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