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.