Book Review: ‘Rub a Dub Dub’ by N.D. Burrows

This is a dark comedy novella for grownups that blends the mysterious with the everyday to create an unpredictable but very entertaining story. 

The characters are realistic and credible, and varied enough to make their interactions interesting. The story is well written,  with enough twists to keep it interesting without becoming unbelievable. 

 That it can be easily read in less than two hours makes it a great option for busy people who have to fit a good read into the demands of life.  

Book Review: ‘Perverse’ by Tim Walker

‘Perverse’ is a collection of poems and short fiction that exhibit the broad and diverse range of writing talent of Tim Walker, author of the excellent Light In The Dark Ages historical fiction series. 

Walker’s poetry offers insights and reflections on the trials, triumphs and unexpected twists of life. The poet offers a somewhat jaded but also grateful perspective that reminds the reader that as hard as life can be, it’s still worth living. 

The collection also includes a number of dribbles and short stories that showcase the author’s gift for storytelling in prose form. Each story is interesting and uniquely twisted to surprise the reader, and the underlying cynicism and dark humour add depth and most appealing irony to some of the stories. 

Much like the proverbial box of chocolates, this book is full of different textures and flavours, but there is definitely something that will suit the tastes of each different reader. While the subject matter and reflective depth of the poetry makes it more likely to be appreciated by readers who have lived and lost a little, the prose will appeal to a wider audience.   

Overall, this is a thought-provoking and enjoyable collection that offers a range of short reads that can fill in a short break one at a time, or colour a whole afternoon of reading and reflection. 

Book Review: ‘A Dark Covenant’ by F.B.Hogan

‘A Dark Covenant’ is a Gothic horror short story filled with foreboding and dramatic tension, embellished with macabre scenes that cause the reader to hold their breath and open their eyes just that little bit wider as they read. 

The writing is evocative, subtly appealing to the reader’s senses while appearing to tell the story in a quite straightforward fashion. The terror of the climax is heightened by the profound contrast with the main character’s indifference toward his situation, and with the pathos of his childhood experiences. 

This outstanding short read demonstrates not only the author’s versatility, but also her ability to draw extraordinary horror stories out of the most ordinary of circumstances. 

Short Story Review: ‘Good Intentions’ by D.J.Doyle

Find your copy here.

Readers of horror who want a top quality short read will be well pleased by this dark and twisted short story, which can easily be enjoyed during a coffee or lunch break. 

Doyle’s writing is always easy to read and her characters realistic and relatable. That dreadful things can happen to ordinary people is an underlying premise that enables a great horror story to evoke shock and fear in its readers, who are invariably aware of the fact that such things could happen to anyone. When the story takes an unexpected turn, it heightens the anticipation of what is to come and the fear of the unknown. 

It is in these elements of the story that Doyle successfully manages to immerse her readers in a situation, turn it around, and leave them gasping, all within the space of just a few minutes. 

Book Review: ‘The Adventures of Viola Stewart: Three Short Stories’ by Karen J Carlisle

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This book presents three Victorian-style short stoeies featuring Viola Stewart at different phases of her life – one as a child, two as an adult. Throughout, she is clever, vivacious and scientifically minded, creating a sense of positive connection and admiration in the reader’s mind. It is easy to see how the young girl with a toy dirigible grew into the optician with a scientist’s eye for detail. 

The second and third stories explore mysterious circumstances that occur, with the investigations falling to Viola and her friend, Dr Henry Collins. 

The stories are interesting and entertaining, leaving the reader keen to know more of Viola Stewart. 

Book Review: ‘With A Twist Of The Nib’ by Karen J Carlisle

This book offers a compilation of original flash fiction and short stories in different genres, each with a twist at the end. The stories are all imaginative and clever, and varied enough for the collection to remain interesting throughout. 

This would be a good collection for people who struggle to find time to commit to a longer story or full novel, as they can be read and enjoyed in a coffee break or when brief opportunities present themselves.

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: ‘Dobson Drive’ by Dale Robertson

Fear is often irrational… but sometimes, it’s not.  This is a good, suspenseful short story about one of those times when someone would have been right to pay heed to their fears. 

The story works really well because the characters and setting are so normal and relatable, which reminds the reader that this scenario could just as easily happen to them. 

The writing is good and the development of suspense and foreboding in the story is gradual and well-managed. 

‘Dobson Drive is a good story that can be read in about half an hour. It is ideally suited for readers of horror, paranormal and suspense. 

Book Review: ‘Last Call’ by Kaye Lynne Booth

This is an interesting and well-written story that can be read in under 30 minutes, making it ideal for busy people wanting a quick escape. The story neatly combines elements of mystery and suspense with a thought-provoking twist. 

The main character is relatable, as is his situation he finds himself. Empathy is induced by the first person narration and the exploration of his thoughts and responses, especially when he begins to question his own perceptions. When life offers him a refreshing change, the reader is challenged to consider what they would do in the same circumstances, giving them a vested interest in the outcome of the story. 

‘Last Call’ is a most enjoyable short story.