Dark Stars edited by John F.D. Taff

 

Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror

 

Dark Stars edited by John F.D. Taff

Publishing: May 10, 2022 by Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire

 

 

Reason I chose to Read this Book:  First, I was offered a widget from the publisher.  Then, the book looked good.  Sometimes reading short stories is a great filler for me, especially after reading a long book.  As well, an anthology of horror stories will offer me the chance of finding new authors.

 

Dark Stars, edited by John F.D. Taff, is a collection of short horror stories.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire (and in particular Jordan Hanley),  and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

 My Synopsis and Opinions:

As always, I will review each story individually.  Note that there is a forward by Josh Malerman which was quite interesting (if a little long).  Then there is an introduction from John Taff, who brought all these stories together.  An afterword is written by Ramsey Campbell, and some notes on each story from the point of view of each author.  There were actual stories in between all of that….

Here we go….

The Attentionist by Caroline Kepnes  …. Sisters, one needing constant attention from boys, and one with a stalker.  The sister aspect was rather funny at times.  I loved it.   5 stars.

A Life in Nightmares by Ramsey Campbell  … A childhood nightmare follows a young boy throughout his life, and his nightmares.  I think that was what it was about — hated it, but it could be because I just didn’t get it.  1 star

Papa Eye by Priya Sharma … A physician re-locates to a remote island, where some of the traditions from long ago prevail. Loved it!  5 stars

Volcano by Livia Llewellyn … Not even sure I understood this one (maybe a black hole?)….but it was creepy as hell, and I enjoyed it.  4 stars

All the Things He Called Memories by Stephen Graham Jones  … A couple, stuck inside during a pandemic, decide to amuse themselves by telling the other of their worst fear.  The wife, a scientist may be conducting an experiment. Her upholsterer husband seems to be the target.  This was wonderfully spooky.  I loved it!  5 stars

Trinity River’s Blues by Chesya Burke (American) … A young woman who can see and talk to ghosts, invites one too many into here life.  I loved the fact that her best friend was a dead country and western star.  Great story!  5 stars

The Familiar’s Assistant by Alma Katsu (American) … A young man who has had a rather rough life goes looking for a vampire.  Great premise and story!  5 stars

Swim in the Blood of a Curious Dream by Joh F.D. Taff … A man and his 5 year old son are heading to Illinois after the death of his wife.  But she still wants to share custody.  WOW…that was good… 5 stars

The Sanguintalist by Gemma Files … A magician takes in and talks to the blood of the recently deceased to discover what killed the victim…and tries to vindicate them.  Interesting (if a liittle long)… 4 stars

Mrs. Addison’s Nest by Josh Malerman …  Four friends relive the day they served detention in high school, where they meet Mrs. Addison.  Interesting, but missing something…. 3 stars

Challawa by Usman T.  Malik … A journalist and her husband are invited to India to see his brother’s new project.  A  visit to the old cremation grounds has both the guide and the journalist sharing ghost stories.  This was just okay.  3 stars

Enough for Hunger and Enough for Hate by John Langan (American) … A sister wants to avenge her brother’s death.  A tale of the Wendigo.  The story was good, just too long, and paragraphs that went on forever… 3 stars

 

As I read each story, I continued to be amazed that there were so many that I was giving 5 stars.  Definitely more hits than duds.  Seldom in a collection do I find that many outstanding tales.  Yes, I had heard of some of the authors, but not all, so that was great — I now have a few more authors to follow.

 

Here’s hoping your next read is 5 stars !!!

 

Read:  March 2022

 

About the Editor:  John F.D. Taff  is an American author.  He has won multiple Bram Stoker Awards  with more than 30 years experience, and more than 100 short stories and seven novels in print.

*** Photo taken from GoodReads

 Check him out:

 I have also reviewed this book on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4707648993

 

Have you read it?  Do you plan to?  Tell me your thoughts…do you agree or disagree with my assessment?  Either way, I’d love to know

 

 

 

The Shadow People by Graham Masterton (#3 – Pardoe and Patel)

The Shadow People

 

The Shadow People by Graham Masterton

Published:  March 1, 2022  by Head of Zeus

 

 

Reason I chose to Read this Book:   I’m always in the mood for horror!  Note that I just realized that this was part of a series, of which I had read the first.  I will hold off publishing this until I have read the second  (yes, I am a little anal).

 

Previous Book in the Series: #2 – The Children God Forgot

Heads Up:  There are quite a few gruesome scenes in this including body dismemberment and cannibalism.  Didn’t bother me, but….

 

The Shadow People by Graham Masterton is the third in the Detectives Pardoe and Patel supernatural/horror series.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Head of Zeus, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

Series Background:    (Warning – May contain spoilers from previous books)

DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel are called in when there are strange circumstances regarding a case.  They are becoming used to the supernatural aspects of their jobs.  Jerry has a bit of a crush on Jamila, mind you he seems to have a crush on most females.  He has a young daughter, and an ex-wife.

 

.My Synopsis:   (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions)

At first glance, the abandoned carpet factory appeared to be housing the homeless.  At second glance, it looked like it was the scene of a massacre, with body parts  left in shopping carts, and burned corpses.

A tunnel is discovered in the basement, with strange markings on the wall, and more bodies.  An officer  who is sent to investigate is brutally killed, and another is taken.

Two young boys are kidnapped from a scout camp, where their mother left them to try to get over the death of their father.  They are not the only missing people.

DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel are called in to hunt down a cult.  They have worked together on other bizarre cases and this appears to be another.   It looks like there are cannibals in London.  Some kind of religious cult who worship the devil.

 

My Opinions:   

First, I love the cover.

Part way through the book, I realized I had encountered these characters before, and on further research, discovered that this is actually the third book with Pardoe and Patel.  I am now grouping them together into a series (in order of publication), although it doesn’t look like the books actually have to be read in order at this point.  They can all be read as stand-alone novels.  Needless to say, me being me….I have to go back and read book 2…quickly.  (I’ve now done that!)

Okay, this book.  WOW…this one is not for the faint of heart.  This had more gore than anything I have read in a while.  Not to be read while eating dinner…..

But it was good.  The first part was a little slow, but it certainly picked up.  As unbelievable as the plot was, it definitely kept my interest.  When you read horror and supernatural, you can’t expect to have it based on facts, but the author tried to provide a reasonable explanation.  The whole thing was captivating….if a little gross.

Masterton has a graphic imagination, which he shares with all of us.   I will continue to read these books!

 

Read: December, 2021

 

Graham MastertonAbout The Author: Graham Masterton (1946 – ) was born in Edinburgh.  His first novel was written 30 years later, and he hasn’t stopped. Before that, he was writing for magazines (including Penthouse) and continues to publish in various magazines to this day. He has written over 100 novels. He currently lives in Ireland with his wife. 

*** Photo taken from GoodReads

Check him out:

 

I have also reviewed this book on GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4200908532

 

Have you read it?  Do you plan to?  Tell me your thoughts…do you agree or disagree with my assessment?  Either way, I’d love to know.

 

 

 

 

The Devil’s Whispers by Lucas Hault

The Devil's Whispers

 

The Devil’s Whispers by Lucas Hault

Publishing:  February 20, 2022 by TCK Publishing

 

Reason I chose to Read this Book: Well, the publisher approached me, and the premise for this horror novel looked good….

 

The Devil’s Whispers by Lucas Hault is a horror novel.

First, let me thank the publisher TCK Publishing, and in particular Maria Inot and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

My Synopsis:   (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions)

The year is 1903, and against his beloved Raelyn’s wishes, famed British lawyer Gerard Woodward travels to an ancient castle to help a dying man with his last will.  However, he finds himself more of a prisoner than a guest in this castle. He is locked in his room and told that he will be allowed to leave when Lord Mathers dies.  He starts to doubt the truth in this statement.

Gerard has no intention of being locked in his room, and finds a way out.  However, this house does not seem to want to let him go.

Meanwhile back in London, Raelyn is anxious since Gerard has not returned nor written a letter.  Her cousin Nathan arrives for a long awaited visit, but his actions seem different.  Raelyn starts to suffer from nightmares.   London is having it’s own issues.  Animals are being mauled to death and children are missing.  Raelyn starts to wonder about her own sanity.

 

My Opinions:  

A true gothic horror novel, reminiscent of Dracula, but not quite as good as the classic.  I felt like the author took Dracula and just swapped the vampires for a different type of villain, although there was still some biting involved.  I am sure the book is a tribute to the great Bram Stoker, but it fell a little short, and when that happens to a “replica”, it spells doom for the new book.

However, that doesn’t mean I hated the book.  The writing was good, and “most” of it sounded like it took place in the early 1900’s.  The actual story moved at a good pace, and I liked that both Gerard and Raelyn had best friends that they could rely on.  The characters were good, and the mythology behind the plot was explained fairly well.

The story is told through the journal entries and letters written by all the main characters.  It was quite gruesome at times, but didn’t really have a scary feel to it.

Anyway, I will be watching this author for more original work.  I know he has a book of short stories out, so I may look into that.

 

Read: February, 2022

 

 

Lucas Hault

About The Author: Lucas Hault is the pen name of Indian author Faisal Johar.  In addition to writing novels, he is also a screenwriter, and has written a number of short horror films.

*** Photo Taken from Amazon

 

Check him out:

 

I have also reviewed this book on GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4560485385

 

Have you read it?  Do you plan to?  Tell me your thoughts…do you agree or disagree with my assessment?  Either way, I’d love to know.

 

 

 

 

 

Sundial by Catriona Ward

 

Sundial

 

Sundial by Catriona Ward

Publishing:  March 1, 2022 by Macmillan-Tor/Forge

 

Reason I chose to Read this Book: The premise looked REALLY good, and this is the first book I have read by this author.

Heads Up: A lot of graphic horror regarding animals, and medical experimentation on dogs.

 

Sundial by Catriona Ward is a horror novel.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Macmillan-Tor/Forge and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

My Synopsis:   (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions)

Twin sisters (Rob and Jack), raised and homeschooled in the Mojave Desert, at a place called Sundial.  Their relationship is one of uneasy conflict, but based on love, which will forever link them.

Rob finally gets away from Sundial, and marries.  They have two children.  Life is not easy, but again, she is trapped.  Her husband is abusive, and her oldest daughter, Callie, seems to have a rather sadistic side to her.   Rob is reminded of her life Sundial.   She fears for her younger daughter Annie.

Rob sees only one option, so she takes Callie back to Sundial.  She has to figure things out, before things get any worse. Callie is beginning to fear her mother, and her fears may have some validity.

 

My Opinions:   

Okay, for those that know me, I have not yet figured out how to “give up” on a book.  This is the closest I’ve come in a long time.  First, I thought this was just another “poor woman in an abusive relationship” book, and I don’t need or want to read those.  Then, I realized there was more to it, and it got a bit better.  Then, the animal science experiments started, and that almost finished me.  Lord knows I don’t know WHY I hung on.

However, after a while, I found myself in the middle of a really good horror novel.  True, I didn’t particularly like some of the topics, but it’s not like the animals were beaten.  OMG, now I’m making excuses.  Anyway, the book covered dysfunctional families, and the love-hate relationship between sisters, and general family dynamics.  It questions the unconditional love of a parent.  It also looked into the “warrior gene”, which supposedly causes aggression in animals and humans.

Another part that I had problems with was the “book” that the main character was writing.  That just added confusion and was not relevant to the plot.  I could have done without it.

Bottom line, I “eventually” liked the characters and the plot.  Then came the twists….oh and there were many, right up to the last pages.  WOW.  Without a doubt, I was hooked on a book that I started out hating.

This book will not be for everyone, as it is quite graphic, and quite disturbing.  I am a dog lover, and am rarely without one or two running around my home, so those parts were hard to swallow. I ended up looking past some of this, and ended up really enjoying the book.  When a book can instill such vivid emotions in me, it’s a good book.

Overall, it is a creepy, graphic, horror novel….and I am really happy I hung on!  I will definitely be following this author.   This one is going to stay with me for a while.  (It’s a good thing I don’t suffer from nightmares!)

 

Read: February/March 2022

 

Favorite Quotes from Sundial:

“When people say something is “unthinkable,” what they usually mean is that they don’t want to think it. They are resistant to an idea. But that is not what unthinkable means. I understand that, now. It means to be confronted with a thought so vast, dark and monstrous that it will not fit into any known shapes in your mind. It is poison and madness flowering behind your eyes.”

“What if I can only keep one of my children? What if I have to choose?”

“Kids are mirrors, reflecting back everything that happens to them. You’ve got to make sure they’re surrounded by good things. “

 

About The Author: Catriona Ward is an American author.  She was born in Washington, DC and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia.  She currently lives in England.

*** Photo taken from GoodReads

 

Check her out:

 

I have also reviewed this book on GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4589748349

 

Have you read it?  Do you plan to?  Tell me your thoughts…do you agree or disagree with my assessment?  Either way, I’d love to know.

 

 

 

 

Let Me Out I’ve Had Enough by Mark Matthews

 

Let Me Out I've Had Enough

 

Let Me Out I’ve Had Enough by Mark Matthews

Publishing:  September 1, 2021 by Wicked Run Press

 

Reason I chose to Read this Book: Sometimes you need short stories, and this is a new author for me, so it gives me a good idea whether I want to try something longer.

 

Heads Up:  The author has a wicked, vivid and graphic imagination, which he freely shares.  This one may not be for the weak-hearted….or those depressed.

 

Let Me Out I’ve Had Enough by Mark Matthews is an anthology of his horror stories.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Wicked Run Press and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

My Synopsis and Opinions:   (No major reveals)

Okay, I admit that this is a new author for me, but since I love a good horror story, I thought….sounds good!  Then the author provides an introduction, and I find out that the theme of all of these stories is suicide.  Now, I’m not too sure.  But I decided to persevere.

Here is a brief synopsis of each story, including my thoughts.

Mastectomy Scars …  A young girl returns from school to find her mother floating in the tub.  Really sad and disturbing.  2 stars

Body of Christ … A young girl’s mother is taken off life support.  A little boy’s father is the victim of suicide by police, right in front of him.  Not sure how to describe how I feel about this one.  Disquiet, disgust, and reading it felt sacrilegious.  After my dislike of the first, this one almost made me stop reading the whole book.  0 stars

The Last Bug-Chaser … An alien race sent to make humans immune from viruses is taken over by the big pharmaceutical companies.  This was interesting.   3 stars

Mask of Sanity …  A psychiatrist who has had 3 patients commit suicide in one week starts doubting his own sanity.  Twisted.  Quite good.  4 stars

Tattooed All in Black … A wife dies of cancer, but her husband does not handle this well.  Interesting.  3 stars

The Burdens of the Father …  In a world where forests were eliminated, and clean air a thing of the past, a young man looks forward to the birth of his son.  This was good.  3 stars

Howling from The Gallows … Trying to help a patient, a man turns into the monster that she has become.  This was great!  5 stars

Met My Old Lover in the Grocery Store …  A man on the brink of suicide and murder, runs into the love of his life on Christmas Eve.  Entertaining!  4 stars

 

First, I have to say that I loved the introduction to this book, which explained how the author came up with the title, and his experience with suicide in his job, and therapy in general.

Overall, this was not a bad group of short stories, although the start had me doubting.  Somewhat depressing, these stories show the depth of human emotion.  They are all very graphic, and very dark,  but the author can write very well.   This is the first I have read from this author, but I won’t be afraid to pick up anything else he has written.

Read: December, 2021

 

 

Mark MatthewsAbout The Author: Mark Matthews is an American author who publishes his own stories as well as others.  He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a licensed professional counselor who has worked in behavioral health for over 20 years.   He has run 13 marathons, loves Red Wing hockey and live musicals.  He lives near Detroit with his wife and children.

*** Photo Taken from GoodReads

Check out him out:

 

I have also reviewed this book on GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4366113351

 

Have you read it?  Do you plan to?  Tell me your thoughts…do you agree or disagree with my assessment?  Either way, I’d love to know.

 

 

 

 

The Children God Forgot by Graham Masterton (#2 – Pardoe and Patel)

 

The Children God Forgot

 

The Children God Forgot by Graham Masterton

Published:  May, 2020 by Head of Zeus

 

 

Reason I chose to Read this Book:   I was recently reading book 3 in this series, when I realized that I knew the characters.  Apparently I had read book …not knowing it may become a series.  Anyone that knows me will realize that I must read the books in order, so I had to go back and and find this book before I can review the next!  It’s a good thing that these books don’t actually have to be read in order!

 

Previous Book in the Series: #1 – Ghost Virus

 

The Children God Forgot  by Graham Masterton is the second in the Detectives Pardoe and Patel supernatural/horror series.

 

Series Background:    (Warning – May contain spoilers from previous books)

DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel are called in when there are strange circumstances regarding a case.  They are becoming used to the supernatural aspects of their jobs.  Jerry has a bit of a crush on Jamila, mind you he seems to have a crush on most females.  He has a young daughter, and an ex-wife.

 

My Synopsis:   (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions)

A woman, suffering from intense stomach pains, crashes her car.  She delivers a seriously deformed fetus, although she is sure she could not be pregnant.

A sewage engineer, trying to determine the extent of a blockage, sees what she thinks is a child running through the mess, and a severed hand.  On a second check of the sewer, her boss  goes missing, only to be found later with missing limbs and eyes.

The detectives are originally called to investigate the missing man in the sewer, but soon find themselves looking into horrifying births, shadowy women, and strange lights.

 

My Opinions:   

I had to go and locate this book, because I have recently discovered I have read the first and the third.  I hate mixing things up, but there isn’t really a need to read these in order, so if you are not as anal as I am, it’s okay if you miss one…..although I am reviewing them in order 😊

Note that I enjoyed the first book in this series, but wasn’t thrilled.  Now I am hooked.

The premise is really bizarre….but that’s okay.

If you love horror, and you love gore, these books are for you!  The graphic details that the author imparts are intense!  I now know more about sewers and cesspits than I ever wanted to know….and I have never been a fan of abortion….but even less so now.  I am quite sure that the author chooses his topics and his wording for the shock value, and he does indeed shock.  There’s quite a bit of sexist, homophobic, and racial slurs in here, but, it is what it is.  He is an equal-opportunity offender, and quite easily offends everyone.

Overall, the book had it’s hooks in me, and dug deep.  This book is definitely not for everyone, but I admit to enjoying it!

Read: January, 2022

 

Favorite Quotes from The Children God Forgot:

“That’s the company that keeps all of the city’s sewers flowing.  They herd the turds, so to speak.”  (that is so bad….Kat)

“How much worse could her life become, if she wasn’t even allowed to die?”

“They’re sacred.  All children are sacred.  Even the children God forgot”.

 

Graham MastertonAbout The Author: Graham Masterton (1946 – ) was born in Edinburgh.  His first novel was written 30 years later, and he hasn’t stopped. Before that, he was writing for magazines (including Penthouse) and continues to publish in various magazines to this day. He has written over 100 novels. He currently lives in Ireland with his wife. 

*** Photo taken from GoodReads

Check him out:

 

I have also reviewed this book on GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4403587265

 

Have you read it?  Do you plan to?  Tell me your thoughts…do you agree or disagree with my assessment?  Either way, I’d love to know.

 

 

 

 

Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester

Such a Pretty Smile

 

Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester

Publishing:  January 18, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

 

Reason I chose to Read this Book:  I am always search for a new horror writer, and this looked really good.

 

Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester is a horror novel.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher St. Martin’s Press (and in particular Beatrice Jason for sending me a widget),  and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

My Synopsis:   (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions)

Caroline Sawyer is an artist, sculpting rather strange and eerie pieces out of twigs, and leaves, and fur.  She is raising 13-year old Lila on her own.  Caroline’s life has not been easy.  She lost her mother at a young age, and tended to her father in a nursing home until his death.  She eventually realized that her fiancé  (the father of her daughter) was not someone she needed in her life.  He was too jealous of her art, and thought therapy was the only answer to the insomnia and nightmares that had plagued Caroline since she was a young girl.  Caroline tries to be there for her daughter, but often her own anxieties take precedence.

Lila has secrets she can’t share with her mom, who seems too fragile.  She can’t share these secrets with anyone.  Like her mother, she has nightmares too.   She feels like her dreams are becoming a reality, and her fears and anger are driving her mad.

Meanwhile, girls are being killed, turning up mutilated, and Caroline is terrified for her daughter.  When she was growing up,  the same thing happened, and everyone blamed a killer known as The Cur.  But that was 15 years ago….could it be the same person?

 

My Opinions:   

This was interesting.  It was a rather dark and creepy tale, with tension continuing to build throughout the book. It is about family dynamics, about teenage angst and anger, about mental illness.  It also covers the sexist attitude of some men, and their desire to bring women down a notch or two.

The story is told in two time-lines, Caroline’s in both 2004 and 2019, and Lila’s in 2019.

The author handled the horror aspects of the “beasts” with such graphic descriptions, that they were easy to visualize. Really well written.  Unfortunately, I think this is also where the book fell short.  There wasn’t enough information as to where they came from, how long they’ve been here…and no resolution at the end.

Overall, it was a fast and entertaining read, and it was good….it just wasn’t great.  I will, however, watch for her next book.

 

Read: January, 2021

 

Kristi DeMeesterAbout The Author: Kristi DeMeester is an American author from Georgia.  She completed her masters in Creative Writing from Kennesaw State University in 2011.  Kristi’s short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and publications.   

*** Photo Taken from GoodReads

Check her out:

 

I have also reviewed this book on GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4458317425

 

Have you read it?  Do you plan to?  Tell me your thoughts…do you agree or disagree with my assessment?  Either way, I’d love to know.

 

 

 

The House of Tongues by James Dashner

The House of Tongues

 

The House of Tongues by James Dashner

Published: October 21, 2021 by Riverdale Avenue Books

 

Reason I chose to Read this Book: He is a talented author, and I was in the mood for horror!

 

The House of Tongues by James Dashner is a horror novel.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Riverdale Avenue Books (Afraid) and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

My Synopsis:   (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions)

David Player is 44 years old, and his wife passed away two years ago.  He is raising his four children on his own.  Although three of them are adopted, they are a very close family.

Deciding to visit his parents may be the worst mistake he has made in ages.  What starts out as an exciting family trip, turns into the vacation from hell.  For his memories of events which occurred when he was 16 have left him, but when a stranger knocks on the door, the flood gates start to open.  The son of a notorious serial killer has come to call, and he intends to make sure that David and his family play his game.

Soon David will remember everything, and will have to fight to protect his family from a curse that has been passed down for 200 years.  It will eventually lead to an old tower in the woods, a place that David had not thought of in many years.  The House of Tongues.

 

My Opinions:   

I believe this is the first adult-based novel from this author, although he has had a lot of success with his Y/A Maze-Runner series (which I also enjoyed).

This was very good.  It held my interest from start to finish, as it was not just horror, but an entertaining mystery woven in.  The story is told through David’s eyes only, and in two time-lines, one when David is 16, and one when he is 44.  The two time-lines somewhat mimic each other.

Yes, there was blood and gore, and yes, it was a little unbelievable, but….it is a horror novel, after all.  I loved the plot, and it was a fast and easy read.

I also loved the characters.  David, Andrea, and the kids were all likeable, and relatable.  The bad guys (even the one that wasn’t supposed to be), were all clearly defined.  There were no real surprises there.

James Dashner has just proven he can write adult-based books as well as his best-selling YA books.

 

Read: December, 2021

 

Favorite Quotes from The House of Tongues:

“The odds of dying by lightning bolt while taking a dump in a porta-potty were extremely small, but certainly not zero. Laying a trap for a serial killer, using teenagers as bait… I was pretty damn sure I’d rather take my chances in the porta-potty.”

“Well what the hell is the House of Tongues?”…..”It’s exactly what it sounds like. I ain’t no poet.”

 

James DashnerAbout The Author: James Dashner is an American author.  He is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, as well as the Mortality Doctrine Series.   He was born and raised in Georgia but now lives and writes in the Rocky Mountains with his wife.  They have four children.

*** Photo Taken from GoodReads

Check him out:

 

I have also reviewed this book on GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4319844740

 

Have you read it?  Do you plan to?  Tell me your thoughts…do you agree or disagree with my assessment?  Either way, I’d love to know.

 

 

 

 

 

When Things Get Dark, edited by Ellen Datlow

 

Book Cover

 

When Things Get Dark, edited by Ellen Datlow

Publishing:  September 28, 2021 by Titan Books

 

 

Reason I chose to Read this Book:  Reading an anthology is a great way of discovering new authors.  As well, sometimes a short story or a dozen is exactly what I need after reading something long and drawn out.

 

When Things Get Dark is an anthology of short stories written as a tribute to Shirley Jackson.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Titan Books and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

My Synopsis and Opinions:

As I always do with anthologies, each short story will have it’s own rating.  These stories are a tribute to Shirley Jackson, by some of the best horror writers of today.  Jackson’s stories are a world-wide legacy, and have inspired many.  Her stories are usually quite dark.

So, here we go….

Funeral Birds by M. Rickert …  A home care worker attends the funeral of an unlikeable  patient.  It was just ok (not sure I would have led with this short story. 3 stars

For Sale By Owner by Elizabeth Hand …  Three 60-something women camp out in an abandoned house.  Very entertaining.  5 stars

In the Deep Woods; The Light is Different There  by Seanan McGuire … A woman inherits a lakehouse, while dealing with her divorce.  This dragged.  1 star

A Hundred Miles and a Mile by Carmen Maria Machado …  A woman has had strange visions since her childhood.  This seemed incomplete…I was lost.  1 star

Quiet Dead Things by Cassandra Khaw ..A town decides to isolate themselves after a recent death.  Disquieting, but a little confusing.  3 stars

Something Like Living Creatures by John Langan ... A girl reads from a strange bible, another reads tarot cards, a third has a vision…and then their mother arrives.  Loved it!  5 stars

Money of the Dead by Karen Heuler … Four elderly neighbours are gifted with money to bring back the dead, with unexpected results.  Interesting.  4 stars

Hag by Benjamin Percy … An island with a Hag that needs to be fed.  Great story!  5 stars

Take Me, I Am Free by Joyce Carol Oates ... A woman who is not prepared for motherhood.  Disturbing, but good. 5 stars

A Trip to Paris by Richard Kadrey … A woman got away with murder, but now it looks like mold might do her in.  Really good.  5 stars

The Party by Paul Tremblay ... A woman and her girlfriend attend a work party with an End of the World theme.  I must have missed something, as there didn’t seem to be a point. 1 star

Refinery Road by Stephen Graham Jones … The man remembers a night out with his friends many years ago.  This was a little confusing.  1 star

The Door in the Fence by Jeffrey Ford … The neighbour behind them seems to have found the fountain of youth, with repercussions.  Really good. 5 stars

Pear of Anguish by Gemma Files … A young woman remembers her childhood, and the aches and pains of growing up, perhaps a little mentally unstable.  Loved it! 5 stars

Special Meal by Josh Malerman … A time when knowing math could be the worst thing to know. Great, innovative story.  5 stars

Sooner or Later, Your Wife Will Drive Home by Genevieve Valentine … The perils of being a woman driver.  Interesting, but disturbing.  4 stars

Tiptoe by Laird Barron … A family’s rather strange game may not be as innocent as originally thought.  Interesting, but it dragged a little.  3.5 stars

Skinder’s Veil by Kelly Link … While trying to finish his dissertation, a man takes a job housesitting in Vermont.  He get some strange visitors.  This was quite good. 4 stars.

 

So, overall, an interesting collection.  Yes, some were strange, some disturbing, and some just confusing.  I didn’t find any true horror in this collection.  However, it was one of the better anthologies that I have read.  Some of the authors were known to me, and others new.  I did not expect to love every story, so I was not really disappointed.  I guess I was just more surprised at the number of really good ones!

 

Read: September, 2021

 

I have also reviewed this book on GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4268243897

 

 

 

Have you read it?  Do you plan to?  Tell me your thoughts…do you agree or disagree with my assessment?  Either way, I’d love to know.

 

 

 

 

Beyond the Veil, Edited by Mark Morris

 

Book Cover

 

Beyond the Veil, Edited by Mark Morris

Publishing:  October 19, 2021 by Flame Tree Press

 

 

Reason I chose to Read this Book:  I enjoy short stories, and I love horror….which is often much better told in a short story.

 

Beyond the Veil, edited by Mark Morris is an anthology of short horror stories.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Flame Tree Press and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

My Synopsis and Opinions:

As always with an anthology, I will be reviewing each separately.   There are 20 short stories, a few from authors known to me, but most of these authors are new to me.  A lot of these are about death, in some for or another.

So, let us begin:

The God Bag by Christopher Golden (American) … A woman writes her wishes down and places them in her “God Bag”.  Some on white paper, and some on red. OMG…Loved it.  5 stars

Caker’s Man by Matthew Holness (British) …  The neighbour across the street insists on providing cake for a mother and 3 children, but he’s a creep.  Later, the baby-sitter takes over the cake thing. The whole story is creepy!  4 stars

The Beechfield Miracles by Priya Sharma (British) … A journalist investigates a young woman.  Is she a miracle worker, or just a charismatic leader of a cult?   WOW, that was really good. 5 stars

Clockwork by Dan Coxon (British) … A daughter, after burying her father, finds pieces of an automaton in his flower bed.  Didn’t really enjoy this one, although it did have a certain creep factor, and the writing was fine. 3 stars

Soapstone by Aliya Whiteley (British) … A young woman deals with the death of a friend, or not.  This was creepy, but there was something missing.  3 stars

The Dark Bit by Toby Litt (British) … A couple get “threads” running through their bodies when entering a certain area of their home, and they deal with them.  This was simply wonderful.  5 stars

Provenance Pond by Josh Malerman (American) … A young woman thinks back to her childhood, and her imaginary friends.  This was a little disappointing from one of my favorite authors.  3 stars

For All The Dead by Angeline B. Adams (Irish) and Remco van Straten (Dutch) … A story about men lost at sea, and the women who wait for them.  This one did nothing for me, as it was more sad than scary.  1 star

The Girl in the Pool by Bracken MacLeod (American) … A thief who always wanted to be a good person has the opportunity, or so he thinks.  Good writing, but missing something.  3 stars

Nurse Vaden by Jeremy Dyson (American) … A man tries to determine why he has a fear of being unconscious.  Interesting, but the ending could have been better.  3 stars

If, Then by Lisa L. Hannett (Australian) … A gardener experiments on his loved one to heal her.  This one did nothing for me.  1 star

Aquarium Ward by Karter Mycroft (American) … A bug from beneath the sea emerges, and a doctor will do anything to save his patients.  Interesting!  4 stars

A Mystery for Julie Chue by Stephen Gallagher (British) … A young woman with a knack for finding worthwhile garage sale items. Absolutely loved it!  5 stars

Away Day  by Lisa Tuttle (Scottish) … A young woman on a team-building day gets lost.  It was okay, but I didn’t really like it.  2 stars

Polaroid and Seaweed by Peter Harness (British) … A young child, whose mother left him, decides his real mother came from the sea.  Disturbing.  2 stars

Der Geisterbahnhof by Lynda E. Rucker (American) … A young woman goes with an old “friend” and some others in search of a ghost station in Berlin.  Eerie, but confusing.  2 stars

Arnie’s Ashes by John Everson (American) … Arnie may have been cremated, but his friends keep seeing his face.  This was comical, in a strange way.  I loved it.  5 stars

A Brief Tour of the Night by Nathan Ballingrud (American) …  A man talks to ghosts, who sometimes answer him.  Great story.  5 stars

The Care and Feeding of Household Gods by Frank J. Oreto (American) … A stay-at-home father figures out a way to keep the children happy, the house spotless, and elegant meals prepared.  This, although a little disturbing at times, was good.  4 stars

Yellowback by Gemma Files (British) … A virus which attacks women by covering their face and chest with a mask is running rampant throughout the world.  That was different, but good. 4 stars

 

Overall, there are a lot of good stories in this bunch, more than normal in an anthology.  I never expect to love them all, but I was surprised at the amount that I did.  Yes, there were some that weren’t my cup of tea, but those may be yours, so yes, you should take a chance on this book.

Happy reading! 

 

Read: October, 2021

 

Favorite Quote from Beyond the Veil:

As human beings we kid ourselves that we have a semblance of control over our lives, our circumstances, our environment, our health… but if the year of the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that it doesn’t take much for that control to be wrested from us, and for the rug to be wrenched violently out from under our feet…..And that is the essence of true horror.”  (From the introduction)

 

I have also reviewed this book on GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4279946736

 

Have you read it?  Do you plan to?  Tell me your thoughts…do you agree or disagree with my assessment?  Either way, I’d love to know.