Nothing is an awkward, sexually confused, effeminate, bullied teenager with a love for trash metal and melodrama. More specifically, he worships a band called Live Undead, an underground shock act fronted by scream technician Razor. The band stays under the radar, playing dodgy clubs and appealing only to the dregs of society. Simultaneously Live Undead comes to the attention of Eric, an older ex-fan of a band called Resurrection Cult. Years earlier Eric’s girlfriend, December, went missing after a Resurrection Cult show, and, having recognized Live Undead as Resurrection Cult rechristened, Eric sets out to find the truth about December’s disappearance. Separately Nothing and Eric realize that Live Undead has a terrible secret and eventually their paths cross in a spectacular way… or whatever.
Ah yes, vampires! Who doesn’t love them? Those mysterious, cum guzzling, emotionally tortured drama queens that dress like transvestites and go by pretentious names like Vanilla Whisper and Chocolate Sunset. What, you don’t like those kinds of vampires? Then Steve Warren’s debut novel, Live Undead, is definitely not for you. In fact, the appeal of this… Continue reading
Compelling short story anthologies are rarer than candy bars at fat camp, especially in the horror genre. Some few talented writers are remembered almost exclusively for their ability to make things seem worse than dubstep in the span of a few pages, H.P. Lovecraft of course being a prime example of this, but they are few and far between, and, in general, I prefer the warm caress of lobotomy to spending the years of my youth reading unimaginative shorts. Enter Joseph DiCristofano with Paths to Divinity.
In Paths to Divinity DiCristofano explores the afterlife, death, religion and the various ways that people can experience these and think about them. He does this deftly with changing writing styles, introducing unexpected humorous elements and blending genres ranging from horror to fantasy and drama. The first story, that of an archaeologist gone mad with his supernatural discoveries, has a distinctly Lovecraftian feel to it, whereas another, the story of the Spartan king Leonidas’ quest for vengeance, at times reminded me of George R.R. Martin, writer of the now famous Song of Ice and… Continue reading
In the little town of Coal Hollow it isn’t only the Great Depression that leaves people reaching for their Prozac bottles or, since Google insists Prozac had not been invented yet, their nether regions. That last bit is pure speculation. Below its quaint shops and quiet streets evil stirs. Two boys, Jimmy and George, inspired by the tales of psychic wonder woman Old Greta, disappear one night while out fishing for a legendary monster catfish “White Bane”. Unfortunately for librarian-cum-travelling-hobo Cooper he wanders into town just as the townsfolk become aware of their disappearance and so he gets his fair share of nervous eyeballing and not so subtle accusations. As the search for Jimmy and George continues it soon becomes apparent that something more sinister is afoot and that a terrible secret lies hidden beneath the town.
Where Darkness Dwells is the second novel by Glen Krisch. In essence his novel is a Great Depression era piece combined with an underground Never Never Land filled with titties, murder and ale. Only, if you leave Never Never Land your flesh doesn’t… Continue reading
When a sinister black bus rolls into the sleepy town of Labrador, Canada, townsfolk start disappearing, churches mysteriously burn down, and a bunch of grumpy foulmouthed ex-hockey playing coots have to play one final game to save their town, their souls, and their sanity.
Sudden Death, Overtime by Steve Vernon’s has it all: vampires, gory deaths, comedic relief, stubborn old people who don’t know when to quit, and the perfect wintery setting for the ultimate undead showdown. Mr Vernon is a pretty prolific novella-ist and has a number of other novella’s published, all available on Amazon. Vernon populates his world with believable characters, and, while the story is a marriage of both hockey and vampires, you don’t need to be an expert on either to enjoy it.
What you do have to know, however, is that this novella contains real vampires. There is no shimmering in the light, emotional angst or vampire romance to be had here. Vernon’s vampires have long teeth, stink of death, and they want to eat you and your babies. You know, like real vampires were… Continue reading
Jordan is not having a run of the mill shitty day. He is having a Ronald McDonald felt you up on your 12th birthday party kind of day. He somehow manages to lose the cat, his car is acting up and his girlfriend is giving off icy vibes. Just when he thinks things can’t possibly get worse, Jordan dies in an accident and finds that he is instrumental in a plot to end the world. I mean, fuck.
An engrossing blend of horror and urban fantasy, I really enjoyed Barry James’ easy writing style. Too often, authors tend to be overly verbose and seem to enjoy right-clicking on the thesaurus function to find the most “intellectual” word to use. James’ writing is natural. It flows and his descriptions are fun and effective. Jordan is not simply a vessel for the story, he is a rich, detailed character whom I enjoyed getting to know.
I admit that I was pleasantly surprised by Dreams of Darkness. The book overall is polished and accomplished, especially for a first novel. At times it is… Continue reading
Take two utterly unlikable characters, lock them up in a seemingly deserted mall and you have the basis behind SL Grey’s The Mall.
Rhoda is a supremely messed up addict with aggression issues who loses the child she was taking care of just as the mall is closing its doors. Daniel is the nerdy employee who she drags along on her mission to find this kid, whose name she can’t remember. As the lights dim and they get deeper into the bowels of the mall, weird things start to happen that defy all explanation.
The Mall is a fine example of the kind of talent that South Africa possesses. One half of SL Grey, Sarah Lotz, co-authored another novel, Deadlands, which I loved just as much as The Mall. The writing and dialogue is sharp and witty and the interaction and development of the two lead characters is brilliantly executed.
This novel is genuinely spooky. I always had issues with malls after hours and, after reading this, will probably make a point… Continue reading
Tales from an Apartment is a collection of short stories from Gerald Rice, also author of Fleshbags, a novella involving a gory zombie apocalypse that I could not put down. All of the stories share a common element: an apartment. But that is about all they have in common. Each story is unique and refreshing.
Again, Rice delivers with his sharp writing style and unique storytelling. It says a lot that I devoured this collection, as I normally shy away from short stories like a fat kid avoids rice cakes.
Tales from an Apartment had a Twilight Zone feel to it. I was a big fan of the series. Each episode was self-contained and had enough tension and twists to keep me hooked. These short stories are much the same. Rice really is a master at keeping the reader guessing.
I was also reminded of Roald Dahl. The man was simply brilliant at writing disturbing and macabre short fiction. If you enjoyed his stuff, give this a try. Seriously.
Tales makes for excellent reading. Be warned though that the… Continue reading
Mandy is your typical maladjusted high school student. All she wants to do is shed her extra pounds and fit in. So, like many people probably should, Mandy decides to swim off her fat. There is just a tiny problem with this, and it isn’t Mandy, because as we’ve established, she’s a fatty. Something is very wrong in the water of the community swimming pool, something besides the gallons of urine that flow freely into public swimming pools across the globe annually. It is a place that still bears the consequences of a teenage party gone wrong. Mandy’s evolution begins to take a turn for the very disturbing and deeply sinister.
Wet Linda reminds me of a hardcore version of one of those teen horror movies from the nineties and there are parts that channel Stephen King’s Carrie. The plot is decent and, while I found Mandy’s random internal monologue a bit much sometimes, the pace of the story was good, movie script like even.
There are some seriously disturbing scenes too. Parts where I actually shuddered and had… Continue reading