Book Review: The Invasion – Brett McBean

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The first night that I decided to jump into ‘The Invasion’ by Brett McBean I read around 20% of it on my Kindle. I liked what I read. The book was set in my home country of Australia and had an interesting way in which it was written; each chapter takes place inside of a different room within a house. We are introduced to the characters inside of the house and before you know it they have some unwelcome visitors. That is pretty much the synopsis. The next night I started reading again, couldn’t put it down and finished it.

Read the rest of my review at The Ginger Nuts of Horror.

Follow along with The Invasion tour!

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Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #TheInvasion #homeinvasion #cults

 

The Invasion, Synopsis

  • Print Length: 235 pages
  • Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
  • Publication Date: May 15, 2016

It was supposed to be a quiet end to a long day: five close-knit family and friends settling in for some much-needed sleep after coming together for an early Christmas party.

Instead, it’s the beginning of a shocking night of brutality when six intruders break into the sprawling residence of Debra Hillsboro, a middle-aged romance novelist with a fierce devotion to her loved ones and a strong kinship with her home of almost thirty years.

Armed with smartphones and a modern brand of madness, the intruders – an internet-age cult disconnected from humanity and addicted to causing fear and mayhem – have come to the secluded property for one purpose: to terrorize, and ultimately kill, everyone inside all while filming their heinous crimes.

Outnumbered and cut off from the outside world, the terrified occupants find themselves trapped in a fight for survival as a once place of safety is turned into a deadly maze of darkened rooms and forbidding hallways. On this sweltering summer night, they must somehow find a way to escape before the cult turns the beloved home into a house for the dead.

 

Brett McBean, Biography

Brett McBean is an award-winning horror and thriller author. His books, which include The MotherThe Last Motel and Wolf Creek: Desolation Game, have been published in Australia, the U.S., and Germany.

He’s been nominated for the Aurealis, Ditmar, and Ned Kelly awards, and he won the 2011 Australian Shadows Award for his collection, Tales of Sin and Madness.

He lives in Melbourne with his wife, daughter and German shepherd.

Find out more at: brettmcbean.com

Praise for Brett McBean

“McBean’s voice is one that should be heard – a hint of Laymon and Koontz, yet distinctly his own.” —Brian Keene, author of The Rising and Terminal

“Brett McBean is as brash and brutal as a young Jack Ketchum. He visits the dark rooms inside us all.” —Scott Nicholson, author of The Manor and The Farm

The Invasion, by Brett McBean, is a startlingly bleak home invasion story, but one that is wonderfully written. McBean relies on his characters and atmosphere to bring the biggest scares, along with the frightening threat of home invasion that many readers will bring to the reading all by themselves.” -Michael Patrick Hicks, author of Convergence

 

Purchase Links

Amazon (U.S)

Amazon (Australia)

Amazon (U.K.)

Google Play

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Book Review: Drowned Worlds – Anthology

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In a marketplace that is flooded with anthologies, it can sometimes be difficult in picking the right one. I like the idea of an anthology that has a theme behind it, one that is not content with being just another science fiction anthology but instead has asked writers to come up with a story based around a subject. This new collection of collected fiction from award winning editor Jonathan Strahan features sixteen tales about drowned worlds-worlds where the oceans have risen to catastrophic depths, plunging men and women into despair and hiding.

I was really attracted to the theme of this anthology, and although one or two of the stories didn’t quite hit the bullseye for me, a large majority of them did and in doing so showcased the depth of talent (see what I did there?!) the genre has to offer. Some of the featured writers are well-known, award winners in their own right and so you expect great things and thankfully they delivered.

I was impressed with the variety of stories on offer. All of the contributors created their own visions of what effects a drowned world would have upon us. I particularly enjoyed ‘Venice Drowned’ by Kim Stanley Robinson-a tale in which somebody makes a living by providing tours around the Italian Coast. Considering the length of the story, I had a real good idea of what the coast looked like thanks to the vivid descriptions. ‘Brownsville Station’ by Christopher Rowe provided another very different look as did ‘The Future is Blue’ by Catherynne M. Valente-a first-person narrative that stood up extremely well. James Morrow also provided a highlight with ‘Only Ten More Shopping Days Till Ragnorock – a great story about a couple who discover a strange community living in the North Pole.

Anthologies are a great way to find new authors. ‘Drowned Worlds’ has some really excellent stories inside and an appealing overarching theme. Science-fiction fans would be well advised to pick up a copy when released in early July.

Check out more about this anthology from here.

Book Review – The Fisherman – John Langan

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I feel truly blessed as a reader for some of the books that have come into my possession during 2016. It has been the best year yet, as far as I am concerned and we are only 6 months into it! Another home run comes in the shape of ‘The Fisherman’ by John Langan. I haven’t read a great deal by Langan in all honesty but have heard great things. There are writers and there are storytellers. John Langan falls into the latter category. His latest novel ‘The Fisherman’, published by the excellent Word Horde comes out June 30th and anybody out there with an interest in the horror genre that likes superbly written tales that feature deep, meaningful characters with added cosmic dread would be wise in picking up this book.

This tale sucked me in from the very first page. It almost feels like a campfire tale, such is the laidback style of Langan’s prose. The story is narrated by Abe, a man still dealing with the loss of his beloved wife to cancer. When Abe befriends another man (Dan) who also lost his wife and two young children in tragic circumstances, a bond is formed that lays the foundations for this wonderful, yet dark story.

‘The Fisherman’ is a brooding masterpiece of dark fiction. It features a story within the main story as Abe and Dan stop off on their way to Fisherman’s Creek and become engrossed in a story that unlocks the mystery of its murky past. There are some incredible scenes particularly towards the end of this tale as the battle against the fisherman ignites. Langan really ups the ante here with some truly impressive imagery, I absolutely adored this part of the book, it’s like a cocktail of Hellraiser and The Call of Cthulhu! This is where Langan’s imagination truly ignites and from here on in the pace really hots up.

Before this, Langan‘s story is a slow burner but delights in its descriptions and the sheer sense of unease that builds as the narrative progresses. ‘The Fisherman’ is a masterclass in characterisation. I liked Abe particularly from the opening chapter; a proud man, dealing with his grief as best he can, not looking for sympathy, simply getting on with his life with a minimum of fuss. I am a fisherman myself and I thought that Langan captured the essence of fishing very well indeed. I could wax lyrical about this book for a long, long time. The whole story reads like a literary classic of horror fiction; one that I am sure will be talked about for years to come. This tale is quite simply, breathtaking and is one of my favourite books of 2016.

Pick up a copy of ‘The Fisherman’ from here.

Book Review: The Ruin Season – Kristopher Triana

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‘The Ruin Season’ by Kristopher Triana was a real surprise for me as I was a little unsure about what to expect. I haven’t read enough noir this year and I think this is one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much. ‘The Ruin Season’ is like the literary equivalent of Springsteen’s classic ‘Nebraska’. It’s a book with a stripped back feel, brooding with raw emotion and atmosphere where Triana allows his characters to bare their souls and bleed onto every page. We follow the journey of horse wrangler and bipolar cowboy Jake Leonard; a hard-drinking, tortured soul still haunted by his past failures as a husband and his time spent inside. Whatever this guy does, bad things seem to happen. His love life is a disaster waiting to happen; his work is the only thing that keeps him going; that, and his friend Murray (the local barber) who provides him with a shoulder to lean on.

Murray also provides part of the narrative. Scattered throughout the story are sections where Murray reflects on his friendship with Leonard and this was a really nice touch to the story as Murray is another great character and is an important part of the tale due to his daughter’s relationship with Leonard’s girlfriend Nikki.

This book has a tragic feel throughout. It is probably best enjoyed by the fire with a smoke and a bottle of bourbon and maybe some tissues. I became incredibly attached to main character Leonard and often found myself wishing he would re-think things as he bumbles his way through life, often making poor decisions. There is a real sort of inevitability about his outcome, though the ending was not what I was expecting and credit to the author for not going down the road I thought he was. Triana has paced this brilliantly; it is steady, but incredibly engaging due to being filled with three-dimensional characters, scenes of suspense, fear, love and hatred.

The old cliché about a book being a roller-coaster of emotions is one I am going to use here. I wouldn’t be surprised to find this on a few best of lists come the end of the year. I know it will definitely be on mine. Absolutely superb.

Do yourself a favor and buy this book here.

Book Review: Stone Work – Dominic Stabile

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‘Stone Work’ is the latest release from Mirror Matter Press and author Dominic Stabile. I haven’t read anything by Stabile before so I went in unsure of what to expect. Stone is the main character in the story; a rough and ready type who lets his gun do the talking, a scarred mercenary for hire. He is also a man of few words. He blasts his way through the story with sidekick and fellow ass kicker Megan in this frantic, dystopian treat.

‘Stone Work’ is a huge amount of fun. It is a real smorgasbord of genres with aspects of horror, science fiction and thriller. I loved the main character Stone; for me, he was a mix between Bruce Willis and Judge Dredd whilst the narrative itself had a sort of comic book/Hellboy vibe going on (very cool). The action is great and the story is easy to follow. Stabile shows a great imagination with some of the beasts that he creates and drops you into the thick of things straight away where Stone is thrown into a tricky situation. From there on in it is time to buckle up and enjoy this wild ride. There is some Lovecraft influence scattered throughout, particularly when our protagonists visit the mysterious building owned by Plumb Incorporated; a place that houses beasts and creatures from another dimension.

‘Stone Work’ is a fast-paced thriller into the heart of a dystopian future where all is not as it seems. There are moments where the story verges on the bizarre and for all those Trekkies out there you will find some odd references to the popular series (and no, I’m not joking!).

Sometimes, when books try to cram as much into them as Dominic Stabile has with ‘Stone Work’ the reader can be left feeling exhausted and confused. Thankfully, this is not the case; largely this is down to Stabile’s easy to read style. The book had a real nice flow to it and never once did my interest wane.

I am broadening my reading over the next few months with some sci-fi, thrillers, noir and some Bizarro fiction too. ‘Stone Work’ has a little bit of all three, so I am off to a great start. It is a little bit different to my usual fare but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I hope that we see more from Mr Stone in the future.

Pick up a copy of ‘Stone Work’ from here. and follow the Dominic Stabile Hook of a Book tour:

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Follow along the tour with the hashtags: #StoneWork #finalwar #wasteland

Synopsis for Stone Work

  • Publication Date: June 15, 2016
  • Publisher: Mirror Matter Press
  • Publication Length: 120 pages

City stands in the irradiated dunes of America, nearly two centuries after the Final War. The wall surrounding it is a buffer for the wasteland inhabitants who covet entrance, and a trap for the citizens smothering in its polluted air and drowning in its blood-filled streets.

Stone is a criminal for hire. Robbed of his loved ones and scarred almost beyond recognition, he navigates City’s darkest corners, doing some of its darkest deeds. In this collection, he’ll pursue an elusive thief, bent on raising an army of juiced up mutants. He’ll break into the office building of a mysterious corporation, only to find the executives are less into sending faxes and more into performing hexes.

In the final chapter, he’ll track a man through the Alleys of South City with the help of his tech savvy partner, Megan, and together they’ll face the sentient darkness of City’s deepest underbelly, and confront the violent potential of City’s most dangerous cults.

Part Blade Runner. Part Sin City. Stone Work is an action-packed ride through the rain-slicked streets of a dark, unforgiving urban landscape, rife with sadistic criminals, inter-dimensional abominations, and a creeping darkness that seeks to erase the last, now almost mythical traces of human goodness left in a world always teetering over the edge of its own extinction.

Biography

Dominic Stabile’s short fiction has appeared in Fossil Lake III: Unicornado!, Sanitarium Magazine, The Horror Zine, Atticus Review, Far Horizons, and has been adapted as a radio play by Manor House Productions. He has held jobs as a warehouse worker, cashier, bookstore associate, textbook manager, and carpenter. He’s a born southerner, transplanted to Penobscot, Maine by a desperate desire to escape retail work. When not writing or reading, he enjoys horror, sci-fi, and noir films, westerns, and bourbon.

Read his blogs on all things horror at dominicstabile.com.

Praise for Dominic Stabile

“With Whiskey for Breakfast, Dominic Stabile provides a page turning mystery that kept me guessing as to who the real killers might be.” – Brenda Casto, Readersfavorite.com

Purchase Links

Amazon US

Watch for more links to come!

Want to Feature Dominic Stabile?

If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Dominic Stabile, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Marketing and Publicity at Mirror Matter Press and Hook of a Book Media: hookofabook@hotmail.com.

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Book Review: Unger House Radicals – Chris Kelso

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I am going to make a rather odd comparison here between the writing of Chris Kelso and Swedish tech-metal pioneers Meshuggah. Firstly, Meshuggah are known for their extreme stylings, complex polymetered song structures and polyrhythms. Meshuggah aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. A whole album of listening is a little too much for me, though I can fully appreciate the excellence of the musicianship and song structure. In a similar way, Chris Kelso isn’t your average writer. His stories are often complex, have multiple themes weaving through them and much like Meshuggah they seem to have a sort of polyrhythmic feel to them, by way of the delivery of the narrative. It often demands you concentration, can change direction in an instant but it is ultimately a rewarding reading experience.

The latest release from Crowded Quarantine Publications sees Kelso venture into extreme horror territory. This isn’t your run of the mill horror story though. Ultra-Realism is the name of the game here as we follow Vincent Bittacker and his murderous lover Brandon Swarthy as they hope to bring their own brand of extreme film to the masses. The book is really a tale of two halves. The first is fairly straightforward in the way it is told. The Unger House, where our aspiring filmmakers reside has a sordid history of abduction and murder and seems the perfect setting for some ultra-violence. This is where the story takes place as our sick couple embark upon a quest to revolutionise film through ultra-realism. Swarthy (a truly vile character) goes through a sort of transformation (I think?!) and the story started to remind me a little of the movie ‘Fight Club’.

The second goes a very different way and is made up of a series of interviews and reports which really should make the whole book a mess, though strangely enough it does not.

Kelso’s writing is excellent. The descriptions are graphic but are told with an almost nonchalant style. Bittacker and Swarthy are human garbage, simple as that. You will not like them at all. They are ruthless, sadistic and just downright scum, but they provide the reader with a compelling story.

‘Unger House Radicals’ won’t appeal to everybody. In a way it is similar to another book I read earlier this year by Vincenzo Bilof called ‘The Violators’. Together these two are pushing back the boundaries of dark fiction with truly original works of horror. For those looking for something challenging and different (like Meshuggah!) then give ‘Unger House Radicals’ a whirl. I found it to be engaging, repulsive, well written and absorbing. Well done Mr Kelso.

Buy ‘Unger House Radicals’ from here.

Book Review: Run To Ground – Jasper Bark

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Jasper Bark has been busy of late. Two new releases in as many weeks mean that it has been the proverbial Barkfest! Whenever Mr Bark teams up with Crystal Lake Publishing, you have a pretty good idea that things are about to get messy, in the best possible way. Last year saw me sample Mr Bark’s work with the short story ‘Stuck on You’ – a gruesome body horror tale that disgusted and delighted this reader in equal measure. Jasper Bark has a unique voice. His bowel loosening descriptions remind me fondly of the great splatterpunk books from yesteryear and I am a big admirer of his work. Crystal Lake Publishing is at the top of their game. Their releases are of a consistent high quality and I am never disappointed with what I read. From their artwork to the layout, this is a publisher that takes a great pride in the product it releases.

This latest release is another great entry into the Crystal Lake catalogue and a rip roaring ride through a graveyard following the hapless Jim McLeod as he stumbles across one corpse after another. This is a folk horror tale of the finest quality. If you have ever seen the movie ‘Tremors’ starring Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward then you will love this book! Not sure what I am talking about? then read it and find out for yourself. It is only a short read but well worth your time. This is classic Jasper Bark; a story that features a ruptured anus very early on and enough stomach churning descriptions to please even the most hard core splatterpunk fans. There is some great humour used throughout the story too and I was well aware of some of the character names which further added to my enjoyment.

Jasper Bark is a treasure. His stories are over the top brilliant, gruesome, humorous and very easy to get lost inside. You will breeze through this novella in no time and be eager to sample some more from the kitchen of Mr Bark. If you haven’t sampled any of his work yet, then this would be a great place to start. Bravo, Mr Bark, bravo.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy here.