Thursday, 17 November 2016

Book review - Whispers Volume 3 - Stuart Keane



So, can you believe we are here already? Whispers Volume 3. In a fairly short space of time, Keane has shown quite a prolific pace of releases with both his longer works and with this - his third collection of short stories. Anyone familiar with Keane's works will recognise the usual backdrop of the setting, Lake Whisper. For an extra little bit of trivia knowledge I will let you know that this setting is actually based upon a location from Stuart's home county of Kent.

Once more we see a chillingly delightful cover form the cover artist, Mark Kelly, in addition to an introduction by Keane himself and a nice foreword from his colleague at Dark Chapter Press, Jack Rollins.

What do we have in store? I'll try not to give too much away.

Lake Whisper
Thomas and Richard visit Lake Whisper and splendour in its beautiful scenery and heritage. Their third friend, Harold is missing. When they stumble upon a creepy old house, there's no harm in investigating surely? A dark, creepy opening to the collection with a surprisingly brutal twist.

Careful What You Wish For
Gerald is not a nice man, but he has poetry that he wants to share with the world. He already has twenty one kills already under his belt and is looking to make his next as he decides to take a private dance with a stripper named Cyndi. Three wishes - £1000, choose wisely.

Rose Above
It's the end of the world. Civilisation is no longer as we know it, London is a total death zone. a lone soldier goes in search of answers armed with her personal stash of chocolate. Not what I would class as a traditional horror story but I actually found this to be one of the most enjoyable stories in this collection.

Bon Appetit
A tasty little morsel - see what I did there? A short, sharp tale told in first person perspective about a man with some interesting tastes in food. Why waste years cooking food when the real delicacies are right in front of you. Some extreme content and a great twist. Another bit of trivia is Keane's influence for this story as a nod to his past life as a chef.

On The First Day Of Christmas
A short story about a young boy named Ben who is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Christmas. Snow is falling, the scene is set. Don't you know that its bad luck to see Santa on Christmas eve. I happen to know that the character was actually based on Keane himself on Christmas eve as a child.

Inadmissible
Rae Mercer is a Lawyer working her last case. When a man is murdered in his home the list of suspects could be as long as his list of charges. Another interesting story seeing Keane move away from the more traditional roots of horror.

Lepus
Another story told from first person perspective about a broken man with his own agenda. From a collection of stories about Easter where anything goes, and in this one, everything goes! Think Silence of the Lambs meets the Easter Bunny.

Apartment 3B
Introducing Connor, a real sleaze bag who seems to be having real difficulties whilst trying to navigate his own apartment. A real mind bender of a story that nods heavily towards the influences of Tales From The Crypt and my pick of the bunch.

That's them all. In summary the collection is another testament to Keane's story telling ability whether its a full novel or a 5000 word short story. I've said it before and I'll repeat the statement, Keane has a brilliantly astute mind for all things horrific. I don't think he could physically write a poor story. Each and every one of these immediately manages to throw you into a situation that you weren't prepared for and spit you out the other end thinking, what the hell just happened? Those little twists and feints are the key to making these stories work and Keane once again, excels.

Writing a short story can be difficult in itself as the writer has to balance the correct amount of detail along with character development in such a short time, something that Keane does with ease. He has a real knack of creating sleazy, detestable characters that really get under your skin. Combine these with regular moments of true horror, dark humour and proper WTF moments and you are about at the mark.

Another fantastic collection.

My rating 5/5


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Book Review - Two Minds - Matt Shaw & Sam West



I received an ARC Copy of this book from the authors.

Right, so I'm well versed in the work of Matt Shaw, although Sam West is an author I'm aware of, I have never read. So when a trademark black cover book gets announced by Shaw, I'm usually in an expectant frame of mind as what to expect, only this was different, or so I thought.

The book starts off very unassumingly as two strangers - Sally and Jack meet in a bar. Their conversation moves along tentatively with the characters being written in first person perspective by each author. West takes on the roll of Sally while Shaw takes Jack. The whole story is written with each author taking on a small section story and sending it backwards and forwards to the other.

As the story starts, you find yourself asking where is this going? The conversation between our two characters starts off innocently enough, you find it almost as if the authors are teasing the reader with what is going to happen, maybe they were finding their own way. As the story begins to unfold, we begin to learn of the deep flaws within both of these characters. Both of these people are looking for something, yet neither author is willing to give the game away... Yet. The whole opening scene is a deliciously woven thread of tension.

So after the initial scene, the book moves on to somewhere much more sinister. This is where the extreme nature of these guys really begins to pan out. People who have read the Peter Chronicles by Shaw may be familiar with the type of relationship that develops between the two. The style of writing between both authors works extremely well and both compliment the other.

About half way through, the book really takes a nastier turn as scenes are introduced which may leave you wincing and quite possible retching. Consider yourself warned, this is not for the faint-hearted or for anyone that doesn't like their horror realistic, and splattered with sex and violence.

Its difficult to sum this up because I don't want to give any spoilers. You find it difficult to sympathise with either of the characters as you are thrown into a zig-zag of emotions as you think you are getting to grips with them, and then a massive curve ball is thrown in for good measure. Just when you think its gone about as far as it can go, something else happens and it goes even further. That being said, Its not gore porn, there is a solid story line - albeit dark and very twisted, its there.

I have to give a warning, within a fairly short book, these guys have created a story that is likely to get under your skin and remain with you for a while. The characters are basically vile - the worst type of people imaginable, and they are totally unashamed. If horror at the most extreme end of the spectrum is your thing, go check this out. It may even shock the most hardened of reader. If you're not, I would steer well clear. This one is likely to make you cry.

My rating - a very sick and twisted 5/5

Book review - Amy - Stuart Keane



Stuart Keane's latest release - Amy is the third book in the chronicles of Amy and the sequel to his earlier novella - Charlotte. I received an ARC of the novel.

I was interested to see how the final book in the trilogy would shape up after following the story of a young girl and her sadistic imaginary friend. The original book, Charlotte was a suspenseful and violent piece of brooding, dark fiction. The prequel to Charlotte - Awakening, for most part was a powerful, gut wrenching biopsy of a young child growing up suffering abuse at the hand of the one person that she should have been able to trust; a story that will stay with the reader for a long, long time and the background to the creation of Amy Brunswick's imaginary friend.

So..

This brings us to the latest piece - simply titled Amy. November, 2021 - We return to Lake Whisper. Amy Brunswick, now eighteen years old has been contained within Whispers Ward for the last eight years, since the unexplained massacre in her family home all those years ago. During her incarceration within the facility, Amy has been using the time to reflect upon her experience, Keeping herself to herself and the inner beast that is Charlotte remaining dormant. That is until the opening scene which sees Dr Stone sanctioning her release under questionable circumstances.

The book doesn't hang around, it gets straight into the action from the offset, immediately encompassing Amy Brunswick into a shroud of mystery and suspicion. The next few chapters were probably my favourite part of the book where we see an unexpected swerve into the unknown, as characters and plot are introduced that could be  reminiscent of a modern day version of Evil Dead. These are scenes that are dark, visceral and Keane in his element, offering the reader first class thrills. There is one character in particular who I won't name, who becomes absolute evil personified - you'll know exactly who I mean when you read it.

So, back to the main plot where we see Amy Brunswick going in search of her mother - Patricia Price. A woman who since abandoning her daughter in Whispers Ward nearly eight years ago has moved on to a new marriage and family life with her husband, Walter and her two boys Ethan and Corey. Patricia has feared that the day of her daughters release, knowing full well that she will be spending the rest of her life constantly looking over her shoulder. This love / hate relationship forms the main catalyst for the latter part of the book as we see the depths that a woman will go to protect her family against her eldest child.

I can't really give much more than that without some major spoilers, so I will leave it there. Throughout this book you will find yourself asking the question - Is Amy Brunswick a bad person? Is Charlotte in control of Amy or is Amy in charge of Charlotte? Does Charlotte even exist or is she a scapegoat of Amy's darker side of nature? Where reasoning is provided, you may find yourself feeling empathy for the character yet.. not.

That, I believe is what makes this book so good. Although the pieces are all slotted into place and the boxes are ticked, you are left with lingering questions and afterthoughts. Just as I thought I had the end sussed, Keane throws in another little twist that left me way off mark. Touche.

In summary, a wild and thoroughly horrifically entertaining read. A fantastic stand alone book, but the final piece in an amazingly powerful trilogy.Think The Exorcist meets Evil Dead meets Cape Fear and you may be somewhere near the mark. There are a fantastic new breed of horror authors currently emerging from the UK and Keane is at the forefront of that crowd. This book is testament to his amazing talent.

My rating - 5/5

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Book review - Flies - Andrew Lennon



For Andrew Lennon's latest offering, he gives us Flies - A short story. I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

Justin is a young man, a very wealthy and spoilt young man. He's not really a very likable person. He's a bit lazy, but that's okay because his daddy owns the company that he works for, which gives him the right to be work shy. He's one of those - to hear him talk, he's always swamped under with work; there simply aren't enough hours in the day. Justin is used to getting his own way in more than one sense of the word. He is a man with seriously questionable integrity, believing that people can be bought and sold as a commodity.

One day whilst at work, Justin takes enormous advantage of a fly in his office and calls his father with the impression that the place has a serious infestation and that he has called in a fumigation team. The result; an afternoon off work. He gets himself off down to The Pony Dive, a local gentleman only club, where he instigates a business transaction with his favourite stripper - Cherry.

With a date lined up, Justin departs to set up his upcoming party with recreational pharmaceuticals. As the afternoon progresses, those pesky flies seem to be getting everywhere.

So, what did I think of it? I thought it was a top notch story. With it being a short, I can't really give the game away too much. It flows along nicely at a steady pace giving a decent amount of character development, especially in the case of our friend, Justin. I really felt like I wanted to slap him around the face at moments. You're not entirely sure where the story is going to be headed, you have an idea of what the story involves - hence the title, but that's really about it. Like with most writers, I can see the maturity of Lennon's writing and story telling ability over time. This flows seamlessly, he obviously had a great time whilst writing.  An almost tongue-in-cheek, comedic great time.

It is a creepy little number and will most likely make you start scratching, fully intended. It really strikes me as the type of story that would have fitted perfectly in place in Tales From the Crypt or The Twilight Zone. The cover image is actually a really good representation for the feel of the pulpy style of tale contained within. If I had one gripe, it would be that the ending, albeit totally unexpected just seemed to be a little abrupt. I think it could have been strung out just a little further to really strengthen that creepy undertone that's carried throughout so well.

In addition, there is a great short Sci-Fi horror short from Michael Bray and a creepy little number from Shaun Hupp that really sits well with the main title. The third bonus story from Norman Turrell isn't what I would traditionally class as horror, but its worth a read.

All in, a very solid 4/5.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Book Review - The Haunted Halls - Glenn Rolfe



Despite sharing appearances alongside Glenn Rolfe in a couple of anthologies, this is the first time that I have indulged in a full length piece of his work. I have previously read a few of his short stories, and I always found his work enjoyable and consistent.

The Haunted Halls is no different. In fact, It is a phenomenal piece of work. I believe the book was originally released a few years ago, and has just had an overhaul and been re-released through Matt Shaw Publications. I'll admit, I picked this book up twice and left it alone as I felt I needed to give it the time for my fullest attention - I'm glad that I did. 

The tale is based around two hotel clerks at the Bruton Inn. A place with a dark secret and an even bleaker history. Built in 1977, the original owner was found murdered within its inaugural year. As the story begins to unfold, several characters are introduced as the horror truly begins to rear its head. As always, it's best to let a good story speak for itself, so I'm not going to give anything away on the plot.

Some may argue that there are parts of this book that are horror clichés. The hotel with supernatural occurrences, the unwanted passenger in the seat of a car, the group of twenty-somethings awaiting their inevitable slaughter. In a way, they may be correct, however, it's the way that this book is written that really makes you forget all about that. Split between two time frames - back in the good old 80s and current day, the non-linear sequencing, really is a thing of beauty as the story unfolds and the mayhem really begins. 

I like a good old creepy story as much as the next and this book has it, in abundance. It also has something that I really didn't expect. In parts, the scenes are utterly brutal. I mean really, they will get  the adrenaline spiking around your system like madness. There are parts of this book that really reminded me of the writing style of the late, great Richard Laymon. Both in characterisation and delivery. Just when you think the tale is going one way, it totally shifts direction and heads in another.

Once I actually managed to find time to dedicate to the book, I finished it in no time at all. It felt like I had read a novella, I was amazed when I checked and the book was nearly 250 pages long. You find yourself totally immersed in this world that Rolfe has created.

So what can you expect from this one? Take your pick. Malevolent creatures, possession, anger, lust, desire, erratic behaviour, things that go bump in the night, bodies floating in the pool, degradation and death by Les Paul Gibson. 

In summary, I loved it. A great build up of tension, superbly crafted characters and more blood and goods as you could possibly ask for.

Can't give this one any less than 5/5

I will be reading more from Mr Rolfe.




Sunday, 7 August 2016

Book review - Woom - Duncan Ralston



Woom is the latest offering from Canadian author, Duncan Ralston. Published through Matt Shaw Publications. With the signature black cover, it was obvious this book was going to be at the more extreme end of the horror spectrum.

It is...

The story itself is fairly simplistic. It is centred around a man who calls himself Angel, a man discovering a preference for women who are on the heavier side, the reason for this becomes clear later in the book. Introduce a hotel room with a bleak history and a hooker with a heart of gold named Shayla and the stall is set. Right?

Wrong.

This is where Ralston expertly displays his storytelling ability, by creating offset chapters; the result of a conversation between our two characters that are seemingly unimportant, and seemingly not relevant to the plot. After the disappearance into these mini stories, the focus shifts back to the unlikely rapport that blossoms between the two main characters. A few more people are introduced as the story develops, but again, they appear inconsequential to the real dynamic of the overall tale.

So..

I fear I'm beginning to ramble, because it's difficult to sum this one up without giving away some major spoiler's so I'm going to leave that there. If you know Ralston's writing, you'll no doubt be aware that his style is smooth; his prose is defined and articulate, his dialogue is well balanced and descriptions near perfect. This is no different. For a book where a good portion of the content is relating on past events and little actually happening in real time, I think there are few writers who could have pulled this off half as well as he did without it descending into confusion or boredom. He manages to build tension throughout by mere indications and suggestions. For the majority of this book, the reader won't guess in a million years where it's headed. As the story hits it's climax and the aspects mentioned previously suddenly fuse together and become clear, the reader is treated to one final scene that will quite literally leave them with their jaws agape.

After reading Ralston's collection - Gristle and Bone, one story in particular stood out to me that hinted at the seedier abilities of his astute, horrific imagination. In Woom, it is showcased in abundance - truly. He creates some of the most unbalanced, twisted, and deeply flawed characters that you're ever likely to find. Aspects of the story are darkly sordid, twisted and downright wrong. however as an overall package, it's a totally compelling read. At times the reader will find themselves disgusted, yet strangely drawn into its foul glory.

For me, I've been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it's conception and it didn't disappoint. After turning the last page, I had to take a moment to compose myself and think... What the hell did I just read? That's the real beauty, Ralston is totally unapologetic about it. It's hard hitting, disturbing, and totally brutal, but in the best way possible. You may consider taking a bath afterwards, however, you may even be put off that idea.

It's not gonna be for everyone, once again, adhere to that warning on the cover, it's there for a reason. There is a whole host of wrong in this one for the unsuspecting, it can't be that bad crowd. If extreme isn't your thing, I wouldn't risk it.

For me, I was anticipating it, and I loved it.

No less than 5/5









Monday, 4 July 2016

Book review - 8 Church Field - Stuart Keane



For Stuart Keane's latest release we are thrown into the lives of the Elliott Family. Headed up by office manager and generally not nice person, Brian, his unhappy wife, Toni, bored in her marriage, their son Justin and daughter, Claire. Both children are the results of a haphazard and dysfunctional lifestyle and upbringing by their parents. They are the epitome of spoilt, petulant teenagers. Their angst and adolescent anger, dished around to their peers in their chosen places of battle; for Justin, the areas not covered by CCTV around his school, and for Claire, her social media stream.

Upon returning home - 8 Church Field, (I'll also let you in to a little secret that this was one of the author's real addresses whilst growing up) from leaving the office early one afternoon, and the rest of his employees in stifling conditions for no other reason than exercising his right to do so, Brian begins to run through the menial, day to day tasks of his mundane existence. Running through the usual batch of post and bills outlining his wife's latest stream of extravagant credit card transactions, and letters from Justin's school confirming his repeated truancy, we see the first glimpse of the reality of a man with his own demons and who is far from happy in his life situation. His irritations compounded by a run in with his teenage daughter, with her modern take on pointless politics and lectures about internet usage caps.

In a way, I'm sure a situation that most modern parents will be able to read, relate to and possibly shudder in shame and recognition.

Whilst settling down to dinner that evening, the family are disturbed by a knock at the door from  a mysterious stranger. The visitor will change the Elliott family's life forever.

Firstly, Keane has a knack for creating some of the most despicable characters that you will ever read. This, he does in various ways; whether its unadulterated, evil killers, chilling supernatural entities, or anything in between, they're all very realistic and very hard-hitting. In the case of Church Field, he manages to tap into a family that are individually so self absorbed that they are literally dripping with spite. An early scene with Brian shows exactly who he considers to be the top dog, his wife couldn't lie straight in bed (literally) and his two children are truly the type of kids that you would want to slap around the head.

Despite it sounding far fetched, the characters really work, and this is the solid basis for shaping the overall plot of the book. Its not too long and runs along at a steady pace until it hits the final quarter of the story where it takes a steep incline and shifts into a place that you really don't see coming. Along with the terror involved, there are some splendid nostalgic moments scattered through the story and a few pieces of cracking dialogue that I guarantee will put a smile upon your face.

In a little over a hundred pages, you will get a sharp, nasty tale of resentment, jealousy, betrayal and vengeance. Keane takes the classic, stranger at the door tale and gives it a whole contemporary flavour. What more could you ask for at a great price? I guarantee that most people that read this book will be able to relate to at least one of the scenario's played out. Some people may even be left with a wry smile on their faces in admiration.

Again, Keane delivers.

My rating 5/5

Friday, 17 June 2016

Book review - Mayan Blue - Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason



My latest read was this tasty little morsel by twin sisters, Melissa Lason and Michelle Garza, who brand themselves as the Sisters of Slaughter. My understanding is that they have been writing since they were little girls and have always written side by side, as is the case with this, their debut novel; Mayan Blue.

The story is a well constructed, fast paced rollercoaster of thrills, spills and contemporary twists, based upon ancient Mayan mythology.

The story starts with a group of friends - Wes, Tyler, Dennis, Alissa and Kelly on a camping expedition to meet up with slightly obsessed Doctor Lipton. A man, who having survived cancer, has made it his life's ambition to seek proof that ancient Mayan's had an original settlement in Georgia.

Armed only with a map, and a suspicion that the proof of the settlement is hidden somewhere inside Blood Mountain, Lipton sets off on his expedition, alone. Very quickly, things begin to transcend that he is going to get a whole lot more than he was bargaining for. 

The rest of the group, each with their own individual motives, pick up the trail from where Lipton left off. Armed with nothing but a tatty tent, liquor and a bag of weed, they are about to embark on an excursion unlike anything else they have ever experienced.

I'm leaving it there for the description, as any more would involve spoliers. 

The first thing that strikes you about the story is that it wastes no time before the foot gets stamped onto the accelerator. Things happen very quickly. Lason and Garza make a definitive point of this, almost to the point where they're unapologetic; this is the way it's going to be and that's that. Some may argue that a little more development may be required for a few of the characters, but why? We all know the proverbial is going to hit the fan so let's not mess about. 

As the story begins to unfold, you may be forgiven for thinking that its a version of the Goonie's that took a darker path, a much darker path. In a sense, I suppose it may be. Saying that, the Goonies didn't have to contend with the entity of Ah-Puch, lord of death, who holds the ability to manipulate and control walking, rotting corpses, shapeshifting, bloodthirsty demons and vampiric vines. 

I jest not.

The story moves along at a steady pace until it hits its climax, where an ultimate decision is to be made in the face of adversity, for individual vengeance. It's worked extremely well.

The amount of research involved to pull this off must have been staggering. All of the references are either very well salvaged, or the product of a very vivid imagination. Either way, it's very impressive and is the real catalyst that adhere's the story together to work so well. The intensity of the descriptions and authenticity of the cast, really make for a colourful, and at times, bloodsoaked tale. There is no denying that these two sisters are talented writers. 

There are many elements of this story that veer away from what I would class as more 'traditional' horror. At times, the mythology naturally steers it into the realms of fantasy, there are many horrific elements, but at times I felt it lacking just enough to satisfy the depraved urges of some hardened fans. 

Working with another writer can be difficult. Sometimes, it's difficult to get both parties to follow the same natural course. In the case of Lason and Garza, this isn't so; it works seamlessly. The story isn't linear, it's chopped up and zigzag's back into itself, but the flow is perfectly driven and pretty much faultless. A true testament to the power of their partnership. 

For me, a great first novel from a couple of writers with the ability and outlook to smash it. I will keep a close eye on this pair, they have a great future.

My rating 4/5






Sunday, 12 June 2016

Book review - Awakening - Stuart Keane







I was given an ARC of Stuart Keane's new book - Awakening; The prequel to his previous book, Charlotte. Charlotte was the tale of Amy Brunswick, a quiet nine year old girl who develops what her parents believe to be an imaginary friend. The reality is something quite more sinister and downright terrifying.


For Awakening, we move back a few years in time to Lake Whisper, where we join the story of Doris and her husband Jim, a young couple who fell head over heels in love on a retreat for oversize people. During one fateful car journey, twelve months later, Doris is suffering stomach cramps from a burger that she had eaten, subsequently leading to Jim fussing, crashing the car and killing him instantly. Upon arrival at the hospital, Doris is informed by a doctor that she is pregnant.


Upon the birth of her daughter - Charlotte, Doris soon learns that her life will never be the same again. A single parent, alone in the world to bring up her daughter, a daunting enough prospect in itself. That's even before factoring in that Doris blames the baby for the death of her husband and resents the fact that the child was ever born, seeing the girl as nothing but a hindrance.


As the story continues to unfold, what should be a heart warming tale of a mother's love as she continues to cherish and nurture her child takes a dark twist, as Doris raises Charlotte on neglect and violent abuse. In my opinion, this was a risky book for Keane as the subject matter is so sensitive that one foot put wrong could potentially result in disastrous consequences.The subject is dealt with in a dramatic, graphic, portrayal which can be very often difficult to stomach in places. Luckily, Keane's strong writing successfully manages to carry the tale in a confident and intelligent manner.


There are two scenes in particular that I won't go into but I can almost guarantee will leave readers with their mouth's agape and quite possibly a tear running down their cheek. Charlotte is portrayed as an intelligent, pleasant young girl with all of the possibilities in the world ahead of her. Her story in places was almost reminiscent of Roald Dahl's - Matilda. Doris on the other hand, is one of the most vile, wretched characters that I think I've ever had the misfortune to come across in a book. That's how powerful this is, as a reader you find yourself brimming with hatred for this vile, loathsome creature.


I'm not going to go into the content of the book because I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the first two thirds of this book is drama; heart-breaking, gut wrenching drama that may leave you feeling sad, it may leave you feeling sick. The final section of the book starts to take a turn into supernatural horror as Keane lines up the story for the transition into the original book.


It's hard to really sum this one up, because as much as it's a fantastic, gripping storyline, there is also the fact to contend with, that the same storyline is so harrowing that it will really get under your skin. In my opinion, many who may have taken on this challenge could have failed, Keane manages to pull it off in a book that will stay with you for a very, very long time after completion. I guarantee that it will be a roller coaster of emotion, as you truly feel for the young girl who is let down at every eventuality, then cheer in reprisal as the story reaches its impressive conclusion.


As I said, I think there may be some people out there who may object to the content of the story, however when remembered that its all befitting to the plot and necessary for the development of the character of Charlotte in the first book, it really works. What makes this book so terrifying is the fact that the horror is realistic, and potentially played out repeatedly, day after day behind closed doors. 


My rating 5/5 - go read. Another great book from Stuart Keane.




 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Book review - VHS - Kyle M Scott


For the second in Kyle M Scott's Razorblade Candy series, we are treated to VHS. After reading the first installment in the series, I was intrigued to see what he would come back with.

The story is based around twelve year old boy Iain, who, surrounded by his friends are beginning to discover the adolescent delights of sex and porn. His hormone riddled friend Mike is constantly talking about his love of his dad's illicit video collection, with one film in particular - UK Students XXX.

Partly driven by peer pressure, partly driven by curiosity, Iain goes rummaging around in the back of his dad's closet for his stash of video's. Mike assured him confidently that all dad's have them. When Iain discovers a treasure chest of hidden filth, he rushes downstairs with a video simply labelled 'Number Three' to the VCR in the family living room.

What he is about to discover will turn his whole life upon it's head.

With this series, Kyle appears to be trying to push the boundaries with the depravity and broken, deeply faulted characters that he is creating; taking a seemingly normal scenario and totally flipping it around into something dark, twisted and fun. So far he's pulling it off in abundance.

I know that he's a good writer, I've read enough of his stuff to expect the same consistent delivery of quality. For me, its just great fun to see what his twisted little sense of humour will come up with next. 

The story itself ambles along nicely, you know something is going to happen but you're not entirely sure what until it does and then you're left thinking, what?!! Beyond the messed up plot, he decides to throw in another twist right at the end for ample measure. 

Again, not for anyone with a weak stomach or a nervous disposition but it is a wonderfully dark and unsavoury read. I did find myself falling foul of laughing at parts that maybe I shouldn't have, however, that's just my weird sense of humour.

Bring on the next.

My rating 5/5 

Monday, 16 May 2016

Book review - The House That Hell Built - Stuart Keane, Matt Shaw and Michael Bray


Sometimes, something comes along and it immediately grabs your attention. It can grab your attention for a whole manner of different reasons. When this book cover reveal was done on Facebook and having read the blurb, I was in awe. Stuart Keane, Matt Shaw and Mik Bray all in one book. I make no bones that I am a fan of all three of their work. My initial fear with this project was whether the book could live up to my own hype. I'm glad to say that it did.


The main body of the story is split into two timelines, being told from the point of view of a team of ghost hunters in present times by Stuart Keane and from the point of view of a family in the late 1960's by Matt Shaw.


The present


James Tulley, his wife Lauren Child and her teenage daughter Frankie armed with her trusted ipod along with another bunch of individuals Emily, Skye, Steven and Brett arrive at the mysterious Berkeley Manor where they are to form a 'Dark Tourist' group. Upon meeting at the house they are greeted by the exuberant Chester Oxford, the man who is to be their tour guide.


Upon entering the house, Chester warns that the tour will be starting at ten the following morning. A hot meal had been prepared and under any circumstances, any of the group were not to go snooping around the house. As an air of negativity begins to fill the room as the group are eating dinner, two of the group go wandering to a nearby lake to investigate an urban legend of a body that repeatedly winds up floating in the murky water.


 1967


Written in first person perspective, Ben and his wife Fiona along with their two girls, Claudia and Summer move into Berkeley Manor. Following a promotion within his company, he was now a partner in the successful Oxford and Chamberlain solicitors. Initially worried by the cost of the property, Ben assures Fiona that it was well within their budget as the previous owner was desperate to sell.


Ben is in the middle of representing a client who is on trial for murder; Rick Jones, a man accused of violently murdering his wife with a crow bar. As the pressures of the case mount up, and Ben's health and relationship are up to breaking point, can the unusual occurrences within Berkeley Manor be put down to stress, his downward spiral into insanity or something much more sinister?


Late one night, there is a knock at the door. When Ben answers, he is greeted by a man. A man with an intriguing offer.


So that's all I can really say about the story without giving major spoilers. The story lends itself to what I would consider a more 'traditional' horror story. Both halves of the tale work well alongside each other extremely well. The suspense builds slowly in both until it reaches a climax where, excuse the pun, holy hell breaks loose. Both Keane and Shaw drive their particular parts in their own style which compliment each other seamlessly. One scene in particular that I thought worked well, is where Ben picks up the phone to ring his doctor's office - you will see. Another scene, although done very subtly, as a parent I found particularly disturbing to read.


So, I see you ask, where did Mik Bray come into it? Bray's part in this story is only small. In fact, it could have been missed out and the story would have still worked. The fact that it was included was a very clever little catalyst that helped to fuse the framework of both timelines and characters together.


I can't say much else, just go and read it, you won't be disappointed.


In summary; A fast paced, entertaining  read with elements of The Shining, Evil Dead, the Beast House Chronicles, Poltergeist and The Devil's Advocate wrapped up like a game of Cluedo.


My rating 5/5.






 

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Book review - Every Part of The Animal - Duncan Ralston



I received an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for a pre-release review. This is said review.

Bo Lowery and her ten year old son, Caleb live alone in the woods on the outskirts of Fort Garrison, Alaska. Bo is a single parent following the disappearance of her husband, Roy a few years prior. They live completely self sufficiently, living off the land, hunting animals. They use every part of the animal, they eat it's meat, cook it's bones, tan the hide and sell what they don't need to make a modest living.

Bo wants to do the best that she can by her child, unaware that her blinkered upbringing could be leaving the boy withdrawn from society and  a little naïve and sheltered. Little does she know that as well as her home schooling, there are several external factors where a boy with a mind like a sponge can learn.

When Rainey Lane, a teenage pop sensation struggling with her own demons, her dog Hottie and bodyguard Darius roll into town to protest the recent wolf cull, an altercation with Bo results in the woman turning up in the middle of the night on Bo's property, drunk and high, colliding her car with nature.

Quickly, situations escalate out of control and Bo is forced to react to protect her family.

This is something new from Ralston, having previously published successful books mainly in the genre of horror; this is his first attempt at a crime thriller.

So, did it work?

You bet your ass it worked. Immediately, the smooth writing style of Ralston pulls you in and you find yourself totally immersed in the world that he creates. His style is assured and confident, he definitely has a strong grasp of the written word, its phenomenally easy to read. The story itself is straightforward, there are no unnecessary plot twists that could potentially over complicate something that doesn't need to be, whilst also lending a clever little nod towards the power of social media.

The characters are realistic and the dialogue is crisp and believable. The main character of Bo is portrayed with real depth, he manages to paint the perfect picture of a woman with a motive of wanting to protect her only child and falling foul of her own self righteousness and warped sense of duty and vengeance.

The story is a slow burn to begin, but I have no problem with that, as the tension builds perfectly throughout the story as other factors begin to come into play.  It slowly gains momentum right up to a climax where the reader finds themselves desperate for the reveal of 'whether they will or whether they won't.'

I have read other books by Ralston, and in my opinion, this is equally as good as those. I am a massive fan of thriller's and this taut, atmospheric little number ticked every box. I think he is incapable of writing a bad book.

Great stuff 

My rating 5/5



Sunday, 24 April 2016

Book reiew - Love Lies Dead - Kyle M Scott


Right, I've tried about five times to give a brief synopsis of this book without giving away anything that could potentially ruin the story, but struggled, so I'll have a go and hope that I don't give any spoilers.

The tale is set in the village of Bothwell, in the Lanarkshire countryside. We meet Paul and the love of his life; Jane. The story is quite fragmented, but this is done in such a way that the elements of the tale all fall in line as the story reaches it's bloody and rather demented climax. Trust me, it's mad, but mad in the finest way possible.

As the story begins, we are treated to a powerful and gut wrenching scene of one man's loss and grieving. The way that Kyle conjures up the atmosphere and character's anguish is nothing short of phenomenal. You can almost picture yourself stood next to him in the harsh Scottish weather as the rain clatters down around you like artillery shells. It immediately put's you in a mind set for something dark and nostalgic.

Instead of chapters, the story is broken up into different sections, that all act as independent parts of the overall story, it really works;

Before
A Funeral in the Rain
The Agony of Wakefulness
No Place for Peace
A Lonely Dwelling
True Love Will Find You in the End
A Happy Home
Outside Influences
Everything Fades
Love Will Tear Us Apart
A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed
With Benefits

About a third of the way into the story, the direction takes a total shift, to the point where one scene I actually laughed out loud. I can't really say too much without giving the game away, but damn its clever. Clever and weighted heavily with some very dark humour. I can really picture the mischievous look upon his face when writing this.

As we follow the relationship of Paul and Jane, we see the turmoil and anguish of a man in unrequited love, his broken mind having to guide his internal struggles as he watches his relationship break down as the rot begins to set in. Expect strong scenes of sexual nature, domestic violence, graphic depictions of gore and pretty much everything else that you can think of. Nothing short of amazing for a book that is sixty-six pages in length.

I make no bones about the fact that I admire Kyle M Scott, as I find him a phenomenal writer. His story telling and attention to detail is second to none. His phrasing and prose really stand out, at times it's almost like reading poetry;

'And what use was decency, when life itself only revelled in cruelty?'

This book is not what I expected at all, at times it's intense, at times it's gross. You certainly don't want to read parts of it whilst eating, but above all else, it's clever and its damned entertaining.
I can't wait to see what he comes up with next in the Razorblade Candies series.

I say go grab it, you won't regret it, and you will smile.

My rating 5/5

















Thursday, 14 April 2016

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

W

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 reinforces 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.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

March; a month for anthologies.






Kids



Casting my mind back to this time last year, I had never seriously written any pieces of work that I considered good enough to be published. Sure, I had dabbled with a few ideas here and there, and I had  been an avid reader for a long time, following and supporting the independent writing scene for the last couple of years.



Back in about last April / May, I read an interview online with a writer called Stuart Keane that really sparked my interest. I liked the look of his books and decided to give his work a read. I'm not entirely sure about the sequence of events, however we got talking and the subject came around to an anthology that he was putting together for Dark Chapter Press. The theme for the anthology was scary kids. He suggested that I write a submission and send it to him for consideration.



Initially I was unsure, in fact the prospect scared the shit out of me. What if I send something in and become a total laughing stock? What sort of quality of work are these people looking for? Why are you asking yourself stupid questions? Go and write a story.

So I did. I wrote a short story about a girl that falls foul of some school bullies after losing her father in a tragic road accident. The concept was simple, yet quite hard hitting and held a brutal twist; for me the clincher of the story. I titled the piece, simply - Anna.



I submitted the story and after a few initial tweaks, to my complete amazement, it was accepted. Collecting my jaw from the floor, I continued working with the team at Dark Chapter Press, in particular; Stuart Keane and Jack Rollins. I watched in awe as the book became bigger and bigger. Names like Michael Bray, Chantal Noordeloos and Mark Parker were added to the table of contents, I was literally blown away, and excited beyond belief as it became big enough to fill two volumes.



Working with Dark Chapter press initially got me off an a good foot. The way that they conduct their business and take pride in the standards of their work is phenomenal. I continued to submit work for other anthologies, as well as their monthly flash fiction competitions. I quickly started to gather momentum and made some great friends with the returning faces of their other writers.

The support and encouragement that they offered is something that was valued as a new writer, and I will never forget their help.


And so, Kids, volume one was released on March 15th. The book just oozes quality, the stories contained are the perfect mixture of dark, scary and downright creepy. I can't stress how proud I am to have been included in this collection, for me, it all started here.


Contents:

Foreword - Ryan C Thomas
Bad Little Boys Go To Hell - James Walley
The Bones of Baby Dolls - Feind Gottes
The Boy in the Apartment - Josh Pritchett
Little Angel - Sharon Higa
The Apothecary's Hiccup - Douglas F. Dluzen
Raw - Erica Chin
Twins - Andrew Lennon
The Ladder - Pete Clark
Born Bad - Mark Parker
Milk - Michael Bray
Anna - Matt Hickman
Dig - Alice J. Black
Omens - Chantal Noordeloos
The Box - Gary Pearson
Social Sacrifices - Shawn Dixon
The Butcher's Apprentice - David Basnett
The Seventy-Five Percent - Brian Barr
Pregnant With Freedom - Christopher Ropes
Detention - Afterword - Stuart Keane.

You can grab your copy here; http://hyperurl.co/ra4t95



Easter Eggs and Bunny Boilers


Casting my mind back to January, I was working just outside Southampton, whilst in the area, I arranged to meet up with Matt Shaw to discuss business. By business, I mean meeting in the pub and taking the piss out of each other..



We got around to talking about projects that we were both involved with and titles that were due to be released, when he had one of those moments that he often has. The hatching of an idea. (Yes, I really went there)



He mumbled something at me, my initial response whilst wiping a lump of scampi from my eye was, You what?

Easter Eggs and Bunny Boilers, he repeated. I'm going to put together an anthology and release it as a title at Easter. And that was that, when Shaw gets an idea to do something, he doesn't hang around. It took about three hours for me to drive back from the South, at which point he had sent me a message inviting me to write a story, the initial cover art was prepared and he had set up guidelines for submission.


By about 8pm that evening, he had created a group and started to invite other writers, each and every name that was announced as agreeing to write was a well seasoned and respected writer within the horror community. He managed to entice the lads from The Sinister Horror Company, fantastic authors like Kyle M. Scott, Duncan Ralston, Graeme Reynolds, the names just kept on coming. It was a true testament to the writers on the scene, and their willingness to participate in something fun. He had even lined up the proprietor of The Gingernuts of Horror - Jim Mcleod to write a foreword.


By the end of that night, there were nearing twenty authors all on board, Shaw had already written and shared his story, and Kit Power had sent in the first submission. The ideas that were being banded about were insane, absolute quality, and the sort of madness that you would come to expect from these guys.


So then I had to think about what I was going to write about. Easter; not a typical theme by any means. After a short while to mull it over, my idea sprang to mind. Educating Horace is a story about a fourteen year old boy who is a bit of a loser. A boy that eats chocolate eggs for breakfast, is a bit, well, a huge day dreamer and who has a soft spot for his favourite teacher - Miss Fingerhut. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, I went about writing the tale, I was actually sniggering all of the way through writing. It eventually became quite a twisted, sordid little piece of work.


The Anthology was released on 27th April, my initial worry was that maybe there could be too much of a good thing. I needn't have bothered. From start to finish, the book is crammed with fantastic story after story. It really is a huge slab of quality entertainment. Hats off to Matt Shaw for pulling it off and thanks to all of the other phenomenal authors that I shared the pages with. It was truly an honour.


 Contents :


Introduction - Jim Macleod
Introduction - Matt Shaw
Desserts - Matt Shaw
Bastard Bunny - David Owain Hughes
He Is Risen - Duncan Ralston
The Chickens and the Three Gods - Kit Power
Wicker Baskets - Kindra Sowder
My Last Easter - Jack Rollins
Lepus - Stuart Keane
Little Bunny - Glenn Rolfe
Run Rabbit, Run - Michael Bray
When a Bunny Snaps - Jim Goforth
Help Me - Neil Buchanan
Educating Horace - Matt Hickman
Deb Loves Robbie - Mark West
Tradition - Kyle M. Scott
Hey-Zues - Duncan P. Bradshaw
Feldman's Rabbit - Rich Hawkins
On the Third Day - Graeme Reynolds
Easter Eggs - Chantal Noordeloos
Easter Hunt - JR Park
The Jesus Loophole - Luke Smitherd


So just look at that line-up. You are really picking up a bargain, the book weighing in just short of 100,000 words is available for only 99p/c here :


smarturl.it/easter-eggs


The Gingernuts of Horror review can be found here :


http://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/easter-eggs-and-bunny-boilers


To listen to a mad podcast featuring myself, Matt Shaw, Stuart Keane and Justin Park on B-Movies and E-Books to promote the title, click here :


http://www.bmoviesandebooks.com/b-movies-and-e-books/
















Thursday, 10 March 2016

Book review - Celebrity Culture - Duncan P Bradshaw


Back in the late 1970's Malcolm McKindy started to produce diseases. By the early 1980's he had become the leading celebrity virologist, proudly winning the title for two and a half years in a row. He was working on developing a new disease, a disease that would change the world forever; Mad Dog.

Malcolm became the reason that the Lou Gehrig awards were initially created. A ceremony where 'celebrities' take a plague off, where diseases are introduced to the host, and the winner is the disease that ultimately triumphs. The winners are then taken and mulched down in to a gritty paste for mass consumption.

We join the proceedings at the 13th annual awards, being hosted at the Roquefort Plaza, where our celebrities are getting ready to crumble. Expect things to happen, mufflers appearing in the neck of a host from a 63 Buick Riviera whilst they are transforming into a drive through cinema, through to the arms of host's beginning to show re-runs of Different Strokes.

Confused enough?

I'm leaving my overview there. It's difficult to give this book a simple description of its overall story because there isn't one. Its written in such a unique way that the only way to truly understand it, is to become immersed within its pages. I know for a fact that some people won't like this story, but the reason that they won't like is simple; they won't truly get what it's all about. In this book Bradshaw has taken just about every triviality and modern lifestyle reference, totally rinsed it with satire and spat it out the other end.

If like me, your brain works on a level where you are able to have lengthy discussions about the hierarchy of cheese, or whether Yoda took too much acid in his youth, then this story will float your boat. You have to remember to treat it in the exact manner of which it is intended, otherwise you may start looking for reasoning that isn't required and probably end up going cross eyed. Over thinking it may result in not liking it, and that isn't Bradshaw's intention.

This is a world where diseases are a life choice, not a way to get laid, and where youths can be seen on the streets drinking viro-juices. Its a world where diseases must be union sanctioned, and we ponder whether we will ever discern the true meaning of life, death and saxophone solo's.

Its mad, its out there. In places, its bat s**t crazy, but it works. Its extremely well written, and Bradshaw can be commended for both his ability as a writer and his outlandish imagination; refusal of entry into the awards as his veins were pumping blood counter clockwise. There are elements where the book switches from third, to first person perspective, so it pays to concentrate, otherwise you may end up re-reading sections.

I picked this up over the weekend and never got chance to really start it whilst giving it the attention that it fully deserved, so left it alone until I had the time. I picked it back up again today and devoured it in one go.

A great book, great humour and a short, sharp read. I will be reading more from this author.

Really entertaining and unique. My rating 4/5

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Book review - Upon Waking - J.R Park



This is the first book that I've read from this author, and I can tell you for nothing that it was one hell of a read. From the offset, we have about a third of the book laying the foundations for a couple of the characters, before really hitting the main body of the story. When I say hitting, that is a total understatement. It grabs you around the throat, spits in your face and drags you almost unwillingly into it's sordid content.

I had already read a couple of write ups from some reviewers on this book, (reviews work you know) so followed their advice and prepared myself both mentally and physically.. (cup of tea at the ready) So was I sufficiently prepared? Kind of...

Although I knew that it was going to be an extreme piece of fiction, there are parts that I don't think anyone can really be fully prepared for. It took me just over an hour to read it, an enthralling, nail biting, adrenaline and terror filled hour.

When Gary Brown's son; Henry goes missing, he approaches a private investigator, Kathryn, an ex-police offer to try to locate him. Through her contacts, she manages to trace his last known mobile phone signal to a quiet street, where she stumbles upon the main character in this story - Cassandra Brown. A woman that is seemingly living a normal, quiet life in a middle class, suburban neighbourhood.

Cassie is an extremely large, powerful woman, with an immaculately clean house; it seems that she has quite an obsession for cleaning. The aspect of the story shifts, as other characters find themselves waking up in various rooms around her house. This is dealt with in the form of each of their aspects being played out as an independent chapter. A relatively simple concept in itself, until the story begins to unfold, and the madness really begins.

I'm going to leave it there with the description to save any spoilers. What I will add, is that this book really manages to catch the reader off guard. You get the first impression of Cassie as a normal woman living a normal life, you sense that something isn't quite as it seems, (its the horror genre) however you can't put your finger on what until things start to.. happen.

When they do begin to happen, expect absolutely horrific scenes, that even the most hardened of readers will find shocking. I mean really, its absolutely intense and handled in a way that you actually find yourself willing for these poor people. Yes its gratuitous, but its also befitting to the story. It kind of ambles along at a steady pace, but then we get hit with another brutal moment without any prior notification. However, it's all addressed and justified by the creation of Cassie. She is a truly despicable person, totally devoid of remorse or empathy. Her actions are totally self centred, sadistic and psychotic, she's not a person that you would like to meet, yet the truly terrifying part is that it's feasible that you actually could.

The book is well written, there are no confusing plot lines or unnecessary twists. Its a short, severe tale that may leave you like you have been hit around the head by a professional boxer. Yes, there are extreme scenes, two in particular will be enough to make a man's eyes water, but this is horror, and they're written well enough to shock without being gore porn.

I've gotta admit, I really enjoyed it. Once I picked it up, I didn't put it down. It was depraved, and in some people's eyes, wrong, but I love that in a book. 

Again, a warning that this book isn't for everyone, please be aware that there are parts that can shock. If you are fine with that, prepare yourself for one hell of a powerful read.

My rating 5/5

I will be reading more work from this author.











Thursday, 18 February 2016

Book review - Wind-up Toy - David owain Hughes


For this twisted little tale we are transported to the Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl, where we follow the story of Simone; a man with many stories to tell, and the story of Toni; a young lady at university studying to become a teacher. 

Toni also works as a volunteer at a local Samaritan centre as a call centre operator. One evening whilst working, she receives a phonecall from Simone. A man who begins to explain the details from his very unsavoury upbringing.

Simone is a man that since his childhood, has had a special relationship with his crew - his krull gang. Led by his second in command; Mr Tickles. He would argue that they are his troops, some may argue that they are toys. This is the first instance of feeling that there is something unsettling about this individual. 

The timeline shifts back to when Simone was young (the first of many) where we get the intricate details of a young boy raised by a single mother, following his father returning to Italy after being forced out by his wife. I won't lie, there are parts of this that really make for some awkward reading, but persist, it is all laying the foundation for the overall build up of the character.

Finishing the call, Simone is relieved to have dumped some of the weight from his shoulders and decides to head into town to the funfair, where he enjoys reminiscing on some of the better parts of his life. Here, he bumps into two teenagers; Sara and Michelle who find him attractive, plus he's able to provide the under age girls with alcohol. He talks the girl's into a private party on the beach....

From here on in, the story takes a direct split between the two main characters of Toni and Simone. Introducing new people such as Stu; the good looking, friendly co-worker of Toni who she strikes up a casual relationship with, and Chaos; a hard hitting dominatrix who sees Simone in their relationship as her slave.

As things begin to unfold, Toni finds herself continually looking forward to her interaction over the phone with Simone, initially finding her curiosity spiked by his character, and eventually becoming almost to the point of obsession. 

I'm going to leave my description of the content there. I don't want to give too much away on the overall story. It's a speckled timeline of events, that if you don't pay close attention to, you could lose something essential from the plot. 

I'll warn you, this book won't be for everyone. Some of the grimy, broken characters that the author brings to the fold are truly despicable. He offers up some of the most messed up people that you will ever find, yet the read is compelling and justified in every case with some weird and wonderful back stories and fantastic character development.

There is a very high content of graphic sex and violence throughout this book. Thats what makes extreme horror, surely? The way that the author handles this is gratuitous and in your face, yet still believable. The most messed up of situations could be happening on your own doorstep. 

For me, it took a while for the overall story to settle down and find its own flow, but once it does, its excused because every single aspect is an integral part of the plot. Its complex, yet simple in the same manner.

In summary, I found it a really good book. It's not what I expected at all. Utterly disturbing at times, yet still interlaced with many, many moments of funny dialogue. There is a little but of everything, sex, lies, betrayal, revenge, you name it, it's in there somewhere.

For me, a great read, very unexpected, and I felt like I needed to scrub myself down with wire wool after reading certain scenes. But that's the point, that's the way it is fully intended.

If you're easily offended or squeamish, I would recommend leaving this one well alone. If you like something thats going to get your extreme juices flowing. Get it now.

For me 5/5. This is only the second thing that I have read from this author, he's a wrong un, but in the right way.




Sunday, 14 February 2016

Book review - Extreme Horror - Matt Shaw



For Matt Shaw's latest, and potentially last black cover book, he brings us Extreme Horror. If his final intention was that the black books were going to go out with a bang. Boy, did he hit the mark.


The story follows the life and sordid interests of a man named Adam; a wannabe film maker. Adam is obsessed with the dark characters portrayed in horror movies such as Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Kreuger. The latter, he believes should be re-cast as Nicholas Cage, due to an unfortunate meeting that he had once with the actor; Robert Englund. This really is art imitating life, and the first of many moments of satire that are scattered thoroughly throughout the book.


Adam finds himself desperate to make his mark as a film maker, sending off screenplay after screenplay and being ignored, whilst scorned by his parents that a movie maker isn't a real career prospect. As time moved on, he decided upon making his own brand of horror movies; where the content is torture, played out whilst being filmed and the actors (victims) are actually killed. His intention; to send the DVD's out to a local news station, or eventually find a way of uploading them to the internet himself to instil his legacy.


His fascination with the darker side of humanity, heavily influenced by movie characters such as Norman Bates, Buffalo Bill and real life American body snatcher and serial killer - Ed Gein. Adam finds himself a new pen pal with a real life serial killer, currently serving time in prison; Art. A murderer that was made famous when his crimes were portrayed in a book written by two well known writers; Matt Shaw and Michael Bray. This is the first clever nod of Shaw referring to his own work throughout the story. Look out for other references of Don't read, and Peter Jenkins with his infamous Birds Eye ready meals.


As the madness moves forward, Adam becomes obsessed with becoming the most prolific serial killer within the UK. Scenes are interlaced within the main story, that have actually been written in the format of screenplays:


The Lawnmower Man.
My Life.
Super 8 (inches)
From the Cutting Room Floor.
Melting Away.
Necessary Changes.
Mouth of Madness.
Waterworld.
Nails.
Indecent Proposal.
Sick.
Something Inside.
Vision.
A Special Place in Hell.


These scenes are the parts of the story where the extreme horror is expertly crafted. Expect an obligatory sex scene with a difference, and various scenarios  of torture that feature anything from a vice, acid, a chainsaw, scissors, pliers, a blowtorch, and even a car. If you can think of it, its likely to have been covered. In addition, there are least two scenes that are difficult to stomach, even for the most hardened of reader, and you definitely will not want to read whilst eating.


As the twisted tale begins to develop, one of Adam's captives; Michelle, labels him nothing but a copycat, shaking his confidence and making him question his motives. He decides to take an alternative direction, and make his final movie a romance, never to be forgotten. He needs Michelle's help, but first he must see to that potty mouth of hers.


So what did I think of it? I liked it. No, in fact, I loved it. It is utterly brutal in places, but unashamedly so. Shaw has obviously gone out of his way to make the reader feel uncomfortable and has pulled it off in abundance. Parts will truly make you consider empying the contents of your stomach, other parts will make you wince. All while Shaw keeps his undertones of humour flowing throughout. In this book, he has really proven that he is the master of the extreme. There are over twenty deaths played out throughout, and Shaw manages to pull it off in a mere 148 pages, without it feeling rushed; impressive? Definitely.


Now, once again, there is a warning on the front cover, and please, please adhere to it, because if you don't, and you're not the type of audience that this book is intended for, it is likely to make you ill, or worse. It won't be for you, and the author doesn't want to offend people unintentionally. Fans of extreme horror - go grab it.


My rating 5/5 - fantastic job.


In addition, look out for a unique brand of perfume, a strange use for a toothbrush, and some stress relievers that will put a smile on your face.







Thursday, 11 February 2016

Book review - Stuart Keane - 89


I received an advanced reader copy of Stuart Keane's latest offering; 89, we follow the story of a succesful author; Greg Irving. A man that has made himself succesful at writing by insisting on pushing himself, and by his own integrity. He has three simple rules that he abides by to remain productive;

Write 5000 words per day, minimum, no excuses.
To remain off the internet duting this time.
Always take Sunday's off as a break.

Greg is a man that likes to keep strange hours, preferring the solace that the early morning hours offer to write. He is a also a man addicted to coffee. I had to do a double take at one point at the beginning of this book, as I felt I may have been reading Keane's own memoirs..

The book begins with Greg just finishing up an all night writing shift, after hammering out 15,000 words in order to meet a tight writing deadline. With the work almost complete and ready to go, he makes the mistake of resting his eyes for a moment.

Three hours later, and Greg is awoken by a phone call from his agent; Sean, explaining that there has been a hitch with another author, who is meant to be  attending a convention in Sheffield the following day. Although originally protesting, he finds himself contractually bound to attend.

The only problem is that Greg, doesn't drive, so decides that he will take a National Express bus. Travelling through the night would allow for a quieter journey, allowing for some peace and quiet, a little reading, and maybe a nap.

Booking his tickets, he grabs some food at a restaurant near to the station, and the bus sets off at 10pm to arrive in Sheffield the following morning. A journey that consists of 89 miles of road. Having checked with the driver, only four people have booked for the trip - bliss. Armed with his iPod and Kindle, Gregg finds a good seat, and settles down ready for the long trip ahead.

Everything is going well, until another passenger; Jessica boards the bus, and takes the seat right next to him. From this point inwards, things start to get a little interesting.

The first thing that I will say about this book, is that it's unlike the violent, depraved horror stories that Keane's readers may have become accustomed to reading, and more like the style of his first book; The Customer is Always... However, in 89, he makes the reader feel just as uncomfortable, only in a totally different way.

The writing is typical of Keane; intense, atmospheric, dark and brooding. From the moment that Greg gets onto the bus, you know that something is going to happen, but you are unsure of what, and in which order it is going to be played out.

There are a couple of plot twists that are really quite clever, and work well with the story. Its a psychological thrill thats up there with the best of them. It's a slow burn to begin with, but all good things come to those who wait. 

Right up to the end, you're left guessing, up until the finale where once more, Keane can't resist throwing in just one last aspect for good measure.

There are certain authors, that I could identify their work without being told who it was written by. Stuart Keane is quickly   becoming one of those writers for me, the consistent level of quality and distinction of his work is phenomenal. There is nothing stopping him at the moment. He has proven that he can write shorts that scare the pants off people, he is capable of full length novels ranging from contemporary horror though to urban tales of revenge and heroics, and now comes back with a superbly taut thriller. Fans of writers such as James Patterson or Lee Child will lap this up.

My rating 5/5. A great read.