Sunday, 27 December 2015
Wednesday, 23 December 2015
Monday, 21 December 2015
Friday, 18 December 2015
Saturday, 5 December 2015
Thursday, 26 November 2015
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Monday, 2 November 2015
Saturday, 31 October 2015
Monday, 26 October 2015
Any fan of horror literature will probably agree that Halloween is an exciting time of year. There are always going to be a number of special releases for readers to feast their eyes upon. Why not opt for a fantastic short story collection with a Halloween theme?This new collection is one for readers who love short, chilling stories.
The book is a collection of ten dark tales from authors that are well established, and more than capable of giving the reader a fright. If, like me, you enjoy Halloween this is the perfect book for you to help you get in that mood.
I would really recommend this book to anyone. It has everything that a good collection needs; Dark twists, macabre characters and scares galore. The fantastic cover immediately grabs your attention and each story is presented with a unique image relating to the tale and a great foreword by Mark.
Mister Parker – A story about Benjamin Parker. A man that lived a simple life; he has no wife, no kids, he is a teacher at the local school. He has two things in life that he loves – books and astronomy. He absolutely hates Halloween because of a previous incident involving his father. He arrives home on Halloween evening feeling unwell, he goes to bed with a book. He is awoken when someone rings the doorbell. Is it the local juvenile’s playing pranks, or something more sinister?
The Maze – Four friends visit a local attraction, a corn maze run by the mysterious Miss Mackenzie. Follow Dozelle, Adam, Sean and Ashley in their journey through the corn. Ancient Celts believed that the evil ‘Sidh’ return for sacrifice during Samhain. This is an incredibly tense, creepy story.
Monster Night – Jonathan’s mom takes pride every year in making his Halloween costume. His mom’s friend tells him the story of the ‘pumpkin eater.’ Not a man that likes to consume pumpkins, somewhat the opposite.
Johnny Halloween – The sheriff of a small town comes across a convenience store where the clerk has been murdered. Two eye witnesses claim that they saw the killer – a man in a mask. He begins to recall his first shooting as the story unfolds with a fantastic twist.
All Souls Day – A unique, dark tale about the town of Orangefield as viewed from the perspective of a hawk. Three lives must be given in a tribute to the dark one every Halloween, taken by the hawk. But what happens when someone kills the bird?
Starting Early – The story of a woman - Miss Maggie. A woman who is preparing for Halloween. She must get the preparation done early along with the help of her little friend Cecily and her trusty iphone. Upon returning home one night she thinks that she has been burgled. Watch for another superb twist.
Freight Train Tommy – A horror story set in rural Austrialia about a boy – Luke. Luke visits the local librarian after being bullied at school by Sammy because of his super hero costume. She gives him a blank page from a book to read when, claiming that he will know when it is the right time to read. As the freight train thunders into town, so does Tommy. A very creepy little number.
There Are Corners In The World Where Lost Things Gather – Possibly my favourite story of the collection. A story about two brothers growing through life together, gaining the interest of girls and experimenting with things that they shouldn’t be. Its Halloween, they decide begrudgingly to try trick or treating. Bored, they decide to up the ante by heading to the Draeger House. A fantastic story - Imagine Stand By Me, mixed with The Frighteners.
The Under the Tutelage of Mr Trueheart – Ten year old schoolboy Warren Enck strikes up an unlikely friendship with an elderly gentleman; Mr Trueheart, after helping him out through the cubs. Mr Trueheart has a gift. A gift to see people as they really are. Its Halloween, Warren is on the way to the old man’s house, his face painted in white greasepaint. Between themselves they are on a mission to save the world, Mr Truehart is to entrust Warren with two items of great value.
The Darkest Night Of The Year – Roeselyn Saunders awakes early one morning, its nearly dawn. She shudders as she remembers that tomorrow is Halloween. She hates what her Mother refers to as ‘the dark holiday’ following a fright that she suffered at a young age - the result of a cruel prank. She wakes the next morning feeling shaky from a bad dream. She decides to head out and run some chores. She looks forward to getting home and locking herself away in her bedroom with a good book. When she gets back she has a shock when she finds a makeshift grave, complete with headstone in for front garden. Shaking with dread she runs to bed, a few hours later she hears a knock at her door. When she looks out of her window to investigate, what she sees makes her pass out with fear.
Sunday, 25 October 2015
Saturday, 24 October 2015
Monday, 12 October 2015
Sunday, 11 October 2015
Saturday, 26 September 2015
Thursday, 24 September 2015
Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Tuesday, 15 September 2015
Sunday, 13 September 2015
For Stuart Keane's latest release - Cine, we return to Lake Whisper, a place that has seen its fair share of horror.
The town has a new cinema - A state of the art business, with its choice of eleven screens it is by far the most established cinema within the county (at least).
The book is written in a day by day format, starting with the Cinema opening on Thursday – Day Zero and following through to its finale on the following Friday.
The hustle and bustle of the lobby, a mix up over the payment of their tickets sees a couple of cinema goers exchanging words with a rude girl in the queue after sniping at them from beneath her beanie hat and hoodie. A cinema worker observes the altercation from a distance whilst standing on his pedestal surveying his domain - Enter Keeley and Jordan. We cut to a scene where the same woman is forced to make a decision that could result in life or death. From a distance, an observer watches.
The next section sees the introduction of the main characters, Huey and Leonard, Gemma a girl with a traumatic childhood, her friend Louise and her older sister Michelle. Michelle and Leonard are unofficially an item, he has tickets for the brand new cinema and has offered to take the group. We also get introduced to Alex - a local business man and Huey's employer. His main source of business - protection and racketeering, he is decided on shaking down Robert Benton, the cinema owner, something that doesn’t quite go to plan.
Saturday morning and the friends meet up at the cinema to watch the film, it starts at 10am. Michelle and Leonard couple up leaving the remaining member of the group to chat between themselves. After the film, Huey offers to treat the group to a McDonalds, The only problem - One of them is missing. None of them can recall seeing them since during the film. The group begin to get concerned when they don't turn up after 30 minutes.
They report the disappearance to the police, DI James Sutton advises that there is nothing that the police can do officially for another six hours but promises to stop by at the cinema later that evening to look around – a decision that he will severely regret making, he finds the missing person, but at his own personal cost.
Invitations go out to the entire town, offering free tickets to a movie showing on Friday. The lure of a freebie leads half of the town to attend the showing as Robert Benton unveils his surprise – screen nine. A vast, six hundred seated auditorium where he is to put on a show that people have never seen the likes of.
This book has cemented Keane as a true kingpin of English horror writers in my mind, he portrays situations that are believable yet truly terrifying. As a reader you get the feeling that you are caught up in a Wes Craven movie. The background of each character is laid out perfectly, not a single detail is left out. It is fast paced, and although the story has many layers it flows seamlessly. There are several brutal scenes in various stages of the book and the tension builds day by day right up until the climax – total depravity, a blood bath that will leave even the most extreme horror fan in a state of shock. Look out for the cameo parts in the latter part of the book, and a couple of references to other stories by the author, superb work.
Saturday, 12 September 2015
A succesful business man, business is a gamble. Something that Duncan is about to discover. As his debts mount and his luck continues to run out. He is left with only a small amount of money left in his back account, his luxury home - the penthouse in the luxury Watch Tower apartment complex and his laptop computer.
Duncan has a brainwave about setting up his own reality TV show. He has seen it so many times before, all of these shows were set up - fake. His would be real. Using the last of his money he buys the necessary equipment and presses record.
As things begin to unfold, Duncans deluded plan falls flat on its face and he has to desperately think of ways to bring viewers to his site.
A dark story with some great dialogue. Watch out for the unique, hilarious twist.