Book Review: ‘The Quarantine Fence’ by Roma Gray

This is a short, macabre story that unsettles rather than horrifies the reader. It raises questions about the values of society as a whole and of different groups of people within it.

The story is quite well written and developed, building tension as the narrative progresses. It is an enjoyable enough read, although one which most readers will not really find scary.

Overall, it’s a decent story, with some good macabre moments.

Book Review: ‘Black Vials’ by S.K. Gregory

Find your copy here.

It’s common knowledge that taking drugs isn’t good for you — and you should never take something if you don’t know what it is. 

This chilling tale reinforces that premise in a very powerful and graphic way. The portrayal of seedy drug dealers and drug use may seem stereotypical to some but is probably quite accurate and certainly feels realistic to the reader. 

Camille’s experiences when she swallows what is in the black vial are shocking on both a physical and a psychological level. The author combines the horror of the unknown with a very cleverly constructed sense of dread to position the reader to fear for Camille and anticipate possible outcomes that may await her. 

At times grungy, at other times macabre, this a short but  effective dark suspense story. 

Book Review: ‘Morrighan’ by Stacey Jaine Mackintosh

This is an interesting Arthurian dark fantasy tale that explores the relationship between Arthur and Morgan. Told from Morgan’s point of view, the reader is treated to a very different perception of Arthur than that told by the more popular legends. 

The opening paragraph is stunning, and most of the writing is quite good, so the prescence of some fairly basic errors was disappointing.  A careful proofreading and edit would make a significant difference to the finished quality of the story. 

Overall, the story is quite enjoyable.

Book Review: ‘The Gravedigger’s Tales’ by Kaye St Clair

This is a collection of poems and short stories In the style of folk tales and fables, with darker themes and motifs that make them ideally suited for October reading. 

The stories are quite well-written, although not particularly complex or deep. Each set of related stories is introduced by a poem that introduces the key idea that connects the poem and subsequent stories to each other. 

This book was an entertaining enough read to be a pleasant diversion at the end of a busy day, but would probably not satisfy one’s desire for a deeper, more compelling story or a truly horrifying read.

Book Review: ‘Presenting the Marriage of Kelli Anne and Gerri Denemer: Beyond the Chamber Door Book 2’ by Paul Alleva

This is a dark, horrifying tale that grasps the reader in its talons and holds them captive, right to the end. 

The different parts of the narrative seem disjointed, and to not make sense at first, but that is the intended effect: this is a nightmare, a living hell, flashes of lucidity and terror that draw the reader into the different kinds of horror that the central characters each find themselves in. 

The story lurches and rolls, disorienting and impossible to predict, reflecting the turmoil of the main characters’ deepest thoughts and feelings. As the story plays out, the strands of the narrative pull together to create structure and resolution from the mayhem.

The one thing that really annoyed me was the failure of the author to differentiate between ‘slither’ and ‘sliver’,  using the one word for both meanings as though the second does not exist on more than one occasion. This may seem like nit-picking, but it demonstrates yet again that there is no substitute for a good editor if an author wishes to avoid frustrating their readers.

This is not a book for the faint of heart, but it is certainly a gripping read. 

Book Review: ‘Who Am I: Prequel to the Semiramis Series’ by Maya Daniels

This story tells of the early life of Alexia Semiramis, a young woman who learned the soul-destroying power of both words and abuse as a child before she ever discovered that the gifts that made her different than everyone else were magical. 

It is an interesting exposé of the psychology of one who has suffered at the hands of those who should have loved and treasured her, and of one who resents the qualities that set them apart from others in the first place. While it is fictional, there is much written here that will ring true for anyone who has been bullied or abused.

The writing is bold and defiant, creating an angry tone that begs for justice. Thus, this short story sets the stage for the Semiramis series, and creating a strong sense of intrigue and anticipation as to how Alexia might embrace her gifts and use them to take control of her life. 

Audiobook Review: ‘The Lady Of The Tower’ by Elizabeth St John

A work of historical fiction, although based on the life story of one of the author’s forebears, this is an interesting story that is probably quite realistic about the prospects of a younger daughter of a prominent family during the early years of the reign of James I. 

I confess I almost stopped listening as early as the prologue, in which a man speaking as though he were present when the young Princess Elizabeth was taken into the Tower of London was still alive as its Keeper in 1617. I returned to the beginning and listened again, decided the way in which that section was phrased was ambiguous, and continued with the story. 

The main character, Lucy, seems at times to be almost too virtuous to be quite believable, although she does have her moments where her flaws and human nature are revealed, in which she seems more relatable. For some readers, her tale will evoke deep sympathy, while others may feel she spends too much time engaging in self-pity and decrying her lot in life as the victim of the selfishness and vanity of various other people.

The most believable characters are the hateful ones: Lucy’s sister Barbara, Aunt Joan, and Frances Howard. These characters exemplify the worst of human nature, along with a certain young man who is fickle at best and heartless at worst. It is in disliking these characters that the reader feels the most empathy with Lucy. 

The narration is most enjoyable, with lively expression and very good use of tone, voice and accent to bring the characters to life. 

Overall, it is a fairly good story, expertly narrated. 

Also available as a novel and an ebook.