Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Horror Fiction, Kevin Lucia, Short Fiction

Things You Need by @KevinBLucia

The things we want are so very rarely the things we need.

Clifton Heights, a modest Adirondack town, offers many unique attractions. Arcane Delights sells both paperbacks and hard-to-find limited editions. The Skylark Diner serves the best home-cooked meals around, with friendly service and a smile. Every August, Mr. Jingo’s County Fair visits, to the delight of children and adults. In essence, Clifton Heights is the quintessential small American town. Everyone knows everyone else, and everyone is treated like family. It is quiet, simple, and peaceful.

But shadows linger here. Flitting in dark corners, from the corner of the eye. If you walk down Main Street after dark, the slight scrape of shoes on asphalt whispers you’re not alone, but when you look over your shoulder, no one is there. The moon shines high and bright in the night sky, but instead of throwing light, it only seems to make the shadows lengthen.

Children disappear. Teens run away. Hunters get lost in the woods with frightening regularity. Husbands go mad, and wives vanish in the dead of night. And still, when the sun rises in the morning, you are greeted by townspeople with warm waves and friendly smiles, and the shivers pass as everything seems fresh and new…

Until night falls once more.

Handy’s Pawn and Thrift sits several blocks down from Arcane Delights. Like any thrift store, its wares range from the mundane to the bizarre. By daylight, it seems just another slice of small town Americana. But in its window hangs a sign which reads: We Have Things You Need. And when a lonely traveling salesman comes looking for something he desperately wants, after normal visiting hours, after night has fallen, he will face a harsh truth among the shelves of Handy’s Pawn and Thrift: the things we want are rarely the things we need.

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How’d I end up here?

1

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(@crystallakepub, 28 September 2018, ebook, 306 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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AMAZON

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This is a new author for me. I have a few of his titles that were on offer for free a while ago and I look forward to reading more of his work. This is more like a collection of short stories linked by a man who finds himself in the town by chance in the thrift store where he stumbles across some of the darkness at the heart of the town. I really enjoyed the stories but wanted to know more about the narrator. The thrift store reminded me a lot of the store in Stephen King’s Needful Things.

Posted in 2021, Clive Barker, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Horror Fiction, Novel, Prime Reading, Top Books

Everville by @RealCliveBarker

On the borderland between this world and the world of Quiddity, the sea of our dreams, sits Everville. For years it has lived in ignorance of the gleaming shore on which it lies. But its ignorance is not bliss.

On a mountain peak, high above the city of Everville, a door stands open onto the shores of the dream-sea Quiddity. And there’s not a soul below who’ll not be changed by that fact… Phoboe Cobb, once a doctor’s receptionist, is about to forget her old life and go looking for her lost lover Joe Flicker in the strange, sensual wonderland on the other side of that door. Tesla Bombeck, who knows what horrors lurk on the far side of Quiddity, must solve the mysteries of the city’s past if she is to keep those horrors from crossing the threshold. Harry D’Amour, who has traced the ultimate evil across America, will find it conjuring atrocities in the sunlit streets of Everville.

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It was hope undid them.

1

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(@HarperCollinsUK, 24 June 2020, ebook, 707 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading)

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Barker is one of my favourite writers and I still have a lot of his back catalogue to read. I loved the first book of the art, The Great and Secret Show which I read years ago. I hope he finally finishes the final book in the trilogy. If you’ve read any of Barker’s work you’ll know what to expect – dark, twisted, disturbing, and intense, a blend of fantasy and horror and other stuff that you don’t know what to name. I loved every word of Everville.

Posted in 2021, Alexis Henderson, First Read, historical fiction, Horror Fiction, Novel, Top Books

The Year of the Witching by @alexhwrites

Born on the fringes of Bethel, Immanuelle does her best to obey the Church and follow Holy Protocol. For it was in Bethel that the first Prophet pursued and killed four powerful witches, and so cleansed the land.

And then a chance encounter lures her into the Darkwood that surrounds Bethel.

It is a forbidden place, haunted by the spirits of the witches who bestow an extraordinary gift on Immanuelle. The diary of her dead mother . . .

Fascinated by and fearful of the secrets the diary reveals, Immanuelle begins to understand why her mother once consorted with witches. And as the truth about the Prophets, the Church and their history is revealed, so Immanuelle understands what must be done. For the real threat to Bethel is its own darkness.

Bethel must change. And that change will begin with her . . .

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SHE WAS BORN breech, in the deep of night.

THE BEAST

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(@TransworldBooks, 23 July 2020, ebook, 355 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I seem to have accumulated quite a lot of books about witchcraft. The Year of Witching is the last of them. For the moment. I loved it and wish I’d read it ages ago. The book is part horror part historical fiction. There are some very dark moments as Immanuelle digs deeper into the past of her deceased parents and uncovers the dark heart of Bethel and the atrocities committed in the name of the Father. There’s nothing like a little religious fanaticism, child abuse and torture to keep me flicking through the pages. This book is well written and engrossing. I loved it.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Horror, Novel, Paul Tremblay

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by @paulGtremblay

Late one summer night, Elizabeth Sanderson receives the devastating news that every mother fears: her 13-year-old son, Tommy, has vanished in the woods of a local park. Riddled with worry, pain, and guilt, Elizabeth is wholly unprepared for the strange series of events that follow. As the search grows more desperate, and the implications of what happened become more haunting and sinister, no one is prepared for the shocking truth about that night.

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Elizabeth is not dreaming.

ELIZABETH AND THE CALL

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(@TitanBooks, 1 July 2016, ebook, 341 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book as I’ve really enjoyed some of the author’s books but others have left me cold. Thankfully, this is a fantastic read. I really enjoyed it. The book starts off as you’d expect from a book about a missing teenager and seems innocent enough as these thing can be. But as time passes the questions mount. Elizabeth suspects his ’friends’ aren’t being honest and struggles to get to the truth while dealing with online abuse from trolls determined to drag Tommy’s name through the gutter. Gradually, more sinister revelations are made about what happened in the weeks leading up to Tommy’s disappearance and their strange new adult friend Arnold. Will Elizabeth want the truth when she gets it? I thought this was a great book.

Posted in 2020, Adam L G Nevill, Contemporary Fiction, freebie, Horror Fiction, Short Fiction

#BeforeYouWake by @AdamLGNevill

A new trilogy of horror tales from the award-winning writer’s second collection – HASTY FOR THE DARK – featuring more of the nightmarish visions and ghastly creatures that have been disturbing readers for years. In this book you’ll find three stories of occult and demoniac horror.

No blackmail is as ghastly as extortion from angels.

A swift reckoning often travels in handheld luggage.

No sign of life aboard an abandoned freighter, but what is left behind tells a strange story.

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Still a little surprised such things were tolerated in the city, Frank stared at the mess.

THE ANGELS OF LONDON

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(Ritual Limited, 7 August 2017, 54 pages, e-book, freebie for signing up to the author’s newsletter)

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I enjoyed the stories on offer here a bit more than Before You Sleep. They are a little darker and more to my taste. I haven’t read the collection Hasty for the Dark so had never read any of the stories before. The opening story, The Angels of London is the best. I also wanted the collection to be much longer. Three stories is just enough to whet my appetite.

Posted in 2020, Adam L G Nevill, Contemporary Fiction, Horror Fiction, Short Fiction

#BeforeYouSleep by @AdamLGNevill

A trilogy of horror stories from the award-winning writer’s first collection of short stories – SOME WILL NOT SLEEP – and an introduction to the nightmarish visions and ghastly spectres that have been disturbing the sleep of readers for years. In this book you’ll find two ghost stories and a tale of ancestral demoniac horror.

In the big white house on the hill angels are said to appear . . .

When the children left the house, their toys remained . . .

A confused and vengeful presence occupies the home of a first-time buyer . . .

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One side of my body is full of toothache.

WHERE ANGELS COME IN

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(Ritual Limited, 23 August 2016, 58 pages, e-book, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I enjoyed the three stories in this little collection. I’d never read any of them before. The best story is the opening story, Where Angels Come In which is very unsettling and disturbing. I enjoyed the other two stories as well but this just appealed to my tastes more. I felt the collection was very short. I knew there were only three stories but I wanted there to be much more.

Posted in 2020, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Horror, NetGalley, Novel, Paul Tremblay, Top Books

#SurvivorSong by @paulGtremblay

When it happens, it happens quickly.

New England is locked down, a strict curfew the only way to stem the wildfire spread of a rabies-like virus. The hospitals cannot cope with the infected, as the pathogen’s ferociously quick incubation period overwhelms the state. The veneer of civilisation is breaking down as people live in fear of everyone around them. Staying inside is the only way to keep safe. But paediatrician Ramola Sherman can’t stay safe, when her friend Natalie calls – her husband is dead, she’s eight months pregnant, and she’s been bitten. She is thrust into a desperate race to bring Natalie and her unborn child to a hospital, to try and save both their lives.

Their once familiar home has becoming a violent and strange place, twisted in to a barely recognisable landscape. What should have been a simple, joyous journey becomes a brutal trial.

A riveting novel of suspense and terror from the Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts.

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THIS IS NOT a fairy tale

PRELUDE, In Olden Times, When Wishing Still Helped

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(@TitanBooks, 7 July 2020, 200 pages, e-book, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I’ve read other books by this author and thought they were just okay, not nearly as good as other people seem to think. But the blurb made me really want to read this. This is a fantastic book and has completely changed my so-so opinion of the author. I now have to catch up on his back catalogue. I love dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. There are so many possibilities. The world doesn’t exactly end in Survivor Song but it comes pretty close. I knew I was going to love the book after I raced through the first few pages and intense opening of the book. What I love about this book is that it focuses on Ramola and Natalie. A lot of books in this genre tend to focus on quite a big cast of characters. This made Survivor Song stand out from other similar books. There are some horrific moments in the book as society starts to break down and people become overwhelmed by fear and suspicion but the focus of the book is Ramola’s determination to save Natalie’s unborn baby and Natalie’s determination not to give into the rabies infection coursing through her veins until she gives birth. The ending of the book made me cry a lot. This is a brilliant book.  

Posted in 2020, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, Horror Fiction, NetGalley, Novel, Stephen Graham Jones

#TheOnlyGoodIndians by @SGJ72

Ten years ago, four young men shot some elk then went on with their lives. It happens every year; it’s been happening forever; it’s the way it’s always been. But this time it’s different. Ten years after that fateful hunt, these men are being stalked themselves. Soaked with a powerful gothic atmosphere, the endless expanses of the landscape press down on these men – and their children – as the ferocious spirit comes for them one at a time.

The Only Good Indians, charts Nature’s revenge on a lost generation that maybe never had a chance. Cleaved to their heritage, these parents, husbands, sons and Indians, men live on the fringes of a society that has rejected them, refusing to challenge their exile to limbo.

A contemporary gothic thriller from one of the genre’s most exciting voices, The Only Good Indians will delight fans of Adam Nevill’s The Ritual and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies.

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[The headline for Richard Boss Ribs would be Indian Man Killed in Dispute Outside Bar]

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(@TitanBooks, 21 July 2020, 352 pages, e-book, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I had high hopes for this as I enjoyed the author’s novel Mongrels so much. I enjoyed this book though the POV of switches about halfway through to being focused through a particular character to focusing on a group of characters. This switch took a few chapters to get used to. This is a horror novel but a bit different from the stuff I usually read, focusing more on Native American folklore and horror. The main drive of the story is dark repercussions from hunting a herd of ten years before the book starts. Jones combines personal horror with ancestral horror of Native American genocide which is something I haven’t come across before. This is a very powerful novel but quite intense and I could only read it in small chunks. The title, as you probably know is taken from the famous phrase the only good Indian is a dead Indian. The supernatural force pursuing the characters is vividly written. This is very original and I enjoyed the time I spent with it.

Posted in 2020, A.R Wise, Contemporary Fiction, Horror Fiction, Novella, Short Fiction

Sex, Drugs, and Dead Things by @arwisebooks

A collection of short stories and novels by A.R. Wise

The Body Farm parts 1 and 2: A young boy struggles to deal with his parents’ divorce and is tortured by an unforgiving cousin. After a horrible night, one of them ends up in an insane asylum. Years later, revenge is at hand.

Asher Wife: Asher is a lonely man who finds comfort in torturing a robot wife. He wishes that she would fight back, but she only seems willing to accept his abuse. Or does she?

A Cold, Cold Death for Thomas Baylor: A man leaves his family and heads off into a supposedly haunted forest. As he walks through the woods, he hears a strange tune that seems to be calling his name.

Racetrack: A heartbroken young man turns to drugs for solace, but ends up at death’s door.

Thoughts on Suicide: An article dedicated to a friend that reached the end of his journey.

Prey No More: A complete novel that is only available in this collection. Arece Delray was once the thrall of a vicious vampire, but she escaped his clutches and is on the run with her sister and father. They struggle to avoid the vampire while dealing with other demons that are attracted to Arece’s blood.

Prey Again: Another complete novel, this sequel to Prey No More was never before published. Arece and her sister discover more about their family’s dark secret, and delve into the world of the Colestian Order in an attempt to fight for their safety.

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[He wanted to be accepted – THE BODY FARM PART 1]

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(Independently Published, 30 October 2013, 398 pages, e-book, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I went through a phase, a few years ago, after reading the author’s excellent 314 series, when I devoured everything he wrote. I actually thought I’d read this collection and found out by chance that I hadn’t. This is a mixed collection with stories of different lengths and two short novels, most of which loosely fit into the horror bracket with a mesh of other genres. I enjoyed every piece of writing in this collection but the two short novels, Prey No More and Prey Again were the best.

Posted in 2020, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Horror, NetGalley, Novel, Review Copy, Tim Major, Top Books

#HopeIsland by @onasteamer

A gripping supernatural mystery for fans of John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos from the author of Snakeskins.

Workaholic TV news producer Nina Scaife is determined to fight for her daughter, Laurie, after her partner Rob walks out on her. She takes Laurie to visit Rob’s parents on the beautiful but remote Hope Island, to prove to her that they are still a family. But Rob’s parents are wary of Nina, and the islanders are acting strangely. And as Nina struggles to reconnect with Laurie, the silent island children begin to lure her daughter away.

Meanwhile, Nina tries to resist the scoop as she is drawn to a local artists’ commune, the recently unearthed archaeological site on their land, and the dead body on the beach…

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[All chatter ceased the moment Nina slammed her heel onto the brake, yanked the wheel to the left and then, as she remembered which side of the road she ought to be driving on, hard to the right]

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(@TitanBooks, 31 March 2020, 400 pages, ebook, copy from @TitanBooks via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 5 June)

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So, I’m a massive fan of John Wyndham. I’ve read almost all of his books and think he’s amazing. So I had to read this when it was compared to The Midwich Cuckoo’s, one of my favourite books of all time. The comparison is fair. This is very Wyndham-esque. There are also echoes of Daphne DuMaurier. I mean that as a compliment. I loved this book. I knew I was in for a good time when I read the opening section and I was right. Hope Island is the perfect blend of horror, folk horror with a dash of science fiction thrown in. There’s something so menacing about the island, the residents and the bloody creepy children. Nina knows something is off, something much worse than the locals being naturally suspicious of a new face from outside. This is breath-taking. I need to read more by this author.