Book Review: Thrones of Blood Volume #2: Sacrifice of the Hybrid Princess by Nancy Kilpatrick

Thrones of Blood Volume #2: Sacrifice of the Hybrid Princess by Nancy Kilpatrick

Content Warning: This book contains explicit descriptions of sex, abuse, torture, rape, and incest.

While you could, theoretically, read Sacrifice of the Hybrid Princess without looking at previous works, I would recommend starting with the first book in the series. I have previously reviewed Thrones of Blood #1: Revenge of the Vampir King here at HorrorAddicts.net

Sacrifice of the Hybrid Princess is a paranormal erotic romance with elements of dark fantasy.

Nearly twenty years after the events of Revenge of the Vampir King, Moarte and Valada—King and Queen of the Vampirii—have since raised a headstrong daughter, Serene. With tensions with the sapiens spiraling out of control, Moarte and Valada must leave the vampire fortress to ensure the safety of their people.

In the meantime, their naïve and selfish daughter cannot be trusted to rule—either herself or the kingdom. Moarte and Valada have come to the conclusion that the only way to ensure the safety of their people and their daughter is to tie her to the vampire warrior Wolfsbane.

Wolfsbane was once Moarte’s second, but has spent the last twenty years in isolation and penance after losing his love and killing his sister. Now he must be tied to a woman whom he does not think he can love. Though Serene and Wolfsbane get off to the rockiest of starts, they soon come to love and appreciate each other.

Moarte and Valada, secure in the knowledge of their kingdom’s safety and their daughter’s happiness, go away to pursue their mission and kill the Sapien King—Valada’s father—who terrorizes the vampirii with endless raids.

But Serene finds out about their mission and runs to pursue them. She believes she can broker a peace between the two kingdoms. Her capture and torture at the hands of the Sapien King sets off a chain of events that could change relations between sapiens and vampirii forever.

Kilpatrick starts right in the middle of the action, immediately introducing the major conflicts. The first portion of the book focuses heavily on the relationship between Wolfsbane and Serene, as they try to navigate each other and the needs that they don’t necessarily know that they have. The latter half of the book is action heavy, bringing in the conflict with the Sapiens King and a fair bit of angst and heartache alongside. If I have any complaint, it’s that the end does not bring closure to everything (so, I’ll have to read book #3, which isn’t a real complaint anyway).

Serene is naïve, selfish, and frustrating. Her choices reflect her tendency to trust her instincts too far, to act before she thinks, and to always assume that she is correct. This is all done to the detriment of those around her. Fortunately, we get to watch her grow throughout the course of the book. Her wilder tendencies are tempered by her time with Wolfsbane and her misfortunes at the hand of the Sapien King.

Wolfsbane is the perfect foil, perhaps too controlled. He long ago gave up on his own happiness. He has been burned before by taking too long to make a decision. Serene brings light and love back into his life. He learns throughout the course of the story that leaping may only work if he hasn’t looked too long.

The world of the vampirii is immersive. Kilpatrick holds nothing back in her world building. The descriptions are vivid and the cultures well thought-through. This is a series with a take on vampires quite unlike anything else on the market.

Kilpatrick has an unfussy writing style that lets the story shine first. Her dialogue is emotional and realistic. Descriptions can be gruesome, so be aware of content warnings.

Overall, Sacrifice of the Hybrid Princess is an ambitious work and a welcome addition to the Thrones of Blood series.

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Ghastly Games with Daphne Strasert: Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition

A remote village is infested with werewolves. Unable to solve the problem themselves, the villagers call upon a special inquisitorial team to root out the monsters. There’s only one problem: some of the inquisitors are werewolves in disguise…

Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition was created by Dan Hoffman, the man behind One Night Ultimate Werewolf (which I’ve previously reviewed here on HorrorAddicts.net). It’s a standalone game of treachery, deduction, and deceit.

Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition is a game for 3-12 players and takes 30-60 minutes to play.Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition

Game Play

Players play as the inquisitors called to save the town. Each player is given a secret card that designates them either as a werewolf or a human.

The village consists of twelve villager cards (face down) and twelve hut cards (face up). The huts grant special powers to help the inquisitors identify which of the villager cards represent werewolves. On their turn, each inquisitor chooses a hut card and plays the associated power (see a facedown card, see an inquisitor’s card, gain vote tokens, or cast vote tokens). Then each inquisitor casts a vote on one of the villager cards. The villager card with the most votes is revealed and removed from the game (along with their associated hut).

Then night falls and the werewolves are free to take revenge. The inquisitors pass around a column of cards. Villagers don’t look, but the inquisitorial werewolves do and rearrange the cards to their liking. At the end of the round, the cards are placed back in the village and the last card is revealed and removed from the game (another victim of the werewolves).

The game ends when all the werewolves in the village are dead (the villagers win) or when the werewolves left outnumber the villagers (the werewolves win).

Game Experience

Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition combines the best parts of playing Mafia (the card game) and One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Players have multiple rounds in which to sniff out the traitors, with the game becoming more difficult as play continues. But no players are removed, so everyone remains engaged through the whole play time. Special abilities ensure that gameplay isn’t just guesswork.

Every game that we played ended with a very narrow result. There is no clear advantage or disadvantage to either side, making the competition fierce. The better your friends are at lying, the more dynamic the game will become. Logic gets twisted, relationships are tested, and no one is ever sure who they can trust.

Final Thoughts

The rules don’t take long to learn and aren’t overly complicated (if you’re playing with a crowd that isn’t dedicated to hours of play). I enjoyed Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition very much and I recommend it as a mid-level difficulty game.

Ghastly Games with Daphne Strasert: Arkham Horror | Call of Cthulhu

Arkham Horror: Call of Cthulhu

Welcome to the town of Arkham where the year is 1926. Something sinister lurks in the shadows behind the speakeasies. Monsters have been popping up all over town and something ancient and evil is waiting to break through to our world. Only a handful of investigators stand in the way. They must risk their sanity and their lives to keep Arkham from falling into devastation.

Arkham Horror: Call of Cthulhu is a cooperative board game for 1-8 players and takes 2-4 hours to play. It’s extremely complex and is recommended that all players be 12+.

Game Play

The game begins with all players choosing a character. These characters come with skills and items that will help them to defeat the horrors that pop up throughout the game.

Each round, the characters move around Arkham, collecting items and clues to help them win. Beware, though, the monsters are also moving and each round brings the Ancient One closer to breaking through the barriers into our world. Characters must defeat the smaller monsters or risk being killed. This is accomplished by rolling dice—the number of dice depending on the character’s abilities and the strength of the monster.

As play progresses, portals to other dimensions open throughout the town of Arkham, allowing monsters to enter and wreak havoc. Players must go through these portals and survive the horrors on the other side in order to close them. If the players close enough portals before the Ancient One crosses into Arkham, they win. If not, they must defeat this monstrous abomination and somehow survive the process.Arkham Horror revised box.jpg

Game Experience

Holy hellspawn, this game is complicated. We spent almost as long reading the rules as we did playing for the first time.

The overall concept is straightforward: kill monsters and close portals before the Ancient One comes through. But how you do that is subject to hundreds of rules and strategies. Once you understand those, however, the game is fast paced and fun. Strategizing with your fellow players forms the main playtime of the game. The game isn’t pure strategy, as the players are subject to the randomness of die rolls and card draws.

The game pieces are well made and admiring the artistry of the cards is valuable all on its own. There are a lot of pieces to track, so be organized.

Arkham is a game with high replay value, making it well worth purchasing. Make sure you have others who are invested in playing as well, because complicated games aren’t for everyone. Take the time to read the rules thoroughly before you play and designate someone as the rule keeper so you can ask questions as they arise (and, boy, do they arise!).

Final Thoughts

For a faster, simpler version of Arkham Horror, look for Arkham Horror: The Card Game (which I previously reviewed). There is also an updated version, that I have not yet played.

I loved Arkham Horror. I’ve been wanting to play for a while and finally got the opportunity. I was hooked twenty minutes into play time. I’ll be buying this one for myself.

Book Review: Monsters of Any Kind , edited by Alessandro Manzetti and Daniele Bonfanti

We see plenty of serial killers and psychopaths here at HorrorAddicts.net. Some call them monsters. Yet, evil though they are, they are still only human. What of the truly monstrous? the grotesque? the abominable? the creatures that defy not only nature but Heaven and Hell as well?

Monsters of Any Kind—published by Independent Legions Publishing and edited by Alessandro Manzetti and Daniele Bonfanti—brings you tales of creatures that slither and writhe and go bump in the night. Whether they’re good, evil, or… otherwise, they’re sure to terrify. Prepare yourself for stories of real monsters.

Monsters of Any Kind presents a diverse collection of stories, each prominently featuring a monster, some from folklore and some the product of pure imagination (terrifying as that must be for the author). Each story takes a different variation on the theme, bringing surprises and delights with each turn of the page.

Perpetual Antimony by Cody Goodfellow – Goodfellow introduces a fascinating concept that explores the limits of human potential and what may drive a person to forsake humanity altogether.

The Thing Too Hideous to Describe by David J. Schow – This tale of a monster and the researcher who wants to study him takes a humorous approach to the theme. Still, this is a horror anthology and the ending is… well, you’ll see.

Silt and Bone by Jess Landry – Jess Landry (a contestant from the HorrorAddicts.net Next Great Horror Writer Contest) is a master of imagery and creates one of the most vivid descriptions in a stand out book. The story is atmospheric and chilling. The horror of natural disaster, personal repercussions, and things beyond this world combine to make this a gripping experience.

Sucklings by Lucy Taylor – This story of grisly small-town murders and a monster that wears many faces explores whether you can truly trust your loved ones.

We All Make Sacrifices by Jonathan Maberry – Maberry’s noir-style werewolf story is my favorite of the anthology and I can only hope that we will see more of this as a novel or serial.

Brodkin’s Demesne by Michael Gray Baughan – In this story, a couple moves to an isolated country home, where the ever-present drone of cicadas belies something more sinister. Baughan creates a slow build of terror and his violent imagery stuck with me long after reading.

Sealed with a Kiss by Owl Goingback – A man’s car breaks down as the world literally goes to hell around him. Sealed with a Kiss is clever and well written with a tongue in cheek take on horror.

The Other Side of Semicolons by Michael Bailey – A girl explores the twisted dimensions on the other side of a mysterious symbol in her room. Bailey writes a tale of psychological terror that explores what could be. The visions draw you in and create a sense of dread that isn’t easy to shake.

Bad Hair Day by Greg Sisco – What would you do for vanity? Bad Hair Day is an exquisite work of horror edged with science fiction that I would not be surprised to see listed as a classic of the genre.

Midnight Hobo by Ramsey Campbell – A lurking form haunts Roy at home and at work, slowly driving him mad. Campbell has a talent for grounding his horror in the mundane and leaving just the right amount of description to the reader’s imagination.

Noverim Te by Santiago Eximeno – Tourists gather in a small town where a god goes to sleep every year. Eximeno blends ancient superstition with modern behavior in this exquisite concept.

The Dive by Mark Alan Miller – One night, Al finally gets everything he wants, but he’ll be lucky to escape with his life. A fusion of humor, horror, and adventure, The Dive is an excellent piece of fiction that will leave you feeling a little more grateful for what you have.

Mammy and the Flies by Bruce Boston – What happens when neglect and abuse turn someone strange into something horrifying? The small scale and sheer intensity of Mammy and the Flies made this story delightful. Boston’s emotional writing blew me away.

Old Sly by Gregory L. Norris – Norris’ story has a foreboding atmosphere reminiscent of The Haunting of Hill House, with a twist that will make you question whether you really want to inherit a fortune from a distant relative.

The Last Wintergirl by Damien Angelica Walters – Mythical Wintergirls fall prey to the boys of the village while they slumber. The boys think nothing of the terrible retribution they’ll face… but they should. The Last Wintergirl is a chilling tale of human evil and monstrous revenge. Walters creates an intricate mythology that would make a great novel.

The City of Sixes by Edward Lee – By far the most graphically grotesque of the collection, Lee’s story of literal Hell is somehow more horrific than you can possibly imagine.

Crisis of Faith by Monica J. O’Rourke – A spiritual seeker finally finds what he’s looking for; a real-life demon. O’Rourke’s description of torture and the psychological effects is incredible.

Cracker Creek by Erinn L. Kemper – A town scandal becomes something more sinister when newly born babies aren’t what they seem. Kemper creates a gripping story, well written and perfectly paced.

Presented along with the text are incredible illustrations by Stefano Cardoselli. The art never gives away the story, but adds to it, especially once you know all the twists and turns.

Whether you enjoy gruesome violence, psychological terror, existential dread, or the humorous side of horror, you’ll find a story to suit your taste among the offerings in Monsters of Any Kind.

Ghastly Games with Daphne Strasert: Space Station Zemo

Game Review: Space Station Zemo

Introduction

In the distant future, a group of survivors is stranded on a doomed space station. There’s only one escape pod left. They must compete with each other and the perils of their environment to activate and enter the last remaining escape pod before someone else does.

Space Station Zemo created by InQuest. is a strategy board game for 2-5 players and takes about an hour to play.

Game Play

Before you can play Space Station Zemo, you must first make the game. All the materials are free in PDF form online (you can get them by searching, but Board Game Geek has them collected here). They are designed to be printed on card stock and assembled by you. We were able to put it together in about an hour (depends how much you care about the look of the final product)

Once you have that together, it’s time to play.

Choose a character: Chuckie the Zombie, Floyd the Droid, Mush the Abomination, Pete the Cook, or The Rats (literally just a lot of rats). Each character has a special power that will help you to win the game. You then choose a secret access code for your character (three letters, either A or B, to limit options).

The Space Station is composed of rooms and hallways with the escape pod at the center. The winner of the game is the first person to successfully enter the escape pod OR the last character alive.

Each round consists of a movement phase and an action phase. All players move their characters first, then decide what they want to do (fight, pick up an item, push a button, etc.)

To enter the escape pod you must first set your character’s access code (each character secretly chooses one before the game starts) by visiting each of the three code rooms. You must also have a Pod ATM Card. This can be found by visiting rooms in the station. Each room has a card that you can pick up. Some cards are traps that kill you. Others are items that help you kill others. As you navigate the board, you’ll have to fight the other characters as they try to accomplish the same task.

Game Experience

Space Station Zemo is fun and ridiculous. The characters’ special powers change the strategies of gameplay, making it more fun (some can teleport, others leave explosive polyps, a few change form). We assign characters randomly when we play because certain people are TOO good at playing a particular character.

It’s disappointing that there is no manufactured version of the game available for purchase because I would love to have a real board and game pieces. The quality is the only real drawback that I can see.

Things can get messy quickly in a game where you’re playing against each other and the board itself. Game effects such as an open airlock and a security bot are just as deadly as fighting other characters.

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend Space Station Zemo. The rules aren’t as complicated as those of others that I’ve reviewed here. It still isn’t a children’s game, but it is suitable for younger players and for those who are interesting in getting into more strategy-based games. Since the game is free, the only investment is time—a perfect tradeoff for game players.

Ghastly Games: Gloomhaven

Game Review: Gloomhaven

Beware, casual game player; Gloomhaven is not for the faint of heart.

As a player, you enter the fantasy world of Gloomhaven, where the hallways are dim, the monsters terrifying, and the stakes higher than your life.

Gloomhaven is a roleplaying game for 1-4 players and takes between 1 and 2 hours to play.

Gloomhaven plays very much like a campaign of Dungeons and Dragons. That’s the point, of course.

First, players choose a pre-made character. Choose wisely, because you will be growing with this persona through many encounters to come. As you defeat enemies, your characters gain experience, opening them up to new abilities.

The game’s rules act as the Dungeon Master, guiding your group through an encounter to defeat the enemy and collect the treasure. Attacks do damage, both to you and opponents. Your team will need to survive this in order to get the treasure that is your ultimate reward.

If you’ve ever played Dungeons and Dragons, the play style will feel familiar. All players have hit points that track their health. The characters and antagonists take turns moving and making attacks. Each player has a number of attacks and movements that they can use, represented on cards. Players must rest in order to reuse cards.

Gloomhaven is complicated. I can’t really do it justice in just this article. You’ll have to consult the rule book for that. Those who have played RPGs before will find the process familiar, but it still requires some adjustments. If you’re playing with newbies, just know that the time required to explain rules is nontrivial.

Whether you enjoy this game really depends on what sort of gameplay you enjoy. If you like the combat portion of role playing, then Gloomhaven will be hours of fun for you. If that sort of thing isn’t really your cup of tea, then you’ll likely find the game tedious.

Gloomhaven is complicated. Gloomhaven is intellectually involved. Gloomhaven is… a ton of fun. If you enjoy immersive role-playing games—specifically the combat experience—then Gloomhaven is really the game for you.

Ghastly Games with Daphne Strasert: Mysterium

Introduction

There’s been a murder at Warwick Manor and only one witness can help investigators find the culprit. Unfortunately, that witness is a ghost. A special team of psychic investigators must interpret visions the ghost gives them to solve the mystery before the murderer gets away.

Mysterium is a cooperative murder mystery game for 2-7 players and takes about 45 minutes to play.

Game Play

Players form a team of investigators trying to solve a murder. The goal of the game is to find the perpetrator, location, and murder weapon.

One player has the role of The Ghost. They know which suspects the players must find. They have a deck of Vision Cards that they use to guide the other players.

In each round, the Ghost gives each psychic detective player one or more cards that the player uses to determine which suspect to guess. After each psychic has made a guess about the suspect, the ghost reveals if they were correct. Once a psychic finds their suspect, they then move on to guessing the location, then the weapon used in the murder.

The psychics only have seven rounds to find their group of suspects, locations, and weapons. If they do that successfully, the ghost gives one final set of clues that lead to the ultimate perpetrator.

MysteriumGame Experience

There are two different experiences of play: that of the ghost and that of the investigators.

As the ghost, you have the fun of guiding the other players, but also the responsibility if your clues lead them down the wrong path. Since Mysterium is a cooperative game, you become the most important person to the success of the team.

As an investigator, you are responsible for deciding where the clues point. The ghost can only provide you with an abstract picture clue, they can’t tell you what pieces of that picture apply. The fun for you is to draw commonalities between the clues and see where they lead.

Your game play with Mysterium is only as good as the people you play with. The first few games can be a real struggle as you try to understand how the people you play with think. But it is a lot of fun to discuss with others and play to the way they think.

Mysterium is a visually stunning game. The Gothic theme runs throughout. The art of the clues is magnificent. There are so many details in the cards to keep you interested in the game for many games of play. Each game changes based into the clues and the people playing.

Final Thoughts

If you loved Clue as a child, Mysterium is a great game for you. There isn’t the certainty of Clue, but you don’t have to worry about the monotony either. The hints are more subject to interpretation and knowing the people you play with is essential.

I really like Mysterium for the ability to replay over and over without having the same situation appear twice. I enjoy playing the part of The Ghost, but it’s fun to rotate that responsibility. I highly recommend playing this and think it will make a good inclusion to any game collection.