Monday, 29 September 2014

Pretty Little Dead Girls by Mercedes Yardley

Bryony Should have been murdered in second grade, she Knew It, her Father Knew It, the whole town Knew It, even the soon to be President Knew It, Fate wanted it; Happened but a mistake.

Through school, university, suicidal boyfriends, we watch as she cheats death and tries to choose where to live That does not Involve serial killers or places That Could be in horror movies. Eventually the ethereal Star Girl settles in Seattle where she meets a variety of wonderful friends, all are drawn to Also Become her protectors.

As the bodies start to mount up around her I Could almost feel the weight of her sorrow pulling at my own heart. In a sort of cat and mouse Told MY way of all the potential murderers after Bryony and left me on tenterhooks wondering who would be successful and get Their prize? She made it sound like it would be delicious to witness, Which was rather worrying!

The surrounding characters are well fleshed out and have a wonderful sense of reality to them, even now I miss them. The devotion from her friends is breath taking the obvious love from her Father and Mrs W Nearly broke my heart. I adored the little comments acerca's would-be, could-be's and may-be's.

The Saucepan of Vengeance will stay with me for a while as it really made me chortle.

The language is Certainly whimsical But Also so amazingly clever, it is after all quite a gore laden book with talk of serial killers, murder and death but I loved the conversational way That MY pulled me into the story, Involving me in Bryony's fate, she was very clever in mind evoking scenes Which Had No business make me smile, but did anyway.

The ending is spectacular and I can not wait to read more from this author; I finally got to read a book with the word discombobulated in it!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sleep Of Fools by Lori R. Lopez

In his sleep Chrono can climb like a monkey, only his waking world does not have monkeys, or trees or anything that is not grey and mechanized.

Fed by pills, dressed in grey, putting cogs into place each and every day, all day, then to sleep; this is Chrono’s world.  

Although sleep is not necessarily what it seems either as he is herded into a nether world; to destroy the clock he assembles during the day.

The analogies and mental visuals that LRL conjures up and lays before you are fantastic.

Then a chance fall, a kiss, an escaping screwdriver, a pair of green eyes and all that changes.

When Jewel spurs him into trying to escape the “system” their whole world is destroyed, the final twist in the tale is brilliant and I loved the end line.

Jar Baby used to be my favourite story of LRL of all her amazing work but I read this back to back three times I was so enthralled.  A masterpiece IMO.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Survivor by JF Gonzalez

Firstly I love the cover but it has nothing to do with this book, so not sure why the author decided to update it to this.

My first foray into hardcore and I was not overly impressed with the story line or the amount of grossness, I was pleased the author stayed away from animals (although there is one very brief paragraph) however, there are multiple rape scenes, tortures, mutilations, the making of snuff films, mentions of child pornography, bestiality, bondage, some cannibalism, so enough gore and splatter that this should be a fantastic read.

The whole “Hitcher” style kidnap at the beginning is well done, up until the police are involved; “Desperation” by SK crept into my mind with the no emotion cop (who later becomes an emotional wreck?!) and the whole being put in jail on a Friday afternoon and not being allowed out until Monday morning seems a little odd and convenient – can’t two high profile lawyers call in a few favours! It’s only a traffic offence not mass murder, yet.

After an explosive and riveting start; I was lulled in to an exquisite sensation of skin crawl and then suddenly slapped with a big yuck.

The main character, Lisa, is kidnapped, chained up and told she is the star of a hardcore S&M snuff film; well if that does not make your skin crawl then having her watch the would be rescuer suffer the torture, rape and mental breakdown that has been promised as “bonus content”  should be enough to scare the pants off you.

However, I found the most disgusting part of the book to be the suggestion that Lisa blurted out to save her own skin but this was badly set up at the beginning of the book and then the deaths which could have been a pivotal mind twist were glossed over IMO. 

The actual suggestion was repulsive, but then who knows what we would promise faced with certain torture and death.

A cat and mouse type of search and rescue is instigated by her husband , when he finally makes it our of prison, which is all a little to handy for the time line, the story sort of takes a nose dive after that.

None of the characters are likeable or believable. They are caricatures of what they could be.  The “good” side is too syrupy and the “baddies” act like total idiots in the end.

To have the “set-up” guy switch his mind set so quickly all the time got on my nerves; he is either an abused and traumatized kid post bunny torture and has no empathy or he is in it for the money but really cares, he can’t be both! Or at least not in the way JFG tells/explains it.

The Big Cheese in it all just seemed like a bumbling twit in the end and was a bit Al Capone (tax evasion - let down) in his eventual capture.

I found the over padding of the good guy vs bad guy image a little nauseating and predictable. As for the planting of a red herring, it’s supposed to divert your attention not scream at you “it was me! coooeee over here” or put at least put in a few more.

The elderly assassin is inspired, although I would have liked her story extended much more as there are about 30 years missing in her story. Her vicious killing of the security guards but decision to leave Brad (hubby) alive so her can wriggle free and phone the police is just horrible storytelling and again with the letting your characters do stupid things just to aid the story line shows very poor skill, and commitment to the story.

The end fight scene was such an anti-climax, firstly Lisa’s body seemed to have her head on the wrong way around; the rapist/killer was able to enter her from behind but she then bit off his nose? 

Then in her half stabbed, half-starved, waif like body state with no weapons training and having been in a catatonic condition for several days/weeks (time line is a bit off) how was she able to kill two big, strong men (who are proven killers) on her own and then drive herself through the Nevada desert (with no sat-nav!).   

Lets not even mention that said big, strong torturous killers, supposedly into the "hardcore S&M" scene scream like babies and act in total agony when she bites their nose - whoops I did. 

JFG really backs away from some of the kills, just some vague descriptions on how brutal they were, basically lots of build up to a damp squib throwaway line. As for the whole S&M scene – laughable, clearly no research done.

Despite the long winded comments from the author at the beginning that this is the final and most brilliant version, it has some serious consistency errors and definitely some typos that would have benefitted a good beta read and editor, which is surprising as I think this author (my first book by them) is quite high profile and has a fair few books to their name.

I did enjoy the ending. I loved the wrap up bits and I needed some soothing and loving after all the actual gross splatter thrown at me. There was no ambiguous ending and I enjoyed that, I want to be told a story not make up half of it myself.

Would I read this author again, maybe, if another title gets flashed up to me (or someone would like to suggest one) but I won’t be searching them out.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

At Hells Gates: Volume 1 - anthology

The forward is thought provoking and heart felt; I adored the reason the charity was chosen.

At the end of each story is a little comment on the story, bio and a few words from the authors. Personally I would have preferred the comment pre the story with the bio and word after, but that is editor’s choice.

Apart from one story which was a little too gothic for my tastes this really is a top notch collection and what a great charity to be assisting. The editors did very well to place the stories in such a fabulous order.

Black Crow by Devan Sagliani:
Poor Tyler, and his girlfriend Emily, he has literally run through Hell to be with her and now they are stuck in the woodshed. They are also surrounded by what seems to be hundreds of crows.

As he flits in and out of a dream state in his exhaustion the reality and dream world mix to give a strange foray into a well known burger bar!

I loved the personality the author gives his characters and those around them, the perfect pre-undead world that DS paints; I really cared about these characters, felt I knew them.

Whilst there is no definitive ending, only mere suggestion at what might happen, which I usually really dislike in stories, I really enjoyed this opening tale.

Exploding Shit Zombies by Stephen Kozeniewski:
Jake likes to call the zombies “sheeple”, their gatherings often turning into clusterfucks!  His weird and wild descriptions of the zombie horde continue as Jake brings his motley survival crew together.

Jake is an interesting person with some grand illusions and intentions, which makes for some grin inducing reading; until the explosions start to occur.  Vera and Chloe are witness the “atomic” explosions and the dead pan writing gives its own shudders as you think you know the death that awaits these two calm sisters who are enjoying a beer in their beach chairs.

When a swollen zombie explodes all over Chloe, Vera tries to explain the digestive system of a zombie, then lots more zombies start to explode and the mental vision just made me start to giggle – try explaining that to your non-zombie reading Hubby!

When they make a run for it and end up at The House with the Senate in session, you can imagine the comment that ends this story!

No Shelter by Lesa Kinney Anders & Matthew Kinney:
Derek is begging for money and food at the traffic lights when the zompoc starts.

Bikers Hawk and Snake are helping out at the shelter when Derek, freshly bitten, stumbles in. As more Bikers arrive to help and Derek “turns” it’s not long before bedlam occurs within the Shelter.

When Snake finally manages to get hold of his policeman brother he gets the full low down on what is occurring. The story continues but felt more like the opening chapters to a longer book.

Whilst I was interested in the story it felt a little cliché for me but the writing was faultless, just a lot of characters to try and keep up with in the melee of an apocalypse.

Ollie Ollie Oxen Free by Shana Festa:
Poor Nursing students Ollie and Emma experience their first patient death. After returning home and having a relaxing night, the morning news blasts at Ollie about “the living dead, cannibalisation and attacks”; she laughs this off as a mid-October scare prank.

However when Muffin the cat brings home a zombie she changes her mind; soon she is fighting for her life, minus some hair.

The descriptions of the zombies were suitably gross and the emotions and terror that SF has Ollie expressing all had a touch of reality to them.

As the slaughter carries on around her, the current storm protects her from the more horrific happenings, but not us the reader as SF continues to describe in lurid details all those horrors.

Reaching her boyfriends office she comes to face to face with the dilemma of the bitten person that is still alive and the fear of those around them; mob reaction seems to rule, but Karma is a bitch.

To say I really enjoyed the ending would be perverse but I would be very interested in reading more from this author and the world she creates.

Nefarious by Stevie Kopas:
Moira and Samson have locked their dead, but screaming, children in their bedroom. Moira’s mind has yet to catch up to the reality of the situation as she tries desperately to care for them, feed them, but she needs her husband’s help to really fulfil this task.

The disgusting disintegration of her mind, the feeding sessions and the final spousal conversation make for riveting reading.

Home Defense by James Crawford:
The zombies in this story have a sense of mischief and as Shawn and the narrator explain how they are shooting the invading party I could not help but giggle at the insanity of it.

When the zombies actually started verbally taunting back them I was totally gobsmacked! A great short, short story packed with fun and mayhem.

Stories from the Apocalypse by J. Rudolph:
Excerpts from a journal; Cali it seems is guilt ridden from ex patients to families she has failed to help.

There were lots of fly by names which made for complex reading and as I never got the chance to get to know them it was hard to care, but for Cali I had some sympathy.

The writing was concise and I should imagine the longer book version would be quite a read as the emotions wrought were quite raw.

Journal of the Undead: The Beginning by S.G. Lee:
Lt George Mitchell is on a “top-secret” army base hospital and is literally thrown in at the deep end tending to wounded soldiers.

When one of his patients sits up after he has pronounced them dead he starts to suspect where he is and what the soldiers are fighting beyond those high walls. Things get more hinky when he not allowed to administer a “special” shot to a bitten soldier.

When the Major finally clues him on the situation Lt Mitchell can only gawp. As weeks then months go by the situation, inevitably, worsens and soon they are over run.

A mix between military, guerrilla warfare, zombies and a personal diary it’s all a rush of action until the end when a little secret is revealed.

Princess and the Flea by Paul Mannering:
At first I could not continue reading this as the animal cruelty described in the first paragraph made me feel sick, not from fiction but fact.

As I flicked through I noticed that not all is what it seems. We are far in the future in this book and strange things are occurring. The final few paragraphs spell it all out.

Well written, thought out and graphic glad I continued.

Hour of the Beast by J.M. Martin:
Vera is struggling with her pregnancy and at odds with her husband.

I did not really connect with the characters or the story as I found the world she lives in a little hard to follow in such a short story. It was all a bit haunting and gothic, not my cup of tea at all.

The author does explain at the end it is a fantasy world but I felt it was too hard to enter in such a condensed way, also not really all that fitting for this anthology so far. Shame really as it was well written just not the genre of story I would usually pick up.

The Err Apparent by Tim Marquitz:
Thrust straight into the middle of some Goth ritual involving chants, sacrifices and lots of black capes and make up, Frank is surprised when this group of wanna-be teenagers manages to conjure up a demon.

When “Calvin Hobbes” from the “FBI” aka Frank from DRAC goes to investigate body no.3 he is set upon by the local Reverend to ensure they snare that local cult Satanist!

Frank is all there with his usual sense of humour and gung ho attitude, until he is made aware that the demon is actually a Manitou, and it’s on a deadly mission.

Lots of action, fun, killings, religious goings on and a few monsters, brilliant little short set in the Demon Squad series world.

Cracked: A Deadland Saga short story by Rachel Aukes:
A little snippet of a zombie infested world from a military unit leaders PoV. There is a lot of militarised speak and if you don’t know the lingo its hard going.

Maz is trying to keep the final three of his thirty five original unit alive and get back to base. The two final paragraphs are so sad.

This is a tiny section of a much larger series and whilst it gives you a great flavour of the writer’s style of itself it’s not really much of a story. However, if you love the military aspect of Zompoc then you will love this.

Undead Britain by Frank Tayell:
A year into the zompoc and Charlotte is a scout for the larger group looking to hide out in the Castle; in the undead world every noise is panic stations and the tension is palpable from the first sentence.

Flashback to the start of the zompoc and Charlotte, her husband and children are trying to prepare for the mayhem that ensues at the beginning. News excerpts give us information on what is going on in the rest of the world, the horrors to come.

Week by week they slowly realise that life has changed and they are struggling to merely survive. Eventually they make the decision to evacuate.

Told in minute detail the pain and trauma faced are excruciating, when the final kill comes it left me feeling bereft; brilliant writing from this author, such skill in building emotion and tension.

The Weight of Darkness by Sean T. Smith:
Sonja and her team, a post-apocalyptic commando team called the Foxes, are hiding out in the Vatican. The apocalypse was over twenty five years ago but the nuclear war was just starting.

Stuck in Europe having travelled by foot from Africa they are trying to reach home in Wyoming, USA. The plague that surrounds them is a new twist on the zombie theme, highly interesting concept.

Having only known survival and not living Sonja is an interesting character that I look forward to following up in this authors series of novels.

The Husband by Jacqueline Druga:
Miriam’s husband seems to have deteriorated and she wants to kill him. She has focus, she has reasons, she has ideas and she has a best friend!

Short, snappy, funny and brilliantly written. Fabulously wicked.

Seth by Jacqueline Druga:
Jena has a sort of second sight gift, not strong and not enough to earn a living by but enough. Whilst waiting to read a local medic in a coffee shop she meets Seth.

With an enigmatic invite she is hooked. During their discussion many strange things are said and done. When Mrs Williams comes for a reading and she is told to hand over the envelope the story truly starts to unfold.

A sad happy ending with a little spooky feel.

The Fertile by Jacqueline Druga:
A strange little story that seemed to have no purpose other than to confuse and amuse, which it did very well! I really like this author and hope to find more of her work.

Welcome to Hell by Sharon Stevenson:
Vampire hunters on Halloween! Shaun and Sarah, siblings that are chosen ones.

With all the normal vamp killing clichés in a supernatural nightclub called Haven, this was like a good Buffy episode.

I love this world the author has created and will be seeking this series out.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Consumption by Allison M. Dickson

Taste: Part I of the Consumption Trilogy:  Well, I, erm... where to start!

A true loves tale with a strange obsession?

Told in a fantastic conversational way, as part of a post bereavement confession to a "friend", this short tale tells of a young women’s obsession that just goes a little far even for obsessives! not sure I want my floors that shiny!

As I read my eyes got wider and wider at the story she was telling and at the end I just wanted to run out the door and I was sitting in my own house!

AMD has such a "fire side" element to her tales; they leave you with goose bumps and a funky taste.

Sweetness (Part II of the Consumption Trilogy): Who hasn't had a dream about killing their spouse? (nobody? whoops!)

The second in this trilogy which is focused around obsession and eating/tasting?  The descriptions are tangible; I could almost smell the strawberries.

This time it’s told from Bruce’s PoV he explains his lack of focus and sense of dismay as his world and body fall apart; clinging on to the hope that Serge the Haitian student can help him.

Half way through he discovers Marah’s licking but decides to do an about turn and go get coffee instead, here he meets a current student of his who he delightfully thinks would skin him alive and wear him as a suit, now that’s an image! As if poor Bruce does not have enough to contend with.

As things continue to deteriorate AMD forces a climax that I was not so pleased to endure, it was good, don’t get me wrong, it was just uncomfy to witness; the intended emotion I assume.

Feast (Part III of the Consumption Trilogy):  Marah has finally succumbed to the Hunger demon that is trying to consume her.

She has become a shell which just exudes evil. The things it has made her do on her journey to seek salvation are wonderful described in a sort of sideways glance, did I really see that style.

She meets Father Shaw in a back water church on Xmas eve, such are AMDs intense mental images I almost heard the haunting music playing.

AMD has such precise, perverse and fantastic writing skills; you can smell the musky strawberries that haunted Bruce.

As the demon reveals itself and tries to claim another victim Father Shaw brings closure and peace to Marah – but at what cost.

A brilliant ending to this novella trilogy, well worth the wait.

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Grey Matter by Billie Sue Mosiman

Naughty BSM for saying “I think you will like this story” to me, as bang went my productive Saturday afternoon. What an amazing opening paragraph, I dare you to read it and not want to finish the book.

There is a sadistic killer living amongst the gentle folk on the Mountain.    John Grey knows what he is, he likes what he is, he is well skilled in his pretense of normality, but he likes killing, he needs to kill. 

Just down from his den of torture is Caleb’s cabin, a teenage boy that has already made his fortune.  This allows him to provide a place of safety, a home, to his long abused friends; Abe, Ben & Josie, not forgetting Gabby the dog.

You cannot help but be envious of this wonderful friendship, even the obvious love triangle between the three boys and Josie, is treated among them as a source of strength and joy; the loyalty and love they feel for each other is clearly described, and played upon, by BSM.

Her ability to create characters that feel real and then insist that you care about them is amazing. It’s easy to see why she is nominated so often for awards.

When the EMP bombs are dropped, the lights go out and life changes for everyone in the small town and those on the Mountain, the struggle for survival just became harder, especially with a killer in their midst.   The devastation portrayed by BSM in the failing of modern culture and how people turn on each other was more terrifying than any zombie horde.

When John starts to “slip” mentally his killing becomes uncontrolled.  Friendships are now about to be tested to the limit. BSM has now ratcheted up the tension.

With law enforcement having left the town or left their own minds, the townsfolk so hungry they turn to “who knows what”, the safety of the cabin soon becomes the center of a blood bath.

The last quarter of the book is so tense my teeth hurt from the clenching.

Even when I thought it was over I turned the page to find more stalking, more horror and more murders, exquisitely described by BSM in her gentle way that left me bug eyed.

Happy ending? Good guys beat out the bad guys?? No spoilers here, but hang on to your pants because this is a wild ride into hell with no end in sight. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Mind Sweeper by A.E. Jones

The opening line to this book kind of sets the standard – An angel, a demon and a vampire walk into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it's just another day in the life of Kyle McKinley.

Whilst paranormal romance is NOT usually my thing I was asked if I would be interested in giving at whirl – to which I replied, sure I will read the first chapter and see if I can continue, no promises and no offers of a “good” review either; author accepted.

Basically this an excellent murder mystery with demons, angels and vamps – plus some awesome teasing and sex, I could not put it down once started and was highly impressed with the world that AEJ has created.

Kyle is a human who can erase memories and from a young age has been employed by a supernatural protection group. This first story, in what promises to be a series (horah), opens up and explains the world in which she survives.

All the characters were well fleshed out, and each is given just enough back story to make you want to know more, but also enough here and now personality to feel like you know them.

I loved all the character descriptions which were given early on, nothing staccato, just gently blended in. AEJ managed to do this with all the differing demon information too. Filtering in little pieces of information without bombardment and overload. All the explanations are viable too, no stretches of the imagination needed here – we all believe in supernaturals don’t we??

Once I finished the book, I really missed Jean-Luc and Misha, the 400+year old Vampire and Shamat demon that she works with;  especially Misha with his addiction to TV/movies as it allows for lots of funny references eg Scooby Doo and Charlie’s angels, not to the mention all the cool films.

Other characters are there to enhance the story and never used as filler.  Even if we only get glimpses of them, they feel like real people.

From Joe Dalton, the cop who has all the women in a tizz to Tony the amazing empathic chef, who always has the best dish to fix any mood.  Kyle’s cat, called Booger, has the best story line ever.

AEJ does not appear to have left any supernatural group out and creates a world you can believe in; the legacy, lore, councils, families and businesses. 

Told from Kyles, point of view, the tense never wavering, a feat which is hard to do for an experienced writer, this was impressive, especially as all elements of the story are told this way, no break off gaps no jumping to other scenes or expectation of “known knowledge” and no sneaky “oh she didn’t see it but this is what happened”.

The twists and turns at the end are not contrived or flimsy in any way, I was expecting one thing and got totally surprised with another. I thought the ending was beautiful.

The editing is nigh on perfect I did not notice a dot or comma out of place and I want that powerpoint presentation on demons!

It is hard to believe that this is a first novel from the author, the story is complex, well thought out and has some amazing character building. This is a new author to watch and get behind. Let’s hope she does not stay in the shadows for long.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Spectral Book of Horror Stories

On the Tour by Ramsey Campbell:  Stu works in a used vinyl shop, his claim to fame the round of drinks he had and a low billing he once had with The Beatles.

Now that the local tour bus is showing his house it is the highlight and focus of his day. As poor Stu descends into his own private madness RC does well to show the madness from the inside.

RC reminded me of some fascinating words, loved lugubrious, and he had some clever one liners that made me stop and think eg. silent as a photograph.

However, I found the conversation elements hard work as the editing did not seem to gel well, overall though a good story to open with.

The Dog’s Home by Alison Littlewood: I was gripped by this story until the killing.

Whilst I understand the horror of the story, the killing overtook my feelings and ended any enjoyment I got. I cannot abide animal abuse, even fictional, using it for shock effect in a story feels like a cheat.

Funeral Rites by Helen Marshall: A strange little story about Nora and her need to find somewhere quiet to stay and study.

Not sure what it was all about really, however, the author had a very clipped way of writing that did lend itself well to the story flow.

Slape by Tom Fletcher: Who knew delivering milk could be so dangerous!

A snippet of a story but well written and left with just enough information to leave you with a shudder and what might be in Mr Bacon’s house.

The Night Doctor by Steve Rasnic Tem: Sam aches everywhere but he has a little friend called the Night Doctor.

Not sure I enjoyed how this was written but I did like the premise of the story, strange but I think it would have benefited from being stretched out to become more of a novella than a short story.

Dull Fire by Gary McMahon: A haunting story on many levels. Two severely abused people come together in love, but bring their baggage with them.

The author does a neat trick when he explains how the baggage manifests and off loads itself. I found myself routing for these two young lovers. So far, easily, the best story.

The Book and the Ring by Reggie Oliver: Kind of lost me in the first paragraph and then a little more with all the olde worlde language.

As I was unable to fully immerse myself in this story I lost much of the tension and foreboding that the author was trying to instil.

Just not my cup of tea, shame as possibly the longest story in the collection.

Eastmouth by Alison Moore: The sense of enclosure and entrapment is dripping in this short tale, but I do hate stories that stop as soon as they start.

I wanted more from this as it left me feeling empty, not scared.

Carry within some small sliver of Me by Robert Shearman:  I really enjoyed this story even if I had no idea what was going on at the end!

It was well written and kept a fast pace, the main character had the main voice but there was also an outside commentary going on, which really pushed the story along.

Like other stories in this collection it finished in an odd way and I would have liked a more definitive ending.

The Devils Interval by Conrad Williams: The author gets very caught up in explaining the nuances of guitar playing, which if you have no interest, is exceptionally boring. That said, he makes some good music references.

Not sure where this story was going or coming from and another ending left on a cliff edge.

Stolen Kisses by Michael Marshal Smith: I was really wondering where this story was going, how it could be classed as horror and then WHAM!

Amazing build up, fantastic last sentence. Best short story in the collection.

Cures for a Sickened World by Brian Hodge: Best lines in the whole collection!

I’d rather be staked out spread-eagle while Satan’s most incontinent he-goat takes a steaming infernal dump on my face than listen to another minute of this.

And on they go! I could not help but smirk throughout this story, unsure if that was what the author intended, however, as the torture was all merely hinted at it allowed my mind wander, possibly making the read worse than it was.

Between the smirks and the shudders this was a well written story with a sort of moral stance.

The October Widow by Angela Slatter: A lot of buildup in this story, almost cat and mouse with hints of what the mouse is.

Nicely written, but I think calling a lawn mower recalcitrant was pushing the use of words a little far!

Not sure I would class this as scary as far too much was hinted at and never shown or explained. It would be a good Tales of the Unexpected type story though, as it had that “left up in the air” type feel to it.

The Slista by Stephen Laws: Very hard to read due to the narrating character only just learning to rite (sic) but even that seems wrong as some words are correct and other not spelled phonetically, plus the “write as you speak” was all wrong.

This really detracted from the story line and just left me cringing most of the time.  If this had been part of a larger story then I think it could have worked well.

Outside Heavenly by Rio Youers: Some really great mental imagery in this story and the author does well to guide but not dictate.

It is a harrowing story and tale of revenge. Not sure which is worse the telling, the history or the revenge, although wholly justified.

Really enjoyed the telling and the finale of this tale.

The Life Inspector by John Llewellyn Probert: Franklin gets a life overhaul by the HM Department of Life Inspection.

This little tale is both amusing and sinister, I could fully understand his frustration at the stupidity of the questioning but the underlying current of where this story was headed made my own stomach turn into knots.

The ending, however, was not quite as I expected and was glad to be surprised.

Something Sinister in Sunlight by Lisa Tuttle: I enjoyed the English man in Hollywood aspect, the author was clever in her capture of the subtleties.

Home sick and due to fly out soon he embarks on a dinner date with a stalker – oh you just know there are going to be problems!

I was not expecting the ending great shock!

My only issue was this word – abstemious - using the word of the day calendar to write a book for the general populace may not be the best use of resources; took me several author friends, two group sites and three days to find it.

This video does not exist by Nicholas Royle: I really enjoyed this story, he had suspense, freakiness and a good amount of blood and gore, something that has so far been missing from this compilation.

However I felt a little let down at the end as felt the story stopped with no ending.

Newspaper Heart by Stephen Volk: Whilst I really enjoyed all the flash back moments of this story setting, it did start to feel a little contrived when every single moment of the era was mentioned.

The length of this story really allowed for the tension and characters to build, each quite complex in their human emotions.

Whilst much of the back story is merely hinted at, enough is given to build a sad, bleak picture or this supposed happy family.

As firework night arrives and the finale occurs I was aware, early on in the story what was to occur, but this did not stop it being horrifically sad, but not horrific.

Overall thoughts; A lot of these stories were well written and the little bios at the end of the book certainly enlightened me to how  well published the authors that have been included are. But, I wanted to know what their influences were and how they came up with the basic premise of the story that I loved, however the bios were merely a list of all the authors’ works published etc and no real information about them or why they wished to contribute to this project.

Only the odd story gave me a shudder and only a single story had any gore in it, whilst not all horror should be splatter, chopping, gore and gruesome, these were all a little soft and unscary for me.

I also felt that whilst I like reading the dedications and reasons why, they have to have context and meaning. Mark Morris rambled on about the reasoning behind the gathering of these stories but had not contributed himself, which I found a shame, being bamboozled with lots of horror writer’s names of days gone by maybe impressive to others, but personally I just skipped them whilst rolling my eyes – so what does that make me? A horror slob I guess, do I enjoy the genre or what I read any less? Who knows!  The snobs amongst you who can reel off twenty different, unknown authors and say what marginal or seminal influences they had on so and so sub-genre will probably be rolling their eyes at me now.

BUT, at the end of the day, as long as people are reading, reviewing and keeping the genre refreshed and getting it out there to others – who cares! 

Anthologies are great in my opinion as they open you up to an authors style and give you an opportunity to try lots of them without committing to a novel.

Like a box of chocolates, some you love, some you like and some you spit out!