Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Psychopath for Hire by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Nathan Cole. He runs a group for people who have tried to commit suicide, and runs a 'special' one to one service for the more determined. Enter broken, alcoholic ex-detective Martin Andrews. He has been told about the service by the only client Nathan let go. What he uncovers is interesting to say the least....

This is a stand-alone book, but you will understand much more of the back story if you have previously read Art and Seed. I felt odd rooting for the bad guy, (Made me feel like I was reading Peter again!) but that is exactly how I felt whilst reading. It is told from Nathan and Martin's POV in alternating chapters. The gore is there in spades, as is Matt's 'special' brand of sickness. It was nice to see Andrews's story rounded off, and there was a couple of cameo appearances from old favourites. All in all, a must read with a kick-ass twist in the end.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Blackout by Tim Curran

This is the story of Jon. He wakes up after a neighbourhood party to find his wife missing and a bizarre storm raging. He ventures outside to find his wife and fumbling around in the dark he comes across strange snake like cables strewn across his garden. Then the lights go out and all hell breaks loose...

I have read a few of Tim's books now and none of them have disappointed me. This was no exception - full of atmosphere and menace. I could feel Jon's panic as he tried in vain to search for his wife, and his grief at eventually coming to terms with her inevitable fate. I must admit this one was so descriptive in places I was looking over my shoulder, and I certainly did not read it with the lights off! Another winner in my eyes.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Angel of the Abyss by Ed Kurtz

This is the story of Graham. He is asked by Leslie Wheeler to come to Hollywood to restore some old and forgotten cine reels. When he arrives, with his friend Jake in tow, he finds her dead and a mystery on his hands. This is just the beginning of his nightmare, which has him knee deep in dead bodies, age old secrets and the whereabouts of a leading lady who has been missing for over 80 years.

This was quite slow to start and I found it a little difficult to get into, and I nearly gave up. I am so glad I didn't however as I found myself immersed in a complex noir mystery that kept me page turning. I like the dual storyline, giving us a glimpse into Graces life in parallel to the main storyline. The characters were solid, and I enjoyed the development of Jake and Grahams friendship over the course of the book. This is another great DarkFuse title.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Ghosts of Eden by Keith Deininger

This is the story of Kayla and Garty. Kayla comes from an abusive, neglectful family and Garty is a hopeless drug addict. Unbeknownst to themselves they are brother and sister, and have been sent to stay with their strange and enigmatic Uncle Xander. Their Uncle believes that Kayla has powers and Garty is there to be his assistant. They both have no idea though that Xander has other, nefarious plans...

This was really, really trippy! There were several threads and realities converging on each other and at first it was difficult to work out what went where, but once I had a handle on where the story was going, I had an absolute blast reading it. I loved the characters, and the 'otherworldliness' lent an interesting twist to the story.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Embrace of the Dead by Ian Woodhead

This is the story of Dean, a scientist working in a secret underground lab in London. Something has gone wrong and all his coworkers are turning into the undead. He returns home to the sleepy village of Seeton to try and work on a cure, unaware the horror is following him and that the villagers are highly suspicious and mistrustful of strangers. Together with another returnee, Alison, they work together to try and solve the problem.

This is another belter by Ian. He is fast becoming the master of the zombie genre, I have yet to read one of his that I haven't liked. Once again the characters are believable and tangible. The village of Seeton was lifelike and just sleepy enough to be realistic. The story flowed nicely, and I found myself rooting for Dean and Alison to get through the horror intact. There were the obligatory odious characters you just have to love to hate and Ian does seem to make them particularly obnoxious! The ending was satisfying and I wasn't disappointed.

I recommend this as a must read for fans of Ian's and also to newcomers as it is not your usual run of the mill zombie slash fest.

Disclaimer....this is my review for ZombieDead as this is the same story re-edited and with a new cover and title.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Sleeping Dead by Richard Farren Barber

This is the story of Jackson. He is intent on leaving his dead end job and goes for an interview in a prestigious company. During the interview one of the directors begins to act strangely, and as Jackson is leaving the building afterwards, he witnesses the director throwing himself out of a top floor window. This is the first of a spate of suicides that rocks the city, and as Jackson tries to find his girlfriend he comes across another survivor. Together they must get to the bottom of whats going on, whilst trying to ignore the voices in his head telling him he is better off dead....

This was an interesting idea and a great story. I was hooked from the first page and the pace belted along and carried me right to the end. Although the bulk of the story was just two characters, they worked well together and reeled me in. The horror was subtle, and that made the story all the more creepy. Rather than out and out gore, most of it was psychological and that made it worse! This was another great addition to the DarkFuse library.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Lone Bostonian by Sean Sweeney

Set 100 years into the future. This is the story of Terry. He works for a company that makes inexpensive tablets, but at a terrible cost for mankind. When his girlfriend is moved to another department, he vows to follow her. When he gets transferred there he notices something is very wrong with his girlfriend. This is just the beginning of the nightmare. When Boston is suddenly obliterated, he emerges from a subway to find he is the last person alive. He begins a journey to find other survivors, and to wreak revenge on the culprits...

This was a thrilling story. I was gripped from the first page, and couldn't put the book down. The idea was an interesting one, and one that could so easily happen which makes for unsettling reading! I felt for Terry as he made his perilous journey to find other survivors, and his devastation at losing everything that mattered to him. The pace was spot on and the ending was brilliant. A good sci-fi thriller that kept me glued to the page.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Control by Matt Shaw

This is the story of a group of 12 people who go into a Big Brother style house as part of a brand new televisual experiment. From the beginning it is clear that this will be no ordinary 'confinement' experience. From the first Elimination however, things go decidedly downhill..

There are many Big Brother type stories on the market, but no one has done it quite like Matt. The question posed here is 'How far would a human being go, if pushed to their utter limits.' I was grabbed from the beginning and pulled along at breakneck pace until the final twist at the end. The characters all felt real, and I could identify with them and their horror at the situation they found themselves in. Another blinder by Matt. His genius just never lets up!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Factory Town by Jon Bassoff

This is the story of Russell Carver, he is looking for his daughter Alana, who has gone missing. He ends up in Factory Town, a cesspool of mayhem and depravity, acting on a lead that she may be there. Once he arrives however, things get really strange.

This was a surreal, mad rush from beginning to end. Each of the characters was depraved in some way and that made the story creepy as well as trippy! I enjoyed this once I got into it, but it's not for everyone as it uses Jon's unique style of writing - speech with no speech marks. This alone can take some getting used to! The story itself is a surreal journey with nothing really making sense until the very end. We start off with a man shooting himself and no! I'm not going to spoil it for you, that you are going to have to find out for yourselves!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Elderwood Manor by Christopher Fulbright & Angeline Hawkes

This is the story of Bruce and Cody. Bruce has lost his wife, and is down on his luck. When summoned to visit his old house by his mother he sets off immediately, thinking she will help them out of their hole. His beat up old car just makes it to the outskirts of the grounds of the house and they have to walk the final part. Freezing cold, they enter the house in the hopes of warming up - that's when the real horror starts, however....

I love a haunted house story and this one gripped me from the first page. This is the first book I have read by this team of authors, and they grabbed me with the sense of dread and menace that oozed from every page. The horror started when Bruce arrived at the Manor, and didn't really let up until the end. The pace was relentless and the story flew along - I couldn't put it down. This is totally for fans of haunted house horrors that focus more on suggestion than out and out gore.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ceremony of Flies by Kate Jonez

This is the story of Kitty, a waitress in a casino. In a rash moment after an argument with her boss, she quits and rips off her headdress and shoves it at him. Fearing she has killed him, she teams up with a man she met in the bar, Rex. They set off for Mexico, killing a few people along the way, and picking up a child and his dog. Knowing she has to change as she is responsible for the child now, Kitty tries to calm down but all the while they are seemingly running from something much larger...

This was an interesting concept, told through the eyes of Kitty, or Emily as is her real name. I can't say too much or I shall give the game away but there are little clues popped into the story at different places. I enjoyed reading this, but not as much as some I have read from DarkFuse. The pace was good, keeping me glued to the page, and the characters all suitably damaged. All in all, it was an ok read but not a great one.

Friday, 10 October 2014

The Last Infection by Michael W. Garza

This is the story of Jake and Alicen. They are alone in the world after their parents sacrificed themselves to a zombie horde so they could get away. They are running from 'The Infected' a new strain of zombie that isn't quite dead but has a bloodlust all the same. They need to get to Catalina, where their Aunt and Uncle are, and where they believe they will be safe. On the way they bump into Chris, an ex-junkie, who has only ever cared for himself, and Jenn who has lost her family and is on the way to Vegas to try and find her parents. The four of them team up and make their way across country, meeting up with others at times, always trying to keep one step ahead of the relentless chase of The Infected.

I really enjoyed this. It was nice to see a different slant on the zombie genre. The idea that people are 'infected' and have an insatiable bloodlust and show intelligence, until they die and THEN become traditional zombies is new and refreshing. The pace was relentless and I read the whole book within a couple of sittings. I loved the characters and identified with them totally and was there every step of the way with them on their treacherous journey. Some scenes were quite scary, and I found myself looking behind me a couple of times... The ending was great and seemed to leave it open for a sequel, so I shall keep an eye for that. Now I have to read the prequel! This is the first of Michael's books that I have read, and will certainly be on the look out for more.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Tortured by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Dee and Ryan, and their two children Claire and Jen. Falling on hard times, they find themselves having to move to a new house. Making friends with the people next door, they learn there is a serial killer on the loose, torturing and dismembering his victims. When Ryan's work colleague goes missing things come to a head, and Mike, their neighbour, suggests they break into their other neighbour because he seems a bit weird. It is a decision Ryan will come to regret for the rest of his life...

This one is another of Matt's extreme novels. Starting each chapter with thoughts from the serial killer, this explores the idea of who is a bigger monster, the torturer or the vigilante bent on destroying him. As usual the pace belted along, making me quite unable to put it down. Some parts were definitely not for the faint hearted or squeamish, and I found myself cringing in parts. The characters were solid, and once again there was a nice unexpected twist at the end. I also like the fact that Matt has taken a leaf out of Stephen King's book and planted 'Easter Eggs' throughout the story. Nice to bump into characters from other stories.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Seed by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Mark and Becky. Becky has grown distant over the last couple of weeks and Mark, fearing the worst confronts her about it. Nothing could have prepared him for the awful truth however, and now they must find a way to get on with their lives in the aftermath of what has happened.

This is a typical Matt Shaw extreme horror. There were some horrific moments, but it wasn't out and out in your face gory. It was also a psychological horror. A sort of 'what would you do if....' type of scenario. It was all the more chilling as it was based on the sort of thing that could happen to any couple. The characters were real and it was nice to see Detective Andrews from Art in the thick of things again. The pace belted along and once again I found myself quite unable to put the book down. The twist at the end was unexpected and rounded things off nicely. More please Matt!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Exiled by William Meikle

This is the story of John Grainger. He is the detective in charge of investigating the disappearance of several young girls. With the girls seemingly disappearing into thin air and the brutalised bodies of swans left at the scene, he has nothing to go on and more girls go missing. His brother, Alan is a reporter and he stumbles on the story. Deciding to come at it from a different angle, they come together and find there is far more to this than initially meets the eye. Will they find out where the girls have gone, or will more go missing before it is too late?

This starts off as a police procedural crime thriller, but about a third of the way through it takes a sharp turn into the supernatural. The swing though, is so subtle, it feels perfectly natural. The pace is fast and kept me glued to the book over 2 sittings. The characters were spot on and the addition of gritty Scottish slang added another layer of realism. I have read many of Willie's books now, and always look forward to a new one with baited breath. This was no exception. I cannot wait for another new one now!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Sunblind by Michael McBride

This is the story of Mayra. She is an illegal immigrant who is attempting to cross the inhospitable Sonoran desert to get into the US. Along with the rest of her party, she soon realises it is not just the searing heat they need to worry about, as they are picked off one by one by an unseen enemy. Enter a Federal Agent and his team who stumble over her near dead body. Puzzled by a warning she has carved into her skin, can they find out what happened before they are picked off themselves?

This was brutal and claustrophobic. It was all the more moving because it was based in 'real life'. The characters were solid and the story well paced and tight. I enjoyed it, and had, I have to say, some of the scariest, most claustrophobic cave scenes I have ever read! I have read a few of Michael's books now, and they never disappoint. I am eagerly awaiting the next one!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Art by Matt Shaw & Michael Bray

This is the story of a serial killer bent on creating a gallery of gruesome displays, and the detective assigned to catch him. Before too long the chase starts to become personal. Can Detective Andrews catch him before anyone else dies, and before his family are at risk?

This was an all out no holds barred serial killer thriller/horror. I loved it, and read it in two sittings, and loved it so much I read it twice! Written equally by Matt and Michael, it wasn't difficult to tell whose role was whose, and they clearly had great fun writing the book. The characters were solid, and I love a flawed hero, and Detective Andrews was certainly that! The pace rocketed along, the level of gore was just right. The ending was unexpected and shocking and fitted in well with the story. I recommend this for fans of serial killer thriller or horror fans.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Created, The Destroyer by Warren Murphy & Richard Sapir

This is the story of Remo, a well respected cop who has been framed for a murder he didn't commit and now finds himself on the electric chair. Given a chance of survival by a mysterious monk with a hooked hand, he is now an invisible assassin for a company that does not exist.

This was originally written over 40 years ago and it has stood the test of time well. Now being republished for a new generation of readers, I was asked to read and review it. I thoroughly enjoyed this, it was a great romp with a subtle sense of humour running through it. The story belted along at a nice pace, and the characters were solid. I understand there are many many more books in this series, so I had better get reading! I recommend this for fans of thrillers with a vein of humour running through them.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Bone Architect by Ian Woodhead

This is the story of a mask. The mask holds the spirit of an entity whose only wish is to turn friends against friends and disembowel them to get at their bones to make her furniture. Enter four friends who have gone to the house where the mask is hidden, as they have heard it's a murder house. Being horror movie fans, they thought it would be good fun to explore. Now something or someone is stalking them and picking them off one by one. Can they stay alive long enough in a house that is constantly changing around them, to find out what or who is after them?

This was amazing! There was something to make me jump at every corner. Ian has gone to some pretty dark places with this book, and I love it. The characters were solid and believable and the pace was utterly blistering. This is relatively new territory for Ian, or at least he hasn't written this type of book for a while, so please may we have more? I totally recommend this for fans of 80's schlock 'pick em off one by one' type horrors!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Relic of Death by David Bernstein

This is the story of a briefcase, that is the harbinger of death, chaos and evil. With the ability to grant its possessor their greatest desires, death and mayhem follow in its wake. It is found in a seemingly empty house by two mob enforcers, they look inside and find millions of dollars worth of diamonds. They steal it, and from there it passes from person to person until the Keeper (the owner of the house) can find it again and lock it back up.

This was an interesting concept. It was many stories within one story that linked up at the end. Each new section followed on from the previous flawlessly and you were never in any doubt as to who was where and when. The pace flowed at a cracking pace, and I read it in one sitting, after only intending to half as I needed an early night! I thoroughly enjoyed this and recommend it totally as a quick, chilling horror read.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Hellfire's Judgement by Linda L. Barton

This is the story of Sherry Jeffries. She goes to the shops for her mum one day and doesn't come back for hours. When she does come back however, her clothes are all torn and she is soaking wet. She says she was kidnapped, beaten and raped but refuses to name her attacker. Some days on a young lad named Todd comes round with flowers and Sherry goes berserk, naming him as her attacker. They go to court and astonishingly he gets acquitted. Sherry's grandfather, Clay, is disgusted, and fearing that his other granddaughter or possibly other girls may be at risk, he decides to teach Todd a lesson he will never forget....

This is one of those books that stays with you after you have finished it. In fact now, nearly 24 hours after I have read it, I am still turning it over in my mind. If you are a parent, or grandparent then it will haunt you and make you question whether you would do the same. I cried when Todd was acquitted - my heart went out to the family, whom you couldn't help but love. The pace flowed and despite the difficult subject I couldn't put it down, needing to find out what happened at each step. Would I do what Clay did? I'm not sure, but I certainly commend him for his spirit and family loyalty!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Deceiver by Kelli Owen

This is the story of Matt. He has just buried his wife, Tania, who has been murdered. On going through her suitcase (she travelled around a lot as part of her job) he finds a notebook, with dozens of strange entries in it, rather like a diary. As he reads deeper into the 'diary', he suddenly begins to think that maybe his wife wasn't the woman he thought she was...

This was a very cleverly written story that sucked me in from the first line. The pace was relentless and I read it in two sittings. At first it looked cut and dried but about halfway through it took a turn that knocked me sideways. I was sitting looking at my Kindle going 'Wait.....WHAT??'. Then at the end there was one final twist that left me breathless. I felt for Matt as he tried to come to terms with this new found knowledge of his wife. I really enjoyed this, and it was an excellent debut novella and a worthy addition to the DarkFuse library.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Savage by Gary Fry

This is the story of Daryl. He is a cognitive scientist, and has been to a conference. His girlfriend is expecting him back but he decides to go for a drive instead. He runs out of petrol and his car comes to a stop in the middle of nowhere. Spotting a village not too far in the distance he decides to walk there and see if he can get some petrol. Once he arrives however, his real problems start....

I enjoyed this. Yes it was full of big words (that I may have had to use a dictionary for!) but I think that was deliberate to represent the rigidity and inflexibility of the lead character. The book itself was almost a lesson in the extremes of human nature, of discipline and indiscipline. The ending was nice, with lessons learned and Daryl going forward as a far more relaxed individual. A good story that I read in 2 sittings.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Dark Father by James Cooper

This is the story of Jimmy, Frank & Mack. Told in three distinct threads, it is the tale of a man hell bent on pursuing his wife and son across country, of a father descending into madness after the abduction of his son, and of a man in a psychiatric institution who sees his father in everyone he meets.

This was very cleverly written story. At first it appeared to be three different stories about three different men, but they all came together in a surprising ending. The characters were easy to relate to, and their situations were those that any of us could find ourselves in. The pace was spot on, and I read the book in two sittings. This is the first book I have read by this author, and judging by the standard of this, I shall be looking out for more....this was amazing!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Deadlock by Tim Curran

This is the story of Charlie Petty. He is afraid of nothing and no one. Unfortunately, he is also a compulsive gambler, and constantly loses at it. He is summoned to the office of one of the loan sharks he owes money to, Arturo. In return for wiping out his debt of $50,000 he is invited to spend one night on the supposedly haunted Yvonne Addams. He agrees, thinking it will be an easy night. He soon comes to regret that decision however...

I am such a fan of Tim's work. He weaves incredible detail into his novellas, so you feel you are there. In this case, on the boat trapped with Charlie as his paranoia mounts and the hallucinations take their toll. I'm not ashamed to say I read this mostly with the light on, the dank, claustrophobic setting sent shivers down my spine! It was a fast paced and well written story, another great addition to the DarkFuse library and another great story from Tim.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Clown by Matt Shaw

This is the story of a damaged individual. Trying to hide the madness he knows is breaking to break through - he performs as a clown at children's parties. Slowly but surely though, the madness is taking over - can he keep it buried or will it burst through, and what will be the consequences?

This was a very clever story. Seen entirely through the eyes of a man suffering from a degenerative madness. We watch helpless as the madness takes over and can't help but feel for him as he fights to regain control. Matt has once again ensured that we get inside the characters head and feel what he feels. This was not as graphic as some of Matt's books but no less chilling for that. I wasn't especially happy with clowns before I sat down to read this (in one go I might add) and my view has only been strengthened!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

A Beautiful Madness by Lee Thompson

This is the story of a family racked with tragedy. Eddie Woods is an ex-governor who has fallen into disgrace after bashing his wife's head in with an iron pipe after having a breakdown. Now a Senators son has been murdered on Eddie's lawn and he is suspected of being involved. It is up to his drug dealing son to oppose the police and get to the bottom of things himself, and how his druggie sister fits in to the jigsaw.

I sat down to read this and I read a quarter of it and thought 'OK I will read some more tomorrow.' I did and ended up reading the rest of the book last night. I was caught up in the lives of the Woods, and all their flaws and I had to get to the bottom of how and why. There were many threads to the story and it was totally narrated by the son, Sammy. this was an interesting approach as he narrated bits that he couldn't have been present for! There was quite a twist about half way through that knocked me sideways and changed how I viewed the book after that. This was a fantastic mystery that had me gripped.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Reaping the Dark by Gary McMahon

This is the story of Clarke. He is a getaway driver. He has been called to do a job but unfortunately it has gone horribly wrong, and leaving 3 bodies in his wake he drives off. He finds a bag of money in his car and decides to start a new life with his pregnant girlfriend. Then she gets kidnapped and he must find her before something awful, and not human gets to her first....

This was quite a creepy story, the creature everyone was running from sent shivers down my spine..Gary's description of it was very detailed and in my head became something quite scary! The pace flowed and I got into it right from the beginning, and got lost in the story very quickly. Although the was only four characters the story was taut and well written. I previously read Gary's Nightsiders and was eagerly awaiting his next DarkFuse release and this did not disappoint.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Ash & Bone by Lisa von Biela

This is the story of Eileen Maroni and Frank Foster. Eileen is running from her past and ends up in sleepy Cromwell Bay. Deciding to put her past behind her, she ends up buying the Harbor Motel. Frank is driving home from his best friends funeral and ends up at the motel for a rest. Soon their lives will clash in a major way as they try to find out what is wrong with Room #8...

I enjoyed this, it was a gentle horror mystery type of tale. Not as horrific or gory as some I have read but enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, any more than that I think would have spoiled the overall effect. The pace started off slowly, allowing me to become immersed in the story, but I think it finished off a little short. This didn't ruin the story at all, but I feel it could have been expanded a little. That being said it was still a well crafted and thoroughly enjoyable novella. I look forward eagerly to Lisa's next release.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Fairy by Shane McKenzie

This is the story of Cecelia. She works as a Doula, assisting women at the birth of their children. Her greatest wish is to have a child of her own, but she is unable to conceive. Having exhausted all conventional methods, her boss and close friend Judy, gives her another option. Sadly it comes with consequences.....

I loved this novella. I love this type of genre, it is my guilty pleasure and I read this in one sitting. This took me to places I wasn't expecting it to, and back again. The idea itself was simple - be careful what you wish for - but it was so much more than that and had teeth! This is not a fairy tale, be warned. It is warped....and wonderful.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

An Invitation to Drink.....or to Die by Sean Sweeney

This is the story of Benedict Morton. He has hired Connor Wood because he is convinced someone in his family is out to kill him and claim their inheritance. He stages a family gathering with Connor as guest of honour. Sure enough by morning Benedict is dead, but which of the siblings did it? It is up to Connor to find out....

This started off with a bang and drew me in immediately. All the guests were locked in and the story tells of the hunt to find the killer. The characters were all solid, with one or two being suitably obvious as to being the killer, or were they red herrings? The pace flowed well, and it was a novella, it was a nice quick read.  The ending was a surprise, due to a few well placed red herrings. A nicely done whodunnit murder novella.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Love Life by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Kim & Kirk. Kim is a prostitute and Kirk a potential client looking for companionship. Kim goes to his house, but it doesn't end well and she ends up running off. Later on that night she is severely beaten and she rings Kirk for help. He picks her up from the hospital and they spend the rest of the night sharing secrets and they find they have more in common than they at first thought...

This was a quick read and typical of Matts style. I got invested in the characters and inside their heads. I felt for Kim (my namesake!) and the situation she has allowed herself to get involved in due to her circumstances. Kirk seemed like a gentle guy who only wanted to help. Then came the mother of all twists that totally derailed me. Well done Matt, you got me again. I understand this is to be a prequel of sorts to an as yet unreleased work. I am looking forward to its release eagerly if this is anything to go by!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Rogue by Greg F. Gifune

This is the story of Cam Horne. He has the perfect job & the perfect wife. In short, his life is everything he could hope for. Something is going wrong though and his perfect life is unravelling at the seams. He is awoken by a car alarm every morning and see a strange man in his back yard. After being put on paid sick leave due to uncharacteristic behaviour and having terrible nightmares he fears he may be going insane and his perfect world may be collapsing around him....

This was a really good dark, horror. Greg has this ability to draw you in from the beginning and invest in the characters before taking you on a wild ride. I really got inside Cam's head and felt his fears and worries. When I got to the end there was a totally unexpected twist that knocked me sideways. I love Greg's writing and will continue to look out for his work.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

When we Fall by Peter Giglio

This is the story of Ben. He has lost his best friend and worst enemy in quick succession and is at his lowest ebb. All that is keeping him going is his filmmaking and his burgeoning friendship with a neighbour, Aubrey. When he picks up his latest film from the developers, he suddenly starts seeing strange visions and has terrible nightmares.What is going on, and how can he stop it?

This is the second novella I have read by this author and I enjoyed both very much. This is more dark than horrific and comes across as a coming of age/paranormal sort of story. The pace was consistent and the characters sound. It started off quite light and then we were taken down a very dark tunnel until the end when all the pieces fell into place. I enjoyed this so much I read it in one sitting. I hope that there is more to come from this author from DarkFuse as I am loving his style!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

A House in the Country by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Jess and Dean and their two children - Sophie and Caroline. They move into their dream house in the country that harbours a deep secret - the previous owners wife committed suicide in the spare room. From the first day strange things begins happening, strange smells, things moved around. Does the ghost of the wife still reside there or is the truth far more sinister?

I read this in one sitting, it was that good, but it was also a quick read with a plot that took you quickly. I was drawn in straight away and identified with the family. Featuring a small cast, the story was tight, chilling and utterly creepy. From the first page you are grabbed and as is Matts style, you care for the characters until the ultimately shocking twist at the end. In truth I would have liked this longer but that didn't detract from the quality of this excellent novella. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Porn by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Victoria. All she wants is to be taken seriously as an actress. in desperation she falls into the adult movie business and soon begins making a name for herself. Lured by the promise of large amounts of money, she takes on a job that has far darker connotations than she could ever have imagined. Suddenly she finds herself fighting for her life, and on finally escaping has only revenge on her mind for the ones who hurt her....

This is an outstanding novel from Matt. It is gut wrenching, uncompromising and not for the faint hearted. You are drawn into Victorias world from the beginning and see every horror through her eyes. This is a very descriptive book and as is typical of Matt, there are many twists until the end, which is almost guaranteed not be 'happy ever after'. Every time I read a new book of Matt's I think 'Yes, this is my favourite, it's the best yet' and this one is no exception! 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Becoming by Jacob Rayne

This is the story of Luke. His family were murdered by a psychopathic clown when he was a small child. He went to live with a friend and his life settled down until a devastating event shaped the rest of life when he was sixteen. Things for Luke will never be the same again....

This is another belter from Jacob. We were plunged into the action from the getgo and it did not let up until the final explosive page. Jacobs wonderfully descriptive writing leaves you breathless and wanting more. The story was a good one, with many twists and turns along the way. Some of the methods of killing were very inventive, and decidedly gory! The ending was unexpected and Jacob took us on a couple of wrong turns on the way there. I totally recommend this for fans of Jacob and of dark horror alike.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Darkfuse #2 - Darkfuse Anthology Series

This is the second in Darkfuse's anthology series. Once again it features six stories by six different authors.

I love anthologies. They are so easy to dip in and out of without investing too much time in one go. That being said it is rare too fins an anthology where every story is a winner, or near winner. This one is that exception. I enjoyed every story in this anthology, but the last one by Tim Curran was by far the best. Tim's story was also slightly longer than the rest. It built up slowly and then power housed through to the end. it was written in the style I have come to expect from Tim. All in all, this second anthology stoop up well to the first and is an excellent read.  

Saturday, 5 July 2014

I am the New God by Nicole Cushing

This is the story of Greg Bryce. A disgraced priest has been writing to him, believing him to be a new God. At first Greg dismisses the idea and ignores him, but as he continues to write, Greg begins to come around to the idea. This sends his life into a catastrophic spiral that he has no control over, and no way back from.

I enjoyed this so much. It was a very different, quirky idea that read really easily. Greg's back story was interesting, and I liked the way we were given little snippets along the way, almost as teasers to the main events. Told predominantly in the two voices of Greg and the hierophant, everything raced along until the catastrophic finale, and the best twist in a book I have read for ages. This is the second book of Nicole's I have read, and I really enjoy her style. I recommend this as a quick, unusual read that may just leave you breathless at the end.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Severed by Gary Fry

This is the story of the City of London. It is in the grip of an infection similar to the zombie virus. The infection causes the soul to split (or sever) away from the body and what is left is a shell with no inhibitions or conscience. It is up to academic Stephen Hobbs to save the day, that is if they can keep him sober long enough!

This is a zombie story, but SO far removed from any I have read previously. It makes a change that the genre has been turned on its head and fresh ideas have been introduced. The story rocketed along and kept me in its grip until the end. I liked the fact that the hero was flawed and not a conventional superhero type. I enjoyed his epiphany at the end, it was subtly played out. With a brilliant ending, this was another belter both from Gary and from DarkFuse.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Cutting by James Hayman

This is the story of Mike McCabe. He is a single father and detective in the Portland (Maine) Police Department. A woman has been discovered with her heart cut out and another is missing. There is also a case in Florida that mirrors the case in Maine. It is up to McCabe, and his partner Maggie Savage to find out who the murderer is and why they are taking hearts in particular.

I read this as part of the Summer of Chills and Thrills read along led by WitnessImpulse.  I really enjoyed this, it was a taut well-paced thriller. I was glued to the page and there were a few twists and turns until I got to the final page. I loved the fact that the main character was a single dad, it meant nothing would be straightforward for him as he juggles home and work life. The twists and turns along the way were clever and kept me guessing. A good all round thriller that has me reaching for Book 2.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Shadow Animals by Keith Deininger

This is the story of Saul. He lives on the edge of Copperton Forest with his wife and son. The forest is a strange place full of sinister secrets and strange animals. Now Saul's son Ezzy has failed to come home, and fearing the worst he must make the journey into the Forest and beyond to rescue him...

I enjoyed this, the story belted along, full of tension and drama. Saul's plight is one any parent dreads, and as a mother of two sons myself I identified with him totally. I have read and enjoyed most of Keith's work and this certainly did not disappoint. It is a quick read but Keith's writing and vivid descriptions keep you glued to the page. At times I had to wince, as they were so vivid! This is a belter of a novella with an unusual twist at the end.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Red Cells by Jeffrey Thomas

This is the story of Jeremy Stake. As a mutant shapeshifter, he takes a chance to impersonate another man to do his prison sentence for him. This is no ordinary prison though, it is a prison that exists in its own universe. Now inmates are being murdered, well, obliterated. All that is left of them is a spray of blood. It is now up to Stake to find our how they are being murdered and why.

This was an exciting, quick read. It has elements of sci-fi as well as horror. It is set in the fictional world of Punktown, that the author has written about in other books. It was fast paced and kept me page turning. The characters were interesting and varied in their descriptions. This is the first of the Punktown books I have read, and I shall certainly be seeking out some more!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Losing the Hate by Simon Palmer

This is Simon's own story - in his own words - of the horrific abuse he suffered from the age of ten, and the consequences it had on his life. it is a shocking, no holds barred account of how his life was changed forever by a teacher he trusted, and respected and who should really have known better...

This was emotionally brutal. I have just finished it for the second time and I am a limp rag of emotion. There are brutal scenes, brutal language and brutal emotions. All these serve to tell the story though, a story that must have been difficult for Simon to revisit, but ultimately cathartic for him. The injections of Simon's poetry in between chapters served to catch a glimpse into the person he was at the time. I hope others who have been through the same horrors have the courage to speak out after reading this. In Simon telling his story hopefully others gain courage and not allow the hurt and horror to control their lives and choices.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Marrow's Pit by Keith Deininger

This is the story of Ballard. As long as he can remember, life has been the Machine. It provides for them and they serve and worship it. Then one day a terrible accident occurs and he must make a perilous journey outside the Machine to the dark and mysterious area known as Marrow's Pit.

I started this with the intention of just reading a bit and then coming back to it. That didn't happen. I devoured the whole novella in one sitting. The story belted along without taking a breath until the end. The characters were likeable and fitted with the story. It wasn't out and out horror, but more what life would be like if we lived, breathed and worshipped the same entity and existed to serve its purpose. another great read from Keith and DarkFuse.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Nightcrawlers by Tim Curran

This is the story of Clavitts Field. 200 years ago it was burned to the ground amid rumours of witchcraft and demon worship. Now bodies have started to turn up on the site where the town once stood. It is up to the state Troopers to find out what is going on. The local Law Enforcement know, have grown up with the knowledge, but they aren't telling because the horror of the truth is too much to put into words......

This was amazing! It was gross and scary and trippy all at the same time. The pace belted along and I had no choice but to hang on tight as I was taken on the ride of my life. I thought that the Nightcrawlers of the title might refer to Zombies, but actually it is something far worse, and believe me when I say I am NEVER going pot holing now I have read this book! Two thirds of the way in and the atmosphere was so claustrophobic, I had to read through my fingers almost as I trembled in my comfy chair! The ending was well written and answered any lingering questions I may have had. I totally recommend this one as a brilliant example of a claustrophobic and tense novella.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Rotting Dead F*cks by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Ted. He is the worst type of racist bigot ever to walk the earth and has psychopathic tendencies on top of that. One day the world goes to hell literally when a virus is unleashed and the dead start to walk again. For most people this would be a nightmare, but for someone like Ted it is an opportunity for him to indulge in his darker side without fear of repercussion.....

 I really enjoyed this. Matt clearly had great fun writing it, and it shows in the standard of the writing. For those familiar to Matt's work, I would say Ted is a lot like Peter but without any of his likeable qualities - Ted really is an odious character. Be warned, some of the things he does may upset some readers. But then that's why Matt has included a warning on the front of the book! The story flowed well, going from one characters story to the next by chapter. The ending was brilliant, with one character receiving a richly deserved come-uppance! I recommend this for fans of extreme horror. 

Friday, 30 May 2014

Ancient Enemy by Michael McBride

This is the story of Sani. His ancestors have lived in the same place for over 700 years. Bewildered by what is slaughtering his sheep in the middle of the night, he will have to rely on his sick grandfathers help to solve the mystery. Sadly his grandfather is now mute after a stroke and close to death, so it will not be easy. he must go on a journey into his tribes past to confront the truth, a truth he may wish had stayed hidden...

This was a fast paced page turner of a horror. I identified with Sari as he initially tried to find out what was killing his sheep, to go on the journey of a lifetime to find out his past. The bond between him and his grandfather shone off the page and I felt it throughout the story until the final twist at the end.  The authors notes at the back of the book made for interesting reading and I even learned a thing or two! I recommend this totally for lovers of Native American history, and horrors alike.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Dead Fives Pass by Colin F. Barnes

This is the story of Carise, a volunteer mountain rescuer. Her life has turned into an alcoholic mess after a miscarriage and a rescue that went horribly wrong. Persuaded to go on one last rescue with her ex, Marcel, can she curb her drinking and her feelings for him to facilitate the rescue? Before too long it becomes clear this is no ordinary rescue and she will have to rely on Marcel more than ever...

At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like this, but it hooked me after the second or third page. The pace was relentless and crackled with tension. The flawed relationship between Carise and Marcel was well played out and their characters shone off the page. The descriptions were vivid and the atmosphere claustrophobic. I liked the nod to Lovcraft with the monster and the ending worked well and wasn't too predictable. I recommend this for a quick but action filled read.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Fading Place by Mary SanGiovanni

This is the story of Charlie. Putting her baby in the car after a mornings shopping trip, she is accosted by a woman intent on abducting her and her baby. She needs Charlie to take her to a special place where she plans to kidnap the baby and she will stop at nothing until she reaches her goal.

This was a fantastic novella, I really enjoyed it. There was a couple of places that I felt things could have gone differently, but they didn't ruin the story for me, and this is just my opinion. My only real niggle is I wish it were longer! The tension throughout was palpable and the story belted along. Charlie was a strong lead and it was nice to have a female cast as a psychopath for a change! Another great addition to the DarkFuse library.