David Bernstein “A Mixed Bag of Blood” Review

Posted: April 6, 2016 in Reviews, Uncategorized
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Publisher: Sinister Grin Press

Length: 86 Pages

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour for A Mixed Bag of Blood

My introduction to David Bernstein’s work was through his bleak 2014 novel The Unhinged. I remember reading this novel and being blown away by Bernstein’s depiction of extreme horror with antagonists capable of truly horrific brutality. While the engaging and inventive plot is what initially drew me into The Unhinged, the things that I really enjoyed was Bernstein’s unflinching approach to putting his characters through the wringer and his ability to keep readers guessing. Just when it seemed clear where the story was going, Bernstein would throw a curveball that took the reader to totally unexpected places.

That same sense of unpredictability is found in Bernstein’s short story collection A Mixed Bag of Blood. A Mixed Bag of Blood is a relatively short collection at 86 pages, but Bernstein manages to take readers on a thrilling journey by offering up ten stories that run the gamut from straightforward horror to bizarre, gross-out stories that will make your stomach churn! I enjoyed the collection as a whole, but the following stories were clear-cut favorites.

“The Trojan Plushy” – This story follows Brad Raling, whose family was killed by a drunk driver who gets off the hook due to breathalyzer recall. After spending weeks in a tailspin of despair, Brad gets a visit from his neighbor Miss Conrad, the neighborhood recluse. She brings him a pie that contains an ominous note that offers him the possibility to get the justice he craves. The set-up for this story seems like your standard revenge tale, but Bernstein throws in plenty of unexpected twists that make for an exciting and violent opening to the collection that grips you right away. I don’t want to give too much away about what happens, but Bernstein crafts an ending that packs a powerful, emotional impact.

“Eaten Un-Alive “- This is one of my favorite stories in A Mixed Bag of Blood. Here, Bernstein lays out a scenario where vampires around the world are struggling to survive as zombies begin to overrun civilization. This story details the journey of a vampire named Remington as he scours the countryside in a desperate attempt to survive. Just when Remington is about to give up his search for the blood he desperately needs, he stumbles upon a house that offers the first sign of life in days. While this seems to be the answer to Remington’s problems, the situation is not all that it appears to be.

I absolutely loved the premise of this story and it combines two of my all-time favorite horror creatures – zombies and vampires. Even though Remington is a monster, he is bursting with personality and you are instantly drawn into his journey. It was also interesting to read this type of story told from the perspective of another undead character as it poses a whole different set of challenges than a traditional zombie story.

“Invasion” – As soon as I read the first paragraph of this one and figured out that it was an alien story, I was instantly sold. However, this isn’t your typical alien invasion story and that is part of what makes this such an interesting story. The aliens mechanism for world domination is a modified cockroach and when it crosses paths with a terrifying young boy named Timmy, the results are shocking. The ending of “Invasion” is incredibly cool, but I have warn you, it will probably make you itch for days!

“Samurai Zombie Killer” – This is probably my overall favorite story from A Mixed Bag of Blood. This is the story of Kenji Matsuko, a samurai who is tasked by his master on his deathbed to confront his brother Makito, who is dabbling in the dark arts. The title pretty much says it all when it comes to what to expect from this story. I have read a ton of zombie stories and although I can appreciate the straight forward takes on these creatures, I love when an author manages to do something original with the mythology. While I can appreciate “Samurai Zombie Killer” as a standalone short story, I wish Bernstein would flesh out this story into a full-length novel or novella. I never would have thought of pairing zombies and samurais together in a million years, but now that I have read this story, I can’t imagine how someone didn’t write one sooner!

“Small Town, Big Trouble”  – There is so much to love about this story, I don’t know where to begin! “Small Town, Big Trouble” takes a small town that has been hiding a sinister secret for generations. Four families are tasked with protecting the town and its secrets, but years of stress and guilt drive two men who belong to the inner circle to take a stand in an attempt to end the horror once and for all. I don’t want to spoil too much of this story, but Bernstein manages to take a well-known legend and craft a highly enjoyable short story that once again shows off his imagination.

In addition to these stories, Bernstein also introduces readers to a sentient booger, a cautionary tale about buying things at yard sales, and a slew of other creepy stories. What I like the most about this collection is that it shows off Bernstein’s versatility as an author. Bernstein unleashes a variety of styles throughout A Mixed Bag of Blood, so there is a story in there for all horror fans regardless of what type of horror they are into. Some of these styles weren’t what I would normally read on my own – “The Booglin” and “Pottymouth” immediately come to mind – but in the context of this collection, they work extremely well and I found them to be enjoyable reads. It was a lot of fun reading this collection and not really knowing what to expect from one story to the next.

While the stories collected in A Mixed Bag of Blood are wildly diverse in terms of style and subject matter, one thing that is consistent throughout the collection is a sense of fun that makes this a collection that is very easy to finish in one sitting. So, if you are willing to be a little adventurous in trying out different styles of horror, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of A Mixed Bag of Blood!

Rating: 4/5


David Bernstein’s Official Website

Sinister Grin Press’ Official Website

Purchase A Mixed Bag of Blood: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore!

A Mixed Bag of Blood tour graphic (1)

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about A Mixed Bag of Blood! – #AMixedBagofBlood #DavidBernstein #shortstories #horrorstories

A Mixed Bag of Blood Synopsis

From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing, and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre.

This is a Mixed Bag of Blood.

Praise for A Mixed Bag of Blood

“Dave Bernstein let his mind wander and his pen write where I know you’ll want to read. With an introduction by Kristopher Rufty, this is a reason to stay at home and read on a pleasant Saturday afternoon like I did.” –Cat After Dark

 Praise for David Bernstein

“David Bernstein delivers a fast-moving tale of desire and destruction that gives new meaning to the words, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Relic of Death twists reality and will leave you reflecting on your own personal Achilles heel long after you finished reading…” —Allan Leverone, author of Mr. Midnight

“A fascinating, unpredictable, ever-shifting tale of greed and desperation. Highly recommended!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

“Fast-paced, cinematic, and excellent. Horror fans gather around, it’s time for another chilling tale from David Bernstein.”  —Keith Deininger, author of Within and Ghosts of Eden

“A harrowing, brutal thriller, Skinner is Bernstein at his best!” —Peter Giglio, author of Shadowshift

About David Bernstein

david bernstein

David Bernstein is originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people that like to eat raw human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls, The Tree Man, Witch Island, Relic of Death, Apartment 7C and the forthcoming Episodes of Violence. David writes all kinds of horror, from hair-raising ghost stories to gore-filled slashers and apocalyptic tales of terror. He loves hearing from his readers. You can reach him on Facebook, athttp://www.facebook.com/david.bernstein.3. Visit him at his website: davidbernsteinauthor.blogspot.com email dbern77@hotmail.com, or on Twitter at @Bernsteinauthor.


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