Sunday, 27 December 2015

Book review - Where The Dead One's Play - Kyle M Scott.


Where The Dead One's Play is a re-release of Kyle M Scott's original title - Protection, having been released through Matt Shaw Publications. Shaw gives us a nice introduction to the book, explaining how it all came about and a reflection on his own supernatural experiences with writing.

The story is based around widowed, struggling horror writer; James Kember, and his son Eddie. Kember, a single parent since losing his wife; Mary, during complications whilst birthing Eddie.

Despite battles with alcohol and borderline depression, Kember has raised his son to the very best of his ability, and is an intensely proud father, vowing to offer protection wherever needed to his son. The struggles of everyday life, and battling his demons has resulted in him becoming a writer that is unable to write.

When a nine year old girl; Lillith Sinclair is reported missing from their home town in Oregon, a dark and sinister story begins to unfold.

So what did I think? I thought it was a top notch horror story. Scott has proven that he can do the supernatural scary angle with his book; Devil's day. He has shown that he can do the contemporary, Body Snatchers style story with his book; Aftertaste. His contribution to Carnage proves he has no problem with the extreme. Where The Dead One's Play demonstrates further, that his diverse writing ability can cater for the dark, suspenseful and brooding horror fan.

This book is something else, it really is so well written. Kyle has the ability to offer up a simple sentence, yet make it jump from the page in a dramatic way; 

'If hatred be a conduit for the perpetution of vengeance, then Lillith's wraith may need no other explanation for its existence.'

I've made reference to his brilliant writing being similar to the late, great Richard Laymon. This book further demonstrates that similarity.

The story is a dark, twisted tale of deceit, lies and revenge, and sometimes touches on subjects that some other authors may have shyed away from. Any parent will truly feel the anguish portrayed within Kember's character, but will also sympathise with the underlying theme throughout the book. At times it can really make for an uncomfortable read, whilst staying completely realistic.

This isn't a story thats full of blood and gore, its a story where superb writing and believable characters create a world that is truly terrifying. You can have a guess at where you think the story will go next, and perhaps it will, but then it throws off at a tangent and comes back at a completely different angle. 

In summary, an absolutely fantastic read from an up and coming force in horror literature. I can't give any less than 5/5 for this effort.

Give it a go, a good, solid release through an exciting new publisher.


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Book review- Killing Christmas - Mark Parker


This book by Mark Parker caught my eye. Being the beginning of the Christmas holiday season, I thought I would give it a go. Following on from Parker's contribution towards his own previous Halloween collection; Dark Hallows, I enjoyed his style of writing and almost knew straight away that this book would be as good.

After being included in another Christmas collection myself this year; The Dichotomy of Christmas, this story may have been a great addition. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. 

It is the night before Christmas eve. Doug  Connolly is headed home for the holidays with his family. His brother, sister and recovering alcholic father. His mother had left many years ago due to his fathers absuve behaviour towards her.

On his way to the family home in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Doug stops off at a rest stop to use the bathroom, where he has a run in with a man in a Santa costume who asks if he may borrow his movile phone as his van has broken down. Begrudgingly, Doug accepts and leaves the man alone for a few moments to make a phonecall for a recovery service. 

When Doug discovers a young man, brutally murdered a few moments later, and the man dressed as Santa has fled the scene, he panics and heads into town to his family house.

It soon becomes apprent that the murder wasn't an isolated incident, and that certain members of the community within his hometown are more than they appear to be.

In summary; another absolutely brilliant story by Parker. From the offset, he really manages to start laying the foundations for building the suspense within the story. It is quite dark and eerie in the right places. He writes with a style that is so easy to read, his poise is effortless. His characters are always strong and the dialogue well written.

If youre looking for a short, enjoyable, and at times, tongue in cheek read this Christmas, please check this one out.

My rating 5/5


Monday, 21 December 2015

Book review - Project Apex - Michael Bray


I have been meaning to pick this book up for a while now, yet every time I thought I had put aside some spare time, to really give it the attention that it deserved, something has managed to crop up to prevent it. Eventually, I managed to pick it up and pretty much devoured it in one go, I truly struggled to put it down, it really is that gripping.

When a friendly basketball match at Camp Bland; a military training facility in Florida, goes wrong and 67 soldiers are butchered by just a few men, questions are asked and the sinister reality behind a secret government project; Project Apex begins to unfold.

Tracing back from a new breed of monkey found in the Kongo, Richard Draven discovers the Timika Tribe. A tribe that seemingly, has amazing immunity to ilness.

Scientist; Robert Genaro is tasked with researching and developing cell regeneration, the plan, to create the perfect soldier. A soldier that is impervious to pain or cold. One that doesn't require food or sleep, is mentally superior and doesn't age. Perfect for the modern military, right? Wrong.

The serum is a virus, it acts upon its host like a parasite, increasing aggresion levels and testosterone to dangerous levels; roid rage.
It quickly becomes apparent that the virus is contagious, it can be spread via saliva or blood, bringing the world a whole new threat of terror.

A rogue team of soldiers, led by Joshua Cook, become hell bent on developing a new age of evolution, they kidnap Genaro and infect him to help them develop the virus; to become an enhanced level of civilisation. A civilisation no longer plagued with death, disease or hunger. 

As the story unfolds, Joshua intends to share his 'gift' with the world, he loses any interest in his own mortality and his arrogance forces American President; Ron Fitzgerald into action.

So, what did I think of the story? I thought it was absolutely phenomenal. It is told from various locations from all around the world, with aspects from many different characters; Government officials, scientists, soldiers, two young Iraqi brothers. Even the cleaner from Genaro's lab gets in on the dialogue to share his theories from beneath his tin foil hat.

The size, and scale of the story must have taken absolutely ages to map out and research. What's impressive, is that at no point does Bray attempt to make any shortcuts with the story development or dialogue. Its all in there, in abundance.

I have read another book involving 'enhanced' military personnel; Afraid, by Jack Kilborn. I was interested as I began this book to see how the similarities would pan out. There were none, it was taken in a totally different, and somewhat unexpected direction.

This is a monumental project for Bray, it sees him making that transition from his previous day job to full time author. You can see from Project Apex that he has been using his time constructively. I have also noticed a trend in the subject of his last few releases, lending itself more away from the traditional horror genre and into more thrill based territory. Not that I'm complaining. Based on the quality of this book, he has nothing to fear moving forward. I, for one, applaud him for this effort. Bring on Eradication. 

I would give it six if I could, but I can't. So five out of five for me. A late contender for a top three book of the year.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Book review - Juniper's Shadow - Fiona Dodwell


Leighton Banks is a 29 year old guy living with his partner; Jessica, heavily pregnant and the main bread winner in the relationship, due to him walking out of his previous job at Adam's General Store. A job that he hated, a boss that he didn't like, and stuck in a rut of demeaning, degrading duties.

With the support of Jessica, Leighton persues his life long ambition to set up his own music store, one that will indulge his true passion; the store is to specialise in rare and obscure music. 

His childhood and upbringing by his father; a salt of the earth guy who enjoyed life's simple pleasures, laid the foundation for his love of music. His taste catered to the wide, wonderful and sometimes weird.

Whilst at a record fair in Drury Lane, Leighton picks up a few collectable items, and stumbles across a small store that is selling un-marked and seemingly worthless vinyl. Almost passing the store by, his interest is sparked when he finds a copy of a record called 'Juniper's Shadow' by an artist called Victor Marlow from the mid 1940's. Initially the trader is reluctant to sell the pressing because of its sinister history, this is where the story kicks off.

Being a short story, I can't really give too much away, but I can guarantee that in a few pages, Fiona creates a twisted little tale of tragedy that will really get under your skin.

The most difficult thing to do with a short story is to create characters that the reader can connect with, and are believable. Dodwell does this effortlessly. Her writing is flawless, this story caters for what I suspect is two of her own passions - music and the macabre.

If, like me, you are a vinyl head; 3000 odd records stacked up in the garage may confirm that, then this story will really ignite a spark within you. There is nothing quite like the feel of holding that sleeve in your hands, you can feel the texture, inhale the aroma of the vinyl, enjoy the crackling sound as the stylus bears into the cutting; pure ecstasy.

This is only the second thing that I have read from Fiona Dodwell, the other was her contribution towards The Dichotomy of Christmas - The Wassall. A story that I already had placed in my top three from the book. I enjoy her style of writing, colourful and intense descriptives really paint a picture in just a few words. She is a talented writer, no doubt about that, and one who's work I will be persuing further.

My rating for Juniper's Shadow - 5/5. Eerily spectacular. My recommendation; go read it, then persue Fiona's new book - Nails. I will be.

 

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Book review - Matt Shaw - Into The Woods





Something a little different from extreme horror author, Matt Shaw as he offers up his first thriller.


Scott Hunter, his wife, Joanne and their two boys; Michael (18) and Arran (20) opt for a camping holiday. Being used to holidays abroad, this came as a shock to his family but Scott didn’t get the bonus at work that he had been hoping for. Arran was going away to join the Navy and Scott wanted one last piece of quality family time.


They decide upon Camp Crustal Lake, a premier commercial camping site. After a disastrous experience with directions and being dumped in a signal black spot, they (or Scott) decide to set up camp in a field, claiming that it will be a more realistic camping experience.


Scott and Joanne go shopping for provisions, and leave the boys to put up their tent. Upon their return, the boys have been joined by a couple of strangers; Tim and Shaun, the owners of the land. Scott offers them payment for camping, but they decline and state that they are going to set up camp as well, as they were in the middle of a camping trip. The group sense that there is something a little off about Tim.


As the evening progresses, the discussion turns to the subject of hunting and there is an exchange of words between the two groups. Scott fabricates a telephone call from his office, stating that there is a problem that they require him to resolve and that they need to leave the following morning.


The two men warn the group not to venture into the woods as there was a hunt in progress. When everyone wakes up the next morning, the two boys, Michael and Arran are missing. There is only one direction that they could have headed..


I enjoyed this story, it was full of tension, and twists and doesn’t stand still. A couple of scenes are extremely gritty. A great thriller.



Thursday, 26 November 2015

Book review - Whispers Volume 2 - Stuart Keane


So here we have it. The eagerly anticipated follow up to Stuart Keane’s first collection; he brings us Whispers Volume 2.

Once again, we see the artist Mark Kelly providing the artwork for the truly mesmerising cover. Once again, we have a collection of short stories, varying in length and content. Some are completely original stories, never seen before, and others are Stuart’s submissions to previous writing collections.

So.

I started this book with bated breath. Let me first explain why; for me, the first collection, Whispers Volume 1 was a collection that I loved from start to finish. Every story was unique, different and terrifying in its own way. I’m well aware of Keane’s writing ability, for me, it was a case of whether this volume would stand up to the quality of the first, and possibly even surpass it?

Yes, it can. This collection is at least as good, in some cases better. Stories like Urban Legend, Hodmedod, and The Tale Of Sandie Barker show that he can put his unique, contemporary stamp on any traditional horror story. Stories like Animocalypse and Falling Apart, showcase his broad imagination and diverse skill of poprtraying any situation to be a believable scenario. Casualty of War and Bedroom Secrets are not traditional horror, but they are testament to Keane’s grasp of that crossover between real life and horror. He makes  it explode in your face in the form of terrifying, yet realistic fiction. My hat’s off again. This man continues to astound me with the quality of every release. My rating 5/5

We open the collection with a foreword from none other than Mark Parker, giving some good insights into the work that he has done with Keane previously, and a couple of good points on publishing platforms and indie publishers

The stories;

The Tale Of Sandie Barker.

Two friends Alex and Mike are out driving when they stumble upon Widow’s Peak. A remote location, where a young woman was said to be have been raped and killed when she broke down in her car. On the anniversary of her death she is said to return, with a violent death to anyone that sees her. A tragic ghost story, with a nice twist, and a brilliant way to open the collection.

Urban Legend.

Three people, a stripper called Angela, a bum called Bob and a fat pig called Edward, find themselves in a precarious situation by an unknown captor. Their imprisoner talks of the Legend of Regurgitation, or LegReg. It caters for three types of people. Expect blood, gluttony, vomit and other bodily fluids, Bourbon and a bucket. A sick and twisted little number. Also, one of my favourites in the collection.

Animalocalypse.

The town of Barrington is under siege. The stench of death is pungent on the streets. It is truly hell on earth. Buildings are on fire, cars and trucks are being overturned, the army are fighting a losing battle, but with who? Follow a small group of survivors, attempting to fight back against an enemy, where they are vastly outnumbered. Expect a few parts that will truly get beneath your skin, and a nice twist.

Bedroom Secrets.

Richard and Lisa are an unhappily married couple. She often daydreams, thinking back to her once perfect wedding day, and dream husband. Now, her only enjoyment in life is her pet Labrador – Twinkie. Money and an unhealthy addiction to junk food leads to Richard treating Lisa as a prisoner in her own home. A real shocker of an ending in the ultimate tale of manipulation and control. This is one that will definitely stay with you.

Falling Apart.

Abbi has a run in with a tramp, where a chance exchange of fluids leads to her contracting a rare type of disease. The doctors class it as a mutated strain of leprosy, and give her only three weeks to live. She is told that she will start to lose body parts, however she will feel no pain. She asks if she can see her remaining time out with her long term partner – Sarah. Expect a shocker of a story, filled with gore and yucky moments. The finish will leave you with your mouth agape.

Casualty Of War.

John Dixon was a Vietnam War veteran. Enlisted to service in 1967. Twenty years on, he is still re living the horrors of Operation Firefox - a mission that went disastrously wrong, leading to the massacre of his platoon and friend Rollins. A real testament to the horrors that war can inflict on people, and the after effects. Once more, a dark shocker with a nasty ending.

The Swan Song

Meet Lobes, Geist, Zhang and Hunter. A four piece Metal band called Bethesda. We catch up with them just as they are finishing a gig at Brixton Academy. They are jumping on their tour bus, where they will be having a post gig party with a couple of groupies; Reign and Melanie. The band are on their way to Reading, to headline at the Reading Show, their last ever gig – their Swan Song. Sex, blood gore, shocks, laughs and a surprise cameo by a certain man named Kyle. Great fun from start to finish, and my pick from the stories.

Hodmedod 

Friends, Nicolas and Paul wake up after their friend James’ bachelor party, a night filled with booze, drugs and strippers in London. Strangely enough, they wake up with their hands and wrists bound and pillow cases over their heads. A great, creepy story of betrayal and revenge.

So there is my review. My recommendation - go and download it.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Book review - The Shaun Hupp Collection


For Shaun Hupp’s latest release he has gathered his back catalogue of horror stories (excluding The Jackal series) into one volume. If, like me, you have read Hupp’s work before this, it's a great chance to re-familiarise yourself with his writing and have the collection in one book. For anyone not familiar with his work, this would be a great place to start with a collection for such good value.

The Collection consists of four stories :

 

I Will Make You Love Me – An Extreme Tale of Sex, Lies & Duct Tape

 

Megan Weber left Nick, her older boyfriend and ex teacher, when she realised that she had feelings for women. She thought that he was over their separation, until twelve months later when she wakes up after being drugged with his gun in her mouth. After Nick had risked his career, left his wife after Megan had told him that she had loved him, he was ready to pop the question, only for her to leave him in the lurch for another woman. This is a gritty, tense story of obsession and betrayal . The story builds well, some great dialogue and a killer of an ending.

 

The Worst Kind Of Monster

 

A young boy, Dustin, is disturbed in his sleep by sounds coming from below the house in the basement. He tries to convince his parents who send him back to bed refusing to listen to his make-belief. Taking his trusted flashlight, he goes searching when he hears the noises again, only to find something a lot more shocking than he could have possibly imagined. This is a great story, with good, vivid descriptions. Some of the content could be described as controversial, but it adds to the story and isn’t over the top. Expect some brutal material.

 

Last Words

 

Gwen wakes up with her boyfriend, Hank in a run down apartment. Both of them are bound by their arms and legs by an unknown captor. He has one objective – to record the dying words of a loving couple. After realisation that their captor is the taxi driver that picked them up after an anniversary meal together, things start to unfold. Revelations are discovered, and it becomes apparent that this killer has a strange phobia. One which ultimately leads to Gwen managing to escape alive. After the incident she moves into a new home, trying to put the incident behind her, only for her nightmares to return. Again, a great story with some great plot twists and dialogue.

 

Pound – An Extreme Horror Tale of Sex, Blood & Fast Food

 

Where do I start with this? This was the only book in the collection that I hadn’t previously read, and definitely my favourite. I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to being shocked, but this one SHOCKED me.

This book has layered plot lines. One, about a lonely woman - Trish. Cheating on her husband, a successful business man for the fifth time, with, whoever threw her the most attention from the collection of talent in her office. The other is a bit of a loser called Matt. A connoisseur of fast food, and partial to internet porn. When two strangers turn up at their respective houses, a brutal and shocking series of circumstances begin to unfold. There is a constant switching of character perspectives, that I have seen writers try before, but struggle to pull off without being confusing, Hupp pulls this off effortlessly.

 

In addition to the four books, Hupp introduces a wrap-around situation between the stories to connect them. Emrys Sarlic is a man on a subway train, he has tales to tell. His only need is to find people to follow his power of suggestion. In my opinion, a really nifty way of bringing the collection together to flow into each other, and a genius climax to close the collection.

In summary; For me, this really highlights the strengths in Hupp’s writing ability and shows that he has a diverse and sometimes scary imagination. 

In my opinion, his two best strengths are his ability to take a fairly simple scenario and manage to shape it into something twisted and scary. His character dialogue is faultless. The other, is that after all is said, you read his stories and you are compelled and disgusted, however the reader cannot deny the underlying tone of dark, dark humour that he manages to interlace with each and every piece of work.

 

As a collection, my rating 5/5 – Just go get it, you won’t regret it. Great job Mr Shaun Hupp.


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

New release soon


It was an absolute honour to be asked to write for this one. The list of contributers speaks for itself.

Due to be released November 28th with all proceeds going to the Animal Rescue Foundation.

Monday, 2 November 2015

New book released today - Behind Closed Doors


A new anthology is released today - Behind Closed Doors. Set in a luxurious apartment complex, each of the writers take you into their own little world within their apartments.

Stories from Matt Shaw, Ian Woodhead, Paul Flewitt, Andrew Lennon, Michael Bray, Shaun Hupp, Craig Saunders, Mr E.Jones and yours truly.

It has gone straight to the #1 spot on its day of release. Grab your copy here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B013BRDMY4/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1446485198&sr=1-1&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=Matt+hickman&dpPl=1&dpID=61VCskwJhlL&ref=plSrch

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Book review - Grin - Stuart Keane


Before I proceed, I just want to say, look at that cover image. That's enough to give anyone nightmares to begin with.

For Keane's latest offering we follow the story of seventeen year old Dani.

Dani leads the normal life of a teenager, raised by her parents, Dennis and Carla to respect family values. Even if it does mean her having to put up with her annoying eight year old brother; Teddy.

Life is good. She has a steady boyfriend, Ben, and her father has just given her the present that any teenager could wish for - the keys to his BMW.

Unfortunately for Dani, this is where things really take a turn for the worse. Unknown to her, her fathers involvement with a notorious London gangster, Ross Rhodes leads to the order being given for home invasion by Bradley, his right man.

The invasion leaves Dani's family executed and her as the only survivor, brutally disfigured by her attacker.

Twelve months on and Dani's physical scars have healed, however she has become a woman with a mission in life, one goal - revenge. 

The story is quite cleverly split up into three parts; 

1. Consequences.
2. Best Laid Plans.
3. Vengeance.

I don't want to give any spoilers to the story, but I can say that from the outset that this book is one hell of a thrilling ride. 

The character background is written so well that you actually feel for Dani. The story builds as a steady crescendo through the first two parts until an explosion in part three that literally left me physically breathless.

Expect a brilliant story, fantastic characters, blood, gore and unbelievable action scenes. I beta read this story in one sitting, I'm fairly sure that you will too, because once you start, you won't want to put it down. 

Its the littler things with Keane's writing, that attention to detail that make him stand out as a writer;

'He looked like a modernized version of Death, his scythe replaced with a pump action shotgun.'

Ive said it before, i will say it again. Stuart Keane is a remarkable writer and a brilliant story teller. I can't give enough praise for this book. A phenomenal accolade to his collection.








Monday, 26 October 2015

Book review - Dark Hallows - Mark Parker


Any fan of horror literature will probably agree that Halloween is an exciting time of year. There are always going to be a number of special releases for readers to feast their eyes upon. Why not opt for a fantastic short story collection with a Halloween theme?This new collection is one  for readers who love short, chilling stories.

The book is a collection of ten dark tales from authors that are well established, and more than capable of giving the reader a fright. If, like me, you enjoy Halloween this is the perfect book for you to help you get in that mood.

I would really recommend this book to anyone. It has everything that a good collection needs; Dark twists, macabre characters and scares galore. The fantastic cover immediately grabs your attention and each story is presented with a unique image relating to the tale and a great foreword by Mark.

The stories;

Mister Parker – A story about Benjamin Parker. A man that lived a simple life; he has no wife, no kids, he is a teacher at the local school. He has two things in life that he loves – books and astronomy. He absolutely hates Halloween because of a previous incident involving his father. He arrives home on Halloween evening feeling unwell, he goes to bed with a book. He is awoken when someone rings the doorbell. Is it the local juvenile’s playing pranks, or something more sinister?

The Maze – Four friends visit a local attraction, a corn maze run by the mysterious Miss Mackenzie. Follow Dozelle, Adam, Sean and Ashley in their journey through the corn. Ancient Celts believed that the evil ‘Sidh’ return for sacrifice during Samhain. This is an incredibly tense, creepy story.

Monster Night – Jonathan’s mom takes pride every year in making his Halloween costume. His mom’s friend tells him the story of the ‘pumpkin eater.’ Not a man that likes to consume pumpkins, somewhat the opposite.

Johnny Halloween – The sheriff of a small town comes across a convenience store where the clerk has been murdered. Two eye witnesses claim that they saw the killer – a man in a mask. He begins to recall his first shooting as the story unfolds with a fantastic twist.

All Souls Day – A unique, dark tale about the town of Orangefield as viewed from the perspective of a hawk. Three lives must be given in a tribute to the dark one every Halloween, taken by the hawk. But what happens when someone kills the bird?

Starting Early – The story of a woman - Miss Maggie. A woman who is preparing for Halloween. She must get the preparation done early along with the help of her little friend Cecily and her trusty iphone. Upon returning home one night she thinks that she has been burgled. Watch for another superb twist.

Freight Train Tommy – A horror story set in rural Austrialia about a boy – Luke. Luke visits the local librarian after being bullied at school by Sammy because of his super hero costume. She gives him a blank page from a book to read when, claiming that he will know when it is the right time to read. As the freight train thunders into town, so does Tommy. A very creepy little number.

There Are Corners In The World Where Lost Things Gather – Possibly my favourite story of the collection. A story about two brothers growing through life together, gaining the interest of girls and experimenting with things that they shouldn’t be. Its Halloween, they decide begrudgingly to try trick or treating. Bored, they decide to up the ante by heading to the Draeger House. A fantastic story - Imagine Stand By Me, mixed with The Frighteners.

The Under the Tutelage of Mr Trueheart – Ten year old schoolboy Warren Enck strikes up an unlikely friendship with an elderly gentleman; Mr Trueheart, after helping him out through the cubs. Mr Trueheart has a gift. A gift to see people as they really are.  Its Halloween, Warren is on the way to the old man’s house, his face painted in white greasepaint. Between themselves they are on a mission to save the world, Mr Truehart is to entrust Warren with two items of great value.

The Darkest Night Of The Year – Roeselyn Saunders awakes early one morning, its nearly dawn. She shudders as she remembers that tomorrow is Halloween. She hates what her Mother refers to as ‘the dark holiday’ following a fright that she suffered at a young age - the result of a cruel prank. She wakes the next morning feeling shaky from a bad dream. She decides to head out and run some chores. She looks forward to getting home and locking herself away in her bedroom with a good book. When she gets back she has a shock when she finds a makeshift grave, complete with headstone in for front garden. Shaking with dread she runs to bed, a few hours later she hears a knock at her door. When she looks out of her window to investigate, what she sees makes her pass out with fear.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Book review - Wings Of Sorrow - Iain Rob Wright


For Iain's latest offering we return to Redlake. A town that readers of Wright's books will already be aware of. Let me just start by saying that at first, I was unsure whether this story would be my cup of tea. By the end of the book I was totally blown away.

We follow the story of sixteen year old Scarlet Thomas. Scarlet lives with her father, a single parent, following her mother walking out on her own family mysteriously some ten years previous.

They had relocated to Redlake following her dad losing his previous job in their hometown of Moseley. His insecurities in his new job had subsequently led to him becoming a workaholic, his love for his child unquestionable, but his need to provide for her greater than the time that they spent together.

Since moving to Redlake, Scarlet hadn't made many friends. Her social circle mainly consisted of her boss Mr Chester and her colleague Indy where she worked in the Little Treasures Emporium. A shop on the High Street that sold rare books and artefacts. Scarlet had once taken liking to a necklace, that her employer had sold to her with an agreement that payment would be deducted from her wages in instalments.

On her way home from work one evening, Scarlet walks down by the lake and helps and finds a man on the banks; Alone, confused, naked.

This sparks the beginning of an unlikely companionship with the man that she names 'Sorrow.' As the story unfolds, Sorrow proclaims that he has been sent to protect Scarlet.

Not to give too much away with this, the story will contain demons, witches and a secret society called the White Order. As Scarlet's powers awaken, It unfolds nicely. Why did Scarlet's mother really disappear? Who is the real Mister Chester?

The story swerves and twists right up to the finale where Scarlet has to make the ultimate decision to sacrifice one life in exchange for many.

I would have this down as a crossover between supernatural horror and fantasy. Something that I was unsure about at first, but thoroughly enjoyed.

 









Saturday, 24 October 2015

Book review. N Is For Nightmare - Iain Rob Wright


Norman 'Noddy' Shakespear was pretty much your average nineteen year old. He worked, he drove, he lived with his mom who he paid rent. 

Ever since his ex girlfriend; Michelle had dumped him six months ago he enjoyed going out, having fun, getting drunk, getting high.

Tonight, he hadn't intended going mad, maybe a few pints. That was until he had bumped into Gaz. 

Now Gaz was always a bad influence, but he was always guaranteed to have the best gear. Following an alcohol and ecstasy fuelled evening, the boys meet a couple of birds. 

In a mess, Noddy somehow manages to drive home. Having not eaten since lunch he raids the fridge for leftovers, when he meets another girl. A younger girl, holding a dead cat....

Iain returns to his A to Z with this little cracker. A great story, with a nice twist.

Monday, 12 October 2015

New release available now

Available now for digital download or paperback from Amazon

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B015URXLXK/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1444637338&sr=1-1&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=Matt+hickman&dpPl=1&dpID=51iNYYlOqTL&ref=plSrch

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Book Review - The Island - Michael Bray


The story starts in 2018 and introduces the character Damian Lomar. A man looking to take the reigns of the Lomar Corporation from his father; Jackson.

Damian has a vision. A vision of producing an island. A totally man made structure. A natural habitat for creatures of the world to exist in peace, away from the polluted cities. 

Forward to 2043. The pollution in the city is worse and the economy is broken. People cannot find work. Enter Chase Riley. A man desperate to find work to support his wife Ashley and terminally ill daughter Elsie. Elsie, now nine was diagnosed with lung cancer when she was five years old. Chase himself is becoming more concerned at his ever worsening cough.

Damian Lomar publicly announces that he wants to re-open the island after ten years. He has the idea of producing a reality TV show. The concept is simple; Survive the island, travel from one side to the other and one person can win whatever prize they desire. Money, publicity. In a world where Chase can find a cure for his daughter for the right price, he attempts to enter the competition, only to have his suspicions confirmed about his own failing health. 

The first six contestants are assembled and meet up with Damian Lomar before travelling to the island; Chase, Moses, Perrie, Ryder, Ellie,  and Alex. They are about to go head to head in a competition that signing a waiver could ultimately result in signing their own death warrant. 

Nobody knows for sure who or what is on the island. As the competitors are dropped in the safe zone and camp overnight, rumours of radiation contaminated mutants, and ghosts emerge. 

As they proceed, it seems that things are not as straight forward as they first thought as they get involved in the thrill of the hunt. But who is hunting who? It soon becomes clear which of the contestants have survival experience as the group begin to acknowledge to themselves that survival may not be an option. 

A rollercoaster of a read. Thrills, scares, excitement, cannibalism, betrayal, this story has it all. It will keep you hooked from the start and throughout. An absolutely huge achievement for Michael Bray. An absolutely massive book, not in terms of page count but in terms of the colossal story.

As in his previous Cody Rexell and the death worm, Bray has proven once more that he is a varied and talented writer. 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Book review - Devils Day - Kyle M Scott


Right, where do I start with this? Its not often that I'm stuck for something to say, but this book left me speechless!!

Welcome to Halloween 1984, Blackhaven, A sleepy little town where nothing exciting really happens. However the town has a dark secret. A secret that one of the old time residents, Mr Winslow is more than happy to share with anyone that will listen.

Our story follows the Somerville family. Teenager Emma, her younger brother Timmy, and their mom and dad. Timmy loves Halloween, the whole town is getting ready for the festivities when it is hit my a storm, its also hit by a series of unwelcome newcomers.

I don't want to say too much and give anything away with this book as its a fantastic and entirely gripping story. As the plot unfolds, so does the carnage right up to a fantastic climax that will leave you open mouthed.

Two things struck me about this story; How well the scene is set. It really manages to capture and pull you into that feeling of an 80s retro style scary movie, and the non-linear story line. Just as you think you have it sussed, it throws off into a different direction  and someone you think may be safe cops it in the most horrible manner.

I have read other pieces by this author but as Devils Day is his first full length novel, I thought that this would be the best place to start. With that in mind, I will be 100% pursuing this writers work. His intense and accurate descriptions stand out, no, leap out and jump down your throat.

In summary, an absolutely fantastic book. Brilliant character build up, compelling story line and in parts, truly horrifying. Any true horror fan should have this in their collection.

Don't take my word for it, go read it.



Thursday, 24 September 2015

Book review - Pride. Even Hell Has Standards. Chantal Noorderloos


This was the first delve into this particular author's work as I wanted to reduce the backlog of reading material I had before adding to it.

I started with Pride as it was a fairly short book and i wanted to get a  flavour for her style of writing and perspective. 

Adolf Zakerny has been a bad bad man in life. He is a serial killer of children nicknamed the baby butcher. Although he didn't quite get to his target figure of a 1000. He certainly did enough to guarantee himself a place in hell.

This is where things get interesting in the story, as Chantal takes us through a potentially different look and set of circumstances that everyone believes to be Hell. Adolf believes his evil and depravity in life will secure him a place in service of Lucifer in Hell. Sure he is evil, but Lucifer is not as he seems. The upshot being that Adolf must make the ultimate decision between retribution and his own Hell. Will he choose wisely?

This is a great book. I really enjoyed the writing. It was descriptive and dark, and the story was a good mixture of scary, quirky and disturbing. I will be checking our more of Chantal's work.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Book review - The Summer I Died - Ryan C Thomas


This was the first book that I have read by this particular author. It was recommended by a friend.

The story is about two friends, Roger Huntington and his friend 'Tooth.' They have been friends for years, most of their life experiences together so far they have shared together.

The two friends decide one day to go shooting, practice with a few tin cans and drink a few beers. Headed for the remote woodlands, they are alerted by the desperate screams of a woman.

Running to investigate they are attacked by dogs, Tooth is led to kill one in self defence. The story takes an enormous twist as Roger, Tooth and the unknown woman are locked in the basement of a dangerous and deluded individual plastered in tattoo's that is simply referred to as 'Skinny Man.' A man hell bent on revenge for the death of his dog and torture on his mind.

As Roger's sister Jamie makes a surprise entrance, the torture becomes increasingly brutal as it becomes a fight between superheroes and villains. Who will the dice favour?

I really enjoyed this book, the first half of the book held such nostalgia as stories such as Stand By Me or Sleepers. It transcends into depravity for a period that I have rarely seen sustained in a book without losing interest or plot.

Sweet, horrible and compelling all within one set of covers. I will be checking out further work by Ryan C Thomas.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

New release coming soon


Coming soon. Hexad - A collaborative release with Andrew Lennon. Six terrifying tales that are guaranteed to send a chill down your spine.

Bonus material - also contains a sneak peek of our forthcoming release, Bound.

Book review - Lab Rat - Matt Shaw


Becky and Kevin were happily married. They had no children, their family was made up with their three cats and two dogs in their home in Sellersburg. 

They had a home, a home that Becky loved, which is why it came as such a surprise when Kevin decided that he wanted to apply for another mortgage for another house.

At the price thats its up for sale for, Kevin thinks its a steal. He thinks that they could move in and rent out their second property. Becky is still unsure, even as the bank approve the second mortgage. Especially as she is a little creeped out by some of the remaining items in the house. Some creepy photographs, tatty old hospital beds and a grand piano.

When Kevin manages to persuade her to sleep over in the house he wakes up strapped to a bed, no sign of his wife. Only a Doctor in a filthy lab coat. Another woman is wheeled in on a bed. A woman he recognises as missing from the news. A woman with three children and a fiancé.

There are some real creepy and unsettling moments in this book. The doctor who's deluded search for cures leads to unnecessary experimentation. Look out for the unique cure for stomach bugs and the special face cream

Book review - Glory Hole - Matt Shaw


Kelly is going through a bad patch. She has recently found out that her soon to be - ex husband has been cheating on her for the past three years!

She doesn't really have anyone she can turn to. Her Mom and Dad live in Cyprus and she rarely sees her Brother and Sister. 

Her friend Emma and her boyfriend Sam offer to put her up for a while. Whilst living there she discovers Emma's promiscuous and adventurous lifestyle.

Emma tells her to forget about her ex husband and invites her to join her and Sam to one of their 'nightclubs.' Kelly is unsure, she is fairly shy has never slept with anyone that she has never had feelings for.

Thinking back to her ex husbands comments about their boring sex life, Kelly tries on her latex costume and begins to grow in confidence. Emma and Sam offer to set her up with a mutual friend - Nick.

An entertaining if not slightly twisted story with a really funny twist.



Sunday, 13 September 2015

Book review - Cine - Stuart Keane


For Stuart Keane's latest release - Cine, we return to Lake Whisper, a place that has seen its fair share of horror.

The town has a new cinema - A state of the art business, with its choice of eleven screens it is by far the most established cinema within the county (at least).

The book is written in a day by day format, starting with the Cinema opening on Thursday – Day Zero and following through to its finale on the following Friday. 

The hustle and bustle of the lobby, a mix up over the payment of their tickets sees a couple of cinema goers exchanging words with a rude girl in the queue after sniping at them from beneath her beanie hat and hoodie. A cinema worker observes the altercation from a distance whilst standing on his pedestal surveying his domain - Enter Keeley and Jordan. We cut to a scene where the same woman is forced to make a decision that could result in life or death. From a distance, an observer watches.

The next section sees the introduction of the main characters, Huey and Leonard, Gemma a girl with a traumatic childhood, her friend Louise and her older sister Michelle. Michelle and Leonard are unofficially an item, he has tickets for the brand new cinema and has offered to take the group. We also get introduced to Alex - a local business man and Huey's employer. His main source of business - protection and racketeering, he is decided on shaking down Robert Benton, the cinema owner, something that doesn’t quite go to plan.

Saturday morning and the friends meet up at the cinema to watch the film, it starts at 10am. Michelle and Leonard couple up leaving the remaining member of the group to chat between themselves. After the film, Huey offers to treat the group to a McDonalds, The only problem - One of them is missing. None of them can recall seeing them since during the film. The group begin to get concerned when they don't turn up after 30 minutes.

They report the disappearance to the police, DI James Sutton advises that there is nothing that the police can do officially for another six hours but promises to stop by at the cinema later that evening to look around – a decision that he will severely regret making, he finds the missing person, but at his own personal cost.

Invitations go out to the entire town, offering free tickets to a movie showing on Friday. The lure of a freebie leads half of the town to attend the showing as Robert Benton unveils his surprise – screen nine. A vast, six hundred seated auditorium where he is to put on a show that people have never seen the likes of. 

This book has cemented Keane as a true kingpin of English horror writers in my mind, he portrays situations that are believable yet truly terrifying. As a reader you get the feeling that you are caught up in a Wes Craven movie. The background of each character is laid out perfectly, not a single detail is left out. It is fast paced, and although the story has many layers it flows seamlessly. There are several brutal scenes in various stages of the book and the tension builds day by day right up until the climax – total depravity, a blood bath that will leave even the most extreme horror fan in a state of shock. Look out for the cameo parts in the latter part of the book, and a couple of references to other stories by the author, superb work.

Book review - Andrew Lennon - Twisted Shorts

 
 
 
This new release by Andrew Lennon is a collection of short stories. The stories are pretty much as explained in the title. There are a mixture of titles that have already been previously released and totally new material. Whatever your taste in horror and thrills, there is sure to be something in this collection that will float your boat;
 
Nightmares - The demented tale of a man struggling with sleep. Arriving home one evening from work he retires to bed after dinner and a  few beers. When his wife Tess returns home after an evening out with friends, she disturbs an intruder and carnage ensues.
 
Daddy's Girl - Scott's girlfriend Jane is killed one evening after he crashed his car. Scott was drunk, he blames himself for her death. So does her father - Dr Harrison. See the result of a surgeon with revenge in mind. A dark and brutal story.
 
Slayer - Russell and Greg are friends. Russell is athletic, sporty and a hit with the girls. Gregg is always one step behind his friend, which is probably fortunate for him when Russell gets mowed down by a truck. Gregg cries himself to sleep for weeks after the accident until one day he gets a phone call.. From Russell. Great story with underlying dark humour.
 
The Externals - A first person suspense story about a man struggling to deal with the visitors around him, talking, mocking. he cannot see them, or touch them but they are there. Great atmospheric writing.
 
Family Man - One of my favourites. A dark, twisted tale about a man that finds his family dead. He killed them, he knows he did it, he just doesn't understand why. Sometimes there just isn't an explanation. Two friends are talking about the rumours surrounding the incident. Gavin's father is a dead beat, drunk and violent towards him and his mother. Paul's father was the perfect family man. Look out for the shocking twist.
 
Tears Of A Clown - Billy grew up without a real place in life, school was a struggle. He had a weak immune system leading to constant illness. See how the tale unfolds where we see a clown with a collection of tricks involving a claw hammer, knives, a mallet and a button hole flower that sprays acid...
 
Time - A heart warming story about Bill, a man who comes home to a meal cooked by his wife, it seems that she has something to celebrate. She isn't sharing the wine with dinner, what is her news? Bill goes to work on his science fiction book, before long the story takes an unexpected turn.
 
Devourer - Pete and his family are on holiday in Malta. A jet skiing accident leads to a strange incident as he is dragged below the surface of the water. He disappears,  a search and rescue team fail to locate his body, only his life jacket. Totally unique story.
 
Throw A Punch - Being fifteen years old and being bullied sucks. Joe is bullied on a daily basis by Kevin and his two thugs. Despite his friend Stephen's advice, he never fights back until one day when circumstances force his hand.
 
The Swings - Emily and Rose enjoy playing in the park. They love the slides and especially the swings. When approached by a strange, elderly man he explains that he lost his daughter in a tragic accident in the park. That evening in a sleepover, the girls exchange ghost stories - with interesting results.
 
I enjoyed each of these stories, they were all totally different and effortless to read. A great eclectic collection from a promising writer.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Book review - Matt Shaw - The Penthouse




Duncan had it all. Wealth, power, influence. He was the type of man who didnt need to check his bank balance if he felt like buying a new car - something that he very often did.

A succesful business man, business is a gamble. Something that Duncan is about to discover. As his debts mount and his luck continues to run out. He is left with only a small amount of money left in his back account, his luxury home - the penthouse in the luxury Watch Tower apartment complex and his laptop computer.

Duncan has a brainwave about setting up his own reality TV show. He has seen it so many times before, all of these shows were set up - fake. His would be real. Using the last of his money he buys the necessary equipment and presses record.

As things begin to unfold, Duncans deluded plan falls flat on its face and he has to desperately think of ways to bring viewers to his site.

A dark story with some great dialogue. Watch out for the unique, hilarious twist.