George and Lou made their living as criminals. Usually they were hired to rough up someone who owes a mobster money or something along those lines. This time the job they were given seems pretty easy, they have to drive across Florida and deliver a man in a cage to a mob boss. There is a catch, the man in the cage is a werewolf, but who would believe in something like that?
It’s a simple job, they just have to follow the instructions: don’t open the cage, don’t reach into the cage and don’t throw anything into the cage. Surprisingly enough things don’t go according to planned, the werewolf escapes and goes on a killing spree. This werewolf named Ivan can change from human to wolf at will and he has an insatiable blood lust. George and Lou never believed in werewolves but they do now and they may be the only ones who can stop the carnage.
Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand is everything you could ask for in a horror novel, it’s a simple story that’s carried by great dialogue, dark humor and moments of nail-biting horror. What really sets this book apart from other horror novels is how the story is told, it doesn’t rely on bloody action packed scenes (even though it does have that) to keep the reader interested, it holds your attention by how the characters interact with each other.
After reading this book I was looking at reviews for it and one bad review that I saw said that the characters were boring and there wasn’t much information given on them. This person must not have paid attention to the writing and probably didn’t read the whole book. There’s lots of detail given on what makes the characters tick. It’s just revealed through dialogue rather than having a third person description on what the character is like. As I was reading this book I found myself thinking that Quentin Tarantino could make an excellent movie out of this since I always thought the best parts of his work was the dialogue.
Another thing I liked about this book is how the story gets more complex as it moves along. We start with three main characters, we then add more characters including a woman named Michelle who gets into the action by accident but then decides she wants to go along for the ride. My favorite scene in this book was when Lou and George meet Ivan in a bar to work out a deal and things don’t go well. In particular I liked how Ivan gives one of the people in the bar an ultimatum and what happens when the person makes his decision. Ivan may be insane and evil but even he seems to have a moral code.
While I had some issues with this story which I can’t talk about because it would spoil the book, I thought it was a pretty solid read. I love how Jeff Strand’s books combine humor and horror and Wolf Hunt is no exception. I love werewolf stories and I’m happy to see that there is a sequel to this book. I just hope Mr. Strand can recapture everything what made the first book so much fun.
It was the Summer of 1961 and young Mark Gaitlin was on vacation with his family in Lake Livingston Texas. Mark was like any other 15-year-old, his body was changing, his family was driving him nuts and he was obsessed with sex. His dream of meeting a girl comes true one night when a mysterious girl invites him to go skinny dipping. Mark is on the verge of becoming a man and everything is about to change.
Mark is starting to see the social injustices in the world and also realizes that Lake Livingston is a mysterious place. He’s surrounded by abandoned villages haunted by family secrets and finds evidence of a cult of religious backwoods snake handlers. As he journeys into manhood he finds the world is more complicated than he thought and wrong decisions may cost him his life.
Lost Girl Of The Lake by Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty is about how a series of odd events shape a young man’s life. The passage that really hooked me into this story was early on when we hear Mark being introspective as an adult about his childhood. He states that “the man and the boy don’t speak the same language anymore.” He then describes the difference between how an adult thinks compared to how a child’s mind works. The beginning of this coming of age tale had a Stephen King feel to it that made me want to keep reading.
What I enjoyed most in this story is how a lot of it is open to interpretation. The authors paint a picture by the way they describe the setting. Also the use of imagery like the butterflies that gather at the lake, the abandoned town, the Copperhead snakes and the dreams that Mark is having are metaphors and they all shape the man he will become. It’s up to the reader to wonder what the meaning behind everything and how it affects the characters in the story.
For a short novella there is a lot going on in this book and every little detail seems to have a deeper meaning. I enjoyed the references to pulp fiction magazines in the story and since at points it felt like the pulp fiction that Mark reads I thought it was a good metaphor. Another scene I liked that illustrated what its like to be on the edge of adulthood was when Mark and his friend are heading to the lake to look at “spicy” pulp magazines and have to keep a look out for anyone who may get them in trouble for having them. At one point Mark tries to walk away but his friend urges him to stay which leads to something that illustrates what 15-year-old boys are like.
Whether you like this book or not will depend on what you’re looking for. If you’re expecting a good horror story or a tale with a lot of supernatural activity you may be disappointed. On the other hand if you are into coming of age stories that make you think about how certain events shape your life then you will like this novella. This is a story of the loss of innocence, the road to adulthood and how your reaction to what’s happening around you affects your life.
When you think of Terminus you think of the end of line. You also think of the ultimate end which is death. In For a Glimpse Beyond the Terminus Jordan R. Anderson gives us Nine stories having to do with death, cosmic horror and the paranormal. These stories are hard-core and give a serious look at what truly scares us.
My favorite story in this book was Under And In And So It All Begins. This story is simply enough about the beginning of the apocalypse. It all starts with a recently divorced man who is down on his luck and just happens to have a portal to another dimension under his car. What makes this interesting is it’s like two stories in one. In the beginning it’s just a man who is dealing with his own depression over his failed marriage, he finds an opportunity to be a hero but everything goes horribly wrong. The end of this story turns out to be an all out gore fest. As simple as it was my favorite part of this story was when the man decides to go into the other dimension in order to save a life and he wonders what his ex-wife would think of him now. He’s doing what he needs to do and wants to be a hero but the despair over his wife divorcing him never leaves his thoughts. This story had a real Lovecraft feel to it with an awesome ending.
Another story I really liked was The Harem Within. You have to give this story points for originality. The star of it is a sexually awkward man who has a unique power. When he finally has the opportunity to have sex with someone he absorbs them into his body and the victim lives inside of him. His new power turns him into an addict and he wants to take as many souls as he can. I enjoyed the concept here and how the main character keeps referring to himself as a fiend. I love how the character sees himself at the end and the reader is left to wonder was he really a fiend? Or was he just a lonely man with no idea what was happening to him.
For a Glimpse Beyond the Terminus was a mixed bag for me. The book has the feel of being written by someone who hasn’t been professionally writing for very long. There are some great ideas and content here but some situations and settings get over described which takes you out of the story. That being said I found the book entertaining and thought there were some great concepts and good content here. Jordan shows he has a passion for writing horror and I think his writing will get better in the future. I ‘m looking forward to seeing what he will write about next.
Nothing is going right for Antoine. He lives in a dilapidated apartment, he just lost his job and he has a wife and baby to support. As he arrives home his wife shows him a winning Money Carlo ticket from an auto dealership saying he has won $5,000. Antoine thinks it’s a scam but what choice does he have but to go and try to get his money.
Antoine takes a bus to the dealership which is out on the edge of town. When he arrives he meets Jon Dangle the dealership owner and man who issued the winning ticket. Jon has a dark secret beneath his dealership and he needs someone like Antoine to act as a sacrifice to keep it hidden. Antoine has walked into a nightmare that no one has ever escaped from. He’s now trapped in an underground cavern and something is hunting him. Will he ever see his wife and child again?
Broken Shells by Michael Patrick Hicks is a fast paced gore fest in a subterranean Hell. The concept of this book was what drew me in. I love the idea of a man down on his luck thinking he got a big break but finding that what he really got was something far worse than his original problem. Antoine is a great character, you feel sorry for him but at the same time you see that he is not necessarily a good person. In the beginning we see he has a temper that gets him in trouble, he starts to change when he realizes what’s important to him but his anger still causes him problems. I loved how he remembers how he wanted to abandon his family but when he fears for his life his main motivation is to see them one more time.
Joe is another character in the book who has a lot of depth to him. In the beginning you see him as the villain and you hate him for what he did to Antoine. Then you get into his background and realize that he’s doing what he feels he has to do. He’s still a bad person but you understand him You can sympathize with him as you see how his family has put a burden on him and you hear about how his life didn’t turn out for him or his wife. Joe’s main motivation is to keep the family secret and he’s willing to do anything to keep it, even if it means harming what he sees as people who won’t be missed.
My only issue with Broken Shells was the ending, I don’t want to give anything away because until that point it was a great ride. The last part seemed like your standard horror ending and it was a depressing way to end it. That being said the way the story progresses I couldn’t see it ending any other way. This book is well worth your time and its the perfect length. It’s never boring, the violence is described in vivid detail and the action is non-stop. You get all this and Michael Patrick Hicks still manages to add information on Indian mythology along with complex characters and great detail on how what lies beneath lives. What more can you ask for in a horror story?
Hell had come for Daniel Tanner. In a matter of days he lost his son Sam due to a mysterious illness and he separated from his wife who insisted the boy who died was not her son. Daniel feels like his life is over but it’s not and something worse has come to him in the disguise of a stranger. The stranger says Sam didn’t die of a disease, he was taken by a monster and was replaced by a changeling.
We try to tell ourselves that things like that only happen in fairy tales but monsters are real. Children are being kidnapped and replaced by something sinister. Daniel isn’t sure he believes it but he joins a crew of four people to keep what happened to his son from happening to anyone else. There are at least six monsters in town, they have a taste for human flesh and they may be unstoppable.
The Wicked Ones: Children of the Lost by J.Z. Foster is a hard-core unapologetic horror novel. This book is relentless, there’s no comic relief, no reprieve, just dread, despair and maybe a little bit of hope. It starts with what I think is the ultimate horror, the loss of a child but it manages to get even scarier after that. What happens to a man who has lost everything? You find out in this book, Daniel and the others in the group have all lost someone and are psychologically damaged by it. The only thing that’s left for them is to kill the creatures stealing children and put a stop to the pale man who controls them.
I had some issues with this book, at times I felt it went to far in describing the character’s feelings and the creatures who are stalking the small town. I also thought that some of the dream sequences were a little confusing. Though I think what J.Z. Foster was trying to do was make the ultimate horror novel and show you the real world is scary but the scariest things are in your head.
The best part of this book is the characters and watching them deal with what’s happening around them. In one scene Daniel is battling demons in a dream, he starts to have memories of good times with his son but is also thinking about how he lost him and no longer wants to live. Another character, a psychic named Rebekah comes and shows him that they are inside his mind, she points out how vicious his mind is and how our own thoughts are always the worst. In another scene a character named Greg is fighting off monsters, earlier he shows he has little emotion and he’s only thing he’s good at killing, as we see him loose a loved one he breaks down and shows a different side of himself and you see what really motivates him.
The Wicked Ones is a horror novel that works on two levels, it deals with the loss of a loved one and it deals with the loss of sanity. It’s also a book about how dealing with loss changes you, all the characters deal with the worst fear imaginable but they still have hope and want to help others. The worst fear is what is inside their heads and watching them deal with the darkness within is what makes this book good. It goes where most horror stories fear to go and it never lets you catch your breath.
People are fascinated with death because it’s a great mystery. No one knows what or if anything comes after it. We just know it’s the end of life. A few months ago I was offered the chance to read Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths Volume 1 and loved it. So I was happy when I saw there was a Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths Volume 2 available, I jumped at the chance to read it. This book is once again edited by Karen T. Newman and includes some of the authors that were part of the first anthology. Here are a few of my favorite stories from the book:
The Unchosen by Trece Angulo is set in a fantasy world but looks at real world problems. It looks at loosing your faith and what choices you have to make when the things you believed in we’re a lie. In this world everyone worships a queen that is like a dragon. Before the queen dies it lays eggs and only certain young people are chosen to look after the eggs. In their society this is looked at as a huge honor and leads to some big responsibilities, though nothing is as it seems. I loved the ending of this story and would love to see more with these characters. The end felt like a beginning to an epic fantasy adventure.
The Burnings by Michael D. Burnside is a Science Fiction tale that looks at androids and religion. This may be set on another planet but it deals with problems we’ve had in our history. On this planet androids are used to do a lot of the work that is too dangerous for humans, but some androids have been programmed to be too much like humans. A group of religious fanatics have interpreted the bible to mean that androids should be destroyed because they’re in God’s image. What happens when the only one that can save the planet is an android and the religious zealots want to destroy it? This story brings up some great questions on the meaning of existence.
The Tally Bone by Lauren Marrero is about a woman whose husband has just died, leaving her in debt and having to live with all the lies that he told her. One day a strange man shows up at her door wanting the Tally bone back that her husband took from him. this man is not human and he has the power to help the woman or make her life even more miserable. What I really loved about this story is even when the woman sees that her marriage was not what she thought it was she still isn’t willing to part with certain things that bring back memories. I also love the line that the strange man uses on her to get what he wants. Love isn’t always perfect or beautiful. .
Another story in this book which is also about love is My Forever Love by Donna J. Munro. In this tale a man marries his true love but unknown to him the woman is from a cursed bloodline and becomes a ghoul on their wedding day. I loved how even when the woman looses her intellect she still won’t harm her husband and her husband is left with the decision to let his wife bite and infect him or follow her family’s wishes and wait for the cure. In this story true love may not be perfect but it’s still more important than anything else.
Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths Volume 2 is not quite as good as Volume 1 but there are enough good stories here to make this book a must read. You have to love an anthology that can give you well written stories no matter what the genre is and it looks at important issues in addition to death such as love, religion and redemption. Don’t let the idea that this anthology is about death keep you from reading it, there are some great stories here that will really make you think.
Richard Fletcher is the kind of guy who you probably don’t notice if you see him. He is overweight, unpopular with girls and mostly keeps to himself. For entertainment he joined a group of witch hunters but he didn’t believe that witches or black magic was real. Then one night Richard is contacted to take a reporter and cameraman out on a witch hunt and his whole life changes.
Richard was ready to put on a show for the news crew but finds out that everything he thought was a hoax was real. Now not only does he have to save himself, he has to save the reporter and cameraman along with stopping an evil, ancient witch from preying on innocent victims. Richard has to rely on spells and rituals that he thought were fake and find the inner strength that he didn’t know he had to survive the night.
I can’t say enough good things about Witch Hunter Into The Outside by J.Z. Foster. The author paints a vivid picture the way he describes the settings such as the witch’s house and the forest surrounding it. I also liked that he talks about supernatural creatures that I’ve never heard of before such as a mob of sankai and a wight. The fact that I had to look up what these creatures were shows me that J.Z. was trying to keep things original. One of my favorite scenes was when we meet the wight in a dark basement, after the perfect creepy setup we find the wight to be pretty funny, this story is full of surprises.
The best part of the book has to be Richard, he is a self-proclaimed looser and everyone treats him that way. He doesn’t see himself as a hero and doesn’t want to be one. He’s just a guy doing what he feels he has to do. I loved that the two people he was with were his exact opposites making him even more uncomfortable in the face of danger. Ted the cameraman is the athletic type with a bad temper and Beth is a beautiful reporter who is looking for her big break. In the beginning Richard tries to impress them and shows his awkwardness by how he talks and the way he holds himself. You constantly see him get put down which makes him someone you have to root for. The relationship between the three changes throughout the book. Even as Richard proves himself it doesn’t change their feelings towards him or his own feelings towards himself. In one scene that describes Richard well he thinks how he prefers the black and white world of fantasy over the real world with all of its confusing angels.
Witch Hunter Into The Outside is the type of book that shows you how good a horror novel can be. It has great characters, a few good laughs and plenty of scares and suspense. The story is deceptively simple but the relationship between the three main characters along with the witch and his minions are complex. My first thought on the witch was that somehow it was a hoax and he wasn’t very strong. Though little by little you see that isn’t true. This is one of those type of books where the characters are so interesting that the story doesn’t matter. I’m hoping this is the first book in a series because I would love to see these characters again.