Book Review: Cribbins by H. R. Dixon

Review: Cribbins by H. R. Dixon

Reviewed by Chantal Boudreau

Writing this review was a real struggle or me.  I usually don’t like to write reviews heavy on the negative, nor do I like sitting on the fence.  At the same time, I felt this book was worth talking about.  For all the negative, there is a great deal of positive to be mentioned as well.

I’ll address the cons up front since most of them are at the start of the book – I almost gave up reading in Chapter 2, but I would have missed out on the better parts that followed.

The first thing that struck me was that there was too much exposition in the opening chapter, to the point of being repetitive.  I think this was presented this way to bring focus to the protagonist’s, Sophie Harrington, medical predicament, but it didn’t work for me.  I found it actually detracted from the introduction of Sophie even though the idea was interesting.  Character development was far better in Chapter 2, exploring the Sophie’s background and her relationship with her family, but the pacing was slow and it was done at the expense of story development.  This picks up in Chapter 3.

Normally I give a few small editing issues a pass as long as the story is good, but there were enough editing issues in this book that I found it distracting and I have a fairly high tolerance.

The other thing that bothered me was contrasting language – lofty language in some places where simpler language would have worked better, followed soon after by slang which added a sense of discord, and accompanied by awkward metaphors.  It felt forced and I much preferred the parts later in the book where the writing felt more natural.

With those out of the way, here are the reasons you *should* read this book.

First of all, it has a really Interesting story concept.  A supernatural, malevolent neighbour who is the cause of the protagonist’s autoimmunity seemed refreshingly novel. It’s what intrigued me about the book, why I agreed to review it, and why I kept reading past Chapter 2.

Secondly, and one of the stronger points in its favour, this story has realistic, well-rounded characters.  Sophie, her parents, her daughter, her coworkers – they’re all perfectly believable and outside the expected stereotypes.

The author offers evocative description in places – I especially like the descriptions that were kept simple but really gave you a genuine feel for what was being described (the description of her parents, for example, or her cozy bed.).  Unlike that intended for exposition, the description intended for atmosphere was natural and relatable, and the story considerably better for it.

And the two points that would probably appeal most horror fans, the villain is effectively creepy, once he is introduced, and there is a good use of psychological horror rather than relying on gore.  Some scenes are quite claustrophobic, lending an effective sense of being followed and then trapped.  I can honestly say I was scared in places.

In conclusion, if you are willing to look past the flaws in the beginning, this is a story worth reading.  I’d rate in 2.5 stars with a strong leaning towards 3 or 4 later in the book.

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Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference Feb 24-28, 2019

Attention Literary Horror Addicts, Wicked Women Writers, Masters of the Macabre, and any fellow demented author folk!

HorrorAddicts.net is having our very own Online Writing Conference in February 2019!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to take part in the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference and learn HOW to hone their literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write. Yes, the HOW Conference is open to any genre and general writing topics, not just horror!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW, you ask?
  • Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
  • Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
  • Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
  • If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event
  • Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
  • Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc
Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more Information or to chat RIGHT NOW in our open Pre-Conference area with your fellow writers!

To participate in HOW,  you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! During the week of the conference February 24-28 2019, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Workshop Applicants should submit their workshop proposal no later than February 1 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading Horror Addicts Online Conference Query so we recognize your message.
A general outline of your workshop should be included in the body of the email, along with details about any worksheets or technical materials you may need or will be using. If you would also like to schedule a Shout Box chat as part of your workshop or any other kind of live or daily event rather than or in addition to a stagnant forum workshop, let us know.
Of course, please include your contact information so we can respond with any questions about your workshop or confirm your approval as part of HOW.  Please allow up to a week to reply to your application query. If you don’t hear from us by February 7, please contact us again or join the Pre-Conference area of the HOW forum for the latest information.
Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!

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.

From the Vault REPLAY! The Ghost of Father Christmas by Dean Farnell

Originally posted on HorrorAddicts.net December, 2014

The Ghost of Father Christmas

by DEAN FARNELL

Santa Claus Is just a ghost I’ve waited every year

I stay up every Christmas eve and shed a little tear

He never comes to our house I’d know if he had been

I see him in my mind sometimes it must have been a dream.

The spirits placed my presents around the Christmas tree

Or It’s my imagination playing tricks on me.

My Mother tells me Santa’s been, my Father said It’s true

They said he comes when you’re asleep just like they always do.

Every bloody year this happens I get this same old tale

I decided Santa is a ghost I’m not even sure he’s male

I’ll stay awake this Christmas eve just like I’ve done before

Please Santa show your face this year as I’m touching 54.

*************************

deanDean Farnell writes quirky songs, & poetry, mainly paranormal / horror themed as a bit of fun. The songs are recorded in one single take so are raw demos in affect but have still been played on over 600 various radio stations and podcasts all over the world. He currently has 8 tracks In the TuneVibe Top 1000 Indie Chart top 10 including a number one record which has been there for over a year. His poems have been published in Paranormal /Horror mags which include: SCREAM MAGAZINE, TREMBLES MAGAZINE, THE WHITE CROW MAGAZINE, SNM POETRY, DAILY DOSE OF HORROR, SPOOK CITY, GHOST VOICES MAGAZINE, HEARSE-SAY MAGAZINE, BLACK PETAL, and DEAD OF NIGHT TALES. One of his songs titled “Ghost On The Stairs” is mentioned in the book “Rock & Roll Ghost Stories”. One Track “Friday The 13th” has been played on BBC Radio. Angie Bowie (David Bowies Wife) , & Karl Beattie of Living TV & Most Haunted , have all commented how much they have enjoyed his songs. The songs are available on itunes, Tesco, amazon, and Songcast.

From the Vault Replay! A Very Special Christmas Eve by A.D. Vick

Originally posted on HorrorAddicts.net December, 2015

Johnny and his little sister Stacy went to bed earlier than usual that night, but they didn’t mind. It was Christmas Eve after all, and what child isn’t willing to sacrifice a bit of play time when he or she knows that turning in early might just hasten the arrival of Saint Nick? The last thing they did before retiring to their rooms was to watch their mom place a cup of hot tea and a small plate of chocolate cookies on the counter for Santa. “The jolly old elf travels all over the world through the cold and snow every Christmas Eve to deliver toys to good little girls and boys,” she would often tell them. Both children took her at her word because…well, didn’t they receive the toys they asked for the last couple of years?

During the year Mom would often warn her children that Santa only brought presents to youngsters who behaved. Stacy generally tried her best to do what was right, never forgetting her mother’s warning. She felt confident that, after having asked Santa for some new dolls, that he would deliver the goods as he always had. The one thing she couldn’t understand though is why her marionettes would disappear during the weeks and months that followed Christmas. She knew that she loved them and took good care of them; yet, they would sometimes simply vanish from her room. Whenever she complained about these events to her parents, they generally brushed off her concerns dismissively, telling her that she simply needed to stop leaving her things outside where other kids or the neighborhood dogs could run off with them.

krampus2

Johnny, being a couple of years older than his sister, really didn’t buy into his mother’s warnings that Santa only brought toys to children who behaved. Johnny had a secret. He knew what was happening to Stacy’s dolls because he would sometimes sneak into her room while she was out in the yard playing with her girlfriends. He would then take them out to the nearby creek; and after pretending to drown them, would gouge their eyes out with his pocket knife before cutting off their heads and tossing them into a nearby trash can. Upon his return home from these occasional escapades, he delighted in hearing his parents chastise his teary-eyed sister for once again neglecting to take care of her things.

The boy had a mean streak when it came to girls and his sweet sister Stacy was not exempt from his hurtful machinations. Still, he felt confidant that Santa would once again bring him toys this Christmas Eve.

Stacy climbed under the covers of her comfortable bed; and with visions of sugar plums and new dollies dancing in her head, she fell into a peaceful slumber. Johnny on the other hand, decided to remain awake. He would listen until he could be sure that his parents had gone to bed. Then, he’d lie in wait for Santa, determined to catch a glimpse of him.

Within an hour the sounds from the TV ceased and Johnny heard, amid his parent’s playful banter, the door to their bedroom close shut. He quietly climbed out of bed and gazed out the window, searching for any signs of Santa’s sleigh or his reindeer. The snow, still falling on a gentle breeze, made the neighbor’s colorful light display across the street seem all the more authentic. It’s really Christmas, he thought to himself. Santa should be here with my presents any time now! 

His thoughts were distracted by a sudden pitter-patter on the roof followed by the sound of footsteps. Johnny could barely contain his excitement as he stole quietly toward the living room, which contained both the family tree and the fireplace. That’s where he knew he would find Santa. Reaching the end of the hallway, he poked his head around the corner for a first peak.

Krampus1

Without warning, a dark, hairy, claw-like hand grabbed him by the shoulders, pulling him around the corner in one fluid motion. The boy gasped, but before he could even utter a sound one of the hands covered his mouth, making any cries for help impossible. Johnny struggled, but it was to no avail. Still, he couldn’t see just who or what was holding him fast.

He heard a hissing sound just before his captor spun him around without removing the hand from his mouth. His blood ran cold as he gazed at the creature holding him in place. No, this wasn’t Santa Claus, whom he’d been hoping to spy upon just moments before. Instead, he found himself staring into the face of a most hideous thing. The creature before him was tall and furry with a long snake-like tongue dangling from its mouth. Its ears were large and pointed; two curved horns grew out of its head. Attached to the body’s backside was a long, pointed tail. Overall, the monster’s body appeared somewhat man-like, but Johnny knew this was no man. The creature holding him seemed more like the Devil than any man he’d ever seen.

Pure terror gripped at him as the creature opened the top of a large wooden basket before placing Johnny inside and once again closing the lid. The boy screamed at the top of his lungs, calling to his parents for help– calling to Santa, but it seemed that no one could hear his anguished cries.

His abductor strapped the basket to his shoulders before ascending the chimney to the roof where a sled awaited him. He gave a push with his left foot and the sled lifted off on the snow-laden breeze toward a destination only known to him.

Some hours later, the mysterious being approached a shadowy, misty castle that stood upon a mountaintop populated by twisted, deformed trees. The large door at its entrance creaked open at his approach and closed shut again once he was safely inside. After disembarking from the sled, the creature removed the basket from his shoulders and opened the lid, allowing Johnny to climb out.

The boy’s eyes opened wide in disbelief as he looked around the large, gloomy, torch-lit hall. He could hear the cries of other children, both male and female. Their moans seemed pained and anguished.

“Where have you taken me?” Johnny asked, crying. “I want to go home.”

“Home, so you can steal your sister’s dolls?” The creature asked. “Home, where you delight in her pain and her tears? I think not. This is your home now, and as you can hear, there are lots of other children here to play with. We’re going to have lots of fun watching you learn what meanness really is.”

The frightening being’s tongue dripped saliva as he hissed once again while continuing to look down at the terrified boy.

“Merry Christmas, Johnny! Welcome to your new home: The Castle of Gruss Vom Krampus!”

Lost Episodes, 10-13 FOUND!

You addicts have been emailing me ever since the Mevio massacre of our episodes to bring back the first season. Well, I finally found episodes 1-13, and so we will be uploading as many of these as we can during our hiatus. Hear how HorrorAddicts.net started way back in 2008, but don’t be too harsh. We were so young in podcasting, it makes us cringe to hear our newbie foibles. If you are still enthused to listen, here are episodes 10-13. More to come in January.

Season 2

#013 Michele Roger, Santa Claws / The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993

#012 Emerian Rich, The Vampyre (John Polidori)

Season 1

#011 Emerian Rich, Death Of The Machines / Red Dwarf, 1988 (TV)

#010 Keith Latch, A Bump In The Road / Queen Of The Damned, 2002

HorrorAddicts.net Flashback – Holiday Horror

Our very first episode with holiday horror was Michele Roger’s Santa Claws, way back on episode #13. That episode has been locked in the vault ever since we switched to Libsyn… BUT! We have uncovered the show!

#13 Michele Roger, Santa Claws

There are several other holiday-related shows I am going to post here in case you need some HorrorAddicts.net Holiday fun.

#52 Jack Mangan, Holiday Horror Theme

“Jack Mangan’s Santa Thing is a great read/listen for horror Xmas tales.” ~ Dan Shaurette

#53 Cal Miller, Holiday Horror Theme

“Cal Miller’s Scary Santa is just the thing to make you rethink the big red guy.” ~ Emerian Rich

WWW Challenge Special – Holiday Horror Challenge

 “It never ceases to amaze me how great a job these women do with holiday horror!” ~Rhonda R. Carpenter