Melvin Brown is a loner. A strange pariah who skulks and mutters through his days, drawing monsters in his notebooks and talking himself out of doing terrible things. He is picked on and bullied and one tragic day, he has his fill. Shooting himself in front of a cafeteria full of fellow students and the bullies who brought him to that point. But hatred is tough to kill.
Years after his death, in the town of Lynwood, a strange young man shows up in town. He's the splitting image of the dead Melvin and he's dating one of the smartest girls in school. Another of the town's teens is lured to the old school while jogging and introduced to someone or something with grand designs . Soon after, things start to change. The jocks and the brains and the popular kids all start to transform into that which they never understood and readily tore apart. They dress in black and seem paler. They are angsty and the air around the thickens with malevolence. Their numbers grow daily, they earn a nickname from the faculty-and then the town- The Lynwood Vamps.
Their epicenter seems to be the condemned school where the tragedy took place all those years ago. They have a plan and they have a leader and before long, the entire town will understand that sometimes bygones can't just be bygones. Things swept under the rug don't always disappear, sometimes they grow fangs and slither. Sometimes turning the other way will get your neck broken.
Patrick Lacey's novel is a truly fun and well-rendered throw back to those glory days of pulp horror. We Came Back is the gory and shadow-shrouded offspring of Salem's Lot and Sixteen Candles. It delivers honest portrayals of troubled teenagers as well as flawed and troubled adults. The struggles of both groups to come to grips with what's going on and played parallel and perfectly so. The pacing is quick and logical and the prose is lean and mean and licked-bone clean.
Recommended, very much so.
We Came Back is available from Sinister Grin Press.
"WE CAME BACK is an emotional trip through our darkest fears. One of the best books I've read in years."--Kristopher Rufty, author of SOMETHING VIOLENT and DESOLATION.
Growing up dead.
Melvin Brown sees things that aren’t there. Monsters with tentacles and razor-sharp teeth. Ever the social outcast, he is bullied to the point of suicide. And his hatred of those who did him wrong does not die with him.
One decade after Melvin's death, something strange is happening to Lynnwood High School's smartest and most popular students. They begin to act out and spend time at the former high school, now abandoned and said to be haunted. And their numbers grow at an alarming rate.
Is this just a passing fad or are the rumors true? Does Lynnwood really have a teenage cult on their hands?
Review by Joe X Young
The task of a reviewer is straight-forward, to appraise the material and give an honest opinion. With a novel, short story or movie there’s more of a singular focal point of whether or not the entirety of the story is any good. With anthologies and collections things are not so simple, as there are far more individual stories to assess, and I think it would be fair to believe that there’s no anthology or collection in print anywhere where every story is as good as the others. Terror Tales of Cornwall, for me at least, has three levels as there are good stories, very good stories, and excellent ones. That’s good news right? I think so. Though it’s going to be a very personal opinion as to which stories did it for me and which didn’t, this being based on my experience of Cornwall as I lived there for a dozen years or so.
There’s much to be said on the subject of body horror, that flesh-rending subgenre of fiction which turns our own meat against us and cranks the squick factor up to 11. Curious, then, that it’s taken this long for a publisher to release a non-fiction compendium studying it.
Funded on Kickstarter (with portions of the money raised also going to Epilepsy Action Australia), The Body Horror Book is clearly something of a passion project for Australian author Claire Fitzpatrick and her newly founded Oscillate Wildly Press. It brings together essays by nearly two dozen writers—including both established names from the Aussie horror scene and relative newcomers—with engaging albeit mixed results.
Review by Joe X Young
It’s a good idea. Take a renowned Victorian author of horrific fantasy and make him the central character in a fantasy comic-book. Plenty of scope for some amazing storylines, or so you would reasonably think, though in this case it’s hard to tell from the first issue the sort of direction it is going to take. What I am reviewing is actually the first comic in a 12 part run, which although I may raise criticism for not reviewing the run in its entirety it’s actually like reviewing the first chapter of a book to see if it’s worth carrying on with on the basis of that introduction. This is where things are a little problematic. The storyline is quite straight forward in that Poe falls asleep and continues to fall, this time into a nightmare in which he is accompanied by a giant talking rat in a waistcoat. The rat in question becomes Poo’s guide (No, that’s NOT a typo) through the nightmare scenario in which many fantastical things happen. I won’t say too much about the story as basically I can’t. Reason being that it’ll give spoilers, and also that I only have the first issue so cannot say what it’s like in entirety, but based on the first issue I have a feeling that it could be at the very least a fun journey worth following.
Whilst the story remains to develop, the same cannot be said about the artwork. Rendered in a cartoonish style it fits the story perfectly. Excellent cartooning and skilful inks make it a pleasure to look at. The characters have a stylish simplicity with each personality clearly defined and each panel is used to maximum effect. It’s all in all a very good start to what I can only assume would be a fun adventure.
Chapter I: Falling Down
Edgar Allan Poe has lost everyone he ever loved and now he is losing his mind. Haunted by his dead wife and his literary failures, the poet tumbles into a fantastic world created by his genius...and his madness.
Review by Tony Jones
“A surprise return to the world of ‘The Girl with all the Gifts’”
In 2014 M R Carey (who also writes under Mike Carey) released ‘The Girl with all the Gifts’ which was a surprise word of mouth hit in both the horror world and beyond, a film followed last year. The 2014 novel was both a clever and original riff on the apocalyptic zombie story and I can’t say I ever expected a follow-up…… However, ‘The Boy on the Bridge’ isn’t really a sequel and the events take place round about the same time as the earlier novel. So you could easily read this novel without having read the other, but the problem is this new book is simply not in the same class as its predecessor.
You don’t need little ol’ me to tell you The Madness of Dr. Caligari is a top-notch anthology, do you? As of this writing, it’s been nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award, for starters. Besides that, it’s got Joe Pulver’s name on it, and that damn near says it all.
Besides being a gifted weird fiction writer himself, Pulver is one hell of an anthologist, most notably putting together such attention-grabbing compilations as the Robert W. Chambers tribute A Season in Carcosa and the Thomas Ligotti tribute The Grimscribe’s Puppets. The subject at the heart of his latest anthology? Robert Wiene’s 1920 German Expressionist silent film masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, of course.
Through a shadowy, angular aesthetic, the film tells the story of a somnambulist driven to murder by the machinations of a carnival hypnotist. Or maybe it tells the story of a delusional asylum inmate who envisions himself a valiant hero opposing the dastardly plots of his scheming doctor. Or maybe…
John Foster has been cutting a swath through the horror genre for the last few years, beginning with his wildly macabre noir-revenge-amnesia tale, Dead Men. I didn't get to read the critically-acclaimed Mister White so when I was asked if I would review his collection, I jumped at the chance.
The opening tale was one I am quite familiar with, having been one of the initial "Yes" votes when we accepted it over at Shock Totem years ago, in it we venture by train on a journey to Detroit by way of some passes that are otherworldly and full of monsters. "Burial Suit" concerns a the son of a man killed by mobster's and the supernatural and violent revenge exacted. "Talk To Leo" gives us a troubled man who does not speak and his ventriloquist's dummy who maybe says too much.
"The Willing" is one of my favorites, in a bleak future where we have been invaded and seemingly driven back to caves by aliens, a group of rag-tag soldiers craft a plan to call up an ancient evil, a dark and hungry god to conquer the invaders. This one is mad as hell.
In "Meat" a group of smugglers crash land on a planet where there are no other forms of life save for trees. Trees that hunger for flesh and thirst for blood. "Girl Six" involves an interrogation of a man possibly involved in the deaths of a trawler crew. But what happens as the questions fly and the answers wrestle them to the concrete floor is a wild and psychotropic miasma of surreal/governmental conspiracy is exhilarating. "Red" is one of the wildest alien invasion scenarios I've ever read and also one of the most brilliantly slapstick.
"Dead on Sunset Strip" gives us a group of hippies at a rock show in the tale end 60's/early 70's and when an outbreak of the living dead consumes the city (the world?) how can these stoned -free love folks possibly survive? "A Lamb To Slaughter" Is a wonderful sliver of surreal and deeply troubling horror as a man is hired to travel the country and witness executions. We close with the title tale, 'Baby Powder" in which a couple who run a paranormal investigation scam, meet their match in a house so haunted it has a reach of miles and miles.
Foster creates believable worlds, populated with realistic characters. Even the wilder scenarios ring true given the prose he uses to render them. With a blade that has a razor-sharp extreme side and a softer quieter weird side, he just cuts his way through. I already knew I was a fan of his work, now I am absolutely positive of it.
Baby Powder is available from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing
From the author of Dead Men and Mister White, John C. Foster continues his odyssey through the horror genre with his debut story collection. Within these pages, you will board a train to Detroit on a route littered with the darkest monstrosities the mind can imagine ("Highballing Through Gehenna"); a man avenges his father's murder in a series of violent mobster slayings ("Burial Suit"); a mute ventriloquist and his chattery dummy seek a therapist ("Talk to Leo"); future soldiers summon forth an ancient evil to battle an alien menace ("The Willing"); body smugglers crash land on a world where sinister trees feed on flesh ("Meat"); an interrogation takes a strange, psychedelic turn ("Girl Six"); a special agent investigates a potential alien invasion ("Red"); the undead infiltrate the Whiskey-A-Go-Go ("Dead on the Sunset Strip"); a man is hired by a nefarious agency to witness prison executions around the country ("A Lamb to Slaughter"); and a pair of paranormal scam artists suffer when they confront true evil ("Baby Powder").
Ali is pouring her blood, sweat and tears into making a name for herself in the fashion world. She has a building reputation as one of the rising stars in the scene. her designs are doing well, but still not as well as the lauded designs of the mysterious Dream Dress company. When Ali decides to break a few rules in order to find out the secrets behind this competitor things take a dark turn.
What begins in the heated and catty world of small scale fashion shows soon escalates into a seedy and sordid psycho-drama peopled with addicts and supernatural substances, monsters and chemistry. In less than ninety pages we get a glimpse into a strikingly contrasting world.
If I'm honest this novelette reads a tiny bit fragmented but that might be because it is a teaser for an upcoming longer collection of stories all tied around the characters and events that happen in this story. That isn't to say this doesn't work as a stand alone, it certainly does. In fact, I greatly enjoyed it. The only shortcoming I can cite is my lack of knowledge when it came to some of the lingo/slang used in the fashion industry. It kept pulling me out of the story a little bit, but I'd wade tight back in.
Johnson gives us very real and flawed characters. One of the zaniest fashion villains this side of Cruella Deville and one hell of a second act. Really, if the collection ups the ante to the hand he's played here. I'm all in.
Dream Dress is available from Amazon.
What is a Dream Dress? It's a dress that makes you remember what clothes can do for you, a dress that makes you feel young and beautiful again. Or, for some, it's a dress that makes you forget everything around you, no matter how terrifying.