and ultimately to confront the evil menace of the Stranger. Captivating and chilling, Strange Magic is a real page turner sure to excite even the most callous fans of dark literature.

Review by Bob Freeman



Demon Legacy by Kelly Brigham

Damnation Books, 2009
ISBN: 978-1615720453

Available: New

In Kelly Brigham’s Demon Legacy, the ever-present battle of good versus evil has taken center stage in one troubled family. This battle, however, goes beyond the dysfunctional interfamily relationships of siblings Jared, Lewis, and Monica. The entire fate of the modern world rests on their choices, pitting brother against brother, with their sister straddling the line.

Jared’s adoptive mother has passed away, leaving behind a terrible secret. As the balance of good and evil tips in evil?s favor, Jared is forced to take on the burden of this secret to safeguard the world from demon Malice. Jared’s brother, Lewis, seeks to undermine his brother’s efforts by releasing the demon for personal and gruesomely deadly purposes.  Jared must now battle not only Malice, but his equally terrifying and malevolent brother to save the world from the forces of darkness. The tale finishes without actually ending, allowing a perfect segue into a second novel for the series.

Demon Legacy has plenty of violence and gore without detracting from the plotline, as the violence is actually central to the story’s “good versus evil” narrative.  Brigham’s lyrical writing style creates beautifully dark imagery that enhances the fast-paced, urgent mood of the novel.  She develops her characters extremely well, ensuring that the reader will make an emotional connection with them. Brigham also develops enough back story to provide the novel with a solid foundation, without interrupting the flow in the fast-paced atmosphere. All-in-all, Demon Legacy,is a strong, well-written paranormal horror novel that kept me on edge to the very end. Recommended for adult horror readers and public libraries.

Contains: Graphic violence, gore, incest, occultism and witchcraft

Reviewed By: Kelly Fann


Jars in the Cellar by Lee Clark Zumpe

Damnation Books, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-61572-047-7

Available: Digital

      If Lovecraft lived in the Deep South he might have come up with something like Jars in the Cellar. This short tale (about 30 pages) has a familiar beginning. A high powered, rich city guy is trapped in hillbilly country by car troubles is at the mercy of a backwoods witch, a mysterious man with a huge secret and their genetic monster of a child. But the outcome isn't what one might expect.

      While this is an enjoyable read through and through, and even plays on readers' own preconceived expectations from previous pop culture exposures to this particular setup, it's a very short, very fast read- just the kind of thing to make a doctor's office wait or even a boring movie more enjoyable. For the purposes of this site, though, its value to a public collection is questionable, unless the library is actively acquiring and lending in digital form.

Review by Michele Lee




How the West Went to Hell by Eric S. Brown 

Pill Hill Press, 2010

ISBN 978-1-61706-012-0      

Available: New

            Louis is a New York book editor on his way west to try and finish a manuscript for an author who was brutally murdered.  Travelling in the same stagecoach is O’Rourke, who is headed to the West to take a job as sheriff.  Nathan is attempting to do God’s work to stop a demon from killing everyone in the West and bringing on the End of Days.  All are converging on the town of Reaper’s Valley and all will ultimately confront the demon that is Legion. 

            Eric S. Brown sets his religious-based horror tale in the Old West, complete with the requisite cast of characters.  He has done a fantastic job of introducing these characters in this 94-page novella.  Nathan is exactly what you’d expect in a hero, except he is dressed in black.  Legion is as menacing a demon as you’ll find, but for the fact he is an effeminate beauty in all white.  Even Louis fits the stereotype of a Western-movie Easterner, right down to the glasses and inability to handle a firearm.  This was a brutal but fun read, encompassing murder, mayhem, and demon possession.  Another plus for me was the unpredictable, and unexpected ending—the hallmark of a great story for me.  One thing that disappointed me was the lack of explanation as to the manuscript that Louis was attempting to finish.  I understood that it was about what was happening in this tale, but I would have liked to have seen more, and learned more about the author’s murder…just a bit more.  Otherwise, I loved How the West Went to Hell, and I think other horror fans would as well.
Review by Colleen Wanglund


Neverland by Douglas Clegg

Vanguard Press,2010

ISBN: 9781593155414

Available: New

There is a fine tradition of telling coming-of-age stories in the horror genre. Robert McCammon's "Boy's Life" and Stephen King's "The Body" are period pieces clearly inspired by the authors' childhoods and the era they grew up in. The late 50's or 60's coming of age horror novel is almosta sub-genre itself. We are just seeing my generation start to write these kinds of stories set in the 80's. A great example is James Newman's Midnight Rain. Neverland stands up quite strongly next to the classic works in this sub-genre, a coming of age horror novel so rooted in the 80's it's like holding a 288 page time machine in your hands.
            The strongest element at play in these novels is the almost magical reverence paid to being a child in those times. I have a hard time imagining the youth of today writing poetic novels about this age when they spend their time playing video games, talk by text message and hang out online. Neverland is a story that exists because the children who make up the characters' greatest entertainment is not a computer or a phone but their imagination.
            Beau and Sumter are cousins who have gathered at their grandmother's island home off the coast of Georgia each summer to create 'Neverland.' Sumter has created a childish fantasy that an odd shed mysteriously placed in the middle of the woods, used as a clubhouse, is like a beacon to communicate with a god he calls Lucy. According to Summter they must worship and sacrifice animals to Lucy. The novel really starts to take off when Beau, our narrator, begins to hear the voice of Lucy himself.
             Is Lucy an angel? A devil? Or is Lucy something different? Clegg does an amazing job of building and maintaining family drama while the mystery and terror surrounding Lucy's identity grows. As you can imagine, the price of the sacrifices continues to get higher as this short and effective novel builds to the exciting conclusion.
            Douglas Clegg is a long time veteran of horror and dark fantasy, and has great reason to be proud of this novel. There is no doubt it is one of his best and most solid novels. Considering the power of several of his past novels that is no small praise. This is Stoker quality horror. Beyond that, the book looks amazing. Vanguard Press did an amazing job of designing a beautifully packaged trade paperback, with "old-school" looking rough paper, and there are amazing illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, who recently made waves adapting Stephen King's short stories in the Secretary of Dreams black and white comics.
             Neverland is a horror novel that readers will eat up, and fellow writers will read green with envy. This is how it is done.This is essential for every collection and recommended for readers 15 years of age and older.
Mild violence, alcohol consumption, and brief mention of sexuality.

Review by David Agranoff


Ghost Monster by Simon Clark
Leisure Books,2009

ISBN: 9780843961799

Available: New and Used

        Ghost Monster is the story of a church on the English coast that contains a very important artifact, a portrait known to the locals as the ghost monster, protected by generations of the Murrain family. Touch it and you're cursed, so the story goes, but the insanity of this novel comes when the church falls in the ocean and sets off a tidal wave of craziness in the nearby town. Clark did a great job juggling a lot of characters.
        I wanted to like this novel. In a good Stephen King novel, a creepy story can transport you to New England. I wanted this story to transport me to a rain swept, scary, English coastal town. I didn't find this one as interesting and powerful as I have found other works by Clark. Nothing grabbed me. The story is a traditional Gothic story, which is fine, but that type of story requires strong characters and setting. I love this kinda of story when it's told with energy.
        This novel lacked energy. It felt like I was watching a sports team that has clinched the play-offs and is going through the motions. I felt little connection to the story, I think this novel will not stand out from other Leisure monthly releases. I would suggest that libraries interested in having a complete horror collection and in representing this important voice in British horror fiction should consider his apocalyptic masterpiece Blood Crazy.
Review by David Agranoff



The Butcher Bride by Vince Churchill

Black Bed Sheet, 2009


Available: New

    On Halloween night, 1979, during a wild party at the Silas Mansion, Marlie Downing loses her mind during a horrifying attack. Donning a wedding dress and grabbing a large pair of scissors, Marlie goes on a killing spree, murdering many of the partygoers, before being killed herself.
    Thirty years later, Evie and Stu plan to spend Halloween weekend, the same weekend as the annual Butcher Bride Festival, at the Silas Mansion. They are not concerned by the stories of ghosts and mysterious deaths occurring over the past three decades. But they should be.
    Vince Churchill has crafted a wonderfully gory and creepy tale. The first part of the story, the party in 1979, reads like a great 80s slasher movie. A woman done wrong is taking bloody revenge. Very bloody revenge. When we jump to the present day, a spooky ghost story takes over. There are many "bump in the night" scares, as well as plenty of blood. The characters are well written, with depth, quirks, and plenty of personality.  Churchill reveals the ongoing horrors of the mansion a bit at a time, creating tension, which builds and builds, until the explosive, and, once again, bloody climax. All of the kills are quite imaginative and entertaining. Churchill does not fall into the trap of repeating himself, as the body count rises.
    I look forward to reading more of Vince Churchill's work, and highly recommend The Butcher Bride for libraries and horror fans.
Contains: Graphic violence, sex, rape, strong language.
Review by Erik Smith



The Castle of Los Angeles by Lisa Morton, with an introduction by Gary A. Braunbeck
Gray Friar Press,2010

ISBN: 9781906331153
Available: New

        Those in the horror field are familiar with Lisa Morton. She has worked as a screenwriter for several B-movies, and has also written one-act plays and chapbooks. She has also written four nonfiction books, including The Hallowe'en Anthology, which won the 2008 Bram Stoker award for nonfiction. She has also won the Bram Stoker award for short fiction for her short story "Tested," published in the horror magazine "Cemetery Dance", and has been a contributor to a variety of anthologies, alongside the greatest names in the genre. In 2009 her work was nominated in two different categories.
        The Castle of Los Angeles is her first novel, and I think Morton is due for another well deserved Stoker award nomination. Don't let the low page count fool you- Morton has packed in an unbelievable amount of story into a short space. She doesn't waste words, and she paces the story so well the pages fly by.
        The story follows Beth, the new owner and director of a black box theater on the bottom floor in one of Los Angeles' oldest buildings. Known as the Castle, its history is as ancient as LA gets. Several people live in the building, including a struggling filmmaker and a famous artist who owns the penthouse. I could go into more detail, but sold by my history with Morton's shorter works, I knew I would have better experience going in blind, and other readers will as well.
        Morton plays a series of traditional Gothic horror power chords(as science fiction author Rudy Rucker calls them) within the haunted house sub-genre. Would you give AC/DC a hard time for playing a power chord? Lisa Morton takes a familiar riff, tuned slightly to her pitch and the result is a near perfect traditional horror novel. It is the characters and their reasons for living at the Castle that make this novel unique.
         Bravo Lisa Morton, I'd like to start the standing ovation right now. The Castle of Los Angeles is a wonderful short horror novel. It has very few weaknesses and packs its short pages with story telling strength.
        Libraries intested in filling their collection with interesting, well-written fiction from the independent presses or horror fiction should not miss this one.

Contains: Drugs, sexuality, and mild violence.

Review by David Agranoff
Here is a second take on on
The Castle of Los Angeles by Rhonda Wilson.

            Lisa Morton’s first novel, The Castle of Los Angeles, takes place in a castle with both numerous artists and a theater.  Beth Ortiz has just moved into the castle in order to take over the theater, which takes up the lower portion of the castle. Beth witnesses strange things happening in the castle and starts to wonder if it might be haunted.  After asking around she finds out that, yes, the castle has been said to be haunted for a number of years.  Soon even stranger things start occurring, and Beth decides to figure out what exactly is going on. At the same time, she is trying to piece together a brand-new play, inspired by disappearances that have been taking place nearby.

            Last year, one of my favorite reads was Morton’s Stoker-winning novella, The Lucid Dreaming.  This year, The Castle of Los Angeles may very well be one of my favorites.  This novel has a little bit of everything and is written beautifully.  Morton creates a cast of characters that typically wouldn’t mix.  For example, the main character, Beth, befriends a prostitute early on, which leads to the whole idea of the big production that her theater takes on.  Additionally, the eccentric characters that inhabit the castle cover a wide range of talents and don’t always appreciate the talents of others.  One particular character I have in mind here is Jessamine, an artist within the building who can be a bit unapproachable at times and whose artwork Beth finds intriguing.  The strong casting and realistically creepy haunting scenes sprinkled throughout make this a powerful novel.  Morton has a very strong future ahead of her in writing horror if she continues as she has thus far.  She’s definitely an author that belongs on everyone’s personal bookshelf.  Highly recommended!
Includes:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Sex, Mild Violence

Review by Rhonda Wilson




The Last Church by Lee Pletzers

Black Bed Sheets Books, 2009

ISBN: 9780984213627

Available: New and Used

        Peter Clement, an antique dealer who is terrible at business and life alike, finds a book buried within his shop that will make his every wish come true with just a mere payment of blood, which he is more than willing to pay. Not wanting to give up this life of bloody luxury, Clement finds and exploits a contract loophole that will make him evil incarnate everlasting.  350 years later, as organized religion is quickly becoming a thing of the past, it is Clement's perfect opportunity to come forth and reign supreme.
        Lee Pletzers' The Last Church is a surreal, gripping tale of debauchery, bedlam, depravity, violence, and blood lust. The pace is incredibly quick, with an enormous amount of action packed into the last 50 pages. There's even a lovely cliffhanger right at the very end.
        The Last Church would make a great addition in a public library's adult fiction section. Science fiction fans and horror fans alike will enjoy The Last Church; it is the perfect story to introduce science fiction to horror fans and vice versa, provided the reader in question can handle the gore and violence.
Contains: Graphic violence, sex, gore, and strong sexual violence
Review by Kelly Fann

Symptoms of a Broken Heart by Cory Cramer
Damnation Books, 2009
ISBN:  9781615720323
Available:  Used and New

            In Symptoms of a Broken Heart, Cory Cramer tells the story of two sisters, Susan and Lisa, who go on a special trip to New Orleans in order to celebrate Susan's birthday.  The sisters couldn't be more opposite in that Lisa has always been the "wild child" and Susan the quiet, reserved one.  Susan is also preparing to get married to the one and only man she has ever been with and has decided that this trip will be her one big adventure before tying herself down.  Little does she know that the "Full Moon" party, hosted by a society of werewolf and vampire enthusiasts, that Lisa has scheduled for them to attend, could end up more deadly for her than she expects.  After Susan's death, Lisa is scared that her family will blame her, and goes on an adventure of her own to cover up what she feels she has caused... even turning to the aid of dark magic.

            Cramer has created almost a fairytale with Symptoms of a Broken Heart.  This novella is only forty-five pages in length, but has more story wrapped into it than some of the novels I have read.  Lisa, our main heroine, seems shallow, especially considering she's more upset regarding the fact she may be accused of getting her sister killed when she was supposed to be looking out for her, than the fact her sister has died.  However, Cramer makes us feel sympathy towards her as the story progresses and she deals with one of the most painful experiences one could imagine.  However, that sympathy was short-lived, as I found myself doubting her tactics again.  The final scenes of this novella will surprise readers and leave them thinking about the outcome long after having read it.  Cramer is a talented new author and I plan on seeking out more by him in the future.  I would recommend this to all readers of the horror and urban fantasy genres, though some scenes may be a bit too graphic sexually for a younger audience.

Contains:  Graphic Sex, Adult Language, Adult Situations

Review by Rhonda Wilson




The Girl in the Woods By David Jack Bell
Delirium Books, 2008
ISBN-13: 9781929653102

Available: New and Used


    The Girl in the Woods is the story of a small Ohio town that has many dark secrets.
    Diana Greene has strange visions of a  clearing in the woods. Diana has never been the same since her sister disappeared. She believes the answer is there in the clearing, but she can never find it.
    The novel's darkest and most terrifying moments come from another storyline, following Roger, a serial abductor who is driven by voices he hears calling to him from a seemingly haunted clearing in the woods on his vast property. Roger does not want to commit murder, or necrophilia, for that matter, but the clearing calls to him.
    Is this the most original concept for a horror novel? Maybe not, but its traditional elements are like power chords in a Ramones or AC/DC song. If you're looking for the kind of traditional horror novel that flew off the shelf in the 80's, look no further. I think the average horror reader will love this book.
    My biggest problem with The Girl in the Woods is that Bell introduced a fascinating concept with the cult behind the clearing, and there was potential to explore the deep-seated and patriarchal roots of the murder of and domination of the women in the novel. This concept was hinted at but not explored. I don't want to be too hard on this novel, just honest.
    There are several moments and chapters (like twenty-five) that are very effective. David Jack Bell is an exciting writer. What I like is his willingness to play the "power chords" in the horror genre and give them his own unique touch. The Girl in the Woods is creepy and disturbing, and horror devotees will not want to miss this. I am excited to see what he has next for us! Libraries should consider this book for their collections, as I am sure in a few books Bell will become a household name in the genre.
Contains: violence, sexuality and gruesome adult themes

Review by David Agranoff


Donny's Day by Brandon Berntson
Damnation Books, 2009
ISBN: 9781615720583
Available: New

    Donny's Day is the surreal, graphic tale of Donny, who has been running from demons ever since the day, as a child, that he stole and read from a book that let them into the world. It's short, very short, coming in at fifty-five pages of story. More than two-thirds is back story and dream sequences, and there are no attempts to separate reality from delusions. But the imagery is strong, and creepy, straight out of the best "What was that?" horror movie moments. Berntson is a skilled writer. Donny's Day is just too musing and dreamy, and lacks the forward momentum and engaging plot to be satisfying to most everyday readers. Private collectors who enjoy tales heavy on mood and theme will find enjoyment here, but public collections catering to a larger swath of readers will probably not.

Review by Michele Lee



On the Third Day by David Niall Wilson

Macabre Ink Digital, 2009


Available: New - Amazon Kindle only

    Father Quentin Thomas, while leading Easter Mass at the Cathedral of San Marcos, experienced something…unusual.  Could it be the Stigmata?  Out of fear and confusion, Father Thomas goes to see Bishop Michaels for help, but is greeted with hostility.  The bishop does not want the publicity; he doesn’t even want to believe it was a miracle. As Easter comes around again, the bishop, after speaking with the Vatican, agrees to attend the Mass and videotape it.  What happens at the Mass to Father Thomas is almost surreal; even the congregation is affected by a trance-like state.  Some are awed, some confused, some strengthened in their faith. 

    The Vatican has sent Father Donovan Prescott to investigate the incident.  Was Father Thomas creating a hoax?  Was it, in fact, the Stigmata, the bleeding wounds of the Crucifixion, or something more sinister?  Father Prescott tells Father Thomas about his investigation into a possible miracle involving a statue of the Martyr, St. Peter, to try to help ease the young priest’s mind. 

    Easter comes around again, and Father Thomas, Father Prescott, and Bishop Michaels prepare themselves for the potential of the event happening again.  What happens during that Mass leaves even Father Prescott confused and frightened.  The entire congregation is caught up…but in what?  Father Prescott must find out if he is to save the life of the young priest before it is all over.

    This is an excellent story.  It is religious-themed horror, done in a subtle way.  David Niall Wilson uses his words to create beautiful, vivid images, which allows the reader to fully experience the story.  Mr. Wilson takes us on a journey from a dusty office in Rome, to a mission in the jungles of Peru, to a small village in Italy, and finally to a cathedral on the ocean in California, while keeping us all on the edge of our seats wondering the same thing….are their really miracles happening?  I also enjoyed the multiple meanings of the title, but I won’t give that away.  I highly recommend On the Third Day to any fan of horror, although hard-core gore fans may not find it to their liking.

Contains:Religious themes; blood (lots of it)

Review by Colleen Wanglund



Darkness On the Edge of Town by Brian Keene
Leisure Books, February 2010
ISBN :0-8439-6091-4
Availability: New

    Walden is your average small town. That is, until residents awake to complete and total darkness. People who attempt to leave do not return and are presumed dead.  Once they enter the darkness, they fall victim to whatever evil is residing inside. The narrator of the book is Robbie, a pizza delivery guy, who details everything in a journal that may serve as the only record of the events in Walden. The other key characters are Robbie’s girlfriend and a few of his neighbors.  Dez, a rambling homeless man, plays an integral role in the novel.  He seems to be the only citizen able to explain the darkness and its source.  Unfortunately, Dez is known to be a bit “eccentric”, so his knowledge of the darkness almost implicates his involvement in the catastrophe. The darkness itself is also a very active character within the story.  It overtakes the people of Walden, and tricks them by manifesting into their loved ones, calling them into the darkness.

     People have compared it to King’s The Mist, and while the beginning is similar, the overall theme is completely different. Keene does an outstanding job of portraying what happens to people when catastrophe hits, and in typical Keene style, leaves you guessing at the end.  Highly recommended, especially to existing Keene fans.

Contains: mild language and gore

Review by Jennifer Lawerence

Here is a second opinion review of Darkness On the Edge of Town by Colin Leslie.

After years of waiting for a 'town cut off by unknown forces' novel, two have come along at once- Stephen King's Under the Dome and Brian Keene's Darkness On the Edge of Town. Yet what different beasts they are. Whilst King's book was a lumbering behemoth, Keene's is a fast footed predator. Where Under the Dome was the trans-Siberian express, all fantastic vistas, epic journey and slightly disappointing ending, Darkness On the Edge of Town is an endless ghost train, full of visceral shocks, thrills and pace. The amazing thing is though, that despite the thematic similarities and the different styles, both books are fantastic horror novels.

            In Darkness On The Edge Of Town, the people of Walden, Virginia awaken to darkness. They immediately dismiss is as a power cut, solar eclipse or some manmade temporary blip, but it's not long before they find out the darkness is not temporary and their lives are about to descend into chaos. Not only is the entire town dark, but the outskirts of the town are even darker,"it's not just dark, it's the dark".
             Robbie Higgins, his girlfriend Christy and his neighbor Russ are among the residents faced with the darkness. It soon becomes clear that like the majority of society these days, Robbie and his pals know nothing about the rest of the community they live in. The community is forced to interact to try to combat the darkness, but they are faced with increasing tension and violence which seems to be emanating from the darkness.

            The darkness continues its malevolent campaign to reach the inhabitants of the town but is thwarted by some mysterious markings somebody has drawn at key points. Without electricity or water society crumbles and chaos ensues. Cue scenes of tragedy, horror and sheer lunacy.

             Keene's writing is powerful and fast-paced, and amidst the gore there are some truly tragic scenes, as well as some powerful moments which question basic human nature and values. In another comparison with King's book, where Under The Dome had, in my opinion, a weak ending which revealed the rather fragile premise on which the whole book was built, Keene takes the opposite tack and doesn't end the book at all. We, the readers, are left to decide the characters' fate, as the book ends on a cliffhanger. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it gives the reader a choice based on their own personality, pessimist or optimist, good or bad ending, it's up to you. On the other hand, it all feels like a bit of a cop out. The book is fairly short, and I felt there was room for expansion. Structurally, it may have been difficult given the narrative format, but for a writer of Keene's ability it would have been possible.

So full marks to Brian Keene for coming up with an original plot, engaging characters and some truly memorable scenes but sorry, lose one point because I for one, want to know what happened.

Review by Colin Leslie



Skin Medicine by Tim Curran

Severed Press, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-9806065-1-5



     1882. Utah. Bounty hunter Tyler Cabe rides into Whisper Lake, hot on the trail of the Sin City Strangler. But he finds so much more. An old enemy from the Civil War, a vigilante group terrorizing the local Mormon population, and an unspeakable evil, hiding in the hills, with tooth and claw, biding it's time, waiting to strike. With danger on every side, can Tyler Cabe survive?

     I am a fan of the horror/western, and Tim Curran's Skin Medicine is one of the best I have read. Full of gunfights, monsters, shamans, cowboys & Indians, drunks & whores, this novel has it all. There is also lots and lots of blood. This is not a book for the squeamish. The characters are amazingly well written, some drawn in black and white, while others encompass many shades of grey. Tyler Cabe is a strong loner, yet he is wounded inside and out. He tries his best to do what's right, yet a stubborn streak and an unwillingness to back down often lead him into trouble.

     Curran's writing reads like the dime novels of yesteryear. The descriptive passages have a flair, an almost lyrical quality. Some are amusing, including my favorite: "He had been a plump, bookish child and had become a heavy, unsightly man with a bevy of quivering chins that herded about his lower jaw and neckline like pink hogs at a trough." That certainly brings a vivid image to mind. This is not Curran's usual style, yet fits perfectly with the subject matter.

I highly recommend this book for any collection.

Contains: sex, strong language, violence and lots of extreme gore.

Review by Erik Smith



The Gray Zone by John R. Little
Bad Moon Books, 2009
Available:  New

        The Gray Zone is a time-travel novella that follows the adventures of Henry Davidson.  During a visit to Aswan, Egypt, Henry saves a young boy from drowning in the Nile River.  In order to reward him, the boy's father, Mohammed, gives Henry a secret powder. After Henry swallows the powder, strange things start to happen.  He starts jumping back and forth between the past and future and at times into what he simply describes as the "gray zone", and when in the "gray zone" he is having trouble recalling any events of the past or future.  It is a disturbing and haunting feeling for Henry, and makes the powder Mohammed has given him seem more like a curse than a gift
        Often horror is written with paranormal elements in order to scare the readers with monsters, but in The Gray Zone, Little completely avoids these things.  Instead, he makes us think about what it would be like to live in a world where we can't change the course of our actions based on knowledge of past events.  Personally, I've always learned from my mistakes.  What if the knowledge of those mistakes were no longer there?  Would we all just keep making the same mistakes over and over again?  Now THAT is a scary thought!  But that is one possibility of living in the "gray zone".  Little has written of a very scary "world" in this novella, and I felt sorry for Henry as he struggled to deal with everything.  Even if it was just a temporary curse that he might eventually overcome, it was still a nightmare to live through.  The Gray Zone is highly imaginative, thought-provoking, and a fast read.  The author will keep you wondering what is to come next and keep you turning the pages for more.  Highly Recommended.

Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations

Review by Rhonda Wilson


A Dark Matter by Peter Straub

Doubleday, 2010

ISBN: 038551638X

Available: New

        The year is 1966 in Madison, WI.  Four high school students, Hootie Bly, Dilly Olson, Jason Boatman, and Eel Truax, become enamored by Spencer Mallon, a charismatic guru who promises to introduce them to a “higher reality.”  During an occult ritual, something goes horribly wrong, killing one teen.  The four friends are forever changed, each dealing with this horrid day in a different way.  Hootie was taken to a mental institution.  His only means of communication is quoting lines from Hawthorne’s A Scarlet Letter. Eel marries Lee Hayward, her high school sweetheart, but she eventually loses her sight. Boatman, once a shoplifter, now runs his own theft prevention company. Dilly Olson never really got over the entire situation.  Decades later the group comes back together when Hayward decides to write a non-fictional account of that afternoon.  Each learns that their own personal account wasn’t as accurate as they believed. This reunion is the first time they have had the opportunity to share their experiences with one another. Pieces of the puzzle are finally starting to come together to form a large, broad picture.
        Once again, Straub does an outstanding job.   A Dark Matter is purely character-driven; the book is broken up into several parts, each devoted to detailing the account of each of the main characters. Readers are transported thirty years in a matter of pages. I was impressed at how smoothly this transformation flowed. There is potential for novels with character-driven storylines, specifically ones with as many characters as A Dark Matter, to seem drawn-out and exaggerated.  I did not feel that in this case, for I do not think the overall “feel” of the novel would have carried through had it not been for the varying and differing accounts of each of the characters.  Those demanding a defined and definite resolution might be disappointed, however I think this aspect is what makes this such an amazing book. It takes an extremely talented writer to do what Straub has done with this one: giving detailed explanations of one situation from various standpoints, yet still leaving the actual event quite vague. Highly, highly recommended book.

Contains: Mild language, sex and gore.

Review by Jennifer Lawrence


Our Winter Chills colleague HorrorWorld is running A Dark Matter contest feel free to stop by and enter. 



Strange Magic by Gord Rollo
Leisure, 2010
ISBN:  978-0-8439-6333-5
Available:  New and Used

    Gord Rollo's latest release, Strange Magic, tells the story of former magician Wilson Kemp.  Wilson has been trying for years to escape his past, going as far as changing his name, moving, and giving up his career as a magician.  His wife and daughter know nothing of his past life, but unfortunately, his past has finally caught up with him and he may not be
able to keep it hidden any longer.  Someone in town known as "the Stranger" is killing both humans and animals, leaving messages at the scene of each crime for "The Iceman", which happens to be Wilson's old stage name.  Wilson is now scared for the life of himself and his family. He is not sure who "the Stranger" really is, but fears it may be his old partner, "The Heatseeker".  The problem with that scenario is that "The Heatseeker" has been dead for twenty-two years!
    Intense, imaginative, well-balanced, fast-paced... you name it and Rollo has accomplished it in Strange Magic!  Ever since Leisure started putting out  Rollo's work I've been grabbing them up off the shelf immediately and I haven't been disappointed yet. Strange Magic may very well be my favorite so far.  A couple of the characters' actual identities are kept secret through a good chunk of the book. Usually it is hard to keep up such a "front" that well without the reader figuring it out prior to the big "reveal", but Rollo managed to accomplish this without a hitch!  I was ultimately pleasantly surprised, and a bit disturbed, with both of the characters once I found out who they really were.  In addition, the death scenes within the book aren't overly gruesome, yet still cringe-worthy enough that both gore lovers and those of the weak stomach should be able to enjoy them.  It is truly a well-rounded book and I feel that Rollo has definitely written something that all horror fans will love.
    In addition to reading the Leisure addition of Strange Magic, I also had the pleasure of reading Rollo's short story, "Peeler", a tie-in story to Strange Magic.  This story can currently be found in the limited edition of Strange Magic published by Bad Moon Books.  Peeler is the name of one of the side characters from Strange Magic who happens to have what you might call a weird "fetish" for peeling off his own skin.  In this short story, we get to learn what causes Peeler to mutilate himself and where he was at prior to the time-frame of Strange Magic.  The story is a bit gross, yet definitely ties into the whole magical element playing throughout the novel.  It's a must-read for die-hard Rollo fans, and it's a shame that Leisure couldn't have included it in their edition of the release.  Hopefully, this story will be released in a short story collection from Rollo, for those that are unable to get their hands on a copy of the limited edition of Strange Magic.
I highly recommend reading both Strange Magic and the tie-in story, "Peeler"!
Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Mutilation
Review by Rhonda Wilson

The Haunting of Sam Cabot by Mark Edward Hall
Damnation Books, 2009
ISBN: 9781615720316
Available: New, print and digital

    Sam, his wife and son have just bought a dilapidated monster of house in the countryside, determined to see the old hulk rehabilitated and livable for the first time in over forty years. But things aren't adding up. The previous owner keeps visiting, despite having already replaced the bits he agreed to, and there is a creepy old heater in the basement. Then one of the roofers tells Sam about the strange murders that took place in the basement long ago, and hints about ghostly visions and occurrences that have scared off the town folk since. Not even these disturbing tales touch the surface of what really lives in Farnham House.
    The Haunting of Sam Cabot holds reader attention very well. It's a classic haunted house tale with a heavy dose of foreshadowing and an abbreviated length to keep eyes
glued to the pages. Some of the events will be familiar to the well-read. Also, this books uses a method of storytelling wherein the author withholds information from the reader to aid in the final reveal, which will aggravate some readers. However, the book is solid and readable and in this age of so many ghost investigation and haunted house shows, deserves a place in public collections. Private collectors should adjust their buying decision to their own taste. Recommended for public library collections.

Review by Michele Lee



Stronger Than Death by Steven L. Shrewsbury

Snuff Books, 2009

ISBN 13: 978-0-9818967-4-8


          Sam Stuart is on a downward spiral. He has a dead-end factory job, a drinking problem, and his wife has left him and taken their children with her. Now he is seeing his dead ancestor, Joel, a one-armed veteran of the Civil War. Joel has a warning for Sam. The spirits of Union soldiers are being released from their imprisonment in a ribbon, one once owned by Josephine, sister of "Bloody" Bill Anderson, scourge of the south. The Union soldiers have a plan for revenge, one which will unleash a horrifying evil on the world. Can Sam overcome all of his personal problems and save the world?

        Steven L. Shrewsbury has crafted a wonderful tale filled with horror and history. Sam Stuart, the well rounded main character, is a man who cares deeply for his family and friends, yet can't overcome his reliance on alcohol, and has nightmares of the civil war, which Shrewsbury paints with great detail. The soldiers speak and act authentically, each with a distinct voice. As the spirits of the union soldiers take possession of the dead, some of their reactions to their new bodies are pricelessly funny.

        Joel Stuart, the one-armed confederate, is a great counterpoint to Sam. His gruff, no nonsense attitude pushes Sam to step up and face not only his own figurative demons, but, what could be literal demons.
Shrewsbury pulls no punches, and no one is safe from the ravages of this story. The writing flows smoothly, even as the road Sam travels hits bump after bump. Steven L. Shrewsbury is a strong writer, whose early work I will certainly dig up, and whose forthcoming work I very much look forward to. Highly recommended.

Contains: Violence, strong language, and sexual situations.

Review by Erik Smith



Blind Panic by Graham Masterton

Leisure Books, 2009

ISBN: 0843962682

Available: New

     In Blind Panic, the entire United States is suddenly hit by a surge of mass blindness.  No one is immune, not even the most powerful man in the country.  Thousands upon thousands are killed when planes fall from the sky and cars plunge into one another. Masterton brings back characters from his first novel, The Manitou, including Amelia Carlsson and “psychic” Harry Erskine.  After conducting a séance, they discover Misquamacus, a.k.a "He Who Went and Came Back", an ancient Algonquin medicine man, has returned to seek vengeance for all the wrongs committed by “the white man.” Masterton does an outstanding job with this apocalyptic tale.  Although this isn’t the first time he has written about these characters, the back-story is sufficiently filled in without dragging on, and Blind Panic can serve as a stand-alone novel. Highly recommended. 

Contains: mild gore

Review by Jennifer Lawrence



The Revelation By Bentley Little
Signet/Penguin, 1999
ISBN 0451192257
Available: New and Used

    Randall is a small town nestled in the mountains of northern Arizona.  It is dominated within by the local sawmill, and on the outskirts by a heavily wooded area known as The Rim.  Some very strange things have begun happening in Randall—a local minister and his family have disappeared, an eighty-year-old woman in the nursing home is pregnant, churches have been vandalized, and local farm animals have been slaughtered en masse.  The sheriff has his hands full and now an itinerant preacher has come to town preaching the coming of the apocalypse.  It seems that something evil has come to Randall, Arizona. 

    Bentley Little tells a great story of good versus evil.  He pulls you into the story right away and builds to the climax at a steady pace, which will keep you glued to the pages.  His characters are regular people without filling a stereotype so you can relate to them and empathize with them.  Sheriff Joe Weldon is a good man and a good cop, but the recent events are taking their toll and he feels overwhelmed.  His first hint of something supernatural behind the strange events comes from a teenage boy who tells the sheriff that he dreamed about the murders of the minister and his family.  Weldon is skeptical, but believes the boy.  After finding the bodies, Weldon decides to call in the state police for help.

    Gordon is a regular guy who moved to Randall with his wife Marina to get away from the hustle of city life.  He sees that something is happening and he’s scared.  He finds out his wife is pregnant, but that the doctor is concerned because there have been a few women in town whose babies died before coming to term in just the last year.  When Gordon takes Marina to the city to see a specialist, he has his first run-in with Brother Elias. 

    Father Andrews was sent to Randall as a temporary replacement for the missing minister.  He has had his share of psychic experiences and he can sense that something isn’t right, but doesn’t know what it is.  Gordon and the sheriff go to him after they each begin having shared nightmares.  Brother Elias shows up in town one day preaching on street corners about an impending cataclysm to anyone who will listen, but he preaches with a prophetic certainty that has struck a chord with the sheriff and Gordon.  Brother Elias knows exactly what’s going on—he has seen it before.  Has he arrived in Randall in time to stop the growing evil?

    The Revelation is a great book.  Bentley Little is able to address the religious aspects of the story without getting preachy. His character development fleshes out “real” people without taking time away from the core story; it’s all relevant.  The end of the book was perfect—it isn’t dragged out unnecessarily.  The only thing I really didn’t like was Gordon’s wife Marina.  I didn’t like her or her attitude toward things.  I saw her as self-centered and couldn’t see why Gordon would’ve married her.  It never took away from the story for me, though.  It was part of the story. I highly recommend this book. 

Contains: Language, references to sex. 

Review by Colleen Wanglund





Little Graveyard on the Prairie by Steven E. Wedel

Bad Moon Books, 2009


Available: Used

    Well, I didn’t see this one coming. Steven Wedel hits the proverbial homerun with this tormented ghost story set on the Oklahoma prairie. Perhaps best known for his series of werewolf tales, Wedel has captured the heart of the tortured landscape that he calls home. This is a story that is so bleak and gut-wrenching, the reader is all but overwhelmed by the sense of loss and loneliness felt by the man who turns his failed farm into a graveyard for folk who would like their dearly departed to be entered in a more secluded location, far removed from the world at large. Wedel has masterfully woven a tale wracked with emotion and the ending will leave you breathless and disappointed, but only because this ride is over so quickly. Truth be told, if this were a longer piece the psychological damage just might be irreversible. Little Graveyard on the Prairie lingered with me long after I’d finished. Truly powerful stuff.

Highly recommended for serious collectors and libraries as Little Graveyard on the Prairie is a signed limited edition hardcover slipcase of only 100 copies.

Review by Bob Freeman


Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett

Orbit, 2010

ISBN: 9780316054683

Available: New

    I'm not sure why - but book sites across the internet pitch this as a historical thriller. I was excited, but being a horror reader I now wish that they had posted it as a horror novel originally because many people expecting a historical thriller will be a bit upset, as the book leaves the realm of historical thriller about halfway through, when the supernatural begins appearing.
    The story takes place during the Depression, and follows Connolly, who has left his wife to chase after the man who killed their daughter. The killer is a man covered in scars, known only as Mr. Shivers,  who travels across the country by rail, leaving a path of misery behind him. Connolly begins his hunt, chasing the elusive Mr. Shivers from Memphis westward. Slowly he discovers others who have felt the pain that Mr. Shivers brings, and they band together as they plan their retribution. But is Mr. Shivers a sick, demented man, or something far worse?
    Bennett’s style is reminiscent of early Stephen King. Unfortunately, the author is not as skilled at character development as King is, so don't expect the overall skill of King. Those who have read a lot of older horror will find many of the situations will remind you of older works (think "The Lottery", for example). Though the ending is good, 90% of readers will have figured out exactly where the story is going by the time they finish the first third of the book. Unfortunately, like most other King-esque books, this is very much mainstream horror. Do not expect this book to break any new ground, and for those of you in the "extreme horror" crew - this is not it.  
    On the whole, this is a fairly good breakout novel by a newcomer in the horror section - there is a lot of promise here and the concept is fun, if not a bit drawn out.

Review by KDP


Drowned Sorrow by Vanessa Morgan

Llumina Press, 2008

ISBN: 9781605941622

Available: New

    Drowned Sorrow starts with a bang. Vanessa Morgan throws the reader directly into the hectic life of Megan Blackwood, a successful investigative journalist whose ambition leads to a family tragedy.

    And then the author starts over, with an expository first chapter that distances the reader and muddies characterization,  and a depiction of a mother-daughter relationship that has an extremely unlikely dynamic.  The unsympathetic, take-charge character from the first chapter has disappeared entirely, but it’s hard to like or trust the “new” Megan Blackwood after that initial impression.

    In an effort to escape their grief, Megan and her daughter decide to leave home and vacation in the tiny town of Moonlight Creek.  Moonlight Creek is a very odd place, though.  It rains constantly, and the restaurants and stores only sell water.  When the hotel owner shares a story about supernatural drownings in the lake, Megan pooh-poohs it, but there does seem to be an unseen menace, a suffocating, watery atmosphere…

    The plot of Drowned Sorrow is a confusing mess, most of the characters are thin, and relationships in the book often seem contrived.  The author doesn’t seem to have a clear idea of how she really wants to get the story started, as her first chapter takes a totally different approach to introducing Megan and her family than the prologue, and additionally, after the story is done, Morgan includes an alternate beginning that focuses on different characters.  What makes Drowned Sorrow worth reading is the menacing, watery, and increasingly creepy atmosphere she evokes… the setting she creates will stick with readers long after the story itself.  I expect that as Morgan tightens and focuses her writing, her storytelling develops, and her characterization improves, we will see some excellent work from her, and horror readers will have more satisfying opportunities to experience the foreboding atmosphere she creates so effectively.   



The Resurrectionist by Wrath James White
Leisure Books, 2009
ISBN:  978-0-8439-6312-0
Available:  New

    Sarah and Josh Lincoln have a new neighbor. His name is Dale McCarthy, and he is a pale, weird, little man. Dale has a secret. He can resurrect the recently deceased, leaving them alive and well, with no memory of how they died. Unfortunately, Dale is no saint. In fact, he is quite the opposite.

    Ever since her new neighbor moved in, Sarah has been having nightmares. Every night, she dreams that Dale McCarthy is coming into her bedroom, killing her husband, then raping and killing her. But if they are just dreams, why is she so affected by them? And why is her mattress soaked in blood? Sarah is alive, so how can she prove that her new neighbor has murdered her?

    I read a lot of horror. I’ve read a lot of great horror. But, it has been a long time since I have been blown away by a book, the way I was by The Resurrectionist. Wrath James White has a crisp, clean writing style that never gets bogged down. The story starts with a bang, and barely lets up. Even the "quiet" moments are full of tension. With a character like Dale McCarthy, anything could happen, at any time.

    Dale is an original villain, whose motivations are somehow both insane and reasonable. The way he rationalizes his actions makes a weird kind of sense. While his past might have made readers sympathetic, his present behavior makes him reprehensible. Dale is a wonderfully vile character.

    The other main players, Sarah and Josh Lincoln, are also well rounded characters. Sarah is a strong woman, the bedrock of her marriage, who is afraid for her own sanity, and angered that no one believes that something strange is going on. She is determined to find out what is happening, and won't stop until she feels that she and her husband are safe. Josh is the emotionally weaker of the Lincolns. He depends on Sarah for support, due to some bad experiences in his childhood. But he has a temper, and will do whatever it takes to keep his wife safe. It’s just that he isn't really sure that she is in danger.

    Wrath writes complex people with seeming ease. Even the minor characters have plenty of personality. There are no cardboard cut-outs here. A lot of bad things happen to the folks in this book, and I felt every bit of it. There is Plenty of sex and blood flowing throughout the pages of The Resurrectionist. Mr. White isn't known as one of the up and coming kings of hardcore horror for nothing. If you are looking for a brutal, beautiful tale that will keep you turning pages well into the night, look no further. Highly recommended.

Contains: Explicit sex, gore, language and rape.

Review by Erik Smith


We have a second take on The Resurrectionist by Rhonda WIlson

    Wrath James White starts us off into the world of The Resurrectionist by vividly exploring a scene where a young boy listens intently from outside his parents’ bedroom door as they fight.  The boy continues to listen as his dad beats up his mom and he even listens as his dad kills his mom.  Then he decides to call the cops.  Once the cops arrive, even more chaos takes place as the boy is escorted out to a cop car and the cops go in to see what has taken place.  He watches them one by one stagger out of the house getting sick and finally he runs back into the house to find his father dead, shot by the cops, and his mom skinned alive by his father's hand.  He climbs over to his mom and starts giving her mouth-to-mouth. Slowly she starts to breathe again and then her skin starts to rejuvenate.  The cops come back in then and can't believe their eyes.  The woman sitting with him can't possibly be the woman that was just lying there skinned alive, can it?  But he claims it's his mommy.  What special powers is it this boy holds and what else could he possibly use those powers for in the future?
    The Resurrectionist delves deep into the life of one very demented and warped individual.  The main character, Dale, has so many "issues" that as a reader it's hard to decide whether to sympathize with him or hate him for what he is doing to the victims in the book.  I was honestly torn throughout on my opinion of him, yet leaned more to the negative side because it was just hard to fathom any person could do the things he was doing to other beings.  White has written a novel so graphically depicted and so intense that you actually feel like you're "living" the nightmare that is taking place within the pages.  I would recommend those with a queasy stomach to pass this book by and move on to a more "user-friendly" horror book as White does describe extremely graphic scenes of mutilation, torture, and rape, which might offend some readers.  To those that can handle it, however, this is a must read!  I was unable to put the book down once I opened it up and I think any lovers of extreme horror will feel the same.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Contains:  Gore, Rape, Sex, Mutilation, Torture, Adult Language, Adult Situations
Review by Rhonda Wilson


Found You by Mary SanGiovanni

Leisure Books, 2008

ISBN-10: 0-8439-6110-4

Available: New and Used 


    In this follow-up to The Hollower, Dave, Erik, and Sally are confronted once again with a Hollower, a faceless monster that feeds on fear, hate, and despair.  This time it has targeted new victims.  Can they kill this one the way they killed the first?

  Although Found You is a sequel, you don’t have to read The Hollower to understand what’s going on, or the connection to the first novel.  I liked the characters, for the most part.  They are all flawed in some way, but trying to overcome those flaws and become better people.   Erik, an alcoholic, is trying to maintain his sobriety, while sponsoring Jake through his rehabilitation.  Dorrie is trying to lose weight while trying not to hate the skinny girls who tormented her all through school.  Dave is trying to help his sister with her mental health, even though he blames himself for her condition.  Detective Steve Corimer is trying to be the best cop he can be, while hiding his sexuality for fear of hate and ‘retribution’ from his co-workers. 

Found You was well written- Ms. SanGiovanni’s descriptiveness conjures up some scary visual images. 

    I enjoyed the story, but I would have liked to have seen more of what this Hollower was capable of. It’s mentioned by the characters several times that this one is more powerful than the first; what power did it have? I expected more in the way of confrontation.  I also expected to see more of these Hollowers, as we are told there is more than one.  I’d like to know more about this other dimension that they come from.

   Overall, I thought it was a good book and a quick read.  I would recommend it, but it does contain some adult material.  Mary SanGiovanni is a really good writer, I just expected a little more out of this book than I got.

Review by Colleen Wanglund.



R.I.P. by Terry Lamsley

PS Publishing, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-906301-57-6


    Conrad is an elderly man who stands on the brink of something extraordinary - a gateway between life and death. The gateway is a construct of his friend Gwillam’s genius, a theory that has obsessed him, forcing him to give up his family and life.  The payoff is seeing what is on the other side of life. Unfortunately, Gwillam didn’t completely understand everything and the gateway winds up consuming him. As a strange fog thickens in the streets, it threatens to bury everything in Conrad’s little town if something isn’t done about it.

    R.I.P. is an intriguing novella that is hard to put down once it is started. Mr. Lamsley draws the reader in with tidbits of information, almost like a mystery novel, until the story is unfolded before him near the end. R.I.P. is a unique ghost story that combines technology with mysticism for a satisfying result. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a short ghost story that will keep them glued to the pages.


Review by Bret Jordan.




This Ghosting Tide by Simon Clark

Bad Moon Books, 2009

ISBN: 9780982154625

Available: New



    Kit is a camera man for an English lord who is on a mission - a quest to prove that ghosts exist. With him is an African immigrant named Ashara, a con artist named Fletcher, and a monkey with the unlikely title of Polidori. The story starts with a bit of grave robbing when Fletcher claims that he is picking up ghostly signals from his home-made contraption. The only problem is that the instrument is a fake and the only person on the team that might half-way believe in ghosts is the English lord, Byron. Everyone else is just earning a paycheck and giving a good show to keep that paycheck coming. The grave robbing ends almost as soon as the casket is opened, and is followed by a disastrous series of events that almost kills Kit. As they move on to their actual destination, Kit is ready to quit. When the group stops at a small town, a woman invites them to her house on the beach for an actual ghostly experience - a place where the dead take on the semblance of life in an invisible tide that shakes them to the core. It isn’t long before they discover that ghosts are real and not a thing to be trifled with lightly.

    The Ghosting Tide is a novella that the reader will be hard pressed to put down. The characters come to life on the pages with personalities that are uniquely their own. The grave-robbing scene was almost as comical as it was horrifying, as Kit gripes about the illegality of what they are doing and Fletcher puts on a theatrical ‘ghost hunting’ scene for their employer. Simon Clark has a way of bringing readers into the middle of chaos as everything in the graveyard falls apart, engulfing them in grave dirt and freshly dug up corpses. The main story is no different- as the wave of undead energy buffets the characters the reader can almost feel their skin tingle with it, and Clark’s horrifying description of the results of that tide is something the reader won’t soon forget. The Ghosting Tide is a story that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves a good scary ghost story.

Contains: Violence

Review by Bret Jordan


Necropolis by John Urbancik

Bad Moon Books, 2009


Available: New


    Necropolis, not to be mistaken for the Tim Waggoner novel Nekropolis, is set in a massive graveyard in New Orleans.  The novella follows three tracks. The first track introduces Kelli, a photographer who follows a mysterious tune.  A second track is the story of Kevin and Jill, a married couple who look to make a wish in the wishing well that is located within the cemetery.  The third track tells of Anna, who brings her friend Darren to the cemetery in search of a new experience.  Urbancik does an amazing job of setting the scene, creating an eerie, creepy, surreal atmosphere.  His characters are well-developed  in a mere 82 pages.  Urbancik delivers a solid, haunting story that is worth reading.  Highly recommended



The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff

St. Martin's Press,  2009
ISBN: 9780312384708

Available: New

    After a traumatic end to a relationship, Laurel MacDonald accepts a job as a psychology professor at Duke University and makes the move from sunny California to North Carolina. Upon her arrival, she learns that in order to maintain her tenure at the University, she needs to get published. She uncovers a fifty year old study done by the Rhine psychology lab, a study on extrasensory perception that mysteriously went dormant. This study took place at the Folger House, a century-old home known for its supernatural activity. Participants in this survey either disappeared, went insane, or suffered other emotional/mental effects. Laurel learns that her uncle, once bright and outgoing, with a great future ahead of him, was a participant in this study.  He's now a shell of a man with apparent mental deficiencies.  Laurel and her fellow psychology professor Brendan Cody, find the Folger House, and begin to recreate the study with a new set of student participants. After they arrive at the house, they start to experience supernatural activity. Mysterious noises and odd feelings are just the beginnings of what the team will experience.

    Sokoloff once again does a stellar job! The reader becomes entranced within the first few pages. Throughout the entire book, my spine tingled with anticipation. Laurel's character is extremely well developed. The reader uncovers more about her with every turned page.  The secondary characters, while not developed in detail, do add a great deal to the story.  They are both seriously flawed and unsympathetic, but those qualities add to the overall atmosphere of the book. Highly, highly recommended for public library collections and to any fan of ghost stories, tales of extrasensory perception or the like.

Contains: mild sex and language

Review by Jennifer Lawrence 



Restore from Backup by J.F. Gonzalez and Mike Oliveri

Bad Moon Books, 2009


Available: Used

    Restore from Backup is breathtakingly brilliant. There, I said it. Looking for something fresh and original? Really, you need look no further than this. Two established authors, each with their own unique styles, blend seamlessly together to create a work that, despite its diminutive page count, delivers a real mind-blowing experience. Make no mistake, this is an occult thriller, punctuated by intricate conspiracies and reality bending twists, that delivers in every possible way. Behind the façade of the world of computer programming we are given a glimpse into the machinations of reality itself. Limited to only 300 copies, it is criminal that this novella is not in larger circulation. Restore from Backup is sure to please even the most jaded horror fan. For public or private collections,

Contains: strong language.

Review by Bob Freeman


Soultaker by Bryan Smith
Leisure, 2009
ISBN:  978-0-8439-6193-5
Available: New

    Jake McAllister’s mother is worried because his younger brother, Trey, has been acting weird since he started hanging out with his new girlfriend, Myra.  Although Jake can't believe that one girl could really make that drastic of a difference in Trey, he returns home to check things out anyway.  What Jake doesn't realize upon his arrival is that most of the females in town consider Myra a leader, and that they are starting to overpower the men in town.  Jake meets up with a love interest, Kristen, and together they try to save Trey from Myra's clutches, and stop the harvesting of souls that they have discovered is Myra's ultimate goal. 
   Soultaker has many strong points. Character development is particularly strong.  There are several key characters in this book and Smith detailed each of them and their growth throughout the book beautifully.  I truly felt that I got to know the characters as the story progressed.  A lot of authors tend to focus on one or maybe two characters, but Smith continued a detailed progression of change of at least six people.  Fair warning to those who don't like sex, this novel is a bit heavy on sexual content, but Smith writes it well and for this story it's fitting. Highly Recommended.
Contains: Sex, Violence, Profanity
Review by Rhonda Wilson


The Golem by Edward Lee

Leisure Books, 2009
ISBN-10: 0843958081

Available: New

    There are two intermingled stories in The Golem. The first is a tale from the1800's of settlers battling amongst each other and reaching to the darker forces for help. This is an entertaining and engaging tale filled with creepy vibes, nasty curses and horrible monsters. Then we flip to the modern day, where a young couple is moving into their dream house, located squarely between the two ancient camps of settlers. Both members of the couple have recently battled with personal addictions and survived. Leaning on each other for support, they conquered their habits, and have now set up a nice life together. With the sale of their new videogame, they are now rolling in wealth that they are unaccustomed to.
    We know that their new house is located in a place that holds danger they could not possibly be aware of, or even believe in. The descendents of the original settlers still have a strong hold on the dark arts, and aren't above a little rape, murder, and drug dealing to gain back what they feel they have lost.  But how can the new owners even begin to battle back against a force as unstoppable as the Golem?
Contains: Violence, Sex and Rape Scenes.

Review by K.D.Payne



Sacrifice by John Everson
Leisure, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8439-6019-8
Available: New

    Sacrifice is the sequel to Covenant, but unlike Covenant, it starts off at a VERY fast pace and takes you on a roller coaster ride. In this book, Joe Kieran is chasing down a sexy serial killer, Ariana, who is attempting to bring a race of demons known as the Cuburide into this world. Ariana is in the middle of a series of ritualistic sacrifices, and Joe must stop her before she can complete them. Joe teams up with Alex, a hitchhiker who talks to ghosts, and together they must stop Ariana before the final sacrifice is completed and the world is taken over by the Cuburide, who would love nothing more than to be free to spread their perversions across the world. Although Sacrifice is a sequel, it can be read as a stand alone book, as it has everything you need to know from Covenant within it. However, I highly recommend reading Covenant first! 
    I usually don’t find sequels in a series to be as enjoyable as the original, but let me just say... this is my all-time favorite book!  Everson packs a major punch here. Sacrifice is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is extremely gory in parts and has a few other touchy subjects spread throughout. However, readers who can deal with the gore and so on will find that it is well worth it to set aside an afternoon to read Sacrifice… and then the next afternoon to read it again! A few characters from Covenant have carried over, but there are several new characters and they are amazing!  I really felt a connection with them while reading.  I'm not sure what else Everson has in store for the future, but I hope he comes out with another book in this series.  Highly recommended.
Contains:  Violence, Sexual Situation, Gore, Rape, Incest, Adult Language
Review by:  Rhonda Wilson



Covenant by John Everson
Leisure, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8439-6018-1
Available: New

    Covenant is John Everson's first mass market release. Reporter Joe Kieran hears about a suicide taking place off of a cliff, but his boss tells him not to bother writing up a big report. Joe finds this to be strange, because it is the first “big” story he has encountered since moving to the small town of Terrel. Joe decides to dig into things on his own, without authorization, and discovers that suicides have been happening on this same cliff year after year, on the same day, for hundreds of years. Joe realizes that he must be facing something much more surreal than just a mere suicide.
    Covenant starts off like a mystery, transitions to a thriller, and then to an all out horror novel!  Everson has a wonderful way of depicting scenes. Throughout this book you really can visualize all the scenes as you read them. Many times I felt like I was right there in the room (or cave) with the characters, watching the scenes taking place in front of me.  This was actually my second time reading this book and I must say I think I actually enjoyed it even more this time around.  This is a great read for all horror fans, though unsuspecting readers may want to be aware that there is a rape scene in the latter part of the book.  Highly Recommended.
Contains:  Violence, Sexual Situation, Rape, Adult Language
Review by:  Rhonda Wilson




The Adventures of Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus by Clive Barker

Bad Moon Books, 2009

ISBN: 9780982154618

Available: New

    In reviewing or discussing this novella it's important to get out of the way what it is. This short book is a treat for Clive Barker fans. Written when he was a teenager and only slightly edited this little book shows that the young unknown brit had fantasy chops at a young age. It is far from a master work but it is important piece for those interested in learning from the development of this master.

    This is not for casual Barker fans at the same time his old school horror fans will find little appeal in this book. commercially this book is for collectors. Librarians should take not because this is the kind of book that librarians need to put in their collections. The casual fan might not want to invest in the book but might love to read it.

    The tale is short but sweet told in four stories that are separately titled but interconnected. There is a point A and point Z and the novella travels with a fast pace. The title character is the organizer of magical traveling circus that is traveling to the far away city of Xanadu in mid-Asia. Along the way we encounter a bird woman's wedding, the theater of tears and a tumble off the edge of the world. It is clear a rich imagination was flexing it's new muscles.

    It has more in common with Barker's recent Abarat novels than any of the early hardcore horror works that made him famous. Which is funny since many of his fans have been begging Barker to return to his roots, the reality is he is closer than ever to his roots when he is writing fantasy.

Perfect for all ages.

Review by David Agranoff


You In? by Kealan Patrick Burke

Bad Moon Books, 2007

ISBN: n/a


    Pete Haskins is a man at the end of his rope. Gambling debt has cost him everything and he wants to start over - get a job and do things right. When he sees a cushy little spot as a security guard for an old hotel he jumps at the chance, but what should have been a walk in the park quickly became a nightmare that he can’t escape from.

     You In? is a thirty-seven page ghost story that reads quickly. Ghost-wise it is fairly predictable. The character development is good and the reader will quickly sympathize with Pete Haskins as he tries to redeem his life in the face of his fear. You In? is a good choice for anyone looking for something to read quickly and for those who like ghost stories.

Review by Bret Jordan.




The Mysterious Flame by Orrin Grey

Dead Letter Press, 2009

ISBN: 9780979633560

Available : New

             In The Mysterious Flame, the undead necromancer Narthos is hunting a golem, Barnabus, in an attempt to determine the secret of his existence and his soul. The plot summary suggests that the story is high fantasy, but it is actually set in the present day, and has a very elegant gothic feel. Grey does a great job of balancing storytelling, action, and character development in 44 pages. The Mysterious Flame is a chapbook, with a quality in writing and production similar to that of the high-quality chapbooks produced by White Noise Press. The cover art is by renowned horror artist Allen Koszowski, and is an excellent complement to the story.   This title is limited to 100 copies being produced and costs $20 at the publisher’s site which is a consideration for library collection development.   Recommended for fans of horror and gothic tales.



The Absence by Bill Hussey

Bloody Books, 2009

ISBN: 9781905636464

Available: new

     Joe is a young man saddled with guilt. His mother died in a car wreck when he was the driver. Bobby, his younger brother is also plagued by guilt. His close friend killed himself and Bobby did nothing to help prevent it. Their father, Richard doesn’t escape guilt either. Before her death, his wife became another person to him, soulless and blank - absent. He claimed that it drove him to drinking and an affair. This dysfunctional family, full of guilt and blame, is ripe for the picking when they inherit a flour mill where a young girl was brutally murdered by her older sister. As Joe and his father work to restore the mill, Bobby struggles with the ghost of his friend and the entity of a little girl who drives him to self-mutilation for the sake of art and redemption. Little does the family know that the girl is far more than what she seems – she is the harbinger of the absence.

     The Absence isn’t quite a ghost story nor is it a monster story - it is something in between and wonderfully done. Every chapter contains something horrifying, something to make the hair on the reader’s neck stand on end. Mr. Hussey keeps the readers enthralled while slowly revealing the mystery surrounding the absence once piece at a time until the truth is revealed in the climactic conclusion. The characters come to life with their strengths and weaknesses as they deal with their personal demons and the mysteries that surround them. The Absence is a must have for anyone who likes horror stories.

 Contains: Violence, Gore, Sex

Review by Bret Jordan



The Price by Alexandra Sokoloff

St. Martin's Paperbacks, 2008
ISBN: 0312357508

Available: New and Used

     Will Sullivan is losing his family. His daughter Sydney is dying of cancer, and his wife is desperate to save her at any cost. As Will navigates the complex and twisted corridors of Briarwood Medical Center, where Sydney is a patient, he encounters the mysterious Salk, who suggests to him that miracles can happen for those with the faith and will to change their reality. Will begins to notice the incredible recoveries and bizarre and tragic occurrences happening within Briarwood’s walls, and it becomes clear that he isn’t the only one Salk has approached. What would you be willing to do for the one you love? That’s Salk’s question for the desperate. The answers to that question are unspeakable in the book, literally, and uncomfortable to even think about once you’ve turned the last page. Will and his family aren’t particularly convincing or sympathetic as characters, but the hospital is a disturbing place, Salk is a dark and terrifying enigma, and the people and events happening around them create compelling, troubling, and even horrifying variations that illuminate the cost of Salk’s miracles. The Price is suspenseful and will hook readers, keeping them up late into the night. Sokoloff’s vivid portrayal of the consequences of dealing with Salk may stick with readers long after they close the book.
Highly recommended for public libraries. Contains: mentions of suicide, animal sacrifice, violent death.
 Review by Kirsten Kowalewski




The Pines by Rob Dunbar

Leisure, 2008

ISBN: 9780843961652

Available: New and Used

    The Pines takes the legend of the Jersey Devil who haunts the Pine Barrens and gives it a new spin. The concept is interesting, engaging and filled with quite a few victims who end up all but inside out.

    We follow the members of a small town as people start dying in the woods. The main characters are the operators of the beat up ambulance and the police. Of course there are quite a few other locals... they bicker, fight, and eventually try to figure out what is killing all of these people in such violent ways.

    So there are woods, a monster, inbred people, and plenty for the monster to eat. The setup for the story is great. Unfortunately, the presentation spoils it. Much of this book is written in dialogue, so we only meet characters when they start speaking. They are very rarely introduced or described. Often, many people will be talking for quite some time before they are named, forcing the reader to go back and re-read the conversation to put it into context. The characters all have very similar speech patterns, opinions, and attitudes, making it even harder to pick out who is talking. The characters react in their speaking to things we aren’t told are going on, and apart from what is said in the conversations and the characters' internal dialogue, very little of the story is explained. It felt very much like I was back in theater class and reading a play with all of the blocking left out.

    In the end, I didn't find myself connecting with any of the characters, Frustration with trying to figure out who in a large cast of people (many of whom added nothing to the forward progression of the story) was saying what and the constant switching back and forth from scene to scene made it difficult to convince myself to read this one through to the end.

     The ending of this book was touted as brilliant and "shocking", but to be honest, I wasn't all that shocked. I pretty much knew what was going on before the book was half way over. I know that there is a lack of horror material on the Jersey Devil, but as a horror book, this really doesn’t stand up to some of the other options that are out there.

Includes Violence, Racism, Gore, Monsters, and Sex

Review by KDP


Crimson by Gord Rollo
Leisure, 2009
ISBN:  9780843961959
Available: New

    Gord Rollo's second mass market release is about a small town in Ontario, Canada where an evil has been lurking for years.  Four young boys trying to unearth the truth behind a “scary story” they have heard about a man’s brutal murder of his family 20 years more than they bargained for, and soon start to realize that maybe the "evil" hadn't really left their small little town after all.
    This book would be a great addition to any library's horror section as it has quite the "creep" factor going on.  The book had lots of twists and turns in it that kept me wondering how things were going to end up. Towards the end of the book I was so nervous about how it was going to end that I think I chewed both of my thumb nails off.  Rollo's work is definitely a nail-biter and very fast-paced!  He's a great new & rising author in the horror genre. Highly recommended for public library collections.
    Contains:  violence, gore, adult language

Review by Rhonda Wilson


Crimson by Gord Rollo
Leisure, 2009
ISBN:  9780843961959
Available: New

    Crimson, Gord Rollo's second novel is in my humble opinion, far superior to his first. Rollo frames Crimson in the tradition of "small band of kids take on monster living in their small town" tale. Notable examples of this kind of story include Stephen King's IT, Dan Simmons’ Summer of Night and Brian Keene’s Ghoul.
    Crimson starts out in a similar vein, but it quickly takes a different turn. The opening scene of this book is a real kick in the gut that will thrill the most avid of gore hounds. We travel forward in time to about 20 years later. The small farmhouse where the opening scene took place has sat abandoned for all of those years, quietly waiting for new blood. When a single mother and her young son move into the house, there is a stirring in the well out back. Four young friends playing at the house discover and free an ancient evil, and must fight for their lives as their worst nightmares come to pass. Crimson follows these kids from the time they unleash the monster through their lives as it revisits them, bringing new terrors with each time it returns.
    The writing in this book is very strong and the book is extremely interesting. I only had three minor annoyances. The first was that there were too many characters whose names started with the same letter. The second was that although the characters grow older during the book, they never seem to grow mentally as they age. Finally, there was a considerable amount of exposition towards the end of the book that explained everything that had been going on. I would have preferred that the information be introduced as needed during the story rather than having the flow of the story interrupted with a chunk of information, and that some things be left to the imagination. None of that was enough to keep me from really enjoying this read, though. Recommended for public libraries and to anyone looking for a good fun scare.
Contains: language, gore, adult situations, and sexual scenarios

Review by KDP

Note: This is a double take review with two of our reviewers taking a separate look at the same title.

Kirsten Payne's interview with Gord Rollo is here



Drood by Dan Simmons

Little Brown and Company, 2009

ISBN: 0316007021

Available: New

    On June 9, 1865, Charles Dickens, one of the most famous authors in the world, survives a train wreck that changes his life. At the crash scene, he meets a horrid beast, "cadaverously thin, almost shockingly pale,” with “eyes set deep under a pale, high brow that melded into a pale, bald scalp.” His nose was “mere black slits” and he had “small, sharp, irregular teeth, spaced too far apart.” Upon returning to his home, Dickens becomes obsessed with finding Drood, and pulls his good friend, Willkie Collins, into the hunt. This "hunt" forever alters the lives of both Dickens and Collins. Drood is an amazing piece of literary fiction. Fans of classic fiction, including the work of Dickens and Collins, will be absorbed by the flavorful language. Fans of thriller and horror will be drawn in by the dark, dangerous and deadly Drood character. Simmons is spot on with the historical details, the images of London, the characters of Charles Dickens and Willkie Collins. I can't say enough about this amazing piece of writing. Don't let the length of this book stop you from picking it up. I guarantee that Drood is a piece of work that you won't forget for some time. Recommended for public library collections.

Contains: mild language

Review by Jennifer Lawrence



Afterlife by Douglas Clegg

Cemetery Dance, 2009

ISBN: 9781587671777

Available: New


     Julie is a mom, a nurse, the wife of a doctor. Her life turns upside down when her husband is brutally murdered and the police misplace his corpse. She feels like she is falling apart, and in the meantime, she tries to deal with a stepson with emotional issues, a daughter who is being visited by a ghost at night, and erotic dreams of her making love to her undead husband. When she skeptically seeks the help of a psychic, everything she thought she knew goes up like smoke.

    Afterlife is a well-written story that proposes an alternative to existence beyond death. It is intriguing and the storyline keeps the reader hooked, and wondering what will happen next in Julie’s life, whom she can trust and whom she cannot. Afterlife almost feels like a ghost story, but by the end of the book it breaks that mold, expanding into something more. The only complaint I have is that the ending almost leaves the reader hanging, as though there should be more. I would recommend this novel for those who like ghost stories with a twist or anyone who just likes a good book.

Contains: sex

Review by Bret Jordan



Black Cathedral by LH Maynard and MPN Sims

Leisure Books, 2008

ISBN: 0843961996

Available: New

    This is my first venture into the world of Maynard and Sims. The little blurb under the title, "A Department 18 Novel", implies to me that there are more novels (or intended novels) about the group from Department 18.  Department 18 is a government group of psychics, telekinetics, and ghost busters- not that we get to see them bust any ghosts. In this book, when they aren't bickering amongst themselves and puffing up their petty egos, they are investigating why a bunch of people have disappeared on a Scottish island without a trace.

    The book opens well. The first scene with Robert in the house is almost wonderful. The bugs are a chilling touch, and, although the way the scene wraps up is disappointing, it is still a fun scene. Then we get into the real meat of the tale... disappearing people on an island! This book seems like it is really going somewhere, but, unfortunately, it bogs down quickly, with about half the book devoted to researching the incident, and pages and pages of back story, personal feelings, previous relationships, and so on. By the time they got to the island, I was thrilled to see how these annoying folks were going to meet their end... and even that turned out to be a letdown.

    This book suffers from what I like to think of as "too much magic."  The psychics have to be explained, as well as their powers, and how their powers affect them. Then we have to have to have ley lines explained to us... then we have to look into the malevolent evil on the island and that takes pages and pages of exposition and explanation. There was so much explaining going on, that I really didn't care about what happened anymore. By the time we are done, everyone seems to have some sort of super power, the baddie is a superbaddie, and people disappearing isn't all that scary to begin with... mainly because there is always the chance they could reappear.

    I was also a bit disappointed in the ending. It was rather over the top without the heart. The writing style was good enough, but the authors never managed to pull me in. Instead, it seemed like they were intent on pushing the reader out and reminding them "it's just a story".

Contains - Violence, Sexual Situation, Profanity

Review by K.D.P.


The Reach by Nate Kenyon

Leisure Books, 2008

ISBN: 0843960213

Available: New

    Many have likened this novel to Stephen King's novel Firestarter, and it is very easy to see why. There is a little girl with unimaginable power, an evil institution trying to bend and wield the power, and an unlikely hero trying to save her. The author even named a secondary character "Charlie" as if to acknowledge the similarities and give homage to King. Although it has many similarities, though, The Reach reads as an entirely different story.

     Jess Chambers is a star student in psychiatry who has come to the attention of her professor, Dr. Jean Shelley. Dr. Shelley asks Jess to befriend a very special patient. Sarah is a little girl, diagnosed as schizophrenic, who has spent her entire life in an institution, and who has not spoken in months. The door Dr. Shelley opens by inviting Jess into Sarah's life leads to unexpected twists and turns, and finally to an explosive ending that would make a great film.

     From the opening scene I loved this book. It was fun and exciting, and many of the characters elicited concern. Who is good, who is bad, who is lying, who is truly in need, who can be trusted... the tables turn over and over as Jess pieces together Sarah’s life. Men in dark suits with guns and scientists with nasty ambitions soon come into the picture and Jess finds that no one can be trusted. Is Sarah evil? Is she truly the antichrist as her family believes? Or is she just a scared little girl with an unholy power?

     The book moves quickly. Readers will find themselves whipping through the pages until they explode into the ending. The author has said that this is the first in a series of possibly three books, but don't let that stop you. Kenyon wraps things up nicely - no cliff hangers to leave readers angry or frustrated. To be honest, I did not find this book to be scary - I found it to be more entertaining than anything else. Kenyon was good when he wrote Bloodstone and he is even better with The Reach. Highly recommended for public library collections.

 Contains: Violence, Sexual Situations, Profanity (PG-13 rating)

Review by K.D.P 


Pit-Stop by Ben Larken

LL-Publications, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-905091-12-6

Available: New


    You wake up in a diner in the middle of nowhere with no recollection of how you arrived. Your vehicle isn't outside and you feel a strange complacency and willingness to just sit there and zone out... when you suddenly notice that everyone else in the diner is doing exactly the same thing.  Your waitress is beyond creepy and suddenly as you all wake up you realize that you may just be in a pit stop on your way to hell.

    Pit Stop is an interesting look at the afterlife, and it certainly isn't pretty.  A group of individuals find themselves in a hideous way station on their way to the land of fire and brimstone.  An evil looking tour bus with an even more demonic bus driver arrives to take them on to whatever horrid future awaits them, but this group has woken from their trance, and they are prepared to fight back.  Can they fight the grim reaper?  Can a handful of backsliding sinners fight off the devil?  And what would happen if they DO get on the bus?  Is it too late for redemption?

    Not surprisingly, since the characters are all sinners, some of them are the most horrifying kind. Still, as a reader, I found that I didn’t want them to end up burning in eternal torment.  The author does an excellent job of putting readers in the position of rooting for undesirable people because deep down, people want to believe that redemption is possible, even at this point. Readers will want these people to come to terms with what they have done and find a way to make up for it.  Somehow, the author manages to write about the afterlife, sin, and hell this without ever truly touching on the issue of religion.  Though the story is based on the Catholic theory of Limbo and Purgatory, there is almost no mention of religion at all.

    It is fairly easy to get to know the characters, because they have a form of telepathy which allows us to watch their memories through another character's eyes.  I did have some problems with the whole concept of the book in that since there were no explanations or religious background to draw from, there were two characters that I could not for the life of me figure out why they were there. I know Larkin’s story needed a shining knight, but I question why they would be on a one way track to hell.  That question was never answered for me and left me a bit perplexed.  Other than that this was a very enjoyable book. Recommended.

Contains: profanity, violence, gore, illegal drugs, prostitution, murder, incest, rape, and vivid depictions of a hell like environment.

Review by KDP



The Woods Are Dark by Richard Laymon

Cemetery Dance Publications, 2008

ISBN: 1587671972

Available: New

    The small town of Barlow has a hideous pact with the creatures that live in the nearby forest.  In return for the town‘s offering its visitors to the creatures, they leave Barlow in relative peace.  The Dills family, on vacation, and Neala and Sherri on their way to a camping trip, all stop in Barlow and fall prey to the townspeople.   Soon they all find themselves in a fight for their lives as they try to deal with the creatures in the woods.   The Woods Are Dark uses Laymon’s typical storytelling style, with plenty of violence and sex; however he does a stronger job in creating atmosphere in this book than in many of his later titles. The Woods Are Dark was initially published in heavily edited form by Warner. This limited edition by Cemetery Dance contains the story as originally envisioned by Laymon. Recommended for Laymon fans as well as readers who enjoyed Jack Ketchum’s Off Season or Edward Lee’s titles.

Contains: Rape, Violence, Gore



Into The Cruel Sea by Rich Ristow

Skullvines Press, 2008

Available: New

    When Beth’s boyfriend Wade disappears after killing his parents, she tries to move on with life, dealing with her abusive father and distant mother the best she can.  When Wade returns in a less than human form, he wants to take her away with him, but first he wants her to kill her father.  Into The Cruel Sea is an effective tale of horror that has a Lovecraftian feel to it. Beth seems like a real person and the situation Ristow has created is very believable. Photographs and notes create realism in the setting, and there is plenty of fast-paced action. It’s easy to see this novella being expanded into a longer story, but just as it is,  Into the Cruel Sea makes for a delicious little nugget of horror that is worth picking up.

Contains: Violence, drug use, gore



Ghost Walk by Brian Keene

Leisure Books, 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0843956450
Available: New
    In this loose sequel to Dark Hallow, an evil malignant force is unleashed when a hunter unwittingly removes one of the protective stones holding it back from our world. It’s Halloween, and Ken Ripple’s “ghost walk”, an outdoor haunted house, takes place in the same area. Freelance reporter Maria Nasr, Levi Stoltzfus a formerly Amish mage, and author Adam Senft (who also appeared in Dark Hollow)to stop the entity before it destroys everything in LeHorn's Hollow and beyond. Ghost Walk is a well-written book with interesting characters and good plot pacing. Levi, in particular, is a character this reader would enjoy meeting up with again in Keene’s future work. Since the book is a sequel it does need to provide a little background, but Keene gives just enough backstory to bring new readers up to date without disrupting the story’s flow. Although it is a sequel, Ghost Walk does fine as a stand alone novel. Readers may find it useful to do so to get a better appreciation of Adam Senft’s character, though. Keene also ties Ghost Walk in with many of his other horror novels, setting up a new mythos that can serve as a framework for future work. Ghost Walk is a well-written book with original ideas that will make an enjoyable Halloween read. Recommended.

Contains: Violence
Reviewed as part of the Halloween Horror Review Project, click here to see other Halloween themed horror book reviews.


Mutiny in Heaven by Whitney Lakin

Publish America, 2008

ISBN: 1605637912

Availability: New

    Neil is a soul whose troubles started from the moment of his birth as a winged infant, half human half angel. Moments after his birth he is dropped off at a charity hospital where his wings are removed, leaving scars that stay with him for the rest of his life. Fast forward to his teenage years and Neil is living in a New Orleans orphanage where he is terribly unhappy and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the boys. He runs away, hoping to create a better life for himself, knowing that he is meant for more than what the orphanage has to offer. His experience on the run ends in tragedy, and he is returned to the orphanage, then transferred to a different orphanage where he can attend public school. He remains an outsider to all the students except for Deanna, a girl who becomes his lifelong friend. A decade later, Neil and Deanna have started a band, but are struggling to get by. A mysterious man offers Neil a recording contract if he will add a few songs to the album, songs in an otherworldly language. Neil reluctantly agrees and soon the world seems to be in the palm of his hand. The only problem is that the strange man is an Angel with plans to unseat God and subjugate all of mankind by breeding a race of half-man half-angels. If that isn’t enough to dampen Neil’s success, there is also an insane, shadowy serial killer who has decided that Neil must die.

    Mutiny in Heaven is an entertaining and effective read about Angels, demons, and ghosts.  It is also a story of sin and acceptance set in a rich and dynamic New Orleans that leaves the reader feeling as though they have actually visited the wild city. Whitney Lakin brings New Orleans to life in the imagination of her reader as only someone who is intimately familiar with the city could, showing not only its glamour, but also its ugly side. Mutiny in Heaven is a unique story that shows the good and the bad in its characters, accepting both sides as human nature. It would make an excellent addition to any library.

Contains: Sex, sodomy

Review by Bret Jordan


Deus ex Machina Logos by Charles Matthew Sauer
Xlibris, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4363-1497-8
Available: New and Used
    Deus ex Machina Logos was the hardest book I have ever had to read in this lifetime. The story was supposed to be about a haunted book but the only thing that left me haunted was that it took me a few months to get through the book. I like a story that unfolds naturally and makes sense, but this one rambled on about things in a philosophical manner. The story follows Cecilia and Justin, who travel to the Rocky Mountains to search for a secret book. They stay with Matthew who turns out to be quite the character. The thing I didn't like about this book was that it was difficult to decipher and very hard to understand. I thought maybe it was just me but my mother, who is a huge reader, also read the book, and she didn't get it either. I think the majority of the readers will have the same confused experience I did. Not recommended.

Review by The Angry Princess



Through A Glass, Darkly by Bill Hussey

Bloody Books, 2008

ISBN: 9781905636280

Available: New 

    Detective Jack Trent avoids human contact. His mind is tightly bound by logic, but this case tests his limits.  Children are being brutally murdered and possibly cannibalized, and Trent discovers that his ex-lover’s son is the killer’s next target. The plot thickens as mysticism, ghosts, a strange cursed community and Jack’s own past draw the threads of the story together, leading to an exciting head. Through A Glass, Darkly has a flavor of evil for every reader. Bill Hussey does an excellent job of making a fantastic story believable. He pulls the reader into accepting that possession is possible, and brings elderly spirits to life. Initially, Hussey presents Jack as an oddity, but a sympathetic character. As the story progresses Hussey reveals Jack’s sinister aspect, keeping the reader in suspense as to whether the evil within the detective will help the villain succeed. I would certainly recommend Through A Glass, Darkly to anyone who loves a good horror novel.

Review by Bret Jordan




The Haunted Forest Tour by James A. Moore and Jeff Strand

Earthling Publications, 2007

ISBN: 0979505429

Available: New and Used

Published as the third part of Earthling’s Halloween series, The Haunted Forest Tour is a creative Halloween tale that revels in fun. It's an extremely well written collaboration that balances horror and comedy perfectly. Earthling outdid them themselves on the look of the book. Glen Chadbourne's paintings on the front and back are worth the price alone, not to mention his artwork throughout.

The story is about a forest that pops out of the New Mexico desert and is populated by monsters of every kind. Its America, so it is not long before capitalism turns it into a theme park. When the train going through the forest breaks down the most effective frights happen, Jurassic Park-style..

This novel is a true Halloween funhouse, set to the page, and is a perfect library book. In fact, I checked this book out at the Portland, Oregon public library. It's a beautiful limited edition from Earthling Publications- collectors and Halloween story fans should not miss this one. If your library has the budget and Earthing is not sold out, seek it out for your patrons now! Highly recommended for public libraries.

Contains violence, adult themes, adult language

Review by David Agranoff




Bloodstone by Nate Kenyon

Leisure, May 2008


Available: New

    Nate Kenyon makes a great debut with this tale of two total strangers thrown together on a cross-country trip, who find that their nightmares are connected with the evil seeping into a small Maine town.  Billy and Angel seek to unravel the mystery that began with the town’s founder in 1720, and must close a window through which the dead return to torment their killers.  Kenyon also inserts several interesting twists to keep the story fresh. 

Contains: violence, minor gore, sex, but not graphic, some adult language.

Reviewed by Larry Oathout


Serpentine by Thomas F. Monteleone
Borderlands Press, 2007
ISBN: 9781880325766
Available: New

    The tale of a snake demon who preys on the brightest and most creative that humanity has to offer, Serpentine at its heart is a study of our attraction to our own destruction. Sophia, a snake demon, is loosed after a centuries-long imprisonment in an Italian church altar. She romps across Europe before heading to America on a quest to become a media star, leaving a trail of strange deaths behind her. In America, Sophia finally runs into a man who, unlike every other, is not madly attracted to her. His raw creativity calls to her, as does his mysterious immunity to her perfect sex-driven aura.

    Unfortunately, Monteleone’s portrayal of Sophia's powers and her natural predation on the human artist falls flat. The reader is kept so far removed from all of the characters that there is no real emotional connection. The depth of the plot isn’t completely revealed until over a hundred pages in, by which point the repetition of “Sophia meets a man- man is overwhelmingly attracted to Sophia- Sophie drains him of his energy and life force” is old. Even the eventual battle between good and evil is rather dispassionate, giving the feeling that's there nothing truly at stake.

Contains: Sexual themes
Review by Michele Lee


The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell

Virgin Books,2008

ISBN:  1905834179

Available: New

    Ramsey Campbell is brilliant. No one invokes the atmosphere and sense of impending dread like he does. There are so many layers to the author’s latest masterpiece, The Grin of the Dark. The book’s protagonist, Simon Lester, is a film critic who, in an attempt to provide greater security for his wife and stepson, embarks on a quest to write a biography about an obscure silent film star. What we, the readers, are delivered is a deftly crafted, spiraling tale of madness that escalates throughout the prose. Chillingly wrought, The Grin of the Dark, will surprise and amaze readers as the story unfolds and the layers peel away. Campbell grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you slowly through this dark obsession, leaving you with the quiet desperation of a man unraveling before your eyes. In a final masterstroke, you are forced back as an unsettling revelation descends upon you. Truly wonderful and frightening in every sense of the word, The Grin of the Dark is deliciously disturbing. Reader’s advisory note: This book may be enjoyed by fans of thrillers. Highly recommended for public library collections.

Contains: Adult language, Disturbing Imagery

Review by Bob Freeman





The Possessed by Ronald Dondeigo

Publish America July 2007
ISBN- 9781424139293
Available: New

    Johnny Dove is a writer who has developed a severe case of writer’s block. His publisher is nagging him, but he is just plain stuck until he walks into a little antique store to have a look around. Johnny’s problem is revealed during a casual chat with the shop’s eccentric keeper, who sells him a one of a kind pen, rumored to be haunted. As award winning stories flow from his pen, the spirit haunting the pen consumes him and Johnny gradually begins losing his sanity and well being. As the malevolent spirit takes over Johnny, he relives all of his vicious previous accounts of murder and Satanism. Soon everything Johnny writes begins to happen around him, and he is possessed by a high priest of Satan, who has no qualms about murdering or bringing the dead back to life to do his bidding. This story kept me involved. I didn't want to put it down- I wanted to find out what happened next. Because of its explicit nature, this book may not be appropriate for all libraries or readers, but public libraries building large collections of horror fiction with patrons who enjoy this genre may want to take a look.

Contains: murder, Satanism, religion, sex, violence, sacrifice, and cannibalism
Review by: The Angry Princess




A Wager of Blood by J.W. Coffey

LBF Books, 2007

ISBN: 978-1885093455

Availabile: New

          A Wager of Blood is a modern ghost story that takes place in a familiar setting. The New Hampshire Inn was stolen in a fixed game of chance 300 years ago, and since then, the original owners have been trying to reclaim it, reaching out to strangers and family alike with the truth. The story clips along at a nice pace, setting the stage with two couples with strong connections to two other couples killed at the inn's darkest moment. Now the new forms of the couples who died have  converged, not quite by chance, at the inn, and the battle between ghost, demon and the living is about to come to a head. A Wager of Blood evokes much the same feel as the movie version of The Haunting, and would draw readers who want a classic ghost story with everyday characters. Recommended for libraries that want a representative selection of horror fiction, without excessively explicit descriptions or "edginess."

Contains: violence, language

Review by Michele Lee


Dark Hollow by Brian Keene

Leisure Books, 2008

ISBN:  0843958618

Available: New

    Sexually charged and riveting, Brian Keene’s Dark Hollow (originally released as The Rutting Season) is an exciting page-turner. Provocative and lightning paced, the reader is taken on a thrilling ride into LeHorn’s Hollow, where a supernatural entity enflames the passions of the men there and the women begin to mysteriously disappear. With rich characterization (especially in our heroic lead, Adam Senft) and an almost palpable sense of dread that is brought to life by the author’s skillful escalation of the supernatural events that unfold, Dark Hollow does not disappoint. Readers advisory note: this is a good title to recommend to fans of traditional or mainstream horror and mythology.

Contains:  Adult language, Adult situations, Extreme violence

Review by Bob Freeman




Firefly Rain by Richard Dansky

Wizards of the Coast Discoveries, 2008

ISBN: 0786948566

Available: New 

    With crisp, lyrical prose, Richard Dansky has delivered a Southern Gothic ghost story that is, quite frankly, near brilliant. It has everything you could hope for, from evocative atmosphere to a palpable creepiness that keeps the reader on edge from cover to cover. This being Dansky’s first novel, one would expect some growing pains, but you’ll find none of them here. Firefly Rain plays with the reader’s emotions and its pace completely manipulates you, filling you with chills and an impending sense of dread that doesn’t release you till the final page. Richard Dansky has hit a home run. Here’s to hoping that he’ll have many more journeys into the batter’s box. Readers advisory note:  Readers who enjoy mysteries tinged with the supernatural may enjoy this book. MonsterLibrarian recommended for public library collections.

Contains: Thrills, chills, and enough edge of your seat angst to satisfy the most jaded of readers. Minor adult language and situations.

Review by Bob Freeman


Monkey Love by John Paul Allen

Biting Dog Press, 2007

ISBN: 0972948562

Available: New

    Sandra Rixx lost her husband in a terrorist bombing. She hides her heartache by throwing herself into her work.  But things have a way of creeping out, and Sandra starts to find signs that Richard has kept his promise to come back to her.  Monkey Love is a very subtle, sneaky horror tale. In a genre that loves blood and guts and unrelenting terrors this book has no gore, no violence, just a clenching end that turns what appears to be a straightforward tale into a very clear lesson in horror. Highly recommended for horror collections. Monkey Love is not appropriate for immature readers, but is a stunning example of what a true horror tale can be.

Contains: sex

Review by Michele Lee



Mister B Gone by Clive Barker

Harper Collins, 2007

ISBN: 9780060182984

Available: New 

    Mister B Gone is the story of the demon Jakabok Botch (or Mister B to his friends) and his life as he and a fellow demon go through Europe in search of world-changing technology. Barker has chosen an interesting way to tell his tale, in that the book itself is the main character. The story begins with the demon asking the reader to burn the book, and end his wretched existence. Within a page or so the book/demon realizes that it won’t be burned without coercing the reader into performing the act and Mister B begins telling the reader the story of his life, how he killed his father, joined another demon in search of world-changing technology, as well as the celestial events that led to his being trapped within the covers of the book. The book/demon continues to ask to be burned throughout the story, and over time “please” changes to promises, and finally to threats. This device, initially interesting, wears thin pretty quickly. Mister B was a study in contrasts, changing often from a vicious, vile creature to a sensitive being and back again. The same contrast is reflected in the storytelling, which ranges from borderline comical to gross and scary. The book is a delight to behold, with pages that appear rustic and worn, and a medieval feel. However, while there are plenty of horror elements, the tone was almost light-hearted, and the contents fell somewhat short on the horror side of things. I would recommend Mister B Gone to anyone looking for a different approach to storytelling. However, those looking for a solid horror novel may want to look elsewhere.

Contains: Violence, Gore

Review by Bret Jordan





The Shining by Stephen King

Pocket Books,  2001

ISBN: 0743424425

Available: New or Used

     Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick forever imprinted his vision of King's

The Shining on the cultural imagination. At its core, Kubrick’s film shows a family in the grips of a haunted hotel, but the book examines a haunted family already suffering from the pain of alcoholism and child abuse even prior to moving in as caretakers of the Overlook Hotel. Originally published in 1977, King’s third novel gives a context to the story of the Torrance family that is absent in the movie.  The details about the father, Jack Torrance, that surface in the book, show him as a multidimensional villain rather than a cardboard monster. Should the monster have a back story? Should he have a real life? King, who acknowledges that his creation of Torrance had an important part to play in his development as a writer of horror, answers these questions for himself in The Shining.  Readers advisory note: this novel about a haunted hotel and a haunted family is a must-read for King fans and for readers of supernatural and human horror. Highly recommended for public library collections.

 Movie connections: The Shining, Kubrick (1980)

                                  The Shining, King, (1990?)

Contains: violence and child abuse.

Review by William Simmons     





Harvest Moon by James A. Moore

Cemetery Dance Publications, 2006

ISBN: 1587671638

Available: New

            The town of Beldam Woods has quite a history.  An evil witch, Alvina Bathory, was once hunted down and killed there, and now the witch’s three monstrous sons, Old Bones, Patches, and Mr. Sticks have returned. They intend to bring their mother back from the dead and seek revenge on the ancestors of those who caused her demise. The “good guys” are represented by Beldam’s chief of police, Craig Gallagher, and by three kids named Josh, Jeremy and Melissa. However, they aren’t developed enough for the reader to care what happens to them. It is Alvina Bathory’s sons who really steal the book. Each one has a unique power and point of view, and how the very different brothers interact with each other makes for fascinating reading. One feels that the author could do more with these characters in the future, which seems to be a possibility, as there are some plot threads that are never tied up satisfactorily. In fact, the book begs for a sequel.  Moore has written a fast-paced, engaging, and original story.  Contains: violence, gore, sexual situations





Rachmaninoff's Ghost  by M. F. Korn

Silver Lake Publishing ,2003

ISBN: 1931095418

Available: New

            Mark Conner is a new student at a small college in Louisiana. He is majoring in music where he specializes in piano. There is only one problem- Mark doesn’t have much talent on the piano. When an instructor tells him that he should change his major back to engineering, his hopes for a future as a piano player are crushed. In a desperate act of faith, Mark goes to a graveyard with an occult book and performs a ritual of magic, binding his soul to that off the classical composer and pianist Rachmaninoff. Suddenly Mark can play the piano like a master, learning the most complex of compositions almost on sight. His peers and instructors are amazed. However, being a better piano player isn’t the only change that Mark undergoes. He begins to dress differently, crops his hair, and changes the furniture in his dorm room. His arrogance knows no bounds. In addition, he starts seeing the world through Rachmaninoff’s eyes, as it was years ago. Finally, the ghost itself begins to appear to him, threatening his life. At  the brink of success at the Julliard School of Music, Mark loses his tenuous grip on reality and is committed to a mental institution back in Louisiana. Rachmaninoff’s Ghost has a great premise, but the story falls flat, and most characters didn’t feel real or interesting enough to make me care what happened to them. Contains: Gore, Violence, Sex. Review by Bret Jordan.


Swamp Witch Piquante & Scream Queen Bisque (Over a Bed of Rice) by M. F. Korn

Silver Lake Publishing, 2004

ISBN: 1931095787

Available: New

    As the name suggests, Swamp Witch Piquante & Scream Queen Bisque is a book containing two stories. The first is entitled "The White Trash Witches Coven" and the title says it all. The story contains the trashiest, junk food eating, soap opera watching and wild children raising women that I have ever read about. It is a scary and sometimes comical tale of Kieth Ogden’s meeting with an odd witches coven, where spells are cast, incantations are said, and coincidental events occur that are believed to be magic by this motley crew of witches. The second story entitled "Pavane for a Scream Queen" is the tale of freelance writer Jeff Vincent and his quest to get an interview Aurora Sterling, scream queen of the 1950’s classic B-movies. The actress herself is shrouded in mystery, and with good reason. I enjoyed "The White Trash Witches Coven" for the variety of characters in the story. The main character wasn’t particularly appealing, but the witches were great; with their strange and self centered internal politics, their odd views on life and those around them, and their often-loathsome habits I couldn’t help but take an interest in their lives. The second story,  "Pavane for a Scream Queen: kept me captivated with its air of mystery. The story almost had a ʽwho done itʼ feel to it that kept me reading to find out what was going on. Both stories also have an essence of Louisiana and New Orleans that gives the book a flavor all of it’s own.  I would recommend these two intriguing and entertaining tales to any library.

 Contains: Violence




Winds of Change by Jason Brannon

Nocturne Press, 2007

ISBN: 0977656012

Available: New

    Jason Brannon presents us with a trio of short stories in Winds of Change .  In the title story, a group of everyday people are trapped in a hardware store by a wind that turns those who venture forth into a pile of salt.  It is up to Matt the store manager to find out who or what is the cause of the wind and keep his customers alive.   In the next story,  "Quartet," four musicians who have survived the attack of a seaside conservatory by sea creatures discover that the only thing keeping the monsters at bay is their music.  The quartet of musicians must find a way to escape before they collapse from exhaustion.   Finally,  in "Graffiti," a homeless man wandering the streets meets a young man with vengeance on his mind who has the ability to bring forth voodoo spirits with his graffiti.  The two men quickly learn that there is danger in using the occult for revenge when one of the spirits breaks free and starts to kill innocents.   Winds of Change is a refreshing series of original stories written with obvious talent.  The stories are interesting and engaging and will keep the reader turning pages to see what happens next.   I look forward to Brannon's next work.   Recommended for public libraries. Contains: Violence, a little gore.



Dead Sea by Tim Curran
Elder Signs Press, 2007
ISBN: 0977987655
Available: New
    When George boarded the Mara Corday as part of a construction crew building an airstrip in French New Guinea he never knew the terror that would await him.  As the ship enters a mysterious fog bank on the edge of the Sargasso Sea, it is damaged in a freak accident, and  the survivors discover that the fog has transported them to a world filled with predatory monsters straight from a madman's nightmares. Dead Sea is a very dense book, with the bulk of it following two different groups of survivors who must deal not only with otherworldly monstrosities but also with each other as they descend slowly into madness. Curran creates a  number of new and deadly creatures in his book, which at times has the feel of Stephen King’s short story "The Mist," fleshed out more fully. Curran also does a fantastic job of creating an atmosphere filled with fog, gloom, and decay.  The main flaw to the story is the interaction between the construction crew foreman, Saks, and his band of survivors, Saks is constantly trading insults and making obnoxious sexual comments. The constant never ending stream of offensive language can be tiring and distracting. Regardless,  Dead Sea is one of the best horror titles released so far in 2007 and is definitely worth being added to a public library collection. Recommended. Contains: Language, Gore, Violence,  Murder



The Offering by S.D. Hintz, 2006

ISBN: 143030281X

Available: New and Used

    After Murray Macabe's  mother is murdered, he is torn away from his hometown and best friend, and sent to live with his grandmother in the small town of Miniver, Minnesota.  There are no other children in Miniver, and his grandmother's neighbors seem to be creepy and sinister geriatrics.   Murray is swept up in mystery and magic, with sinister implications.   Hintz is skilled at creating creepy and horrific scenes, especially at the beginning of the book, when  Murray has visions of being stalked by his mother's murderer.  However, the story as a whole seems disjointed.  The first 85 pages of the book concern the murder of Murray's mother and the visions he has of her murderer. Once Murray arrives in Miniver, this story thread is abandoned for the events that take place there, without any explanation.  This lengthy build up to the events in the second two thirds of the story left this reader scratching his head.  Since the first third of the book doesn't concern Miniver at all, the events there seem rushed, and the characters and setting aren't fully developed.  This makes understanding the events and motivations of characters in the story's climax extremely challenging.   S.D. Hintz  is clearly a talented writer, with the ability to draw the reader in and capture a scene in vivid detail, and I look forward to seeing him hone his storytelling and his craft.   Contains: violence, human sacrifice, arson.


The Prison by R. Patrick Gates

Pinnacle, 2004

ISBN: 0786016396

Available: New

    The New Rome Correctional Institute was once a state mental hospital, where the crudest and vilest forms of mental treatment were administered to its patients. Thirty years after the facility's incarnation as a mental hospital has ended, Tim Saget enters its doors as a correctional officer, knowing little about the prison's past, or the ghosts that dwell in its halls and underground corridors. These ghosts not only roam the halls, but also haunt men's dreams, offering them an escape from their dull incarceration by giving them the fantasies they desire - fantasies about torture, violence and rape. As the dreams spill over into the real world ,mayhem and evil fill the walls of the New Rome Correctional Institute. The Prison was a book that I could hardly put down. It is shocking in its intensity, and often made me cringe at the evil acts some of the men display. I truly hated the villains, and related to the imperfect heroes. The Prison does have a strong focus on sex, though I can't say that it wasn't necessary in the telling of this tale. I would tentatively recommend The Prison to public libraries because the novel is very graphic in it's description of sexual situations and the violence that men are willing to perform against others. I do think that this book would make a great addition to selected personal libraries. Contains: Violence, Gore, Suicide, Sex, Rape, Sodomy, Pedophilia, Torture. Review by Bret Jordan.




Wedding Bells, Tortured Souls by Angela Albee

Publish America, 2006


Available: New

    Amber is a newlywed who is starting to have horrifying visions of young women murdered in bloody and disturbing ways. As the visions get worse, they take their toll on her, and she contacts her friend Natalie to help her uncover their meaning.   The story at its heart is  a good creepy little story that needs some work.  One of the challenges of a book this brief, is that every word and every character must count and contribute meaningfully to the story.  However, Natalie's addition, and the time and space devoted to developing her character, does not contribute significantly enough to the story to justify the time and space allotted to her.  Ultimately, Natalie does not do anything in the story that Amber can't do herself. Natalie also introduces a storyline that does not appear to be related directly to Amber's problem. She is trying to solve the ten year old gruesome murder of a former high school classmate. Her motivation to do this seems pretty thin, and the plot thread is left unresolved for her.  Wedding Bells, Tortured Souls would have benefited from using the time and space devoted to developing Natalie to flesh out Amber's character.   Still, this is a chilling little story, and readers looking for a quick fix will feel enjoyable shivers. Contains:   Murder, a scene of torture


Sole Survivor by Dean R. Koontz

Alfred A. Knopf, 1997

ISBN: 0679425268

Available: New and Used

     Joe Carpenter has been a broken man since his wife and two girls died in a catastrophic plane crash. Rose Tucker, a survivor of the plane crash, changes his outlook.  However, Joe isn’t the only one interested in her. A company called Teknologik wants her dead, and for some reason they now want Joe dead as well. Joe’s curiosity leads him to find other people who have lost relatives in the plane crash. As he finds them he realizes that Rose has already talked to them, and given them a comfort about the crash that is almost supernatural. Adding to the mystery, these people begin to commit suicide in the most brutal of fashions. A  corporate cover up that, once known to the public, will change humanity, is also thrown into the mix.  Full of action, mystery, and horror, Sole Survivor is a roller coaster ride almost from the very start. Full of action, Joe is well-presented as a man without hope or faith, who just wants it all to be over, until Rose gives him hope and a belief in something greater. The only thing about the book that I didn’t care for was the way clues seemed to be almost deliberately withheld. Sole Survivor is a great read, recommended as a fine addition to any public or private library.


Contains: Gore, Violence, Suicide


The Commandments by Angeline Hawkes

Nocturne Press, 2006

ISBN: 0977656039

Available: New

     The Commandments is a unique collection of ten loosely connected short stories. The main story arc concerns Reverend Conway’s recent purchase from the holy land, an ancient copy of the Ten Commandments. The only problem is that this particular copy has a curse attached to it, causing the members of his congregation to become involved in mayhem, the supernatural, and murder. Each story concerns one of the Ten Commandments and the consequences of breaking it. In “No Other Gods,” the defacing of the Madonna has results the vandal could not have foreseen. In the story “Graven Image,” a wife’s statue of the Indian deity Kali turns out to be more than it seems. In “The Name,” a boy’s insistence on using God’s name in vain has an ironic outcome. In “Them Dry Bones,” a gravedigger who has decided to work on the Sabbath digs up more than he bargained for. “The Void” is about a girl who doesn’t honor her father or her mother, resulting in a dreadful outcome. In “Hogwash,” a farmer accidentally kills a man and decides to cover his tracks, only to suffer a similar fate. “The Parting Gift” is about a man who is unfaithful to his wife with a prostitute only to find out that the prostitute is no longer satisfied with just money. “Handy’s Pawn & Gold” is about a thief who gets his hand caught in the cookie jar. In “Retriever,” two old men, who have been like brothers since childhood have an argument that results in a disappearance. Finally, “Keeping Up With the Joneses” is the story of a man who covets another man’s possessions, but when he actually gets those possessions wishes that he hadn’t. Although the stories are loosely connected by the main story arc and the collection’s theme, each story can also stand on its own. Recommended for personal and public libraries.  Review by Bret Jordan

 Contains: Violence, Sex



Darkness Wakes by Tim Waggoner

Leisure, November, 2006

ISBN: 0843957948

Available: New

     In Darkness Wakes, family man Aaron Rittinger gives in to his desires and joins his neighbor Caroline, who he has been secretly lusting after for years, at a sex club called Penumbra.  Once in Penumbra, Aaron learns that the club centers around a Cthulhu-esque entity called the Overshadow, which gives the members of Penumbra physical pleasure in return for human sacrifice.  Aaron is immersed in a world of intense pleasure and human sacrifice, and must find a way to escape before it costs him and his family their lives. Waggoner has offered up a tale filled with sex and gore that would make any splatterpunk fan happy.  The story is a strong one, but most of the characters, with the exception of Aaron’s wife and children, are unsympathetic.  Still, readers will find it easy to relate to Aaron’s weakness and will feel for him as he deals with the horrific unintended consequences of his actions.  An interesting aspect of Darkness Wakes is the inclusion of Aaron’s dead father, as it is unclear whether his appearance is real or a hallucination caused by the Overmind. Fans of Edward Lee, Richard Laymon, and John Skipp will enjoy Darkness Wakes.  Contains: many strong sexual passages, gore, violence



The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff
St. Martin’s Press, 2006
ISBN: 0312357486
Available: New and Used
    Alexandra Sokoloff presents the reader with a good old fashioned ghost story. A group of five Baird College students have decided to stay at school over Thanksgiving Break. Robin Stone, the protagonist, is a shy student who is seeking to avoid the pains of going home by staying on campus. The other four students have a familiar feel- the jock, the musician, the flirtatious tease, the scholar- but the characters are engaging and have been crafted to transcend these stereotypes. The five students release something unexpected after experimenting with a Ouija board, and must then determine whether the strange events that they experience are in their minds or something more ominous and supernatural. Sokoloff has a talent for successfully creating mood and atmosphere that will draw the reader in and leave you with goosebumps. The pacing of the story is brisk and will keep the reader breathless. Recommended as a core supernatural title in a public library’s horror fiction collection. Contains: violence, murder, a scene of supernatural rape.



Mind’s Eye by Philip Henry

Exposure Publishing, 2006

ISBN: 1846852978

Available: New

    Mind’s Eye is an effective tale of high school horror, successfully recreating the high school atmosphere of the 1980s. High school student Steve Norton finds himself thrust into a nightmare after an encounter with a creature who can take illusionary form.  The creature goes on a rampage, killing several students in the town.  Steve and two other students who have survived the monster try to solve its mystery and stop it before it kills again.  Reading the story is like watching a train wreck in slow motion as Steve goes from being a generally liked good student with a girlfriend to that of a social pariah.   The female characters have this habit for being used or abused by men in the book, which can be frustrating to witness in the book. An overall good read, with an original plot, Mind’s Eye is a good choice for an afternoon’s reading. There is a minor plot point that could use further elaboration, yet overall Philip Henry does a fine job developing his characters and one truly feels bad for Steve as his life goes from bad to worse. Mind’s Eye is written for an adult audience, but young adults might find it interesting as well. Recommended Contains: violence, minor sexual situations.



Goon by Edward Lee and John Pelan

Overlook Connection Press, November, 2005
ISBN: 1892950634

Available: New and Used

    When women who take to following the local professional wrestling shows start ending up dead and raped in that order,  it is up to a police officer, Straker and a reporter, Melinda, to track down the serial killer.  The prime suspect is the mysterious Goon, a professional bad guy wrestler to seems to enjoy receiving  vast amounts of pain and punishment during his matches, as he is able to take blows that would normally break bones and kill men.   Lee and Pelan have written a book that has a very interesting story line at its core, and the combination of wrestling and horror is a creative  combination, but the vast number of sexually explicit scenes through out the book really detract from the core story.  Many of these passages are not erotic or enticing but would fall under the heading of repulsive and vulgar.  It would be great to see a cleaned up version of Goon. There is a good and creative story presented, it just is mired in over the top sex that adds nothing to the story but will certainly limit its audience.  The book is not appropriate for young adults or children and many adults. Contains: violence, gore, many sexually explicit passages.    


 The Long Last Call by John Skipp

Cemetery Dance, October, 2006
ISBN: 1587671360

Available: New

    In The Long Last Call, John Skipp sends his reader to an isolated strip joint where the usual routine between the dancers and regular patrons is turned upside down. A mysterious stranger arrives with lots of cash and a touch that brings out a person's "true self," which, when it comes to the employees and patrons of the strip club, can be pretty ugly.   It is up to Mom, the sister of the owner, who takes care of the strippers, to try to survive the night, which results in an ultimate battle between good and evil.  Skipp has provided us with a story that moves at an incredibly fast pace once the setting and characters have been established, and includes a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on your point of view) dose of sex and violence.    The story works very well and is a quick and entertaining read.   Fans of Skipp's earlier work, Edward Lee, or Richard Laymon will enjoy The Long Last Call.   Libraries and librarians will need to be aware, before recommending Skipp's book as part of readers advisory, that the quantity of graphic sex and violence in the book this book will not be to all horror readers' taste.  Skipp is a solid and talented writer but his material is not for all audiences.  Contains: violence, gore, sexual passages, sexual violence.




Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge

Cemetery Dance, October, 2006
ISBN: 1587671476

Available: New

    Every Halloween, a small Midwestern town locks away teenage boys for five days with nothing to eat just with a little water, to prime them for a hunt known as the Run.  The October Boy, a supernatural creature with a pumpkin head, candy in his body, and a very large knife, is raised to be hunted. The boy who catches and kills the  October Boy gets to leave the town with pockets full of money.   Pete McCormick, a loner who seeks to flee his little town, soon finds out that the Run is not what he thought it was.  Partridge has written a solid and entertaining Halloween tale. He has created a sympathetic character with Pete McCormick, with the reader rooting for him to survive the night and the Run.  This tale is a well-paced and engrossing read, although it leaves the reader calling  for more background on the town and for the origin of the Run and the October Boy.   Dark Harvest has been named one of the "Best Books of the Year" by Publisher's Weekly.  Recommended . May also be appropriate for older teens. Contains: violence and a little gore.



The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Atria, September, 2006
ISBN: 0743298020

Available: New and Used
    Renowned author Vida Winter has told many tales about her past, all of them contradictory. Close to death, she contacts Margaret Lea, who reluctantly agrees to be her biographer. Vida’s tale at first seems like another one of her fantastic stories, but her fairytale beginning has a sense of foreboding and as the layers peel away, the creepiness of the story draws Margaret, and the reader, in. Vida’s words slowly reveal a family destroyed by unhappy love, disturbing obsessions, psychosis, incest, insanity, and murder. Twin girls abandoned to their own devices, without any moral center, are tied together in an unhealthy relationship that cannot be severed even by the science of a new governess and the family doctor, and the unnerving appearance of ghosts leaves even the most rational person shaken. Vida’s story uses many conventions of the gothic novel, and the book has been described as a love letter to the genre. However, Vida’s story is not the entire story- Margaret’s story is the frame, so there is more going on than a simple homage. Setterfield has written an intelligent, mesmerizing novel that provides a fresh twist to conventions of literature that have started to seem a little tired. Entry by Francesca the Librarian.


Ek Chuah by James R. Cain

Active Bladder, August, 2006
ISBN: 0976172925

Available: New and Used

    Set in Australia, Ek Chuah has three subplots, all surrounding an ancient Mayan goddess looking to create chaos.   The first thread is that of Pete and Al, Pete sets his socially awkward friend Al up up on a blind date with Amber, an exotic and mysterious woman.  The second thread follows Constable Ted Denebrae who is trying to track down a serial killer who has slain multiple police officers and is able to be shot without dying or stopping, and the third thread involves a gang that goes into a local nightclub looking for money and is thrust into confrontation with a vile monster. The author, James R. Cain, does a great job of developing his character and writes some engrossing action scenes that keep the reader riveted to the book.   Where Ek Chuah falls flat is in tying these different story threads together.  The connections of the three subplots are frustratingly unclear, leaving the reader with the desire for the titular Mayan goddess to go on a James Bond villianesque rant that explains how everything is interconnected clearly.    At the finish, the reader may say "I think I know how this all fits together,"  but the lack of a clear tie in  leave a lingering  doubt in the back of the head. Contains: sexual passages, gore, passages of violence.






Scream Queen by Edo Van Belkom

Pinnacle Books, April, 2003

ISBN: 0786015624

Available: New and Used

    Scream Queen is a haunted house story. Jody and five other contestants are participating in a reality television show called Scream Queen. The show is the brainchild of the Gowan brothers, producers of grade B horror movies. The Gowans, looking to make the show as authentic as possible, have tracked down a real haunted house, where the tormented spirits have been waiting to unleash their fury on any who would disturb them. Scream Queen is a very capable bit of brain candy, and it's easy to see how this could  be turned into a movie. It does take a little while for the action to start, but once it does, it is an enjoyable ride. I would recommend Scream Queen as part of a public library’s horror collection. Contains: violence and some gore.



Demon Theory by Stephen Graham Jones

MacAdam/Cage Publishing, July 2006

ISBN: 1596921641

Available: New

    Demon Theory is written as a film treatment for a trilogy of movies.  The first film introduces Hale and his fellow med student friends, on their way to Hale's mother's secluded house. It is Halloween night and they are trapped by a winter storm.  The body count rises as a nightmare from Hale's past returns.  The next "movie" follows the demons as they infiltrate a local hospital, resulting in a great amount of blood. The third "movie" has us returning to Hale's  secluded house in the country. The story is strong and well-paced, and the writing of the book as a film treatment guides readers' imaginations, so they can see the story played out as a movie in their minds. Jones' book is filled with entertaining and informative footnotes that identify film terms used throughout the book, and also the various pop culture and horror movie references scattered throughout the book.  Where other books might inspire the reader's imagination Demon Theory guides the reader's vision.  Demon Theory is a smart, unusual, and very enjoyable read. The book is a recommended addition to a horror collection.   Contains: Violence and passages of gore.

Puzzleman by Christopher Alan Broadstone

Xlibris Corporation, June, 2004
ISBN: 1413420397

Available: New

    Christopher Alan Broadstone's first horror novel is Puzzleman, a story about how an artist, her ex-husband, and their teacher/ mentor have come to the attention of the Puzzleman, also known as Conundrum.  Puzzleman exists in a realm called Pipeworld, which Broadstone describes in horrific vivid detail.      Puzzleman is not a quick read, while some of the other books I have reviewed have sped along carrying the reader with it, Puzzleman tends to slowly drag you through the gore as Broadstone describes the nightmare that he puts his characters through.   Most telling is Broadstone's description of the unraveling of the life of Amanda , an artist,  whose son had died of SIDS and her ex-husband leaves her leaving her prey to the Puzzleman.  There is also an assortment of other characters including a PI and an art professor who find themselves in a quest to stop the Puzzleman.  There has obviously been a great deal of time and thought put into Broadstone's titular creature with an in depth history of Conundrum's activity over the span of time.     Puzzleman is  strong first novel from Broadstone and  I am anxious to see what he comes up with next.  Contains: violence, passages of explicit gore and sex. Puzzleman is a Shockline's new voice guarantee, it can be bought here.



The Abandoned by Douglas Clegg

Leisure Books, May, 2005
ISBN: 0843954108
    The Abandoned is the latest installment in  Douglas Clegg's Harrow House series.  The story takes place in the small town of Watch Point, which is by the haunted mansion called Harrow House.  After a young boy is murdered in the graveyard next to Harrow House and a strange man who is known as the Nightwatchman comes to guard the houses' grounds,  the deepest darkest desires of the residents of Watch Point are brought to life, leading to murder, torture, and general insanity.  It is up to a small group of survivors to stop the madness that the house has unleashed against the town.   Clegg does a fantastic and disturbing job of painting a town gone mad.  Although the series of events that sets the story in motion seemed unclear and I am not sure exactly what has happened at the end, the middle is a heck of a ride. Other books in the Harrow House series are Mischief (2000) The Infinite (2001), Nightmare House (2004).  Contains: Murder, scenes torture, gore, some scenes of strong sexual imagery.


Pandora Drive by Tim Waggoner

Leisure Books, April, 2006

ISBN: 0843956259

Available: New and Used

    Life is just a little too strange for Damara. She has the supernatural ability to make other people's dreams, fantasies, and thoughts turn into reality.  The problem is she has no control over  how her power manifests.   When her old boyfriend comes to town, Damara loses the ability to block her power and the wishes of her neighbors on Pandora Drive start to come true with deadly results.  Pandora Drive is a clever story . Its greatest strength is Waggoner's depiction of the residents of Pandora Drive. It is easy to imagine these people in your own neighborhood.  Kenneth, an older man who has an unhealthy sex drive, adds a disturbing element to the story when his fantasies lead to rather nasty scenes of sexual violence.  It is a vicious add in to a series of horrific events caused by the thoughts of the various neighbors.  Reading this book will get you thinking about what really goes on inside the heads of your own neighbors.   Contains: Scene of rape, violence, and gore.


The Attraction by Douglas Clegg

Leisure Books, April 4, 2006

ISBN: 0843954116

Available: New and Used

    Two enjoyable little stories in one book. The primary story is the titled The Attraction which is about a group of college kids taking a spring break drive to California only to get lost in the desert where they come upon a small gas station that has an attraction of an ancient small mummy.  They end up stealing the mummy and accidentally reanimating it and it proceeds to attack the group.  The story is well written old fashion monster story it is relatively short, but of the appropriate length to tell the tale. Clegg is an excellent writer and is able to flesh out his characters so that when the carnage starts you care about the victims.  Clegg includes the novella Necromancer which tells of the introduction of one of the occult to the patriarch of the Gravesend family a solid entry to the Harrow House series. Contains: Violence and scene of rape. 


Nightmare House by Douglas Clegg
Leisure Books, May 1, 2004
ISBN: 084395177X

Available: New and Used
    Nothing like a good old haunted house story. The book is set in the 1920s. Ethan Gravesend inherits Harrow House, a mansion, from his great-grandfather. As soon as he arrives he finds that he is besieged by the supernatural. He dedicates himself to finding out the secret of Harrow House, which will change his life forever.  This is my first exposure to Douglas Clegg's writing and I am very impressed, he has a talent for creating a creepy atmosphere and his use of imagry keeps you glued to the story.  The book is a prequel to Mischief (2000) and The Infinite (2001), the other two books in the Harrow House series. A good fun read that goes by quickly. Contains: Violence.

Demons by John Shirley
Del Rey, February, 2002
ISBN: 034544647X
    Demons tells the tale of a struggle between a group of rich corporate types who are causing industrial accidents with mass casualties in order to summon forth demons from another dimension and harness their powers to obtain immortality, and a group of mystics who seek the betterment of mankind and who are out to oppose them. This is a fascinating little apocalyptic type story that feels like it could have been made a little shorter.  It is one of the more interesting end of the world stories that I read in a long time.   Contains some gore,  a little sex.

Darkfall by Stephen Laws
Leisure Books, May, 2003
ISBN: 0843952180
    Stephen Laws presents an excellent tale of the horror that occurs when a special type of thunderstorm, known as Darkfall, strikes an office building where the occupants are having a Christmas party. When lightning strikes the building, the occupants disappear and it is up to local constable to find out what happened to the occupants and survive the Darkfall storm. Laws writes a very tight and well paced story that keeps you turning the pages to see what happens next. This is another recommended read. Contains violence.

Orangefield by Al Sarrantonio

Cemetery Dance, 2003


    In the little town of Orangefield, bloody and terrible events seem to occur every Halloween, inspired by Samhain, the Celtic Lord of Death.  This Halloween, Samhain is once again looking to spread death in Orangefield, using some of the residents as his tools.   Orangefield is a character driven book and Al Sarrantonio makes the characters come to life for the reader. It is the seduction and manipulation of these residents of Orangefield by Samhain that is so fascinating to read as he drives them to murder and suicide.  Orangefield becomes a setting for other Sarrantonio's books and novellas such as The Hornets and  Pumpkin Boy.  I would recommend Orangefield and look forward to reading more of the Orangefield set books. Contains violence and suicide. 


Messenger by Edward Lee

Leisure Horror, 2004

ISBN: 0843952040

     In Messenger, the fallen angel Aldezhor who is the messenger for the Devil has come to the post office in the little town of Danelleton, Florida.  There Aldezhor drives the staff postal (oh  I had to put the horrid pun in, I had to) inspiring them to go on killing sprees and commit suicide when their job is done. It is up to the head of the post office Jane Ryan to discover what is happening before she falls victim to the Messenger. Lee put together a very intense story that moves along very quickly.  The story contains a number of scenes of sexual violence and gore.  I would encourage librarians to be cautious when recommending this book, Lee while a talented writer tends to write his tales with graphic sex and violence.  Readers who enjoy Richard Laymon probably enjoy Lee's books. 




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