Book Reviews A-C

The Haunting of Hacket House by Astrid Addams

5 STARS

This is the first full-length work I’ve read by Astrid Addams and I was very impressed. The Haunting of Hacket House takes the haunted house sub-genre and manages to give the reader something new and unique. Skilfully written, the story is soaked with a sense of dread from the onset and filled with intrigue. As events unfold, we are presented with more mysteries which kept me engaged through to the end. The Haunting of Hacket House is genuinely creepy throughout – a highly recommended read. Available here.

Six Months by Christy Aldridge

4 STARS

6 monthsSix Months by Christy Aldridge is rather unique. It tells the story of Janey, a doctor who had given a cancer patient six months to live, and who now finds herself at the hands of her former patient’s husband, Gerald. Gerald also gives Janey six months to live, after kidnapping her from her home, attempting to force her to live out her time in the same way his wife had. Throw in a sinister clown named Happy, drug-induced hallucinations, and some unexpected twists, and Six Months becomes an atmospheric, chilling ride. Buy UK and US

Madman Across the Water by Caroline Angel

5 STARS

10Caroline Angel’s fantastic Madman Across the Water is set in a small town, which has been plagued with mysterious disappearances for generations, and sightings of a tall, thin figure appearing from the woods. This is a genuinely creepy novel, with a detailed back story, and believable characters. It will certainly make you wary of going into the woods, especially on a misty evening! Buy here.

Anthology – Guilty Pleasures & Other Dark Delights

5 STARS

Guilty PDisclaimer: I have a few drabbles included in this anthology. Guilty Pleasures is a superb collection of erotic horrors, ranging in length from drabbles (100 words stories), double-drabbles, and a few longer pieces (including the novella Dolls by Ramsay Campbell). The stories were consistently good and very varied in theme – from the gruesome to the witty. Highly recommended for any fans of horror. Buy UK and US

Anthology – 100 Word Horrors Part 2 compiled by Kevin J Kennedy

5 STARS

100 word horror 2Having really enjoyed the first offering of 100 Word Horrors, it was exciting to see a second book released. The list of authors involved is simply superb, and the book contains some fantastic pieces of flash fiction. This is an essential coffee-table book to dip into when you have a few spare moments. I enjoyed almost all of the stories included, but the stand out ones for me were DIY by Mark Lumby, Without You by Jasper Bark, She Fought Back by James Newman, and Broken Heart by Lee Franklin. Buy UK and US

Anthology – Made in Britain compiled by Kevin J Kennedy

4 STARS

Made in BritainMade in Britain is an anthology of short horror stories from a great selection of British writers. As with most anthologies, some stories are stronger than others, and this is largely down to personal taste, but there were some great tales in this collection which stood out. My personal favourites were Mr Elvid by Juston Boote, Formaldehyde by Munib Haroon, Yobs by Kevin J Kennedy, Sisters of Solicited by David Owain Hughes, The Swarm by James H Longmore, and Down Where the Hogweed Grows Tall by David Turnball. Overall, Made in Britain is a great collection, and will delight any fan of short horror stories. Buy UK and US

Anthology – Carnival of Horror compiled by Kevin J. Kennedy

5 STARS

CarnivalI’ve read a few of the anthologies that Kevin J. Kennedy has put together now, and I have not been disappointed so far. Carnival of Horror, as you can guess, is a collection of short horror stories set at various visions of a what a traveling carnival would be like. It’s a big book, with 18 good length tales. Each story was different to the one before, with a few (such as the awesome The Last Freakshow on Earth by David Owain Hughes) putting together something totally unique. My personal favourites were Zoltara by Christina Bergling, In a Hand or Face by Gary A. Braunbeck, House of Illusion by Andrew Lennon, What a price to pay for a fucking teddy bear by JC Michael, and The Scare Machine by Megan Franzen. Although these ones stood out for me, there were no stories that I did not enjoy, and Carnival of Horror is great anthology. Buy UK and US

Anthology – Howls from the Underground

5 STARS

Whenhowls I started reading this new anthology from Screamin’ Skull Press I was unsure what to expect. It is described as a collection of short stories, poetry, essays, novel excerpts, and artwork. I have to say I found the book completely engrossing. The collection features a wealth of talent, and some truly great writing. As with any collection of works, there are some that are better than others, but of course this is subjective anyway. Overall, I found the book a joy to read, unique in many ways, and would highly recommend it. It’s a very special collection.  Buy UK and US

Anthology – SUPERSICK: Tales of Twisted Superheroes Compiled by Mark Nye

4 STARS

13Definitely not for the faint-hearted, or the weak of stomach. Supersick is an awesome collection of short tales which detail some rather disturbing superhero origin stories. The line-up of authors is impressive, with some of the best names in the indie writers scene involved. If you like your stories disturbing, graphic, and hugely entertaining then this could be the book for you. Buy UK and US

Epithalamium by Nick Archer

4 STARS

epiWow, this was a gripping story! I read it in one sitting, as I could not stop. Epithalamium tells the story of Scarlett, a young woman who finds herself in mortal danger, taken from her home one evening. The tale twists and turns, and all is not as it appears as Scarlett’s situation gradually worsens as the night goes on. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, the story took a other turn. The characters were believable, and the reader can feel the terror that Scarlett must have felt. If you are after a chilling novella, Epithalamium is a must read. Buy UK and US

Angels with Bruises by Andrew Baguley & Janet Rawson

5 STARS

AngelsI was fortunate enough to have met the authors at two book events in 2018, and Angels with Bruises immediately caught my eye due to its fantastic cover. The book is made up of thirty-nine short stories, covering a whole range of genres. Some stories made me laugh out loud (Defective Girlfriend), some almost brought me to tears (The Journey of my Death), some were frightening (Time to Kill), and all of them, without exception, were wonderful to read. One of the best collections of short tales I have read, and highly recommended. Buy UK and US

Screechers by Kevin J. Kennedy & Christina Bergling

5 STARS

screechersAs with a number of readers whose work I have enjoyed, I first came across their stories in anthologies. The same is true for both Kevin J. Kennedy and Christina Bergling. I did not even bother to find out what this book was about, confident that it would be worth reading, and it did not disappoint. At novella length, Screechers is a quick read, but manages to convey a reasonably detailed story. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, a group of human travellers’ face creatures they had not known existed, whilst the last remaining Screechers leave the familiarity of the city in search of food and adventure. Great characters, an easily envisaged world, and a highly entertaining final battle, all make for a five-star read. Buy UK and US

Twerk by Isobel Blackthorn

5 STARS

TwerkI’d had Twerk by Isobel Blackthorn on my Kindle for a while and now I wish I’d read it sooner. I was unsure what to expect but that made it all the more interesting. Set in the world of strippers in Las Vegas, Twerk give a realistic portrayal of that line of work set around a murder mystery and some rather unsavoury characters. Full of twists and turns, this was a hard book to put down. If you’re looking for a well written, spicy, clever thriller then Twerk could be just your thing. Buy UK and US

Four: A Novella by P.J. Blakey-Novis

5 STARS

Review provided by Toneye Eyenot, author of Psychotic Interlude

fourA 5 star collection of chaotic awesomeness!
Tales within a tale entailed, this novella length collection of campfire terrors is very dark and diverse in content, as four friends take a trip into the English countryside. Their intended destination, a pub some hundred miles away, so of course, there will be the need to stop for the night and set up camp. Here’s where things get really dark.
Novis seamlessly weaves these individual tales together, as the four take it in turns around the campfire in an attempt to scare each other. The characters are well represented, the friendships between the four (two are a couple) are somewhat strained, adding to the tension each story builds throughout the book. From ghostly tales, mysterious killers in the woods, to aliens, possession, serial killers – Novis pulls you in with alarming ease, showcasing his impressive skill at narrating a variety of different and horrific topics, then wrapping them all into one terrifying bundle of fear.
This is a fairly quick read, one that you can’t put down once you start, and one you will be sure to revisit on occasion. The wrap up at the end was a masterful twist. You know there will be one, as most tales of terror do, but you will not expect it when it hits you. A brilliant, highly enjoyable and chilling read by ten hells of a wikked author!
Highly recommended reading for all Horror freaks
. Buy here

The Artist & Other Stories by P.J. Blakey-Novis

5 STARS

Review provided by Writing Scared Blog

The ArtistJPGThis is the third collection of short stories I’ve read by P.J. Blakey-Novis, and I’m already waiting for the next one! As with the author’s other collections, these tales get into your head and under your skin. Running the gamut of the genre from the supernatural to body horror, The Artist and Other Stories is a fantastic read.

If you’re already familiar with Blakey-Novis, this compilation is darker and grittier than his previous anthologies. As always, the characters and situations are full and complex, but there’s an edge to these stories that fill them with even more dread. Buy here

Tunnels & Other Stories by P.J. Blakey-Novis

5 STARS

Review provided by Writing Scared Blog

2400TunnelsSix Gripping Tales!

The cover of this horror anthology piqued my interest immediately, and the stories that followed completely delivered on the promise of disturbing and terrifying tales. Serial killers, mysterious objects, haunted houses, things that scratch in the night, and other deadly encounters await the reader on every page. No matter where your deepest fears are seated, there will be something in this collection to make your skin crawl.

Unlike many other short story compilations released by a single author, Tunnels and Other Short Stories constantly varies both the subjects and narrative points of view, creating unique twists and turns that will have you unable to put this book down. As a strong voice within the indie horror community Blakey-Novis is an author worth following, and I look forward to reading more of his works. Buy here

Embrace the Darkness by P.J. Blakey-Novis

5 STARS

Review provided by The Bold Mom

16This book is a collection of short stories. It’s the first piece I have read by the author, and it has greatly surprised me. The stories are short, but very disturbing, those spine-chilling kind of ones…each one in a very different way. Broken minds, impossible nightmares, surrealist situations, and what I liked best, fair and not so fair fates for the characters. Blakey-Novis happily dances on top of the grave of “the goody wins, the baddy is defeated” typical stamp, carving out his signature “Do you think you know how this is ending? Hold my beer…” The author owns such a marvellous imagination, every plot is complex and his way of making it fit in a tiny tale is…well, astonishing. He could perfectly build up an entire novel from every one of them. I personally felt sad when I turned the last page, because I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I have already purchased another one by him, ‘Tunnels”, so I can go on. I sincerely recommend this book to psychological horror fans, here, you have great nightmare material to steal your sleep for several nights. What more could you ask for, as a horror reader? Buy here.

The Broken Doll by P.J. Blakey-Novis

5 STARS

Review Provided by Kimelene Carr, author of Sans Espoir

NEW TBDLet me begin by saying, this book is a MUST READ!! This was quite an intense, gripping, and emotionally stirring reading experience. The events unfolded in such a way that will be shocking, unexpected, and thrilling for readers all at once. There were times I sympathised with the characters, other times I felt anger, relief, and many times, anxious as to what may occur next. For an author to invoke such feelings, and grab readers emotions, it goes without saying how incredibly well written this story was. An absolutely exciting, riveting tale that will leave readers mind-blown and breathless!!! Buy here

Sinister Dexter by Lucy Brazier

5 STARS

Sinister DexterThis is one of the few books that I have begun reading and been completely unable to put down! I ended up reading it in one sitting. The book tells the story of a Porter Girl at an old English college, where people turning up dead seems to be a normal part of college life. The dialogue was witty throughout, and thoroughly British (the lack of tea and biscuits was more worrying than the two dead bodies at the bottom of the college gardens), and the author created some hilariously bizarre characters. The Dean was certainly my favourite. Sinister Dexter is a comedy mystery, and is one of my favourite books of recent times. I look forward to reading more from Lucy Brazier. Buy UK and US

Under Rotting Sky by Matthew V. Brockmeyer

5 STARS

UnderThis is the first work I have read from Matthew Brockmeyer and was excited to do so, having seen the high praise his novel, Kind Nepenthe, had received. I’m a big fan of short stories, and read a lot of collections, but Under Rotting Sky stands out as being exceptional. As soon as I began the book I was hooked – the writing is some of the best I have read. I usually find with collections of this nature that some stories don’t hold my attention, but there was not a single story here that I did not enjoy. Brockmeyer has put together a collection which covers a huge range of themes, from the subtle and spooky, to the outright extreme. I can’t recommend this book highly enough, and have moved Kind Nepenthe to the top of my TBR list. Buy UK and US

The Meyerstown Secret by Howard Carlyle

5 STARS

MeyerstownThe Meyerstown Secret is an unusual book, but in a great way. It is presented as an investigation into the history if an asylum, with case studies and interviews with people who had worked at Meyerstown when it was still operating. Whilst deeply disturbing at times, the events which are revealed by the investigator are entirely believable. It’s a fairly quick read (I went through it in one sitting), but completely absorbing. Not for the weak-stomached, but highly recommended. Buy UK and US.

Apocalyp-Sick by Howard Carlyle

4 STARS

ApocApocalyp-Sick is comprised of two short stories; That Damned Dog, and The Last Stand. Both stories are very different; That Damned Dog tells the tale of a very twisted serial killer, and The Last Stand is an apocalyptic, alien-invasion story. The book is a quick read, but very enjoyable. reviewing short stories is difficult without giving too much away, but I definitely recommend Apocalyp-Sick to both horror and sci-fi fans. Buy UK and US.

KrackerJack by Matthew Cash

4 STARS

krackerjackI’m always drawn to stories described as ‘extreme horror’, especially shorter stories like this one, and it certainly fits that description. The story itself was great; essentially a revenge tale with more to it than I had expected to begin with. The book contains a lot of graphic torture / humiliation (hence extreme horror), and these scenes were more imaginative than in other stories I have read. If you have the stomach for it, KrackerJack is a great, entertainingly disturbing read. Buy UK and US