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Author: K.G. McAbee
Title - Dark of Night: Five Macabre Tales
Author: Aiden James
Title - The Curse of Allie Mae (Cades Cove #1)
As David Hobbs and his wife, Miriam, are vacationing in Cades Cove they come across a small bag with a name on it, Allie Mae. Within is a small horde of sentimental treasures from a teenaged girl who had disappeared over one hundred years ago. David takes the bag home with him and Allie Mae’s violent spirit immediately begins causing trouble. The couple have three children, none of whom are spared from the wrath of the ghost. Of course, David tries to return the pouch via a ranger station only to have it reappear in the home. They try throwing it away in the trash only to have it reappear. They even have professionals come in to cleanse the house. Allie Mae’s spirit gets worse each time. It is soon apparent that David must physically return to Cades Cove in order to deal with the horrible spirit. Should he fail, Allie Mae would kill David and then go after his family.
***** FIVE STARS! This story is only for the brave at heart. There are scenes of major violence. Consider yourself warned.
Aiden James writes in vivid detail. There were times that the real world disappeared and there was only me and the story. When my phone rang it startled me so badly that I jerked, almost spilling my nearby soda. There was another time, as I read, that an intense scene finished and I had to sit back from the story and remind myself to breathe. I often felt myself tense up due to the author’s incredible storytelling. If you are not superstitious, you just may survive the book without nightmares. *****
Author: Aiden James
Title - The Raven Mocker (Cades Cove #2)
It has been two months since the Hobbs family dealt with the spirit of Allie Mae. They have tried to forget the fact that Allie Mae’s was not the only set of remains found in the Cades Cove area. Under Allie Mae’s remains were more. The University of Tennessee (and others) have desecrated an unearthed tomb within the once-hidden, sacred ravine in Cades Cove. Now something, something ancient, has woken. It is an ancient demon spirit called Teutates, He Who Cannot Rest. It will attack not only the Hobbs family, but also John Running Deer’s. Unless a miracle happens, no one will survive.
***** FIVE STARS! There is not much more I can say in my synopsis without giving away some type of spoiler, so I am keeping it simple. I can say that the body count is higher this time around and that (again) there are some pretty grizzly scenes. There are secondary characters from the first book that reappear and are given more time in the spot light than previously too.
You do not have to read the first title in this series to enjoy this story; however, I strongly recommend you do because Allie Mae does make brief appearances. Without reading her story, you will not fully understand what is going on during her scenes and you will miss a chill or two.
Author Aiden James have proven to me that his is a warped mind with an equally warped imagination. Since I am eager to read more from this author makes me wonder about my own sanity at times. Be that as it may, I intend to dive into the third book of this series immediately. *****
Author: Aiden James
Title - Devil Mountain (Cades Cove #3)
Our story begins six years after the previous book ends. John Running Deer has received a new spirit guide named Galiena. It is Galiena who warns John of the current danger. In Cherokee, North Carolina, there is a millionaire land developer, named Simon Blankenship, who is in the process of drilling to lay sewage pipes in a sacred ravine. He has reawakened four demon-deities after a millennium of peace. (These four demons are the siblings of Teutates.) The container with the bones of Brigindo has been shattered, releasing the female demon from her captivity. She now seeks a way to free her sister and brothers. To do so, she needs to feed. The body count begins with the families moving into the new homes that are being built.
It would have only been John Running Deer and his granddaughter, Evelynn, dealing with the trouble except for the fact that the Hobbs family is arriving any day for a visit. Once they learn what is happening, David and Miriam Hobbs insist on helping. Reaching the demons’ site is easy; however, gaining access is not. The racist, gun-toting security guards are the first problem. Simon Blankenship is another. But unless the group can locate Brigindo’s bones and (basically) put the genie back in the bottle, thousands may die.
**** FOUR STARS! If you do not read the previous book (The Raven Mocker) you will not fully understand who these new four demons are – or how deadly they can be. The characters were fully developed in the previous novel too, so not so much background is given this time around. However, this book can stand on its own. This story is not so graphic as the previous, though the danger is very real.
The Hobbs family are not the main focus. John Running Deer is putting pen to paper to tell the tale. It was a little strange for me to see the Hobbs family take a back seat this episode. Yet I am not disappointed in how the author presented the story to me. On the contrary, since there is so much going on with the spirit guide and the wards being placed on doors and windows, it makes more sense to use John and Evelynn as the main characters. Once again, this author has managed to make the hours fly by as I lose some much needed sleep. ****
Author: Aiden James
Title - The Obsidian Curse (Cades Cove #4)
When John Running Deer and his granddaughter, Evelyn Sherman, are contacted by a friend, Dr. Carmen Rainwater, they immediately know that it was not to simply say hello. Carmen arrives at John's cabin with a colleague, who shows them a relic. It is a slender obsidian blade with an edge nearly six inches in length. It has petrified finger bones fused to it. John and Evelyn can feel the menace emanating from the blade. It is straight out of their Cherokee myths, Spearfinger.
Utlunta is an immortal serial killer. Returning the relic to her tomb would not be enough. She seeks to reestablish her territory, singing her eerie hunting song, and drenching the area in the blood of the innocents.
John and Evelyn have never faced an entity that knew their Cherokee people so well, and who understood the magic of their ancestors. It will take everything they have to simply stay alive while they search for a way to stop this entity that hungers for human flesh and blood.
***** FIVE STARS! My synopsis does not really do this story justice. As with the previous titles in the Cades Cove series, the tale can stand alone. You do not have to read any of the other titles; however, also like the previous novels, this one made me stop reading a few times to breathe and remind myself that it is just a story. It is not real. It is just a story.
If you love reading creepy stories, thrillers, horrors, or just enjoy Cherokee myths, this series is for you. But take my advice and do not read during a storm, power outage, or just before going to sleep. (Yeah, it is spooky enough for me to add that little disclaimer.) You have been warned. *****
Author: William Wilde
Title - Nightscapes (10 dark stories of human fears)
Something has made the planet’s ecosystem go radically wrong. Natural climate patterns have been distorted into bizarre phenomena. The weather is acting as if it were a living, intelligent entity, and it is targeting all living creatures upon the planet. Be careful. Don’t go near the windows. The weather might see you.
** TWO STARS! This tale does not have a clear ending to me. Once I finished reading it, I kept expecting more. There is no clear reason as to why or how the weather became so strange; not even a theory from the characters. I would have liked it much more had the news told more than just the weather in the area, such as what the government and/or scientists were attempting to fix the problems. **
The machines resembled black mastiff brutes inside squarish, hard shell exo-skeletons. They had originally been built as automated security guards to protect property in a crime infested society. They were supposed to be the ultimate combination of artificial intelligence software and robotic engineering technology. The software included a self-programming algorithm that allowed each machine to formulate new decision rules based on its own sensory experience. They worked only at night. In the daylight, the robots hid themselves away and became dormant. Police no longer worked night shifts and the wolves quickly made crime at night non-existent. But something went wrong. The wolves now considered anyone outside at night an intruder and attacked with lethal force.
***** FIVE STARS! This story begins as the “Guardians” attack someone leaving work late at night and follows the detectives working the case. The story is thorough in its explanations of how the tech wolves began, why the police and manufacturing company do not simply deactivate them, and all other questions that I came up with. Very well done! *****
Major Ben Drake was the astronaut sent to Mercury. The planet does not rotate and no one had ever been able to get a look at the dark side of it. When Ben’s ship made its orbit across the sunward side of Mercury, Drake opened the viewing port, looked down onto that sun-seared landscape, and saw what no living man was ever meant to see.
*** THREE STARS! This story feels as if it is a teaser for a full-length novel. Well, I can hope. I really can say nothing more about this short story without spoilers. ***
The Faces of Harmony
The Nortons had rented a house in the remote town of Harmony, Oregon, for one month to get away from distractions and possibly get some serious work done. But the creepy locals are less than welcoming.
*** THREE STARS! This tale would be a terrific episode for “The Twilight Zone”. This is another tale that I simply cannot say more with revealing spoilers. ***
Each member of the UNITY population had a biotic implant that could be switched on or off by pressing the sub-dermal node behind his or her right ear. Tied into the Ops Center computers at UNITY, the implants essentially turned the whole Link population into a single, connected gestalt consciousness. (Layman’s terms: The people click to button for their brains to be online with an internet and are able to feel everything that everyone online does. No computer station needed.)
When Todd Luther snapped and murdered a woman, he had been connected to the empathic link. Most of the UNITY population felt him kill her. If another murder took place online, the Link would disintegrate into chaos. The only way to keep that from happening was for Douglas Garvey to locate Luther and make him go Deadlink. Permanently.
***** FIVE STARS! This type of problem could actually happen in our future. We already have a population of people who are online most of the time (such as Facebook and gamer addicts) and a population of people who are not (those who do not have computers or are not what you could call “computer happy”.) The author even explains how the people are tested before receiving a sub-dermal node to ensure sanity, so such an event would never happen. But life alters people, thus there is no guarantee that a person will not change after the tests. Outstanding! *****
The Gil Hodges Trading Card
Long ago Kenny Burwell stole a Gil Hodges baseball card from a younger boy. Unfortunately for Kenny, that boy grew up and now gets paid a lot of money to arrange accidents, the kind that the police never detect later. And when he spots Kenny bragging about having the card, he decides it is past time to visit Kenny and retrieve his property.
**** FOUR STARS! Anyone who has ever had a bully has dreamed about getting some payback. That will make this tale very enticing to many. The story is told in the First Person and, needless-to-say, the name of the assassin-for-hire is never given. The only thing I did not like is how the assassin narrator put on powdered surgical gloves before forcing Kenny to divulge the card’s location. Very few, if any, person in an emergency field uses powdered gloves any longer and I would think a killer-for-hire would not risk leaving evidence behind that anything unusual had occurred; not even something as trivial as leaving traces of glove powder residue at the scene. ****
Reaves had been hired by the city five months ago. He and his coworker, Buckland, guarded the park gates of a large natural wooded greenspace. Anyone entering the park’s forest had to fill out a form and pay the entrance fee. Some days many visitors went in, other days no one did. Every person that entered the park had one thing in common; none ever came back out alive.
**** FOUR STARS! This story sent chills down my spine. What could be so bad in life that several healthy people (daily) would pay to enter a place knowing they would die? I hope to never find out. The story is mainly told by Reaves, who had the urge to save the people. His conscious took a beating each time a person walked up to the gate. However, his coworker was the total opposite of him and kept threatening to snitch to the supervisors if Reaves did not stop trying to save the park’s visitors. This tale will have the reader do a bit of soul searching. ****
He is a compulsive liar. She is an obsessive truth teller.
*** THREE STARS! This extremely short tale never gives the names of the two characters. All I know is that the two are married and I found it to be very entertaining. ***
Frank Noles is a reporter interviewing Martin Bettcher, Assistant Deputy Coroner, at the morgue. There have been an abnormally high number of drug deaths in the last month. What is really going on?
***** FIVE STARS! Here is another story that could actually happen in the near future. As someone who works in an emergency field, my mind wants to shy away from the possibility of this event. Fabulous. *****
Killian has too much stress in his life. The prescriptions from his doctor are not helping. Killian must learn how to manage his stress before it ends up killing him.
** TWO STARS! I do not believe that the ending of this story is physically possible. It has left me feeling a bit confused and very unfulfilled. **
Author: William Wilde
Title – The Park
Forest Park is a magnificent Evergreen woodlands area that covers over five thousand acres and eight square miles. On its border is Green Gate Heights, a condo project that is being protested by a group called Green Planet. The Portland Police has two crimes to investigate. Both occurred on the same night, but on opposite sides of Forest Park. At Green Gate Heights, the night security guard has been murdered. Elsewhere, a young lady has been brutally beaten and sexually assaulted. Of course, the dead guard can tell the police little. As for the assaulted lady, her claims are disturbing.
Something unnatural roams Forest Park; a mythical predator. Police Detectives Mark Reid and Fran Grimes, along with reporter Dani Lake, risk their lives as they seek answers to the ancient secrets of the Earth that lie within the wooded territory.
**** FOUR STARS! This story is more thriller than horror, but action and suspense reigns supreme from the beginning until the end. The story mainly follows Detective Mark Reid and Dani Lake, with Reid having the majority of the spot lights; however, Grimes is no frail character either. All three have their pros and cons, but Reid is the biggest misfit. In fact, Reid has a bad reputation within the police force. If you are looking for something to make a boring afternoon more interesting, this story is for you! The Park will keep you on the edge of your seat and time will fly by. Terrific! ****
Authors: J.A. Johnson & K.G. McAbee
Title - The Reginald Pantry: A Zombie Chronicle
The zombie outbreak has finally begun. The infection is spread by mosquito bites, as well as from zombie bites. The beginning symptoms are minor and often shrugged off as a mild cold or allergies. Once the person is dead, the change happens rapidly. Newly risen retain short-term memories for a brief while. Residual memory causes the undead to always knock once or twice before they try to open a door. This has saved many of the remaining living humans – including Deputy Nathan Ballard.
Deputy Ballard promises a dying man, Jack Reginald, that he will rescue the man’s family. Jack is one of the few who had the forethought to transform his family’s pantry into a safe room. But travelling to the Reginald home is dangerous. Zombies outnumber the living more than ten-to-one. And these zombies, known as Seethers, are not the totally mindless ones that are found in movies and video games. Seethers can hear well, can smell better than when they were alive (so beware wind changes), they can see out of their clouded eyes, and when a seether spots prey it will let out a loud shriek to alert others.
Little Abby and her younger sister, Stephie, are alone in the pantry. They have only their small dog for comfort. When Abby gets a call from her father she is relieved. But her exuberate joy dies quickly when Jack informs her that he is sending Deputy Ballard to protect them. Until the lawman arrives, the two girls and dog are on their own. All the while seethers lurk outside; searching roads, woods, and buildings. Ravenous for flesh.
**** FOUR STARS! This story is based on the soundtrack by The Gifted Children. What? You did not know that there was zombie music around? Well there is. Authors J.A. Johnson and K.G. McAbee transfer the melodious soundtrack into printed form. The novella is divided into three parts and each chapter is titled. Readers will also be treated to several special features including three deleted scenes, an alternate ending, an image gallery, the making of The Reginald Pantry album, and much more.
Johnson and McAbee complement each other. I am unable to tell which author wrote each scene. I knew this story would be fascinating on the very first page. Instead of simple words describing the zombie outbreak, there is a picture of an article that has obviously been ripped from the front page (above the fold) of a newspaper. The only part of the story I found odd is when I noticed that the seethers breathe course and choppy. There is no reason to inhale oxygen for the bloodstream since their hearts do not pump. But then again, these are not your typical zombies. Prepare yourself for thrills and chills when you begin this tale. When the world begins to die, things such as rules and honor cease to exist. ****
Author: Steven R. Cowan
Title - Dark Eye
Set deep in the South, this story begins in the late 1800's with atrocities committed by the local Ku Klux Klan. An innocent man is lynched, his wife, Hattie, ravaged and left for dead deep in a swamp. An old Seminole medicine woman finds her, nurses her to health and begins teaching her the ways of black magic. Hattie excels at her lessons and her thirst for revenge brings to her power beyond her teacher's knowledge.
Present day brings an affable, local Assistant District Attorney Elvin Hutto on a fishing/camping trip with two cherished college friends. A sudden, vicious storm blows into the swamp, separating the friends and starting the wheels of Hattie's final revenge.
*** THREE STARS! Be aware there are sex scenes in this book and some are very violent. I understand they are integral to the story, but it's because of this that I didn't rate it higher. Otherwise, this is a weirdly-interesting story that flows fairly well. ***
Author: Duncan Lloyd
Title - Elena
Theodore “Teddy” Schoendienst is a brilliant teen, but is cursed with his stuttering to be the target of bullies. He lives in Northern Wisconsin with his younger sister, Ellen, and his father. Teddy’s dad is a psychiatrist that works at a private insane asylum close to the house. When the bullies go too far and Teddy ends up in the hospital’s critical care unit, Dr. Schoendienst removes Teddy from public school. Under his father’s care for education, Teddy finds his workload doubled.
As with most young teens, Teddy is maturing and experiencing all the normal curiosities about intimacy. One night he sees a young girl emerge from his closet. He can only view her out of the corner of his eye, but he can tell she is beautiful. Her name is Elena and she begins to teach him about intimacy; however, in return Teddy must not tell his family about her. Elena is cold to the touch and plays the Dominant role during their time together. Though Teddy understands that Elena is a ghost, he still falls in love with her.
Ellen tells Teddy that Elena has been haunting her dreams. Teddy begins to wonder if Elena is playing some sort of horrible game with his family. Shortly thereafter, Ellen is murdered. Teddy is determined to figure out who killed his sister and why. But soon Teddy begins to wonder if he is going insane. The truth is more horrible than he could ever imagine.
**** FOUR STARS! I always warn readers of anything in the books that I review could be offensive to some. Consider yourself warned that this story has erotic scenes, bits of necrophilism, and talk of incest. That said, I will get on with the review.
This story follows the main character, Teddy, and tells the tale from his viewpoint. It is well told and kept me guessing from its gripping beginning until its shocking ending. Overall, I found this to be a combination of several genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller, and Horror. Unlike most authors of today, Duncan Lloyd does not hold back any punches or shy away from what the public considers to be taboo. This author seems to have a clear view of the world’s dark side. His writing is realistic and I applaud, what my family would call, his gumption. It is very refreshing to me. I sincerely hope to read more by Duncan Lloyd. STELLAR! ****
Author: Alice Henderson
Title - Fresh Meat (Supernatural TV Series Tie-In)
Sam and Dean Winchester meet up with Bobby Singer at a little town near the Tahoe National Forest where hikers and tourists have been killed. Rangers think it is a rogue bear, but Sam and Dean suspect that the trouble is due to a wendigo. Bobby Concurs. While hunting in the woods they meet Ranger Grace Cumberlin with the US Forest Service. If Grace did not see the next odd event with her own eyes, she never would have believed it. A naked man, covered in blood, walks out of the trees. The silent man stares straight ahead and does not stop walking, even while in a vehicle en route to the hospital. But that is not all. The walking man has no pulse and he has organs of several other people within him.
After the wendigo is dispatched, the Winchesters believe the hunt is over. That is, until they learn that people are still disappearing. Once back in the Tahoe National Forest, the hunters find a mysterious flying creature attacking them. The tall monster looks as though it has a hide of leather and resembles a pterodactyl. But this sly creature can assume human form.
Sam and Bobby head out to find ingredients to make a weapon against their latest foe. Dean and another hunter remain in the area to ward off hikers from entering the creature’s territory. When a blizzard strikes the area, Dean must battle the elements as well as the creature. As for Sam and Bobby, they are being ambushed by vampires as they rush to complete the weapon. But once done, they will still have to figure out a way to locate Dean before the creature or one of the avalanches kills him.
**** FOUR STARS! The story starts out like many of the television episodes; the brothers are at the end of a mission, being attacked by a very nasty spirit. The author keeps Sam, Dean, and Bobby’s characters true to form. I could easily envision Dean yearning for some type of greasy meat f or dinner. The story takes place during season seven, between “Shut Up, Dr. Phil” and “Slash Fiction”. Therefore, Sam is still fighting off images of Lucifer and flashbacks of the time he spent in the cage. A few of the secondary characters from previous television episodes are mentioned but do not make an appearance.
Author Alice Henderson does a fantastic job at keeping the identity (human form) of the creature from the reader. She had me guessing everyone at various times. (Ultimately, my guess was wrong.) The story slows down and drags for a brief time in the center, but by the time Dean finally gets a good look at what they are up against; things begin to speed up quickly and become intense. The author also seems to know what she is writing about. I checked with a park ranger I know and Henderson describes avalanches and the procedures done for avalanches perfectly. I hope to read more novels from Alice Henderson in the future. ****
Author: John Passarella
Title - Rite of Passage
(Supernatural TV Series Tie-In)
Sam and Dean Winchester consider Bobby to be their honorary uncle. After dealing with some harpies, the trio travel to Laurel Hill, New Jersey. On the surface, the small town seems to be having a horrible run of bad luck. In truth, the unfortunate town has been infiltrated by an invincible creature that specializes in orchestrating bad accidents and causing the spread of diseases.
Sam still has a daily struggle to maintain a vise-like grip on his sanity. Occasionally Sam has trouble distinguishing between what is reality and what is “Lucifer-vision”. Dean does all he can to help his brother cope. Often Sam will squeeze the scar on his left hand, prompting real-world pain to push reality back to the surface of his mind. But Dean worries that someday he may lose his brother to madness. In addition to his problem, the Winchester brothers recently had a couple of dark doppelgangers created of them by the Leviathan. These doppelgangers had gone on a cross-country killing spree. Sam and Dean must continually keep looking over their shoulders in case somebody made them as the infamous serial killers. Therefore, Bobby uses his Fed disguise to work with the local police, while the brothers go undercover as insurance claim adjusters so that they may talk to witnesses of all the bad accidents and deaths.
Sumiko Jones is known in school as the Lion Truth Blogger. The teen is intelligent and extremely observant. She uses these talents to blog school happenings that most fail to notice. Her boyfriend is Ryan Bramble. Ryan has been having trouble with his grades this year. Sumiko is helping by tutoring Ryan; yet Ryan feels that it is a worthless endeavor. It does not help that Ryan has been suffering lately from horrible migraines. If the tension headaches are not enough, Ryan is beginning to experience insane rages. He has no idea what is happening to him. The answer is far worse than he could ever imagine. As the chain of misfortunes escalates, Sumiko expands her blog to include all the recent supernatural events in Laurel Hill. Eventually her blog investigation catches the eyes of Sam and Dean.
***** FIVE STARS! This novel is a media tie-in to the hit CW series “Supernatural”. This is an original story and has never been seen on television. You do not have to be a fan of the series in order to fully enjoy this adventure; however, for those of you who do keep up with the television show, this tale takes place during season seven, between “Time for a Wedding!” and “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters”.
Author John Passarella is well known for writing some dark, twisted, and creepy stories. I have often wondered about this author’s mental stability. That possible imbalance is probably what gives each of his stories their surreal aura. Whatever talent, dark imagination, or paranormal ability this author has, he definitely used it in spades for writing this adventure. I ended up reading the entire book in a single sitting. (Thank heavens I was on vacation and did not mind losing so much sleep!) Unforgettable! *****
Author: John Passarella
Title - Night Terror
(Original Media Tie-in Novel for the hit series "Supernatural")
Sam and Dean Winchester lost their mother to a mysterious and demonic force twenty-nine years ago. In the years after, their father taught them about the paranormal evil that lives in the dark corners and on the back roads of America...and he taught them how to kill it.
When Bobby is alerted to some strange happenings in Clayton Falls, Colorado, he sends Sam and Dean Winchester to do a bit of recon. Lucy Quinn, the daughter of the chief of police, claims that she and two friends were chased by a headless horseman in the park. Lucy and Tony escaped. Her other friend, Steve, ended up running into the street, where he was hit and killed by a '68 Charger. But the '68 Charger did not have a driver and witnesses saw the phantom vehicle disappear into thin air. That same night, a homeless man reports being chased by a Gila monster that had been the size of two Nissans.
Sam and Dean use their counterfeit FBI (Homeland Security) credentials to investigate. Chief Quinn believes his daughter may have been drinking and imagined it all. Same with the homeless man. He refuses to believe any of the crazy reports coming into the station are true...even those from his own officers, who insist that Nazi zombies are attacking the locals. The brothers soon find themselves fighting the stuff of nightmares. A tree uproots itself and impales a man on a limb. A giant tarantula dines on a jogger. A sinkhole that is deep and wide enough to hold a gymnasium forms. And those are only the beginning.
Sam and Dean must figure out what is causing the terrors that are stalking the nights within Clayton Falls. But they had best do it quickly, because soon the living nightmares will never end.
***** FIVE STARS! On a personal note, I would like to state that this is some creepy stuff! This novel is a media tie-in to the hit CW series "Supernatural". This is an original story and has never been seen on television. If you have not watched the show, I believe that you will still thoroughly enjoy this tale of paranormal horror. For those of you who never miss and episode, "Night Terror" takes place during Season Six, between "Frontierland" and "Mommy Dearest".
Author John Passarella writes with a type of malignant zealousness that is highly contagious to his readers. My husband said that any time the real world dared to interfere with my reading of this story (and this includes whenever he gently tapped on my shoulder to ask a quick question), I would have an antagonistic glare in my eyes until I could return to whatever lethal creature was causing havoc. Needless-to-say, interruptions were kept to a minimum.
Whether you want an extra "Supernatural" episode or simply to read a dark story and feel cold fingers run the length of your spine, this novel is perfect. *****
Author: William Wilde
Title - Stories That Bite You (Horror Anthology)
Marathon - While a mob of people, with death in their eyes, are chasing a man in the streets, the man is plotting how to escape them. (Five stars.)
The Season - A wasting disease has everyone’s body deteriorating into husks. (Three stars.)
Dead Air - Earth’s atmosphere envelope is leaking slowly away. People fight for bottles of oxygen. (Five stars.)
Street Dogs - Ricky gets his kicks by vandalizing vehicles parked on the street. The BMW 325 is just too good to pass up, even though it has a decal sticker stating that the vehicle is protected by Watchdog Corp. (Five stars.)
Plastic - Dr. Fairley is a plastic surgeon. His brother had been too, until he was slashed to death by a female patient. Since the police cannot seem to locate her and do not believe his theory, so Fairley is hunting her down. (Five stars.)
Derelict - When Burke goes to inspect an old derelict warehouse, he finds a horror living within. (Four stars.)
Stinger - Harry specialized in stingers: hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps. One morning he wakes and realizes that he has had a major stroke. His wife refuses to help him, but one of Harry’s insect friends would. (Four stars.)
Animal Games - Sandra has always had a fear of wild animals. Now she is seeing wild predators everywhere. (Four stars.)
Litter - While working on the highway litter crew, Kenny comes across a strange small doll. (Four stars.)
Freeway - Keller packs his vehicle and leaves town in search of a better life. (Three stars.)
Machine Screams - All Mayes wants is a snack, but the vending machine is acting strange. (Two stars.)
Bandwagon - Everyone in town is wearing a city pride campaign button, except Martin. And everyone insists that he get one too. (One star.)
Totem - Carly is at the ATM in town when two punks walk up with evil on their minds. But the locals are protected by Totem Security Services and there is a very good reason why the town has no crime. Carly is about to discover the reason. (Five stars.)
Manfleas - The town is overflowing in Manfleas. To survive, humanity slaughters all they find. (One star.)
Crop - Farms believe they now have the answer to the world food shortage. (Three stars.)
The Lot - After Walt is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, early stage, he began looking for a cure. Just as he is about to give up hope, Walt receives an email. (Four stars.)
Paper Cut - Morris receives a paper cut while going through his mail. For some reason, the tiny cut refuses to heal. (Three stars.)
Intrusion - When Janice’s children enter the house, they bring a strange man in with them; a man who claims to be her husband. (Three stars.)
Barrel of Screams - Ron is given five dollars to simply scream into a barrel. It is for a college kid’s sound mixing project. But after he does, Ron cannot stop hearing the screams of other people. (Three stars.)
Notes on the Stories - This part is not a story. Instead, the author gives backgrounds of some of the stories and tells how they came to be written. (Four stars.)
**** FOUR STARS TOTAL! Twenty stories in all, including the final notes. Most are outstanding. Only a few are what I would call duds. (But remember, these are only MY opinions. After each title, I give a very brief synopsis, followed by what I believe it should be rated.) Sometimes the good guys win. Sometimes the bad guys do. A majority of the stories left me feeling uneasy. A couple left me with chills. A few left me laughing at something ironic or at the author’s wit. Highly recommended! ****
Author: Aiden James
Title - Terror: Cades Cove Series (2 novels)
Book One: Cades Cove
David and Miriam Hobbs go to Tennessee for their fifteenth wedding anniversary. David finds an old bag while they are visiting the old ravine in which used to serve as Cades Cove’s “Lovers’ Lane”. Stitched near the top are the words “Allie Mae’s Treasures”. On impulse, David takes the bag with him. Once David and Miriam return to their home in Littleton, Colorado, strange things begin to happen. Allie Mae had seen them at the ravine and has mistaken David for one of the two boy from her past. Allie Mae also believes that one of David’s sons, Tyler, is the second boy from her past. Her spirit is angry and thirsty for revenge.
In hopes of ridding his family from Allie Mae’s wrath, David tries several ways to dispose of the bag. As Allie Mae’s anger becomes deadly, David decides to travel to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There, with the help of Ranger John Running Deer, David will try to banish Allie Mae’s spirit. If David fails to do so, his entire family will suffer.
**** FOUR STARS! This tale of a vengeful spirit became downright creepy at times. In the latter half of the book, the author delves into Indian Lore and ceremonies. To say I was riveted would be putting it lightly. Like many horror novels, this one ends with a scene that makes one wonder if it is truly over. Unlike many horror novels, this one ties up just about all loose ends. The only real loose end deals with another entity and its details are listed during the last few pages of this story. This entity will be the focus in the next title, The Raven Mocker. ****
Author: William Wilde
Title - The Rep
Set in Oregon. An accountant, David Price, is the sole survivor of a multiple vehicle accident. Before the paramedics arrive, David gets a glimpse of a bony woman with garish red hair and no face. He put it out of his mind as hallucination. The hospital's doctor explains that David has suffered from a simple concussion. For at least a short while, David could expect headaches, slight memory loss, nausea, and confusion. David finally gets back to work, but his work is below average. No one ever notices though, because the company decides to contract out their accounting and everyone in the department is laid off.
David decides to try a less stressful job until the concussion symptoms fade. He accepts a temporary job as a traveling accountant. David will drive to various regional businesses, do their financial paperwork, and let his employer know when he is finished so they could bill David's clients. David has three businesses to locate and work at. The first is a furniture store in Hood River. While there, a young saleswoman flirts with David. The next day she is dead. David has no reason to believe he is responsible until the boney, faceless woman appears. David nicknames her The Rep. According to The Rep, David was not supposed to survive the wreck a month ago. By cheating death, David would cause fatal repercussions. David simply thinks the woman is nuts.
But another death occurs at this second job site in The Dalles. The Rep taunts David again. Seems that whenever a death occurs David is incapacitated with unpredictable and disorienting bouts. At David's third job site in Bend, he hires a private investigator, Andrea Bauer, to find out whom Darla Kelsey (the name The Rep goes by) is, why she is stalking him, and if she is a serial killer setting him up. The creepy, faceless woman knows every single thing about David. Of course, problems begin at the third job site. The police are gathering evidence against David. David must finally admit to himself that either The Rep is not human or he has gone insane and simply did not know it yet.
**** FOUR STARS! As the reader, I am not sure if this story should be filed in the category of Mystery, Thriller, or Horror. I am going with Horror. Though I racked my wits, I could not figure out if David was guilty and could not recall killing, if he was insane, if everything happening was coincidental, or if The Rep was real and inhuman. The one thing I do know for sure is that I am not telling you anything. Only those who read this spooky tale will find out.
In my opinion, William Wilde's writing talent is best in the horror genre. The only way this story could have been better was if the main character's background was more developed. The story reads as if it were being narrated. I never came to really care for David. Without that bond between the reader and character, the story is not as potent. However, the plot is interesting and pretty creative. I will be keeping an eye on William Wilde's future releases. ****
Author: Jayne Waggoner
Title - Vadas (Celic #2)
Celic Vadas no longer craves the companionship of humans with the urgency he once did. Yet still he longs to feel as though he is part of their race. He finally accepts his vampire existence for the most part. He is slowly learning his new abilities, his confidence growing. The demon within him still longs to feed, but Celic has learned how to control the virus and no longer unwittingly sends ladies to their deaths.
Sheriff Dan Craft still tries to find Celic's trail, with the help of Loni's best friend, Neva Tompkins. Neither would believe that Celic never meant to kill Loni. The possibility of Celic actually caring for Loni is foreign to them. But it is Loni's boyfriend, Joey Whaler, that searches the hardest for Celic. Joey feels guilty for the way he treated Loni while she was alive. Now Joey seeks redemption. He uses every spare cent he has to search for Celic. To that end, Joey hires the Crystal Clear Detective Agency to help locate the vampire and possibly destroy it. Tammy Ford is the agent assigned to Joey. Tammy is very good at her job. The pair are hot on Celic's tail. Problem is that there are others searching for Celic for their own nefarious purposes.
Celic wants only to blend in and exist. In the slums he meets a variety of interesting people, some good and some bad. Not everyone is as they seem though. Claudette is also nearby and has minions of her own. She and her people will soon approach Celic. Claudette knows Celic wants to kill her, but is positive she can change his mind and convince him to do her a favor in return for help with his virus. Can Celic sidestep the black magic headed his way?
**** Book one introduced Celic to readers and showed the reasons for his unrest. This book continues Celic's journey. Old nemeses return (more than mentioned in my synopsis), a few loose ends are tied up in this installment, and a new nemesis is gained. Black magic and a coven of witches (or two) enter the picture to add a dangerous element and heighten the suspense. Though it is obvious that there will be a book three, I was not disappointed with the stopping point of the story. I did not feel as though I was left hanging. The author, Jayne Waggoner, has improved in her storytelling and the story flowed smoothly for the most part. Only a few sections felt stiff in the writing style, but nothing felt odd or wrong. I look forward to seeing what else this author has up her sleeve. Fantastic! ****
Author: Jayne Waggoner
Title - Celic (Book 1)
Nineteen-year-old Celic dumped his possessive girlfriend, Claudette. The scorned lady was not only quite insane, but also a witch. In retaliation Claudette slipped Celic a potion, transforming him into a vampire. It was not long at all before Claudette had him staked. For years she kept his mummified corpse hidden, occasionally playing with the still lodged stake, knowing Celic felt agony at every touch. When she stopped visiting his corpse, Celic thought she was either dead or had forgotten about him. Many years passed.
A Pennsylvania lawyer's web site clearly shows his avid interest in vampirism. When an anonymous lady gives him directions to Celic, the wealthy lawyer jumps at the chance to own and display a possible vampire. He sends his son and friends to pick it up along with a small cargo of wolves. But on the return flight the plane goes down. Celic's stake is dislodged, freeing him at last. Celic and the wolves flee into the woods, yet keep each other company. Celic knows very little about the curse within him, other than his hunger for blood. He begins his new night life in a nearby city. He is torn between his desire to be a normal human teen and the need of his inner demon to feed. Staying in the area may very well call the attention of the local law, but how could a short while hurt him? Later Celic will search for Claudette. If she still lives, he will deal with her. For now he will feed, learn more about himself, and try to figure out how to blend into this new generation's time.
**** An interesting tale that may very well turn into a series. There is no graphically detailed horror and no real romance, so the novel defies my attempts to classify its genre. Horror is the closest I can decide upon. There are editing problems, but nothing major or too distracting. As the reader, this story let me begin to know and understand Celic's character. His background slowly develops, leaving more for me to learn in the next novel (which is currently in progress). I look forward to the next release. ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Woodcutter's Grim Series, Vol. I
(Classic Tales of Horror Retold)
"Papa" (Loosely based on Hansel & Gretel)
Six months ago Randall Parker's ex-wife, Josephine, had died in a horrible car accident. With Josephine had been their children, Henry and Grace. Randall's new wife, Amy, feels that the car accident would never have happened had Randall not left Josephine for her. Randall keeps explaining to Amy that there had never been any love in his previous marriage. He had been miserable, so he would have left Josephine eventually. Over the last couple of months, Amy has fallen into deep depression. Randall finally convinces Amy to come away with him to an isolated cabin in the northern part of Wisconsin, in the town of Woodcutter's Grim.
Upon reaching Woodcutter's Grim, the pair cannot help but notice all of the oddities. It is Halloween, yet the town looks deserted. The city's population sign only claims two. The church's sign proclaims that Judgment Day had arrived. Randall's watch, as well as Amy's, has stopped working. And what is with all the piles of sugar that are showing up everywhere?
When the couple reaches the cabin, more sugar piles are seen. Amy insists that Josephine has sent the children back from their graves for revenge. She has been seeing and hearing the kids for months. Until they arrived at the cabin, Randall never heard Henry and Grace calling for him, but now he does.
***** FIVE STARS! This story gave me the exact same eerie feeling that I experienced as I watched the movie titled (based on a video game) "Silent Hill". This tale is the first of a novella series about the Great Evil that dwells in the town of Woodcutter's Grim and its surrounding woods. The Great Evil likes to manifest itself in dark, twisted versions of fairy tales. My advice is to not read this story at night if you are alone. *****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Woodcutter's Grim Series, Vol. II
(Classic Tales of Horror Retold)
On All Hallow's Eve, in the dark-filled town of Woodcutter's Grim (Wisconsin), Jack Shaussegeny summoned the magic that lived in the area. He had hoped to end the male genetic defect that resulted in a weakened state of bone and muscle and led to an overall decline in vitality during middle age. Jack's wish was granted; however, the blessing Jack yearned for has become a curse. The entire Shaussegeny family now transforms during the full moon. If one leaves Woodcutter's Grim, he will be unable to transform and will endure agony. Only by being what he is and giving in to his predatory nature will he thrive and be strong.
Because the Shaussegeny name has long been synonymous with faithlessness, even unto their own chosen mates, the Great Evil adds one more curse upon the family: Only one chosen mate will be allotted to each family member. These chosen mates must also fall under the family curse. These pairs will know true peace only if the clan remains faithful to their chosen mates in word and deed. Apart, mates shall be restless and forever unsettled, gripped by a sadness and despair unlike any other. A terrible fate will come upon the one who breaks the mate covenant. The only way to break this multifaceted curse is that beauty falls in love with the beast and vice versa, that evil loves good and good loves evil.
Author: T.C. LoTempio
Title - Ebony
All of Jessica's hopes for mending fences with her sister, Amanda, come crashing down when the young woman goes missing. Though Jess had sworn never to return to her home town, she goes back to Ebony and begins an investigation. Amanda is not the only person who has vanished, but Jess' investigation seems to be going nowhere until another local reporter and her ex-lover join forces with her to uncover a truth more horrifying than anything she could have imagined. Now, Jessica may lose both men she loves, her sister, and her own soul.
*** From the opening sentences onward, this story will shock and terrify you as you read of things that are far worse than being dead. Fast paced action keeps things moving towards a climax that will surprise you. ***
Author: T.C. LoTempio
Title - Bound By Blood
Inheriting the ancient manor, Ravencrest, comes at the perfect time for Leigh Hartley. She and her teen daughter need a fresh start, and the small town of Coltonville sounds perfect. What she does not know is that Ravencrest comes with a prophecy that may be linked to a series of murders in that town. Intrigued by the case, Leigh begins to investigate, working with a reporter and a detective, despite the fact that she is the right physical type to become a victim herself. As the threads of destiny begin to come together, Leigh's daughter becomes the focal point of a plot to unleash Hell on Earth.
**** Though the story starts off in a somewhat confusing fashion, things come together rapidly and become frighteningly clear. If you enjoy Barbara Michaels, then be sure and read this fascinating start to what appears to be a series. Just leave the lights on while you do. ****
Edited by: Michael Stone & Christopher J. Hall
Title - Badass Horror (Anthology)
This anthology of horror stories is not for those with weak stomachs. Therefore, if you are looking for a chill, but nothing hard core, go elsewhere. It seemed to me that no one was spared or granted any mercy within these pages. If you are still interested, this is what you will get:
Pool Sharks by Gerard Brennan is the first tale and is about just that...pool sharks. But in this game you win or die.
The Stray by Garry Kilworth is about a slow man that some ladies of night let hang around their place of business. Until, that is, a customer takes offense.
Hardboiled Still by Michael Hemmingson is the longest tale in the anthology. It is also the strangest. The way it is written, it reminds me of the old Dick Tracy comics. A private investigator wakes up one night to find out that he is a zombie.
All the Pretty Girls by Ronald Damien Malfi will appeal to you classic car lovers. The story revolves around a possessed 1962 Mercury Comet S-22 Coupe. (I sense you drooling already.)
Moving Pictures by Gord Rollo is my personal favorite. A new tattoo parlor is about to open in the area. When the enforcer appears to collect the protection money, the oriental man offers a free tattoo to buy time until he can get customers and make some money. But his tattoos are VERY special indeed.
The Essences by Davin Ireland refer to the emotions of people in the world. Each city has a Keeper (Watcher or Caretaker) who cares of the vials containing that city's essences.
Bloodbath at Landsdale Towers by Michael Boatman is my second fave. Two dark and menacing figures with interesting powers are out to get the names of all the dealers in the area. They also have the most interesting pet, a Death Puck with legs. You have to read it to believe it.
**** Each story is well done. However, the first story or two uses slang words that some people will not understand. Yet they will easily figure it out by the way the words are used. All of the stories are good, none below average. Those searching for talent in the horror field will be pleased with the choices made to create this anthology. I will be checking back to see which, if not all, of these authors make the big time. Excellent reading for stormy nights. ****
Author: Margaret L Carter
Title - Child Of Twilight
Frightened by her powers and their implications, Gillian runs away from the doctor who is trying to help her adapt to her vampirism. Meeting her real family is confusing and fascinating, but the safety they offer does not shelter her for long. Soon, with the help of an ancient and evil vampiress, Gillian is captured by a scientist who wants to study and write about her; and the vampiress wants to use her for revenge. Whoever wins, Gillian will live, but the question is- will she be saved or damned?
*** Introducing a new spin onto the vampire legend, Ms. Carter tosses readers headfirst into her world, and it's a chilling one, fascinating and dangerous. This novel gives the distinct impression of being a second or third book in a series; therefore, if there is a prior one, readers are advised to find and read it first. ***
Marilyn Meredith: title - Wishing Makes It So
Wanting to do something good, Alyse and Steven take in a four year old little girl as a foster child, one who has been thrown out of several homes prior to theirs. With their successful parenting of three other children and Steven's career as a counselor, they feel sure they can help Belinda and give her a loving home.
However, Belinda quickly prooves a great challenge. She is often disobedient and trouble making, hurting the other children and vandalizing their things. At times, however, she is sweet and "innocent", easily charming the unwary. Then, her desire to be the only child takes a deadly turn.
***** Thrilling from the first to the last page, Ms. Meredith has created a story that will truly horrify the reader. Stephen King does not create suspense nearly as well. Even when you think the story is over, there is more, and you will see how the devil can hide behind the lovely and the unexpected easily. This is one of the most bone chilling novels I have ever read! *****
Marilyn Meredith: title - Kachima Spirit
After a long search, Madeline Kennon has found a new home to restart her life and the lives of her children. Almost immediately, they begin making new friends, and despite claims that their new home is haunted, it seems like life could not be better. Even seeing ghosts does not really bother Madeline. However, things turn more sinister, and bloody. Madeline begins having strange dreams, it looks like her son is into animal mutilation, and two very different men enter her life. Then, murder occurrs. Frightening secrets from the past reach out to entangle the Kennon family in a web of deception and death. Madeline finds her heart and her family are on the line; one wrong move could cost her everything.
***** In yet another thrilling novel, Ms. Meredith proves herself to be a premier writer with characters that are believeable in a situation that could be real, despite its other worldly elements. The unreal situation is presented so matter of factly that it seems to be something that could be true. *****
Author: Jeff Strand
Title - Mandibles
Giant Red Imported Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta) invade Tampa, Florida in a killing spree.
***** How was THAT for a synopsis? I have had the privilege of previewing/reviewing many other books by Author Jeff Strand. I am quoted as stating that Strand is warped and one sick cookie. I still stand by those words! This book is just more proof that I am right!
Be warned that I give this awesome book a "Rated R" heading due to a lot of blood and gore! I cannot stress that enough so I'll repeat ... "A lot of blood and gore!" Got that? Okay.
Even the book's "Author's Note" and "Another Author's Note" at the beginning of the story is warped. This strangeness has come to be known, by me and all Jeff Strand fans, as the author's personal signature. If it's horror, warped, and funny, then it has to be by Strand! *****
Joseph M. Nassise: Riverwatch (Rated R)
Before history was recorded there were two main species that ruled the Earth. One were called The Elders and looked identical to humans today. The other were called The Nightshades and were evil winged creatures. The Elders thought the humans had the potential to become intelligent and began teaching them. The Nightshades considered humans to be nothing more than cattle. A war broke out resulting in the extinction of both races. However, one Nightshade had been sealed off from the world. It was buried in an underground tomb and topped with a flowing river. The world was safe. Until...
In the present date, while renovating the Blake estate, a river was drained and a cement sealed passage was found. An ancient evil was released, Moloch. Moloch was hungry and had a thirst from revenge!
***** This book caught me from the first sentence and held on until the end! Be warned of graphic death scenes! I highly recommend this one for Stephen King and Dean Koontz fans! Awesome and chilling! *****
Lawrence Barker: I'll Take My Stand
This story was set shortly after the Civil War (1868). Abraham Lincoln had already been assassinated and still had the bullet hole to prove it. However, he was still the President. Demons had been raised all over the South. The dead lived again or were zombies.
Old Horny-foot was the main villain of the story. He played a three string fiddle and was constantly after the soul of an ex-confederate soldier named Rile Fouts. Rile had his plug of tobacco (that was like a talisman against evil), an Infernal (which was a mule-shaped demon that talked), and a fiddle that could free the souls of the damned.
The story was not as detailed as most horror books, but it definitely had a different twist to most books of the walking dead. Well worth your time and money.
Fred Wiehe: title - Starkville
Maggie Stark had been a homicide detective for the San Francisco Police Department until a serial killer murdered her husband. Once the killer had been caught, she quit and moved back to her hometown of Starkville, high in the Sierra Foothills. On the 50 acres of Stark Ranch, Maggie planned to raise her eight year old son, Billy, in a quiet and normal life.
Emmet opened the entrance to Howling Cave and unknowingly released the demon spirit known as Mo Paak. The demon was a parasite with the form of an insect. It crawled into a living host to eat from within. The host would go mad from the pain and begin killing anyone who crossed its path.
Wing Sun was over 150 years old. The gods were punishing him for releasing Mo Paak many years ago. Until he managed to kill the demon, Wing Sun could not die and find release in the spirit world. He needed the help of Maggie. Only she could help him win the upcoming battle, before the entire town was massacred!
*** This story will send chills down your spine! Order pizza for dinner before you begin reading because you will not be able to stop reading this book until the last page has been read, and good luck sleeping afterward! Excellent horror novel and well worth your time! ***
Howard Hopkins: title - The Dark Riders
Set in a western history scene, Chris Durrin is the target of a vampire, Milus Clint. Milus has hand picked several men to become part of his dark gang that is now the terror of Texas!
There is a lot of blood, violence, greed, revenge … and I loved every bit of it! Intended for mature audiences only! Milus is a villain readers will love to hate and his gang is not totally loyal to the leader, which causes some interesting scenes as well! Highly recommended!
Jeff Strand: title - Graverobbers Wanted: No Experience Necessary (Comedy/Horror/Thriller/Mystery)
Andrew Mayhem (his last name described his life pretty well) was temporarily exploring his career options (between jobs and hated to work for a living). He had a wife, Helen, who was an RN and two children, Theresa (8 years old) and Kyle (6 years old). His best friend was named Roger Tanglen and only Andrew was more irresponsible!
Jennifer Ashcraft offered them $20,000 to dig up her husband’s shallow grave and bring her a key he had somewhere on his person. Hey, that is a lot of money for a few hours work. No problem, right? Right! That is, unless the husband was not dead…yet…and unless they were all kidnapped, someone murdered Jennifer and then began a really sick game with Andrew called Figure Out The Clues ASAP Or I Will Send You Another Tape Of Torturing Someone To Death…Possibly You! And unless someone started shooting crossbows at him, putting body parts all over the place, and strapping Roger up to a door while playing Guess The Answer Or 1 Of 5 Hatchets Hack Into Roger, while the police look on. I mean, you get the idea, right? But, hey, what were the odds of any of that ever happening? Helen would never know. All Andrew had to do was find a babysitter.
*** This is one sick author! Therefore, this is one of THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE READ IN A LOOOONG TIME! You have simply got to read this one! I laughed out loud so often while I read it at work that people kept coming into my department to see what was going on! Yes, it is THAT good! My husband is reading it now and is reacting the same way. Jeff Strand is an author to keep your eye on. With this one book, he has won me as a huge fan! BRAVO! Excellent! ***
Gabriel Devlin Kessler:title - Landscape Of Demons and the Book Of Sara
The Book Of Sara tells the tale of Sara as a Jewish child and raised verbally abused by her mother. She never has control of her own life. She finally marries. Then comes Steve and the twins. Steve is the outcast of the family. Mother only wanted the girls.
That really set the scenario. The story mainly follows "Stevie". The story delves into his mind as he grows. His imagination fuels horrible and graphic images that leave the reader wondering about his sanity. The ending was like chaos and left me thinking long after I finished reading the story.
There is no way I can think of to briefly summarize the plot without giving it away. I can only say that this made me feel as if I were touring the mind of a madman, who seems so sane to the outside world. A product of his environment.
Click HERE to go to the Millennium Press site to read more about this book.***
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