David’s Haunted Library: Shadow People And Cursed Objects and Wicked Gardens

David's Haunted Library

28810445I have two anthologies that I want to talk about and they have one thing in common. They both include a story from Horror Addicts hostess Emerian Rich. The First book is Shadow People and Cursed Objects edited by C. Le Mroch. There may be a lot of ghost anthologies out there but what makes make this one different is that it challenges you to guess if each ghostly tale is based on a true story or not. At the end of the book  is a section that gives background info on each story and tells you if its true or the author’s imagination.

Shadow People and Cursed Objects has thirteen tales that are well written and delightfully spooky. The first story is The Busby Chair by Alice J. Black. In this one, a boy is dared by his classmates to sit in a cursed chair in a museum. According to legend, a ghost will come and kill you if you sit in his chair. I loved the atmosphere here and how it includes an old legend and kids doing something dumb due to a dare. This was the perfect set up for the rest of the anthology.

It’s hard to pick favorites, but one of mine was Bye Bye Blackbird by Emerian Rich. Set in 1926, it focuses on a shy woman who spots a raven necklace that she must have. Despite the shopkeeper refusing to sell, she ends up with the necklace after a series of events and wishes she hadn’t. What I love about it is how the twenties comes to life with references to flappers and the descriptions of the outfits they wear. I liked that despite the main characters getting warned about the necklace, they seem to think that the warning means something different and the woman with the necklace becomes a target. I loved the concept of a cursed object causing so much destruction.

Another story that stood out for me here is Doomsday Every Night At Five by Evan Dicken. The story looks at a simpler time where a young girl keeps seeing stories of the apocalypse on an old TV every night at 5. After awhile she comes to the conclusion that the people in the TV are watching her as she is watching them and there are things happening that she can’t control. There is only one way to end how she feels, I love the ending to this one.  I also enjoyed the next story in the anthology which again deals with a kid taking a dare. Fatty And The Nothing Man by Sean Ealy follows a boy named Fatty who decides to venture into a haunted house in order to impress his so called friends. Inside he meets the old woman who owns the house and finds that there is only one way to leave the house. What I liked here was how the woman talks Fatty into what she wants him to do and then Fatty makes a big revelation of his own. Does anything good ever come from a dare?

Another great one here is Pedro by the book’s editor C. Le Mroch. Did you ever have an invisible sibling that your parents talked about being perfect in every way? We’ll Peter had that, his name was Pedro and now Peter is an adult and Pedro is getting Peter’s son into trouble. How do you stop a ghost from causing trouble? Peter will find out that there is only one way to do it. This was an excellent story with a good message to it. There are no bad stories in Shadow People and Cursed Objects. The editor did an excellent job of picking the best of the best and the concept of deciding what is real or what isn’t also makes this book a must read. This is one book that you shouldn’t pass up.

The other anthology is Wicked Gardens Edited by Mark Slade and Gavin Chappell. This book is differentCfc5tMWWwAAYs7a than most books out there. In this collection, we have several stories that range from the bizarre to the horrific and they all have to do with an apartment building and a garden. Anything goes in this anthology and if I had to describe it in two words I would say it’s oddly original. I’m no stranger to Mark Slade’s work. When you read a book that has him involved you just need to check your brain at the door and enjoy the ride, and I did just that.

One of my favorite stories here was from Emerian Rich called The Garden. Belinda went to live with her Gram after her dad died and mom ran off. She feels lonely sometimes but the roses in Gram’s garden are always there when no one else is. I love the foreshadowing in the beginning of this story with Belinda being compared to the flowers that her grandma grows. There is also a good message about how your loved ones never really abandon you and you are strong enough to survive anything.

Another good one is Giving Up The Ghost by Mark Slade. This one has to do with an unhappy couple, a trapped spirit and a man who doesn’t want to give up his old apartment. I loved the idea of a spirit being kept against its will.

If you like strange, there is one tale in this book that really fits the bill. Apartment 6-A by L.A. Sykes is about a serial killer stuck in an apartment after the apocalypse. One word to describe this one is bleak. There is no light and no living people, just one man alone with the memories of his past killings and some dead bodies which he has conversations with. This was one deranged story.

This may be an odd little book but it’s not one that you should pass up. All of the stories and poems here show a lot of imagination and you have to love a book where anything goes. Wicked Gardens is the kind of book you read when you want to try something totally different because this book will remind you how creative horror writers can be.

 

Review: Laugh To Death and Bizarre Fantasy

With the topic of episode 113 of horror addicts being Bizarro fiction I’ve got a couple of works of literature that are not your average reads:

23646976Salero was born into a family of circus performers. They were all acrobats but Salero decided to go against the family’s wishes and become a clown. Salero worked hard and he won the respect of his family and several awards for being a clown. He joined a traveling circus that’s on a tour of America and he is the star of the show, but he doesn’t fit in with the rest of the performers.

Salero is the only one in the circus that travels with his own Italian sports car along with having half a train car as his living quarters. Salero is clown royalty and he is also a serial killer. Not just any serial killer either, he targets young women who have a fear of clowns and he likes to sexually torture them before finishing them off. He makes kids laugh by day and women scream by night and as he travels from town to town he makes sure he covers his tracks. His killing spree may be coming to an end though as two detectives from New Orleans are on the case and closing in.

Laugh To Death by Charie D. La Marr is like no book I’ve read. After spending 9 years as a clown, Charie has started her own genre called Circus Punk and  Laugh To Death is as dark as Circus Punk can get. To say this book is disturbing is an understatement. I’ve never read sexual torture scenes that went on for so long. The Sex scenes are so descriptive and so unbelievable that even the most hard-core S and M fan may start squirming. Salero also  psychologically tortures his victims as he rapes them which makes this book even more shocking.

When I read a horror novel I usually don’t like it when it’s obvious that the author is going out of his or her way to shock me. In Laugh To Death it’s pretty clear that Charie D. La Marr is pushing the reader to the breaking point and trying to see how much the reader can handle. Though for me unlike other books I’ve read where the point is to shock, I wanted to keep reading this one even though I found myself feeling sick to my stomach. I can’t even describe the most disturbing scenes because I would be embarrassed to write about it, but the writing is so good in this book that I kept on reading.

The story may be pretty thin in Laugh To Death but the complex characters kept me wanting more. Salero may be a sadistic killer but there are some great scenes where the author makes him seem compassionate. It was also interesting finding out what his victims’ feelings are and how they question their own feelings. The two detectives in the story have a lot of great conversations with each other that made this book better.

Despite its flaws, Laugh To Death is a book that has its moments. In particular it gives a detailed glimpse at what a serial killer might be thinking and what the victims might be feeling. Beware though, this book is 436 pages and I would say 70 percent of it is describing brutal torture scenes. I think this book could have been better with a little less description and if it was a 100 pages shorter. That being said I would love to read more books by Charie D. La Marr in the future.

BIZZARE VOL 1Next up I wanted to talk about a new comic magazine edited by Mark Slade and Gavin Chappell called Bizarre Fantasy. This is a new magazine available from Rogue Planet Press which is a division of Horrified Press. In the intro of the first issue of Bizarre Fantasy, Will Viharo talks about how the combination of comic books and pulp magazines have influenced pop culture. Bizarre Magazine combines both genres and shows that pulp fiction and comics are just as relevant today as they were in the past.

This magazine is a passion project started by several writers and artists that grew up with a love of comics and old pulp adventures. There are seven stories here that range from shocking to humorous and there is some great artwork to go along with it. One of the stories that I loved in this magazine is Remnant written by LA Sykes and illustrated by Steve Wenta. The story is about a dying man who is writing about a demon that has laid waste to the world he lives in. Though as you read you find that things may not have happened as the one writing the story suggests. This story was a great example of how you don’t need a lot of words to tell a good story.

Some of the other stories here include one about a man who is turned into a snake after sex. This was a funny story that gets into the guilt that goes along with sex. The other ones in this collection include a kid who is having nightmares about outer space and runs away to join a circus, a mystical female warrior, a strange creature who gets control of a giant robot that changes his life, an alien’s worst nightmare and a strange vampire tale. I can’t say enough good things about Bizarre Fantasy Volume 1. The art is great, the stories are well written and the magazine was simply a lot of fun to read. If you consider yourself an indie comic geek, this is a magazine that you don’t want to miss out on.