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/

 

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David’s Haunted Library: Ancient Enemies

The world’s governments are a place of secret agendas and backstabbing politicians. It’s even worse when the ruling class is made up of vampires called the order. Their ruling council is called the Hegemony and they have been in charge of world politics for centuries. Every continental territory is ruled by a Hegemon, the Hegemon in charge of North America is a vampire scientist named Caroline.

Ancient Enemies by Brian McKinley begins with Caroline about to leave for a summit meeting of the Hagemony to talk about the future. She is leaving her lover Avery in charge of their home. Avery has been developing psychic powers and has been feeling out of place in Caroline’s world. Now with Caroline gone, Avery is faced with trying to protect Caroline’s scientific secrets and he has found a new woman who is attracted to him. Meanwhile, Caroline is trying to keep her position of power in government.

It’s hard for me to write a good summary of this book because it’s so complex. While its promoted as a paranormal political thriller that’s not what interested me as I started reading it. It starts off from Avery’s viewpoint and he describes his experiences in Overeater’s Anonymous and his feelings for Caroline. He loves Caroline but admits that they are very different people and he feels they are growing apart because intellectually he is not in the same league with her. We then get to Caroline’s viewpoints where she makes it known that she loves Avery but feels that he doesn’t belong in her world, she wants to keep him close and protect him anyway. Caroline tries to give him a position in her cabinet but he shows that he is unqualified for it.  While Avery may not belong in the world of politics he has shown his worth in other areas.

The love story between Avery and Caroline is what sold me on Ancient Enemies. I loved hearing from both viewpoints and how they want to stay together despite the fact that they are so different. Things get more complicated when Avery meets someone more like him and Caroline starts to realize some hard truths about herself. Just when I thought that the love story was the best part of the book we get more into the secret society of The Hagemony and how their government is made up along with the corruption behind it.

Each branch of the Hagemoney is described in detail and they are all different depending on what part of the world they are located in. The third point of view in Ancient Enemies comes from Neko who resides in Jade Tiger’s entourage. Jade Tiger is the Hagemon from China who doesn’t know she has people in her court who plan to take her down. Neko’s public persona is very different from how she is in private and her world is turned upside down when her secret plans get spoiled by another.

Ancient Enemies is a sequel that works as a stand-alone novel. This book is a love story, political thriller, action adventure tale and a horror novel. It looks at the complexity of what makes a relationship and makes you look at how corrupt government is. The characters may be vampires but everything works as a metaphor for real life.  You may want to get this book because you like vampire fiction but the great writing and surprise plot twists will keep you hooked.

David’s Haunted Library: Cold Cuts

Antarctica is a hard place to survive in, it’s even harder when there are mutant penguins with tentacles running around. Ozzy is a pop culture geek and a junk food junkie while Ben takes himself seriously and is Ozzy’s polar opposite. Both are environmental scientists working in a lab at the bottom of the world in Antarctica.

They thought that putting up with each other, the isolation and the cold temperatures would be the hard parts of this job, but they thought wrong. Little did they know that the terrorist organization called The Order Of The Red Wolf has a Nuclear reactor that is affecting the whole continent causing Penguins to become monsters. There are no happy feet in this story.

Cold Cuts by Robert Payne Cabeen has action, horror and comedy with a story that moves along at the speed of light. It also manages to give us some memorable characters. One of them is Ozzy who transforms from an overweight misfit to an action hero with a love interest by the end. The story also has some strong female characters such as Terra and Lorelei who aren’t trained to fight but do a good job of it when they have to. The only negative part of this story is that we aren’t given a lot of information on The Order Of The Red Wolf which is the group that created the mutants in the first place, but that doesn’t take away from the story.

What I really love about this book is how it goes from gruesome to funny. Every time there is a scene with Penguins tearing someone apart you also seem to get a scene that is laugh out loud funny. This book has one of the funniest sex scenes that I’ve ever read in a book and there was another great moment that will make you look at the paintings of Bob Ross in a whole new light. Another scene that I enjoyed was when one of the characters gets attacked and keeps fighting off the penguins and repeating to everyone that: “My guts came out.”

Looking at Robert Payne Cabeen’s bio you can see that he is an artist and a screenwriter and it shows in this book. At the back of the book there are several drawings of what the mutant penguins look like but also the way the action is described paints a picture for the reader. As I was reading this I found myself envisioning the whole thing as a rated R summer blockbuster movie. For example towards the end there is a great battle scene between the humans and penguins complete with background music.  I found myself laughing because I kept thinking how awesome this would look on the big screen. Cold Cuts is a lot of fun, it has that perfect mix of horror and humor that I like to find in a book.

David’s Haunted Library: Whispered Echos and The Devil’s Children

We all have something we’re scared of. In the back of our heads, we hear a little voice that reminds us about our darkest fears. It’s like a Whispered Echo that just repeats itself over and over again. Whispered Echoes by Paul F. Olson is an anthology that looks at things that scare us so much that we never forget it. This book contains 12 stories set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula showing it as a place where strange things happen.

What’s interesting about this anthology is that the stories are presented in chronological order by the dates that were written. The first story was originally published in 1983 and the last one was written this year. So what you have in this book are stories from a horror writer who’s writing improves a little with each tale told. You also get a good look at what goes on in the mind of Paul Olson and how he has evolved as a horror writer.

Mr. Olson has a few different themes that he works with in this book. One of these themes is individuality. In a story called The Visitor, a man visits the town of Patterson Falls every year in Autumn and when he does, someone gets hurt. The people in town finally get fed up with this routine and decide to confront him but they don’t get the results they are looking for. This same theme comes into play in two other stories in the book with a man suffering the consequences of not being like everyone else.

My favorite story in this book is They Came From The Suburbs. You could call this a zombie story but its a little more complex than that. David Finley works in a mall and notices that the same people show us every day and seem to mindlessly wonder the mall and shop. He calls them the quiet ones but he soon finds out that if they can’t consume anything there will be hell to pay. I love the message about how some people go through life blindly doing things having no real life at all and how it affects others. This was a perfect little horror tale that had a Twilight Zone feel to it.

Another good story here was Bloodybones which includes ghosts, a serial killer and a mystery. What I liked most about this story is the descriptions of the setting. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is as much a character here as the people in it and I loved reading the description of an area that I’m familiar with. Olson’s using of Michigan and Wisconsin in his stories reminds me a little of how Stephen King uses Maine in his stories.

Whispered Echoes could be looked at as a philosophy book disguised as a horror anthology. Paul Olson writes about staying true to yourself, loyalty, love and not letting the past define you. These themes are all presented in short horror stories that pack a punch. This is the kind of book that young horror writers should read because it shows that good horror can deliver a  message and your writing will get better over the decades if you stick with it.

Harry and Adam grew up together in a small New England town. They were never the most popular kids in school but they had a good time watching horror movies, drinking alcohol, exploring abandoned buildings and hunting imaginary demons. Flash forward to the present, life is not going well for either person and they decide to move back to their old hometown to relive their childhood. When they get there they discover that something strange is going on in their old stomping grounds.

People are seeing ghosts, Adam is having visions of his old teenage girlfriend who has been missing for 13 years and a local historian has sealed off a newly discovered tunnel that may have the answers to some old mysteries. We soon find out the demons that Harry and Adam hunted may have been real and they may be the only ones who can stop these strange happenings. As Halloween night rolls around, Harry and Adam put a plan into action to stop the evil that is plaguing their town.

The Devil’s Children by Benjamin Blake is the kind of book that I love reading. It’s a simple horror story about a couple of outcasts who notice something strange is going on and realize that they are the only ones who can stop it. I love the characters in this book, Adam and Harry reminded me of a couple of people I knew in high school and the way they both changed by the end of the book showed that they had a lot more depth than your average character in a horror novel. I also like how the story is told from the present with flashbacks showing how they use to be in the past. The one thing I didn’t like about the book is that it seemed to take a long time to get into the action of the story. While I liked the characters enough to keep reading, it could have used a few more scares in the first half of the book. The Devil’s Children is sort of a mixed bag but it has enough good parts to make it worth your time. Despite what I didn’t like about this book, I’m still looking forward to what else Benjamin Blake comes up with in the future.

 

 

 

Press Release: Demon with a Comb-Over

Press Release: Demon with a Comb-Over

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Excerpt :

“Talk about a tough crowd.
Take Charlie Broadmoor’s life. Please. Charlie sucks at stand-up comedy. He gets by, though. Things are okay. His life is decent. Until the night he makes fun of a demon’s comb-over. Big mistake. What kind of demon wears a comb-over? The sensitive kind. The kind who’s not going to let an insult slide. A demon who’s going to take Charlie down. As in down to Hell. And he intends on dragging everyone Charlie cares about along for the ride.”
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David’s Haunted Library: Imago Mortis

23925468Milan Italy can be a romantic place but it also has a dark and sinister side. Augusto Ghites has been working the mean streets of Milan as a private investigator and he has seen things that would terrify most people. He’s good at what he does, he can talk to ghosts and has the power to relive the ghost’s last moments on Earth. This is a good skill to have as a P. I. but it comes with a hefty price tag.

Augusto is a junkie, his addiction is sniffing the ashes of the dead and this is how he can interact with spirits. Business isn’t exactly booming for his detective agency but he makes enough money to support his addiction. The latest case to come his way is from an old prostitute who wants him to investigate the death of one of her colleagues. It looks like it will be an easy case but there are dark forces at work and Augusto may be in over his head.

Imago Mortis by Samuel Marolla is a hard-boiled occult mystery novel that has the feel of a 1940’s murder mystery. Everything in this book is described beautifully. There are some great scenes of Augusto going to a cemetery to get more ashes to sniff that are so detailed that you feel like you are there with the character. The way his visions are described when he is done sniffing the ashes are horrifying. Samuel Marolla has done a great job of creating some dark imagery that will stick with you when you are done reading.

Reading this book was like looking at a work of art but that was also a bit of a problem. It felt like everything was overly described and not as much detail was put into the story itself. There are pages of descriptions of ghosts, the city of Milan and how Augusto feels about the other characters in the book and his addiction but there wasn’t much action to tie it all together.

All in all though this is a well written book but you get the impression that telling a story wasn’t as important to the author as painting a picture with words. I loved how the city of Milan is like a character in the book. I got the feeling that if the setting was in a different place it would have changed everything. Milan in Imago Mortis can be compared to Maine in a Stephen King book or New Orleans in an Anne Rice book. Meaning the setting is a character as much as the people are characters. This book has enough going for it that I would recommend it, there is some good world building here but it needed a little more suspense.

Ink

cover_ink_454Brian is the creator of a series of popular graphic novels starring a character named the highwayman. The Highwayman is a supernatural being who comes to earth when a person is unjustly killed and his motive is to help the victim get the revenge they desire. Success for Brian came with a price, after being continuously stalked by an obsessive fan, he became a prisoner in his own home.

This all changes though when he is talked into going to a convention and meets a female illustrator named A.J. Hart. A.J. has demons of her own but the two hit it off and decide to collaborate on a project. One day a mysterious bottle of ink arrives on Brian’s doorstep, they use the ink and it starts to bring their creations to life. They now have to stop the creatures they created from destroying everything in their path and bringing on the apocalypse.

First thing I thought when I read the description for Ink by Glenn Benest and Dale Pitman was that it was a great idea for a book.  There is a lot going on in this story, we have a love story between the two artists, we have the highwayman’s story from the graphic novel and an apocalypse story in the real world. There is almost too much going on here, Ink is a mixed bag, the characters are all interesting. This includes Brian’s dog who has a big part in the story, I can’t say I’ve read to many books that focused on the dog’s viewpoint, but this one does.

While I loved the characters the story was slow-moving and the sub plot of the Highwayman didn’t really interest me even though I did like the character. I got the impression while reading the Highwayman’s story that the author just threw it in because it was important to show what kind of book that Brian and A.J was writing. Every time we cut away to the Highwayman I found myself being bored and just wanting to get back to Brian and A.J.’s story. That being said I did enjoy hearing the reasons why Brian created the Highwayman.

The best part of this book is the love story between A.J. and Brian and this is coming from a person who doesn’t like love stories. When you hear what they’ve gone through in their lives you can’t help but root for them and you get to see how the two of them working together makes them better people. There are some great horrifying moments in this book such as when Brian’s obsessed fan sneaks up on him in a dark theater and again in a parking garage. Then what really tops it off so well was when the fan says why she is doing what she is doing.

This book has its share of scary moment but best of all it works as psychological horror by getting into how A.J. and Brian are effected by their stalkers.  One good scene that was in this book that really showed how Brian was affected by his obsessed fan was when we see him making an elaborate meal for two and then find out that no one is joining him and he is eating alone. Another part of this book I loved was when Brian was reading letters from his fans and you see how caring for his fans affects his life. While I have to say I had my issues with Ink, it was pretty good and I look forward to more from these two writers.