Things aren’t going well in Hastings Mills. The weather is unbearably hot, a man chased his wife through a street and beat her to death, women keep jumping off a bridge to their deaths and a husband who says he won’t go to church is killed by his wife. Things started to change when two strangers arrived in town. One man, Reverend Cyrus Christian is collecting blood sacrifices to offer the Old Ones in his attempt to release Hell on Earth. Whatever town he goes to, evil reigns supreme and Hastings Mills may never be the same. The other stranger, John Root is the only one who can stop him but he has troubles of his own and it will not be easy keeping the elder gods from inheriting the Earth and bringing chaos in their wake.
The Burning Time by J.G. Faherty is a classic story of good versus evil in a small New England town. Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will enjoy The Burning Time because it dives deep into the Cthulhu mythos and there is an atmosphere of despair and dread that hangs in the air throughout the book. What I really enjoyed about this book was the character of John Root. John isn’t your normal everyday hero. He isn’t confident in himself and he doesn’t really want to be who he is. He comes from a family who practiced magic and he feels his life purpose is to stop evil because that’s what his mother did.
John has fought many supernatural creatures in his time and he carries all the scars with him. When he sleeps he has constant nightmares and everyday he relieves his failures. Despite his feelings he does his duty and doesn’t complain about it, which is what makes him such an excellent character.
One of my favorite scenes was when John realizes that a boy he is helping looks at him as a hero. Instead of enjoying the fact that someone looks up to him, he wonders when he’s going to fail and disappoint the boy. There was also a good scene where three hell hounds attacked the house that John is staying in that was very well done.
The only bad thing in this book is while the atmosphere is great, it lacks suspense because things get so bad in Hastings Mills that it feels like evil has already won. I think the theme J.G. Faherty was going for though was that no matter how bad things get, there will still be some good. You can’t have good without evil and the battle will always rage on between the two. There were also two main characters that were introduced in the book that I would have liked to have seen become a bigger part of the story.
There are quite a few terrifying scenes in this book. Hastings Mills is a town where everyone is loosing their minds and there are stories within the story that were disturbing. The Burning Time is a hard-core horror story that takes a close look at a whole town that is collectively loosing its mind and it will have you shaking in fear anytime you see a stranger enter a small town.
Another book I recently read from Journalstone Publishing is Nightmare Ballad by Benjamin Kane Ethridge. Everyone has nightmares but for Luke Rhodes, his two wives and Luke’s friend Johnny Cruz, they happen during the day when they’re wide awake. Everytime they think of a certain song, reality twists into a nightmare and people start to die.
It all starts when Luke is teaching a swim class and hears a strange ballad, then a curtain drops and a group of frogmen appear and drown the swimmers. Luke manages to escape but the song is in his head and the effect is spreading to his loved ones. Luke must find the cause of the Nightmare Ballad and put a stop to it before the nightmares spread to the rest of the world.
Nightmare Ballad is a very original horror tale, I can honestly say that I’ve never read anything like it. There are some true moments of terror in this book like when a young girl tells Luke that she just gutted her teddy bear and now she wants to see what it would be like to gut Luke. This book really gets into what each character fears the most and the things that they fear is what most people fear, which makes all the characters relatable. Nightmare Ballad doesn’t have a lot of violence or jump scares, its more of a psychological horror story that looks at what truly scares us, such as having no control over a situation or being abandoned.
One part of the book I really enjoyed was when Johnny goes to steal some copper from an abandoned building and end up being captured by some people who run a dog fighting ring. The scene was suspenseful without anything odd happening and then the Nightmare Ballad takes hold and takes it to the next level. The action just gets more intense from that point.
The downside for this novel was that the story was hard to follow at points. It got a little confusing on what was real or not real but I still loved Nightmare Ballad for its originality. Also I liked how the author gets into his character’s heads and makes you care for them. Nightmare Ballad is a surreal adventure that you won’t want to put down and you may need to read it again to figure out what it all means.
While I don’t write pure horror or classic horror fiction, I love reading it (H.P. Lovecraft is one of my favorite authors) and both of these books featured here look like they’d be good reads. Thanks for the heads-up.
Your welcome, thanks for the comment.