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:’Merry Apocalypse’ by C.A. King

A sobering tale set on Christmas Eve.

What happens to a world where things are valued more than people? In the midst of songs and stories about jolly old Santa comes a tale of foreboding and darkness that speaks to a materialistic and selfish world.

The story immerses the reader in an environment where “naughty” far outweighs “nice”, and where the consequences affect all of humanity. Yet still, even in the depravity and darkness, a small flicker of hope survives— perhaps just for one more night.

‘Merry Apocalypse’ is a well-crafted short story with a powerful message. We may not be experiencing the apocalypse, but its warning is relevant and timely.

‘Merry Apocalypse’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The 12 Terrors of Christmas’ by Claudette Melanson

A great holiday read for anyone more interested in “boo” than “ho ho ho”… but definitely not for kids.

What if your most basic assumptions bout Santa turned out to be wrong?

Is he just a jolly old fat guy who delivers presents, or is there much, much more to his story?

Claudette Melanson presents a somewhat different version of Santa in these twelve stories, which are well-crafted and well told. There is some lovely connectivity between the stories, which is sometimes quite overt and at other times sneaks up on the reader and takes them by surprise.

This is a great holiday read for anyone more interested in “boo” than “ho ho ho”.  Do take the title seriously, though: this book is definitely not for kids, as there is some quite graphic content.

‘The 12 Terrors of Christmas’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Forest of Ancestors’ by K.A. Denver

Book Squirrel Review: ‘Forest of Ancestors’ by K.A. Denver

K.A. Denver Forest of Ancestors

 

This is a great story which holds a good level of mystery and intrigue that develops at a good pace as the plot progresses. The differences between light and dark magic, and the ways in which each character uses their magic, add interest and complexity to the story. The central characters are varied and quite well crafted although, as a reader, I didn’t really feel as connected to most of them as I would have liked to.

 

I really like the concept of the forest of ancestors as a place of memory as well as of magic, and the ways in which that setting is portrayed and developed in the story. The images were formed quite vividly in my mind as I read, and it was good to see the characters fully engaging with, and responding to, this special element of their environment in personal ways.

 

My one criticism – and it is a real annoyance as a reader – is that there were places in which the writing really needed more thorough editing to remove quite obvious errors that remain in the text. A less fastidious reader might not notice all of them, but a couple of them were quite glaring and should never have made it to the final manuscript.

 

Overall, though, I did enjoy this book. It has some quite original elements and surprising turns that complement the strong storyline.

 

Acorn Award II Silver
I’ve awarded ‘Forest of Ancestors’ a Silver Acorn because, despite its flaws, it is a great read.

 

Get your copy at Amazon.

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Book Review: ‘Dungari Rise’ by Nikki Landis

This is a complex and powerful story of love and hatred, desire and repulsion, truth and deceit that are inextricably interwoven.

Nikki Landis Dungari Rise

In a world of enmity, fear and suspicion, not every Dungari is the enemy.

This is a complex and powerful story of love and hatred, desire and repulsion, truth and deceit that are inextricably interwoven. As layers of deception are uncovered and characters learn truths about themselves and others, the reader is steadily drawn deeper into the story.

Action, danger, and desire combine to deliver a story that is thrilling in every sense of the word.

While this is a cleverly crafted dystopian/post-apocalyptic story, it also carries an important message against bullying, exploitation and abuse that is most appropriate to the world we live in today. As ‘Dungari Rise’ contains erotica and some quite graphic violence, it is suitable for adult audiences only.

Golden Acorns
It’s a pleasure to give this great read a Gold Acorn.

Find it at Amazon.

Book Review: First Floor On Fire by Michael Russell

This is a gritty, angry story, brilliantly told. 

I’ve given it five glowing stars. 

Michael Russell First Floor On Fire

This book is full of discord, anger and tension, experienced through immediate immersion in the life of the main character, Nevaya. The reader experiences her anger, her disadvantage, and the acid burn of prejudice and discrimination on her soul.

Russell’s portrayal of Nevaya is confronting, yet the reader cannot help but feel empathy with her, despite her cynicism and anger at the circumstances of her life. Her character is developed through her thoughts and responses far more than her words or behaviours, although those are as bold and defiant as her thoughts and attitudes. Her language is powerfully written in the gangland style of North Philadelphia – the writing is so sharp and cutting, one cannot avoid reading this book in Nevaya’s voice. The reader is strongly positioned to see her point of view and develop a strong sense of identification with her, despite her rough edges, and (in my own case) having no experience whatsoever of the kind of life she has lived.

The reader also gains insight into some of the reasons for the failure of schools and social authority structures to understand the motivations and actions of young African-American people, or to meet their needs in any real way: the cumulative effect of decades’ worth of disadvantage and segregation, even within their own communities, is too great to be overcome. Russell delivers this message powerfully through this fringe-of-gangland narrative.

The most uncomfortable part of this story for me, however, was not in the brutal violence or raw language. I found it incredibly difficult to stomach the actions and self-justification of those authority figures who should have been looking to protect and nurture the kids, but instead were only seeking to serve themselves. Had it not been for the perspectives of the two teachers who really did nurture their students and seek to improve their chances in life, the picture would be very bleak indeed.

This is a gritty, angry story, brilliantly told.

You can purchase this ebook at Amazon.

I’ve given it five glowing stars.

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