Book Review: The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick

reviewsThe Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick is one of those books reviewers pray for, a story that absorbs you completely and carries you along so that you forget the reviewing aspect and once more become a pure, unadulterated reader.

Hannah and Nick are a young couple living in New York who find their relationship in crisis. They survive this difficulty, marry and take themselves off to live and work in a historic house in rural Hibernia, a house that once belonged to the 19th-century writer, Edmund Wright. Here they discover the tragedy which befell the man and Hannah starts to hear voices, whisperings in the night.

As the story progresses, Hannah’s mental health deteriorates – an aspect of Hannah’s past Ben knows very little about as neither she nor her parents have ever been totally forthcoming about a breakdown in her earlier life. Hannah eventually disappears but after the discovery of her body, Nick digs deeper into her psychiatric history in an attempt to discover whether she killed herself or whether her death had been accidental.

What he discovers leads him to look into the reasons behind her death, how ‘haunted’ the house is and how tormented Hannah had become. The story continues apace with his own institutionalization as a result of his grief-stricken and erratic behaviour but he escapes and returns to Wright’s house, determined to put an end to the hauntings there.

Fluent prose, atmospheric and striking a perfect gothic note, The Ghost Notebooks was a wonderful read.


Movie Review: The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro has created a film masterpiece. And, with a stunning thirteen Academy Award nominations for The Shape of Water, I am not the only one who thinks so.

Set during the height of the Cold War, The Shape of Water follows Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman who works as a cleaner at a top-secret government facility. Elisa lives a quiet life of routine and resignation. When abrasive military man, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), arrives at the facility with an aquatic monster from South America, Elisa is captivated by the surprising humanity she witnesses in the creature. She develops a kinship with the amphibian man, who is limited in communication much as she is. When Cold War agendas threaten the creature, Elisa risks everything to save him. Set against a backdrop of ego, intrigue, and romance, The Shape of Water is far more than the typical monster movie.

It’s difficult to characterize The Shape of Water as any one genre—whether spy thriller or romantic drama—but, in many ways, that is the film’s strength. The plot is gripping, driving from one scene to the next, always with a new question in the viewer’s mind. There are no groundbreaking twists or sharp reveals. Things move forward as expected, but at every turn the viewer is left wondering what exactly will come next. At no point do we feel as if any character is safe from the events on the screen. Unexpectedly funny moments set scenes of horror in sharp relief. It all builds to a gripping conclusion that is every bit as harrowing as it is satisfying.

The film features a diverse set of characters, not just in demographics, but in personality, motivation, and abilities. They were all equally memorable, but most importantly, they were believable. What set the characters at odds were their different motivations and values. There were no contrived conflicts. At every crossroad, each character made the decision that was appropriate for them.

Elisa Esposito was a powerful force throughout the film. Elisa is no shrinking violet. Despite the disadvantages of being a single woman in the 1960’s and being unable to speak, she doesn’t back down from what she knows is right. I’m always enamored with characters who have limitations of speech, especially in horror movies. The role of a Scream Queen filled by a woman who literally cannot scream is such a self-aware implementation of the genre that it deserves praise all on its own. The ability to convey emotion without words is an incredible skill and Sally Hawkins delivers, conveying with longing looks more emotion than I felt in all of the Notebook.

As the main villain, Richard Strickland is deliciously easy to hate. A cruel and vain man, Strickland has an inflated sense of his own importance and capability. Portrayed as the ideal 1960’s husband—with the good job, suburban house, beautiful wife, and loving children—his deviance lurks deeper. He treats everyone as beneath him. At the same time, Strickland is a remarkably ordinary villain, the sort of man that everyone will recognize. Even without the backdrop of the supernatural, Strickland would be a terrifying presence. Through the film, it becomes increasingly clear that he will do whatever he wants to fulfil his own sense of overinflated importance, regardless of consequences to others. His predatory attitude toward Elisa is particularly unsettling. Watching his spiral into madness and obsession is both terrifying and satisfying.

Despite being central to The Shape of Water, the character of the Amphibian Man is surprisingly flat. What is there to say about someone that is majorly made up of a costume and CGI? He’s visually entrancing and has a few poignant moments, but his main role is to showcase the way other characters interact with him rather than to give much growth or power in his own right. As for whether you find him attractive, that’s a personal matter and between you and your own sexuality.

The Cold War setting of the movie was indispensable to the plot. The motivation to keep knowledge out of enemy hands, if they weren’t able to obtain it themselves, drives the characters to dark depths, making them willing to pay any price for their country, even if that price is their human soul. I can’t imagine any attempt to make this movie in a modern setting. The film needed the backdrop of the era’s black and white morality to properly set the stage for the movie’s central theme.

After all, what makes a monster is not circumstance or affiliation, but underlying motivations and character. Humanity extends to more than just humans. What is it that makes someone worthy of respect? Worthy of life? The Cold War, during which even other human beings were seen as lesser animals due to their political affiliations, creates a perfect environment in which to address the question of “what makes something human?”

While I would not consider The Shape of Water a horror movie in its own right—certainly not a ‘scary movie’—I think that there are elements that every horror addict will enjoy. It’s a love letter to old horror movies, taking tropes from the height of campiness and drawing them out in ways that only modern filmmaking can. It is a visual delight to watch and a gripping story to follow with plenty of nods to classic horror films. Especially in a world where it feels as if anything and everything has been remade, The Shape of Water stands apart as the only one to take an old concept and do it justice.

Book Review: To Watch You Bleed by Jordon Greene

Hello Addicts,

How do you define horror? What is the difference between a horror story and a thriller? Those are the questions I needed to ask for this review. There is a fine line between the two, and To Watch You Bleed by Jordon Greene.

The tone of the story is set in the opening chapter with a car crash involving two young boys caused by their drunken and abusive father. The dad dies on impact, while the youngest boy holds on long enough for the driver of the other car to come and check on them. Once the older boy mentions that their father died, the other driver runs away, ignoring all cries for help. Flash forward to Halloween three years later, and we find a family of four getting ready for their coming day. The oldest daughter, Mara, is upset with her parents because it is the final Halloween party of her senior year, and she is grounded while her younger brother, Aiden, is allowed to go. Lenore, their mother, is anything but looking forward to greeting trick or treaters that night. Her husband, Dalton, promises to, but later backs out of it, claiming to be working late on a new client project. As night arrives, Aiden goes off to the party, where the girl he is in love with waits for him. Mara locks herself in the bedroom, where she waits for her boyfriend in a barely there negligee. Dalton blows his wife off, even rejecting her phone calls, to spend the night celebrating with his buxom secretary. Lenore is alone when three kids arrive with evil intentions.

The three masked boys hold Lenore and Mara hostage while they wait for Dalton to arrive home. Their true intentions for the family become horrifyingly clear when they stab Mara’s boyfriend in the neck and leave him to bleed out while their target races home. After Dalton arrives, they kill the boyfriend anyway by sawing deep into his throat with a sharp hunting knife. Dalton is forced to watch at gunpoint as his wife and daughter are violated and tortured. Things only get worse as the night wears on, more blood is spilled, and the bodies begin to pile up.

This was a difficult story for me to read, mostly because I’m not that big of a torture story fan. While the blood and gore was fitting to a point, it was hard to stay motivated at times to continue reading because of how unjust the story felt. It seems like the more sympathy you felt for a character, the better the chance they died in a very horrifying way. The information from the first chapter made it pretty simple to figure out who the three boys were there for, and who one of them was. It seemed to take forever for Dalton to figure out who the leader wanted to hurt, and he only did so when the boy spelled it out for him. The story did have a good rhythm throughout, and that was one of the reasons I stuck with the story. I feel the story qualifies as a horror story because of how the amount of terror the characters, and by extension the reader, feels as the story unfolds. There are points when you think characters might make it, only for the rug to be pulled out from under them.

Overall, the story is a good one to read, but if you are not a fan of torture style stories and movies, then you might not feel the same way. If those are your cup of tea, then To Watch You Bleed  is for you.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Black History Month: Dawn by Alex Fernandez

A Review of the Webseries Dawn

by James Goodridge

Dawnthe second web series created by Alex Fernandez and executive produced by Giselle Mojica- Fernanandez, is about Redemption. A earthy visceral series with passion, intertwined with horror and witchcraft, much to this speculative writers liking.

With a real kick-ass theme by Jayson Dayall (additional sound track music by Erick Ekholm) the opening and closing titles are artwork in a stand alone sense. Dawn’s (Eva Santiago) journey makes for a interesting plot line. From evil to good, witch to vampire, and 1000’s South America to present day New York City she is still a child of the night and a compelling anti-hero. Victoria Amber as Dawn has the look and this writer feels by the end of the season after double duty as Dawn and as Viper in Body Jumpers she will have grown into the roles if not already. Anna Morck holds her own as Kassandra. In fact she holds her own so much that I would enjoy her in a spinoff series. The Hunter, played by Tom O’Brien, appears in episode 5. Marylisa Mata, as renegade witch Selena, brings a raw energy to the production.

What Gretchen Noel is to Body Jumpers I see the same in Luis Rodiguez’s character Enoch and that is a show stopper as we used to say back in the day. Funny yet you feel a sadness for his character which is a credit to Mr. Fernandez’s writing. The mysterious Caine and the regal Dante are played by Raymond S. James and Robert Youngren respectively. I look forward to more appearances as the series continues. Faith Fernandez as a Young Dawn is a jewel with potential.

Again, Mr. Fernandez’s editing and FX is top notch. While it took the second episode for the series to grow on me, I’m now hooked and can’t wait for more of Dawn’s blood work for god


 Born and raised in the Bronx, James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing.jamesgoodridge headshotCurrently, he is writing a series of short “Twilight Zone” inspired stories from the world of art, (The Artwork) and a diesel/punkfunk saga (Madison Cavendish/Seneca Sue Mystic Detectives) with the goal of producing compelling stories

Book Review: Carnival of Chaos


What do you get when you add a missing proprietor, disgruntled carnival employees, suspicious police officers, a nerdy best friend, hulking goons, freakish sub-humans, and two bloodthirsty brothers? You get Carnival of Chaos, an unpredictable and enjoyable first entry in the Festival of the Flesh series.

The story begins with the disappearance of Chippy the Champ, proprietor of the Classic Circus Carnival. A menacing man called Mister E has taken control of the carnival and his vision doesn’t gel with the previous owner’s. Mister E wants to offer horror-themed entertainment and not all the employees agree. Enter, Loco, Blades, Stix, Angelique, Minx, Cleo, and Ben. These seven oppose Mister E and his usurpation of the carnival. They are joined by Jason, the surprising main character of the book, a man with a crush on the beautiful Angelique.

Mister E doesn’t deal well with resentment. He not only fires the eight workers, he orders his goons to eject them forcibly from the grounds. They’re not allowed severance pay or their belongings.

The antagonistic eight vow revenge and return to the carnival a few days later in order to enact it. When they enter Mister E’s trailer they find their belongings, a great deal of cash, and more than they bargained for.

Mister E is not what he seems, and the carnival is cover for something far more sinister. As the crew discovers more and others are drawn into the web, Mister E discovers how formidable his opponents are. His desire to add them to his Festival of Flesh increases tenfold.

Jim Goforth’s prose flows well and each of his three-dimensional characters are believable and well-drawn. Loco, the illustrated man, is dangerous and mysterious. He is the leader of the group and for good reason. Blades is the carnival knife man. His friendship with the clown, Stix, is enjoyable and genuine. Angelique is an acrobat and just as dangerous as the men. Minx is timid, a spoiled rich girl who trains elephants. Cleo, the tiger girl, is smart and brave. Ben, the circus strongman, is a big teddy bear…until you cross him. Jason is an every man and metal head. Jason’s motivations and emotions bring the story to life. He is along for the ride and he’s a resourceful and loyal friend. Mr. E and his brother, Hunter, are great villains. Both are perverse and twisted showmen. Every story must have a suitable adversary and they fit the bill.

A good writer forces you to care about the people he’s created and Goforth does just that. I found myself terrified, not only by the frightening and bloody situations but by the fact my favorite character might meet an undignified and sickening end. His villains are just as realistic as the heroes. These are people you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley or on dark carnival grounds.

Goforth’s building of suspense and foreshadowing of events is excellent. His twists are unexpected and many times, unpredictable. It’s refreshing to read about smart characters, people who need not do stupid things to advance the story. Case in point, one of my favorite parts involves Mister E’s plan to ambush the crew at a motel. He sends a cohort called Desmond to do the dirty work. Desmond discovers how dangerous the ex-performers are.

Carnival of Chaos is reminiscent of an 80’s horror film. It’s fun and frightening. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Kidnapped Week! My Top 5 Favorite Horror Board Games by Kenzie Kordic

Kidnapped Week! My Top 5 Favorite Horror Board Games by Kenzie Kordic


Greetings again my Horror Fiends. Today’s blog is about my favorite horror games. I am the writer game blogger here and for good reason: I’m obsessed. I don’t take that term lightly. Anytime a new horror-themed board game comes out, I break the bank buying it. I have over 30 horror games in my collection and let me tell you, it isn’t healthy haha. This list is my top 5 favorite horror board game, in no particular order. Please let me know what your opinions are and what your favorite horror games are.




I absolutely love this game! The first time I played it was a few years ago with a great group of people and we immediately became addicted playing five games in one night.  It is a ton of fun torturing your own family and making your opponents family so happy that all they want to do is live.  I’m a pretty morbid person so I love games like this.  I give this game a ten out of ten solely because it’s a fast pace, easy to learn, and a gripping game that will keep you begging for more torture.

Dead of Winter

I freaking love this game. I am an avid tabletop gamer and will try any horror related board game. I can spend hours playing with my friends, doing different objectives, and screwing each other over. What I love about this game, besides the obvious, zombies, is that each time you play, it is literally a different game. Each time you play you can have a different objective, a traitor, and a ton of different variables that you just don’t get in standard table-top games. It is an absolute blast and I recommend this game to anyone who has a love of horror as well as board games.

Ouija Board

I have played this game numerous times but nothing has happened to me yet.  It could be a number of factors as in there are no spirits present or the people I’m playing with don’t believe so the spirits keep away. I just love how classically scary this game is, how so many people claim to have had encounters because of this game, and how many people refuse to be in the same room with a board. Whether it is real or not, the history is so rich and I will never turn down a chance to play.

Arkham Horror

I love this game because it is pure Lovecraftian-fear. I am a huge Lovecraft fan and if you are too, I would definitely check out all of the Lovecraft tabletop horror games. This one is my favorite out of the game series because it is a period piece, meaning it takes place in the 1920’s. It is pretty cool that a board game can be a period piece and be scary at the same time. I don’t want to give too much away about this game, I just want you to play it.


I do like it because I typically enjoy horror games that I can get my friends in on after a few glasses of wine since I’m the only horror buff in my friend group. I am obsessed with anything Salem-related. If it’s a game, I’ll play it. TV series, I’ll watch it. I just love the lore behind it all. This game is geared more towards kids, but it can be fun for adults too. You can play it through cards or online on a computer. If you loved One Night Werewolf, then you’ll love this game too.

Until next time, stay scared.





 Kenzie is a young author who strives to create truly scary stories. Kenzie has been obsessed with the horror genre for as long as she’s been able to read. She has written numerous short stories as well as working on a novel.  She can be found watching horror movies with her pup. To find out more, go to:, or