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: ‘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: ‘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: ‘Warm Shelter: A Ghost Story’ by Rich Hawkins

A powerful, dark short story.

Rich Hawkins Warm ShelterThis is a powerful story of one man’s descent into darkness. The author has drawn the reader into that journey by positioning them to look over Alex’s shoulder to see what he sees, but also by expressing the character’s thoughts and feelings in a really natural and familiar way. It’s a very good story, combining elements of horror, macabre, and suspense to keep the reader in the grip of the rising tension as the story progresses.

Perhaps the most striking quality of the story is the writing itself. It’s lean and precise but, at the same time, incredibly sensory and poetic. Hawkins skilfully causes imagery to flash into the mind of the reader and linger for a moment in such a way that the reader can not only see but also smell and taste those images, until the next scene and the next image takes its place. Hawkins makes great use of suggestion and foreboding to gradually darken the story, allowing the reader time to hypothesise and question before reaching the conclusion of the story. These elements combine to imbue the story with a nightmarish quality that evolves subtly at first and grows stronger as the tension of the story builds.

It’s a short read, but one that has a significant impact on the reader.  Acorn Award I Golden

‘Warm Shelter’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: Road to Terror by S.K. Gregory

SK Gregory Chills 1 Road to TerrorA short story laden with fear and doubt, the author takes the reader on a dark road with Aria. Aria is unknown but the urgency and desperation that Gregory creates is effective in hooking the reader into Aria’s flight and developing sympathy for her situation.

The story is well-crafted and comes with a great twist that is delivered very effectively. Acorn Award II Silver

Road To Terror has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

New Releases: October 2018

Check out these great new release books!

There are several new releases out this week that you should know about – so that you can buy them and read them! Some of these great books also have a particular appeal for the spooky season which is now officially upon us!

The Westwood Witches by Sarah Northwood. YA fantasy/sword & sorcery.

Sarah Northwood The Westwood WitchesAero trembled as she held the box sealed inside black paper. The dilemma was a difficult one – her mum had told her the box contained secrets she might not be ready for. Once she opened it, there would be no going back.
Aero has always felt like a misfit and an outsider. Thankfully, having a best friend like Lilly, along with a grandma like Joanna, makes life worth living. But a terrible event tears her world apart, and Aero Westwood is about to discover that her family has more secrets than most.

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Siren’s Lullaby by Erin Lee. Mythology/folk tales/fantasy.

Erin Lee Sirens Lullaby

Three women are left stranded on a small Island near Sicily, Italy, to starve, but they won’t give up easily. Joining together to fight to survive, they make a deal with a demon of the sea.
Three pirates–brothers–who haven’t agreed on much since their mother died get back together for a long journey. They long to rid themselves of the curse placed on them by a sea witch.
An insatiable hunger felt by the seductress sirens and the deadly pirates will join them together in more ways than they could ever have thought.

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Cirque De Slay by CeeCee James.  Cozy mystery.

Cee Cee James Cirque de SlayConcello Circus is crowded with unforgettable characters- trapeze artists, sword swallowers, clowns, not to mention the famed Ringmaster. Working at the circus is exactly what Trixie expected. What she didn’t expect is to find a dead body…with a dark apparition rising up from it.
Claudette Barbarosa, the beautiful bearded lady and rumored girlfriend of the Ringmaster, has been murdered and suspects are everywhere.
Trixie is desperate to catch the killer before she is caught herself. Even more, she wants an explanation for what she saw the spooky, rainy night that Claudette died.
Were her eyes lying to her…or was everyone else lying?

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Curious Times by Joanne Van Leerdam. Macabre/horror/dark humour.

Curious Times eBookFriday, the magical black cat with a devilish sense of justice, returns in a second collection of macabre and darkly humorous stories. Set at significant times of the year, these stories celebrate key events while Friday delivers his own brand of feline justice to people who fully deserve what’s coming to them.
If you have ever wished for revenge, or taken pleasure in seeing horrible people get their just desserts, this book is for you.

 

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Love You To Death by S.K. Gregory. Horror.

SK Gregory Chills 5 Love You To Death

Ravenna has lost the love of her life, but she isn’t about to let death come between them. As a powerful witch, she can raise him from the dead, but what will it cost her?

This is the fifth title in the author’s ‘ A Chills and Thrills Tale’ series of short reads.

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Onyx a by Nikki Landis. Dark paranormal romance. 

Nikki Landis OnyxDerek is obsessed with Harleigh Quinlan.
It doesn’t help that he’s been assigned as her guardian, a job he never guessed would bring him face to face with his darkest enemy. Haunted by a tragic and brutal past and forced to confront his own demons, Derek must find a way to protect the woman who’s become his entire world and seek answers to the nightmares that plague his nights. As vengeance burns within his veins, will Derek become consumed by the flames?
This is not fan fiction – it is a totally unique and original story.

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Andorra by Greg Alldredge. Steampunk/gaslamp.

Greg Alldredge AndorraFly for freedom.
Helena always thought of Europe as the romantic continent, full of history and mystery waiting to be explored. What she finds breaks her heart, deforested, and smoke choked.
The Russians haunt the Legend’s every move. Will she ever escape their influence?
The old countries are arming with new deadly steam-powered weapons. Will humans survive to see the 20th century?
Will Helena want to live in the next century if it arrives safely?

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What Lies Beyond the Shadows: a 2018 Halloween Anthology. Horror/ghost stories.

Anthology What Lies Beyond The Shadows
This collection of horror stories, published by Wild Dreams Publishing, is due for release on October 4th.

Don’t forget, folks, if you read and enjoy a book, leaving a short review really helps that book be seen by more people. It doesn’t have to be as fancy as mine – just one sentence will do the trick!