by Joe X Young
I’m about to read a collection of short stories by Mercedes M Yardley. With my regular policy of being upfront about everything I can state that I move in such circles where her name is spoken with reverence, yet to date I have no connection with her and have never read any of her work. Obviously this is about to change, but I have concerns as I have read the foreword by P. Gardner Goldsmith. It gives such an over-the-top build-up of gushing praise to the stories and the author that I fear no one mortal could deliver on the promise. It’s the kind of stuff you’d expect an over-enthusiastic stage-school mom to say about her little darling to anyone within earshot. Makes me wonder what I have let myself in for. Wish me luck
BY CHAD LUTZKE
Sometimes you really can have too much of a good thing. If your town was nothing more than a neon-lit cluster of pizza parlors and VHS rental stores in the 80s, then you know what I’m talking about (actually, that doesn’t sound so bad right now). But sometimes something comes along wearing the skin of something else seemingly quite familiar, only to be stripped down to reveal you haven’t actually seen this before. For me, that skin was Terry M. West’s All of the Flesh Served.
When it comes to both zombie and/or post-apocalyptic, dystopian fiction, I think it’s safe to say the market is embarrassingly saturated with it. However, some can never get enough, some just feel comfortable there, and others are searching for the same doomed planet but with different tasting tropes that give a fresh flavor to the otherwise dead horse.
For me, All of the Flesh Served does just that--adds flavor to an increasingly bland scenario.
West paints an ugly (or beautiful, depending on how you look at it) dystopian world impregnated by the lies of its government, establishing values in a paranoid breed of men who are doing what they can to both survive and appease their god. This doesn’t feel like any kind of post-apocalyptic bandwagon being jumped on but a unique world with fresh ideas and characters that are easy to root for (and despise). Plus there’s cannibalism!
While I normally stay clear of rehashing synopses in my reviews, I will say this: Along with the cannibalism, there is action, drama, and a heavy underlying commentary on the world we live in with the author presenting an interesting “what if” scenario.
In the 70s, Black Sabbath wrote doom-filled anthems warning us about the dangers of war and political demons. The 80s brought us punk rock angst as the anger went up a notch, the youth declaring war with their voice. In 2017 Terry M. West lays down his own rebellious medium with a dark picture of the future if man can’t get along and continues to keep on the blinders.
All of the Flesh Served is an intelligent, fresh and tasty dish that every fan of the subgenre should consume before drinking more of the Kool-Aid.
Any record of the 45th that does not recognize him as a prophet is propaganda and a lie. False history. The truth is with the 45th. His word is absolute for it is God's word…
Hundreds of years after the great cataclysm, the Ministry of the 45th survive in a network of scientific bunkers. The last bastion of the old holy order, the 45th are bent on rebuilding the scorched earth and eliminating God's enemies. The Ministry wages a war against the mutant topsiders that occupy the dead states of the Soviet Union of America. Defending the 45th are the Red Guard, genetically engineered soldiers who are programmed to obey through their lifebrand. Dr. Morgan is a serviceman for Unit 468 of the Red Guard. His lifebrand being medicine, Dr. Morgan is the longest surviving field medic to serve. But Dr. Morgan is a deeply conflicted man with violent fantasies that contradict his pledge to preserve life. After escaping an abduction by the topsiders, Dr. Morgan's faith is cracked. During a furlough in the high Chancellor's bunker, Dr. Morgan is hailed a hero and taken off the front lines. But he soon realizes that someone has altered his lifebrand and lifted the veil that concealed the greatest deception ever perpetrated. Dr. Morgan has just become the most dangerous man in the wastelands. And when he discovers who the real enemy is, the revelation unleashes a fury strong enough to destroy what is left of the earth.
All of the Flesh Served is a disturbing vision of what could one day come.
Included as bonus material: the original short story that would become All of the Flesh Served: A Novella.
Chad lives in Battle Creek, MI. with his wife and children where he works as a medical language specialist. For over two decades, he has been a contributor to several different outlets in the independent music and film scene including articles, reviews, and artwork. Chad loves music, rain, sarcasm, dry humor, and cheese. He has a strong disdain for dishonesty and hard-boiled eggs. He has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue and Scream magazine. He is a regular contributor to Horror Novel Reviews, Halloween Forevermore and Heavy Planet. His fictional work can be found in several magazines and anthologies including his own 18-story anthology anthology, NIGHT AS A CATALYST. He has written a collaborative effort with horror author Terry M. West, THE HIM DEEP DOWN. In the summer of 2016 Lutzke released his dark coming-of-age novella OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES. Later in 2016, several more releases will be added to Lutzke's body of work, including his PALE WHITE coming-of-age vampire series, CAR NEX: FROM HELL THEY CAME, 47-16, A David Bowie Literary Tribute and AMERICAN DEMON HUNTERS: BATTLE CREEK with J. Thorn. Stay tuned! Chad can be found lurking the internet at the following address: www.chadlutzke.weebly.com
BY TONY JONES
“Fancy some virtual reality total emersion healing? Zombies included free of charge….”
My kindle informed me that reading Mira Grant’s latest novella “The Final Girls” was going to cost me 135 minutes of my time, having read a few of Mira’s books in the past I was happy to reacquainting myself with her new release. I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint and was an highly efficient mix of horror, speculative and science fiction. This author is particularly effective when she mashes up horror with these other genres. Great examples are the “Newsflesh” series which begins with “Feed” (2010) which has news hungry and techy brilliant teens fighting it out after a zombie holocaust. Also very entertaining is the “Parasite” series, a complex blend of hard science and horror, in which a genetically engineered tapeworm eradicates illness, but the tapeworms soon get nasty and mankind is in serious pearl. Both these sequences are great examples of what Mira can do. However, her real name is Seanan McGuire, and this highly prolific author also writes urban fantasy under that name.
Yesterday saw the ebook launch of Paul Cornell's latest novel Chalk (the paperback version of the book is published next month). And in true Ginger Nuts of Horror style, we have two reviews to celebrate the launch of the book, one from myself and one from our regular contributor Tony Jones.
Is this a meeting of minds or a case of one of us being wrong, read on to find out what we both thought of the book....
We all have secrets that we keep from our loved ones, it's just human nature, but when Angela Gough's fiance Vince's secret life threatens their idyllic life together Vince has to go into hiding, leaving only an enigmatic note as the only clue as to what has happened to him. Angela embarks on a quest to find her lover. A quest that will bring her into contact with the secret world that stands in the sun sheltered place, where she will see the face behind the face of a London far removed from the one we know.
BY TONY JONES
“A nasty business on a remote Scottish island…..”
“Unseemly: a Novella of Horror” the latest release from Jason Parent pulls in at a brief forty odd pages and around 75 minutes of reading, so you could argue it was a longish short story rather than a novella because of its length. However, I’m not going to quibble too much as it was an enjoyable mix of fantasy and horror which successfully dipped into the myths and folklore of old Ireland and Scotland. Celtic mythology isn’t the most popular basis of horror stories, so I’m always interested when I come across a new one.
Since Jason appeared on the horror scene around 2012 he has published a variety of novellas, novels and has featured in a number of short story anthologies. Last year Adrian Shotbolt, writing for The Ginger Nuts of Horror, gave “Wrathbone and Other Stories” a very good review and I would say that this release “Unseemly” fits in very well with the stories in that collection, whether it has enough going for it to merit an individual release I am not sure. Corpus Press are selling the paperback for £3.99, so judge for yourself whether this offers value for money for what’s on offer. However, you can’t argue with the 99p Kindle price in the UK.
The plot is pretty straight forward and opens with Peter on a remote Scottish island which remains unnamed, meeting a former business partner he's done dodgy stuff with in the past who has lured him there with the promise of making easy money to help pay his mounting debts. His ex-partner believes the island hides a secret…. Why does nobody seem to work? Why is everyone so well to do? Rather than heading into Wicker Man territory which was always one distinct possibility poor old Peter and his chums have a more supernatural world of pain waiting in front of them.
“Unseemly” is written in two parts, much of the first half is set in a local pub and sets the scene, for the major kick off in the second half which gets way, way darker as we head into the ancient myths surrounding the legends of faeries and I’m not talking about Tinkerbell. In the end of the day there is only so much you can do with a story that weights in between 40-50 pages, but the author sets the scene well, loads up on atmosphere and it has a real killer ending. So it’s well worth spending your 99p on and is a pretty easy and undemanding read.
If you’re interesting in YA horror Ginger Nuts reviewed “The Call” by Peadar O'Guilin not so long ago, which was a tremendous twist on the Irish faerie myth. It’s a subject I’ve long been a fan of, flip back 25 years and I was devouring the books of Bridget Wood who between 1991-94 wrote a four book series called “WolfKing” which if my memory serves me correctly was amongst some of the most violent fantasy horror I have ever read and the series made a life-long impression on me I have never forgotten. Maybe Jason Parent is a fan of Bridget Wood? His “Unseemly” story certainly dips its toes in her nightmare world and when you get to the final page poor old Peter and his fellow chancers may well be a character in one of Bridget Wood’s novels. Should you be interested the Bridget Woods books have recently been rereleased on Kindle under the author’s other pen name Sarah Rayne.
Some discoveries are better left unmade.
Peter thought he was done with grave robbing, but when a former business partner lures him out to Dungarradh, a small Scottish island with a big secret, he finds himself waist deep in more than local folklore. Is the disappearance of his teammate truly the work of the legendary fae, or is a sinister force at play?
A brand-new tale of dark fantasy and horror, from the bestselling author of WHAT HIDES WITHIN and SEEING EVIL.
BY JOHN BODEN
There are a lot of things to endear this book to me, to many folks, I think. There is the identification with the main character, Isaac. He isn't really a people person, he works shitty hours at a thankless job and he has that perverse Midas touch where once in a while, everything he touches turns to shit. The Nightly Disease is an almost diorama of a cycle in the life of poor Isaac.
Our man is the night auditor for a hotel in Texas. He works the night shift and doesn't really like his co-workers...or anyone maybe. Except for the girl with bulimia who binges on the breakfast buffet, barfs it all up and leaves. He has a crush on her. When the stress levels get unwieldy, Isaac goes up on the roof and masturbates onto the cars in the lot below. Possibly shouting an angry "Take that!" as his seed rains down upon the cars and trucks. He fantasizes about violence and revenge against the seemingly endless chain of fucking morons that make up his nights. His usually bad luck starts to dip when one of his co-workers is killed owls. Yep, owls.
This event is a harbinger of bizarre events that involve but are not limited to drunkenness, dildos, black market sneakers, switchblade, murder, robbery, waffles, corpse hoarding and owls. There are a lot of goddamn owls. Isaac find himself in a tight cocoon of criminal activity and lies and as he desperately struggles to free himself and salvage the sad little thing that is his life, he discovers that he might be worth a little more than he ever thought.
The Nightly Disease is snarky and surreal, bitter and biting, and above all relatable. Booth writes with a sly bark that let's you know he's maybe kidding, a little but probably not, that he really means the horrible things he says, probably. maybe.
The Nightly Disease is available from Dark Fuse
Sleep is just a myth created by mattress salesmen.
Isaac, a night auditor of a hotel somewhere in the surreal void of Texas, is sick and tired of his guests. When he clocks in at night, he’s hoping for a nice, quiet eight hours of Netflix-bingeing and occasional masturbation. What he doesn’t want to do is fetch anybody extra towels or dive face-first into somebody’s clogged toilet. And he sure as hell doesn’t want to get involved in some trippy owl conspiracy or dispose of any dead bodies. But hey…that’s life in the hotel business.
Welcome to The Nightly Disease. Please enjoy your stay.
BY JOHN BODEN
Any self-respecting fan of the weird horror should be familiar with the name Matthew M. Bartlett. Not only has he carved quite a name for himself in the wildly weird end of the pool but he has created what could be a signature mythos, his tales (often times scalpel-sharp shardy things that edge under the fingernail of your mind and cause painful unease) involve the town of Leeds and usually in some respect WXXT, an sub natural/supernatural occult radio station.
First coming to my attention via the amazing collection, Gateways To Abomination and then with last years brilliant Creeping Waves, Bartlett has quickly become one of my very favorite authors. With Dead Air, we get a collection of early works concerning our favorite fucked-up town in new England. These are admittedly early experiments or forays into the events and lives that fall within the broadcast area of WXXT. I must admit I was slightly hesitant, looking at it as the literary equivalent to the music industry ploy of "Hey Band X is shit hot right now, their last three albums have been huge, let's get all their early demos and package them up and put them out to sell!!" While it usually proves financially shrewd in effort and outcome, from a product quality standpoint, there is often suffering.
This is not the case here, while there were maybe less than a handful of tales here that didn't wow me, the majority were filled with disturbing images, abominable actions and creepy characters. Of the forty or so tales here (some quite short) there is more grotesque fodder for thought than many full fledged novels. Dead Air contains fragments and character descriptions, public service announcement and advertisements. This makes a boil down of sorts difficult and not all that helpful. What you have here is almost the work of a deranged documentarian. The work is simmering with historical hysteria and lovecraftian lineage. It is a curtain yanked back from a small town cowering in the glow if burning family trees and secrets unkept. It is brilliant., brilliant, brilliant!
I love that now, even three books into his world of haunted radio signals and occult activities in a small town, a town where men turn into goats and the dead usually aren't all that quiet or still, I find that I can't wait for the next one. I find the overall premise so intriguing and haunting that upon finishing the most recent offering, I am wanting the next. He can't put them out fast enough for me.
If you're unfamiliar with Bartlett's work, you need to remedy that, start here or there. Just start reading him. Also worthy of mention are the wonderfully creepy illustrations by Yves Tourigny and the gelefully crayola creepiness of the cover art by Brendan O'Connell.
Dead Air is available directly from the author or Amazon.
Five years prior to the publication of Gateways to Abomination, Matthew M. Bartlett put out a book called Dead Air. That book is now extremely scarce. This volume contains most of the unpublished work from that book, a few dark poems, and stories and fragments that later appeared in Gateways to Abomination and Creeping Waves. It also features magnificently creepy artwork by Yves Tourigny, as well as Tom Breen's original introduction. Witness the early days of dread magus Benjamin Stockton, and of his demonic radio station WXXT, with all its guts, worms, wriggling things, and voices from the dark