Earlier this year I was asked to review Philip Fracassi’s Altar and, upon reading it, I became an instantaneous fan. It was a short little gut punch of a story that stimulated my fear receptors in a way that few stories can and made me realize that Fracassi was an author to keep an eye on, a master wordsmith who, while still in the process of finding his authorial voice, has a complex and creative mind and a style that is perfectly well suited to this literature of the darkness that we embrace as horror fans. But I was surprised to find that, when I sat down to write about that book, I struggled with it.....
by Tony Jones
“Don’t confuse this novel with a simple ghost story,
it has layers which go much deeper”
Simon Bestwick’s latest novel was a real change of pace and direction, having really enjoyed two of his previous books I was looking forward to what he would dream up next. ‘The Feast of all Souls’ certainly did not disappoint and although I found it to be quite an odd book, it was an entertaining read which was far from predictable. The novel starts like a fairly traditional ghost story with a woman buying a new house in the outskirts of Manchester. This is against her parent’s wishes, as she is recovering from the loss of a child and has been suffering from depression and related illnesses.
Set in small town America in the early 40’s, The Rib From Which I Remake The World starts out as a smart and literate hardcore noir, before gradually descending into a bleak supernatural nightmare, which explodes in the final act into a maelstrom of violence and horror.
This is an anthology of stories that all pay tribute to the Mary Shelley creation. Be it the doctor or his creation, these stories explore many differing interpretations and shades of creation and god complex. Ross E. Lockhart has done a fantastic job of corralling a wonderful selection of intriguing tales, all warming themselves around the same fire.
We open with "Torso, Heart, Head" by Amber-Rose Reed, which is essentially a list of back story to each limb /part that makes up the monster. This is followed by "Thermidor" by Siobhan Carroll, delivers a take on man-made monsters by giving a role to the Marquis De Sade. "Sewn Into her Fingers" by Autumn Christian has the distinction of being my favorite of the book, a scientist grows a girl in his lab and slowly shows her what it's like to be human, a hard lesson to teach when you haven't mastered it yourself. "The Human Alchemy" by Mike Griffin is fireside tale, centering on a young woman and her unique relationship to a reclusive husband and wife, both doctors.
"Postpartum" by Betty Rocksteady is a darkly disturbing tale of a new mother and her compounding grief and the macabre way she staunches the flow through taxidermy. "They Call Me Monster" by Tiffany Scandal is a deep cutting teen movie of a tale but with one of the characters being a creation made from wishes and the flesh of others.
Damien Angelica Walters shows us an all too current and terrifying glimpse of the modern Prometheus, in "Sugar And Spice And Everything Nice." Another one that really wowed me was "Baron Von Werewolf Presents: Frankenstein Against The Phantom Planet"--a really fun and unsettling story about a horror host and a mysterious film. Nathan Carson supplies a tale of electricity, healing, monsters and Nikolai Tesla in his story, "Wither On The Vine; Or, Strickfadden's Monster." "The Beautiful Thing We Will Become" by Kristi DeMeester is a sterling example of why she is one of the strongest young voices in horror.
I did not mention every story but mainly the ones that really won me over, that is not to say the rest were bad. In fact, I don't think there was a story I didn't like. These were just the ones that stuck with me longer. All were well-written and there were some really unique and inspired takes on the source concepts.
I can easily recommend this book, it would make for a most enjoyable winter read, in a drafty castle as one nestles by a roaring fire.
Eternal Frankenstein is published by Word Horde.
There has been a huge rise in Nordic Noir over the last few years, The Ice Lands by Steinar Bragi is the latest novel being put forward as the next big thing. Set against the desolate backdrop if the Icelandic countryside, it sees four friends take a journey into the heart of the country in a bid to heal both professional and personal wounds.
When they crash their vehicle into an isolated farmhouse inhabited by a mysterious elderly couple, they will find the tensions of their past rise to the surface as they try to escape from the confines of the farmhouse and discover just who or what has been slaughtering the animals, and why the couple barricade themselves inside every night.
Can they escape what is haunting both from the outside world and fromtheir past lives.
I cannot in good conscience start this review without disclosing the fact that I'm friends with the author. I mean, we consider ourselves brothers. I have read almost all he ahs put out and liked it all. That said, this review is honest and not shaded by that.
Stranded begins with our crew of the Arctic Promise, weathering a storm both literal and symbolic. Noah Cabot is on deck and at odds with the ship's captain, Brewster. The storm grows in both literal and metaphoric intensity, the crew are battered and some injured. The skies and seas calm and aside from a fire below decks, all seems well. Then the sickness creeps in. Most of the crew come down with severe headaches and nosebleeds. Then there's the fog, which leads them to the biggest hurdle of all. The ice. The crew of the Promise suddenly find themselves ice bound and ill. Most men can barely stand and those who can are not very pleasant for it. The antagonism from ailment and fatigue does nothing to bolster the surly attitudes that most had before the events.
Noah is the only one not taken with the illness. He does see the shadows, shifting and scurrying at the edges of his vision. It is decide when breaking the ice by hand fails, that the only option is for a group to head out on foot, toward the snow-covered shape on the horizon, the shape they hope to be their initial destination.
Bracken paints his characters with thick and hearty strokes. Stalwart and crotchety but human enough to understand. Noah and Brewster are flip sides of the same coin, forged in grief and loss and stamped with the hard press of ornery stubbornness. The other characters all have personality and swagger, far from the "extras" this sort of story could deliver. It's not quite the story I expected. What MacLeod gives us is more of an extended episode of The Outer Limits as directed by the ghost of Sam Peckinpah. It is an intriguing read and one that might leave you seeing your breath.
Stranded is available from Tor Books, which means any "real" book store ought to have it or be able to get it for you.
Rich Hawkins loves to see this country go to pot. Not content with laying the country to waste at the hands of a vampire horde in King Carrion, or destroying it with a zombie-like plague in his Last Plague series of novels. He has now brought this once and proud nation to its knees thanks to a mysterious alien plague that arrived piggybacked onto the meteor that crash landed on earth, with a bang.
BY JOHN BODEN
Having been a fan of Langan's work for some time, I was quite excited at the promise of getting to read and review his newest novel, The Fisherman. I tried to read as little as possible on it so that I could go in somewhat blind, but I did hear some descriptors that, upon completion, now seem quite adequate. Words like epic and literary. These are both accurate and understatement. I'm not sure I can put into words the level in which this book works, just that it does and it has a resonating power that will ring in your mind and ears long after you've put it down.
Abe is a man who lost everything when his wife died. And he slowly and not easily begins to fill the little and larger voids with fishing and recollection. One day, he meets a co-worker named Dan, a man who has recently had his own run in with tragedy and loss and is teetering on the rocky ledge of despair and grief. Abe takes him, fishing and the men begin a friendship. One day, Dan suggests they go fishing at a spot known as Dutchman's Creek. It is here where we shift our story gears a tad. The Fisherman is a tale within a tale.
When the pair stop at a diner and ask the manager about the creek (they can't find it on the map) the man spins a yarn that rakes up a huge portion of the book. It concerns the long history of the area and the creek. The dark and otherworldly things that occurred there. A mysterious man who arrives in the night and systematically brings a small village to its knees through the terror and horror of his deeds. The dead don't stay that way. There are things in the water. There are strange stenches and portents.
I could explain further, but that would dearly rob you of the enjoyment of reading this wonderful work. It is a literary and classically written tome that reads quickly and easily given the depth of subject and historical chapters. It is honest and emotionally packed. It sets the hooks and pulls you along, bumping into the rocky bottom a time or two, almost letting you get to the surface for a quick breath before pulling you under again.
A fantastic book, one of the best I've had the pleasure of reading this year.
The Fisherman is available from the folks at Word Horde.