Sunday, April 28, 2019

A Paperback From Hell! MANTIS by K.W. Jeter

Publisher TOR
Length 281 pages
Format paperback
Published 1987
Series Standalone
My Copy I bought it


My Review
Mantis is not the kind of 1980's horror book you'd expect, certainly not from the synopsis, nor the sample at the beginning of book which invokes horrifying images of a female mantis devouring her mate shortly after copulation. 

Rather, Mantis, is an intense psychological horror derived from madness and a warped sense of reality, thanks to a schizophrenic subtext and an unreliable narrator. 

Michael Turner is a graphic designer of sorts who seems to have over capitalized on his business venture, with clients slowly departing for his competitors and his estranged wife making things difficult with their son, Michael turns to the red-light district for some escapism from the daily grind. 

It's among the street walkers, pimps, and thugs who own the night that he becomes obsessed with a couple of bar hoping regulars; his namesake, Michael (a tough guy with a penchant for killing women), and Rae (a boyish woman on the night who likes to live on the knife edge between life and death). It's this obsession which leads him into oblivion.

I liked Mantis but did find the reading tough going in the earlier stages of the book. It takes some time getting used to the writing style and then to understand that the book's narrator isn't to be relied upon. However, once everything clicked into place, Mantis didn't disappoint.

My rating: 3/5 stars. Mantis won't appeal to everyone, however I enjoyed the different aspect to 1980's horror this book brought. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Review: THE RAPTOR & THE WREN by Chuck Wendig

Publisher Saga Press
Length 274 pages
Format paperback
Published 2018
Series Miriam Black #5
My Copy I bought it


My Review
"You do not forgive.You act. You change fate. You move the world, one degree at a time. One life saved, another taken. Forgiveness is passive - it is taking your hands off the wheel and letting go. But you never take your hands off the wheel."

Mayhem continues to follow Miriam as she contends with a copy cat killer mimicking her murders; however, this is no run-of-the-mill serial killer, each murder is deftly reconstructed in explicit detail, mirroring Miriam's own grisly encounters with the grim reaper. So much so, that Grosky, the FBI Agent from the previous books, takes an interest in the killings and tries to track down Miriam, hoping she can shed some light on the plague of darkness surrounding her. 

The fifth installment in the Miriam Black series is one of the best; Miriam continues to grow as a character, and her adventures continue to be exciting and unpredictable. 

The continuity with the previous books is strong with characters, either those on the peripheral or adversaries or acquaintances being referenced or making an appearance throughout the course of the book. A degree of familiarity with the earlier books is must, unlike some of the other installments in the series, The Raptor & The Wren does not read well as a standalone.

My rating: 5/5 stars. If you're not reading Miriam Black, you're missing out on a great series of books.

You can read my review of Thunderbird, book 4, HERE


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Review: MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM by Grady Hendrix

Publisher Quirk Books
Length 332 pages
Format paperback
Published 2016
Series standalone
My Copy I bought it


My Review
There's something about horror in the 80's.

On a dark and eerily still night out by a lake house, a split decision results in a teen's life being turned upside down, with trauma resembling PTSD following an ill-fated stumble through dense woods, naked, dazed and disorientated, only to be discovered by her friends in a long ago abandoned and crumbling hunt.

She wasn't there alone. 

Satan has spawned a seed in the bowels of Abby's life long best friend Gretchen - it's up to Abby to save her from eternal damnation and protect her close circle of friends from demonic wrath. 

My Best Friend's Exorcism is a hell of a read, complete with gore and splatter staples of the genre and a group of impressionable teenage girls trying to make sense of this strange world called puberty - oh and one of their members happens to have a demon insider her, minor detail.

The characters are crisp, clean and (as far as this reader can tell), perfect renditions of teens in the 80's. Their emotions are worn on their sleeves, while their insecurities remain hidden behind the warpaint they use to conceal acne. A somewhat coming of age story rides Abby's exhaust fumes, however it's the horror and 80's nostalgia which really steals the show. 

The linear narratives allows for a quick read which never misses a beat. Each chapter is short, punchy, and straight to the point - there's a lot to like. 

My rating: 5/5 stars. Highly recommend.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Review: THUNDERBIRD by Chuck Wendig

Publisher Saga Press
Length 336 pages
Format Hardback
Published 2017
Series Miriam Black #4
My Copy I bought it


My Review
"So violent. Like a feral cat. We like that about you Miriam. You get things done. We hope you stay on board with us for a long time. We'd hate to see you go. Though we do have one helluva severance package for you when the time comes - " 


Miriam's plight to purge her curse takes a turn for the worse when her world and that of an 8yr boy, collide, causing a ripple effect sure to permeate throughout Miriam's remaining days. 

Supernatural and urban-fantasy elements steadily become more paramount in the fourth installment of the foul speaking, ass-kicking Miriam Black series, yet the undertones of horror remain strong - there are some truly gut churning scenes thanks to Miriam's strengthened ability to share conscience with her avian allies. 

There's a bit of back and forth as the plot pushes and pulls Miriam between salvation and slaughter progressively building towards a draw-dropping ending more akin to a punch in the face than a full stop at the end of a sentence. Wow. 

My rating: 4/5 stars. Such a fun series. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Review: OUR LADY OF THE INFERNO by Preston Fassel

Publisher Fangoria
Length 376 pages
Format paperback
Published 2018
Series standalone
My Copy I bought it


My Review


For those with loose morals and cash in their pocket, the Deuce in the 80's was an adults playground. 

Pimps, prostitutes, horror movies, drugs, comic books and murder all play a part in the melting pot of life on 42nd street in author Preston Fassel's debut novel.  

Our Lady of the Inferno hooked me right off the bat. First with that cover (which has some nice ties to the story itself) and then with the characters who populate this prominently polluted and perverse playground, which, unlike most genre-tales, showcases its horrors in broad daylight. 

The protagonist (prostitute and mother-hen to her pimps' gang of streetwalkers) Ginny Kurva is the glue that binds the noir elements to the horror. By virtue of this dangerous profession, her brood unwittingly put themselves at risk of gore splatter slaughter; prime targets for a sacrificial ceremony by the hand of an unstable and unsuspecting serial killer. 

Macabre, intense, and beautifully written, Our Lady of the Inferno is a must read for horror enthusiasts.

My rating: 5/5 stars.  

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Paperback form Hell! THE NIGHT TRAIN by Thomas F. Monteleone

Publisher Arrow
Length 337 pages
Format paperback
Published 1987
Series Standalone
My Copy I bought it


My Review
Lacked cohesion and identity. Started out resembling a ghost story following the ill fated disappearance of train and its passengers in early 1900's deep in the catacombs of the New York subway system only to morph into a battle against hell incarnate. 

Despite it's shortcomings Night Train is a lot of fun. The cast of characters is diverse yet familiar for 80's horror with a cop, a reporter, and a specialist of the occult, banding together to ward off the eternal evils dwelling in the bowels of the city. 


The combination of crime and horror worked really well to give the story an added layer of depth with a semblance of realism; short-lived but appreciated.

Published in 1987, the Night Train left the door ajar for more horrors beneath the city that never sleeps, but I can't find anymore by the author directly relating to this particular cast of characters/concept.


My rating: 4/5 stars. If you like 80's retro horror, this one ain't bad.  



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Review: ALICE by Christina Henry

Publisher Titan Books
Length 304 pages
Format ebook
Published 2015
Series The Chronicles of Alice #1
My Copy I bought it


My Review

A Harrowing and horrifying re-imagining of the popular children's tale.

Through a labyrinth of lunacy in survival-like horror, we follow the perilous plight of Alice and her asylum acquaintance and muscle-bound protector Hatcher as they traverse and contend with the many dangers present in the Old City, a place where death lurks around every cobbled corner and every stranger in the street lusts for that slick-edged slice of reality to take the pain away. 

Alice is a dark book which takes all that is nightmare-ish and turns it into a linear free flowing narrative with a fragile yet resourceful protagonist who immediately captures the heart and mind. Each trial and tribulation, each bump in the road and fight to the death is felt by the reader as Alice and Hatcher steadily make their way through innumerable horrors. 

I thought this retelling was a great concept. The play on characters is perfect and the story feels larger than just Alice which gives the book a meaty and 'complete' feel.  

My rating: 5/5, this wonderland isn't for children. Highly recommend. 

Friday, April 5, 2019

Pick of the Month [March 2019]

Continuing with my genre of choice for 2019, 8 of the 10 books I read in March were horror. Which, coincidentally, is the blood-spattered, nightmare inducing genre of which my pick of the monthly rightly belongs...



Make no mistake, this book is not for the faint of heart and its all the better for it. I was craving something straight from a nightmare to rattle me and scare the goosebumps right off my skin and Brian Kirk certainty delivered with his terrifying tale of a book of death. 


In other books, I earlier deemed March 2019, to be my Miriam Black March Madness Month - the plan was to reread the first 3 books in the series before delving into the second 3 which were waiting patiently on my tbr shelf. Despite my good intentions, things didn't quite work out but I did manage to reread the first 3 books in Blackbirds, Mockingbird, and The Cormorant, all 5-star reads and a hell of a lot of fun, perhaps even more-so the second time around. 


Perhaps the most surprising (in a very pleasant way) book I read in March was the incredible sci-fi novel by Charlie Jane Anders, The City in the Middle of the Night published by Titan Books (2019). Not since 2018's Blackfish City by Sam J Miller has a novel captured my imagination and enveloped me in a complete shroud of the other worldly as The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders by virtue of its intricate and epic world building. 

Other notable reads included a Paperback from Hell, The Sphinx by horror grand-master Graham Masteron, A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, and an Australia dystopian novel by Marlee Jane Ward, Prisoncorp, published by Seizure (2019).   

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Review: STRANGER THINGS: WORLDS TURNED UPSIDE DOWN

Publisher Century
Length 223 pages
Format Hardcover
Published 2018
Series Standalone
My Copy I bought it


My Review
Essential reading for fans of the popular Netflix TV series who want to take a peak behind the curtains to see how the show is produced and learn about the actors who make the characters so enjoyable to watch on the small screen. 

Focusing on the first two seasons with a sneak of what's to come in season 3, Worlds Turned Upside Down is a great source of information. It delves into the writing, production, and post production process to give the reader a well-rounded look inside the hive mind that birthed the nostalgic horror/supernatural 80's throwback series. 

Accompanying the facts are some interesting footnotes of the influences which contributed to the look and feel of the series, but one of the real strengths of this book is the art; locale photos, action shots (with detailed explanation about the filming process), costume design, and storyboards to name a few. 

My rating: 5/5 stars. Worlds Turned Upside Down is a fun, easy to read coffee table companion to the series proper. A must read for fans.