THE LOG HOUSE (Guest Review)

“I know that they are strong and fast. They don’t feel fear, don’t even know what it means. You can’t ward them off with charms and urban legends. They can climb and run and they never tire. Only the light can distract them, and once that has gone, you have nothing. They will see you, and once they have, they will never stop until they have you. If they knew we were here, we’d already be dead.”
-Penny, protagonist of The Log House

Imagine a forest that loses its serenity the longer you inspect every individual piece of its whole, evolving into a looming fear that can only be alleviated one of two ways.

Pull your focus back to ignorance and rejoin the lie of serenity, or keep looking closer to learn the truth, no matter how ugly it may be.

That’s where Baylea puts you, not only within the story, but with the characters as well.

Thanks to an event through Pigeonhole, I was fortunate enough to read Baylea Hart’s debut novel in advance.

And what a hell of a debut novel it is.

Though her first novel, Baylea is no newcomer to the horror scene. From writing and directing short films to having her work published in horror-writers.com’s very own anthology “Dreams of Desolation”, she’s had her toe dipped in the bloody waters for some time now.

The Last of Us meets The Village meets Children of Men, The Log House is a survival horror on a quaint scale. A whatnot of suspenseful dread lurking in tranquility that haunts you with lingering imagery.

After an unexpected attack, Penny finds herself on her own, separated from the safety of her village, unable to be rescued. Now she must journey through the cold wilderness alone and find a way back home to her son before her passage is closed off for the winter, sealing her fate as well. But is she truly alone?

Penny’s mission is one filled with questions, doubt, and unquestionable fear. And as each footstep she takes reveals more truths about her past and present, the more uncertain the future becomes.

Penny herself is flawed, but to what extent is the driving force. Her heart is cold and buried, but does it still beat? And what buried it so deeply?

Ultimately, it’s not about Penny’s goal to survive the living rot from a dying world and rescue her son, but rather or not if she deserves to be reunited with him. What does the darkness and the silence hold for Penny in addition to “them”?

To say more would rob the reader of the experience of learning the ugly truths, for it’s not what we see that frightens us, but what we don’t see. The unraveling of the unknown is the driving force. But all questions, all paths, all conflicts and resolutions, all begin and end at one place.

The Log House

You can find her book at:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

And follow Baylea on her site or at Twitter

Infected Freaks Volume One: Family First book review

Infected Freaks Cover

Review of “Infected Freaks Volume One: Family First”
Review by Joy Yehle

I’m not going to lie, I love The Walking Dead, but I hate the long breaks between the short seasons. I’ve been searching for something to fill the void and I think I may have finally found it.

I picked up “Infected Freaks Volume One: Family First” by Jason Borrego not knowing what to expect. What I found was a family man in a desperate world torn apart by a civil war with global impact. Abraham Heinz is trying to keep his family alive and reunite with members driven apart by the civil war. He is facing conflict on every front, including his own aging body.

If that isn’t bad enough, a possible cosmic occurrence has changed the environment and a very real fungus has mutated to infect humans. Those infected become grotesque, homicidal…well, freaks. The Infected are pushing on to Abraham’s relatively safe mountain farm and in the face of more loss than he can handle he has to make a move into uncertain territory.

The story is extremely fast paced, and the author is effective in using language to create and maintain tension throughout the story. To my delight, I found myself tightening up every muscle in my neck while reading. It’s not only the kick-ass-zombie-smashing-gore-flying scenes, either. The internal and external struggles of the relatable characters really make this a compelling and interesting story.

It can be argued that zombies and their tales have come to represent real-world fears and Jason Borrego touches on just about every one. The struggles within a family and the things that come between us; the loss of a family member; the divided political environment of the United States; uncontrollable spread of disease; war; and the darker side of human nature. Any one of the circumstances of Infected Freaks are plausible making this story even more disturbing in the best way.

This is the first of a planned series of novella length installments. I’m hoping the author doesn’t make us wait too long in between releases. The waiting is killer.

Hiram Grange and the Digital Eucharist review

Hiram Grange and the Digital Eucharist

Hiram Grange and the Digital Eucharist by Robert Davies
Review by S. Kay Nash

 Hiram Grange and the Digital Eucharist is book 3 in a 5-part series of novellas detailing, “The scandalous misadventures of Hiram Grange”. I was skeptical about jumping into the middle of a series, worried that the story wouldn’t stand alone. I was wrong.

When we first meet Hiram, he and two others are in the middle of carnage. They’ve interrupted a demonic summoning and getting down to the business of sending the surviving demon back to hell. Hiram is fighting many demons in that subway, the least of which is the one standing in front of him. Prepared by the prologue, I was able to dive into the rest of the tale without hesitation.

The rest of the story does not disappoint. Years after the incident with the demon in the subway, Hiram is urged by his employer, Mrs. Bothwell, to take another job, telling him it’s a “routine job”. The investigation involves a new celebrity cult, an outbreak of “microconfluences” and a technological mindware device that could be controlling thousands of cult recruits. He accepts, knowing that he has to move on to clear the memories of the past that haunt him.

Turn the page and hang on for a fast-paced, tightly written story that is a fantastic mash-up of horror, paranormal, science fiction and urban fantasy. While Hiram is a generally unlikable man, addicted to booze, drugs, porn and guns, he has enough hangups to make him sympathetic. The new-age cult-leader/corporate overlord/mad scientist antagonist left me wanting a little more detail on what they were up to, but the plot revealed through the investigation is chilling enough. As Hiram’s job progresses, it’s obvious that he’s not just the right man for the job — he’s the only one who can pull it off.

One benchmark of a good horror story is whether or not it actually scared me. I’m happy to report that I read the last half of the book with the lights on. Oh, yes, it is gory, bloody, and cringe-inducing. There are descriptions of things that made me flinch and shudder and pray I never walk into anything like that in my lifetime.

Even though this is the third in the series, it easily stands alone. I recommend this book for readers who like paranormal horror, mad scientists, demons run amok and a whole lot of bloody trauma along the way.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of the review. This review was originally published at http://www.bookie-monster.com

Hello Darkness review

Hello Darkness cover

Hello Darkness by Sam Best

Reviewed by S. Kay Nash

In the horror genre, many authors try for something new and different, something with a twist to surprise their readers. But when it comes right down to it, tales of good vs. evil have scared us for hundreds of years. Why mess with a good thing? Sam Best offers up a tale of ancient evil that delivers a reminder of why we should fear the monsters under the bed.

The setting is the idyllic Colorado town of Falling Rock. The tourists are leaving and the locals are getting ready for the long. cold winter. Ben Howard returns to his family home with his daughter, Annabelle to start a new life after his wife’s death. We meet the rest of the town’s residents and see that not everything is as it seems. The foundations are laid for the escalating horrors that await us. The characters are engaging and well-rounded, with plenty of back story to gain insight into their motivations.

Tommy Bridges knows there’s a monster under his bed. Four-year-old Annabelle Howard is making friends with wolves in the back yard. There’s a fire burning in a black pit near The Last Valley Church and it’s growing every day. The police are ignoring warnings from the church’s pastor, who urges them to evacuate the town. The population is thinning and it’s not because the tourists are heading home for the season. Something’s in the woods, and only one man is truly prepared for what is coming.

When a school girl is abducted from the woods outside the playground, be prepared for evil unleashed. Ben, his family, and the local police chase false leads, dead ends, and creatures that evoke images straight out of a Hieronymus Bosch nightmare. The action is tense and well-paced, with scenes that play out almost cinematically. The author gives you just enough time to catch your breath and let it all soak in before diving into the next blood-soaked tableau.

My complaints are few. Some of the character backgrounds are a bit too wordy, and I found myself skipping some paragraphs that didn’t seem relevant. Without giving spoilers, there’s a character who is repeatedly taken in by the same trick, despite knowing full well it’s a ploy. I found that implausible. I also felt the epilogue was weak. However, none of these things kept me from enjoying the novel. It’s a solid page-turner that will keep you guessing at who–or what–will survive until the end.

I recommend this book for readers who like classic supernatural horror stories, complete with unlikely heroes, self-serving villains, blood, gore, and depraved hellspawn.

 

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of the review. This review was originally published at http://www.bookie-monster.com

Fresh Fear: Contemporary Horror review

Fresh Fear cover

Fresh Fear: Contemporary horror is edited by William Cook
Review by S. Kay Nash

Each story in this anthology touches on the fears of the modern world. In the introduction, a selection from W.J. Renham’s The Art of Darkness: Meditations on the Effect of Horror Fiction,  we are reminded that, “Horror serves to reconnect us with our primal selves, provides temporary respite from the droning conditions of modern life.”

This isn’t a taste of the horror fiction of today–it’s a giant snarling bite. Some stories examine the experience of being bullied, losing a child, and the terror of becoming a drooling husk devoid of emotion. Primal fears of ghosts, demons and ancient evil unleashed upon humanity are also found here. Some of these tales are a closer look at the horrors we view on the 24-hour news feeds where serial killers, rapes and murders keep us both frightened and entertained. Some authors examine the quiet horrors of isolation, insanity, and the complacency of those who view evil but do nothing to stop it.

None of the authors shy away from vivid imagery, gore, violence or misogyny. The one story that haunts me the most, “Camps” by Jack Dann, was a glimpse into the history of World War II. The images conjured in his words are as haunting as the photographs that survive the Nazi concentration camps. Another favorite was “Welcomeland” by Ramsey Campbell. His portrait of a dilapidated town and the equally ramshackle amusement park gave me chills. The lyrical, “Darkness Dancing in Your Eyes” by WH Pugmire was a glimpse of eternal loyalty, beauty, and pain.

I highly recommend Fresh Fear for fans of short fiction, visceral horror, and good storytelling.

***

Scathe meic Beorh God of the Wind: An academic research trip to Mora, New Mexico brings a man face-to-face with the gods of the desert and teaches him more than he wants to know.

Ramsey Campbell Welcomeland: A man travels home to visit the amusement park that he helped finance. Meant to revitalize the economy, he finds the park failed and the town in shambles.  You can’t go home again, but if you do, can you ever leave?

It wasnt the desolation that troubled him so much as the impression that the town was yet struggling to change, to live.

Lily Childs Strange Tastes: She’s the perfect caretaker. Loyal, neat, clean, and a fantastic gourmet cook. When her employers are arrested for tax fraud, she discovers they share her tastes in more than just kitchen appliances.

Lincoln Crisler Nouri and the Beetles: In a time of war, the young men leave to fight. What does a girl have to do to get a husband?

Jack Dann Camps: People often speak of those suffering a terminal disease as being fighters. Stephen fights his war for survival on two fronts. The first is a war of pain and drugs. The second is a battle of memories long past and never forgotten.

Robert Dunbar High Rise: Brandon, his brother Tyrone, and their mother move to a better room in an ill-kept high rise. When Tyrone meets one of the ghostly former tenants, Brandon must save his life before he wastes away.

Thomas Erb Spencer Weaver Gets Rebooted: A teen has only the internet and his mother to help him get through his last year of High School. He seeks revenge on the bully who tormented him with the tools at his disposal.

Brandon Ford Scare Me: As a reviewer, I can honestly say that this was my favorite story in the whole anthology. It was fantastic! I swear it. Really. Not joking. Looks nervous.

Carole Gill Raised: A boy’s despair over his mother’s madness leads him to a career in medicine. While dissecting corpses for his classes, he discovers he has a passion for studying the deceased. Will his mother’s curse follow him, or is there something else in the past that haunts him?

Lindsey Beth Goddard The Tooth Collector: When her daughter is killed in traffic, Jenny knows it wasn’t an accident. She seeks out the man responsible and demands her daughter be returned to her.

JF Gonzalez Love Hurts: A tale of the Black Dahlia, the Laguna State Mental Hospital, undying love, and the transforming ecstasy of pain.

Dane Hatchell The takers: Mr Jaffe is being held in a medical testing facility, desperate to escape. The Rooks shoot him full of drugs to steal his soul.  The ‘takers shuffle him from place to place and whisper the words that strike terror in his heart, “Its Wednesday, and its time for Bingo!

E.A. Irwin Justice through Twelve Steps: Particularly disturbing tale of insanity, rape and murder.

Charlee Jacob Locked inside the Buzzword Box: Clanci Feamy is her father’s greatest experiment in terminal insanity. She’s thinking outside box, and she’s hungry.

Heaven waited, so did Hell. The two were even the paradigm for the amalgamation of rapture and damnation. Both places were Terminal Wards.

K Trap Jones Demon Eyed Blind: A demon-hunter pursues her prey with skill and precision until she backs him — and herself — into a corner. She’s down to two souls, one body, and the police banging on the locked door.

Tim Jones Protein: When the ice melts and the world is awash with water, the next world war will be fought over calories. You can survive if you have enough protein.

Vada Katherine – Block: Block’s wife, Luna was murdered. Now he is investigating a series of murders that may be related.

Block has lived too much, suffered the touch of madmen, tasted the ugly redolence of death and outlived the only human being that ever loved him.

Roy C. Booth and Axel Kohagen Just Another Ex: A private investigator goes after a man suspected of cheating on his wife. Unfortunately, it’s not his wife who has hired the detective.

Shane McKenzie So Much Pain, So Much Death: Distraught parents are overjoyed to discover that their missing daughter has been found alive. The man responsible for her disappearance rots in a cell, but her father has suspicions that all is not as it seems.

Shaun Meeks Perfection Through Silence: Tom is tormented by a sound. All he wants is silence, to quiet the ticking that no one else can hear. His grandmother could help him, but she’s been dead for almost a year.

Adam Milliard The Incongruous Mr Marwick: Which is the greater evil, the perpetrator of torment, or the one who stands by and merely observes?

Christine Morgan Nails of The Dead: Plenty of people are preparing for the end of the world. Some intend to merely survive it, others work to build the vehicles that will usher it in.

Billie Sue Mosiman Verboten: Dorothy wants to be a singer in Nashville, but her sister vanished from the truck stop up the road. Her grandfather says strangers are verboten,  but it doesn’t stop her from looking.

D.F. Noble – Psych: Working on the psych ward is a difficult job. Sometimes it helps to talk to a professional so your work doesn’t follow you home.

Chantal Noordeloos The Door: Jen’s sister Mila is having nightmares. Their stepfather is acting strangely and the basement door is locked. Is the danger on this side of the door or beyond it?

WH Pugmire – Darkness Dancing in Your Eyes: Enoch Blade awakens in his master’s house, alone and despondent. He still seeks to serve the alchemist who taught him to dance when there is nothing left but grave stones and shadows in the mirror.

“Enoch found his way home, to the abode where he had assisted his master when that alchemist had lived, where he served his master still in some unholy way.”

William Todd Rose The Grave Dancer: People have attempted to film and photograph ghosts for as long as the technology has been available. When Jamie and his friends view an 8mm film from his late grandfather’s collection, they decide to find out if the local ghost stories are real.

Anna Taborska Out of the Light: In the vast stacks of the Bodleian Libraries, a student’s book request becomes a scholar’s worst nightmare.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of the review. This review was originally published at http://www.bookie-monster.com