Stories that feature body-switching can always be a bit problematic. It’s very easy to fall into a situation where the swaps happen so often that it can be confusing, or the masterminds behind the swapping technology forget to setup a failsafe and they fall victim to being tricked by the new persona hidden within their friend. Brian Pinkerton’s The Gemini Experiment does a decent job dodging most of these pitfalls to create one of the better versions of the ol’ switcheroo I’ve seen.
There are many different ways to have a conscious jump from body to body. You could have someone make a wish, or have some sort of demon power, or maybe run afoul a magic carpet. In Pinkerton’s novel he’s decided to go in an interesting route, jumping your conscious into an exact copy of your body, allowing you to be you while living in a synthetic body that can live forever. And this isn’t through magic, the scientists in The Gemini Experiment have discovered a way to digitize your conscious. Is this the same person? Or is this someone brand new? We do get answers to these questions, but don’t be surprised if it nags at you throughout the story.
Our main character, Tom Nolan, seems to have the perfect life: a great job, great wife, and a great kid. The only problem? He has Lowry’s disease. Good thing for him he happens to have a friend that is a scientist participating on a top secret experiment that could not only cure him of his disease but give him a rad new robot body. Turns out this experiment is being funded by an ultra rich man that wants Tom to be a beta test for the digital transfer. If this works, the donor, his wife, and the President of the United States will all be digitized and given a new lease on life.
Of course, things quickly turn sour. First, they do a test with a death row inmate, which as you can guess doesn’t go great. He runs a muck and falls into the hands of the Russians, who have their own plans including uploading brains into giant war mechs. After that, things really go wrong, because when you play the game of switching minds nothing can ever go right.
There’s an episode of Rick & Morty where multiple Ricks and Mortys are hunting down a specific Rick and Morty. In one scene, the multiple Ricks mark their foreheads so that they can tell the “good” Ricks from the “bad” Rick. I bring this episode up because this makes sense, this is the way you’d handle dealing with duplicates of a person. The Gemini Experiment falls into the trap of having a number of characters not realize they are talking to the wrong conscious, which gets frustrating when you’d think they’d be on the lookout for something strange. Pinkerton does add an explanation to why this keeps happening. The experiment is super secret, so only a handful of people know about it. But, seriously have these guys never seen a movie where this stuff happens?
Despite this, I really did enjoy the book. Pinkerton is truly a master when it comes to action scenes. They are thrilling, fast-paced, and will leave you breathless. He never over does it, keeping us interested while not just giving us action scene after action scene. He also interjects a lot of humanity into his characters. You truly feel for Tom and his wife, cursing his friend scientist for even bringing up this experiment to him. You even feel for the criminal, knowing he just got caught up in a terrible situation. Pinkerton’s work in characterization and intense plot sucked me right in and made me cringe, cheer, and curse as things go from bad to worse.
I have to give it to Pinkerton, he might have fallen into the trouble of generic body swapping plot issues, but damn did he make it look good and kept me hooked for the entire ride. There’s some really interesting concepts in here that will work for those looking for a fun sci-fi story or those looking for what really makes a person a person.
In a secret lab, a team of doctors and scientists funded by a mysterious billionaire create the first human replica entirely from technology. The robot is prepared to host the digitized consciousness of Tom Nolan, a family man suffering from a terminal illness. But when Tom’s replica escapes before the transfer can take place, he is faced with the horrors of an alter ego bent on death and destruction. When the experiment draws the attraction of spies, Tom is caught up in an international crisis with a showdown that could change the course of the world.
FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
Dark Winds over Wellington is the debut collection from author Tabatha Wood (who also designed the atmospheric cover art for the book).
Tabatha although now living in New Zealand is originally from England, and displacement is a running theme throughout her collection, which melds together the folklore of New Zealand with Tabatha's more gothic style of writing.
Nature and environmentalism are also strong themes running through this collection, nowhere is this seen more strongly, than in Neighbourly a tale about how when civilisation encroaches on nature, then nature may just creep back. In this story there is again a strong sense of displacement, the family having moved from the city to the country struggle to ingratiate themselves with their new neighbour who blames them for the destruction of the trees that were cut down to build their house (the fact that the house has had several owners prior to them is no excuse in her eyes). But as well as their new neighbours vendetta against them, the family struggle with the small differences between their new and old lives, the story opens with the line "Oh my God Mum! Come here! There's a thing on the doorstep." The thing in question being nothing more than a harmless bug. That revulsion of the other. Of bugs and creepy crawlies which although may look disgusting are in fact harmless, is often juxtaposed against our own acceptance of those that look like us (although those people may not be as harmless as they appear), and our distrust of those who we perceive as different.
In my favourite story in this collection The Things You See those threads of nature, otherness and displacement are exquisitely entwined. The story's unreliable narrator who informs us that their "brain got broken", and their attempts to understand the corruption that is at the heart of their country and at the heart of those who are supposed to protect it and its citizens, is horror at it's best. The Things You See is a wonderful example of the epistolary style of story, and Tabatha certainly hasn't been scared to use different styles of writing throughout her collection, Mongrel for example is written purely in dialogue,
"Are humans classed as red or white meat?"
"No, I heard what you said, I'm just disturbed by the content."
Dark Winds over Wellington is an ambitious debut collection and I look forward to reading more by Tabatha in the future.
Tabatha Wood lives in Wellington, New Zealand with her husband and two boys. A former English teacher and school library manager, her first published books are non-fiction guides aimed at teachers and others who work in education. She now teaches from home, while writing in her spare time.
Born in Whitby, North Yorkshire, Tabatha has always had a passion for weaving strange, unusual often gothic tales, entwined with her deep love for the land and sea. She strongly encourages the use of writing and creativity for positive mental health, and runs a group which supports women who write for wellness. She also hosts writing workshops, often gets involved in cosplay charity events, and enjoys knitting and making jewellery.
Her debut short story collection "Dark Winds Over Wellington: Chilling Tales of the Weird & the Strange" was published in March 2019 as an eBook and is available from Amazon and Smashwords.
Welcome to Wellington, the Coolest Little Capital, where nothing is quite what it seems.
Strange creatures lurk in the shadows of the Beehive, while a Beast arises From The Deep determined to destroy us all. Being Neighbourly might just change your life, and if you listen closely you can hear demonic Whispers in the wind.
So sit back, take a sip of A Good Cup of Coffee and question all The Things You See. In the city there are no Second Chances and every chapter might be your last.
Inspired by Wellington legends and folklore, these thirteen original short stories will drag you on a chilling journey through the eerie, the weird and the strange.
Willie Meikle has been carving a niche for himself in the horror genre for a good few years, with his unique blend of horror, high adventure and the reworkings of classic universes such as Sherlock Homes and Carnacki. The common thread throughout all of his work is the strong sense and understanding of great storytelling. To use an alliteration Meikle is a master of monsters, mayhem myth and magic.
Recently Meikle has turned the focus of his output to the hugely successful exploits of his S-Squad, a crack team of Scottish Soldiers. Who always seem to find themselves in the middle of monsters, mayhem, myth or magic. The S -Squad books are set of lean punchy fun-filled short novels that drop the reader right in the middle of the action, and they refuse to let up until The S-Squad does what they do best.
In Operation Amazon, our band of plucky Scotsmen are tasked with investigating the disappearance of a number of employees from a Gold dredging company, operating deep in the bowels of the Amazonian forest. As will easily guess from the cover of the book, that giant snakes are involved in the disappearances, but this is no mere rehashing of that classic big dumb monster movie Anaconda. Instead meikle goes for a more mystical and magical approach with regards to the nature of the giant snakes.
Operation Amazon is tightly plotted and executed novel, while it may suffer a little from the short nature of the book with regards to plot development and characterisation, it more than makes up for this with regards to the amount of fun and levels of excitement you will have while reading it. I suspect that the characterisation and character development of the members of S -Squad has been spread out over the course of the series, well for the members that survive each mission, but there is still enough meat on their bones to ensure that they still have just enough sense of believability and character to hold the story together.
Thankfully, unlike some novels of this nature, Meikle doesn't waste our time or bore us with massive amounts of exposition or info dumps. The Squad is here to do a mission, and he allows them to carry it out with the minimum of backstory, which helps to keep the narrative rapid, rather than a languid crawl much like the Amazon river.
The Squad themselves are a very likeable bunch, world-weary tired and gagging for a pint and a smoke, and despite their moaning always up for the job. The S-Squad's ability to shout out quotes from pop culture ay moments of what should be pure terror gives them an added sense of humanity.
Fans of big monsters and ancient legends will relish this well-crafted story, and those of you who aren't fans of them may well find yourself becoming a fan.
The members of S-Squad are looking for a break from their run of cold climate travails. So when a seemingly simple mission in Amazonia comes their way, they are looking forward to some welcome warmth.
What they get is oppressive heat, biting insects, and a dredging operation on the river with a snake problem.
A big snake problem.
Soon they are in a fight for survival. The old snake gods of the river know the waterways much better than our Scottish squaddies. Are their wits, and bonds of comradeship enough to see them through?
One of the premier storytellers of our time - FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND
Scotland's Greatest Horror Writer - GINGER NUTS OF HORROR
BOOK REVIEW: SHE'S LOST CONTROL: THE FEMALE VOICE IS STRONG, AND WILL NOT BE CONTROLLED EDITED BY ELIZABETH JENIKE
She's Lost Control is an all-female horror and dark fiction anthology from Post Mortem Press.
The pieces in this anthology deal with various themes:
death, violence, love, rape, motherhood, childhood, family,
failure, victory. They are all poignant, emotional, and
important. They are all human.
The female voice is strong, and will not be controlled
She’s Lost Control is a beautiful collection of short stories, poems and a play written by women. The cast of characters range from the deeply heartbroken, to the deliciously grotesque, to the stealthily vengeful - but the theme of pain and resilience is strong throughout the book. I walked away from this collection feeling like the book covers several tastes of horror. There are stories that start in one direction but end in shocking twist; there are stories filled with grotesque body horror that made me squirm; and then there are other stories that made me feel sorry for the main character and stuck with me for days.
I loved how this collection had more than just short stories. There were some poems mixed in and one play. It’s been awhile since I’ve read anything in the form of a play, and it reminded me of happy times in college watching plays at the school’s theater. Now I want to get back into reading plays!
There are 28 pieces in this collection altogether. I won’t summarize them all, but I do want to highlight some of my favorites.
Below the Dripstone by L. L. Madrid - Heidi and her brother have experienced shared nightmares since they were kids. The dreams seem to center around children who have been kidnapped and are consumed by monsters or demons (or perhaps the monsters are the dream’s manifestation of the cruel people who kidnap kids, who are monsters in their own rights). Her latest dream may actually help her save a child, but at what cost? The issue of missing kids is a big one for me, so this one tugged at my heartstrings a bit more than the others.
Bake Sale by Sydney J. Watson - This story is told by Eve’s point of view as she deals with a condition that gives her massive panic attacks and audio/visual hallucinations about bugs and a creature posing to be her husband, Richard. It is an interesting glimpse into what it could be like to live with such mental health issues, and also leaves you wondering which is real and which are just hallucinations.
The Black Wallpaper by Cynthia Pelayo - This story centers around a very driven woman who is feeling the mental and physical pressure of always trying to move up in the world. Her phone constantly rings, she can never fully disconnect from work and she barely sleeps. The story takes place in a hotel in Chicago with a haunting past. I don’t want to give anything away, but the story took an amazingly dark turn. It actually bothered me a bit, so well done.
The Vault by Hannah Litvin - Very interesting concept! The main character is lacking in friends and connections as she is always on the move. Has a kind of “be careful what you wish for” scenario. I wanted to mention this story because as I was reading it, I kept thinking about Bush’s music video for “The Way Out.”
Foley by Katy McCarthy - I loved the way this one was written. Mona is a foley artist who creates sounds films. She is tasked to work on an experimental indie suspense film shot as YouTube videos edited together to make a film. Most of the story describes this horror film as Mona watches it, and it sounds really cool. I love horror movies like The Blair Witch and Creep, with the “found footage” vibe so this story was right up my alley. Plus it had an ending that I thought about for the next few days.
Thread by Emma Hines - This is another one that stuck with me. The main character has always had this path of red thread that traced her future steps. Eventually the thread leads her to the marriage of a tyrannical king who killed her mother. A beautiful, creative story about pain and revenge.
Peach Cobbler by Rachel Graf Evans - This is the play I was talking about. It is a phenomenal piece about two sisters who keep their mother’s corpse in a freezer in the kitchen. This was performed in 2017 in the Dangerous Women Immersive Horror Experience Showcase in Atlanta, GA. I wish I would have seen the performance!
I Was A Fox by Laura Beth Johnson - This is my favorite poem in the collection. In each line the author describes herself as a different animal. The poem paints a symbolic story about a woman who first experiences the snare of entrapment and then finds inner strength to overcome her aggressor and recognizes what she truly is - a strong woman in all things.
So there you have it - my personal favorites of this collection. There were some pieces in the collection that just didn’t resonate with me or where I didn’t understand at all what the author was trying to convey. But I don’t feel like any of them were poorly written. And I don’t think this collection would be enjoyed only by women because there is a refreshing variety of moods, themes and formats in the book.
This is a very well curated collection, and it demonstrates through very creative lenses the ways women conjure up the strength to see them through tough - or grotesque - situations.
5 out of 5 stars
SHE'S LOST CONTROL is an all-female horror and dark fiction & poetry anthology from Post Mortem Press.The pieces in this anthology deal with various themes: death, violence, love, rape, motherhood, childhood, family, failure, victory. The voices of women rise up, refusing to be quieted. A secretary is haunted by her boss’s laughter. A young woman dreams of a lost little boy. A woman dances, and dances, and dances until little is left.One thing is certain, and it shows again and again throughout these works: She’s lost control. And no one knows quite what will happen.INCLUDES WORKS FROM AWARD-WINNING AUTHORS CYNTHIA PELAYO, STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH, AND LUCY A. SNYDERThis book, by its very nature, is doing important work: giving women writers a platform and prioritizing their voices over the cacophony of men that have dominated the field for so long. This is not meant to start an argument over whose voice is more important or stronger or holds more weight—this book is only meant to continue the conversation of why we need diverse mindsets and points of view in the literary community. And as the global conversation continues to both widen and deepen in regards to diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our lives, I hope we can maintain that dialogue. This is a good place to start. The pieces in this anthology deal with various themes: death, violence, love, rape, motherhood, childhood, family, failure, victory. They are all poignant, emotional, and important. They are all human. I am proud and grateful that these women have entrusted me with their words. I hope you read them and hear what they are saying—what they are screaming. The female voice is strong, and will not be controlled.
“I don’t want to die in a pub in Devon…”
There is a pub in the heart of Dartmoor where a fire has burned every day for over 150 years.
It is said the fire never goes out.
It is said that if it does, the Devil will appear and claim the souls of all inside.
Tonight, seven strangers are stranded there during a fierce snowstorm.
Tonight, the fire will go out…
And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, the basic premise of the story according to the back cover blurb. It is actually based on an apocryphal tale, which is a great idea. I grew up reading tales like this, the scary books of allegedly ‘true’ stories, and so I was eager to see where David Watkins took it as any tale of the Devil being let loose on the unwary in the misty moorlands of the UK should have a significant amount going for it. I wanted to enjoy this book, and… I actually did, yet that almost wasn’t the case.
Spoilers ahead. You have been warned!
I don’t normally mention a lot of plot points, however I believe there is a necessity for clarification which can’t really be achieved effectively without discussing certain elements of the plot. The reason it almost wasn’t the case is that hardly anything really happens for roughly the first 40% of the book. Now I understand that a lot of books like to give a decent build up before letting you have it with both barrels toward the end, and that is something of the case here, but I found the introduction of characters and circumstances far too long-winded. Were it not for the fact that I read it to review for the Gingernuts of Horror I would probably have put it aside. I’m glad I didn’t.
As you are already aware by the blurb, the fire does in fact go out. The reason for this is somewhat silly given the circumstances. If the fire has burned consistently for 150 years and this is part of local legend, surely you would keep an eye on the woodpile. When I was a kid we had log/coal fires and enough common sense to make sure that we always had fuel. There were upon occasion complications with deliveries, but we improvised, finding enough to burn to ensure that we didn’t go cold. We only had to keep the cold out, not the Devil, so priorities people… priorities!
We have now established through sheer stupidity the fire has gone out. There’s a bang on the door. Can it be? Is it? Yes… It’s our old friend Satan! Woo hoo! Finally we might get to the big nasties. Oh, no, wait… More chatting. It turns out that Satan is a big fan of the slow build; he seems to want to spread his particular brand of misery in subtle ways via individuals rather than en-masse, so what better place to do it than in a pub in the middle of nowhere with just a smattering of occupants.
When things finally do take a turn for the nasty it’s vicious and gruesome and yet I still found logic problems with certain aspects of the story. Very early on we are repeatedly introduced to the shadowy figures of monks standing some distance away in near-Arctic blizzard conditions. It later transpires that they are not exactly monks, nor are they indeed any kind of supernatural entity, they are just specific people recruited by Satan. With that being the case, they should realistically have frozen to death in the extreme harsh conditions, yet that isn’t what happened (obviously). What they are really all about is a twist which clouds the potential they would have had as something supernatural. It’s a shame as the majority of the book is very well structured.
So it’s not all bad news then? No, it’s overall a book which I can actually recommend. The characterisation may well have been lengthy, but that serves to leave the reader in no doubt as to the personalities of everyone involved and when bad things do start to happen it’s served with realistic dialogue and excellent pace. Aside from the few problems I mentioned earlier this is certainly one of the better books I have read recently, and I can place my hand on my heart and say that I wanted to read more of it as it appeared to be over much too soon. It’s not often that I actually get to say that the quality was such that I wished it was a much bigger book, but I did, because I reckon that another 50 pages, even 100 pages more, would have done the story a much greater justice.
This is David Watkins’ third novel, with the previous two forming part of a series with ‘The Original’s Return’ and ‘The Original’s Retribution’ with I dare say the possibility of more to come.
On our Gingernutometer I am giving The Devil’s Inn a very crunchy four out of five as overall this was well written with interesting character development and interaction as well as some gut twisting scenes.
“I don’t want to die in a pub in Devon…” There is a pub in the heart of Dartmoor where a fire has burned every day for over one hundred and fifty years. It is said the fire never goes out. It is said that if it does, the Devil will appear and claim the souls of all inside. Tonight, seven strangers are stranded there during a fierce snowstorm. Tonight, the fire will go out… Praise for David Watkins "David Watkins writes very well: he has the ability to draw you in to his characters’ lives, which at the beginning are quite normal, and then of course you can't let go.” AMAZON "Great horror! I couldn't put the book down" 4.5*, Pamela Kinney, Ismellsheep.com
In Darkness, Delight is an original anthology series revealing the many facets of modern horror—shocking and quiet, pulp and literary, cold-hearted and heart-felt, weird tales of spiraling madness alongside full-throttle thrillers.
You know I love short story anthologies, so I had a great time reading In Darkness, Delight: Masters of Midnight. Comprised of 17 short stories, this book had a nice array of different topics and themes. Some of the authors were familiar to me, but I discovered a few new authors which is always fun.
It would be hard for me to pick a favorite in this anthology but I do have a list of top three.
Violet by Jason Parent is one of the shorter stories, but one that tugged at my heart the most. Ed is an older man who lives alone with his dog, Violet. Violet is an old dog who had been his friend for many years, easing the loneliness that crept in after his wife and his daughter died. Jason does a phenomenal job of bringing the reader into Ed’s home and into his mind. There is a great attention to detail and all characters are very real. This story had an incredible ending that made me laugh...not so much like a “funny, ha ha” kind of way, but more like a “yeah, take that!” kind of way.
The Pipe by Israel Finn was one that stunned me with its originality and its gruesomeness. It was one that was so gruesome, I wanted to take a break from it but it was so suspenseful I think I read it in one sitting. Derek goes to his girlfriend’s dad’s house to meet him for the first time. The dad does not like the idea of Derek and Sara dating. So he gives Derek a choice. He can either be mauled by the guy’s huge German Shepherd, or head underground and travel through a narrow city pipe out to the river. Neither choice is a good one, and makes for a deliciously engrossing story.
One Million Hits by Evans Light is another one of my favorites. The tale follows a group of high school boys determined to make the very most out of Halloween night. After innocent trick-or-treat antics, they decide to pull some more elaborate pranks to record them and put on YouTube. One of the victims is a cranky, old man in the neighborhood. The prank ends up being much more complicated than the boys bargain for. I absolutely love the web of twists and turns of this story. And I really like Evans’ writing style.
A few others worth mentioning are Who Are You? by Ryan C. Thomas and Letters by Michael Bray.
There were a few stories in the collection that I didn’t enjoy as much or really just didn’t understand. Kruze Nite by Lisa Lepovetsky was well-written and had some creepiness to it, but just didn’t have the element of suspense or scare I was looking for. And I had a very hard time getting into Every Lucky Penny is Another Drop of Blood by Joanna Koch. The concept of deformity becoming the new beauty is very much appreciated by me, but the writing style was a little too disjointed for me so I had a hard time understanding it. And One Thousand Words on a Tombstone by Josh Malerman was a great concept about a girl who died after witnessing a witch in the sky. But it was written in short paragraphs in tombstone epithet style, and I just didn’t like the style. So props for such a unique writing style, but it kept me from fully enjoying the full story.
All in all, this is a great and well-rounded anthology. A solid 4 out of 5 stars.
Midnight strikes like an invocation, clock hands joining in prayer to the darkness. After the twelfth chime, there’s no escaping the nightmare.Fear reigns supreme.
In Darkness, Delight is an original anthology series revealing the many faces of modern horror— shocking and quiet, pulp and literary, cold-hearted and heart-felt, weird tales of spiraling madness alongside full-throttle thrillers. Open these pages and unleash all-new terrors that consume from without and within.
Midnight is here. It’s now time to find . . . In Darkness, Delight.
Josh Malerman: One Thousand Words on a Tombstone - Delores Ray
William Meikle: Refuge
Jason Parent: Violet
Ryan C. Thomas: Who Are You?
Mark Matthews: Tattooed All in Black
Evans Light: One Million Hits
Lisa Lepovetsky: Kruze Nite
Israel Finn: The Pipe
Patrick Lacey: In the Ground
John McNee: Dogsh*t Gauntlet
Michael Bray: Letters
Monique Youzwa: Rules of Leap Year
Billy Chizmar: Mirrors
Espi Kvlt: Pulsate
Andrew Lennon: Run Rabbit Run
Joanna Koch: Every Lucky Penny is Another Drop of Blood
Four veterans of the Iraq War agree to stay in a haunted house called Amon Place for a week with psychologist Frederick Peters and two members of his staff. Doctor Peters is testing a theory of exposure therapy as a way to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This haunted mansion seems like the perfect place to help the patients come face-to-face with their issues by exposing them to the ghosts that haunt the halls. In other words, use fear within a controlled setting to help overcome any mental strongholds that are preventing them from overcoming their PTSD. Because ghosts can’t physically hurt anybody, right? While a noble effort in theory, we find out that Amon Place has a mind of its own and is much different from what anybody expected to encounter.
To be honest, this book was not a home-run for me. I think it is a really interesting concept, especially since I’m interested in psychology and ghosts, but just didn’t give me a lot of “wow” factor.
There are a couple of things I really liked about the book. The author structured the book so that each chapter was told from the 3rd person POV of a single character. I love books where each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view. And they were told in the third person so that the overall style of writing stays the same between each character, but the story is focusing on one person’s view at a time. That makes me happy.
I also want to celebrate the creepiness factor of the various ghosts or demons each character faced during the experiment. All of the characters had to face something that was grotesque and scary. I found myself getting grossed out or scared by each of ghosts that each character faced. That’s always a plus, since I sometimes feel it takes a lot to creep me out. So in this book, my first from the author, Mr. Flowers has proven to me that he has a great imagination for unique and scary situations that creep me right out.
Aside from the unique character backgrounds and the ghosts they must face, I felt like there were a lot of stereotypical horror elements in some of the characters and in the setting when I was expecting something a little more unique. The four veterans seemed like unique characters to me (and remained consistent throughout the book), but all of the other characters just seemed like flat characters you could find in any other horror story. It was the same thing with the house. It sounded like any other haunted mansion. And not to say that using common character and setting types are bad, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Also, the first chapter foreshadowed a bit too much for me. I think I would have liked the story better if we didn’t have any sort of glimpse into how it might have ended.
I do want to mention that the issue of PTSD was treated with empathy and respect throughout the entire book. After college I worked for a short time as a case worker with adults with Serious and Persistent Mental Illnesses (SPMIs). The issue of PTSD was very common, and the origin of PTSD came from many sources: war, childhood abuse, or traumatic events as adults that are as varied as the different people we saw. It is a complex issue because each person experiences PTSD in their own way, and there is no single cure-all for it. I think that the complexity and variety of the illness shone throughout with all of the patients, and I appreciate that the issue was handled with care throughout the entire book.
I first heard of Thomas S. Flowers from a review about The Last Hellfighter and I definitely want to check that one out. That one might be more up my alley!
Thomas S. Flowers is an Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom Army veteran who loves scary movies, BBQ, and coffee. Ever since reading Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot he has inspired to write deeply disturbing things that relate to war and horror, from the paranormal to his gory zombie infested PLANET of the DEAD series, to even his recent dabbling of vampiric flirtation in The Last Hellfighter readers can expect to find complex characters, rich historical settings, and mind-altering horror. Thomas is also the senior editor at Machine Mean, a horror movie and book review site that hosts contributors in the horror and science fiction genre.
PLANET of the DEAD and The Last Hellfighter are best-sellers on Amazon's Top 100 lists for Apocalyptic Fiction and African American Horror.
Evil resides in Amon Palace. Something worse came to visit.
Four veterans of the Iraq War seeking a cure for Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder arrive at a notoriously haunted house in the bogs of Galveston Island called Amon Palace.
Samantha Green, a friendless former Army K-9 handler looking for a way to put her loss behind her.
Brad Myers, a lighthearted former Military Police Officer severally wounded in war wanting nothing more than a good nights sleep.
Andy Lovejoy, an overweight light spoken drone operator who once watched the war from above now questions who he has become.
Marcus Pangborn, a headstrong Marine who desperately wants a dead friend’s forgiveness.
The group joins Doctor Frederick Peters, an experimental psychologist looking to prove his exposure theory hypothesis, and his two assistants, Tiffany Burgess and Dexter Reid.
At first, their stay seems to conjure nothing more than spooky encounters with inexplicable phenomena. But Amon Palace is gathering its powers—and soon it will reveal that these veterans are not who they seem.
A new story from the Scaeth Mythos, The Bledbrooke Works does not disappoint.
I love reading these stories, John F. Leonard has a talent for subtle horror yet disturbing all the same. The Bledbrooke Works I feel is one of the subtlest yet. I was engaged with the two characters from the onset. Donald Hobdike, a cranky older gentleman who resents youth, yet at the same time he resents getting old. He is tasked with wayward youth Michael Bassey, ‘Mikey B’, who is sent to Hobdike to work of his debt to society.
Hobdike takes Mikey down under Bledbrooke, into the sewage system to search for what could be a ‘fatberg’ - A fatberg is a congealed mass in a sewer system formed by the combination of non-biodegradable solid matter, such as wet wipes, and congealed grease or cooking fat. –Thank you Wikipedia for that definition. As they work their way through the darkness and stench of the towns waste Mikey begins to get nervous. He thinks he feels something touch him in the water. He sees shadows and movement. Things that cannot be real, that cannot exist. Hobdike tells him it’s just the darkness; being so far below the surface can have an effect on people – A plausible explanation. Mixed with being soaking wet after a tumble into the sewage, and too hot from the unnatural humidity down there, Mikey could almost accept that he was just being paranoid, almost.
The truth of the matter is far worse. It’s no fatberg at the end of the tunnel.
This book goes from ‘normal’ to creepy in one giant monster leap. The twist, the payoff, I have to admit I had no idea. The best way of course is when you are taken completely by surprise. The Bledbrooke Works reeled me in good. Hooking me from the start with believable characters, a musty old sewage works and some dark and smelly tunnels (and of course my favourite, a mention of rats).
It is such a simple yet effective setting, old factories and ageing buildings are ready-made for horror stories. They have unlimited potential, as John shows in his writing, with an atmosphere of suspense and horror built into them from their creation.
The sights, sounds and smells were all but palpable. John really has a knack for descriptiveness. You can almost envision yourself there, walking though the ripe narrow passages behind Hobdike and Mikey, as well as suffering the claustrophobia and paranoia that Mikey feels.
I felt there were undertones of the harsh realities of ageing within the story. Hobdike, not the young whippersnapper he used to be, being somewhat resentful of Mikey’s youth. He recognises himself in Mikey, something I feel we all do as we get older, we see the younger generation making the same mistakes as we did, yet we still hold contempt and criticise in what becomes an infinite loop. He isn’t ready to grow old and retire. He doesn’t want to die. Who does of course? But some things are meant to be. The symmetry between young Mikey and old Hobdike at the end I feel validated my thoughts on this with a somewhat ‘passing the torch’ moment.
“Michael Bassey, a blundering boy, crippled by circumstance. Packed with potential and denied opportunity. A horrible reality for the vast majority of the underprivileged in the modern era. This vicious circle that kept the underclass confined to poverty. Wedged and forever stuck at the bottom of the pile.”
The Bledbrooke Works is yet another fantastic story from The Scaeth Mythos. John F. Leonard just keeps coming back with all things subtle and scary; I swear they get better and better.
Ever notice how some places don’t feel right? No rhyme or reason, they’re just unsettling, without you being able to pinpoint the cause.
The vaguely suspicious demeanour of the locals. The pewtered quality of light. The old and indefinably alien smell that blows on the breeze ...difficult to say for sure, but there’s definitely something.
Bledbrooke is one of those places. It’s always been different to other towns.
Quaint and quiet, a little backwater with a somehow dark charm all of its own. Once you get used to it, you wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
It’s not all sweetness and light though. There are problems.
A new one has just appeared. The drains on Cinderlake Drive are bubbling unsavoury water onto the street. Even worse, the toilets are blocked and spitting nastiness at some affluent backsides.
The town council reckon it’s a fatberg - one of those awful accumulations of wet wipes, grease and other unmentionables.
There’s only one man to call...
Donald Hobdike, world-weary and well past his prime, this sort of issue inevitably ends up on his chipped desk. When it comes to the sewers in Bledbrooke, he’s seen it all and more besides. Knows them better than he knows the back of his wrinkled hand.
Or so he thinks.
Maybe the labyrinthine warren beneath Bledbrooke still has some surprises in store for him...
THE BLEDBROOKE WORKS is a tale of everyday unpleasantness and cosmic horror. A short novella of subterranean terror seen through the eyes of an ageing engineer and a young hoodlum. One a pillar of the local community, the other an outsider who wouldn’t know communal spirit if it ran up and bit him on the bottom.
Part of the Scaeth Mythos.
Reality is not what it seems. There is more than any of us know. Some of it’s miraculous, some of it’s hideous beyond imagining.
There is, of course, structure. Boundaries and dividing lines.
The walls are thinner than we realise.