Book Review: ‘She Hunts In The Woods: A Horror Story’ by Rich Hawkins

This is a good short story for October and Halloween reading. What starts as a sinister and tense story develops into a tale of fear and flight before growing darker and more horrific. 

The tension and sense of dread grow steadily, making both the main character and the reader increasingly uncomfortable before the true horror of the forest is revealed. The author combines elements of foreboding, macabre, revulsion and fear to influence the reader’s feelings and reactions. 

Even though the title gives away the fact that there’s something lurking in the woods, this story is quite original and well written.

There is some adult content, so it’s not recommended for kids.

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: ‘The Artist’ by P.J. Blakey-Novis

What would you do if you held power that nobody else knew about? Most people would like to think they would use it for good, but this story explored just how easy it would be to manipulate things to suit our own interests.
The main character is likeable enough at the outset, and seems to have good intentions. The other characters in the story are a realistic cross-section of society: his family, classmates and teachers. 

The narrative is interesting and quite relatable, albeit less easy to identify with as it gets darker. The twist before the ending is both confronting and horrific, but the conclusion escalates that even further. 

This is a well-crafted story that lures the reader in and then ambushes them with darkness.

Given that it is easily read in less than half an hour, it makes perfect reading for busy people looking for excellent dark fiction short reads.

Book Review: ‘Roger’s Revelation: : An Emma: Ancestor’s Tales Vignette ‘ by Paula Shablo

This is a quite a wistful and quirky read on one hand, yet quite dark and confronting on the other.

A deep sense of irony pervades the story and  highlights the tragedy of the backstory which Roger reveals to Emma when she meets him at their old school. It is certainly thought-provoking about what comes after death and the likelihood that the spirit world could exist right alongside, or even intersect with, our own.

The raw reality of suicide and the jolting power of grief and survivor’s guilt are treated with sensitivity and empathy, and the story cleverly positions the reader to understand the perspectives of both Roger and Emma, and other people known to them both, as they share their experiences. 

This story may be personally challenging to those who have lost friends or loved ones to suicide, but it may also offer some reassurance and objectivity through the different perspectives of the characters.

It is a testament to the skill of the author that the story is very well balanced and poignant, given its serious and sombre themes. 

Book Review: ‘Little Book of Spring’ by Claire Buss

A relatable, easy to read poetry collection.

This book offers vignettes of daily life and glimpses into the thoughts of a young woman. Her children, family life, personal feelings and places they visit all feature in this collection of poetry. 

Some of the poems carry a kernel of a deeper truth that provoked more thought, while others skip through a scene, describing it in a way that leaves the reader nodding and smiling. In every case, it is easy to relate to the ideas expressed by the poet. 

Book Review: ‘Crystal Bones and Gossamer Wings’ by Dona Fox

A dark and horrifying tale of lives scarred by grief, pain, and abuse, this is not a story for the faint of heart.

Scenes of horror merge with images that arouse both deep pity and righteous anger in the individual narratives of Crystal and Dee. Having positioned the reader to feel deep empathy and sadness for the two very different central characters, the author then before weaves the different strands of the story together into an even darker, bleaker tapestry. 

The writing is strong and the story is well crafted. As the tale progresses, the author evokes a sense of dread that grows proportionally to the building suspense, yet the reader is still completely blindsided by the twists when they come.

This is a compelling and unsettling work of dark short fiction. 

New Release: ‘Chaining Daisy’ by Julia Blake.

If someone breaks, can they ever truly be put back together?

Book Two in the Perennials Trilogy, Chaining Daisy continues the story begun in Becoming Lili. Now adults coping with relationships, marriage and parenthood, Lili and her friends have no idea of the dark days to come.

Desperate for a baby, Daisy feels the chains of expectation tighten as her failure to conceive places an unbearable strain on her marriage, threatening to stretch her husband’s patience to breaking point.

Kevin also has problems as his feelings grow for his mysterious Ukrainian cleaner. But Kateryna is a woman with a tragic past and a secret – a secret which will change everything.

Chaining Daisy is a magnificent, sweeping story of life in all its harsh, beautiful wonder, and is a tale that will wrench at your heart and hold you spellbound until the very last page.