Book Review: 324 Abercorn Street by Mark Allan Gunnells

 

Review by Stephanie Ellis

Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: ‘Brad Storm doesn’t believe in ghosts, but moving into the house at 324 Abercorn just may change his mind.

Best-selling author Bradley Storm finally has enough money to buy and restore his dream home. Despite 324 Abercorn’s reputation as one of the most haunted houses in America, Bradley isn’t worried. He doesn’t believe in the supernatural. Then strange things begin to happen. Objects no longer where he left them. Phantom noises heard from empty rooms. Shadows glimpsed from the corner of his eye.

Is his house truly haunted, or is there something more sinister happening on the property?

With the help of Bradley’s new boyfriend and a few friends who are just as intrigued with the seemingly inexplicable occurrences surrounding the infamous house, they set out to find the truth of what stalks the halls at 324 Abercorn.

A feel-good haunted house story. Can there be such a thing? I never thought so until Crystal Lake Publishing produced this little gem.

When novelist Bradley Storm hits the big time, he finally buys his dream home, the reputedly haunted 324 Abercorn in Savannah. With a strong disbelief in the supernatural, he dismisses the little occurrences going on around him. Television turned on, door open – all can be explained away by logic. The ‘haunted’ element of his house is easily pushed to the back of his mind as he embarks on a relationship with artist and student, Tobias.

As their relationship develops against the warm Savannah backdrop, it feels nothing bad can happen – until it does. Strange visions start to affect him, changing his mind about the supernatural and causing him to doubt his own sanity. Yet he has good friends around him and they join in his search for the truth behind the house.

And this was where the story fell down a little for me. There was no tension between any of the main characters. The quartet of Brad, Tobias, Neisha from the Heritage Centre and Howard, Tobias’s housemate was a perfect circle of friendship, no undercurrent of conflict or hints at a hidden agenda. The reveal was clearly sign-posted very early on and the wrap-up at the end was too swift. This created a lack of tension and weakened any sense of horror, there was no sense of dread. It was this missing chill factor, which made it feel more like a romance with a touch of horror thrown in, that stopped me giving it the full 5 stars.

For me, this was very much a feel-good story, one to be read on a warm summer evening, sat on a terrace with a glass of wine in hand.

Book Review: A Single Light by Tosca Lee

A Single Light by Tosca Lee
Review by Stephanie Ellis

Rating: 4/5 stars

This book is the sequel to The Line Between

singlelightSix months after vanishing into an underground silo with sixty others, Wynter and Chase emerge to find the area abandoned. There is no sign of Noah and the rest of the group that was supposed to greet them when they emerged—the same people Wynter was counting on to help her locate the IV antibiotics her gravely ill friend, Julie, needs in order to live.

As the clock ticks down on Julie’s life, Wynter and Chase embark on a desperate search for medicine and answers. But what they find is not a nation on the cusp of recovery thanks to the promising new vaccine Wynter herself had a hand in creating, but one decimated by disease. What happened while they were underground?

With food and water in limited supply and their own survival in question, Chase and Wynter must venture further and further from the silo. Aided by an enigmatic mute named Otto, they come face-to-face with a society radically changed by a global pandemic, where communities scrabble to survive under rogue leaders and cities are war zones. As hope fades by the hour and Wynter learns the terrible truth of the last six months, she is called upon once again to help save the nation she no longer recognizes—a place so dark she’s no longer sure it can even survive.

The follow-up to The Line Between brings me the apocalyptic feeling that appeared to be slightly lacking in the first book and as a result, gave a more satisfying read in that respect. The book starts off with pretty much a recap of what had happened previously and so allows anyone who hasn’t read the first book to get to grips with the storyline. Unfortunately, if you have read the prequel, it does come across somewhat heavy-handed and I found it rather annoying as it took a while to move the story further along. Once the author had brought everyone ‘up to speed’ however, the story did move along quite nicely and became a book that I didn’t really want to put down.

The safe-haven Wynter and Chase found for themselves has become anything but. Accusations lead to life-or-death situations, and the once united community splinters and suspicion becomes rife as the clock counts down to ‘Open Day’ in an increasingly claustrophobic atmosphere. Even when the silo opens, nothing goes to plan and there follows a desperate race against time for Wynter to find the necessary medicine to save a close friend’s life. They travel through damaged townships and into dangerous cityscapes, discover the extent of hunger and lack of medication, and the spread of the disease wiping out the human race. Through all this, Wynter’s ability to trust those around her is challenged by an apparent betrayal and her relationship with Chase falters as a result. The book develops into a nicely-paced page-turner, keeping you going to see if Wynter has the happy ending you would like for her or not. As someone who generally backs off from books with a ‘romance’ element, this aspect was sufficiently well done not to make me cringe and kept me reading.

The only reason I did not give this book 5 stars, was the opening ‘catch up’ chapter.

This book is for you if you like an apocalyptic thriller with a dash of romance.

Book Review: The Night Weaver by Monique Snyman

Review by Stephanie Ellis

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

‘SHADOW GROVE IS A PERFECTLY PLEASANT TOWN …

Shadow Grove isn’t a typical town. Bad things happen here. Children disappear, one after the other, and nobody is doing anything about it. Parents don’t grieve, missing posters don’t line the streets, and the sheriff seems unconcerned.

Seventeen-year-old Rachel Cleary lives on the outskirts of Shadow Grove, next to the creepy forest everyone pretends doesn’t exist. Usually, the forest is filled with an eerie calm, an unmistakable graveyard solemnity. But the trees have started whispering, forgotten creatures are stirring, and the nights feel darker than ever.

Something is stalking the residents of Shadow Grove, changing them into brain-dead caricatures of themselves. It’s up to Rachel to stop the devouring of her hometown before all is destroyed and everyone she loves is forever lost.’

When the nights begin to draw in early, a spooky read is a must and The Night Weaver does not disappoint. The main character, Rachel, is a terrific role model for young female readers, someone who is different but is strong enough to go her own way and pretty much not care what the ‘popular’ crowd say or do. No stranger to loss with the death of her best friend some years before and then the loss of her father, she has become fiercely independent, although sadly much of this is due to the emotional distance that has grown between Rachel and her mother as a result of the latter’s difficulty in dealing with her grief.

Whilst the rest of the town is strangely reluctant to explore the forest, Rachel is convinced that is where the children have gone. With the support of her neighbour’s grandson, the two cross the border into the woods and experience the ‘other world’ of the Fae. As Rachel fights to rescue the children, she becomes involved both with a Fae prince and with the very human Greg Pearson. The pacing is good and whilst it discusses Rachel’s relationship with her mother and her own memories of her father, it does not become mawkish and allows the magic of the story to keep the pages turning.

As someone who tends to avoid books featuring the Fae (usually because the author has made them too ‘sparkly’ or twee for me), I found this was a hugely entertaining YA romp with Snyman keeping the balance between darkness and romance perfectly. As a secondary school librarian, this is a book that may yet find its way onto my workplace shelves.

Book Review: The Line Between by Tosca Lee

The Line Between by Tosca Lee

Reviewed by Stephanie Ellis

4/5 stars

“In this frighteningly believable thriller from New York Times bestselling author and master storyteller Tosca Lee, an extinct disease re-emerges from the melting Alaskan permafrost and causes madness in its victims. For recent apocalyptic cult escapee Wynter Roth, it’s the end she’d always been told was coming.”

I jumped at the chance to read this book because of the word ‘apocalyptic’. I love doomsday type scenarios and as it was described as a thriller, it was something I felt I’d naturally go for. As I read on, however, I got the strongest sense that in truth this was really a YA romance set against an apocalyptic backdrop. Initially disappointed in that respect, I continued to read and make my judgment on it firstly as a story, and then as a YA book (as a librarian in a secondary school I read a lot of YA).

The cult of New Earth is a truly chilling place to be, where the leader, Magnus, appears to manipulate his followers with ease. Disposing of a first wife for Wynter’s sister, and then preparing to take Wynter herself as a second spouse, he appears cruel and even perverted. Wynter’s escape, or expulsion, is manipulated by her sister and initially, she is safe in the house of an old friend of her late mother’s. The growing dementia epidemic however soon undermines that feeling and she discovers Magnus had no small part to play in that. Lee paces the story well, interweaving present day with flashbacks but without confusing the reader. She brings out the angst and anxiety of a young woman undergoing extreme mental stress in a thoughtful manner without turning her into a lunatic. The twists and turns, of finding, and losing, friends and helpers on her journey to save the world, keep you turning the page. The ending is somewhat unsatisfactory as it is clearly set up for the follow-up, A Single Light. Having read the blurb for that, it appears to be more of the apocalyptic book I so wanted this to be. I look forward to reading this sequel.

Book Review: Coyote Rage by Owl Goingback

5/5 stars

My first introduction to Owl Goingback’s writings was his collection Tribal Screams, which I loved. This book also contained a taster to Coyote Rage and I was pretty certain I would read the novel when it came out. Here I am, some months later and the book lies finished at my side. Goingback weave’s his story between the modern world and Native American mythology, creating a unique blend of fantasy and horror.

Kindle EditionAs the last human member of the Great Council of Galun’lati lives out his remaining days in a nursing home, Coyote hatches a plot to eliminate him and also the daughter who would take his place. He tells the other creatures it is time for those of ‘fur and feather’ to take back control of their world. His target, Luther Watie, evades him and so the hunt begins for both Watie and his daughter. Not all creatures are on Coyote’s side, man has some friends, in this instance Raven and Mouse, but are they enough? This is a wonderful tale of shape-shifting and magic and the prose is pure poetry when the story slips into the otherworld of Galun’lati. Owl Goingback is a writer of quality and one I know I will return to.

Book Review: Broken on the Inside by Phil Sloman

Broken on the Inside by Phil Sloman

4/5 stars!

Broken on the Inside (Black Shuck Books) is a collection of five very dark short stories by Phil Sloman. All start from a point of psychological turmoil, the mind building its own madness which then manifests into something physically and disturbingly real.

The lead story, “Broken on the Inside, is an example of the power of mind control and the unintended consequences of the manipulation of others, in this case murder. “Discomfort Food will probably put you off your burger and chips. “The Man Who Fed the Foxes and “There Was an Old Man (be warned, there are some gross moments!) are accounts of mental breakdown in the starkest detail whilst “Virtually Famous flips and distorts reality.

Yes, it is a small collection, but Broken on the Inside packs a big punch. Strong, powerful and wonderfully dark, this is high quality writing and I would happily recommend it to anyone and everyone. 

Book Review: It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life

It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life
Ed. Joe Myhnardt and Eugene Johnson, Crystal Lake Publishing

4/5 stars

What If? That’s how this collection of essays opens. What if some of the best authors in the business decide to pass on their expertise to those following in their path? Answer: You get this book, an invaluable selection of hints, tips and sometimes, demands on everything from character creation to plotting to submission. For me, as well as the writing tips, I enjoyed the sections dealing with creating and editing anthologies and also how NOT to speak to an editor.

Advice is given and yes, some conflicts as writers have different methods, eg plot v character, one or two drafts or multiple. It’s up to you to take what you want from this – or not, although there is one golden rule that ALL promote – show not tell.

With each essay, it was as if the author(s) were sat in the room with you, chatting about their craft as to an equal. All remember where they came from in writing terms, there is no superiority, no patronising or condescension. They are us and hopefully, those who read this will one day become them.

Book Review: Tribal Screams

Tribal Screams by Owl Goingback (Independent Legions Publishing)

5/5 stars

I have never read anything by this author before but after reading this collection, that will almost certainly change. His stories span the centuries, from the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in America, to the days of the American Civil War, to Vietnam and the present. There are stories of Native American Indian beliefs and Voodoo magic, unwary pacts with the Devil and the consequences of lives ill-spent.

I enjoyed all the stories and had more-or-less decided to award the book 4/5 stars and then I read Grass Dancer, Goingback’s Nebula Award nomination. This is a story of two brothers from the Kiowa. One goes to fight in Vietnam, the other, only 11-years-old waits for him at home. Confined to a wheelchair, he is tasked with looking after Roger’s dance regalia. I am not giving any spoilers here, but the emotion that poured out of these pages towards the end of the story was powerful. I choked up then, and am doing so now as I think about it. Very few stories have this effect on me and shows how skilful the author is. It was this story that turned the collection into one worthy of 5 stars.

Another favourite, but one chosen because of its humour, is Animal Sounds. Snapping Turtle is a medicine man fearing his power is waning as the animals disappear and his people starve. A trip to the Spirit Mountain to discover the cause of their misfortune sees him encounter cannibal skeletons. The part where he persuades each skeleton to donate a leg so he make a ladder and they then have to spend their time hopping about was wonderful.

Want a ghost story? Look no further than Last Man In Line, where a fraternity initiation ceremony leads to an encounter with the ghosts of the past in Andersonville, site of Camp Sumpter, prison to forty thousand Union soldiers.

In addition to the short stories, Goingback includes the first four chapters of his novel Coyote Rage, which is due to be published in 2019. Coyote gets up to mischief on the Great Council, intending to remove its last remaining human member, a frail old man, Luther Watie, in order to restore the supremacy of the animal kingdom. Tracking the Cherokee down to an old people’s home, Coyote is recognised by Luther …

And that’s where Goingback left it. I look forward to reading the completed version when it comes out next year.

Owl Goingback is a skilful and accomplished storyteller, a true master of his art. I will most certainly be looking out for more of his work in future.

Book Review: Death Wears a Top Hat by Steph Minns

Death Wears a Top Hat by Steph Minns

4/5 stars

It was the cover that initially hooked me and I must admit to expecting a gothic type tale of murder and the supernatural set in more distant times, perhaps some sort of time-slip scenario having read the blurb. However, the initial chapters firmly set the story in the modern day so I was slightly confused at first. Once I got over this misconception and had passed the initial chapters which were very much scene-setting and introducing the characters, the story developed a natural flow which easily carried me along with it. The intermingling of the demonic top-hatted creature with modern life was drawn naturally and not forced. Crime and the supernatural mix easily and believably. The grisly murders committed in these pages are by a character possessed by a demonic entity, ‘the man in the top hat’. As the bodies pile up, DS Sue McKentee meets up with transgender psychic Alison Graves, whose initial information concerning one of the murders is initially dismissed with usual ‘nutcase’ tag. However, as the case evolves and McKentee herself encounters the top-hatted creature, she and Alison work together unofficially to capture the killer and bring him to justice. The story, however, is not just one of murder, it is also how two people reassess and rebuild their own lives. McKentee, divorced and refusing to let anyone close to her, gradually softens and becomes more open whilst Graves is almost at the end of the long journey in the transgender process to become the woman she wants to be. It is a story of acceptance of self and of others. I think these two would actually make a very good pairing for further supernatural jaunts together.

Book Review: Things You Need by Kevin Lucia

Things You Need – Kevin Lucia
(Crystal Lake Publishing)
5/5 stars

I enjoy collections and anthologies but with so many available these days, it takes something special for a new publication to rise above the herd and Lucia has achieved that. By cleverly intertwining the individual stories with the thread of the tale of a traveling salesman, he effectively creates a story within a story which ends with a twist I did not see coming.

Johnny is a sales rep, disillusioned with his life, despairing of his future, ready to turn his .38 on himself; however, before he can commit this act, he finds himself browsing the shelves of Handy’s Pawn & Thrift in the town of Clifton Heights. This shop gives you what you need – although this might not necessarily be what you want. Each item he handles – a tape player, an old Magic Eight Ball, a phone, a word processor – takes him away to other lives, all featuring characters who are trapped in one way or another. A ghost haunts his old den in The Office, the nightmare of being trapped in rooms and hallways continues in Out of Field Theory, Scavenging and A Place for Broken and Discarded Things. In each, the main character has to face up to, or accept certain truths, much as the character of Johnny is forced to do, each tale taking him nearer to his own truth.

Johnny too is trapped, he is locked mentally into his own depression and physically in the store, with no apparent escape from either. The shopkeeper has disappeared and, between the tales, he finds himself facing never-ending corridors and suddenly-appearing trapdoors, all the while feeling an increasing desire to kill himself. This parallels the stories he reads or hears, an overarching theme which makes sense when you read Almost Home, the tale of Johnny himself, and which delivers an unexpected, and wonderfully conceived, twist.

This is Death of a Salesman written for the horror market. The stories are flawless and original, avoiding the usual, hackneyed tropes, with no weak links between them. A thoroughly enjoyable read for the longer autumnal nights.

Book Review: Gypsy Blood by Jeff Gunhus

Gypsy Blood by Jeff Gunhus

Reviewed by Stephanie Ellis

4 out of 5 stars

Corbin Stewart is a writer, traumatized after the death of his young daughter, the subsequent breakup of his marriage and battling depression. A move to Paris to work on his second novel has proved a failure as he remains in the grip of writer’s block and a battle with the booze. Into his life comes Margot, his publisher’s agent, and, as it turns out, the granddaughter of Gregor, the leader of a powerful and ancient gypsy clan. When Corbin comes to Gregor’s aid during an apparently fatal attack, he absorbs part of Gregor’s soul. From that point on, his life is turned upside down when he becomes caught up in a deadly feud between the gypsies and a secretive group, Les Fantômes de Nuit.

Gypsy Blood calls itself a horror novel but reads like a thriller, pulling you in and not letting up until the final page. The pages take you running across the Parisian skyline against the backdrop of Notre Dame and then sends you down into the depths of the catacombs where bones do more than rattle. A fast-paced and action-packed read, I feel as if it’s horror’s answer to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, and could easily be transferred to screen.

A great book to lose yourself in.


Stephanie Ellis can be found at https://stephellis.weebly.com and on twitter @el_Stevie.

When Stephanie is not writing reviews, she is co-editor at The Infernal Clock (http://infernalclock.blogspot.co.uk/) a fledgling publishing venture and is also co-editor at The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear online magazine (https://horrortree.com/category/trembling-with-fear/) where they’re always open for flash submissions. She has also had short stories and a novella published in a variety of horror anthologies and magazines.

Book Review: Mountain of the Dead by Jeremy Bates

Mountain of the Dead by Jeremy Bates

Reviewed by Stephanie Ellis

5 stars

In 1959, a party of ten set out on a trek through the Northern Ural Mountains. After one withdrew due to illness, the other nine continued on in order to gain their Category III hiking certificate. Their route took them to Kholat Syakhl, the Mountain of the Dead. None of them returned. Files relating to the incident remained classified for years and even now not everything has been released to the public. The state also subsequently restricted access to the Dyatlov Pass area for three years after the incident.

This tale, based on true events, weaves a narrative between the recreation of events at that time and the story of a writer following in their footsteps to discover the truth behind the tragedy. As the story inevitably propels the members of the party to their end, told in the form of a countdown, you are invited to share the dreams and hopes of some of the group, ideas of a future and love and family. Together with the inclusion of expedition photos showing young faces full of laughter and promise, the story is brought to life and the poignancy of what is to come heightened.

In addition, the writer chasing their ghosts has his own demons to confront and this trip is his attempt at closure over a personal loss. That he insists on seeing the trek through to the bitter end, despite appalling conditions, has catastrophic consequences.

Here communism, the gulags, the folk belief of the Mansi tribesmen who live in that area and supernatural elements combine to give real authority to a powerful story

Full of horrifying suspense and well-researched, the author guides the reader to a shockingly believable conclusion. A page-turner in the true sense of the word and a thoroughly entertaining read. I will definitely be looking out for other books by this author.


Stephanie Ellis can be found at https://stephellis.weebly.com and on twitter @el_Stevie.

When Stephanie is not writing reviews, she is co-editor at The Infernal Clock (http://infernalclock.blogspot.co.uk/) a fledgling publishing venture and is also co-editor at The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear online magazine (https://horrortree.com/category/trembling-with-fear/) where they’re always open for flash submissions. She has also had short stories and a novella published in a variety of horror anthologies and magazines.

Book Review: Beyond Night

Review by Stephanie Ellis

In Beyond Night, August Arminius, Decurion of the 9TH Legion leads his men under the command of General Malitus, their orders to claim Caledonia  in the name of Emperor Hadrian. Expecting to face no more than Picts, savage though they are, the soldiers come across monsters-beastmen–who can rip a man apart with ease–and then eat him for breakfast. Not only do they have these creatures to contend with, there is also the druid, Drust and the wizardess, Weaver who manipulate both beastman and Pict to further their own ends.

This is a fast-paced story, liberally sprinkled with gory battle scenes and the horrors of ritual sacrifice. The weaving of the supernatural with the mundane reality of the hard slog of a Roman centurion provides for an entertaining piece of escapism. I would say it is definitely not for the squeamish!

 Beyond Night is written by Eric S Brown and Steven L. Shrewsbury. Eric is the author of numerous book series including the Bigfoot War series, the Kaiju Apocalypse series (with Jason Cordova), the Crypto-Squad series (with Jason Brannon), the Homeworld series (with Tony Faville and Jason Cordova), the Jack Bunny Bam series, and the A Pack of Wolves series. Some of his stand alone books include War of the Worlds plus Blood Guts and Zombies, World War of the Dead, Last Stand in a Dead Land, Sasquatch Lake, Kaiju Armageddon, Megalodon, Megalodon Apocalypse, Kraken, Alien Battalion, The Last Fleet, and From the Snow They Came to name only a few.  Eric lives in North Carolina with his wife and two children where he continues to write tales of the hungry dead, blazing guns, and the things that lurk in the woods.

Award winning author Steven L. Shrewsbury lives and works in Central Illinois. He writes hardcore sword & sorcery and horror novels. Twenty of his novels have been published, including Born of Swords, Within, Overkill, Philistine, Hell Billy, Thrall, Blood & Cell, Stronger Than Death, Hawg, Tormentor and Godforsaken. His horror/western series includes Bad Magick, Last Man Screaming and the forthcoming Mojo Hand. He has collaborated with Brian Keene on the two works King of the Bastards and Throne of the Bastards and Peter Welmerink on the Viking saga Bedlam Unleashed. A big fan of books, history, guns, the occult, religion and sports, he tries to seek out brightness in the world, wherever it may hide.


Stephanie Ellis can be found at https://stephellis.weebly.com and on twitter @el_Stevie.

When Stephanie is not writing reviews, she is co-editor at The Infernal Clock (http://infernalclock.blogspot.co.uk/) a fledgling publishing venture and is also co-editor at The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear online magazine (https://horrortree.com/category/trembling-with-fear/) where they’re always open for flash submissions. She has also had short stories and a novella published in a variety of horror anthologies and magazines.

Terror Trax Review: The Creptter Children

As a metal fan, particularly the darker side of rock whether it be industrial, black metal, doom, gothic or others of that ilk, I’m always open to listening to new bands. Asleep With Your Devil is the new EP from The Creptter Children and I had no idea what to expect and knew nothing of the band. At the end of my first round of listening, I went straight back and listened to it again…and again.
This is an excellent collection. There is not a duff track amongst them and three have a definite ‘earworm’ quality, namely: “Watching You”, “Asleep With Your Devil”, and “Killer”.
The singer has a voice as good as Izzy Hale of Halestorm and Sharon del Arden of Within Temptation. Musicianship and production is excellent without losing the edge I like to hear in metal. This is wonderful and I am now going straight over to Twitter to start sharing their music.
*The Creptter Children will be featured on #159 of HorrorAddicts.net coming in August 2018!

Stephanie Ellis can be found at https://stephellis.weebly.com and on twitter @el_Stevie.

When Stephanie is not writing reviews, she is co-editor at The Infernal Clock (http://infernalclock.blogspot.co.uk/) a fledgling publishing venture and is also co-editor at The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear online magazine (https://horrortree.com/category/trembling-with-fear/) where they’re always open for flash submissions. She has also had short stories and a novella published in a variety of horror anthologies and magazines.

Book Review: Hardened Hearts edited by Eddie Generoud

The anthology, Hardened Hearts, edited by Eddie Generous was passed to me by HorrorAddicts.net in return for an honest review.

5 out of 5 stars.

In this anthology you find an extraordinarily well-written collection which touches on love in all its forms – parental love, adulterous love, drug-hazed love, app-directed love – with outcomes ranging from happy-ever-after to pure tragedy. It was hard to pick out favourites because of the sheer quality of the writing but I make no apology for highlighting the following:

40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover by Gwendolyn Kiste. A very strong opening story told from the perspective of someone trying to break out of an abusive relationship. As you read however, you find your perspective flipped at times and you begin to wonder about the victim as they seem to harbour a little of the monster themselves …

It Breaks My Heart to Watch You Rot by Somer Canon. A heartbreaking tale of the loss of a loved one to dementia, something which affects so many families these days.

The Pink Balloon by Tom Deady, a family in crisis is destroyed after an innocent trip to the fair results in the death of a child.

Burning Samantha by Scott Hallam which depicts the tragedy of being unable to live your life as the gender you truly want to. A theme similarly reflected in the exploration of sexuality in Class of 2000 by Robert Dean where homophobia results in suffering and death.

All the stories in this anthology carry a powerful message with styles ranging from gritty urban to almost fairytale. You will not be disappointed by this book.


Stephanie Ellis can be found at https://stephellis.weebly.com and on twitter @el_Stevie.

When Stephanie is not writing reviews, she is co-editor at The Infernal Clock (http://infernalclock.blogspot.co.uk/) a fledgling publishing venture and is also co-editor at The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear online magazine (https://horrortree.com/category/trembling-with-fear/) where they’re always open for flash submissions. She has also had short stories and a novella published in a variety of horror anthologies and magazines.

Guest Blog: Arrachnattack by Mark Woods Review

 

Arrachnattack! By Mark Woods was passed to me by HorrorAddicts.net in return for an honest review.

3 out of 5 stars.

In the Norfolk town of Dyreham, strange things are happening. Melvin Dobbs, an obnoxious and thoroughly unlikeable man, is a scientist in a secretive establishment on the outskirts of town. A project he had been working on was closed down due to funding issues but he continued to carry out his highly illegal and dangerous research on spiders in his own home. Using his research as a means of revenge against those who have crossed him, he forgets to protect himself and unfortunately falls victim to his lethal arachnids. From there, the spiders spread across town, and as their victims pile up, they come to the attention of a local reporter Daniel Blake. As he investigates, a shadowy body, The Company, warns him off his story; others who try to help him die or are discretely silenced. And behind all this is a reference to ‘Mr. Skinny Legs’, a supernatural being who appears to be controlling events.

I must admit, I took a strong dislike to Mr. Melvin Dobbs, so at first, it was hard for me to keep going but once he’d been unceremoniously-and deservedly-bumped off, the story really began to draw me in and I’m glad I persevered. In this small town, so much is happening, old mysteries are resurfacing with references to Mr. Skinny Legs and the Lovecraftian Elder Gods, that you can’t help but read on. And not every question is answered. You know something more is coming, but that is the next book. You know something darker than anyone has ever experienced before is hovering on the horizon and you are fed teasing snippets and you want to know more. Again that is the next book. Mark Woods has created a believable world, has developed characters you begin to care about and want to follow on their adventures, and has laid the foundation of what promises to be an entertaining series.

 

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Stephanie Ellis can be found:  http://stephellis.weebly.com/ and herTwitter handle is @el_Stevie

When Stephanie isn’t writing reviews, she is the co-editor at The Infernal Clock http://infernalclock.blogspot.co.uk/ a fledgling publishing venture. And the co-editor at The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear online magazine (https://horrortree.com/category/trembling-with-fear/) where they are always open for flash submissions

Where Nightmares Come From, The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre: A Review

Where Nightmares Come From, The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre

Review by Stephanie Ellis

This novel was received free in return for an honest review

4 out of 5 stars

As a writer gradually developing her craft I am always open to hearing and reading the views of those at the top of their game, those who have ‘made it’. Like most, I think we approach such articles in the hope that we’ll discover the magic ingredient, the key that turns a novel in the drawer into a published piece of work. I didn’t get that from this book, nor is it something I discovered from my go-to motivational source, On Writing by Stephen King, who also appears in this particular publication. What I found, which was equally valuable, was the same story from all contributors—whether they be a filmmaker, author, poet, director, publisher or editor—the rule of three: read, write and finish what you start. No exceptions. I learned from Ramsay Campbell that you don’t need different notebooks from different projects, he—like me—makes notes on one thing, goes on to another, then returns to that first project … in the same notebook! I learned that daily word counts don’t always matter—unless you’re trying out for that annual marathon, NaNoWriMo. I learned that you should write for yourself. I mean, if you don’t enjoy it, why bother? In truth, and in my heart-of-hearts, these horror giants were merely stating what most of us already know, the only rule is that rule of three. Whilst the book was geared towards those who write in the horror genre, much of what was said can be applied to writers across the whole range of fiction and even non-fiction. And when it comes to nightmares—everybody is different but the contributors reinforce the idea of developing horror from the everyday and mundane, from the what ifs? There doesn’t have to be blood and gore, it can be subtle, darker and slow-building—again, another reassurance as that is the style of horror I prefer. So what did I take away from all this? A lot of reassurance and a reading list … oh, and the determination to keep on writing. And now I’m off to read Patricia Highsmith’s The Snail-Watcher.

http://www.crystallakepub.com/

 

Ghost Of Manor House: A Review

Ghosts of Manor House by Matt Powers

Review by Stephanie Ellis

This novel was received free in return for an honest review.

A ghost story in October, what better time to read one than when the nights are drawing in and the wind howls mournfully outside. For such nights, of Ghosts Of Manor House is perfect. Between these pages, you will find the Haunted House and its equally disturbed companion, the old oak, Mr. Travels. Together they have been the site of many an unfortunate death and judicial hanging over the centuries.

It is to this house that Edmund and Mary Wilder and their surviving child, Stephanie, go in order to come to terms with the death of their son Tommy, Stephanie’s twin. What Edmund doesn’t realize, however, is the arrangement Mary has entered into with the house in order to reunite her family. Once there, life becomes vague and Edmund’s sense of reality is distorted by both house and tree. He believes himself to be alone, working on a novel, awaiting his wife’s arrival unaware she is already there somewhere. The innkeeper, Lucas and ancient housekeeper, Mrs. Krane play their parts, convincing him he can never leave until eventually, Edmund realizes the step he must take to be with his family once more.

This chilling tale serves as a nicely done homage to the authors own heroes which include Stephen King and Shirley Jackson.

https://www.ghostsofmanorhouse.com/

 

Guest Blog: The Infernal Clock Anthology Stephanie Ellis

Time ticks for everybody and has become the instrument with which humans torture themselves, marking as it does the countdown to each person’s eventual end. Not a precious minute can be wasted in each of our allotted lifespans … whether it be used for good or evil.

 

The Infernal Clock is an anthology tracking one day in time, each of its 24 hours filled with horrors and torments. Between the covers, lie a collection of diverse styles ranging from dark fantasy to the literary to the classical—here is horror in its many forms. The anthology is available on Amazon but to celebrate its recent launch we are offering the chance to win a print copy of the book. Check out our 500 word flash horror competition over at The Infernal Clock blog. And if that’s not enough, here’s a taster from the book:

The Graveyard Shift

by Stephanie Ellis

“Are any awake?” asked Nurse Maddison. Joseph cast his eye over the bank of monitors in front of him. Each showed a sleeping patient, unmoving. “Dead to the world,” he said. “If only,” said the nurse as she walked away. They both laughed at the joke, tired though it was. The graveyard shift was almost over. She just had to wait until the clock struck three. And the big hand was almost there, moving slowly towards the end of its hourly journey, second … by second … by second.

Click.

He watched her grab her freedom, striding out of the facility’s gates, waving up at his camera as she disappeared into the night.

He sighed. It was alright for her, he still had another hour to go; another hour of mind-numbing boredom. He could pass the time like others by watching TV or flicking through trashy magazines but he had more of a conscience than that, ever since … well, what was past was past but from then on he had always done everything by the book—almost always anyway. Needless to say it did not help his popularity and he frequently found himself walking the corridors or watching the monitors at this unearthly hour, his colleagues having bagged the more attractive shifts as payback.

A slight movement in Patient One’s cell caught his eye; Nurse Maddison’s replacement—Nurse Ole Lukøje, a male medic this time. The Dane had been there a week and Joseph still hadn’t met him. It was almost as if he lost time when Ole was on duty. Joseph had a worrying suspicion he sometimes dozed off on the job despite all his good intentions. But nothing had happened and nobody had caught him. Hell, it wasn’t a sleep clinic for nothing; he could afford to cut himself a little slack, all those years of tedious conscientiousness had built him a balance of credit he felt could do with spending. And his time here was nearly up after all. Tonight though, his curiosity was piqued. It was definitely about time he met the guy. He rubbed his eyes and returned his gaze to the monitor. Ole Lukøje, he pondered the name, a Danish synonym for the Sandman, very apt.

He continued to watch Patient One. What dreams are you giving your patients, Nurse Lukøje, he wondered. The nurse had left but the man was no longer sleeping peacefully. His body had begun to twitch uncontrollably, his legs jerking as if running from something, his hands swinging out wildly against an unseen attacker. Joseph cast his eye over the patient’s notes left with him in case of ‘emergencies’. Patient One was prone to night terrors—well that was something new—and apparently only a recent development as it had been added by Nurse Lukøje. There had been no such observations from any of the other nurses who worked that shift. An extra note had been squashed into the space at the bottom of the page. It merely stated that normal sleep patterns resumed at 4 a.m. Joseph frowned. Usually the nurse would stay longer, wait until the patient had settled down, adjust the meds if any were being administered. But he wasn’t there. He wasn’t anywhere. And Patient One was becoming more agitated by the minute.

To read more and find out what other horrors can happen in 24 hours, check out The Infernal Clock