David’s Haunted Library: The Final Reconciliation and Skin Deep/Ordinary Monsters

Thirty years ago a new progressive rock band exploded onto the music scene called The Yellow Kings. The band was made up of 4 teenagers with big dreams who released an ep and toured America, eventually landing a record contract. Along the way, they meet a young woman named Camilla who has an odd influence on the band. After their first tour, The Yellow Kings went out to Los Angeles to record their first album, a concept album called The Final Reconciliation. Little did they know it would be their last album and very few people would ever hear it.

The album was shelved after The Yellow Kings put on an album release party in an L.A. nightclub where they planned to play the full album for the first time. The concert ended in a disaster which killed almost 200 people and left only one band member alive. For the first time since that fatal night, The Yellow Kings lead guitarist and sole survivor Aiden Cross has agreed to be interviewed about the events leading up to that tragic night.

The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling is inspired by Robert W. Chamber’s “The King in Yellow.” Written in 1895 it was also the inspiration behind some of H.P. Lovecraft’s work. In the 1895 story, it was a play that if read brings madness to the people reading it. In this story if you listen to the full album it creates chaos. I wasn’t familiar with the source material but loved how it was presented in this book. The idea of a heavy metal album opening a portal to another world and making people go crazy is a great concept.

This cosmic horror novella is more than just a new twist on old mythology, though, it’s also the story of kids from a working class background achieving their dreams and worst nightmares at the same time. One of my favorite parts of this book was when three members of the band return to their hometown from their first tour and you see the background they come from. They don’t get a warm welcome, their parents don’t understand the bands need to follow their passion instead of working a blue collar job. In a short time, The Yellow Kings achieve a high level of success before it all comes crashing down. You know early on that it’s all going to end in disaster, which leads me to what I didn’t like about the story. You knew what was going to happen from the beginning, it’s just a question of how we’re going to get to the final result.

The Final Reconciliation is a great little horror tale that mixes music, mythology and a coming of age story all into one. The description of The Yellow Kings kingdom comes to life brilliantly and the final scenes in the Nightclub disaster were wonderfully grotesque. Todd Keisling does an excellent job of setting a mood of dread and keeping it going throughout the book. I think most of all I loved the concept of a progressive rock album being the key to a world of terror. If you are familiar with the Cthulhu mythos you shouldn’t pass up this book.

Skin Deep/Ordinary Monsters by Frank Martin is a different kind of horror book. It includes two stand alone pulp fiction style horror novellas and a comic.  The first story is called Skin Deep “A Vampire Story Of Love.” The story centers around a  girl named Laura who is a track and field star in high school, rebelling against her parents. She sneaks into bars and complains that her parents pushed her into track, but her attitude becomes a big problem when she meets a Cajun vampire who teaches her a lesson in love she won’t forget.

Skin Deep is the kind of story that comes to mind for me when I think of pulp fiction. It’s a simple story with simple characters and its a lot of fun when the vampire shows himself. The beginning is boring but as the story moves along it gets better. I loved the vampire and the final gory scenes in the story are excellent. Skin Deep is a story that has its flaws, such as parents that Laura thinks are overbearing but in reality come across as non caring, until the end. Laura also has a sister named Jessica who has a story that is never fully explained. That being said the scenes with the vampire in it make this story worth it and we even get a nice message about not having to live the role that people expect of you.

The second story is called Ordinary Monsters and is about two teenage best friends whose friendship is put to the ultimate test when an old family secret is revealed.  This is an excellent werewolf story which touches on such subjects as the Nazi concentration camps, dealing with anger and how far loyalty will go. I love the scenes from the werewolves point of view and the description of the change from human to werewolf was brilliant. This story represents why werewolves have always been my favorite monster. It’s all about a person dealing with an inner rage that they have no control over, this book is worth your time for this story alone.

Skin Deep/Ordinary Monsters also includes a beautifully illustrated comic that tells the story of a werewolf and vampire doing battle during World War 2. I felt both of these stories got off to a slow start and had the feel that they were coming from a first time writer, but both got better as the monster was introduced into the story. This book is a fun read that fans of a good monster story will love and with cover art like that, who can resist.

 

 

David’s Haunted Library: Housebroken and Night as a Catalyst

David's Haunted Library

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00075]Blake is a rich man with a wife and teenage son. Things look perfect on the outside and he thinks they are about to get better when he moves across the country to a new home in a gated community in California. After they settle into their new home a strange person comes to their door selling magazines, Blake refuses to buy and sets off a chain reaction of events. Now Blake and his family are at the mercy of two sociopath kidnappers.

These kidnappers don’t want money though or to torture them. What they want is to observe Blake and his family for one week to see how they became so successful. There is a catch, though if you break one of their rules the kidnappers have promised to torture them and they have proof to show how vicious they can be. Blake is caught in a game of survival  his perfect life starts to erode  and he has to reevaluate what is most important.

 I loved the concept behind Housebroken by The Berg. You can tell that the kidnappers come from a rough background and the idea that they just wanted to see what made these rich people different is an intriguing idea. After awhile you start to see that Blake’s life isn’t as perfect as it looks and it doesn’t take a lot to make everything come undone. What I liked best about this book is that all the characters were shades of gray. There were times that the kidnappers came across like they weren’t bad people and you could have sympathy for them and there were times when Blake’s family showed that each one had a dark side. I cared about all of these characters to an extent and in the beginning, I even liked the kidnappers and could understand their point of view, though the story gets more complex as it moves along.

As much as I loved the characters though there were also scenes in this book that came across as so ridiculous that I almost wanted to stop reading. I don’t want to give anything away but at one point there was a scene with a car and also by their pool where I was asking how was that even possible and then there was an escape attempt where I was just scratching my head in confusion. There was also a scene with a doctor that I thought wasn’t necessary at all.

Despite its flaws I did enjoy this book, there are some well-written scenes and I loved the depth given to the characters and how their feelings are described. The best part of this book though is how you feel for the family. At first, they come across as a normal slightly dysfunctional family, then it gets revealed that they may be even worse than the reader thought. You still care for them though because you see how despite their conflicts they are still counting on each other to survive. Housebroken is a page turner and even though the story has its problems, it’s still good enough where I was wondering what else has this author written.

25459659Night As A Catalyst by Chad Lutzke is a collection of 18 horror stories that are short but pack a punch. Most of these stories would be considered flash fiction and while I admit to not liking short horror stories a lot, I thought the atmosphere in these stories was really good. Another thing I liked was at the end of each story Chad Lutzke tells where he got the idea from, which made each story more personal.

One of the stories in this book that I really liked was One Up A Tree. It’s about two hikers lost in the woods that come upon a cabin. When the owner comes home and finds the two people, he shoots first and doesn’t ask questions. One gets away but is soon trapped by the sadistic cabin owner. For such a short story I was surprised at the depth of the characters here. In the beginning, we find out that the two hikers are friends that drifted apart over the years and are trying to rekindle their friendship. Being able to relate to them makes it that much scarier when they meet the cabin owner. There is a scene in One Up A Tree where the cabin owner gives one of the hikers some meat. I knew where the scene was going when the hiker starts to eat but it was still terrifying to think about.

A good flash fiction piece here if you are a cat lover is Collecting Cats. It’s about someone who finds injured cats and nurses them back to health. What makes this story interesting is how the cats react when they find out about the one injuring them. This book has a lot of good short ideas and another story that follows this formula is Moving Made Easy which is a story about teleportation. This one has a really good Twilight Zone ending.

My favorite story here is Birthday Suit. It follows a group of friends who are at a house for a birthday slumber party, they go up into a tree house and one of the kids sees something amazing and horrifying. This one mixes nostalgia and horror. In particular, I liked the conversation the kids have in the tree house as they look into other people’s homes. They talk about things like what old people do all day, girls at school and of course horror movies. This one reminded me of sleepovers I had as a kid and the shock ending made it a great tale.

Night As A Catalyst is a perfect book for horror fans who like to read but don’t have a lot of time. I say that because each story here is quick, to the point and packs a good scare. As a fan of the genre what more could you ask for, this book is a lot of fun and a quick read. If you like horror anthologies then Chad Lutzke’s book is one you shouldn’t pass on.

Once Upon A Scream Author Spotlight: Shannon Lawrence

Horroraddicts.net publishing has recently published our 4th anthology called Once Upon A ScreamRemember the Fairy tales that you grew up reading? Well they are back again with a horror twist. Once Upon A Scream includes 18 tales that are fantastic and frightful. One of the authors in this anthology is Shannon Lawrence and recently talked to us about her writing:

OnceUponAScreamFrontWhat is your story in Once Upon A Scream called and what is it about?

My story is called The Black Undeath. It combines a mystery illness, born of the plague and leprosy, with Rumpelstiltskin, creating an entirely different sort of zombie. Can the queen discover the creepy little man’s name soon enough to save her infant son from becoming just like him?

What inspired the idea?

Oddly, what inspired the idea never made it into the story. I attended a talk by Connie Willis, in which she mentioned that people in neighboring towns would hear the church bells ringing the number of plague deaths. Eventually, the bells might fall silent. This factoid crept into my head. It was chilling. Can you imagine listening to the plague creeping closer, only to hear the silence fall?

I didn’t just want to talk about the plague, so I did some research. I found out missionaries/priests traveled to leper colonies frequently, and that they were a significant source of the plague getting around to communities, as they traveled everywhere, often being exposed and exposing others before they even knew they’d contracted it. So I wondered what would happen if the plague met leprosy. Then my story was born.

When did you start writing?11707855_951758641533653_102589758655846839_o

Earlier than I can remember for sure, but my love of writing began developing in fifth grade. It was my first time writing to a prompt, which was an exercise my teacher used off and on throughout the year. She frequently singled out my stories, putting them on display.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

I’m partial to all things horror, though I’ve yet to write a vampire. A fact which took me by surprise when I realized it. I tend toward Native American mythology in terms of monsters, in both my horror and fantasy. And I’m partial to human monsters, though I write plenty of critters with fur and tentacles.

What are some of your influences?

I hate to sound like a cliche, but Stephen King was my first influence in writing. I consumed his stories from middle school forward. I aspire to be able to write characters with the rich depth his characters show.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

71N9-A84f4L._SL1000_It’s fun. I love to get a rise out of people, to scare them, to make them check over their shoulders or get up to check the windows and doors. I once tormented my family on a late night drive up the Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon, convincing them that we were being followed. We were going through a heavily wooded area, lined here and there with abandoned shops. The moon couldn’t get through the trees. A car behind us kept pace, whether we accelerated or slowed. Not only were the hairs on the back of my neck up by the time I was finished, but my dad was subconsciously pushing the gas pedal further and further toward the floor, even though he knew full well we weren’t being followed.

I find horror cathartic in many ways. What the people in these stories go through is worse than my problems any day. It’s helpful to immerse myself in their fears instead of my own.

What are some of the works you have available?

Most recently, The Deep Dark Woods, an anthology, where you can find my short story The Blue Mist. It’s about a prospector in Estes Park whose job becomes cleaning up the remains left behind by the Blue Mist. But one day he hangs around too long.
 
I also had a piece come out in Devolution Z Magazine. This one is entitled Blue Sludge Blues and involves a tentacled creature in a rest area port-a-potty. 
 
For free reading, I had a little piece published online at The Flash Fiction Press. Nice Night for a Splash is about a not-so-nice woman with her eyes on the prize.
What are you currently working on?
I’m having some fun with a story that started out as an experiment (can I write a story along the lines of horror comedies like Tremors, Lake Placid, and Shaun of the Dead, in which they rely a lot on sight gags?), and has become the start of a novel. I’ll give you a hint: there are squirrels.
Where can we find you online?
I can be found at http://www.thewarriormuse.com/. All my social media links are there.

Press Release: Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein coming in March!

Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein coming in March!

 

77643c0c-cf6c-468a-b989-815bac633727In a world where every creature of legend has stepped forward from the shadow to exist shoulder to shoulder with humankind, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein meet for a final showdown.

New York City has become a macabre melting pot. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and ghouls are now the new immigrants and they are chasing the American dream. The Night Things have become part of the system. But many humans feel the creatures are dangerous ticking time bombs.

Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein is a new novel by Terry M. West. It features a battle between the biggest icons of horror in a world gripped with fear over the Night Things. The fate of the Night Things and humanity itself hangs in the balance of this monumental confrontation.

The Magic Now universe began with the book, Monsters and the Magic Now. Here are some review blurbs for that book:

“A grippingly twisted saga. West depicts this macabre world with style and dark humor.”-Bram Stoker Award® winner Lucy Taylor

“Will definitely leave an indelible mark deep within your soul!”-DIABOLIQUE MAGAZINENight Things Paperback Cover

“Only Terry M. West could spin a tale so dark and brutal and still make it transcend horror and become a work of literary craftsmanship.”-Kevin Lintner, SANITY’S GRAVEYARD 

“Equally disturbing and powerful.”-Bob Milne, BEAUTY IN RUINS

“[Monsters and the Magic Now] is a nightmare on acid. It is beautiful, deep and sad.”-Heather Omen, THE HORROR NATION

“One of the most powerful and disturbing- yet incredibly entertaining things- I have read in decades. “-Michael Donner, Captain Creeper

“[Monsters and the Magic Now] is a super edgy, blood-thirsty tale that made me uncomfortable and left me wanting more. I love this story!”-Zachary Walters, THE MOUTHS OF MADNESS PODCAST

“What true horror is all about.”-SCARLET’S WEB

“Terry M. West has created an unnerving horrific masterpiece!”-GEEKDOM OF GORE

 “I cannot overstate this: Horror fans looking for something truly original that will get under their skin need to read [Monsters and the Magic Now].”-author DS Ullery

“The story is full of dark places inhabited by dark characters – both in human and monster form.”-Stuart Anderson, The 5th Dimension

Critically-acclaimed horror author Terry M. West continues his Magic Now series with this standalone novel that presents a world only a slight shade darker than our own.

Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc. will release Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein onMarch 18th, 2016 in Kindle and paperback versions. Dracula will grace the Kindle cover while Frankenstein will be featured on the paperback edition. An audio-book will follow. It is available now for pre-order at this universal book link: http://bookShow.me/B019SFEHQK

****Terry M. West is a filmmaker, author and Active member of the HWA. He was a finalist for two International Horror Guild Awards and he was featured on the TV Guide Sci-Fi Hot List. He has been at it since 1997, but recent years have seen a strong rise in his popularity. His website: www.terrymwest.com****

Mark Justice 1959-2016

61RFKPxBZVL._UX250_I woke up on the morning of February 10th thinking it would be just another day. As I was getting ready for work, I did a quick check of facebook and was sad to see that Mark Justice had passed away.  I didn’t know Mark personally but I bought many horror novels thanks to his show Pod Of Horror, including a zombie apocalypse book he co-wrote with David T. Wilbanks called Dead Earth.

Being the horror literature fan that I am, I instantly fell in love with his podcast Pod Of Horror. It started back in 2005 and over the years included interviews with big name horror authors such as Brian Keene, Jonathan Maberry , Clive Barker and many more. Horror writers and book publishers don’t always get the attention they deserve, but Mark’s podcast put the spotlight on them and due to his background in radio, his show had great production values. In addition to giving horror writers a voice, Mark had a wicked sense of humor and the podcast included comedy sketches with characters such as a Grim Reaper named Grim Ricktus and Chinese Dracula.

Mark Justice was also a storyteller. He wrote a regular column for his local newspaper and he had 15850196several short stories that were included in such anthologies as The Phantom Chronicles, Vol. 2 and Captain Midnight Chronicles. He also released an anthology of his own short stories called Looking at the World with Broken Glass in My Eye and made the journey into pulp fiction with a Western/Zombie novel named: The Dead Sheriff: Zombie Damnation (Volume 1)  He even edited an anthology called: Appalachian Winter Hauntings: Weird Tales from the Mountains

I was Really sad to hear of Mark’s passing, I may have never met him but because of his show I felt like I did. It was because of Pod Of Horror that I heard of horroraddicts.net. Back in 2009 on an episode of his show was a promo for the horror addicts podcast. So I gave it a listen and loved it, not knowing that I would eventually become a part of it. The world will be a sadder place without Mark Justice. Luckily we can still buy his books and listen to old episodes of Pod Of Horror and remember him for his humor and how he helped so many horror authors get noticed.

http://podofhorror.com/index.html

http://markjustice.blogspot.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Justice/e/B0034O22ZK

http://www.briankeene.com/2016/02/10/mark-justice-r-i-p/

David’s Haunted Library: The Unsaintly

22890862Isabel has dedicated her life to serving others. She is the daughter of the Blanche of Castille and Louis VIII and raised as a Catholic. She had a path she was supposed to follow but instead she chose to serve God and become a nun. Isabel is pure of heart and has suffered from stigmata, you could say she has a gift at showing compassion for others. Little does she know that her faith and kindness has made her  a pawn in the battle between heaven and hell.

In her monastery, angels in disguise are watching over her and God and Lucifer are fighting for her soul. One angel was put there by god to record her actions and Lucifer is also there in the form of a priest.  Isabel suffers through demonic possession and she watches the people she loves put in danger. She is put to the ultimate test of faith in the battle of good and evil and along the way she will have to accept some dark truths.

The Unsaintly by Lisa Vasquez is set in 1254, a time when religion was taken much more seriously then it is now. I was drawn to this book because I liked the idea of someone who is presented as almost saint like being stuck in a battle of good versus evil. In the beginning you get to know Isabel and you like her because she has humanity’s best interests at heart. Isabel to me is a tragic character, you see that all of these eyes are on her and she is forced into some rough situations and you root for her to keep her faith.

While Isabel herself is my favorite part of this book I also liked the setting. This story wouldn’t have worked if it was set in a different time period  and I liked how the monastery and the  armies battling towards the end are described. In the beginning of the book I also enjoyed the discussion that Lucifer has with God. Among the two you get the feeling that they are really shades of grey rather than black and white, but with the human characters you have an easier time telling who is good and who is bad. There is a lot going on this book, considering that it deals with the question of faith and what we believe to be right and wrong, you know it’s going to be a serious novel that draws you into a different world.

The Unsaintly is no light read, this is a dark story and a little bit depressing. The good people in this book suffer and there is no humor to lighten the mood. I feel that Lisa must have really done her homework on this book. Its been a long time since I’ve read the bible but I remember what my perceptions of god and Lucifer were and the way they are presented in this book match how I saw them when I was a kid. This is a well written book and you can tell that Lisa put a lot of thought into how the characters and setting should be. This is a great horror novel that will have you questioning how you think about God.

David’s Haunted Library: Young Blood: The Nightbreed Saga

25008322Spending the evening at the carnival seemed like a fun idea but for Madison it was the night everything changed. She was found later that night with her throat torn apart. She woke up in the hospital with no memory of what happened. She feels hungry but not for food, she wants blood and controlling her hunger isn’t easy. Her memory starts coming back to her and she remembers the carnival they visited was run by vampires and they had children trapped in a trailer.

Madison soon learns that her family has a few secrets and she has a destiny that she has to fulfill whether she likes it or not. As one of the undead, Madison may be the only one strong enough to save the children and put an end to the vampires that took her life. She must also figure out how she can live as a vampire and keep her humanity.

Young Blood: The Nightbreed Saga by Phillip Tomasso is actually written by a father son team and I think you could best describe it as a coming of age vampire story.  There are lots of vampire books out there but to me this sub genre never gets old because every author puts a fresh spin on an old idea. In Young Blood the character of Madison is your normal girl next door but by the end of the story she is a completely different person. You feel for her because she is just a high school girl who wanted to have a fun night with friends and then her world was torn apart. We also see that she comes from a broken home and she has several issues with her mom’s new boyfriend.

Madison is a character you can easily relate to because she has a lot of the problems that normal teenagers have. You care about this girl and you want to see her get a happy ending. I love how the character goes from a happy normal kid to a warrior and along the way she thinks to herself how she is going to keep her friends and protect the ones that she loves. Madison puts everyone’s needs before her own and despite her noble deeds nothing seems to work out for her. She is a tragic character but she never stops trying and I couldn’t stop reading because I had to see what would happen to her.

Despite liking the story I did have some issues with it. There is a spirit that accompanies Madison and we never find out a lot about him until the end. There is a lot going on in this book and I think it could have used another 100 pages to explain everything, but I think this was done on purpose. This is the first book in a series and it felt like the authors were just trying to lay down the groundwork for future stories. Also some of the action scenes needed to be a little better. With Madison being a new vampire she should have had more problems dealing with the older vampires in the carnival. That being said I found Young Blood to be an entertaining read that held my interest to the end and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Madison in future Nightbreed books.