Thursday, 31 January 2013

LilithLilith by Toby Tate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hunter Singleton and his wife Lisa are media guests on the USS Gerald Ford, one of the newest and biggest ships of the U.S. Navy. While on board, a hurricane forms quickly and is heading straight for New York City, and the Ford is ordered to go there immediately for aide and assistance.

This is where things start to go wrong. Men and woman, both the media guests and those in service, are not acting they're normal selves and it seems that someone is out to sabotage not only the USS Ford, but the entire mission.

This sweeps Hunter and Lisa along with members of the Ford's crew into a battle against a creature that is out to overtake humanity and rule the world.

While my description is poor and makes the book sound like it has a cookie-cutter plot, I can assure you that it does not. What fascinated me about Lilith was the creature-features, so to speak, along with the storm and its after-affects upon a large city.

What you have with Lilith is an adventure that doesn't require too much thought. Although meticulously researched, this book doesn't require much from the reader. Just plug in and enjoy the ride. Lilith is simply a hell of a fun story with great characters and, as I mentioned, an awesome monster. Reminded me a bit of Harry Shannon mixed with a little Clancy. Recommended!

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Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Rain Dancers by Greg F. Gifune

The Rain DancersThe Rain Dancers by Greg F. Gifune
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Rain Dancers was a pleasant surprise. I have heard of Gifune's writing from the Goodreads group Horror Aficionados for some time now, but never really took the plunge. Recently, I joined the DarkFuse book club, and this is one of the novellas that I got for free for joining.

Getting the novella for free wasn't the pleasant surprise, though that was pleasant enough. No, what grounded me and got my head spinning was the great characterization and dialogue within this short, intense masterpiece.

Will and Betty return to Betty's hometown a year after her father's death to clean out his house and put it up for sale. On their first night a terrible rainstorm hits, and with it comes Bob Laurent. Bob claims that he's an old friend of Betty's father who moved away when Betty was only a teenager. He says they were so close that Betty used to call him "Uncle Bob." This appears to be true, because he knows an awful lot about Betty and her family.

The only problem is, Betty doesn't remember Bob Laurent. As the night, and Bob's visit, wears on, Betty slowly begins to remember Laurent. More importantly, she remembers what he is.

The Rain Dancers is tense from beginning until the end and I had a lot of fun reading it. It read very well as a novella, but I could see it being adapted as a play and/or a movie as well. A very engaging story and highly recommended.

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Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Mourning House by Ronald Malfi

The Mourning HouseThe Mourning House by Ronald Malfi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book I've read in 2013, and talk about starting the year with a bang! Sam Hatch has just suffered a serious tragedy and has found himself wandering the country. He finally stumbles upon a house in a small town and immediately buys it. He's not sure why the house speaks to him so much, but the residents of the small town all think that the it's haunted.

And maybe it is.

Because Sam begins to hear noises in it late at night, and when he goes searching for the sources, digging through the floorboards and plaster, he finds relics and items from his old, dead life.

What I enjoyed most about this story is that it reminded me a lot of classic weird/horror fiction by the likes of M. R. James and maybe Arthur Machen. It's a short and fun read filled with real characters, great dialogue, and a creepy atmosphere. Recommended!

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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Hoard by Alan Ryker

The HoardThe Hoard by Alan Ryker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alan Ryker is a completely new writer to me. I joined the DarkFuse book club recently and was introduced to his work at the club's forum. And I'm glad that I was because his novella, The Hoard, is something completely original wrapped up in a wonderfully told tale.

The Hoard is about Anna, an elderly hoarder who's found herself in trouble with Adult Protective Services. Her son and his family are neighbors and, although they all know that there's something wrong with Anna and the inside of her home, no one wants to be the one to enter her house. Or worse, confront her about it.

When Anna is finally forced to leave her home and live with her son, they all can't help but notice that there's something wrong with her. Something seriously wrong. What nobody knows just yet is that there's a new type of parasite dwelling within the dirt and mounds of garbage, and maybe even Anna herself.

The character's in The Hoard are all very well realized and they are one thing that makes this book shine. The characters, in fact, begin to feel like your own family and friends.

Another thing that makes the story shine is the personal and dramatic look into a family suffering from mental illness and severe hoarding obsessions. Without these two elements, this could have very well been nothing but another zombie-like story. The Hoard is nothing like another zombie-like story at all.

I highly recommend The Hoard if not for it's originality and fresh story telling, but for the people who populate it. Give it a try and I'll doubt you'll be disappointed.

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When We Join Jesus In HellWhen We Join Jesus In Hell by Lee Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When We Join Jesus In Hell is an emotional punch to the stomach with a couple of knees to the face for good measure. The word 'Hell' is mentioned in the book's description a few times, and I like to think that that is exactly what this novella is. A sudden decent into grief, rage, vengeance, and then, finally, Hell.

I don't want to go into the plot because it moves quickly and there are a few surprises along the way that will ruin it if I even begin with the set up. One thing I can tell you, however, is that the characters breath with life, the atmosphere is thick, and the prose is lyrical and full of symbolism. It's really quite a startling read that will draw you into its grim, darkly painted world.

Once there, it will no let you go. When We Join Jesus In Hell will haunt you long after you've read it. I finished it almost a month before writing this review, and I still think about it. Highly recommended.

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