<![CDATA[GINGER NUTS OF HORROR - FICTION REVIEWS]]>Fri, 12 May 2023 10:08:09 +0100Weebly<![CDATA[​STRANGE FREQUENCIES BY RICHARD CLIVE]]>Mon, 01 May 2023 23:00:00 GMThttps://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/strange-frequencies-by-richard-clive
Strange Frequencies is a strong collection of stories that I enjoyed. The differing flavours and tones of the stories give the books its strengths and I will be looking forward to seeing what Richard Clive does in the future.
​Strange frequencies by Richard Clive

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Sinister Smile Press (25 Sept. 2022)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 282 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1953112382
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1953112385

A Horror Book Review by The Fantasy Book Nerd 
​Strange frequencies by Richard Clive is a debut collection of weird and macabre stories spanning a number of different genres including cosmic horror, and a whole plethora of different styles, including that old favourite; the Christmas ghost story. Now, when it comes to short story collections, there are many routes to take, such as building on a theme, having little motifs running through stories to create a series of interconnected stories, and then there are those that show a breadth of different styles.

Richard Clive shows a great versatility in the different styles of stories, with each one being completely different. I really enjoyed this approach as every story was fresh and different with a different flavour of horror.

There are twenty stories in the book, some stronger than others, some more satisfying than others. However there were standouts, and whilst there are some weaker stories, none of the stories were stinkers.

The first story of the book, On the Other Side of Time is a pretty strong opener with a mixture of dystopian sci Fi and cosmic horror. Jumping between two different timelines the story immediately throws you into a disorienting situation in which an alien object is being reconned by a group of soldiers. Evoking that creeping feeling of unease, this story really grabbed me.

With a change of pace and a completely different tone, the second story, Rotten to the Core deals with some recent events, wrapped up in a Christmas ghost story package. This is an effective tale and looks at a life shattering incident from the perspective of the perpetrator. However, this does not give any sympathy to the person and shows the effects on the victim and those around them.

The third story in the collection ‘The God Whisperer’ is a mix of crime and ecological horror. I think out of the book this is one that has stuck with me the most. Whilst the crime element is typical, it is the inclusion of the ecological element that elevates it. I find mushrooms and mycelium quite strange and inherently creepy in the first place, so using this element tapped into some of those unconscious fears that I have. Again there is a Lovecraftian edge to it, and as a fan of the cosmic horror genre as a whole, this story really resonated with me.

Another story that grabbed my attention was Made in Hell. This was another story  crime that had a crime element to it that centres on revenge after the main character is killed and subsequently comes back to exact retribution on the perp of the story who has risen the ranks of organised crime. This is a satisfying story with the bad guy getting his eventual comeuppance in the best possible way.

So, the last story that I am going to mention is ‘On Air’ which is set in an acute mental health ward. Now, I think one of the things that makes this standout is that Richard Clive steers clear of the traps that I have seen people fall into before when using mental health in horror, and also shows that he has done his research into the conditions that the characters are experiencing (which is always going to be a plus point for me as a person that works in mental health services and regularly sees various conditions being misused).

Strange Frequencies is a strong collection of stories that I enjoyed. The differing flavours and tones of the stories give the books its strengths and I will be looking forward to seeing what Richard Clive does in the future.

Strange Frequencies: A Short Story Collection 
by Richard Clive 

"Richard Clive’s stories are refreshingly varied, and never short of compelling. He is definitely a name to watch."

Mark Morris

A World War One fighter pilot tortured by guilt, a New York mobster desperately counting the hours until his execution, an elderly man losing his mind in a decrepit nursing home… all must face their regrets and the notion that we build our own Hell, brick by brick.

Richard Clive’s chilling debut collection features eleven twisted tales, varying from Lovecraftian cosmic horror to fast-paced supernatural thrillers. 
Strange Frequencies oozes with splatterpunk gore, ghostly revenants, and hellish monsters that will linger in your memory long after you turn the final page.



Deep in the forest lives a nerd that reads that oft misunderstood genre - fantasy!

In the tomes of lost legend,  he is known as Fantasy Book Nerd.

Sat in his hovel of books, he scans the works of those that write grim and dark tales. Tales of Dragons, tales of one's that have been chosen by the gods.

However, sometimes  he thinks buggerit and likes to settle down with a good bit of horror. Preferably the type of horror that includes great old ones and star hopping behemoths come to plague mankind and make them do age old rituals with sacrifices of cheese strings and other well known cheesy products.

the ehart and soul of horror fiction review websites 

<![CDATA[The Kindness of Ravens  by Philip F. Webb a review and interview]]>Sun, 30 Apr 2023 23:00:00 GMThttps://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/the-kindness-of-ravens-by-philip-f-webb-a-review-and-interview
The Kindness of Ravens (2021)
Written by Philip F. Webb
Review and Interview  by: Mark Walker
"The Kindness Of Ravens" is a collection of short stories by Philip F. Webb, author of the children's book "Lily Of Atlantis". It is perfect for the commute to work, breaks, and just *dipping into" for a quick read. Each story is crafted with ease of language as well as delivering an emotional, shocking, humourous or chilling "punchline".
Available at Amazon

The Kindness of Ravens is a  pocket-sized collection of bite-size stories great for dipping in and out of. Once you get started, most readers will likely be able to get through it in an hour or so with none of the stories being more than 10 or 11 pages long. This isn’t a criticism as sometimes you just want a literary “snack” and Ravens should leave you feeling satisfied.

As the blurb on the back says, the collection explores the adage “be careful what you wish for” and nowhere is this more evident that the titular story that explores the kindness of ravens, although it may not quite be what you expect. It certainly wasn’t what the old woman in the story expected.

Alongside this you get a collection of creepy, funny, odd, and cautionary tales. Eleven in total, including one poem.

You can read about legendary knitting needles, the protector of forests on a recruitment mission, surprise deaths, the dangers and benefits of AI, vampires, fairies, zombies and mysterious killers. There really is something for everyone.

There was only one tale that, for me, didn’t quite feel like it belonged with the others, but that didn’t do anything to detract from the read overall and I had a good time with The Kindness of Ravens. Check it out on Amazon, it’s cheap or even free with Kindle Unlimited.

I look forward to more from Philip and, while Lily of Atlantis is a very different prospect from Ravens, it is worth checking out if you have young kids, or just if the big kid inside you fancies something different to read. Just don’t get these two mixed up at bedtime when reading to the little ones!

While writing this quick review of Ravens, I took the liberty of firing off some question to Philip to find out a little more about his process, influences and inspiration, the highlights of which you can read below.
My first experience of your work was Lily of Atlantis, a kind of self-help book for kids involving wizards, spells, fun monsters and positive messages for the readers. The Kindness of Ravens is a very different offering, although shot through with the same subtle humour. Which is your first love, writing for kids or something more horrific?

I enjoy both equally. The only real difference is how graphic in the descriptions you can be, and certain subjects are either “off limits” or can only be hinted at with children’s books. Although, personally, I do kind of enjoy the “what book/film gave you childhood trauma?” trope…

The challenge with the darker, “grown up” stories is adults aren’t as smart as kids, so you have to spoon-feed them 😉 Or, being serious, it’s also knowing when to stop and working out when an implication will have a stronger impact.

So, what do you see as one of the biggest challenges for writing for children?

With children’s books the challenge, for me, is giving them food for thought (while avoiding telling them what to think), giving teachable moments all while making it entertaining and engaging. Children tend to switch-off when they are being preached at.

As you said, kids aren’t as stupid as some people might like to think. How did you approach that with Lily?

With Lily I wanted to make a comment about how we view immigration (positive as well as negative) – which is where the whole story line with Byron, the minotaur, comes from. Along with that I deliberately gave each monster a layer of “the other”, as in “not the average/”normal”. Veronica the gorgon can be a stand-in for trans people – she is a she but made (carved from stone), so there’s no biological “reason” for her being a her except “she looks female”, yet we fully accept her as female and a woman.

So coming back to Ravens, did you have a collection of shorts written before you decided to start on the book, or did you decide you wanted to build a collection first?

Half and half, I had 5 stories I knew I wanted “out there” 2 stories that needed a lot of work and the other 4 I started from scratch.

Was the eponymous tale already written, or did that come later?

The Kindness of Ravens itself was already written and good to go, despite the obvious “be careful what you wish for” theme it (I hope) has a lot of humour and is ultimately a hopeful story, despite all of humanity being wiped out…

Genesis 7:12 was written from scratch as a counterbalance to Ravens. It’s full-on nihilism, bleak, and hopelessness.

The thing I enjoyed with both was the mood setting with descriptions and little details. Ravens focuses on sunrise and the promise of a new day, with Genesis it is the details of the house (worn, tatty wallpaper, threadbare carpets, grime and dust, the splatter of blood on his face being the only colour…)

There is a wide variety of stories in Raven. Thinking about inspiration and influecnes did you have any particular writers you couldn’t get enough off when you were growing up, or are there any contemporary writers who you look forward to getting your hands on their next works?

Growing up I was an avid reader of Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, H G Wells (after hearing Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds album) and John Wyndham (after the original BBC adaptation of The Day of the Triffids). The one thing they all have in common is the ability to explain very complex ideas in a simple, easy to grasp, way. That’s something I strive for.

For the more contemporary writers, Margret Atwood who, again, takes very complex ideas and situations and explains them in an easy to digest way. She also doesn’t pull any punches with the darker aspects of her fictional worlds. Also, going back to an earlier point, Margret Atwood doesn’t “preach” with her fiction, she tells a story that pulls you in and you make your own moral judgements. She’s also very good at smudging the border between “good guy” and “bad guy” characters – even in A Handmaid’s Tale the society and its trappings are the pure evil, but you’d be hard put not to find likeable qualities in the antagonists. Even OfFred is at times weak, an unreliable narrator and 100% not a heroic figure. (Sorry, off at a tangent there, I really like Margret Atwood’s style and how she gets her intended message across… something I try to emulate.)

A special mention goes to Steven Donaldson, especially for the Gap Series of books. Epic in scope but intimate in execution. He writes characters first and then sets up some very plausible “lesser of two evils” choices. Manages to turn a character you start off hating into the guy you end up rooting for (he even gets a “punch the air with a whoop” line at the end). Add to that a Mexican stand-off between battle ships in space, inter cut with political manoeuvring in a conference – and within a page the political stuff has you on the edge of your seat…

And with that in mind – you are stuck on a desert island and can only take 3 books, which ones are you prepared to read over and over for months and months while you await rescue?

The Gap Series (in one volume – probably a cheat but…), for the reasons above.
The Testaments by Margret Atwood – continues the Handmaid’s Tale story, but with a lot more meat on the bone and she brilliantly explains a really nasty character from the first book who you end up absolutely loving – with a fantastic “lesser of two evils” choice she had to face when Gilead took over.

The Count of Monti Christo by Alexander Dumas. A fascinating study of revenge and how it affects the person seeking it. As well as brilliant use of using your enemies’ strengths and psychology against them. There isn’t one adaptation (film or TV) that has fully embraced the books’ themes and story. In fact, the best adaptation is The Punisher movie starring Eric Banner and John Travolta…

Bubbling under would be any three Disc World books by Terry Pratchett (Night Watch would have to be one of them, as would Snuff… and Soul Music.)

That might be more than 3 books, but we’ll let you off, just this once. So, every interviewer gets to ask at least one clichéd question, so where do you get your ideas from? How do your ideas form?

There’s a website I subscribe to… Everything around me, books I’ve read, films, conversations about random subjects all trigger ideas.

As to how and why that seed of an idea grows into a story, book, or script (or how I know it should be a short story, book, or script), I have no idea. I do believe it is a learnt/taught skill, like everything else in writing or any creative skill.

It certainly feels like a continually evolving process. Your website also highlights your interest in photography. Do you find that influences your writing or gives you ideas for stories?

I’m a single shot/exposure photographer – meaning I like to get 90+% of the photograph  done “in camera” with minimal editing, using a very basic editing program, like Picasa (the longest I’ve spent editing a photo is about 30 minutes.)
So that means most of my time photographing something is spent in prep work (to the point now where I don’t even have to think about it – that’s practice.)
From that I learnt “know what you want” before diving in – that prep, which can be anything from 10 seconds to 20 minutes, before even putting the camera to my eye saves hours later in editing.

Generally, the answer is “no” for inspiration, although it has helped with descriptions and settings after the idea has come.

Very specifically it did trigger the core idea for Ravens. The photo I’ve used for the cover and “Raven on a Post” inspired the idea of ravens having a language and, despite their rep/image, being kind.

The cover photo, although I singled out one bird, was three ravens “playing” – one would land on a pylon and be “dive bombed” by the other two, then chase the other two after a few minutes and then one of the other ravens would land on the pylon and repeat the whole game.

Raven on a Post – I swear that bird held that pose just long enough for me to take the photo before hopping off the post. I rewarded it with a big chunk of meat (I had a few because I’d gone out specifically to photograph ravens and crows – bribery helps)… It tore the chunk in half, ate one piece and took the other to a raven that was nearby.

I can appreciate that preparation allegory in relation to writing and how, for me, preparation is key. I can’t write by the seat of my pants; I find it much easier to know where I am going before I set off. Are there any other photography processes that have influenced and affected the way you approach writing?

Photography has taught me discipline when it comes to writing.

People often talk about “having an eye for photography” (seeing a scene etc and knowing how to frame it in camera for “that perfect shot”), it’s the one aspect of photography that you either have or don’t, you can be taught to improve it, but it must be there to start with. That improvement is a slow, frustrating process. That taught me nothing comes easy; do you really want this? If the answer is “yes”, brace yourself, buckle up and put the time and effort in.

Learning how a camera (digital or film) works and why, the limitations and strengths of different types of cameras (from the one on your phone all the way up to a DSLR) and what lens to use for what shot and style. (That’s AFTER learning about aperture, ISO, shutter speed…)

Because of that I learnt that you need to learn the “how and why” of anything before you can get worthwhile results.

It also taught me to “follow the rules religiously” before you experiment with bending/breaking them for effect.

Mostly what photography has taught me, that really transposes over to everything (not just writing) is; it takes time, practice, mistakes, more learning, more time, more practice, better quality mistakes, keep repeating, keep learning – and sometimes a mistake leads to an idea.

Still thinking about process, do you have a particular method you follow for each piece of work once you start to develop that idea?

Write down the core idea. (For Ravens it was “Ravens have a language and are God.” “Ravens are kind.” “Be careful what you wish for.”)

Ignore it for a while – if it’s a good idea it’ll pester you until you go back to it.

Under the core idea flesh it out a bit. (For Ravens that was “nice old lady feeds the local Ravens and learns their language”, “the ravens have to grant her a wish because she learnt their language”, “how can I subvert a wish for “people to be nicer to each other”?)

Fill in details about the characters’ lives, personality, names etc.

Write a timeline for the story – ignore it, go back to it, and revise the timeline and fill in more details.

Start writing.

Leave it be again.

Edit so it looks like you actually had a plan… This stage is where I find the general tone and themes start to properly assert themselves.

Don’t be afraid of adding details, events etc that aren’t in the plan. (In Ravens the whole lesbian sub-plot was a very late addition, which adds depth to the story and character and explains why she wished people would be kinder to each other.)

Get it to a point where it won’t be embarrassing to let other people read it and get some feedback.

And more editing…

Remind yourself it will never be perfect, trying to make it perfect will ruin it.

I don’t do the detailed “I know every scene before I’ve even written it” kind of plan, but I don’t do the “wing it” style either – that’s across the board from short stories, books, scripts etc.

Is there any particular software you use for writing. This is something that comes up regularly in online discussions. Do you use anything fancy, or are you a WORD guy?

For prose I’m a “WORD guy” – only because everyone accepts subs in WORD. I’ve tried others but constantly find formatting errors when saving/converting to a Word doc.

I do like Google docs – similar enough to Word that you can use it instinctively, easier use and it looks cleaner on screen. But do find formatting issues when saving as a Word file.

Okay, so that may be a few more clichés than I thought, but one final one; what is the one piece of advice you would give a new writer based on your experiences to date?

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

The element of “luck” (if you make it) was produced by you putting yourself in the position to take advantage of an opportunity that, if you haven’t put the time, effort, and experience in, you wouldn’t be able to follow up on.

(BONUS ADVICE: If anyone says, “it’s a great opportunity for you to get exposure and experience”, that’s the carrot for the bloody big stick of exploiting you. Learn the difference between exploiting - you’re the only one not getting paid – and collaboration – either no-one’s getting paid or everyone’s getting paid.)

Sound advice, there are a lot of potential for getting exploited out there!
So, what’s next for Philip? I believe there is another instalment from Atlantis on its way, but are you working on anything else, a novel perhaps, or more shorts?

There’s a new Lily of Atlantis book on the horizon, Lily and friends fight an evil dragon.

I am in the final stages of a religious fantasy “Joshua’s Psalm”, based on the Biblical myth of the Nephilim – which being an atheist surprised me, but it’s an interesting idea.

I’m slowly building another collection of short stories (don’t hold your breath).

I’m working on getting some short (1 – 5 pages) scripts written. Mainly horror and sci-fi. I have 5 already, trying to work out how to get producers, directors etc interested… quick pitch; 1. A man in a house, the universe has been swallowed into “nothing”, leaving him alone to face the inevitable. 2. A malignant shadow follows people into their hotel rooms and kills them, how do you escape your own shadow? 3. A young woman is running from a group who want to take her organs {she’s still using them}, is there anyone left she can trust. 4. Aliens have invaded, leaving the survivors to scrape by on dangerous scavenger hunts. Death or worse only a heartbeat away. 5. A woman investigates a sound from her basement, is everything as it first appears?

Have a couple of spec scripts on the go. My favourite being Vampire: A Fairy Tale (a fairy tale about a vampire, I put a clue in the title… you’ve probably worked out most of the plot TBH.) Also, The Infected – loosely based on Genesis 7:12 which I’m looking at writing as a TV/streaming series (I need to get those shorts done first…)

So, keeping yourself busy!

Philip, thank you for your time and for sharing your thoughts about your books and your influences and process.
Thank you.

Ravens and Lily are both available to buy from Amazon. Check them out!

The Kindness Of Ravens: And Other Tales

A collection of short stories, perfect for the commute to work, breaks, and just *dipping into" for a quick read.
"The stories were engaging and interesting --- Would recomend to people who especially like sci-fi, fantasy and horror/supernatural." from a 5 star Amazon review.
"Great short stories, love The Kindness of Ravens especially, but tbh, there isn't a bad story in it. Expect the unexpected." from a 5 star Goodreads review.
"You would be hard-pressed not to find something you enjoy in these pages." from an Amazon review.
"A brilliant book of short stories. Highly recommended." from a readers Facebook review.
The stories are a great introduction to Philip F. Webb's writing and cover many genres, including fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, and a little horror, humour and even a smattering of romance.

Philip F. Webb,

Introducing Philip F. Webb, your new favourite author of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and children’s fiction.

Born in 1967 (still alive last time I checked) in Surrey, UK. Moved to Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK by the time he was 30.

Has had far too many retail and hospitality jobs; now enjoys working nights, stacking shelves for a wholesalers, and writing prose and spec scripts.
Would love to hear from you on Goodreads

Find out more about Philip on his website and on his Amazon author page.
Follow on Facebook for news, give-a-ways (UK only for time being), etc


'This book will appeal to parents who want to raise confident, emotionally resilient children, and to kids of all ages who know that real magic doesn't come from a wand.' - Fiona Leitch, author of the bestselling Nosey Parker series.

"A magical book of friendship and adventure, and how children can overcome obstacles by harnessing the power they hold inside themselves." – Emma Pullar, author (Paper Dolls)

'A delightful book that involves children in fostering resilience in difficult times' - Lucy V Hay, author (The Other Twin & Do No Harm)

It's a fun read and Philip has done a great job of tackling some difficult subjects for younger readers, while still making the stories fun and re-readable.” - Mark Walker, author (published in various anthologies inc. Terror Bites & Twisted vol 2)

check out today's other horror article below 

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<![CDATA[LOOKING GLASS SOUND BY CATRIONA WARD, BOOK REVIEW]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2023 23:00:00 GMThttps://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/looking-glass-sound-by-catriona-ward-book-review
The stones are singing in Looking Glass Sound, but we should all be singing at the top of our voices about this elegant and bewitching novel.  
Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward 

Publisher ‏ : ‎ 
Viper; Main edition (20 April 2023)

Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1800810970
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1800810976

A Horror Book review by Jim Mcleod 

Catriona Ward first exploded on the scene 8 years ago with her fantastic novel Rawblood. With each new release, Ward has pushed the boundaries with the reader's expectations, forcing the reader to look not just between the lines but also to look inside themselves so that they can fully digest and understand what they have just read. These complex, multilayered stories challenge the reader in a way that very few other horror novels can; they are deeply rewarding on first reading, but if they shine after you have read the final page and everything clicks into place, these are the sort of stories that leave an imprint on your heart, soul and mind.  

Looking Glass Sound is another such book; initially, it feels like one of the most straightforward novels from Ward in terms of narrative structure and plot devices; however, don't be fooled, as it won't be long before you realise that this is anything but a straightforward novel. You will be tempted to go back and reread certain sections just to ensure that you haven't missed a critical point that at first seemed like an innocuous plot point. And this is no criticism about the story; the richness and sense of incorporeal dread that percolates throughout this novel are made all the better with this teasing, the trail of breadcrumbs approach to revealing the true nature of the story.  

Set during the summer months of 1989, there is a beautiful sense of nostalgia running through the book for those of us who were teenagers during these years, and the sense of wonder that Ward invokes with her descriptions of spending a summer at the beach with your "friends" is a glorious addition to the book. Never heavy-handed in its approach, it thankfully never takes The Stranger Things approach to this by laying on cultural reference after cultural reference to get a feel for the era. Rather than this approach, Ward channels what it was like to be a teenager in a period where life was just that little bit simpler with no mobile phones or the internet. The sense of freedom and carelessness that we all had way back then is tempered by a subtle and dark sense of impending doom, with her threat of the summer boogie man and the realisation that the friendships are hiding a dark and deadly secret and a joy to read, love, live, a hope to belong are laid bare with a raw and honest approach to storytelling. Ward perfectly captures how we were all feeling during those long-gone summer days.  

You will notice that I am being as vague as I can be about the actual plot. There is a good reason for this, novels like this are best approached from a total point of ignorance with regards to it, the partially meta-narrative, filled with or without unreliable narrators, will be lessened if you know what is going on before you embrace this novel with both hands. Ward refuses to hold the reader's hand while they make their way through this complex novel, and why should she, when the writing is this exquisite, we should return the favour by giving her our full attention.  

And ass for the book's resolution, many authors stumble on the final ten yards. However, Ward nails it entirely with a powerful, chaotic and thought-provoking final act that will leave you with that warm glow you only get from consuming a perfect piece of art. 

Filled with wonderfully complex characters, who take their time to reveal their true nature, this is as much an essay on the frailties of friendships and the past catching up with you as it is a gothic horror novel. They are so well realised that you feel as though you are one of the gang; whether or not you want to be one of the gang that's up to you.  

The stones are singing in Looking Glass Sound, but we should all be singing at the top of our voices about this elegant and bewitching novel.  


Looking Glass Sound by catriona ward 

'A beautifully sinister tale of perception and identity' - JOANNE HARRIS
'Enthralling and heartbreaking' - M.R. CAREY

'So beautiful, so dark and so vivid' - JENNIFER SAINT

Writers are monsters. We eat everything we see...

In a windswept cottage overlooking the sea, Wilder Harlow begins the last book he will ever write. It is the story of his childhood companions and the shadowy figure of the Daggerman, who stalked the New England town where they spent their summers. Of a horror that has followed Wilder through the decades. And of Sky, Wilder's one-time friend, who stole his unfinished memoir and turned it into a lurid bestselling novel, The Sound and the Dagger.

This book will be Wilder's revenge on Sky, who betrayed his trust and died without ever telling him why. But as he writes, Wilder begins to find notes written in Sky's signature green ink, and events in his manuscript start to chime eerily with the present. Is Sky haunting him? And who is the dark-haired woman drowning in the cove, whom no one else can see?

No longer able to trust his own eyes, Wilder feels his grip on reality slipping. And he begins to fear that this will not only be his last book, but the last thing he ever does.

Discover the new dark thriller from the bestselling author of The Last House on Needless Street

check out the latest YA and MG Horror book Round up below 

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<![CDATA[PRISMATIC BY EDWINA GREY, BOOK REVIEW]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2023 23:00:00 GMThttps://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/prismatic-by-edwina-grey-book-review
Prismatic by Edwina Grey

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Kyla Lee Ward (30 Aug. 2022)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
File size ‏ : ‎ 1245 KB
Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported

A Horror Book Review by Tasha Schiedel 
Okay here is the review. Please let me know your honest thoughts. I don't normally like writing bad reviews, but I feel that it is a necessary learning experience for me that I need to do.

Prismatic by Edwina Grey

Prismatic has a fantastic synopsis that has potential to be a phenomenal book. However, with the multiple authors and the back and forth timelines, this book is a dud for me. It feels as if the three authors each had a story based on the same premise, but did not get together to form a cohesive and strong narration, and just threw together what they wrote.

Since I feel that the story is thrown together the way it is, I never cared about the outcome of the main characters in each of the time lines. The current timeline character, Jacqueline, comes across as antisocial and only along for this story because she doesn’t know where else to be. Her skills or what she brings to the story, is irrelevant other than she found skeletal remains. The next timeline set in 1919 is Doctor Waters. He is probably the most entertaining of the group of characters. He is trying to figure out an illness that is spreading quickly while saving the people that are sick from it. For the first half of the book, he is just waltzing around looking at his patients, asking some questions on their health, and that’s about it. And then you have 1789, John, a criminal that is trying to survive in a community overrun by zealots and disease. Entertaining enough, I just didn’t click with John.

I strongly feel that this story could use a rewrite and become a stronger, solid, and entertaining book. Don’t get me wrong, there is a story here, but I was never pulled in to care much about where the story ends up and what happens to all the characters. Each of the authors that are a part of this story, is a great writer individually. But when you put them altogether in this format, it isn’t working. Perhaps a bit more focus on the current timeline with a bit of history could make this a solid story.

Prismatic by Edwina Grey



History is out to get you.
Jacqueline is a struggling academic. Unless she can kickstart her failed thesis, she will lose everything she's ever dreamed of.
A lucky find leads to the discovery of a lifetime—a cache of documents detailing a century-old murder. She can finish her thesis, and garner the prestige to make her career. 
But as Jacqueline digs into the records, a mysterious plague strikes Sydney—identical to the mysterious illness detailed in the historical documents, causing unnatural outbreaks of violence and madness. And the man she made the discovery with—biologist Daniel O'Connor—may be the source of the infection. An ancient conspiracy surfaces, desperate to bury the ancient truth.
Threatened on all sides, Jacqueline must confront a dark legacy, or everything she knows and loves will be consumed by malevolent forces..

If you like If you like Stephen King's Cell and James Bradley's The Resurrectionist, you'll devour Edwina Grey's dark horror story that draws on Australia's blood-soaked past as a prison for Britain's most monstrous criminals. This terrifying, award-winning novel is only one click away.



<![CDATA[THE BROKEN PLACES BY ​BLAINE DAIGLE, BOOK REVIEW]]>Mon, 24 Apr 2023 23:00:00 GMThttps://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/the-broken-places-by-blaine-daigle-book-review
Three friends find themselves isolated and
being stalked in the freezing cold Yukon Territory
 The Broken Places by ​Blaine Daigle 

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Wicked House Publishing (24 Mar. 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
File size ‏ : ‎ 1684 KB
Simultaneous device usage ‏ : ‎ Unlimited

A Horror Book Review by Tony Jones 

I was immensely impressed by Blaine Daigle’s debut The Broken Places which might be described as an ice-cold blend of Adam Nevill’s The Ritual, Marc E Finch’s Boy in the Box and Ron Malfi’s Bone White. Being entirely set in a remote part of Canada’s Yukon Territory it is easy to compare The Broken Places with any survival style story where something nasty lurks in the forests and help remains frighteningly out of reach. Whatever you may decide to compare this terrific novel to, this gripping, eerie and captivating tale more than holds its own against the big names in the genre. Even, if at first glance, the plot sounds derivative of many other isolated snow-swept settings Daigle gives all those familiar ingredients a shakeup delivering a chilling and powerful read.

The Broken Places is written in the third person and seamlessly moves between the three main characters and best friends, Ryne, Shawn and Noah. Apart from various flashbacks the book has virtually no other characters and is built around their long-standing friendship and the unnamed powers which test their endurance to the extremes. Aged in their late twenties and with significant shared history behind them, the trio meet up to visit Ryne’s family cabin which is some miles beyond the village of Wolf’s Bone, in a remote part of the Yukon.

All three men were fascinating, relatable, and believable characters as they all had complex personal baggage which impacts the story in unique ways. Ryne’s is the most significant, having inherited the cabin from his father and uncle after their recent deaths, he is returning to his old home after even more family tragedy which has left him like a broken shell. The Broken Places was a very bleak book and happiness or cheery scenes are absent with anxiety levels increasing very quickly once the three reach the remote cabin. Even the title itself could be referring to the men themselves, just as much as the dangerous surroundings.

The novel is developed around Ryne’s childhood connection with the cabin, which was built by his ancestors many generations earlier, but there were secrets his father and uncle chose not to pass onto him. In the prologue dreamlike sequence a childhood Ryne witnesses his uncle bowing down in front on an antlered creature and is warned never to eat meat from the forest. But why? Clues are dropped here and there and Blaine Daigle’s forest is a threatening and imposing creation which is vividly brought to life. The unnerving behaviour of the local wildlife was equally unsettling and is a million miles away from the cute animals of Narnia, with experienced childhood hunters Ryne and Shaun both struggling to understand their odd characteristics with the natural laws of the wilderness seeming falling apart.

The Broken Places is set over a relatively brief period of a couple of days, with the three men arriving at the cabin just as a huge storm arrives cutting them off from the nearby village. Its pace is deliciously slow as anxieties increase with hints being dropped here and there what is going on. The book was top-heavy with outstanding sequences which used restraint to perfection, expertly blending dreams and nightmares with the natural perils of the weather. There was a brilliant scene where the men enter the basement for the first time which was reminiscent of the moment in Adam Nevill’s The Ritual where the group discover a highly unpleasant effigy in the upstairs room of the shack they encounter. Another startling moment arrives when one of the men shoots a deer in the head which is blocking the road, but was otherwise harmless, there was something particularly brutal about this savage act that did not bode well for what followed. A third formidable scene played out at a remote radio tower when one of the group are trying to attract help. None of these moments were particularly bloodthirsty, although a severely damaged leg might have you wincing, and flowed seamlessly into the narrative.

The slow escalation was overseen with significant effect, with the bickering friends dealing with weird whispers, sleepwalking, the feeling of being watched and the possibility that they are not alone. I also loved the fact that the village of Wolf’s Bone lurked the background, with the occasional comment from Ryne which raised my antennae leaving me hungry to find out more. The ending and how things connect together was also nicely managed, but the final epilogue was outstanding and pitched perfectly between melancholia, closure and a tiny smidgen of hope.

Blaine Daigle’s The Broken Places was a terrific debut and although individually a lot of the scenes might remind you of other works this was more than compensated by a grippingly bleak story of loss, friendship, survival and ancient beings which lurk in the forest which was told with great style and emotion.

Tony Jones

 The Broken Places by ​Blaine Daigle 

 The Broken Places by ​Blaine Daigle
When Ryne Burdette inherits his family's old hunting cabin deep in the Yukon wilderness, he wants to say no. Nothing much is left in that place except for unpleasant memories and the smoke of old burns. But after a tragic year, he sees a weekend trip to the cabin with his best friends as a way to recuperate and begin again. But there is something strange about these woods. As a winter storm moves in, the animals begin acting strangely, and the natural laws of the wilderness seem to fall apart. Then, the soft voices start whispering through the trees. Something is watching them. As the storm gets worse and the woods get darker, the three friends must dive into the darkest waters of the Burdette family lineage. Because the horrible truth is deep, resting in the shadowed places no one wants to look.

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<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW, DMV BY  BENTLEY LITTLE]]>Wed, 19 Apr 2023 23:00:00 GMThttps://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/book-review-dmv-by-bentley-little
Whatever you do: never EVER cross the DMV!
DMV By Bentley Little

ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BZ3N71SM
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Cemetery Dance Publications (14 April 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
File size ‏ : ‎ 1398 KB
Simultaneous device usage ‏ : ‎ Unlimited
Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled

A Horror Book Review by Tony Jones 
Considering Bentley Little has been writing novels since the 1990s, I am a relative novice to his fiction and from his recent output have only read The Bank (2020), which was an entertaining read. However, considering my shortage of points of references beyond The Bank I found DMV to be very similar to that other novel, too comparable even. In The Bank, a new financial institution opens up in town and gradually wraps its vice-like sinister claws around a small American town and in DMV all you have to do is switch the bank for a murky government organisation and you have a new novel with some similarities. Bentley Little obviously has it in for big institutions! Structurally they were pretty similar, a group of characters are threatened by the DMV (instead of a bank) and the author has fun with his satirical digs at everything from large institutions, the Kafkaesque nature of the organisation, to Donald Trump.

In parts DMV was very funny and I chuckled on numerous occasions, however, ultimately satire trumped horror and although there were a few violent and very imaginative kill or torture scenes it lacked scares and could have done with more grab-you-by-the-throat style horror. Also, the plot ran out of steam a while before it reached the end, 440 pages seemed much too long for a novel that treaded a fine balance between satire, thriller and horror. Once all the big reveals were out of the bag, the book took too long to finish, but I did find the more mundane quirks of the DVM organisation more amusing than those which are dropped when the novel moves into full blown horror territory with its ‘good versus evil’ style finish.

‘The Man’ is an American slang phrase which usually refers to the government or to some other authority in a position of power, quite often they are difficult to contact directly, but can wield a lot of control. Bentley Little turns the DMV into “The Man”.  It becomes a threatening and shadowy organisation which everybody avoids whenever possible with his novel dealing with a group of loosely connected individuals who fall foul of its influence. Their lives are turned upside down, or worse, as the influence of the organisation tightens, taking grudges to ultimate extremes. Some of these examples were beautifully subtle and believable, others were more outlandish or even potentially supernatural.

The reader could relate to many of the more straight-forward examples of manipulation, such as being stuck in queues for hours, unhelpful assistance, incorrect appointments which were impossible to reschedule or the frustration of receiving the wrong documentation in the post. But on the other hand, some unlucky suckers soon find themselves blacklisted, are repeatedly called in the middle of the night, are stalked, have threatening strangers appearing at their doorstep or are told their documents are invalid with a thug then appearing on their doorstep ready to repossess their vehicle. Welcome to the DMV!

DMV features several sets of characters who are living very normal lives until becoming unlucky targets on their hitlist. There are successful author Todd Klein and his librarian wife Rosita who live very normal middle-class lives until Todd attempts to renew his licence and after an argument with a DMV employee finding himself caught in their web. Next there is Jorge Guiterrez, Rosita's younger brother who is looking for a new job and then out of the blue is approached by a pair of mysterious strangers with an even more mysterious job offer...at the DMV. This led to the most outlandish part of the story (which was also very funny) with Jorge finding himself at a weird bootcamp where casual racism, torture and death are part of the daily routine. The third main story strand features Zal Tombasian, a young programmer at Data Initiatives, whose company is hired to work on the DMV’s computer networks leading to some startling revelations.

Bentley Little has a lot of fun turning the mundane aspects of everyday life into unnerving horror which is laced with humour and DMV often successfully balances the silly with the ominous. Portraying it as a fascist like organisation, I laughed when normal law-abiding citizens were actively encouraged (via weird alternative licences) to deliberately hit (ala Deathrace 2000) pedestrians, or others were designated as victims of some kind. I also found the group of undercover (ex-DMV) test instructors to be strangely funny, leading a strange underground rear-guard fight against the DMV by helping those given deliberately difficult tests which were impossible to pass. However, there were other plots which had unexplored dead ends, at one point Todd is interviewed by a podcaster about his novels and when he mentions the DMV is hung up on. I expected this guy to reappear in the vein of an X-Files style character, but he never did.

Paranoia and satire, rather than horror dominate DMV and although I never truly cared too much about any of the characters (the romance between Zal and Violet was another major damp squid dead end) I had fun anticipating what horrors lay beyond the next curve in the road. But when you apply for a new licence and are sent a cartoon drawing with your face on it you know you’re in big trouble!

Tony Jones


Successful author Todd Klein and his wife Rosita live a quiet small town life. Todd's latest novel is selling well and despite recent budget cuts, Rosita relishes her job at the local library. After years of marriage, they're still in love, the mortgage to their suburban home is paid off, and their future is bright. Until, that is, Todd makes an appointment at the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew his license.

Jorge Guiterrez, Rosita's younger brother, hasn't been so lucky. A few months earlier, his bad temper finally caught up with him. After arguing with a supervisor, Jorge quit his cushy job and hasn't been able to find a new one. The bills are piling up and his wife is starting to pressure him. Until, one day, he is approached by a pair of mysterious strangers with an even more mysterious job offer...at the DMV.

Zal Tombasian, a young programmer at Data Initiatives, has a pretty boring existence. As his friend and co-worker Bernard tells him, "Your social life consists of sitting at home eating junk food and playing online games." Zal doesn't even bother to put up an argument. He's never been much for adventure. Until his company is hired to work on their largest account yet...by the DMV.

With his latest novel, Bentley Little's savage satire is on full display as he takes on everyone's worst nightmare, the DMV.

Stephen King says: "When it comes to horror, nobody does what Bentley Little does.... Scary, funny, weird, satiric, surreal."

"Longtime master of horror fiction Little is back. Readers will think twice about renewing their licenses after reading DMV. Fans of Little’s work will enjoy his latest offering." - Booklist

"This is Bentley Little at his mind-blowing best." - Well Worth A Read

"Bentley Little is a one of a kind storyteller who creates an atmosphere of intense twisted deviance. Ominous context, repulsive individuals and an unholy creed create an environment that will leave a sick feeling in the pit of the reader’s stomach. This unorthodox brand of dark fiction often leaves an impression of hopelessness and of no escape from its disturbing pages." - Horror Bookworm Reviews



<![CDATA[QUIET PART LOUD – A SPOTIFY ORIGINAL – GIMLET MEDIA]]>Tue, 18 Apr 2023 21:00:00 GMThttps://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/quiet-part-loud-a-spotify-original-gimlet-media
QPL is every bit as good as you would expect from something that has been anywhere near Monkeypaw Productions and, as my first audio drama, I was very impressed.
Quiet Part Loud – A Spotify Original – GIMLET MEDIA
Quiet Part Loud, created by Monkeypaw Productions, written by Mac Rogers and Clay McLeod Chapman. Directed by Mimi O’Donnell. 

Listen on Spotify

A Review by Mark Walker 

Disgraced radio host Rick Egan (Tracy Letts) has finally found his chance at reinventing himself: by chronicling the cold-case disappearance of several Muslim teens from Staten Island—a group he himself disparaged—in the wake of 9/11. But Rick soon discovers this is no ordinary hate crime, as his ill-considered investigations bring him face-to-face with an ancient American evil that's ready to offer him a monstrous bargain.

I can’t quite remember how I found QUIET PART LOUD. It may have just been a random notification from SPOTIFY or seeing something on Twitter, but I am glad I found it. I haven’t explored audio dramas on Spotify before so had no idea what to expect, but the production team and actors involved suggested it was worth a shot, so I gave it one.

QPL opens with shock-jock Rick shooting his usual, vial rhetoric over the airwaves, tapping into post 9/11 fears and winding up his angry listeners even more. He has been focussing on three missing teenage Muslim boys who he claims were part of a terrorist cell before they disappeared. However, a misplaced stunt on air, designed to convince his listeners of the terrorist threat, backfires and leaves him disgraced, out of a job, separated from his family, and low on friends.

A mysterious encounter in a bar reveals that the boys who disappeared years before are back and Rick is given the opportunity to try and chronicle their unexpected return in a new podcast and possibly redeem himself with the truth.
Only it isn’t going to be that easy.

The three boys aren’t quite what he expected, and he struggles to get to the truth because of who he is and how he has so successfully alienated himself from the communities he is now trying to protect.

And something came back with the boys.

Not only does Rick find himself battling the hatred towards him, but he slowly comes to realise that his, and many other’s actions, are being controlled behind the scenes by an ancient demon who possesses and controls those who can serve it, moving from host to host and spreading its poison via sound. As the truth starts to be revealed, Rick has to decide what is more important to him, redemption and reconnecting with his family or the popularity he once enjoyed before his fall from grace.

QPL is a relatively short, but original exploration of the misplaced fear and racial prejudice that we have seen grow exponentially since 9/11. While bigots focus their energy on innocent people who are simply different culturally or through religion, they miss what is right under their nose; that the media, and those with a loud enough voice, can be more divisive than any terrorist. Like the demon in QPL, racially-based anger and bigotry is fuelled by the noise that is continually added to the cacophony of hatred. Rick realises he is the voice of hate, the mouthpiece giving strength to the demon’s plans, and he needs to silence that voice before it is too late.

Spotify is the perfect home for an audio drama based around sound and the quality of the production is excellent. All the actors do a great job, and the lack of visual cues is not an issue for the drama, the action is clearly portrayed without straying into excessive expositionary dialogue. I did find myself having to rewind in a couple of places to get a few bits of dialogue, but that is most likely because I was listening in the car, and the background noise sometimes interfered with the drama. If you are listening at home, or on headphones, I suspect the experience will be even more immersive.

I was easily drawn into Rick Egan’s world and he makes for an interesting anti-hero. Despite clearly being a bit of an asshole, he does change during the series and starts to realise the error of his ways. Whether his path to redemption is an easy one, needs to be seen (heard), but he carries the story well and the ending holds a satisfying solution to the problem…

…or does it?

QPL is every bit as good as you would expect from something that has been anywhere near Monkeypaw Productions and, as my first audio drama, I was very impressed. I will definitely be checking more out – in fact, I already have, so I’m off to finish a review of ‘Case 63’, also from Spotify and GIMLET MEDIA.

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<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW: EFFECTS VARY BY MICHAEL HARRIS COHEN]]>Mon, 17 Apr 2023 21:00:00 GMThttps://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/book-review-effects-vary-by-michael-harris-cohen
Not one word is wasted and often there is as much horror to be found in what Cohen doesn’t explicitly say, that to which he only implies. There is an art to such effective, efficient, economical writing. And, with Effects Vary, Cohen has demonstrated his exceptional ability. If, like me, this one somehow slipped beneath your radar, pick up a copy and find out for yourself.
Effects Vary by Michael Harris Cohen

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (26 Sept. 2022)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 201 pages
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8846111660

​A Horror Book Review by Thomas Joyce 
I am mature enough to admit to my mistakes, and not being familiar with Cohen’s work sooner is a mistake. His short stories have been published in The Dark, Crystal Lake Publishing’s Shallow Waters, and in audio with Pseudopod and the NoSleep Podcast, to name only a few. With numerous award wins under his belt, and fans including Brian Evenson, Stephen Graham Jones, and A.C. Wise, I am at a loss for why I haven’t read anything of his before now. Sure, it has been a rich couple of years for horror fiction, and there seems to be more new writers worthy of our attention with each passing month, but I used to consider myself widely read. There are only so many hours in a day, but I clearly have more work to do. I am grateful that I was finally able to introduce myself to Cohen’s work through reviewing his latest collection for Ginger Nuts of Horror.

The collection consists of 22 short stories, varying in length and subject, but connected via a confident voice and a pitch black tone. There are stories set in the present, near future, past. Post-apocalyptic, science fiction grounded in reality, real-life horrors we visit upon each other and ourselves. Through each incredible setting and the living, breathing characters to whom he gives life, we experience tragic tales of pain and loss.

For example, take opening story “What Happens in the Dark Will Soon Happen in the Light”. What begins as a close look at the effect of combat on a returning soldier and his wife and daughter quickly becomes something much more sinister and horrific. While the mother tries to relate to the young child that soldiers often come home missing some of their humanity, it cannot prepare them for what the soldier has seen in the desert, what he has brought back. The speculative elements are subtle, but Cohen does an excellent job of building tension and making the reader uneasy. A great story to open with.

“Erasing Tony” is another story set in the real world that we may recognise, if we’re at all familiar with the cult of celebrity, the obsession with remaining relevant, and American sitcoms. Told from the point of view of a down-on-her-luck former sitcom actress, Cohen intersperses the action with her rose-tinted memories of working on the show, and especially her intense relationship with the actor who played her son, the eponymous Tony. It is a tale of lurid obsession and one woman’s descent into madness, and Cohen takes us along for the ride. He captures the voice of loneliness and desperation, and the format with the included audience responses from her days on-screen were a great touch.

“Better Than Healed” has an interesting point of view, as it is one side of a conversation as a manager at some kind of spa shows the widow of a man who recently died around the remote complex. It becomes apparent through reading that the widow had some doubts about the nature of the spa, and the circumstances of her husband’s death. It also becomes apparent that, despite the friendly nature and lilting voice of the manager, these suspicions may be legitimate. He utilises repeated phrases and a calm demeanour to lull the widow into a false sense of security, while Cohen weaves a tale of deception and coercion in the most subtle of ways. A great, quick read.

Adopting a more science-fiction setting, “Graduating” tells us the story of near identical clones Jones 1 to 7. Each of the seven have slightly different personalities and responses to their roles; they are each subjected to horrific deaths and asked to rate them on a scale of pain, before they are revived. Hopefully this isn’t too spoilery as the real story is about the relationship between them all as they work toward the ultimate goal; a normal life beyond the walls of their laboratory, one which eventually ends. A retirement of sorts. But not all Jones’s look forward to the day they are allowed to leave, and this causes friction amongst the group. It is a fantastical scenario, but one which Cohen uses to explore death and duty and our connections to them as humans.

“No Bones Were Human” takes place in an Earth that has endured some terrible, cataclysmic event known as the Great Fire. Jem is a survivor who cares for his nephews and niece and the story is told from the oldest, one of the boys. He is forced to look after the two younger children when Jem decides he has to go out and scavenge, and promises to bring back a tree; something the three kids have never seen. Rather than exploring the larger story of the Great Fire, Cohen opts to focus on the relationships between the characters and how they survive in the harsh environment. Through reading the oldest boy’s thoughts, we gain some back story to how they came to be here, and the strength it takes to hold onto hope when all is lost. A hopeful yet sad story.

Cohen adopts an interesting narrative style for “Done to Scale”, which explores a dysfunctional family and their tribulations through a girl playing with a dollhouse, replaying traumatic experiences from her own home with the dolls, trying to come to terms with the hurt and confusion she has experienced as a result. It is a tale of familial everyday horror, the kind of thing a child might experience in a so-called “unhappy home”, and Cohen demonstrates an exceptional ability to convey all of this through the eyes of a child using great language and complex ideas.

“The Book of Skies” tells the story of a hardworking farming family, the Towners. Father Laird instructs Cole in the nature of the family business, but he hides a dark secret, one that has been in his farming family for generations, passed from father to son. He believes that, in order to secure a good crop, sacrifices must be made, and the guide he follows to achieve this is his book of skies. The sky tells him what must be done to appease an angry god, and the only way he can ensure the survival of his family, possibly the world, is to follow the instructions to the very last detail. Even when the instructions insist he do something truly terrible. A fantastic exploration of inherited horror and the father-son dynamic, while also hinting at something cosmic in scale.

To close the collection, “The Price of Gold” follows an unnamed protagonist as they visit the grave of a beloved. It seems that the lost loved one died a while ago, and the protagonist’s visits have become less frequent. Then they discover a small gold ring left by the grave and inscribed with a message of undying love. The horror in this story lies in the implications of the ring, and what it meant to the deceased. And what this now means to the protagonist. It is the horror of betrayal, of years spent in mourning only to discover, on some distant day, that perhaps it meant nothing at all. A powerful end to the collection.

These are only a small number of the stories featured in Effects Vary, a tiny example of the range and ability of an excellent storyteller. No matter the setting of the story, the time period, each is crafted with care and precision. Not one word is wasted and often there is as much horror to be found in what Cohen doesn’t explicitly say, that to which he only implies. There is an art to such effective, efficient, economical writing. And, with Effects Vary, Cohen has demonstrated his exceptional ability. If, like me, this one somehow slipped beneath your radar, pick up a copy and find out for yourself.

Effects Vary
by Michael Harris Cohen 

Effects Vary features 22 stories of dark fiction and literary horror that explore the shadow side of love, loss, and family. From an aging TV star’s murderous plan to rekindle her glory days, to a father who returns from war forever changed, from human lab rats who die again and again, to a farmer who obeys the dreadful commands of the sky, these stories, four of them award winners, blur the thin line between reality and the darkest reaches of the imagination.

Praise for Effects Vary
"The stories in Michael Cohen's Effects Vary are sharp and hard-hitting, small blades that make one see the world through a dark and eerie lens. While these stories are chilling, what will stop you cold is how deeply they explore what makes us human. A must-read literary horror collection."

-Danielle Trussoni, New York Times bestselling author of The Ancestor and NYTBR Dark Matters columnist

“Cohen's fictions are knife flashes, quick and deft and so sharp you don't know you've been cut until the blood starts to flow. Whether he's in the mines of South Africa, the court of Charles the IV in Spain, or in places that seem like odd doppelgängers of the ones we know, his work unsettles in the best possible ways."

-Brian Evenson, Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy Award-Winning author of Song for the Unraveling of the World
“A pleasure ride to hell. You will read Effects Vary with a scorched smile and a horrified heart. And then you will re-read it, as I did. An unforgettable collection.”

-Martín Felipe Castagnet, author of Bodies of Summer and one of Granta's best of young Spanish-language novelists

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thomas joyce 


My first story was published in July 2013, my second in June 2014, and my third in October 2015, all by editor Jeani Rector for The Horror Zine. I have been less than prolific but I feel that he I’m constantly improving through writing and reading. I now read more than just Stephen King (although “The King” is still a favourite), enjoying the work of Stephen Graham Jones, Damien Angelica Walters, John F.D. Taff, Jeremy Robert Johnson and many more (The TBR pile is growing at an alarming rate these days). I am hoping to improve further by attending some writing classes in the near future, which I hope will provide the direction I need.

Watch this space! And thank you for checking this out. I appreciate it.

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