The Mourner’s Cradleoffers up an exciting start. After an intriguing prologue, we are introduced to the novel’s protagonist, Anne Sharpe. The young widow confronts an unwelcome guest at her husband’s funeral and later encounters an intruder at home. She concludes this is all related to her late spouse’s research into “The Mourner’s Cradle” and sets off to finish what he started.
Her trip to Peru, with associates, Ruben and Raul, is filled with adventure and danger, thanks to run-ins with her husband’s adversaries and hostile terrain. The story reminded me of a dark blend of Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones, if the tale were set on (and in) a snowy mountain.
For the most part, the novel was a thrilling ride and kept me entertained. I enjoyed it’s fast pace and plucky protagonist. The action scenes were well written, which is important in this kind of story, but there were a couple of slow moments that seemed somewhat drawn out and repetitive, like at the airport, and the dialogue didn’t always flow well. Those things aside, it was a positive reading experience for me, overall. I would describe it as more of a thriller than a horror novel, but it was worth the read and I would rate it four out of five stars.
(Personal Histories of Scott-Lapidot Disease from the Splits Archive)
Author: MV Clark
A psychological zombie novel
Reviewed by Ariel DaWintre
I was immediately attracted to this story with the tagline, “A psychological zombie novel.” I found this story kind of refreshing that it isn’t your typical zombie story it’s more of a cross between horror and sci-fi. I liked that the writer actually focuses on the medical side and what is causing the problem of zombieism. A lot of the stories about zombies mention finding the cure but you never see them actually do that or even attempt. The characters are called Splits as that is what is happening to them from the inside and outside.
The story centers around two sisters and their families. Claire and Anna have very different experiences and you follow their story from the onset to the final conclusion. Anna is a journalist and her journey gets her involved with interviewing people dealing with the outbreak. During all the trauma, she falls in love and gets married as life is going on around this outbreak like normal, but not normal. You never know who is going to come down with this disease and you’re never sure of the triggers. Anna’s story has many ups and downs. Claire’s journey with the disease is not as obvious at first, but her son Michael is not what he seems. However, he doesn’t seem to have the Splits either.
The story also follows a young woman named Lupe who starts out with her family being effected by the Splits and follows her journey of trying to explain it and solve it. I think she is great and analyses the outbreak while triying to fight the government and society. She tries to figure it out and come up with solutions. I don’t really want to say more as it will give away the story.
The great part about this story is, I kept looking it up on Google to see if it was based on a true story. I could believe it was real because it wasn’t just a case of the whole world changing into zombies and only a few survivors. We get to see society going on like nothing is happening and that they are just dealing with an outbreak like the common cold. Great book!
Moderator and horror author Brian McKinley is joined by science fiction writer William Gold, humorist Loretta Wish, mystery and thriller author J. Lauryl Jennings, dark fantasy author Kristin Battestella (yes that’s me! Your trusty Kbatz!), and urban fantasy storyteller Laura Kaighn for the Fiction and Genre Panel at the 3rd Indie Author Day hosted at the Heggan Library in Sewell, NJ.
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.
“Cabin Twelve” wasn’t the first story that I wrote for the NGHW Campfire Taleschallenge. I started with an entirely different concept about a lake monster that lured victims into the deep using the reanimated bodies of its previous kills. While I still think there is a good story lurking in there somewhere, no matter how many iterations I went through, it never felt right for the challenge that had been set. I wanted to end my story by giving the reader a sense of danger, as if their fate could be the next one told in hushed voices around the fire.
In the end, I scrapped that text (not really, never really—I save everything) and went back to what I knew best. Horror writing allows me to confront my own fears from real life in a safe, secure environment. I drew on my own experiences as a camp counselor to write “Cabin Twelve.”
There are stories more horrifying than those told around the fire to scare the kids. Counselors really don’t tell the campers about the real dangers: drowning, injury, exposure, loss. We want to frighten them, but only with things in the realm of the impossible. The true horror stories of camp are those of children’s lives cut short. As a counselor, my biggest fear was for the safety of the children under my care. I wanted to bring that out of the shadows in “Cabin Twelve.”
Campfire stories always have an element of the unexplained, a bump in the night, a monster that comes from shadows, things that should be dead, but persist. This spurred the idea of featuring the children that had died at camp through the years but somehow stick around. Once I had a group of children, I loved the idea of them all staying in a ghostly cabin just like the other campers.
I fell in love with the kids from “Cabin Twelve.” I want to work with them more, show more of their story. I think they lend themselves to a horror/comedy setting. Maybe I’ll write a series of short fiction that follows these strange, grim children through their immortal childhoods.
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