David’s Haunted Library: Mountain Sickness

Telluride is a small remote town in the Colorado Rockies and it’s a playground for the rich and famous. People come from all over to ski here and the city’s economy is dependent on tourism. It wasn’t always that way though, it started as a mining town but the mine was considered dangerous and closed down. Since then, Telluride has been a winter paradise until a mysterious plague starts to affect the guests.

Telluride isn’t an easy place to get in and out of, so when disaster strikes there is nowhere to run to. It starts with normal people turning into raving lunatics; it ends with them changing into flesh-eating zombies. To make matters worse, the town is being rocked by a blizzard and the locals and tourists alike will have to work together to survive and keep the zombie virus from spreading. If you ever wanted to know what the zombie apocalypse would be like in a blizzard than Mountain Sickness by Frank Martin is your chance to find out.

My first thought when I saw this book was: “Zombies in a snowstorm, sounds like fun.” I can’t think of any other zombie books or movies that take place in a cold climate so I found this idea appealing. My one complaint about this book is that it takes a long time to get into the action. There are so many characters being introduced in the beginning that it’s hard to keep track of everyone. Once we see the first person sick with the zombie virus the story gets good real quick.

It’s not just the setting that makes this zombie story different, it’s also how the people are before they change. The victims fly into a rage before they become zombies and in the beginning, they start as fast-moving zombies. One of my favorite scenes was when one of the ski resort’s employees named Chris goes to find his girlfriend as the people are turning into zombies. He finds her close to death and her dying wish is for Chris to save a boy named Ryan. Chris starts looking for Ryan and as he does he sees himself as a man who has never committed to the life he truly wanted and now he has to fulfill his girlfriend’s dying wish. This made me fall in love with the character Chris and as we see him try to rescue Ryan, he finds another survivor on the way, a 13-year-old girl named Stephanie.

Stephanie is another character in this story I fell in love with. In the beginning, she is a normal teenage girl but we see her become a different person as she deals with the loss of her family and is forced to become an adult as society collapses around her. One scene I loved has Stephanie walking up to someone changing into the living dead and knocking them out with one punch. Seems unbelievable but the zombie didn’t see it coming. The most interesting part of this book is seeing how all of the characters change as they realize that if the zombies don’t get them then they will probably die in the blizzard. The setting and the characters make Mountain Sickness a must read.

 

 

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David’s Haunted Library: The Noctuary Pandemonium

Simon Ryan was a talented writer, he had a hard life and the dark muses in the underworld want to use him as a scribe. Now he writes words that aren’t his own and every horrifying sentence he writes comes to life in the real world. With his new power, he is given the chance to rewrite his dark past but some things can’t be changed and Simon goes missing.

A few years later, Psychiatrist, Dr. Desmond Carter finds a bloody manuscript from his former patient Simon, who he thought was dead. This sets off a chain reaction of events as the police are called along with Simon’s former agent Christina. Desmond finds out that if you write the manuscript in blood, what you write will come true, but at what cost? Now everything Desmond knew about himself and Simon is making him question his sanity and could lead to his damnation.

The Noctuary Pandemonium by Greg Chapman is an unapologetic horror novel. In the beginning, Greg describes the night as a shade of blood with people walking the street being stalked by their shadows. This is being described by someone who fears to lose his mind and he may be right. If this picture of darkness that Greg Chapman paints doesn’t sell you then this line will: “There is no finer art than the prose that terrifies! Fear is Primal!” With those words you know you are in for a gruesome read and the book doesn’t disappoint.

I love the concept here of muses from the underworld looking for someone to inspire darkness and destruction in humanity. What makes it interesting is how the people the muse chooses start to do it because they want to fix a problem. Good intentions don’t always lead to good results though and the chosen ones have to deal with the darkness that has always been inside them. The most interesting aspect to The Noctuary is that the spirits of the underworld aren’t really the bad guys, read it and you’ll understand.

There is a point in this novel where I had a lot of unanswered questions but all loose ends are tied up by the end. I loved the history behind the muses and how Hell is described almost as a living place. This book also gets into the idea of how what lies in the soul of man can be much darker than Hell and there is no escaping it. This book paints a bloody disturbing portrait that you will love if you’re a horror fan. The Noctuary Pandemonium is a dark thrill ride that will have you thinking harder about the consequences of every choice you make.

https://darkscrybe.com/

 

David’s Haunted Library: Quiet Places

 Dunballan is a place that has its share of dark secrets,  along with a beast that stalks the woods around it. There is a long history associated with this small town and David McCavendish’s family is part of it. David has been living in London and now has to return to the place of his ancestors in order to inherit the family home. He now has to adjust to country living and in order to help him, he brought along his girlfriend Sally.

Sally quickly realizes that something is a little off about Dunballan. The only person who seems to talk to her gives her a history of the town that includes some stories of odd spirits that lurk in the woods, one being Hettie Of The Hedgegrow. Another problem is that every time the beast in the woods appears, David goes into a depressed catatonic state that lasts for days. Sally realizes that the town is cursed and will do anything to keep David from suffering through it. The problem is she may not be able to help him without making everything worse.

Quiet Places by Jasper Bark is not your average horror novella. It feels like Jasper Bark was thinking to himself: “What are the things that scare people the most?” As he was pondering that question he sat down and wrote a terrifying piece of work that relies on mood and emotions rather than gore or a hideous monster. The beast in this story isn’t all that scary, but what it represents is and the history surrounding it is even worse. I felt the scariest part of this book was in the very beginning which I don’t want to give away but Jasper pretty much nailed my worst fear and he wasn’t even that descriptive. It was all psychological, Jasper makes you imagine it instead of showing it.

After the gut wrenching start, you as the reader are left to wonder how we got there and then you get the history leading up to the event. This book gets into mythology, the occult and a history of David’s relatives. I loved all the attention to detail in this book but most of all I loved the character of Sally. We see Sally deal with a lot of different issues in this story but she stays strong even when things are at their worst. Sally seems like she doesn’t fit in anywhere and she isn’t sure she even cares about fitting in. She does know who’s important to her though and will do anything to save him.

Quiet Places is heavily inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and could be considered cosmic horror but it’s a highly original novella. This is a psychological horror story that gives you a lot to think about. Some of the questions it raises are who do you trust in a town of strangers? How far would you go to save a loved one? And What would you do when all hope is lost? Quiet Places shows us that a story doesn’t have to be bloody to be scary and there are far scarier things than death.

 

David’s Haunted Library: Drive-In Creature Feature

Soda? check, Popcorn? check, Blankets? check. These are some of the things you might need if you are going to your local drive-in theater. If you’re 30 or younger you probably don’t know what a drive-in is. You also don’t know the joys of sitting in your car with a group of friends while you watched giant creatures destroying the city on the big screen. Luckily Eugene Johnson and Charles Day have put together a horror anthology that captures the spirit of the Drive in.  Drive In Creature Feature contains 19 stories for anyone who loves a good monster tale.

Since it would take too long to talk about each story I’ll spend some time talking about my favorites. The Tattering and Jack by Clive Barker is about a demon who has the task of driving a man crazy. The job ends up being much harder than the demon thought as the man shows he has no emotions and won’t be driven off the deep end. This story has an awesome twist and goes back and forth from being funny to scary. Another good story is The Forrest That Howls by Michael Paul Gonzalez, this is easily the best Bigfoot story I’ve ever read. It answers the question of why there is no proof that the creatures exist.

Ghoul Friend In A Coma by John Everson is a bizzaro love story between a teenage boy and a ghoul. This is another one that combines humor and horror. I love how even when the teenager sees his life in danger he still thinks with the wrong head, this is exactly like I would expect a teenager going through puberty to act. This story teaches us that a couple having sex then carrying a corpse together to the basement is what true love is all about.

Double Feature by Jason V. Brock actually takes place at a drive-in theatre in the Seventies. The story centers on a father who is taking his two kids to a movie. The father and mother are going through a divorce and the story begins with an argument between the occupants of the car. Their problems become secondary though when the drive-in becomes a battleground between a bunch of giant monsters from outer space. This story was a lot of fun but what I really loved was how the family puts their problems aside and works together when a crisis happens.

I also have to mention Popcorn by Essel Pratt, this is another one that takes place in the drive-in. A group of teenagers is at the theatre looking for a good time, but things get ugly when a giant popcorn monster attacks the movie-goers. I love the idea of a monster made of popcorn and there were some creative death scenes here, you may never want to eat popcorn again.

This book is one fun ride, it’s funny in places and scary in others. It also does an excellent job of capturing a bygone era and bringing back a lot of great memories of watching horror movies at the drive-in. There were a couple of stories here I didn’t care for but all in all this book reminded me why I love horror literature. It has humor, great monsters, and good storytelling, what more can you ask for? This is a must-read book for horror literature fans.

By The Fire: Episode 149: Challenge 13: This is the End

As I start to write this post the song that is playing in my head is The End by The Doors. Because that’s what this is, the end of the contest and what a trip it has been. The last challenge in The Next Great Horror Writer for episode 149 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast is the hardest one yet. This one was only open to the semi-finalists and they had to submit The first 3 chapters of their horror fiction novel including a cover letter, synopsis, and query. Wow!!! I have the highest respect for everyone in this contest because they had to work hard to be a part of it and everyone in it has shown how dedicated they are to their craft. The winner of this challenge and the grand prize for the contest is a book contract from Crystal Lake Publishing.

To sit and think on what everyone in this contest had to do to stay in it just boggles my mind. I can’t imagine doing it myself but this little group of writers really showed us what they were made of. The contest began with almost 120 entries and we eventually saw the field get narrowed down to just few. Along the way our writers had to produce an audio drama, a commercial, short stories, non fiction blog posts, create a monster, an intro to an original character and finally the beginning of a novel.

Through the course of this contest we’ve seen all of these writers grow and improve their skills and get tested like never before. I’ve really enjoyed the journey of these writers throughout this season of the podcast and it makes me sad to see just one winner. I think everyone in the contest should consider themselves a winner and be proud of what they have accomplished. Even if you get rid of all the other parts of the contest and just look at the fact that these writers have gotten to the point where they have submitted the first three chapters of their book is a big deal.

A lot of work goes into writing a novel, the planning, the outlining, the rewrites and finally the finished product. Some people spend years working on a novel and in my opinion its the most personal art form there is. Writers have to put their heart and soul into their novels and sending it to a publisher takes a lot of guts. It’s not easy becoming a published author, there is a lot of work involved in the process and when you do get published a whole new set of challenges await you. A writer’s work is never done and the ones that keep doing it are the ones that consider it their passion.

So Addicts, what did you think of the contest as a whole? Who did you think did the best job on this challenge? what do you thing the hardest part of doing a query and a cover letter are? Have you done one? What are the experiences you’ve had? Let us know in the comments.

 

David’s Haunted Library: Ancient Enemies

The world’s governments are a place of secret agendas and backstabbing politicians. It’s even worse when the ruling class is made up of vampires called the order. Their ruling council is called the Hegemony and they have been in charge of world politics for centuries. Every continental territory is ruled by a Hegemon, the Hegemon in charge of North America is a vampire scientist named Caroline.

Ancient Enemies by Brian McKinley begins with Caroline about to leave for a summit meeting of the Hagemony to talk about the future. She is leaving her lover Avery in charge of their home. Avery has been developing psychic powers and has been feeling out of place in Caroline’s world. Now with Caroline gone, Avery is faced with trying to protect Caroline’s scientific secrets and he has found a new woman who is attracted to him. Meanwhile, Caroline is trying to keep her position of power in government.

It’s hard for me to write a good summary of this book because it’s so complex. While its promoted as a paranormal political thriller that’s not what interested me as I started reading it. It starts off from Avery’s viewpoint and he describes his experiences in Overeater’s Anonymous and his feelings for Caroline. He loves Caroline but admits that they are very different people and he feels they are growing apart because intellectually he is not in the same league with her. We then get to Caroline’s viewpoints where she makes it known that she loves Avery but feels that he doesn’t belong in her world, she wants to keep him close and protect him anyway. Caroline tries to give him a position in her cabinet but he shows that he is unqualified for it.  While Avery may not belong in the world of politics he has shown his worth in other areas.

The love story between Avery and Caroline is what sold me on Ancient Enemies. I loved hearing from both viewpoints and how they want to stay together despite the fact that they are so different. Things get more complicated when Avery meets someone more like him and Caroline starts to realize some hard truths about herself. Just when I thought that the love story was the best part of the book we get more into the secret society of The Hagemony and how their government is made up along with the corruption behind it.

Each branch of the Hagemoney is described in detail and they are all different depending on what part of the world they are located in. The third point of view in Ancient Enemies comes from Neko who resides in Jade Tiger’s entourage. Jade Tiger is the Hagemon from China who doesn’t know she has people in her court who plan to take her down. Neko’s public persona is very different from how she is in private and her world is turned upside down when her secret plans get spoiled by another.

Ancient Enemies is a sequel that works as a stand-alone novel. This book is a love story, political thriller, action adventure tale and a horror novel. It looks at the complexity of what makes a relationship and makes you look at how corrupt government is. The characters may be vampires but everything works as a metaphor for real life.  You may want to get this book because you like vampire fiction but the great writing and surprise plot twists will keep you hooked.

By The Fire: Episode 147: Challenge 12: Write a 2500-3000 Word Story Featuring a Diverse Woman and an Original Monster of Your Making

Our contest is drawing to a close, we made it to episode 147 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast and the twelfth challenge for The Next Great Horror Writer is to Write a 2500-3000 word story featuring a diverse woman (of color/ethnic/minority) that also contains an original monster of the writer’s making. Our contestants created a monster way back in challenge 2 which they can use for this story, or they can create a new monster. The goal is to test their ability to write a story with a theme involved, they will be judged on creativity, overall story concept, and writing quality.

One thing I wonder about is would it be easier to create a monster or to create a good diverse female character and what would be the theme that would fit both? I think for all parts you are using a different part of your imagination. For a monster you want to try to think of something original but you also have to make it scary, being able to describe the monster and make it come alive is important. For the female character you would have to go into detail on her personality, what makes her tick and why should we care about her? When coming up with both of these creations probably the most important thing would be to make us feel some emotion for them and perhaps this is where the story’s theme would come out of. Whether its fear, compassion or even hatred, if we don’t feel anything and there is no theme, then we won’t want to finish the story.

So our contestants already know something about making a monster but how hard is it to come up with a good ethnic female character? Would it be harder to come up with a woman than a man? Or does that depend on if the writer is a woman or a man? Personally I think coming up with the monster would be much easier than coming up with your lead character because the lead character is the most important part of the story. So what do you think the hardest part of this challenge will be and who do you think did the best job with it? Let us know in the comments.