Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cold As Hell by David Searls

Peter Craig goes to the mall with Ava (his wife), kids (Ellie and Jack), and Uncle Buster. Ellie and Jack are rambunctious seven-year-old twins. Ellie and Jack want to ride the electric train around the outdoor shopping center. Ava goes shopping and leaves Peter with Uncle Buster to watch the kids. It is cold as Hell outside, so he goes into the nearby bar to warm up. Peter just wants to watch a couple of minutes of a football game. He notices the time is stuck at 6:42, so he starts worrying about the missing time and his missing children. Peter goes back outside looking for his kids. Buster is gone and so are his kids.

Cold As Hell is short, yet memorable! I didn't know where this story was heading. Cold As Hell is full of twists and turns. The ending hit me like a ton of bricks!

5/5 stars!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Weight Of This World by David Joy

David Joy can write! I read this book a little over a month ago, but I couldn't review it right after. The Weight Of This World is a heavy read. David Joy takes on real issues that many people face in the South. I felt sorry for the characters in this book. Not because of what they do in this book, but because they are victims of circumstance. I grew up with guys similar to Thad and Aiden. To be honest, the cover caught my eye, but David Joy's writing kept my attention.

Aiden McCall's parents die violently in front of him. He goes to a group home and ends up running away. He runs into the woods and Thad Broom (his friend) finds him. Aiden moves in with Thad and they become inseparable. Thad serves in Afghanistan and comes home a changed man. Thad and Aiden are mess-ups. They are always getting into trouble. Aiden is now smashing (April) Thad's mom. April feels trapped in the mountains and she wants to get as far away as possible.

Thad and Aiden are tired of stealing copper from foreclosed homes. They visit their drug dealer, but something mind-blowing happens. The scene is so vivid I almost lost my lunch reading it. I felt like I was sitting in that living room. I can't shake that image.

Thad and Aiden end up with lots of drugs and money. Well, they manage to screw that up too. Throughout this book, I yelled at the characters. The characters are high AF most of the time doing dumb shit. David Joy makes you care for Thad and Aiden, though.

From start to finish, this book is great! That ending is crazy! I still can't get over it!

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror and thrillers!

5/5 stars!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

An Angel Fallen by Andy Graham

This is a story about Mike, a teenager with a dysfunctional family. His dad is never home and his mom stays drunk. He is basically raised by Ariel, the family maid.

Mike and Raph (his friend) run across something burnt and broken. Mike hears voices and has visions. The two friends discover that it is an angel. Raph wants to hurt the angel. Mike wants to help the angel. Mike tries to stop Raph, but it's no use. Raph just does what he wants. The world is being devastated by biblical plagues. I will stop there because I don't want to give anything away.

The story is written well and the characters are relatable. It is a quick read and the story flows well. The ending is the best part! I didn't see it coming!

If you are looking for a solid read, then this is the novella for you.

I recommend this novella to fans of horror!

4/5 stars!

Whispered Echoes by Paul F. Olson

I would like to thank Crystal Lake Publishing for the Advanced Reader's Copy!

Before I get started I want to share a little history about this collection. Whispered Echoes was originally published by Cemetery Dance Publications. Previously available only in a deluxe limited edition, Whispered Echoes features the resurrection of eleven classic horror stories, originally published in the ‘80s and ‘90s and out-of-print for years, along with a stunning new novella written especially for this collection. With a foreword by horror master Chet Williamson and an introduction by the author, this book is an unforgettable journey through the quiet heart of terror.

I love a good introduction because it gives you the background of each story. Paul F. Olson does a great job of ordering the stories so you can see a clear progression in the quality and depth of his writing. The author suggests reading them in the order they were printed, and that is how I read them. 

The collection gets off to a strong start with The Visitor. A yearly visitor comes to town and strange happenings occur. The townsfolk try to persuade him to leave, but it is no use. Great story!

From a Dreamless Sleep Awakened is an eerie tale! A Native American burial ground is disturbed in a  forgotten cave. 

The Forever Bird is a "careful what you wish for" tale! This story left me feeling uneasy. 

Homecoming is about returning home and being overwhelmed with old memories. The man must face his darkest memory that waits outside.

They Came From the Suburbs is a fun Dawn of the Dead type of story about old people. The old people come to the mall, but they never buy anything. Crazy story!

Through the Storm is the story of a boy at his aunt's house. Something is down there! Something is in the cellar! Great story!

The More Things Change is about the world changing! Awesome story!

Guides is a great story! A fishing guide finds out that his family is cursed. 

Getting Back is about a man who is haunted by a ghost. Great story!

Faith and Henry Gustafson is disturbing! A cop gets a phone call from an abandoned camp. The cop has to face his worst fears. 

Down the Valley Wild is about paying old debts! 

Bloodybones is an urban legend. Or is he? A man looks for his missing girlfriend, but he comes across his worst nightmare. This story is excellent! 

Whispered Echoes is a great collection of short stories! Each story brings something different to the table. No two stories are the same. Each story gets better and better as you read through this collection. This is my first time reading Paul F. Olson, but it won't be my last. 

I highly recommend this collection to fans of horror!

5/5 stars!

I found this interview on Amazon. Enjoy!
Interview with the author:
What makes this horror collection so special?
Olson: You’ve heard people say “This book was years in the making.” Well, in the case of Whispered Echoes, that’s the literal truth. Actually, it was “decades in the making.” This collection is an overview, a catalog of my career in dark fiction, from the very first short story I ever published in 1983 up to my newest published work. It contains stories from horror fanzines and from major anthologies. Most of them have not been in print or available anywhere but on the collectors’ market for years, and would not have been if not for this book.
Why should readers give this collection of Dark Fiction a try?
Olson: While the horror stories in Whispered Echoes span a long period of time and incorporate a range of styles, they do have some things in common. First and foremost, I think, is that I’ve always wanted to do just one thing: tell a good story as clearly and entertainingly as possible. And that’s what this collection is about. These short stories may scare you. They might make you anxious, or make you glance over your shoulder, or move you, or make you think. Actually, I hope they do all of those things. But above all, I hope they’ll entertain you. I hope they’ll make you forget where you are for a little while, that they’ll carry you out of your world and into the world of the story, that they’ll make you forget everything but the tale unfolding around you. That’s what happened to me when I was writing them. I take a little trip. And nothing makes me happier than when a reader comes along for the ride. In part because of their style, and in part because some of the stories in the collection are 20 or 30 years old, the book has been called “old school.” That’s fine with me. Old-school horror is the best horror, as far as I’m concerned.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Guest Post by Andy Graham

The Separation of Pleasures
In another life, I was a musician. I did a classical music degree (last century), played bass in a band that toured Europe and beyond (this century). I’ve played festivals to more than 150,000 people, and church halls to a handful of grey-haired grannies and their unwittingly caustic wit: “You’re good, dear. You should do this more often.” I’ve played under bridges, on boats, and busses. On radio, TV, and ‘streamed’. Music has always been a big part of my life. Except when it comes to writing or reading.

I may be unusual in this. I know many people who listen to music while they read. Many writers listen to music while they write. I can’t do it.

I’ve tried listening to grunge while writing fight scenes. I listened to epic film scores: Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet (Volume Two), Gladiator, The Matrix (even the sequels), and Star Wars spring to mind. I experimented with classical: Elgar’s Cello Concerto, Shostakovitch Five, The Rite of Spring. I even tried listening to The Ramones in order to ‘channel’ Stephen King into my drafts.

It doesn’t work. I get distracted. My grammar and plot slide into the sewer, and my spelling takes a holiday. Ideas that sound awesome in my head when framed by so much of the great music around, come across as flaccid and cheesy by the cold, silent light of day.

Editing is different. I can listen to music while doing that. I’m not sure why there’s a difference. I guess it’s my version of the famous quote ‘write drunk, edit sober’ - write quiet, edit loud. Formatting and uploading books are also different. They need music, the more combative the better, as these two processes can be tedious at best. But writing? So far, it hasn’t worked for me.

So what do I listen to when I do listen to music? As with my reading tastes, it varies. I’ve played a lot of music that hits you in the hips, e.g. Chess Records, Motown, Stax, and James Brown. Recently, I’ve spent a ton of time listening to anything that comes out of Seattle (time when I should have been writing, not wishing I was Dave Grohl). Me’shell Ndegeocello does a good line in mid-90s angry funk. Tim Minchin’s satirical piano songs are superb, both musically and lyrically. (I met him recently and embarrassed myself in front of him, but that’s another story.) Vulfpeck have got the groove, and you can never go wrong with Skunk Anansie.

As you can see, my musical tastes are eclectic, but not extreme. There aren’t any ‘noodle-y’ jazz tunes, no guitar-heroes slavering (I considered using another word here, but thought I’d keep the blog under-18 friendly) over their fretboards, and no hard-core singers screaming their intestines through their throats.

It’s how I like my books: edgy, dark, and varied. Not gory for the sake of it. No profanity just to sound cool. No verbose wordplay to be clever.

But what do you read? Names - give me names!

Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Joe Abercrombie knock around my top three fairly regularly. (The latter is currently ‘the man’.) They may be predictable choices, but there’s a very good reason why those authors are high up on so many people’s lists. Other writers I’ve recently read and enjoyed (as opposed to those who made me want to drown my kindle, but who shall not be named), include Margaret Atwood, Mark Cassell, Jason Parent, Joss Sheldon, Karl Drinkwater, various authors in Tales from the Lake Vol. 1, and JK Rowling. (Yes, THE JK Rowling, the one who wrote those books about the boy wizard. She tells a great story, and I can’t wait to read them to my kids. Unless I choose to start them off on American Gods ;-).)

I still play. I’m doing local rather than international gigs and being able to walk to a gig rather than take a plane is a luxury. I still write. I still read. I still listen. I just don’t do them altogether.

I need to keep my pleasures separate.


How about you? Can you read or write to music? If so, what music?


An Angel Fallen
 Andy Graham
May 2017
22K words
book blur
You’re eighteen. Bored. Dad’s away a lot. Says its business, but you’ve seen the lipstick stains. Mum’s home. Too much. Keeping the world gin market afloat on her own. There’s Ariel, the family maid. She’s cool. The one piece of this messed up world that makes sense. And then there’s Raph.

Raph’s the leader of your gang of two. He gets off on doing those things to the animals you both catch: the slicing, crushing, and maiming. Buried a few alive, too. His relationship with that hammer of his is sick.

You run with Raph because, well, nothing else to do out here, right? Except if your folks found out what you’ve been up to, there’d be hell.

Then you find it. Whatever it is.

It can’t be what you think it is. Those things don’t exist. But it’s staring at you. Asking for help. Is it dying? Can these things die? You need to do something for it. Raph wants to do something to it.

Time to choose. Do you run with the human devil you know, or take a chance on this thing that fell from the heavens?

An Angel Fallen is a tale of divine retribution from British author Andy Graham. On a day when the world is struggling to stay sane, and is being ravaged by biblical plagues, what price will two teenagers pay for their past?


Andy Graham Author Bio (June 2017)

Andy Graham is a British author currently living in the Czech Republic who will now stop talking about himself in the third person because it's odd. I have two main collections of books: The Lords of Misrule is a series of dystopian political thrillers set in an alternate world based on life in 21st century EU/ US. I also have an expanding collection of creepy reads that explore the darker side of life, death, and the undead. There are a few unfinished stories rattling around in my hard-drive and some unstarted ones knocking around in my head. They range from disposable airport fiction and YA sci fi to grimdark epics, but they will have to wait their turn. (Unfortunately for my wife, who is waiting for me to write something 'nice', preferably with sparkly vampires.) Outside of reading and writing, I'm a musician, qualified osteopath, seasoned insomniac, and father to two young kids who have too much energy to let me grow old gracefully.

You can find me online at www.andygrahamauthor.com (where you can claim a free book), twitter - @andygraham2001 and FB - andy graham author.

Fountain of Drowned Memories by Erik Hofstatter

Lorcan Carmody can't remember, and his surroundings are unfamiliar to him. He sees black tentacles coming out of the plughole in the bathroom. He also sees things in the stains on the ceiling and walls of his room. It is an eerie tale that will leave you thinking about the subject matter long after you have finished reading it.

Fountain of Drowned Memories is a short story, but it packs a helluva punch! It is a unique Lovecraftian take on dementia. Erik Hofstatter does a great job describing Lorcan and his surroundings. His characters are very interesting and relatable.

Fountain of Drowned Memories is a sad story about an illness that has affected so many families. All in all, Fountain of Drowned Memories is a solid story.

You can read the story for free at http://books.noisetrade.com/erikhofstatter/fountain-of-drowned-memories.

4/5 stars!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Revolver by Michael Patrick Hicks

Revolver is set in a dystopian America. Gun-loving, women-hating religious zealots have taken over. There are riots in the streets. People are starving to death. Cara Stone agrees to be on Revolver, a reality tv show where down on their luck citizens/contestants raise money for their families before killing themselves on live TV.

Michael Patrick Hicks delivers the goods! It is like the author wrote this story right after waking from a fevered dream. Revolver is allegorical in a sense. It is a warning to America and her citizens. It is a giant warning sign for American politics as well. Revolver is the most relevant work of fiction right now! Revolver reads like a Washington Irving short story because it is a cautionary tale. That ending is crazy!

The story flows well and the tension mounts as the story progresses. The author writes with confidence. I have never read anything quite like this. It is an amazing story! Everyone needs to read it! Michael Patrick Hicks has done it again!

5/5 stars!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Elvis Room by Stephen Graham Jones

This is one of my favorite ghost stories! It is crazy AF!

A young scientist unintentionally ruins his career by trying to convince a woman that her twin sister, whom she absorbed in the womb, was not haunting her. He gets shunned by the science community and ends up speaking at fringe science conferences.

After several years pass, he finds a strange pattern in hotels. One room is always kept empty by hotel staff in case a VIP arrived. The scientist calls this particular empty room the "Elvis Room," and he discovers a disturbing trend. Someone in the hotel dies when all the rooms are full and the "Elvis Room" is booked.

The story is told from the scientist's POV. As the story progresses, the scientist gets more obsessed. The reader has to determine if they believe the scientist's unreliable account. That twist ending will get you! I didn't see it coming!

This story is great! Stephen Graham Jones has brought something original to the table. This is my first time reading Stephen Graham Jones, but it won't be my last.

I highly recommend this story to fans of horror!

5/5 stars!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Breeze Horror by Candice Caponegro

A space shuttle carrying toxic waste collides with a meteor causing a toxic storm over the Atlantic seaboard. Virulent rain pours down, infecting everyone that it touches. The people caught in the rainstorm begin to decompose, but their minds are kept intact. Everyone is scared, so the town decides to quarantine the infected on the beach. The "beachers" hold a grudge on the "norms," so they plan their revenge accordingly. It is funny, gross, and at times really sad. To be honest, I didn't know who to feel sorry for.

This is a very different type of zombie story. I mean that in a good way. The zombies in this book are different because they don't eat brains or people. The "beachers" like hurting and torturing the "norms." The "beachers" decay just like typical zombies, though. These zombies have mutated! They have gained special powers, which is kind of cool! The author does a great job describing the zombies. This book is not for the squeamish!

Overall, it was a pretty good book! There are parts in this story that felt slow and clunky, though. Don't get me wrong, it is a fun read, but I got lost in the filler. If I'm being honest, this book has too much padding. The Breeze Horror would make a great B-movie!

3.5/5 zombies!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hell Cat of the Holt by Mark Cassell

Anne returns home to the village of Mabley Holt. She is trying to hit reset on her life and put the pieces back together. Things don't turn out like she wants. In the village of Mabley Holt there is a local legend about a black cat. Is it a legend or is there something more sinister at play? Anne's cat disappears along with all of the other village cats. While out looking for her cat, Anne almost drowns, but she is saved by Leo. The strange man has come back to Mabley Holt as well. Leo informs Anne of The Fabric of Reality and the shifting veil that allows entities to move between worlds such as ghosts, spirits, and demons. I will stop there because I don't want to give anything away. 

Mark Cassell has created a creepy world! His characters are smart and easily relatable. This novella is fluid and doesn't miss a beat. The author does a great job of building the suspense. Mark Cassell gets small town horror! Mabley Holt is a village, but you catch my drift. What's more, you don't have to be familiar with the Shadow Fabric Mythos to enjoy this novella. It reads like a stand alone. Great novella! 

Hell Cat of the Holt comes with a short story. I'll be honest, I love a great bonus story! The Artist and the Crone is set one year before Hell Cat of the Holt. It is about two of the characters from Hell Cat of the Holt. This short story is helpful because it provides the background of the two characters. Great short story!

I highly recommend this novella to fans of horror! 

5/5 stars! 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Interview With Mark Cassell


Thanks for doing this interview, Mark! 

CHHR: What was your first published story? Who published it?

MC: My first published story was on the back of a writing course I attended in 2013. I scored a few brownie points with the course tutor, Rayne Hall, and she put me in contact with a friend of hers who at the time was editing an anthology for Lafcadio Press called HELL’S GARDEN. I ended up submitting the story I wrote on the course, and the editor, April Grey, loved it. So, in January 2014, I had my first published piece.

The featured story “Ten Minutes Till Deadtime” is one tale among many in the Shadow Fabric mythos.


CHHR: What inspired or influenced you to write the Shadow Fabric mythos?

MC: It makes me feel old to admit the concept is now almost 25 years old. Yet it wasn’t until 2013 I began to stitch it together. I never imagined it would become as complex as it is, unravelling to include not only demons, but also witches and ghosts and some horrific creatures.

Honestly, it began as a couple of words without direction. When it came to finally wanting to do something about it, I knew one thing: I’d been getting fed up with all those typical horror tropes out there, on screen and on page, so I set out to flip everything we know about demonology and ancient evils on its head.

Now, to have readers demanding more in the mythos, is an incredible feeling. Last year at Sheffield Horror Con a reader approached my table with a well-thumbed copy of my debut novel in hand. He wanted me to sign it, have a photo with him, and demanded to know more about the history of the characters and what else was in store for them.

And that, my friends, is why I write; such a humbling experience.


CHHR: Who is your favorite football club? Why?

MC: I don’t do football. In fact, there’s not one sport that swings my chicken.

CHHR: What do you do when you are not writing?

MC: I’m a keen gym-goer who’s always happy when plugging into rock and metal tunes, all the while throwing weights around. In truth, lately I’ve been slack with working out but I’m back on it. Doesn’t take me too long to get into it again.

Also, I find cooking relaxing, and I’m always making up recipes. Modesty aside, I do make some tasty dishes. Other than that, I don’t watch TV nor am I gamer. However, I do love a good movie. Horror, of course, but I guess that’s probably an obvious statement. Ha!

CHHR: Do you have a favorite author that is writing today?

MC: These days I have no particular go-to author. There are so many old and new guys out there, especially some awesome voices on the indie horror scene.

If I must name a hero, I’d stick Brian Lumley on a well-deserved pedestal. His work, the way he expertly balances horror and fantasy and science fiction, is outstanding. I’ll be the first to admit he inspired me to begin writing… and most likely, he’s the reason why the Shadow Fabric has become more than a standalone novel.

His Necroscope series rips apart all we know about vampire and werewolf legends, and the way he’s thrown in necromancers, Russian spies, British intelligence, extra-sensory-perception, time travel, teleportation, and so much more, still amazes me. Every book in the saga is phenomenal, in particular the original trilogy written in the mid-80s. Groundbreaking.

CHHR: What scares you?

MC: I am unashamed when I hold up my hand to reveal that heights scare me the most. I’m good for rollercoasters where velocity snatches away that fear, replacing it with adrenaline. However, I have been known to experience some stomach-tugging moments high up mountains and even on regular overpasses.

It’s a rational fear though, right? I mean, think about it, I would die if I fell.

CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing habits? What does a typical writing day look like for you?

MC: Habits? Like tea drinking and hair pulling? Since jumping on this writer’s game, I’m forever topping up the tea bag jar. And my hair has seriously thinned.

When it comes to writing, I can sit anywhere with or without my laptop. I often scribble in my notebooks before I begin any project, whether flash fiction or novel. I used to be a morning writer, but these days I’m happy to write at any time of the day.

Also, I love going on location with a notebook. I once visited castle ruins at 3am on a foggy morning. It paid off, because that story became another mythos tale later to feature in an anthology by Shadows At The Door.

CHHR: Do you have a favorite pub that you frequent? What is your favorite beer?

MC: What a fantastic question… to which I have an incredibly crap answer. I hardly drink beer these days, or anything else for that matter, so I don’t have a Local. However, when I do jump on the alcohol train, it’ll be either gin or rum. Most recently it’s been a lot of rum, like a pirate.

CHHR: Do you have any advice for future writers or writers who are just starting out?

MC: Be honest with yourself and write precisely what you want. Get down and dirty with your inner-self, and don’t let your mum or dad read it. In fact, don’t get excited and show it to your closest friend. Not yet! Keep it for yourself. That way, you’ll find your true voice before you’ve allowed anyone else to hear it.

I believe that you can lose enthusiasm with any project if you throw parts of it out there too soon; it kind of dilutes the passion.

That energy you have when you first start out should make you so damn high you pour it onto the page, just for you rather than anyone else. Learn the craft, layer your work in all that you absorb, and once you’ve discovered your voice – and it takes time – that’s when you’re ready to show the world.

If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll recognize it.

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HELL CAT OF THE HOLT - a novella in the Shadow Fabric mythos
Available from Amazon

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Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK where he often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines. His best-selling debut novel THE SHADOW FABRIC is closely followed by the popular short story collection SINISTER STITCHES and are both only a fraction of an expanding mythos of demons, devices, and deceit.

Mark’s 2017 release HELL CAT OF THE HOLT further explores the Shadow Fabric mythos with ghosts and black cat legends.

The dystopian sci-fi short story collection CHAOS HALO 1.0: ALPHA BETA GAMMA KILL is in association with Future Chronicles Photography where he works closely with their models and cosplayers.

For one of Mark’s FREE stories go to: www.markcassell.com

Or visit the website: www.theshadowfabric.co.uk