Wrath of the Ancients by Catherine Cavendish (2017)
Wrath of the Ancients follows the story of Adeline Oglivy as she stumbles upon an Egyptian curse set loose by an unscrupulous archaeologist.
This sharply written novel hits all the high points expected in fine Gothic horror. The locations around Europe and Egypt are so well-crafted you are sure you’ve been there. Deeply drawn characters draw you in to truly share every moment of dread, fear, and triumph they experience.
Catherine Cavendish also gently folds in a believable level of actual history, enough to make you how much of this scary story may actually be real.
Read it as horror, read it as mystery, read it as thriller. Just read it.
Monsters in Our Wake by J.H. Moncrieff (2017)
J.H. Moncrieff adds something different to the kaiju genre with the novel. I grew up wondering what Godzilla was thinking each time he crushed Tokyo. Finally with this work I got a monster’s point of view, and one so unique I won’t spoil it for you with a description Fast-paced and action-packed, this story still has the time to develop characters the reader can care about. You’ll devour this story faster than the monster devours crewmen.
Demon with a Comb Over by Stuart West (2016)
Tragedy is when something undeservedly awful happens to something good. This is a tragedy, because Demon With a Comb Over is something good.
Stuart West’s story of a comedian enduring the wrath of a demon he scorned is a fast, engaging read. Through a splendid first person point of view he builds an excellent, flawed, likable character. West doesn’t stop there, giving the secondary characters, especially the daughter, depth and clarity.
The humor arrives through snippets of standup and Charlie’s sarcastic outlook on life and his situation. But the horror hits hard throughout with engrossing suspense and gross-out demons. I once had the great horror editor Don D’Auria explain the delicate balance needed in a horror book with humor. Demon with a Comb Over is the textbook example.
The tragedy here? This novel is one of the last releases from Samhain Horror, sent out into the world after the publisher’s marketing department had disbanded and paperback sales discontinued. Without the last minute arrival of a white knight savior, this fine book, and this ode to its quality, will soon disappear.
There’s no punch line to soften that horror story.
The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore (2016)
Beautifully written and perfectly paced, the vortex of The Poison Artist draws you in from the first chapter and does not let go. The story is part police procedural, part mystery, part horror and manages to deliver in all three genres. Each revelation turns the plot in a new, unexpected direction. Excellent descriptions of its San Francisco settings are matched by characters drawn in exquisite detail, especially Caleb and the mysterious Emmeline. Once I started reading, I could not put this book down.
The Devil’s Serenade by Catherine Cavendish (2016)
Who tells a haunted house story better than Catherine Cavendish? Here, Maddie Chambers inherits the home of her aunt, where she spent many wonderful summers. But from the moment she arrives, she uncovers one dark secret after another.
It is hard to inject something new into a haunted house story, but Catherine manages many new new twists in this overworked genre, and her story comes off fresh. Ghosts who were never living people, the world’s most terrifying basement, and an excellent twist reveal at the end all put this story head and shoulders above other haunting tales.
Great dialogue and splendid descriptions make this story come alive and keep the reader enthralled until the last page.
Dirty Deeds by Armand Rosamilia (2016)
A faced-paced, engrossing thriller that follows a hired children’s assassin, who fakes the victim’s deaths and relocates them to unknowing adoptive families. The action begins as the supposedly dead son of a crime lord resurfaces, threatening to unspool his life by having the mobster kill him, or the FBI arrest him if they catch him first.
A great first person point of view story from a clever, flawed, funny protagonist who offers a bit of sarcastic levity, but never enough to break the novel’s unrelenting tension. Well drawn primary and secondary characters and a plot with twists and turns that leave you constantly guessing. You’ll finish and want to spend more time with these people.
Desolation by Kristopher Rufty (2016)
Kristopher Rufty has delivered an outstanding, gripping thriller in DESOLATION. Tales of revenge and redemption cross paths and the result is mesmerizing. The first, amazing chapter hooks you, and the rest of the book reels you in. Excellent characterization, unforeseen, but believable plot twists, and splendid suspense. The pace leaves you breathless all the way to the last page. I won’t dig into the plot because you deserve to watch this story unfold completely spoiler free. Rufty’s best book yet.
Tortures of the Damned by Hunter Shea (2015)
Bleak and brutal, Hunter Shea’s Tortures of the Damned follows the Padilla family’s struggle to survive after a military attack that leaves the New York area a disaster. Poisons kill millions and other chemicals send animals on killing sprees. But it’s just possible that the deepest horror comes from the other survivors, some wanting to live at any cost. Great characters and a true-to-life family dynamic help suck the reader in to this fast-paced combination horror/thriller. A must real for post-apocalyptic fans.
Leper Window by Frazer Lee (2015)
Daniel Gates is forced into a job he doesn’t want to do, to retrieve a stolen page from a grimoire. The journey takes him to North Wales and a mysterious chapel with a grim history.
Bram Stoker Award nominee Frazer Lee delivers again in this novella that expertly blends horror and mystery, relying more on suspense than gore to keep the reader engaged, as only a master of the craft can. Carve another notch in Lee’s literary gun belt.
Convalescence by Maynard Sims (2015)
In this excellent Maynard Sims novella, fourteen year old orphan James goes to his estranged uncle’s estate to recuperate from TB in 1965. Looking for his health, he finds much more, including a wayward spirit, a secret room and the awful truths about all who live at the estate.
A classic ghost story in the British mold, this quick read still finds time to paint individual characters with depth and precision. It also tastefully deals with the truth that often the living are scarier than the dead.
Blood and Rain by Glenn Rolfe (2015)
Author Glenn Rolfe takes a swing at the werewolf genre and hits a home run.
Blood and Rain follows the story of a small town sheriff who has to face his fear and the possibility that the werewolf he killed years before, and whose existence he’s hidden from the world, may be back.
This fast-paced novel never pauses for a moment, even the interludes between gruesome attacks ratchet up the tension rather than relax it.
You’ll meet some characters you’ll really connect with, but be warned that no one is safe when the werewolf starts to hunt.
After two sharp novellas from Samhain Horror, Rolfe proves he can more than handle a novel length work as well. If you are in the mood for fur and fangs, Blood and Rain is your book. Not recommended reading during a full moon.
The Dover Demon by Hunter Shea (2015)
Hunter Shea, the master of all things monster, delivers another terrifying thrill ride with The Dover Demon. In 1977, five friends encounter a strange creature on some Massachusetts back roads. The incident affects all of them, some far worse than others.
Years later, the demon is back and it has a horrific plan for each of them, and the next generations of Dover victims.
This is no slasher flick, filled with cardboard characters. The two main characters affected by their demonic encounter are exceptionally well developed, and you can really feel for them as they struggle through their personal flaws to cope with their experiences.
Hunter spins a story that touches on sci-fi, dabbles in conspiracy theories, but remains all out horror from the first chapter to the last. Another winner!
Darkness Rising by Brian Moreland (2015)
The best horror works take you in directions you don’t expect. Brian Moreland’s novel Darkness Rising is that kind of novella.
It starts out as almost a genre cliché. Bullied poet Marty is killed by psychos at a lake. His spirit rises in revenge.
But right away the story heads in a different direction. Where the vengeful spirit in most stories becomes a dark third person character, Moreland continues to let us see and feel through Marty’s eyes. And that vengeful force within him isn’t fully himself. Moreland paints a more believable, richer character than you’ll ever see in your standard slasher film.
The novella builds into a third act that has some amazing, creative horror centered around the old family basement. That’s all I’ll say without dropping spoilers. And you’ll want to relish every twist this story delivers without those.
Get this book today.
A Debt to be Paid by Patrick Lacey (2015)
Meg just might be going crazy. She thinks that shadow creatures are trying to kill her. Her mother thought the same thing and ended up being committed.
Patrick Lacey tells Meg’s story, from her childhood abduction by her unbalanced mother, through her harrowing journey down the same hallucinatory path. She and the readers have good cause to doubt her sanity until her boyfriend Brian sees the shadow creatures as well.
What gives this story heart is how torn Meg is, scarred by her experience with her schizophrenic mother and living in constant fear that she is destined to follow that same path.
This fast-paced novella has terror on every page and will keep you searching the shadows in your home far more often than needed.
Mother of Demons by Maynard Sims (2015)
Each new novel of Maynard Sims’ Department 18 series is somehow better than the last. Mother of Demons is a fast-moving horror/thriller/mystery that captivates from the first chapter.
Department 18 is a government branch dedicated to fighting criminal paranormal activity. Each Department 18 novel showcases different members of the team, and Harry Bailey is front and center here. The case begins as a search for a kidnapped young woman by a man with his own coven of witches. But the story unfolds in a series of splendid revelations that culminate in a twist ending I won’t spoil for you here.
While this work is part of a series, it stands alone just fine. This book is a great chance to visit Department 18 with a story that is part X Files, part Sherlock Holmes, and completely enthralling.
Goblins by David Bernstein (2015)
Gory, gruesome, gripping. This latest from David Bernstein hits all the horror high notes.
David delvers some excellent, creative world building in his portrayal of the Goblin King and his underground empire. Then he seamlessly joins that to the historical event of the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony in 1520.
The goblins themselves, scaly green creatures with vicious claws and teeth, are intensely horrific, but even more so when they assume the guise of the children they once were.
No character is safe and this story has a high body count, so you’ll be on the edge of your seat wondering who will survive until you turn the last page. No David Bernstein fan should miss this book.
Dark Avenging Angel by Catherine Cavendish (2015)
Another wonderful horror tale from the keyboard of Catherine Cavendish. In this one, a woman, Jane, is visited by an entity with the offer take three souls she selects.
The real world horrors in this story easily tie the supernatural ones for inducing terror. Jane’s duplicitous boss, and especially her brutal, abusive father, create harrowing, powerless scenarios for Jane. When Jane lets loose her Dark Avenging Angel, Cavendish gives us a gut-wrenching description of vengeance delivered, and a foreshadowing that such satisfaction for Jane must come with a price.
Gripping from the first pages, you’ll love this story and its satisfying twist of an ending.
Spore by Tamara Jones (2015)
The dead rise and arrive in Sean’s backyard. But this isn’t the worn-out zombie tale back for another retread. These dead are resurrected whole, reborn without blemish, and have all the memories and consciousness of the person they were when they died. And that’s what makes this story so compelling.
While this story definitely had a full dose of horror, there is some deep storytelling going on as well. By giving her walking dead full personality and characterization, Tamara Jones can explore some excellent themes about revenge and rebirth, as well as the problems of reintegrating outsiders into society, because these “spores” as the resurrected are called, are indeed human beings.
There are plenty of plot twists right through the final chapter, and the pace accelerates all the way through to the last page. I’ll be on the lookout for more Samhain Horror from this author.
The Cure by JG Faherty (2015)
This splendid novel by JG Faherty follows Leah Degarmo’s odyssey as the world discovers she has the power to cure with a touch.
Her gift attracts attention from unsavory elements. The actions kicks in early and hard, and it doesn’t let up as first one, and then another group tries to hold and exploit her. Every captivity is more frightening than the last.
JG Faherty blends excellent dialogue with sharp action for a story that is positively addicting. His handling of Leah’s transformation through the story is superb.
Horror fan? Thriller fan? Doesn’t matter. This is the book for you.
The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave by JH Moncrieff (2015)
Every horror novella should read like this, a non-stop thrill ride that amps up the terror with each chapter.
In this story, the classic, cuddly teddy bear takes a very evil turn. JH Moncrieff does an fantastic job painting the bear’s unwilling owner Josh into a very believable corner, trapped between his mother, stepfather, and the limitations of being a child.
This well-written story does an excellent job maintaining the voice of young Josh. I’m looking forward to JH Moncrieff’s next Samhain release.
We are Monsters by Brian Kirk (2015)
An excellent story of a doctor who has a potential breakthrough drug to treat schizophrenia. Denied legitimate testing venues, he experiments on former and current inmates at Sugar Hill asylum. Things go horrifically wrong.
One of the best parts of the story are the doctor’s reasons for his experimentation. They are all self-centered, and all bad. All the heroes make some seriously self-destructive and completely believable decisions. So damaged are the protagonists, they may qualify to become patients. It’s a refreshing change from the paragons of virtue in many other books.
Tight writing draws sharp scenes, especially the surrealistic nightmares the drug induces. Excellent dialogue throughout. A gripping tale you’ll want to read straight through to the end as soon as you start.
Boom Town by Glenn Rolfe (2015)
Short and sharp, Glenn Rolfe’s BOOM TOWN packs in in for a novella. An excellent blend of horror and sci-fi, with way more character development than you usually see in a shorter work like this. Glenn continues his mastery of setting scenes and builds a town you can see and feel throughout the story. The haunting mantra that peppers the scenes as aliens take control, “Take them. Bring them. Ascend.” is chilling and perfect. Glenn has followed his strong novella ABRAM’S BRIDGE with a work just as good. Get in on the ground floor with this author. Rumor is he has more like these on the way.
The Way of All Flesh by Tim Waggoner (2015)
Tim Waggoner delivers a zombie novel double take as we see the zombie apocalypse through both survivor and zombie points of view. The human vision is stark, realistic, gritty and terrifying, filled with fleshed out (no pun intended) characters forever changed by the zombified world. All affected differently, few for the better. The zombie point of view is vividly surrealistic, Waggoner at his creative best, and amazingly touching at points. Add in a masterful reveal of the true nature of the mysterious character that haunts our zombie protag, and you have one fantastic read. Engaging from the first chapter though the last page.
Exorcist Road by Jonathan Janz (2014)
This blazing fast read is haunting and horrific. Jonathan Janz delivers an excellent story of demonic possession with his usual stellar style. The characters are painted with great depth for such a short novella. Any fan of tales of exorcism will love reading this book.
Dust of the Dead by John Palisano (2015)
A really engaging take on the zombie genre, where we experience the leading edge of an ominous second wave of newer, scarier infection. Vivid locations, detailed characters and a lightning-fast plot makes this novella fly by as you read it. If you love tales of the walking undead, this is the next book you should be reading.
The Lurking Season by Kristopher Rufty
Kristopher Rufty’s latest release The Lurking Season arrives firing on all cylinders. Cliffhanging suspense, gut wrenching gore, steamy sex. This is a follow-up of his excellent The Lurkers but it stands alone perfectly, with just the right amount of backstory filled in to keep the reader enlightened, but not so much that it induces boredom. Memories of the deliciously evil Haunchies that hunt our heroes will keep you on your toes the next time you walk alone in the woods. In Stephen King tradition, no character is safe and you’ll hold your breath at the end of each chapter wondering who, if anyone will survive the unnatural events in Doverton.
The Pendle Curse by Catherine Cavendish (2015)
Fresh off her superb Saving Grace Devine, Catherine Cavendish gives us another fine supernatural tale set in the British Isles. Laura has just lost her husband and sets out to research a story hundreds of years old, the trial and execution of the Pendle witches. The witches’ story and Laura’s quest play out in parallel, each story captivating from the start, both leading to a splendid ending.
The excellent settings are crisp with detail. Catherine also excels in characterization, and this story is no exception. But it’s the witch family four centuries ago that gets a treatment far better than the usual two-dimensional portrayal most antagonists get. At times you even feel their pain, especially during their gruesome treatment at the hands of local authorities.
Pendle Hill is a real place, the story of the witches is true history. This book will spark a desire to travel to England and see how much of The Pendle Curse is fact, and how much is fiction.
Island of the Forbidden by Hunter Shea (2015)
Hunter Shea pens another horrific thriller as he brings back Jessica Backman for a third novel. This time she and her one-time partner Eddie head to an abandoned house on an island in Charleston Harbor believed to be haunted. The story is a non-stop rush from the first chapter to the satisfying, terrifying end. Hunter continues to layer on more nuance to Jessica’s character with each novel and you’ll want to meet her again after you turn this book’s last page. There are some splendidly chilling scenes of mass hauntings that will stick with you for way too long. This is 2015’s first must-read for the horror fan.
Legacy by JG Faherty (2014)
JG Faherty spins a dark and satisfying tale in LEGACY. Young Sean begins a journey to unravel the mysteries of New Hope and his own destiny. JG’s splendid descriptions of Sean and the town’s transformations bring every horrific element to vivid life. You’ll love the ending, and with this short, fast-paced read, you’ll be there before you know it.
Saving Grace Devine by Catherine Cavendish (2014)
Another great read from Catherine Cavendish as we follow one woman’s encounters with spirits of the dead in a small Scottish town. What starts as a paranormal mystery snaps into a horror thriller midway through. Be prepared, because after that you won’t be able to put the book down. I’ll spare you any spoilers, and just say that all the characters, good and evil, living and dead are well drawn and the locations described with guidebook perfection. Cat’s second work from Samhain Horror is another winner.
A Plague of Echoes by Maynard Sims (2014)
This nail-biting horror/thriller follows the members of Department 18, a secret section of Her Majesty’s Government in Britain. Strangers possessed by a demon are hunting the agents one by one. It’s a race against time as they uncover an intrigue that stretches around the globe and could threaten the world. Sharp writing and crisp dialogue pepper a plot that never takes a breather, yet somehow still gives each character’s subplot time for maximum emotional impact. Mix the best of Ian Fleming and the best of John le Carre, and you’ll get this excellent read by Maynard Sims.
Hell Hole by Hunter Shea (2014)
This horror/western mashes the best of both genres into an action-packed thrill ride in a haunted town at the gate of Hell. The mix of fiction and real history is the perfect balance to keep you wondering how much of this story is real, including a cameo by Theodore Roosevelt. Hunter Shea demonstrates his continued mastery of terrifying adventure and victims’ grisly demise. If you haven’t read any of his books, there’s no better place to start than here.
Bootleg Cove by Devin Govaere (2014)
Devin Govaere’s first novella tells the story of a haunted business with such exquisite description that you will finish reading it and swear you spent time on the Chesapeake Bay. This excursion to horror’s milder side skips stock gore for character development, mystery, and a fine twist ending. An excellent, quick read for lounging beside any inviting body of water.
The Tree Man by David Bernstein (2014)
From the first chapter, David Bernstein draws you into this story of a boy’s struggle to combat supernatural evil. Evan witnesses a tree that gives him, and probably you as well, nightmares. The initial encounter is not for the squeamish. Then we follow Evan’s quest to slay the monster in a story with more twists and turns that you’d expect in a novella. Fans of David’s novels, like Amongst the Dead and Damaged Souls, will find his latest work well worth the wait, and bargain priced.
Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher (2012)
Want to know an author’s nightmare (or at least one of them)? Picking up a novel so good that you read it to the exclusion of finishing writing one of your own. That makes Seven Wonders my nightmare.
Well-written, well-paced, well-plotted. The story of Tony Prosdocimi and his interactions with Cowl, Blackbird and the Seven Wonders draws you in to a fascinating alternate reality where every city once had its own superheroes and supervillains. Sharp prose places you deep in the action and makes the city of San Ventura come alive. Adam is obviously a fan of the comic book genre, and while this book hasn’t a single drawing, the tone is classic Golden Age comics. I won’t touch on the plot fearing every comment might be a spoiler.
Here’s hoping there are more books from Adam set in this world he’s created, just after my manuscript’s deadline passes, please.
Machines of the Dead – David Bernstein (2012)
David Bernstein doesn’t let up on the action in this zombie thriller about a man trapped in quarantined New York City during his version of the zombie apocalypse. The creative take on the origin of the disease is worth the read all by itself. Buy this book, but be warned that you’ll be searching for the sequel MACHINES OF THE DEAD 2 about ten minutes after you finish. It’s a must for fans of the zombie genre.
The Devil’s Woods – Brian Moreland (2013)
Brian Moreland has penned another winner. Tightly written and well-paced, this horror/mystery packs an emotional wallop along with the scares. Well-defined characters, realistic dialogue and a spectacular setting have this novel firing on all cylinders from Chapter 1. You won’t be camping by any lakes in Canada after finishing this book. You may not even take a walk in the woods behind your house. This novel is a worthy to successor to Mr. Moreland’s strong earlier works, SHADOWS IN THE MIST and DEAD OF WINTER. All three are must reads for the horror fan.
Monsters of L.A. – Lisa Morton (2011)
A clever concept gets excellent execution in this collection of short stories by Lisa Morton. Concepts of classic Hollywood monster movies are reapplied to present day Los Angeles in what is oddly, ultimately, a love letter to that sprawling city. Tight writing creates characters with surprising depth for short fiction, and perfect pacing keeps you hooked into every story. The near-novella included is a bit out of sorts with the shorter stories, but still a wonderful read. This collection will not disappoint you and just might put you on a plane to LAX.
Darkest Lullaby – Jonathan Janz (2013)
This haunting, horrific book will stick with you long after you turn the last page. Through deft prose and illuminating description, Jonathan Janz creates this story of a couple trapped physically and psychically in a farm house in the midst of the forests of rural Indiana. The terrible destiny that unfolds before them will often make you cringe as their lives spin out of control and you feel the couple’s terror. Darkest Lullaby hits every horror high note with perfect pitch.
Sinister Entity by Hunter Shea (2013)
Hunter Shea’s Sinister Entity hits the ground running and never lets up. You don’t need to read the free short story prequel The Graveyard Speaks before reading this novel, but you might as well since it is just as entertaining. The story follows the exploits of ghost hunter Jessica and psychic Eddie as they try to free a family from a horrible haunting. I won’t spoil a single plot twist by saying more. Hunter leverages his ghost hunting experiences to fill the book with true life paranormal details. Terrifying imagery, compassionate characters and horrifying situations make this book impossible to put down.
Ink by Damien Grintalis (2012)
In this first-rate horror thriller, we follow the downward spiral of Jason’s life as he meets the mysterious Sailor and gets a tattoo that is not content remaining a mere skin illustration.
Grintalis’ keen prose keeps you turning pages as the horror of Sailor’s creation grows. She paints splendid descriptions and delivers crisp dialogue. When you can read and follow a page of conversation that has virtually no attribution, you know the author has mastered her creations’ voices.
Flawed, believable characters, a story that moves, and a satisfying ending. What more can you want? Of course you’ll never get a tattoo after reading this book, but your mother didn’t want you getting one anyway.
The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz (2011)
The Sorrows follows the story of film composers Ben and Eddie and their terrifying stay at a castle on an island off the California coast. The main tale and the fascinating backstory unfold simultaneously and keep you turning pages late into the evening. Jonathan’s crisp prose and multi-layered characters, especially the predator walled up in the tower, place this story well above the usual haunted castle tale. His descriptive passages place you deep in the heart of this claustrophobic tale and keep you there. You’ll never spend the night in a castle after reading this book, but you probably weren’t planning on doing that anyway.
Amongst the Dead by David Bernstein (2012)
Amongst the Dead follows the journey of pre-teen Riley as she tries to survive the insane aftermath of the zombie apocalypse in upstate New York.
In David Bernstein’s world, it is hard to decide which is more frightening, the mindless terror of the zombie domain, or the calculated evil of the niche carved out by the survivors. The collapse of society leaves humanity at its collective worst. The sick, symbiotic relationship between a biker gang and the Sisterhood of Life is truly terrifying.
Riley finds little security anywhere as she comes of age amidst death and loss, teased by the myth of a sanctuary along Lake Champlain. The more you read, the faster you will turn the pages until you get to the story’s great conclusion. If you like a good zombie tale, you’ll love this book.
Donor by Elena Hearty (2012)
You may think you’ve read enough vampire stories, but Elena Hearty’s “Donor” proves you need to read one more.
Lured into a basement apartment to peruse a record collection, Lenore finds herself at the mercy of vampire Richard. Richard gives her the choice of death or becoming a live-in donor, slowly bled over time to tide him over between killings. She picks the latter.
The claustrophobic tale takes place almost entirely within the windowless apartment walls, and the reader can’t help but feel the panic Lenore tries to quell through her anti-anxiety drug addiction. Richard and his vampire compatriot Paul are complex, manipulative characters, always keeping Lenore, and the reader, wondering if now is the time Lenore’s life will end.
The story slowly builds the reader’s hope that perhaps Lenore may survive her ordeal, and the twists and turns of the last hundred pages will keep you engrossed late into the night.
There are a few gruesome scenes, but this tale is driven by character, not carnage. Put it on your reading list.
Evil Eternal by Hunter Shea (2012)
In Hunter Shea’s second Samhain release, Father Michael, the Vatican’s ultimate weapon against demons, is called out to fight the eternal spirit of Cain, who has returned to spread death on Earth. Aimee DeCarlo and Shane Baxter, a young couple in New York City, are drawn into this epic battle between good and evil. The fate of the world may hinge on the outcome.
Set in interesting locations from Rome to Vermont, the scenes in New York City pop with detail that takes the reader right there. An accurate and creative application of Catholic theology throughout keeps the story from descending into the usual muddled mix of the secular and the religious that most angel/demon stories deliver.
If you liked Hunter’s Forest of Shadows, you’ll love Evil Eternal. And if you haven’t read Forest, you are officially two novels behind. Get to work.
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Zombies by Matt Mogk (2011)
You might think a non-fiction book about zombies is an oxymoron. You would be wrong.
Matt Mogk takes his zombies seriously. Using the pantheon of major, and a few minor, zombie movies and television shows as a basis, Matt defines the zombie, the shuffling walking dead first made famous in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. What follows are well-researched, science-based explanations of possible zombie physiology. Hypersemia, neuropathy, neural oscillations in brain networks, parasitic hairworms. Thanks to Matt’s breezy writing, you’ll learn a lot of science as you ponder what might make a zombie tick.
There’s a great section on surviving the “inevitable” zombie apocalypse and a fun look at the impact of zombies on popular culture.
So buy bigger door locks, practice your head shots, and pick up a copy of this book. When the dead start to rise, you’ll be ready.
The Floating Staircase by Ron Malfi (2011)
Ron Malfi has delivered a great novel with Floating Staircase. Well-crafted characters draw you into the mystery Travis Glascow must solve when he and his wife move into a new home on a lake. The plot twists and turns in every chapter and you’ll be hanging on through all of them. Ron’s prose is a delight to read. The section where he describes a family in the aftermath of tragedy should be in creative writing textbooks. Be warned that when you start this book, it will consume you until you turn the last page.
The Lamplighters by Frazer Lee (2011)
In The Lamplighters, Frazer Lee has written a tale of horror that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.
Frazer paints a description of Meditrine Island so vivid and seductively beautiful that you’ll long to go there as much as the protagonist, Marla Neuborn does. But from Marla’s first day we get the sense that something is wrong with this island paradise. The story unfolds and Marla’s life unravels in an escalating series of horrendous events that climax in a gruesome conclusion you never see coming.
You can’t help but feel for the flawed, believable characters that populate this story. The touching back story of Vincent, the lighthouse keeper is worthy of its own novel.
Frazer sprinkles wonderful turns of phrase across the pages the way sunlight sparkles on the sea. His prose brings a visceral feel to the more graphic scenes that few authors can manage with such style.
Buy The Lamplighters and get a tour of Meditrine Island. It’s the only safe way to visit.
Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea (2011)
It is easy to see why Samhain selected Hunter Shea’s “Forest of Shadows” as an initial offering in its new horror line. You have to make a good first impression.
Paranormal investigator John Backman, reeling from personal tragedy, brings the people dearest to him to a house with a history in Shida, Alaska. Hunter builds John, and all his main characters, with back stories and details that let you really feel them. Even the town seems alive, though not in a way the local Chamber of Commerce would approve.
Each part of this harrowing tale unfolds and creates a rich story that spans generations. You will run through the last hundred pages like one of Alaska’s charging grizzlies as the story reaches its suspenseful climax.
Hunter has a second book, “Evil Eternal” coming from Samhain. I’d keep an eye out for it.
Dead of Winter by Brian Moreland (2011)
Brian Moreland has written a book you can’t put down.
Death stalks the inhabitants of an isolated Canadian outpost and, through his rich but straightforward prose, you feel every moment of their claustrophobic ordeal. Fully realized characters follow an engrossing, rapid-fire plotline where Native American and Jesuit Catholic religions intertwine to fight evil. Scenes of cannibalistic terror are rendered so real you could swear you were there, and are profoundly glad that you were not.
Read this book and you won’t ever walk alone through snowy woods again.