Salvation by W.A. Heisler

SalvationSalvation by W.A. Heisler

Salvation is a fast-paced book of horror garunteed to raise the hairs on the back of the neck. It’s style has been compared to the works of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Salvation begins with a frantic phone call to Father Brian Halloway from Eric Parkins, a parishioner in his church, who is desperate to find answers to his wife’s strange behavior following the death of her mother. It seems to Halloway that the woman is simply having difficulty coping with her grief, and nothing seems out of the ordinary. Until he is told about the “thing” in the basement. And how Sylvia changes after nightfall. It is then, the priest begins to worry. After witnessing Sylvia’s disturbing and violent behavior for himself, Halloway comes to the conclusion that something has gone horribly wrong at 1312 Lafayette Drive. Fearing for the safety of the couple, Halloway enlists the help of his longtime friend and fellow priest Father Michael Constantine, a priest chosen to fight the deadliest of wars, and the keeper of New York Dioceses’ darkest secret. It is then the dark war begins. Constantine, joined by Father James Connelly, a young priest eager to prove himself to his mentor, along with Halloway, Sylvia’s husband, and her brother, Mark Barnett, a doctor who is hiding his own dangerous secret set out to engage the invading entity. The men quickly come face to face with a savage, brutal being that snakes its way into the darkest depths of their psyches in its unyielding and vicious attempts to destroy them and all who participate in its “game.” The book climaxes with the entrance of Arandavius, a dark, tragic figure, fallen with Lucifer after The Great War. A fallen angel who walks the earth and claims hismission is to send the demon back to its “Realm.” A being Constantine knows has held one title since his expulsion. Arandavius: The Overlord of Legion. Constantine finds himself trying to save a woman who is now caught in the middle of a vicious game of cat-and-mouse between two demons-one, a brutal, sadistic being who holds the life and soul of its victim in its clutches-the other, the most savage and merciless of Legion’s warriors. A game both beings are willing to play out to its explosive and bloody end. Welcome to darkness. Welcome.to the game.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this book!

The horror genre can go either way for me. Sometimes I really like the idea, but the execution seems off, or the book is too bloody and gory. It is hard to find a horror novel that keeps up an intense pace without coming off as silly or losing speed as it goes along. This book never slows down and is interesting right to the very end.

If you have ever read a book and wished that you could keep one of the characters as a friend or ally once the book is finished, then you will know what I mean when I say that I was sorry to see fallen angel Arandavius go. He was the type of character that you can’t help but love. He should get his own series.

The author did a fantastic job of coming up with an original idea about what happens with fallen angels and creating a scenario that made me stop and think. I was very impressed with the possession scenes as they stayed consistent throughout the story and didn’t waver. I didn’t want to go to sleep with the light off.

This book takes what happened in the exorcist and makes it look like a mild case of PMS. I appreciated that the author was able to make this possession not only span the entire book, but involve multiple characters. I was pleasantly surprised by the way the story unfolded. I expected most of the cast to be wiped out before the end of the book, and that did not happen. I love it when you can’t predict an ending.

The only thing that left me a little disappointed in this novel was that Eric and Sylvia didn’t get more of the stage for their last act. For a story that was built surrounding them from the beginning, I thought thy should have been followed up a bit more before the close of the book.

This is an excellent book, and even for those who aren’t a particular fan of horror, I think this could still be appealing.

Recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

No Man’s Land (For all the Zombie Lovers)

Book #5 in IDW’s shambling series of original Zombies vs Robots prose collections. Fully illustrated by the fantabulous Fabio Listrani, this new anthology features fresh tales of rotting flesh and rusting metal, undead unrest and mechanical mayhem. Once again IDW expands the apocalyptic hellscape of its unique signature franchise. A world where brain-eaters roam and warbots rule is truly a No Man’s Land.
No Man's LandNo Man’s Land by Jeff Conner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are on the edge of the zombie apocalypse craze and you want an interesting read to get you into the genre, this is the one you’ve been waiting for.

I have never been one for horror/zombie/stuff…but this book actually surprised me. The humour throughout made it a lot of fun to read and the author has a strong voice that permeates his writing and gives his characters personality.

This book has everything you could want in a zombie book. There is terror, running, screaming, unusual and creative zombie (and human) killing and the overall sense that nothing worse could happen, until it does.

I really liked the unpredictability factor of this book. After the first chapter I had no idea what was going to happen. This was a fun and easy read.

Read it, and enjoy the fact that life could be worse for all of us :)

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

About this author


JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning horror and thriller author, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. His books have been sold to more than a dozen countries.

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb

The VanishingThe Vanishing by Wendy Webb

Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired…and who the world believes is dead.

When she arrives at the Sinclairs’ enormous estate on Lake Superior, Julia begins to suspect that there may be sinister undercurrents to her “too-good-to-be-true” position. As Julia delves into the reasons of why Amaris chose to abandon her successful writing career and withdraw from the public eye, her search leads to unsettling connections to her own family tree, making her wonder why she really was invited to Havenwood in the first place, and what monstrous secrets are still held prisoner within its walls.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I struggled for a little while when trying to decide how to rate and review this novel. If you are a Gothic horror fan then this will likely please the part of you that craves old houses and things that go bump in the night. Still, I definitely think you have to be someone who can suspend your desire for reality to fully enjoy this book.

The main character begins the story by having lost everything, including her husband, her friends and is about to be arrested for something she didn’t do and lose her home all in one swipe of bad luck. I get how she ended up making some of the decisions she did, but there were times when I thought out loud “How stupid is this woman, for heaven’s sake.” I am judgmental, we know this…but I almost felt at times like I was seeing two different personalities emerge from the same character. One who was rational and thought things through and another who just made rash dumb decisions and accepted anything and everything she was led to believe.

Other than that, this is a well written, engaging and fun story that actually scared me enough to make me look over my shoulder a couple of times. Might not want to read this alone, at night, in an old house, like I chose to do if you want to sleep later that night.

Wendy Webb is a new author for me, but I will definitely check out more of her books after this one. She has a careful way of building suspense from the very beginning of her novel and ensuring that it lasts until the very end. One of the things that set this book apart from other recent Gothic tales I’ve read, is that the present and past in this story are merged to where one truly affects the other. I love when an author is so good at spinning a back story for their characters that you feel as if you have known them for a long time, and this author did that.

I was impressed by the pacing of the story. There were rises and falls, major events and minor ones and I was always so curious about the big secret the author kept nearly revealing that this book kept me up way later than I intended to stay up.

Amaris Sinclair was certainly a character to be reckoned with, one of my favourites in recent books. She has a personality that makes you hope you will be like her in the future.

Even at the very end when everything has been revealed and you think you are good to start breathing again, there is one last surprise. I think you should give this one a shot. I liked it.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

An Interview with Author Michael M. Hughes (Blackwater Lights)

Today, I am very pleased to feature author Michael Hughes from Random House’s Hydra imprint. He is the author of “Blackwater Lights,” which I recently read and fell in love with. You can find my review here in case you missed it. I would like to take a moment and thank Mr. Hughes for agreeing to the interview and providing insight into his creative process. Please welcome him to Readful Things :)

 

 
 Tell us a little about you and your writing career.

I’ve been writing fiction and poetry ever since I was a kid, and I first attempted a novel when I was seven (about a modern day vampire) but only got through three chapters. I distinctly remember sitting on my bedroom floor pecking at the keys on my typewriter and being startled (and a little freaked out) at how the words I was putting on paper were actually creeping me out. I was scaring myself! That was my first taste of the magic of storytelling. As I got older I drifted into acting and was a theater major in college, and it wasn’t until I was almost forty that I decided to get serious and write a novel. I have to credit Stephen King’s excellent On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft with lighting the fire that made me decide I could, and should, do it. So I gave myself a deadline of my daughter’s birth to finish my first draft. I made it by a few days and celebrated with a glass of champagne. I had actually done it!

But I was all alone when it came to the formidable world of publishing, and didn’t know anyone who had written a book, much less published one. By a lovely stroke of luck, the Borderlands Boot Camp—an intensive writing workshop focused on horror and dark fantasy—was taking place that winter, and was located about fifteen minutes from my home. One of the instructors, bestselling author Thomas F. Monteleone, read my first three chapters and asked me, “What have you published?” “Nothing,” I said. He looked surprised. “Who’s your agent?” he then asked. I told him I didn’t have one. “Well, this is really good stuff. It should be published. Let me introduce you to my agent.” I was in shock. It wasn’t supposed to be that easy.

His agent liked the story (which at that point was titled Cabal), but decided to pass. But Tom hooked me up with another agent, and he immediately loved it and decided to represent me. We revised the hell out of the book, maybe a total of five or six major revisions over the course of a year. A film agent expressed his interest, but wanted to wait for print publication before securing rights. At that point I was fantasizing about quitting my day job and building my lake house writing retreat where I could spend my life cranking out bestsellers. Good thing I didn’t, because soon the rejections started coming. One after another, almost all along the lines of “Great story, very suspenseful, but just not for us.” I got depressed. Then I submitted to tiny publishers, and even tinier publishers, but no one wanted the damn novel. Even my short stories were getting rejected from magazines with horrible names along the lines of Rotting Corpse Review. My agent finally said, “Just write your next book.” Which I started to do, but my heart was still with my firstborn novel. I couldn’t just shove it into a drawer, so I kept sending it out whenever a faint possibility arose.

Then I saw that Random House was starting a new sf/f/h digital imprint. I’d become a massive reader of ebooks after getting one of the very first iPads off the assembly line, so I knew that digital books were going to become more and more important to the industry. So I sent off my first few chapters, expecting the usual rejection. About a month later an email popped up. The editor wanted to read the whole thing. A couple weeks later I got an offer, and to say I was elated would be an incredibly understatement. And my first novel, Blackwater Lights, is now a real book, albeit made of electrons and not paper. And I’m working on two more books in the series.

When did you first know that you were going to write?

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to read, and ever since I could read I knew I wanted to write stories for other people. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone who loves fiction not wanting to create it. I was one of those kids who would always carry a book with me, and when visiting with my relatives I’d find a quiet corner and plop myself down and get lost in the world of my book. Some of my aunts and uncles thought I was being antisocial or rude, but my parents always supported me. They realized that reading is not passive—it’s active engagement, not mindless escape like watching TV. My imagination was always cranking out stories, so I knew at a very early age that I was lucky to have that gift and I should make use of it. My first “published” story appeared in my high school literary magazine. It was a horror short story called “The Catalyst” and I recently found a copy of it and posted it on my blog. And it’s not that bad!

What inspired you to write Blackwater Lights?

A lot of things inspired the book. I’ve always been fascinated by the capital-M Mystery—the big questions about life, death, consciousness, and the often-ignored data that bedevils scientists (and that most of them would rather ignore). Stuff like psychic phenomena, UFOs, near-death experiences, shamanic states of consciousness, psychedelics, and the like. I’ve also been a fan of horror and the macabre since I can remember, and was lucky enough to read Poe, Lovecraft, Stoker, Shelley, and other classics before I got bowled over by Stephen King in the 70s and discovered that horror can be modern and realistic, and wasn’t relegated to gloomy moors and creaky old mansions. So it only made sense that these subjects would become integral parts of my fiction.

And in 1990 I had a sighting of two extremely fast-moving orange lights in the night sky over the Atlantic Ocean. They were doing things that are impossible for conventional aircraft, and I am still trying to understand what they were. I know what they weren’t but I have no idea what they were. So that incident became the genesis for the mystery lights of Blackwater, West Virginia, where the novel takes place.

Sometimes people neglect to review a book they have read. How important do you find it as an author, for people to share their opinions about your work? Do you take their comments into consideration when planning your next novel?

Reviews have become critical to a book’s success, particularly if the book is digital-only (like mine). So I encourage everyone who reads Blackwater Lights to leave a review—even if they don’t like it. I even send personalized postcards to those who review it online, as a thank you (and as an alternative to signing a book since I don’t have physical copies to sign). But although I love it when a reader posts a positive review—especially when he or she really gets what I was aiming for—I expect there are plenty of people who will not like the book. It’s inevitable. But I would never change my vision or my style to appease a reader based on reviews. I have to go with the stuff the muses offer me. I trust them, and my judgment from years of reading and writing, more than some anonymous person on Amazon or B&N.

Can we expect further works form you in the near future and can you give us any hints about what we might see?

I’m already deep into the as-yet-untitled followup to Blackwater Lights, which should satisfy the many people who have been clamoring for a sequel. I left the book open-ended because it felt like the story should continue, and I’m glad I can watch the characters and their world come alive again. In the sequel, the main characters are on the run in Central America, so the setting has gotten bigger, as have the stakes. And Lily, who everyone loves to hate, is back and nastier than ever. The central elements from the first book—the global conspiracy, battling secret societies, ritual magic, and otherworldly entities—are there in book two, only in a much bigger way. And Ray and Ellen, and Ellen’s son, William are still fighting for their lives against malevolent forces that want to destroy them. This book is much more Ellen’s story, so readers who wanted more of her will get it. The book will arrive, again in digital form, in the summer of 2014.

Has publishing and marketing been different than you expected it to be?

I really didn’t know what to expect from Hydra, my publisher, since the digital imprint was a new concept for one of the Big Five. There was a lot of negativity when the imprint launched because people found the initial contracts too restrictive on authors and too “grabby” when it came to rights. To Random House’s credit they made a number of changes and I found the contract and their new business model (a profit-sharing partnership with authors) to be satisfactory and, in some ways, quite progressive.

One of the reasons I resisted self-publishing was the power a traditional publisher wields in not just name-recognition but in sales and marketing savvy. The team at Hydra have confirmed my choice to wait for a contract from a major publisher, in spite of all the suggestions to go it alone. While every author always wants more PR and marketing than a publisher can or will deliver, I have been impressed with the team’s dedication to my book, and at its peak Blackwater Lights was in the top 25 bestselling books in the Nook store and the top 10 in Kindle horror. I couldn’t have done that myself. I would rather spend my time writing than marketing, so I’m happy to have the professionals doing what they do best.

That said, it is critical for every writer, especially a newly published one, to do as much as possible to boost sales. That means Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and taking every opportunity to get your book and your name circulating online and in the real world. If you’re already established and have sold hundreds of thousands of books, you might, like Jonathan Franzen, be able to avoid pimping your work on social media. But if you’re a new commodity, and you don’t have a base of fans waiting to buy your work, you need to find those fans. And that means tooting your own horn, even if you find it distasteful. You may not like it, but it’s the reality of the world we live in.

Where can we find and your work?

My blog (http://michaelmhughes.com) has a list of all my writing, including my nonfiction. Blackwater Lights is available now from all the major online retailers of ebooks, and the sequel will out in July of 2014. I have a short story coming out in the anthology Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification from Great Old Ones Publishing (http://www.amazon.com/Canopic-Jars-Tales-Mummies-Mummification/dp/0615912028/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383585237&sr=1-1&keywords=canopic+jars), and some other projects in the works. So stop by my blog and sign up for the newsletter if you want to stay updated (and get some exclusive extras like deleted chapters, previews, and more).

Any final thoughts for fans/audience?

I love when readers connect with my vision. It’s dark, and disturbing at times, and it’s certainly not for everyone. But I am a hopeful, optimistic person, and I think that comes through in my writing, even when the stories go to some very creepy places. I’ve been overjoyed that many people who don’t consider themselves horror readers/fans have loved Blackwater Lights. And that’s what I was hoping for. Because I don’t define myself as a horror writer. I am a writer of stories that contain horror and the supernatural, certainly, but they’re also about human beings and their loves, their fears, their quirks, and their triumphs. I don’t like being contained in a genre—genres can become ghettos, and I’m always trying to stretch my boundaries. I think the people who like my books the most are those who don’t want by-the-numbers stories about zombies or vampires and the like, but enjoy supernatural thrills based in a very real and believable world with complex, interesting characters. That’s the stuff I find the most deliciously creepy, and I hope others do, too.

Bio

Michael M. Hughes writes both fiction and nonfiction. His debut novel, BLACKWATER LIGHTS, is published by Hydra, an imprint of Random House. When he’s not writing, he lectures on paranormal and fortean topics and performs as a mentalist (psychic entertainer). He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two daughters.

A collection of his short horror stories, Invocation of the Incisor and Other Dark Tales, can be found at Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Nook, iBooks, and other ebook vendors.

Grave Images by Jenny Goebel

Grave ImagesGrave Images by Jenny Goebel

A stylish debut mystery with the perfect balance of sweetness and scares!

Thirteen-year-old Bernie’s summer is looking pretty grim. It’s hard to make friends when your family runs a monument company, and your backyard is littered with tombstones. It’s even harder when your mother suddenly refuses to leave her room . . .

To make matters worse, her father has just hired a new artist to engrave the headstones–the creepy Mr. Stein. Bernie has a bad feeling about him right from the start, and after snooping around his cottage, she discovers an engraved portrait of their neighbor . . . a woman who promptly dies the next day. And it’s not just a weird coincidence. The pattern continues, and Bernie realizes that Mr. Stein has begun engraving headstones before people die, which forces Bernie to ask a horrifying question: Is Mr. Stein predicting the deaths . . . or causing them?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lately I have been on a string of middle grade novels that left a lot to be desired. This one–total joy. I loved Bernie. She is the kind of character that will make your child feel like they have a new friend. Her attitude is often funny and the thoughts she has about the boy who likes her are hilarious.

I think the thing I enjoyed the most about this book, was that it was different. You don’t see too many stories out there where the main characters are in the headstone and monument business. This was a perfect backdrop to build an interesting and original story that you older children will surely love.

The story of why her mother was acting as she did was touching but not overly graphic or soppy to the point that it was tear producing. I liked the dynamic between the good hero and the bad bad guy. Bernie is pretty stealthy and smart and Mr. Stein was creepy!

I also really liked that there was a balance of terror and humour, realistic events and child-like feautures to this book.

This was a fun read that I imagine middle-grade students and parents alike will both enjoy. I would definitely recommend it. You don’t have to be a child to have fun with it.

This review is based on a digital ARC from Netgalley and the publisher.

View all my reviews

Guest Post: Catalysts by Charles E Yallowitz

CatalystsBig thank you to Ionia for letting me post about my debut Horror novella.  I promise to clean up after myself and lock the door when I’m done.

Synopsis-

When trapped in an elevator together, Jeffrey and Darla learn that misery doesn’t always love company. With the screams of death and chaos echoing from outside, they find themselves slowly slipping into a world of fear and darkness they may never recover from. All the while, something is terrorizing the convention outside and turning the guests and celebrities into psychotic monsters.
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AVAILABLE ON AMAZON KINDLE FOR 99 CENTS!!!!!
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The inspiration for Catalysts is that I wanted to try another genre.  I’ve spent most of my life playing in the fantasy genre, so I set out to prove to myself and one annoying friend that I could step out of that comfort zone.  Supernatural horror came to mind because I use monsters in fantasy.  The difference is that I had to focus more on the mentality of the humans as they were hunted, killed, and driven to their breaking points.  Unlike fantasy adventures, every character felt like they needed to have fear in their actions and hearts.  Even those that are fighting back are doing so with the desperation to survive instead of heroic courage.  So, my main goal in this experiment was to bring across the terror of the characters.
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There is also Jeffrey and Darla who are stuck in the elevator.  While the people within the carnage are running in fear, these two are trapped within their own misery.  I went dark for them and will admit that I can to be careful about making myself depressed when writing their scenes.  The elevator scenes and the carnage scenes are aimed to contrast each other.  Jeffrey and Darla are slowly falling into their personal abyss and trying to retain their sanity.  The people on the outside are rushing around and trying to get out alive with very few moments to relax.  In fact, characters relaxing tend to be a sign that something is about to go wrong.
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Anyway, that’s the origin of this idea.  I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and hopefully everyone gets to reap the benefits of it.  If horror isn’t your thing then you can read an exciting fantasy adventure in LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE, each for 99 cents.
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Hopefully this meets with Ionia’s approval.  Don’t want her to get mad and throw me clear across a clearing.  (I made that writing mistake and I have to live with it, so I might as well own it.)

Townhouse by Brian Rowe

TownhouseTownhouse by Brian Rowe

Twenty-four-year-old Sara Crimson isn’t happy that she’s moving into a shady apartment complex with a man she barely knows. But after discovering she’s pregnant with her first child, she decides to try to make a relationship work with the baby daddy Max, an up-and-coming talent agent, who proposes marriage and asks her to move in with him. An aspiring novelist, Sara at first is elated with the additional free time she has to focus on her writing. But as the days turn to weeks, she starts to suspect that something peculiar is happening in the Executive Townhouses of North Hollywood, California. People start disappearing, strange noises echo down the corridor, and an old, creepy tenant finds his entertainment value in staring at her from afar. But what Sara doesn’t know is that the hidden horrors that lie inside the apartment complex are far worse than anything her overactive imagination could have ever conceived..

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So…all of you people who are really squeamish and can’t handle a little well placed decapitation and moral corruption might want to avoid this book. For the rest of you that enjoy a good horror story with characters that are a lot of fun and make you look over your own shoulder, this is one to pick up.

Here’s what I liked: Sarah, the main character is a brat. She really is, but she is a well written brat that makes you dislike her for her personality. When a character has enough personality that you can make a decision on whether or not you could be friends with them if they were in real life, the author must have done something right. She bugged the crap out of me. I like it.

I liked the way Brian Rowe approached horror in this book. Things didn’t happen right away, but the book wasn’t boring either. There were just enough hints given about what was yet to come to keep me turning pages. The dialogue was interesting and the internal thoughts of Sarah and Max often made me laugh. I appreciated that I was able to get to know the history of the characters before the rest of the events got started.

This book didn’t go the way I thought it would initially and it was this unexpected stuff that made me really end up enjoying it. There is a bit of gross, but not so much that it ruined the book for me. The author clearly has a handle on how to tell a good story and keep the attention of his reader.

What I loved a bit less:

There are a few editing booboos in this book, namely wrong word forms used and some sections that could have used a bit better editing. Still, as a whole, this was an enjoyable read that I would recommend to others.

This review is based off of a digital ARC from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

*Also showing my Nevada pride here* the author is a UNR student:) Go Wolfpack!

View all my reviews

Blackwater Lights by Michael M. Hughes

Blackwater LightsBlackwater Lights by Michael M. Hughes

 

Michael M. Hughes’s Blackwater Lights combines the eldritch horror of H. P. Lovecraft with the supernatural thrills of Dean Koontz.

When Ray Simon receives a desperate call from his childhood friend Kevin, begging him to come visit, Ray can’t say no. Kevin promises to clue him in on shocking discoveries he has made about weird, half-forgotten events in their past—events associated with a summer camp near Kevin’s home in the small town of Blackwater, West Virginia.

But when Ray arrives, Kevin is nowhere to be found. So Ray does some investigating of his own, only to find that no records exist of the camp. Yet he is not alone in looking for information. There are Lily, a beautiful redhead with uncanny seductive powers; Crawford, a wealthy collector of art and people; and Micah, the mysterious leader of the Church of the Open Door. All of them are seeking information about the rumored camp. And they are all interested—very interested—in Ray.

Then a midnight encounter with strange floating lights sparks a return of old memories—vivid but fractured images that haunt Ray’s waking hours with intimations of terror and cruelty. Something dreadful happened at that camp long ago. Something was awakened there. Now, with the help of his new friend Ellen, a waitress at the local diner, Ray must navigate a path through madness and murder—a path that leads inexorably to an all-but-forgotten night in his childhood . . . and to a future of unimaginable horror.

“Disturbing, surreal, and spooky as hell, Blackwater Lights is a brilliantly written debut, marking Michael M. Hughes as a talent to watch.”
Tim Lebbon, author of Coldbrook and the Toxic City trilogy

“Blackwater Lights is a paranoid thrill-ride that deftly combines mystery, sci-fi, and horror elements into a modern-day conspiracy tale. An impressive debut that builds to a satisfying, action-filled conclusion.”
—Cemetery Dance magazine

“Blackwater Lights has action, adventure, sex, love, designer drugs, and violent death, all woven into a globe-spanning paranormal conspiracy. I mean, really, what’s not to like? Consider this my official request for a sequel.”
F. Paul Wilson, author of the Repairman Jack novels and The Adversary Cycle

“A harrowing and riveting thrill ride. Hughes is a welcome addition to the dark-fiction ranks.”
Scott Nicholson, author of The Red Church(less)

ebook, 208 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Hydra
ISBN
0345548809 (ISBN13: 9780345548801)
edition language
English
setting

Blackwater, West Virginia (United States)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all, this book is not going to be loved by all and I get that. I think you have to have a certain type of personality to really enjoy this book. If you like dark humour, are okay with things being just a bit twisted and some kinkiness doesn’t offend your senses too much, then you will likely enjoy this book. I certainly did.

So, right away–here is what I initially loved:

Ray is a great MC. He comes across as relatively innocent, he is a school teacher and isn’t setting out to look for trouble, rather just to seek answers to some events that happened to him long ago that he has not made peace with. His mysterious back story intrigued me and made me want to find out more.

As the story progressed, I began to get more interested in why the citizens of the town were acting so strange and who might or might not be involved with the cover-up of activity that was going on.

There are some very graphic scenes in this book, but they were handled well in my opinion and I thought it was all integral to the plot, so for me it wasn’t a problem. The main character has a certain charm about him that makes you want to support him. His attitude is good and gets him out of some tight situations.

I liked that the source of the lights stayed a mystery until nearly the end of the book and thought the ending was pretty action-packed and fantastic. I love it when you reach the end of a book and feel like all the build up to the final events was worth it.

Overall, this was a fun read with a lot going on and one that I would recommend to other horror genre lovers. I enjoyed that it was not the same thing that I have seen a hundred times before. Credit for great characters and originality. Michael M. Hughes is certainly an author to keep an eye on. I look forward to seeing where he goes next.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

the Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney

The Ghost PrisonThe Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney

This is the entrance to the Witch Well and behind that door you’d face your worst nightmare. Don’t ever go through there.’

Night falls, the portcullis rises in the moonlight, and young Billy starts his first night as a prison guard. But this is no ordinary prison. There are haunted cells that can’t be used, whispers and cries in the night… and the dreaded Witch Well. Billy is warned to stay away from the prisoner down in the Witch Well. But who could it be? What prisoner could be so frightening? Billy is about to find out…

An unforgettable ghost story from the creator of the Wardstone Chronicles (Spook’s Apprentice) series.

Illustrated throughout by the incredible Scott M Fischer, this beautifully produced book will make the perfect Halloween gift.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a rather spooky, very fun and suspenseful novella for children. I would say the best age group for this book would be between 8-12, but that may also depend on the maturity and reading ability of your child. If I am very honest about it–I had a lot of fun with this book, too.

The illustrations are great and the longer you look at them, the more things you notice about how detailed the pictures actually are. I enjoyed the fact that the pictures really do help tell the story. When something is described in the book, you can see it reflected in the illustrations. Obviously the illustrator paid careful attention to the content of the book, which was a nice change.

The story itself revolves around one night and a young man who has become a prison guard for a castle-like prison, complete with ghosts. His adventures will make you want to keep turning pages. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that it was over so soon. It was just too much fun.

There is a surprise ending that is different from other children’s books and made me smile. I would definitely recommend this book to all the junior horror fans out there.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided by Netgalley.

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When the PapiZ says Post, we post…

You asked for it. Here it is. An IM/CY production in honour of out good friend Papizilla and Friday the 13th. You can see the challenge he has set forth here: http://theliterarysyndicate.com/2013/09/13/papi-prompts-2/

Hey, Charles?

Yes, Ionia?

I’m bored.

Uh oh….
Ionia: It was a dark and stormy night

Charles: When Papi the Pixie’s hummingbird took flight

Ionia: It gave the other Pixies a terrible fright

Charles: They thought he wasn’t very bright

Ionia: Then Charles swooped in to save the day

Charles: He kept the thirteen monsters at bay

Ionia: Friday the thirteenth, is what you say?

Charles: A phrase that fills all with dismay

Ionia: Bigfoot showed up and frightened Jason off

Charles: Then turned at the sound of Sahm’s cough

Ionia: I thought I saw a streak go by

Charles: Screaming that it did not want to die

Ionia: We do this and I wonder why?

Charles: Because it gives us such a high

Ionia: Plus I’d rather do this than write

Charles: I should be editing a scene with a drite

Ionia: Oh my…that just isn’t right….

Charles: Should I have tried to fly a kite?

Ionia: So…I wonder who is under the mask?

Charles: You would think one of his victims would ask

Ionia: Maybe if I just say please…

Charles: He won’t hack us at the knees

Ionia:I pull of the mask to reveal…
cookie monster? eating cookies?