Vampire novels are pretty hard to get right in the eyes of Horror fans. The market is so full of teenie crap and vampire romance novels that there are a few gems that can sometimes slip under the radar. Now i'm a slow reader, I have had the review copy of BLOOD OATH for a good while now, to the point that the third book in the series just came in the post a month or so back. What the hell, I thought in my usual rummage in the book collection, I may as well give it a go. I was met on the first few pages with an opening chapter that made my little horror loving heart smile.
As I read on I found myself falling in love with the vampire genre all over again and this is where Christopher Farnsworth gains a lot of respect from me, he has created a mythology from different mythologies. He uses all the different rules of vampires are mixes them up to create his own world, something which is hard to do in today's vampire novels. The characters really set the pace of the book, I was drawn into Cade's backstory and the rise of his new handler Zack from a normal white house suit to a fearless (well kind of) monster fighter gives you the feeling you are starting their adventure with them.
Zack is on a road of self discovery and this is shown very well in this novel. His relationship with Cade grows over time and we see this mutual respect between them which makes you want to keep reading on.
I love the frankenstien's monster styled story line here, we have a rivalry between Cade and the evil German scientist Konrad which we will no doubt see a return of and a secret company who keep an eye on all that goes on. It was like a TV show, something I think this novel could really become at some date.
BLOOD OATH has all the makes of a vampire classic, it mixes politics with arse kicking action. This is a must read for those sick of sparkly vampires and vampire sex romps.
Halo of the Nephilim by Dina Rae is the follow up to her successful book Halo of the Damned. I must confess that I hadn't read the first novel so was a bit confused in the beginning as to who all the characters were but I soon worked out who the main protagonists were. Amaros/Andel is the fallen angel who has to try and escape from the depths of hell and then there are the part nephilim, part human Easterhouse sisters, one of whom is Andel's daughter and has inherited his advertising business. Andel uses an angel worshipping religion called Yezidism for his own evil ends, mainly to produce a new race of angels/humans. He is an angel that has fallen foul of not just God but Satan as well and in the beginning of the book, he is captured by Satan and taken to hell where he is tortured with some really ingenious weapons I have to say. If you're squeamish, then you might want to give this book a wide berth and you'll never look at a stool in quite the same way again. Rae has clearly done her research for this book and her knowledge of the Nephilim and and other supernatural creatures is evident throughout.
If you are a fan of anything that involves angels and demons and in particular the cult of angels that is Yezidism then you will find this book interesting. The only thing that I did find jarring was the fact that Rae sometimes shows rather than tells, and I found some of the prose rather clipped and stilted because of it. Her imagination though is unbounded and her description prowess is very good. She does not back down from graphic horror, and if you like blood and guts and raw evil then I'd highly recommend this book.
Mannering’s debut novel brings a vision of the apocalypse set in the wastes of what was once Australia. Sheep run wild and woolly, remaining townships board themselves away from zombie hoards and a lone, unnamed courier wanders the brutal landscape, surviving on a day to day basis.
Tankbread are brain dead clones, mass produced by scientists holed up in the Sydney Opera House and fed en masse to the zombie scourge in an attempt to appease their voracious appetites in a bitter peace treaty. Our nameless hero finds himself tasked with transporting one such Tankbread across country in effort to find a cure for the virus that has decimated the world, before her fatal best before date ends. What follows is a witty, action packed adventure that draws upon classics such as Soylent Green, I Am Legend and with more than a hint of The Fifth Element as our hero begins to train the child like clone he comes to name Else in ways of self-defence and survival. His prickly wit and wry John McClane-esque one-liners soon rub off on her and for me this was the ultimate joy of the entire story. Else’s learning curve is tragic and comical, her childlike curiosity in a dangerous world is a rose amongst gnashing teeth. I found myself rooting for her throughout despite her numbered days, begging please don’t let Else die, please don’t let Else die . . .
Along the way our hero and his not vulnerable for long sidekick, face off against endless swarms of hungry zombies and meet a variety of strange characters that add a greater depth to the story including honourable knights, flying nuns, feral children and flesh hungry pigs. From cover to cover, Tankbread is a balls to the wall, brains on the ceiling, tongue through cheek action comedy that even manages to twang a few heartstrings along the way. Zombie fans need to jump on this now and give this novel the recognition it deserves.
EUROPE, 1925. The continent still licks its wounds from the devastating war that raged across it a few years before. Meanwhile, in London, an ageing professor has uncovered the clues to the whereabouts of pieces of an ancient statue, all but forgotten by history. When his investigations lead him to fear for his life, he enlists the aid of an unlikely group of allies; a retired colonel, a secretive academic, a magician’s wife, and a Yorkshire matriarch with her reluctant assistant. Together they will journey across Europe to recover the long-lost statue. They will travel in style, on the most luxurious train the world has ever seen. Unbeknownst to them, however, their activities have already attracted the attention of a sinister cult, desperate to acquire the artefact for their own dark purposes, and now a terrible creature, trapped for centuries, senses that the opportunity for revenge has come at last . . .
The Sedefkar Simulacrum has been found, an ancient artefact broken into pieces and spread throughout Europe. A group of friends find themselves thrust into an urgent race across a continent in order to collect the pieces before other; more nefarious individuals can lay their hands on them for their own devious means. What follows are the collected diaries of the friends as they travel across Europe and face off against various groups of conspiring evil during the winter of 1925.
First and foremost, I was furnished with a hardback copy of this book, which is almost as beautiful as the story itself. Nick Marsh has gone through some trouble to bring this labour of love to the world as it’s meticulously researched and adorned with many fantastical illustrations giving the journey undertaken a further dimension away from the page.
What starts as slightly murderous, though jolly romp in search of long lost artefacts, soon turns red with blood as the bodies pile up along the tracks. Despite being an entirely serious and accomplished novel, Marsh manages humour in the grimmest of circumstances and catches the parlance of the times as if he were there in the roaring twenties. It charges full steam ahead into clouds of blood and intrigue, taking no prisoners aboard, and leaving a trail of death in its wake. As the action flicks from the different viewpoints of the various characters and articles of media, the story is constantly refreshed throughout. With a pace that Hollywood would be envious of, I couldn’t find any faults throughout the entirety of the story.
I’ve never really read anything Lovecraftian before this, so I was expecting tentacles and dark ones within, but I was surprised to find an intriguing mystery set upon the Orient Express that charges along with a mixed bag of characters like “Indiana Jones and the Skin Thieves”, in which every character we meet brings something to proceedings instead of just being murder fodder. When characters die, you will miss them. The main group of characters are witty and not without their faults. Marsh slips them into history with ease making their adventure all the more real. In particular Colonel Neville Goodenough despite his age is a likable and rufty tufty, though slightly cantankerous adventurer. Betty Sunderland, the matriarch of the group brings a mischievous Miss Marple air to proceedings, her diaries helping to ground the story as we barrel along at breakneck speed.
If you like your horror a little more classy, or perhaps you’re a fan of everything and anything Lovecraft, period horror such as Dracula or H. G. Wells (or even a good mystery romp like Agatha Christie), I urge you to buy the ticket and take the ride on The Express Diaries. Thoroughly recommended.
“From the pages of The Horror Zine-the critically acclaimed online horror magazine-comes A FEAST OF FRIGHTS FROM THE HORROR ZINE edited by Jeani Rector. Featuring dark fantasy, mystery, pure suspense and classic horror, this book from The Horror Zine is relentless in its approach to basic fears and has twisted, unexpected endings . . .”
Right, if you’ve a hat, take it off. Take it off for Jeani Rector, the editor of this bloomin’ marvellous anthology. Whilst not every story is as fantastic as the last (they can’t all be my favourites), there are some truly great tales in here. With close to forty stories here, I’ll not go in-depth, but choose my favourites from the bulging abundance of the 473 pages.
Scratchings by Matt Leyson brings us a bastard love child of Guy N Smith and Clive Barker in this grisly creature horror that is equally atmospheric and pulpy.
Ghost Pit by Simon Clark. Having read Clark’s official sequel, ‘Night of the Triffids’ I’ve always been keen to read more from the man. I found some here, where he boils the claustrophobia of a mine down to a treacle, inciting a true fear of the dark and the spectres that lurk there.
The Soldier by Shaun Meeks conjures an Ambrose Bierce twist-a-thon about a defeated soldier on his way after suffering a brilliantly described wound. Visceral, unforgiving and taking no prisoners, this is one of the goriest tales by far.
What the Dark Does by Graham Masterton, a stalwart of creepy horror explains to us why children and adults should all be afraid of the dark. It’s not just what’s in the dark we should be scared of, but the dark itself.
Proper Payments by Phillip Roberts. The conspiracy behind closed doors is revealed to a prying landlord when he gets more than he bargained for when he figures blackmail is the best way to fleece a tenant of his fortune.
Incident On and Off Mountain Road by Joe R. Lansdale. Aside from watching Bubba Ho-Tep, I’ll confess that I’ve never read anything from Lansdale before. After reading this I’m very keen to delve into his back catalogue as it offers one of the best twists of the entire anthology. It involve your typical masked madman stalking a plucky young heroine through the deep, dark woods. As I said, there’s a twist, so I’ll say no more . . .
Germ Warfare by Eric J. Guignard. Despite its short length, this is a very punchy piece, giving us a first person account of the troubling OCD paranoia brought with a fear of dirt, bacteria and anything else beyond our sight. You’ll wash your hands numerous times after reading this.
Mouthpiece by Mike Goddard. An enjoyable if weird affair of a man with two mouths. I didn’t get it. But I liked it.
The Night Visitor by Joe McKinney. This entertaining and accurate account of a murder scene is interrupted by a troublesome body that can’t decide on death. An engaging little police procedural that could have easily been worked into a longer story.
The Audit by Susie Moloney. By drowning us in brilliantly worded jargon and a creeping, unnerving pressure, Moloney somehow makes tax and receipts some of the most terrifying things in the world. Strange, but written so well this was one of my favourites.
Scream Queen by Ed Gorman. Heavy on noir and our unending want and need to escape the small town we all find ourselves trapped in at some point in our lives. Gorman’s piece isn’t so much horror, but about the folk that love horror and the effect and devastating obsession it can have on their lives.
Me and My Shadow by Sandra Crook. With a strong message of anti-bullying, Crook hammers home the fact the everybody should be wary of who they pick on, as you never know who’s following them.
The Story of My First Kiss by Jeff Strand. Short tale here, Strand manages to be as sick as the rest in under two-thousand words in this subversive little tale that twists what we let children get away with.
As well as the introduction from horror master Ramsey Campbell kicking off proceedings; we have a series of articles which makes this fresher and more original than most traditional horror. John Gilmore takes us back to the dark of old Hollywood with his take on the Black Dahlia, Joe R. Lansdale tells us how he found his Southern voice whilst his daughter tell us about growing up with a horror writer for a father. Graham Masterton writes a heart-wrenching tribute to his wife that every spouse should read and Earl Hamner gives and interesting account of how he came to write some of the first episodes of ‘The Twilight Zone’.
Taking Feast of Frights further above and beyond the norm, we have a collection of thoughtfully gruesome poetry, notably the comical works of Dennis Bagwell and Ian Hunter.
With some amazing artwork by visionary artists spread throughout, Feast of Frights is one of the best short story collections I’ve read in a while. Somehow, Jeani Rector has nailed down the knack of choosing and compiling modern classics of the horror genre. If you enjoy your short stories, I urge you to pick up this buffet of bad little treats
‘Red Wine and Words is a collection of 16 short stories that will take you on an intoxicating journey through the darkness in life and up those elusive little streams of light. The unforeseen, the unpredictable, love, loss, horror and fantasy all await within.’
Before picking this collection I was already a fan of Emma Ennis from a short of hers I’d read in an anthology (This is 2012 is included here). Eager for more I snagged a copy of her debut collection and read on. To be honest not every story gelled with me, but the majority grabbed me from the get go and held on until the end. Here are my favourites of the bunch.
Dust and Bones- An ancient curse befalls a grave robber in a tale that harks back to the lessons to be learnt moralistic E.C comics as the quest for treasure can destroy anyone,
Chosen- A chilling ghost story of a woman haunted by a vehement demon, concluding with a damming twist that puts the current Hollywood poltergeist/possession genre to shame. Ennis shows her brilliance with this, taking no prisoners.
Frozen Outpost- An atmospheric western as a frontiersman faces off against a mythical she-beast, drawing on Native American folklore to great effect. Ennis steps out of her own time here, creating a period piece to make anybody wary of the snow.
Come On In- A nasty piece of work here as an unnamed alcoholic deals with more than just a monkey on her back, maybe the message here is beware the demon drink, but when it’s than just the drink changing us, what hope have we.
The Guardians- Jacob Palmer finds his sight reconfigured after an accident, allowing him to see a soul sucking race of creatures. What begins is an interesting premise to thwart their efforts and end their invisible reign over us.
This is 2012- A cacophony of disasters are categorised in a series of unconnected though vivid mini-stories that all spell out possible biblical endings for our sweet little planet.
Anywhere But Here- Despite a twist that could have been hidden more within the story, I loved the flow of this one and its eventual twist on the power of delusion
Friends Forever- A short sharp shocker about the danger of the friends we choose and the dangers they may lead us.
A Love less Ordinary- A noirish love story set in the aftermath of a bank robbery. I really enjoyed the setup of this little gem but I got the feeling Ennis held back on this. It had the potential to be a ballsy little actioner, but it soon degraded into a Mills and Boon romance.
Taming Beauty- Essentially a piss take of the fairy tale kingdoms of the Brothers Grimm, showing that there’s no such thing as a happily everafter.
Cornflower Blue- One of my favourites. Almost King-esque in its delivery about a kind hearted soul who helps a grieving mother find her missing son. To say more would ruin the sinister consequences of helping strangers.
You won’t find gory horror or gratuitous crimson spilling in this short story collection, but if you’re after more thoughtful discourse of the faults of human nature you shall be pleased. Whilst not ever story hits as hard as the rest, you can’t have weakness without strength. For those that like a more sedate and whimsical state of terror, do as Ennis prescribes; a glass of wine, a roaring fire and curl up with this little trove of tales
Jin Village by Vincent Stoia is a mighty impressive debut novel; from the impressive and atmospheric artwork and intriguing blurb on the back to the incredibly creepy and dark story.
Jin Village is an abandoned village in China where over the years murders and disappearances have occured until eventually the place was seemingly abandoned and rumours and legends grew in its place. Sean Yang is invited by his step-father Malcom Wang to join him on an archaeological dig to Jin Village in China and once there, strange things start to happen to the crew and they end up fighting for their lives and their sanity against an ancient witch, Mother Chen, who is determined that they not leave the village.
Jin Village is a book that has plenty of atmosphere and genuinely leaves you feeling creeped out. It contains strong antagonists in Sean, Malcom and Amy Scatino, a PHD student, and a very spooky and unnerving protaganist in Mother Chen. Mother Chen's story is a tragic tale of poverty and abuse amidst the barbaric tradition of female foot binding. Sympathy lies with her for a while but her need and will for revenge turns her into the most chilling of adversaries.
It is obvious that Stoia knows what he's talking about when it comes to Chinese tradition and culture and it shines through in this book and really adds some weight to this horror tale. The detailed telling of foot binding will leave you squirming and horrified.
I really enjoyed this book and while there are some issues with Mother Chen in the end of the book that surprised me I thought this was a striking debut and I would definitely read more from this author.
The Venus Complex, by Barbie Wilde
, follows the main character’s descent into madness by way of his diary. After a car accident, Michael is left to rehabilitate physically and mentally. While his body may have healed, his mind takes a turn for the worse. A college professor and art lover, he puts his life on hold and immerses himself in the study of becoming a serial killer. Plagued by his dreams, he acts out on his most depraved thoughts, which in turn spurs on the darkness just a little bit more. He meets Elene, and so begins the struggle between his dual lives.
Barbie Wilde has an excellent grasp of the male POV as she walks us through the creation of a killer. She takes the reader on a journey into the mind of a twisted individual, as he comes to terms with who and what he really is.
This tightly-written page-turner is not for the faint of heart. It contains some (amazingly written) graphic sex and death scenes.
Step into the shoes of a serial killer and pick up your copy of The Venus Complex paperback
or Kindle edition
Reviewed by Mandy DeGeit
Author of This Only Happens In The Movies & She Makes Me Smilehttp://mandydegeit.wordpress.com/
Vincenzo Bilof’s most recent book, Necropolis Now – Zombie Ascension follows well-developed characters who are each dealing with their own personal issues during a zombie infestation in Detroit. When all hell breaks loose, there are reports of rioting on the radio but no one seems to really understand what’s going on. The characters involved are quick to figure out the city is being overrun by zombies as they realize man is attacking (and eating) man out on the street.
Vega, Miles and Bob are guns for hire. The mercenaries are sent into the mess that is Detroit to find a soldier named Jim Traverse and bring him back alive.
Desmond and Jerome are brothers, however they couldn’t be any more different from one another.
Griggs, the once detective turned porn producer, is trying to make ends meet now that he’s lost his star performer, Mina. She was committed to a mental institution to help her deal with a very dark secret.
As the story pans out, the characters chosen paths become intertwined in one another, weaving each storyline into a much more complex situation.
While I found the novel to be quite entertaining as a read, this is Zombie Ascension – Book One, the end did leave me hanging a little. However, I enjoyed Vincenzo’s storytelling in this first book, so I am now eagerly waiting for Book Two’s release date.http://mandydegeit.wordpress.com
13 Drops Of Blood
is a short story collection written by James Roy Daley and published byBooks Of The Dead Press
Gory and graphic, Daley’s writing takes the reader into his world of intense horror with the thirteen stories contained within these pages.
This collection offers something for everyone, as the author covers different themes with his stories, including horror, monsters, zombies, sci-fi/fantasy and dark humour. While every story may not appeal to all readers, 13 Drops Of Blood offers a broad selection of stories and every one should be able to find one (or more) they like.
Daley’s excellent ability to describe the scene draws the reader into the story as even the minor details of the story are brought to life on the page.
Daley’s writing is sure to strike a chord in horror aficionados everywhere.
Some of the stories that deserve additional mention are: The Exhibition, Baby, Jonathan Vs The Perfect Ten and Humpy and Shrivels.
Here’s a quick description of the stories contained in this collection.
The Exhibition: Scott Beach is a horror fanatic, he and his wife Penny have paid 200$ for tickets to a one night only, horror show. The exhibition was designed to scare people, but as Scott and Penny move through the strange rooms, they start to realize the show is not at all what they expected it to be.
The Confession: George Lewis is being held for questioning. Police officers, Martin and McKean, aren’t sure what to make of the supernatural events George relates to them in his story.
Baby: Richard has a secret only his best friend Steven knows about. Not even Richard’s wife, Jennifer, is privy to the information. When Jennifer announces her pregnancy, Richard realizes he’s running out of time to share his secret with her.
A Ghost In My Room: When visited by the ghost of his wife, who’s still alive, the main character must decide what to he’s supposed to do with the information he’s been given.
Jonathan Vs The Perfect Ten: Jonathan Weakly owns a zoo, but not just any zoo. The animals contained within are genetically bred to mammoth proportions. When the town becomes split on whether or not the zoo should stay, Jonathan and the town mayor come up with a solution.
The Hanging Tree: The Hanging Tree carries with it a legend and for that reason, hasn’t been used in a long while. When Mort is charged with shooting the sheriff, Doc and Red have opposing views to where Mort should be hung. Do they use the town square or ignore the legend and use the Hanging Tree?
Thoughts Of The Dead: David Kyle McClure is dead, but he still has a story to tell. Held in a room by the military, he explains how he went from family man to one of the walking dead.
Summer Of 1816: This story takes the reader into a world based on facts and offers a tale of how Mary Shelley may have come up with the idea of her famous novel, Frankenstein.
Fallen: Alex Greenly is trapped on the roof of a building. As the living dead close in, he comes to the realization that he’s left with very few options.
The Relation Ship: A boy leaves his friends behind to travel the ocean with a woman named Lilith on a ship built from love. As years pass, the boy comes to realize nothing is what it seems.
Suffer Shirley Gunn: Shirley Gunn’s dog, Blueberry, has something important to tell her. Shirley isn’t prepared to hear her dog talk, nor is she ready for the message Blueberry ha to deliver.
Humpy And Shrivels: A dark, comedic tale about two men, Gusto and Hubert. Both men suffer from their own physical deformity, until one night when they encounter a monster in a graveyard who changes everything.
Curse Of The Blind Eel: Jonathan and William are on a mission to destroy the Count, an age old vampire. The brothers have a solid plan, that is until William’s bowels get in the way.