Book Review: Mayan Blue – Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason

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‘Mayan Blue’ by the Sisters of Slaughter – Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason is exactly the sort of blood soaked reading experience I was expecting. Having read numerous short stories by the sisters over the last 18 months, I was expecting something dripping with gore and I wasn’t disappointed. The sisters have been plugging away for some time now with short stories in various anthologies including last years excellent ‘Fresh Meat 2015’ released by Sinister Grin Press. Anybody who is familiar with their work will be well aware of their ability to cover the pages in blood and body parts.

‘Mayan Blue’ is the sister’s first novel, and whilst it isn’t perfect, it does serve as a fantastic introduction to two writers that will be around for some time. There is a hell of a lot to like about this novel. First off; the pacing is fast, and I mean lightening quick. Novels can have a tendency sometimes to spend an awful long time building up the characters, setting the scene. I am not saying this is a bad thing, as quite often it does work, but if it ends up being at the expense of the progression of the story then count me out. I was a third of the way through this book and things were turning bad for our testosterone fuelled students out looking for their professor.

Mayan culture and myth run strongly through this book. It kind of read like a cross between Indiana Jones and Evil Dead!! If you can imagine that?! With the pacing being so fast and furious I was initially concerned that the book would run out of steam, however this wasn’t the case. As our seemingly fearless (stupid) students search for the missing professor they find themselves in a sort of Mayan purgatory full of horrors, where blood runs thick.

Like I said, the action comes thick and fast and there are some really brutal scenes throughout the book (as one would expect 😉 ). The characters were there for the taking; they make poor choices and generally behave as you would expect. It is only a matter of when, not if they become victims of the Mayan demons. The cinematic feel that this book has means it would make a terrific movie. It has a sort of 80s style horror feel to it that I really enjoyed and perhaps the stupidity of the characters was very much in line with those great horror flicks from the 80s where you would find yourself screaming at the TV “What the hell are you doing? Why would you go in there?”

I had a lot of fun with this novel, whilst relatively short, ‘Mayan Blue’ sees the Sisters of Slaughter announce themselves as a visceral and bloody force within the horror community and I am truly excited about where they are going to go to next. It was gory, as expected and the Mayan slant on the story brought about something fresh and original. The cover art for this is very special too, I am sure you will agree. More please. \m/

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Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #MayanBlue #Mayans #legends
#HookofaBook #SinisterGrin

Mayan Blue, Synopsis

  • File Size:488 KB
  • Print Length:149 pages
  • Publisher:Sinister Grin Press (May 25, 2016)
  • Publication Date:May 25, 2016

 

GoodReads

Xibalba, home of torture and sacrifice, is the kingdom of the lord of death. He stalked the night in the guise of a putrefied corpse, with the head of an owl and adorned with a necklace of disembodied eyes that hung from nerve cords. He commanded legions of shapeshifting creatures, spectral shamans, and corpses hungry for the flesh of the living. The Mayans feared him and his realm of horror. He sat atop his pyramid temple surrounded by his demon kings and demanded sacrifices of blood and beating hearts as tribute to him and his ghostly world.

These legends, along with those that lived in fear of them, have been dead and gone for centuries. Yet now, a doorway has been opened in Georgia. A group of college students seek their missing professor, a man who has secretly uncovered the answer to one of history’s greatest mysteries. However, what they find is more than the evidence of a hidden civilization. It’s also a gateway to a world of living nightmares.

Biography

Melissa Lason and Michelle Garza have been writing together since they were little girls. Dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter by the editors of Fireside Press. They are constantly working together on new stories in the horror and dark fantasy genres. Their work has been included in FRESH MEAT published by Sinister Grin Press, WISHFUL THINKING by Fireside Press, WIDOWMAKERS a benefit anthology of dark fiction.

Find them on Facebook!

Praise for Mayan Blue

“From the outset, Garza and Lason let the blood spill, plunging their small cast of characters into the depths of Mayan hell. There’s plenty of action to go around as the group is confronted with a number of horrors, from the labyrinthine and booby-trapped maze of the newly discovered Mayan temple to the angry gods and their owl-headed, sharp-clawed servants.” –Michael Hicks, Author of Convergence

“Their short works are wonderful to read. However this book proves that they can tackle longer works without missing a beat.” –Tom, GoodReads

”These two show no quarter dragging the characters–and by extension, the reader–into the depths of the Mayan version of Hell. There’s vividness to the scenes they craft that made me want to make sure I was reading in full daylight, or at least with most of the lights on.” –John Quick, Author of Consequences

Purchase Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Sinister Grin Press

Mayan Blue tour graphic

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Book Review: Motorman – Robert E. Dunn

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‘Motorman’ by Robert E. Dunn was quite the success story for me. For a start, the Erik Wilson cover art had me sold. The small press have some of the very best cover artists working alongside them and I am never disappointed with Wilson’s work. The cover art for ‘Motorman’ is one of my favorites this year and it gives you a pretty good idea about the sort of book you are about to read.

Before we get into the book let’s get something out of the way; I have zero interest in cars. Formula 1, NASCAR, anything involving cars bores me to death. I can drive one fine, but do I want to watch other people driving them? Do I want to read about other people driving them? …Definitely not, However…

‘Motorman’ isn’t just about cars and it is a shed load of fun. A brief synopsis sees a man (Johnny Burris) fleeing from his past-a night where things got out of hand and people ended up dead. He arrives at a run-down gas station where all is not as it seems. Looking for a place to lay low, Burris accepts a job as a mechanic. This is where things start to get a little strange as odd people keep turning up with interesting body modifications. Not only that, Burris keeps seeing mysterious blue lights in the sky.

‘Motorman’ is a quick read and this is one of its strengths. I read this in two sittings, but probably could’ve finished it in one. The pacing is great and the story flows well. Burris is an interesting character, flawed, but kind of likable. I wouldn’t say that he is a hero (he is a murderer) but I did enjoy reading about him. Other characters are given enough for you to be able to judge them for yourself; most start off with good enough intentions but we soon learn that there is an evil undercurrent lurking beneath the surface of most of the people, particularly with the owner of the gas station – a real Victor Frankenstein style character!

Of course there is car talk, but that didn’t bother me. In fact it is one of the things that make this story highly original. The ending was terrific and although there wasn’t much information about the strange blue goo, it didn’t detract from the B-movie style greatness that is ‘Motorman’

This book has a lot going for it and will appeal to a wide variety of readers. It has a bit of sci-fi, some body horror but overall it’s a great, fun thriller. After a recent horror binge it was good to read something completely different. I loved it.

You can pick up a copy of ‘Motorman’ from here.

Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #Motorman #FastCarsandBlueGoo #MadScientist

Motorman, Synopsis

  • Print Length: 105 pages
  • Publisher: Necro Publications
  • Publication Date: May 21, 2016

 

Running from a night of humiliation and murder, Johnny Burris leaves his home in an urban junkyard fleeing into the Ozarks countryside. While he flees, mysterious streaks of blue light in the night sky drive him into a bit of nowhere lost in the hills. Johnny thinks he’s found home and good work in an odd little gas station from another time. The station isn’t the only thing strange and Johnny quickly gets pulled into a world where the cars aren’t the only things all chromed out and everything seems touched with a little of the flying blue streaks that led Johnny there.

Enticed and torn between two sisters, one an outcast for her normality, Johnny becomes the pawn of their father. The old doctor is looking for a replacement and Johnny Burris is the man with just the right skills.

But Johnny doesn’t want anything to do with the doctor’s plans so he runs, taking one of the sisters with him. But the people, and the girl, turn out to be even more than he imagined. And his whole world becomes the one choice, live as a monster, making monsters or die like a man. If he chooses to die, who will he take with him?

Biography

Robert Dunn was an Army brat born in Alabama and finally settled in Nixa, Missouri. A graduate of Drury College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications/Film he also earned a second major in Philosophy with a minor in Religion and carried an emphasis in Theatre. This course of study left him qualified only to be a televangelist.

An award-winning film/video producer and writer, he has written scripts for or directed every kind of production from local 30-second television commercial spots to documentary productions and travelogues.

A writer of blognovels and contributor to various fiction websites his work has also included the book length prose poem, Uncle Sam, the collection of short stories, Motorman and Other Stories and novels Behind the Darkness  and The Red Highway.

Mr. Dunn now resides in Kansas City where he continues to write genre fiction and experiment with mixed media art projects using hand drawn and painted elements combined through digital paint and compositing.

 

Praise for Robert Dunn

The Red Highway is not one of the best books that I’ve read so far this year, or that I’ve read in a long time…it’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read!  It was an incredible read, one that has so many layers that I was completely enthralled with the story. 5+++ stars!” -2 Book Lovers Reviews

“A thoroughly gripping read. Dunn is a writer with guts and the chops to grab his readers by the eyeballs and dare them to look away.”
–Hunter Shea, Author of Tortures of the Damned and The Dover Demon

Purchase Links

Amazon

Necro Publications

Barnes and Noble

GoodReads

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Robert Dunn.JPG

 

Book Review: Joshua’s Folly: The Sacred Blade of Profanity Book II – Toneye Eyenot

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The second book from Australian author Toneye Eyenot is a continuation of last years ‘The Scarlett Curse: The Sacred Blade of Profanity Book 1’ and sees the story moving in an altogether darker direction. I grew up reading fantasy fiction, and although this book is at the darker end of the fantasy spectrum, it serves as a great reminder that you don’t need to go straight to the big publishers to find quality books. This goes for most genres I read in, I have often found.

I really enjoyed Toneye’s first book. It was interesting that he started midway through a story but I felt he did really well with the delivery. This book is a much more rounded affair. It flows nicely and Toneye’s writing has come on well with some well-written passages tightly woven amongst some moments of disgust and absolute horror. Since the last book, Toneye has appeared in multiple anthologies with both prose and poetry. I think this has really helped to develop his writing and this book feels much tighter, with a clearer direction and an engaging storyline.

Scarlett is almost a secondary figure in this book. Our main characters are the despicable Jahl-Rin- a sadistic bandit who roams the countryside raping and pillaging at will. Joshua Melkoren-a man keen on doing anything for a few coins and Dera Harke-a woman being groomed, it seems by the intriguing and mysterious Prii. This book is much stronger in its character development. The extra length allows Toneye to dig a little deeper. The action scenes are tense and bloody and although relatively short, I didn’t feel short-changed at the books conclusion. Fans of dark fantasy will thoroughly enjoy this book, though I’d urge you to pick up the first book before this one. A brooding and grim atmosphere lingers throughout the story and I have a funny feeling that there will be no happy endings found here.

Toneye Eyenot continues to grow as a writer. Here he shows he has a great imagination and a flair for the fantastic and horrific. I feel an even darker journey waits and I’m looking forward to more from this dark author.

Pick up a copy of this book from here.

Book Review: The Train Derails in Boston – Jessica McHugh

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‘The Train Derails in Boston’ is my second read in as many weeks by Jessica McHugh. The other book ‘The Green Kangaroos’ was a very different beast to the one I just read. You can read my thoughts on that here.

When I saw a sneak peak of the cover art for this one I was definitely intrigued and keen to get my hands on a copy. As well as releasing great books, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing work with great cover artists and the latest release from Jessica McHugh is no exception. The cover art hints as to what sort of a book you are letting yourself in for, once reading begins, McHugh throws the shackles to the floor and a darkly sexual journey waits.

Without going too much into the plot of the book; a family move to a new house and discover unexpected pleasure and pain within its walls. McHugh leaves nothing to the imagination with this one, plunging the reader into a sex-filled story of a family being haunted and torn apart. This book will make you feel dirty once you have finished it; It is literally dripping with bodily fluids. As with the other book I read by Jessica McHugh, little time is wasted with things getting going almost straight away. The pacing throughout the book is generally very good, although at times early on it does become a little bit of a sex overload; however I still found myself satisfied at the books end.

The characters are very real, not entirely likable, more intriguing, and the sex is X-rated. But, it’s not all about the sex as there are some truly memorable scenes of horror that are both graphic and shocking. ‘The Train Derails in Boston’ lives up to its name. The whole story felt to me like a slow motion train wreck as the characters become embroiled in a depraved game of survival against a horde of sex-hungry spirits. The book does jump around a little in time but it is easy to follow and once again McHugh’s writing is strong.

This is another fine book from Jessica McHugh-a versatile author not afraid of shocking and surprising her readers. Fans of Edward Lee will get a real kick out of this novel. Great stuff.

You can pick up a copy from here.

Book Review: Amaranthine and Other Stories by Erik Hofstatter.

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I saw recently that Erik Hofstatter had released a new collection called ‘Amaranthine and Other Stories’ Erik is one of those writers I have been meaning to read for some time, but you know what it’s like; too many books and not enough hours to get through them. Anyway, the collection was around about 70 pages long and I thought I could probably get through this pretty quickly. As it turns out, getting through it quickly is exactly what happened, owing to the fact that this is a really good book. I acquired a copy and dug in last night. It was pretty late but I thought I’d have a look at the first couple of stories, to whet the appetite, so to speak. Just over an hour later and I was done with them all!

I love short story collections. For me, the short story is so difficult to get right. There’s no time for endless description. The stories need to grab a hold of you and not let go, dragging you into the murky depths of a horror writers dark imagination. Some of these pieces are flash fiction, which I love and each story has a completely different feel to the others. Whether it is body horror (The Birthing Tub, which kind of reminded me of The Troop by Nick Cutter!), stories about fornication whilst under hypnosis (the Rasputin tinged The Wandering Pilgrim) or one of my personal favourites ‘The Deep End’, Erik Hofstatter has nearly all bases covered. He also gets extra points for having a story about one of my favourite bands (Slayer!). At the end of the collection Erik chose to write a little about each of the stories origins. I love it when writers do this. I often finish reading a book and wonder where in hell such an idea comes from, so this was an added bonus.

Short fiction collections are also a great way to familiarise yourself with an author’s work, and this collection pushed all the right buttons for me. At times creepy, sometimes gory, but always original, ‘Amaranthine and Other Stories’ is a great find and I am pleased to have finally read Erik’s work. Erik’s writing is real easy to digest that I am sure you will blitz through this as quickly as I did. Highly recommended.

You can pick up a copy of it from here.

Book Review: The Green Kangaroos – Jessica McHugh

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When a book starts with a scene involving substance abuse by way of an injection into the testicles, you know that you’re going to be in for a strange read. This is my first high with Jessica McHugh and I sort of went into this not really having a clue what to expect. I love the cover art. I saw it and thought it would be a sci-fi-style-romp with a little bit of weird thrown into the mix. I was right to some degree with the story taking place in 2099. The story follows Perry Samson; and addict hopelessly addicted to the drug ‘Atlys’. In a nutshell, what we have is a tale about substance abuse and the effect it has upon a family.

The start of a book is so important. The reader needs to be pulled in straight away and that is exactly what happens with ‘The Green Kangaroos’. The stage is set and you are left with a want to know where the book is going. Like I said, this is the first time I have read Jessica McHugh and I really liked the writing.  Not too wordy but she gives you enough to get that image inside of your brain. I often find reading sci-fi style fiction that writers spend far too much time describing the world at the expense of the story. This is not the case here, with McHugh keeping the pacing fast and the story at the forefront. At times the writing is really good and there are some brilliantly written passages where McHugh describes such horrible things with a real literary flair.

There are some terrific ideas inside of this novel. The idea of a smokehouse where people sell lumps of their flesh for drugs is bizarre, yet unsettling and shows that McHugh has a wild imagination.  ‘The Green Kangaroos’ is a hard book to categorise, not that it needs to be put into a category, but people like to know what they are letting themselves in for. It could sit comfortably into a number of genres yet it still has a real originality about it. Is it sci-fi, a dark dystopian thriller? Who knows, though I do think this is one of those books you will either love or hate. I am not much of a fence sitter, myself. I really enjoyed reading it. It was very different to what I usually dine on but a welcome change and It is the exactly the sort of book I expect to read from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing; one that is a bit left of center but is well-written and engaging.

If you’re looking for a gritty ride through the seedy underbelly of a future Baltimore then this is the book for you. It’s harsh, shocking, uncomfortable reading at times but once you get into it, it is a tough book to put down. I enjoy reading books that are different and I look forward to reading more from Jessica McHugh.

You can buy a copy of The Green Kangaroos from here.

Book Review: The Lure of Devouring Light – Michael Griffin

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I have been on a bit of a weird fiction binge recently and I have had my eye on this book for a few weeks, pretty much from the time I saw the cover art. Superb, isn’t it? When Laid Barron and John Langan talk somebody up I figure it’s about time I take notice. Mike Griffin’s collection of stories ‘The Lure of Devouring Light’ is a weird fiction fan’s wet dream. The quality of this collection should really come as little surprise after reading the accompanying blurbs and the introduction. Some of these stories have appeared in issues of Black Static, Apex Magazine and the Lovecraft eZine to name a few, but there are new stories included also. Griffin’s stories are dripping with atmosphere. These are stories that take the reader to a place that is at times surreal and often frightening and I have to say that there isn’t a dud among them. This is quite a feat as there are usually one or two stories that don’t resonate quite as much with short story collections, but personally I enjoyed all of these tales, particularly the final one. ‘The Black Vein Runs Deep’ was the longest of the stories but was also my favourite. It features an abandoned gold mine that begs to be explored by two friends, but something sinister lurks in the mines depths. This brooding story built up slowly as we got to know our two protagonists before things begin to unravel as the journey down throws them into a fight for survival.

Griffin’s tales usually feature only a couple of characters and often these characters are isolated in some way from the real world, sometimes even reality itself. The stories are brooding and often leave the reader wondering what direction they are heading, creating a real sense of mystery and unease. The characters are very human but find themselves in unusual situations. Relationships are examined, often pulled apart and dissected through Griffin’s prose. Many of the stories have a natural theme that runs through them, and after reading about the author at the end of the book I understood why so many of these tales take place in the wilderness, as a reflection of Griffin’s love for the great outdoors.

I love weird fiction. The genre features some truly wonderful writers and this collection pushes all the right buttons for this reader. Griffin has a wonderful ability to create realistic images through his words, particularly with his deft use of descriptive language, crafting delicious stories of dark, weird horror. This is a fantastic collection and I highly recommend it.

Word Horde is one of the finest publishers of weird fiction. This book should be on every dark fiction fan’s wish list.

You can pick up a copy of ‘The Lure of Devouring Light’ from here.