Saturday, 1 November 2014

Hallowed Horror Collection

What a fantastic collection this book is, some amazing authors who have supplied some huge novels and brilliant novellas. Everyone should find something they like in here, hopefully a few new authors to try out too.
As for value for money – hells bells its less than a £/$ for NINE stories!

The Spirit Clearing by Mark Tufo:
What a great way to start this amazing anthology of NOVELS and novellas, not short stories but full on, full length reads; such great value, especially when you see the calibre of author included.

I had stayed away from reading this for ages.... as I am so in love with MT in the Zombie Fallout series I did not want to sully my mind (or get confused!)

However, this was just amazing!

MT has a true talent; he is able to weave a complex story bringing in all sorts of emotional, physical, reality and spooky elements. I felt myself sweating away with the characters in their struggles and don’t get me started on the tears that I shed; thankfully no cats were killed in this one!!

All ends are neatly tied up in the final climax, which is great... I do so hate reading a book that finishes ambiguously!
Any fans of MT won’t be disappointed with this.

All the Little Children by Christine Sutton:
This novella sized story seems to bump along, nice happy families etc. then CS blasts the reader with the horror.

What starts out as a bit of ghost story turns into a possession, throw in a few poltergeists and demons and you get all rolled up into one sharp, snappy gore fest.

Death and its vivid descriptions just bolt off the pages at you via CS and her amazing descriptions.

I can’t really explain much about the stories main elements without giving it away other than the ending leaves you with a cold shudder in on a warm sunny day! Although that was my first read of it back last, last summer! On the night before Halloween it still gave me a shocking chill!

A great, quick read for a lunch time scare.

Fangs in Vain by Scott Nicholson:
Sabrina is an Angel and Luke is a Vampire, strange combination of lovers, but SN makes it work in this fascinating novella.

Initially I felt a little out of synch with the story, feeling that maybe I had missed the other parts of the story or that this was a little novella in the middle of a series of novels, but apparently not; it’s a stand-alone or possibly the start of a series.

Whilst this clearly shows off the talent of SN I felt the story lacked a proper start, had a good middle but left me hanging and wanting at the end.

There was a huge amount of humour and I really wanted to find out more about these two brilliant characters, so I hope SN picks them up some other time, maybe when he gets bored writing all his other fabulous novels!

The Unsaintly by Lisa Vasquez:
LV can certainly ping you into a scene, I was so engrossed in the scenes I almost forgot the underlying storyline.

The initial scenes of Demons, God, Angels and Hell were amazing although I felt the eventual fall of Lucifer was a little anti-climactic after all that wonderful build up.

Then the story swapped to a different era and setting and I was a little confused.

The beautiful, intricate descriptions continue however as LV now starts a seemingly new story about Isabel, daughter of the King of France, eventually to become a Saint, she links the two stories as Isabel is “tested” with all the horror that befalls her and the terrible nightmares of Hell that she suffers.

There seems to be lots of sub plots going on with Marciel her guardian Angel and Lucifer sending various Demons after her, whilst in the background God and Marciel have random meetings and strange chess matches that LV plots meticulously via sequenced moves – which meant nothing to me!

I did enjoy the humour as the Angels and Demons have petty arguments but also felt that it was almost out of tune with the thrust of the book. I found the jumping around of narratives and storylines very confusing and really distracted from the overall feel of the book.

Will I pick up the other two in this trilogy? Doubtful unless they pop up on a good offer etc. I was not drawn to this author style but her attention to detail was amazing.

Generation Evil by Eric A Shelman:

This novel has a complex setting of past, not so past and present which is articulated very well by EAS.

I felt the characters were realistic, 3D and mostly likeable without being perfect so I developed a bit of bond with them, which is needed as the plot lines are deep, clever and the twists keep coming but EAS was able to keep me focused and not lose me in the broil.

Five witches are burned at the stake in Massachusetts in the late 17th century. Four are good and one is bad, evil, nasty bad! As the flames consume them the evil warlock casts a spell for eternal rebirth to torture mankind, the four good witches join together and cast their own spell for rebirth and chase him through time to protect those he touches and try to destroy him; however they miss that bit of the spell that grants their new bodies pre-knowledge.

Fast forward more than three-hundred years; which is a shame as I think EAS could of given a few snippets of previous lives instead the reader is thrust into a dusty attic in California where a trunk is found by four friends. What they then find inside changes their lives forever, hence why snippets of their previous incarnations would have been good to show an on-going pattern.

I am very tempted to seek out more novels by this author and that’s why I love anthologies so much!

Pride by Chantal Noordeloos:
So I originally read this as a short story, it has since been updated, lengthened and some serious eeew moments added.

Adolf Zakerny is a notorious serial killer, he has no set Modis Operandi he merely seeks to inflict as much pain as possible, and he is a master of his work, giving tribute to his Lord of Lies.

Eventually the time comes when he feels ready to share his true calling and nature with Hell, and as he plummets to his death, you may think the book has started at the wrong end of the story. However, CN excruciatingly makes us witness his rebirth, cell to sinew, bone to muscle. Every little nuance of tension is explained, like reading in slow motion with HiDef.

The road to Hell ala CN is a revolting sounding one, and he witnesses things that make you feel sick to your stomach with expectant glee. It is soon his turn, as Adolf’s sins are “weighed” and a punishment is suggested, he looks forward to meeting his new boss, but soon becomes confused when he steps into a scene from Perfect Houses.

CN has certainly done her homework on Demons and mythology. Demons loiter around Lucifer’s mansion house and she does a brilliant interpretation of making it seem like a normal work place on a regular day.

Adolf is invited to sample Hell and he enters the Redemption Labyrinth and finally finds some of the bliss he seeks. No over the top gore description is required as CN taps into the true horrors of torture and the internal removal of hope, to make your goosebumps rise and the hairs on your neck tingle.

After much discussion and some feather preening (did you see the title?) Lucifer has a room suited exactly for Adolf’s needs.

CN is such an eloquent author, not a word is out of place or written down without thought, this line alone really made me think; "their own preconception of sin, often most find it most difficult to forgive themselves ".

An enjoyable, yet icky, read with some thought provoking issues and images. I do hope that CN is going to expand on this a little….7 deadly sins and all that!

Whispers by Heath Stallcup:
The story starts in 1885 with Sheriff “two guns” and an amazing breakfast that I could almost smell.  This started to feel like a good old fashioned western book; an honest Sheriff and some bad out of towners intent on mayhem and evil.

HS then fast forwarded me to modern day Texas, which strangely feels like it has not changed much!  A collector of Old West antiques  “buys” some naughty items off two drug addicts, Casper and Roger, who have been raiding the Little Hope cemetery, and you just know that no good (or Hope) can come of that! And so begins the story.

The story flicks back and forth between the two eras; you can start to feel the story and tension build up. It is the perfect mix of good, old fashioned justice, twist, turns and things that go bump in the night; something that HS is perfect at (I love his Monster Squad series). The book spans over 100 years and as another reviewer put beautifully this is a story about “a festering vengeance waiting, waiting to have revenge on evil, true evil”.

Whilst this is a long read I really felt hard pushed to find a “put down” moment and ended up with two very, very long days routed to a chair reading – hard work!   I don’t usually do ghost stories but this has so much more to it, so take your time with this novel and savour all the subtle horror and spooks provided by HS.

Shifters by Jaime Johnesee:
This was one of the first ebooks I read when I got my kindle and the first of JJ’s books and I was so blown away I bought everything else that she has published since then!

Loved the myth explosion right at the beginning! and the dead pan delivery was brilliant.   Lots of really great humour moments!

I really hope this is the start of a series as the character and "world" is fantastic!   An FBI werepanther!

There were a few little bits that niggled and could have been written better, such as the partners ignorance of her studying seemed a little off and the "change" would have worked better as a flashback maybe, as thought she would have shared this with her partner long before.....

I have loved rereading this but can also see how JJ has grown as an author and that this little novel needs an update, spit n polish! But I believe this is in the works.

Tool Shed by Armand Rosamilia:
Michael Zaun has arrived on his newly inherited farm and is investigating exploding cows – what a great first line and start to a story; loved the little CSI and music references.

Michael is also 300lbs of blubber and lives in the never, never land of diets which start tomorrow and dreams of living off the land, something he needs to research and finds himself at the local library where he meets Susan; AR plays this meet and relationship really well. Both are characters that you want to like and I really felt myself having feelings for them throughout the story.

Next AR throws in the group of teenagers who are at “play” in the shed with weed and almost-sex. Strangely enough this ends up calling the “monster” aka Dir of the Earth who wants only to live among us, eat cheeseburgers and have sex (don’t all underworld beings?), but this comes at a price, of course, and it soon becomes obvious what happened to the cows.

I found this story really intense as Michael must live up to his families calling and Dir does what Dir does!

Oooh a prequel in 2015!! Yippee!!

Dust to Dust by Eden Crowne:
Well, I have to admit I originally picked this up as part of a free promotion on a FB page. However, I am so glad to have had the opportunity to reread this as I clearly missed some of the little nuances last time, and loved hearing about Tasmin again.

Tasmin has been tricked by Soul Eaters, they befriended her when she was lonely, gained her trust and then split her soul between them like a take away one night. She soon learns how to jump into near death bodies and now seeks out these people to regain the pieces of her soul. 

We first meet her as she chooses a not very nice vampire body to jump into, who is currently ending life by being strangled by Drake, a Fae with issues.

The story is intricate, well thought out, with lots of differing strings attached but so wonderfully written you have NO trouble keeping up.  As Tasmin keeps having to jump bodies to track down her Soul Eating fiends the sense of humour is a great relief amongst the gore; one reincarnation is of a bo-peep/sheep hybrid!

Throughout reading this story (a straight 4hr read, I could NOT put it down) I just kept feeling myself say WOW. I love how EC writes her characters, surroundings and takes you on a fantastic journey.  There is also a touch of raunchy in there.

All the different supernatural beings are in there, I don’t think the EC left one out! but none are gratuitous, all have a place!

What really comes through is the sense of story and how far this could go, as EC is already on her third in this series I am pleased to say I am BIG fan.