Book Review: The Dead Boy – Craig R. Saunders

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‘The Dead Boy’ is an end of days tale that offers a fresh take on the final days of life in the United Kingdom. I’m not quite sure what it is about this particular sub-genre of dark fiction but I really do love it.

Last year saw the release of ‘Left to Darkness’-¬†a book I really enjoyed, it followed a similar path as this in that it showed us the worlds end through the eyes of a few survivors. This is similar in theme but very, very different. In ‘The Dead Boy’ Saunders has created Kurt William O’Dell – the man with fire in his eyes – a sort of Randall Flagg type character that wants to see the world burn. O’Dell uses the minds of children to make himself stronger, but one child manages to escape. The boy (George) befriends a woman whom he has a psychic connection with and they flee O’Dell’s grasp with the help of another (Edgar).

‘The Dead’ Boy’ isn’t your standard apocalypse read. It has some great ideas and also has a few different themes running in the background that become more prevalent as the story progresses. The tone of book is rather bleak, but that is just what I am looking for in a tale about the end of the human race ūüôā The characters are solid, even the bit part players like Wake – a helicopter pilot who joins the survivors later in the book and O’Dell’s puppet Wayland Redman is a character you will love to hate. The pace is great and the explosive beginning will have¬†you sucked in straight away. As usual, Saunders¬†doesn’t get carried away with being too descriptive, it is his characters that make his stories shine more often than not.

‘The Dead Boy’ is another very solid entry in the Craig R. Saunders catalogue. Unlike ‘Left To Darkness’ this book is a stand alone novel and is much the¬†better for it. I always enjoy reading Saunders work. He writes in multiple genres from horror to fantasy to satire and he rarely makes a misstep. For those wanting to read about the worlds end you could do a lot worse than giving this highly original, though bleak tale a go.

Check the interviews section for a chat I had with the talented Mr Saunders.

You can pick up a copy of ‘The Dead Boy’ from here.

Book Review: Gardens of Babylon – Sara Brooke.

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Sara Brooke is a newish name to me. She has been around for a little while and when one of my favourite publishers decided to release this nasty little number, I was quick to hop aboard.

I will jump straight in and say that I loved this book. It’s a quick read and the opening chapter is unpleasant enough to pull you in straight away. The pace is fast, wasting no time in getting to the good stuff. The story follows a group of friends that trespass into an abandoned theme park that was closed and quarantined some time ago due to a series of gruesome deaths. Ignoring the signs out front, our young group find themselves in some trouble, not only with what is inside the park,¬†but also with the local law enforcement¬†who wish to keep the ‘Gardens’ dark past a secret. The ‘Gardens of Babylon’¬†are a fantastic place, full of lush tropical plants and trees, a miniature golf course and a beautiful lake. Just don’t go even think about going swimming!

This book wasn’t what I was expecting, which is always a good thing. I had it inside my head that it was some sort of creature feature…..but it’s not. It is in fact a body horror reminiscent of Eli Roth’s movie from 2002 –¬†‘Cabin Fever’. Unlike Roth’s movie, the characters are actually very likeable, so much so in fact that I felt gutted for them at the end. They are a na√Įve bunch, young, dumb and full of…..fun!

There is gore aplenty, some of it is stomach churning (which is great!) and one particular scene will stay with me for a very long time. If you like Roth’s ‘Cabin Fever’ then you will love this book!¬†Sinister Grin Press will soon¬†be releasing Sara Brooke’s¬†‘The Zyne Project’ and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

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I always enjoy discovering a new writer and in Sara Brooke I feel I have found a gem. Great stuff!

You can pick up a copy of ‘Gardens of Babylon’ here.

Check out my interview with Sara in the Sinister Interviews section.

 

Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz (Book Review)

I did another guest review for Splatterpunk Magazine. This one is for ‘Children of the Dark’ by the excellent Jonathan Janz-a writer who gets better and better! Check it out and then go get yourself a copy!

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Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz (Sinister Grin Press)

I have been a fan of Jonathan Janz since I came across his novel THE NIGHTMARE GIRL. A certain Mr Keene had dropped his name a few times, talking him up as one of the current writers of horror fiction’s strongest voices. THE NIGHTMARE GIRL was a fantastic book. I loved it. Janz grabbed a hold of me and wouldn’t let go until its bloody conclusion. He had found himself a new fan and so I picked up a couple of his other releases in DUST DEVILS and EXORCIST ROAD… Damn! This guy is really, really good. Fast forward to late last year and Janz released WOLF LAND. His bloody take on the Werewolf myth was an epic tale that breathed new life into this classic beast.

This leads us nicely to 2016 and the latest book from Janz ‚Äď‚Ķ

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Black Goat Motorcycle Club by Jason Murphy (Book Review)

I wrote this guest review for the excellent Splatterpunk Magazine run by Jack Bantry. It’s my favourite book of 2016, so far. Read my review then go snag yourself a copy.

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Black Goat Motorcycle Club by Jason Murphy (Sinister Grin Press)

I first came across Jason Murphy through the Sinister Grin Press anthology FRESH MEAT. This anthology of terror from seven different writers was a particular highlight from last year’s reading. His story HOMONCULUS was gruesome reading and highly original. It was my favourite story from the anthology and I was looking forward to reading more from Mr Murphy. As it turns out I haven’t had to wait too long. BLACK GOAT MOTORCYCLE CLUB is going to be featured in my top ten reads at the end of the year! I absolutely loved this book. It is quite a big book, but I had no problems at all in devouring the pages. In fact I started and finished it in the same day, and let me tell you it has been some time since I did this! The pacing of this…

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Book Review:Tread Gently Admidst the Barrows – Jack Rollins.

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Jack Rollins has carved a bit of a niche for himself with his own brand of Victorian style storytelling. His style has feet that are firmly planted within the horror genre. Last year I came across a story by Mr Rollins called ‘The S√©ance’ Despite it’s short length the tale was a captivating read that managed to capture the Victorian gothic feel perfectly and was a refreshing change for this reader.

This latest short story is again set long ago, but this time we travel to Sweden where a team of railway builders are steadily disappearing. Engineer Oliver Stroud is determined to put to rest the growing belief that a mythological creature is responsible for the disappearances. He and a small team set out to discover the truth but get much more than they bargained for!

This short story is aimed at Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Unfortunately this service is not available to us Australians, so I parted with my hard-earned cash and picked up a copy for a very reasonable price. It is a great tale. Rollins again manages to capture the feel perfectly and succeeds in giving meat to the bones of his characters despite the books short length and It does take quite an unexpected grisly turn which I really enjoyed.

Overall this is another tick in the box for author Jack Rollins. A writer with an original voice that you really should listen to.

You can pick up a copy from here.

You can also check out Dark Chapter Press. Rollins publishing company.

Book Review: Suicide Stitch – Sarah L. Johnson

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Suicide Stitch is a collection of stories that were birthed inside the mind of Sarah L. Johnson and have been released through Electro Magnetic Pulse Publishing (EMP Publishing). I have actually come across Sarah‚Äôs work before in the Grey Matter Press anthology ‘Dark Visions Volume One ‚Äď A collection of modern horror’ which was nominated for a Bram Stoker award in 2013. The short story in question was called Three Minutes and provided a highlight amongst what was a terrific collection of dark fiction.

I strongly believe that the dark fiction genre features some truly extraordinary writers. Mercedes Murdock Yardley, Damien Angelica Walters, Sarah Pinborough are just some of my favourites. It is great to see a press such as EMP backing another female writer in Sarah L. Johnson and after reading this collection, the decision seems fully justified.

I love short story collections! In fact, I much prefer them to novels. I find that when they are well-written they will engage you straight away. There is no time for epic world-building and characters need to be fleshed out quickly. Punchy is a word I often use with short stories and that’s what I look for, a story that grabs you from the first few sentences and doesn’t let go until the end.

Suicide Stitches is a series of short stories that stir emotions, often creating arousal and Horror in equal measure. Some say that variety is the spice of life and there is plenty of variety here to dig your teeth into. From a story about strange post-it notes being left around town to a cage dancer that helps out a lonely child she sees sitting outside in the snow, or the gut-wrenching ‚ÄėBridge‚Äô which for this reader was an absolute treasure of a story and made me shed a tear. Suicide Stitches is a superb collection and comes highly recommended from this book nerd. Johnson reaches out to discerning readers of erotic, dark fiction and asks that you take her hand as she walks you through these eleven stories. Just pray she doesn‚Äôt let go.

Book Review: Got your Back – John Mcilveen

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Q. What would you do if you woke up one morning and your spine was missing?

This novelette from John Mcilveen tells the tale of Ricky Briggs; a man who wakes up in this very serious and uncomfortable position. The story follows Briggs as he tries to come to terms with this situation.

I haven’t read anything my John Mcilveen before but I had heard great praise for his novel ‘Hannahwhere’ so I thought I would take a shot at this little number. I am so glad that I did. ‘Got¬†Your Back’ has a strong paranormal element to it¬†that works well.¬†Although the story¬†reveals the why quite quickly, it doesn’t feel rushed. Briggs is not the most likable of characters. He treats his partner with contempt and he hides a dark secret from his past which is the reason for his current predicament. I found myself strongly disliking this character the more the story progressed.

‘Got Your Back’ is a very interesting and highly original tale. It has elements of fantasy (no dragons or swords thought!) and psychological horror. The ending gave me one of those WTF moments and I thought it was brilliant. John Mcilveen certainly has found a new fan in me.

A quick read that comes highly recommended. You can pick up a copy of it here.