Archive for July, 2016

9781935738848-Perfect.indd

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press

Length: 220 Pages

Release Date: June 24, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour for Stolen Away

My first introduction to Kristin Dearborn’s work was her DarkFuse novella Woman In White from earlier this year. I was blown away by that story which was the perfect mix of atmospheric tension and plenty of gruesome scenes that would appeal to just about any horror fan. In addition to that, I loved how Dearborn was able to take a familiar and well-known legend and morph it into something unique. After I read Woman In White I knew I had to read more of her work, so I was excited to dive into Stolen Away which is a tale of demonic evil and a mother’s fight to protect her children at all costs.

Stolen Away opens strongly with a single line that is a nightmarish scenario for any parent, “The baby was gone”. That is the first thought that pops into Trisha Callahan’s mind after waking up in the sweltering heat of her apartment. No matter how many times she tells herself she was crazy and that it was impossible, she just couldn’t shake that nagging feeling that something isn’t right. As she gathers her bearings, she hears her daughter Kourtney’s screams piercing the heavy air of the apartment. After a few moments of frantically searching for a way to open the locked door of Kourtney and Braydens room, Trisha finally busts into the room and sees a sight that would make any parent’s heart drop – an empty crib. After finally calming her daughter down, Trisha gets her to tell her what happened and what she says causes Trisha’s world to fall apart – a monster took him.

Not knowing what to do after Trisha descends into a haze of confusion, Kourtney calls her father, Joel Preston. He heads over to find out what happened pissed because of how is ex is acting and worried about the two mobsters staking out his house. When he arrives, it is obvious that there is a lot of painful memories between them. Although they fight, Joel calms down long enough to help take care of Trisha and get her to tell him what happened. As they are debating what to do, a deranged man shows up in their doorway with a gun and makes ominous mention of demons and the fact that Brayden is missing. Before they can ask him any questions as to how he knows about Brayden, he kills himself in front of them. After this horrific incident, Joel and Trisha decide they have no choice but to hit the road to avoid explaining their impossible story to police officers and to search for answers regarding Brayden.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that they have to track down a demon in order to rescue Brayden, Joel’s own past rears its ugly head as mobsters Andretti and Barlow attempt to blackmail them if they don’t get the $1 million Joel owes them. After recounting the story of Brayden’s birth to Joel, they try to track down people who may have been there that night. They quickly realize that Trisha isn’t DEMON’s first victim and probably won’t be his last. As they put the pieces of the puzzle together and get closer to the truth, they team up with some interesting characters that have ties to DEMON’s world and journey into the jaws of hell to try to rescue Brayden and stop DEMON once and for all.

There are a lot of things I love about Stolen Away, but what impressed me the most about this book was the incredible characterization. Dearborn utilizes flashbacks from both Joel and Trisha’s lives throughout the story to demonstrate the hardship they have had to endure so far in their life and their struggle to better their lives. When the crazed gun man shoots himself in Trisha’s apartment, we learn that Trisha had seen death before when he best friend OD’d when she was just 15-years-old. Joel is a former dealer and hell, one memory Trisha has is of Joel bring a half-pound of meth home. What I loved about this story and Dearborn’s portrayal about these characters is that they are very real. A lot of times, the heroes or main character of a novel often seem fairly squeaky clean, but it is clear that both Joel and Trisha have a lot of baggage in their past and decisions they are not proud of. However, throughout the course of the novel we get to watch them grow from this period of hardship as they bond over trying to rescue Brayden and attempt to get their lives back on track even as chaos swirls around them.

While the characterization is strongest for the main characters Trisha and Joel, Dearborn also rounds out the cast of Stolen Away with some pretty interesting minor characters as well. There is the violent mob enforcer Barlow, who has the crazy idea that he will be able to wrangle a demon and make it bend to his will. My favorite though would have to be Tabatha, who works in an occult store and has special skills and knowledge that she uses to help Trisha and Joel. She has a vast knowledge of the occult and is a total badass that can see right through DEMON’s bullshit.

One of the things that I liked was that even though Joel seems to accept Trisha’s explanation of a demon coming to collect her son without question, their pasts add a wrinkle of tension to the story when it comes to the characters around them. Sure, in most horror novels that involve demons or some other supernatural entity, it often takes the characters a large portion of the novel to convince others that what is happening is real. But by giving the two main characters checkered pasts – a history of drug use and arrests – it helps drive the narrative. Joel and Trisha mostly rely on each other and only get help from people who had similar experiences. Who would listen to such an outlandish story from two people who have a troubled history and in Joel’s case a record? Had an encounter with DEMON not happened right before her very eyes, I doubt Joel’s mom would have believed their story.

Dearborn puts an original, frightening spin on the demon story while still maintaining traditional possession themes. Stolen Away is unlike any other story I have read because it’s not simply a possession story, but something far more sinister in my opinion. There is a lot of familiar demon characteristics that come into play especially when they meet Sydeny, a woman who offers her assistance in the battle against DEMON. She tells them that normal bullets wont work and the only way to hurt him is through iron bullets and salt. She also gives them a theory about the demon children and how Brayden could possibly grow up if they get him back. There is also the sacrifices and crossroads aspect of demon lore woven into the story as well.

Also, Dearborn nails some really great and chilling possession scenes in this book. The first time that Trisha’s body is taken over by DEMON, that whole sequence is just incredible. While it definitely has the hallmarks of classics like The Exorcist, there is enough of Dearborn’s own originality and tiny details there that makes the scenes really pop. I don’t want to spoil too much of it because coming across these scenes is half the fun of reading Stolen Away, but during the exorcism there is a scene that utilizes Trisha’s tattoos that I thought was brilliant. There is also some scary creature’s other than DEMON at work. Let’s just say that I will never look at retriever’s the same way again after reading Stolen Away! 

While Stolen Away is a pretty dark story, there are moments of humor that just adds to the enjoyment of the novel and make Joel and Trisha even more realistic characters. When they learn that salt weakens DEMON, they run into a 7-11 and buy all the salt in the store. Joel then ponders if it has to be iodized or if it had to be rock salt. That sort of obliviousness and silly questions is how most normal people would react to a situation the defies everything they know about the world and their own personal beliefs.

There are only a few moments in this novel that didn’t really work for me. There is an interlude focusing on Trisha’s friend Cherry that details the aftermath her interaction with Demon. I liked the section by itself and it is an essential component to the story because we see the impact DEMON has on these women’s lives. However, we go a long period without seeing Cherry again, so it sort of disrupts the flow of the story a little. I did like the juxtaposition between Cherry and Trisha though in how they handled the situation, because Trisha could have easily taken the same path. The mob story line seemed like a cool addition to the story and an added threat for Trisha and Joel to deal with, but it kind of fizzles out as the novel progresses. Barlow does make an important appearance in the novel’s second act, he also has a long absence like Cherry and seems like a weird addition to the story at that point.

Despite those minor issues, I still think Stolen Away is a brilliant novel and will definitely rank high on my “Best of” list at the end of the year. Woman In White was my introduction to Dearborn’s work and while I love that novella, I think Stolen Away is even better. I am a huge fan of Dearborn’s work and after reading these two awesome books I am kicking myself for not being aware of her stuff sooner. I highly recommend Stolen Away and I can’t wait to see what sort of dark stories she unleashes next!

Rating: 4.5/5

LINKS

Kristin Dearborn’s Official Website

Raw Dog Screaming Press’ Official Website

Purchase Stolen Away: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Raw Dog Screaming Press, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

Stolen Away tour graphic (3)

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Stolen Away!-  #StolenAway #DEMON #KristinDearborn

Stolen Away Synopsis

Trisha will admit she’s made a few mistakes in her life but that checkered past is behind her. She loves her kids, even if it’s tough being a single mom. But her loyalties are put to the test when her infant son disappears in the middle of the night, and his big sister says a monster took him.

Now Trisha has to face the full truth behind the one-night-stand that produced Brayden in all its scaly torridness – Brayden’s father wasn’t human and isn’t interested in sharing custody. However, even though DEMON has pulled this stunt many times before, he made a mistake when he chose Trisha. The one thing she won’t do is give up her son without a fight. Along with her ex-boyfriend, Joel, Trisha is dragged back into the seedy underworld in a desperate fight to reclaim her son, only this time she’s got a lot more to lose.

About the cover

The cover was created by Italian artist Daniele Serra. He is a winner of the British Fantasy Award and has worked with companies such as DC Comics, Image Comics, Cemetery Dance, Weird Tales Magazine and PS Publishing. Recently his work was featured as interior art in a scene of Stephen King’s The Cell, with Samuel Jackson looking it over. Visit his web site to see more of his art: http://www.multigrade.it

Praise for Kristin Dearbon

“In Stolen Away, Kristin Dearborn writes with a confidence and ferocity that demands you keep turning pages. Where lesser writers would flinch and look away, Dearborn tells the tale the way it should be, with cruelty and fascination for both her characters and the story. Kristin Dearborn isn’t just a writer to watch, she’s a writer to watch out for. If she’s swinging, you might want to duck, because she hits hard!—Bracken MacLeod, author of Mountain and Stranded

“Kristin Dearborn’s fast-paced horror thriller, Stolen Away, will possess readers as they strap in for a demonic thrill ride of sin and redemption.”—Stephanie M. Wytovich, author of An Exorcism of Angels

“Gripping nonstop suspense and unsettling horror that blazes the pages from start to finish. You’ll swear Stolen Away was written by a seasoned veteran of best-selling novels. Expect to want more after reading the second novel by Kristin Dearborn, an author whose work will shoot her straight to the top of reading lists.”—Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Evolutionist

“Kristin Dearborn catapults readers into an intricately layered world that is bleak and terrifying but never so damned as to be without hope or redemption.  If the devil, so to speak, is in the details, then this book raises hell, exploring not just demons internal as well as external, but also all the beautiful, heart-wrenching, contradictorily complex, powerful little things that define human experience. This book earns a prominent place of the bookshelf of any fan of demonic fiction.” —Mary SanGiovanni, author of The Hollower trilogy and Chills

“Horror born straight from a nor’easter, Dearborn’s Woman in White is a great read for a winter night—with a monster I’ll never forget.” Christopher Irvin, author of Federales and Burn Cards

“Kristin Dearborn’s Woman in White is a rip-roaring monster tale with sharp-eyed characterization and something to say about the power dynamics between men and woman. Thought-provoking and entertaining as hell!” Tim Waggoner, author of Eat the Night

“Great stuff! Suspenseful, quickly paced, unpredictable and wonderfully evil tale. Kristin Dearborn’s best yet!” Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

“Dearborn has a wonderful sense of the macabre, along with the ability to balance the spookier aspects of her work with well-rendered, solid characterizations…Sacrifice Island is a blazing fast read, with engaging characters and a compelling narrative.” The Maine Edge

Sacrifice Island is a fresh and interesting take on a tried and true horror setup.” Examiner

Kristin Dearborn Biography

kristin dearborn

If it screams, squelches, or bleeds, Kristin Dearborn has probably written about it. Kristin has written books such as Sacrifice Island (DarkFuse), Trinity (DarkFuse), and had fiction published in several magazines and anthologies. Stolen Away was recently a limited edition offered from Thunderstorm Books, which sold out.

She revels in comments like, “But you look so normal…how do you come up with that stuff?” A life-long New Englander, she aspires to the footsteps of the local masters, Messrs. King and Lovecraft. When not writing or rotting her brain with cheesy horror flicks (preferably creature features!) she can be found scaling rock cliffs or zipping around Vermont on a motorcycle, or gallivanting around the globe. Kristin’s latest DarkFuse release is Woman in White.

Find more about Kristin online at kristindearborn.com or Facebook.

Want to Feature Kristin Dearborn?

If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Kristin Dearborn, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at Hook of a Book Media: hookofabook@hotmail.com.

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BOOK INFO

Publisher: Alien Agenda Publishing

Length: 44 Pages

Release Date: July 16, 2016

Ever since Glenn Rolfe sent me a copy of his debut novel The Haunted Halls, I have been a huge fan of his work. It has been an awesome following Glenn’s career and seeing him develop into one of the best and most entertaining horror writers out there today. Not only is he a talented author, but he is a super nice guy and a huge promoter of the horror community. Trying to choose a favorite work of Glenn’s is nearly impossible because of the versatility he has displayed thus far in his career, and there is something different I love in each of his works.

Glenn’s last two releases – the full-length Blood and Rain and this year’s novella Things We Fear – were some of my favorite horror reads and I know Things We Fear will be on my “Best of” list at the end of the year. After finishing Things We Fear in March, I thought for sure I was going to have a long and agonizing wait for the release of his upcoming Chasing Ghosts. So it was an unexpected treat when Rolfe announced the release of Out of Range, a collection of three short stories that revolve around aliens. If you are a longtime reader of this blog, then you know I have a love/hate relationship with aliens, so this was a book I couldn’t wait to get my hands on!

Out of Range opens with a pretty cool foreword from fellow horror author Hunter Shea. It talks about all the things that fascinate people about aliens, UFOs and the unknown even though the prevailing thought is that aliens would destroy us in seconds flat. Despite the fact that aliens scare the hell out of me, I am still fascinated about talking about them and the possibilities their existence poses. While some may not enjoy the foreword, I thought that it set the mood for this collection perfectly and really connected with me as a fellow fan of all things alien. As I was reading, it definitely helped build my excitement to see what sort of extraterrestrial horror Rolfe has conjured up for this collection. The passion of that foreword and the fact that it is evident throughout these three stories is what made this such a blast for me to read.

Out of Range kicks off with Not of this World a terrifying story that channels the spirit of John Carpenter’s The Thing and mixes in a dash of Alien. Author Jonathan and his wife are expecting their first child and it should be the most joyous moment of their lives, but something is not right. Despite the fact that her husband told her that her nightmares were just a byproduct of her nervousness over the pregnancy, Gina is convinced that there really is something wrong with the baby. While Jonathan is supportive of her, the tension of her fears is beginning to put a strain on their marriage. The baby’s due date comes and goes and that’s when the movements that were unlike anything she expected began to happen. Jonathan was away at Cincinnati to sell books at a horror convention and Gina is convinced that she is in grave danger.

Jonathan is trying to call his wife from the convention and she doesn’t answer, though she always normally does. He frantically tries every number he can think of with no luck, so he decides to skip out on the convention early and races home to be with his wife. When Jonathan arrives home, he witnesses a horror beyond his imagination and is in a race for not just his survival, but the survival of everyone in his community and possibly the world.

This was the perfect choice to start off the collection as it is full of adrenaline-pumping scenes and the alien in this story is by far the most frightening creature in the collection. I don’t want to give too much away, but the scenes of the aliens arrival were definitely pretty creepy and definitely had me on the edge of my seat. It’s arrival is gruesome and violent and channels the blood-soaked characteristics of The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain. The descriptions are simple, yet devastatingly effective: “Shredding flesh, popping and ripping ligaments…” Out of the three stories, I would say this one is definitely the most frightening just in terms of the alien’s abilities and carnage it unleashes in such a short time span. It is a devastating and heartbreaking piece because the alien ruins the lives of the people it comes across and there are some truly bleak moments that really stuck with me about this story.

The Astronauts is a story I was honored to host on The Horror Bookshelf last year for a few weeks and I am glad to see it get a wider release in this collection. The story revolves around the mystery of what the narrator is hiding following the arrival of a mysterious race of beings known as The Astronauts on Earth.  The Astronauts try to prohibit any mention of the past or memories and employ a series of barbaric tortures to ensure compliance to their demands. The narrator, along with the other survivors. are all huddled up in squalor and filth. It used to depress them, but they have come to reluctantly accept their situation. Despite their shared predicament, he doesn’t trust any of them with his secret. The secret he is hiding is something that he feels would cause The Astronauts to kill him, so secrecy is key. However, The Astronauts possess formidable powers and keeping that secret will prove to be an almost impossible task.

The Astronauts are sort of a half way point between the other stories in terms of the level of danger they pose to the characters. The being in the first story is driven by an animalistic rage and hatred. The Astronauts of this story are cold and brutal, but they have a much more human-like intelligence. They band together in groups and formulate plans. What I loved about this story was that despite the bleak surroundings and his knowledge of what these beings are capable of, the narrator remains defiant.

While I enjoyed all of these stories for different reasons, the titular story of this collection is definitely my favorite. The aliens in this story announced their arrival by cutting the Internet. They only broadcast a single message to announce their presence and it was viewed on devices all across the globe. They only utter three sentences “Your world is not yours. We gave it life as we gave you. We are coming home.” After that single message, everything went silent and people are just sitting around waiting for them to return. The story views the invasion through the eyes of a single family, particularly the narrator Nick. He is staying with his sister Lindsay and attempting to help her raise her kids Jack and Wendi. His 16-year-old niece Wendi makes a discovery that sends chills down Nick’s spine and makes him fear the worst when she tells him what she has found.

This story is more subtle in its set-up. It is little moments – hisses in radio static, the loss of instant communication the Internet offers – that builds a sense of dread. Then there is the fact that the aliens delay their arrival. They make their creepy announcement and then there is nothing. Life carries on as usual for the most part and there is something even more ominous about that then if these beings had descended upon Earth blowing up everything in sight. That sense of an unknown future really gives you the chills and allows your imagination to run wild.

Part of the reason this one gets the nod as my favorite is that it incorporates some of the things that both fascinate and terrify me about aliens and there are some really memorable scenes that I think alien fans will really enjoy. Also, this story it has a powerful emotional core that adds a great layer to the story.

Out of Range is a brisk read at only 44 pages, but not a moment is wasted by Rolfe, who grabs the reader’s attention right from the beginning. I remember after I tore through this book on release day thinking about how each one of these stories would have made for a fantastic full-length novel. These stories work as stand alone stories and probably will stay that way, but I can’t help but wish for a continuation of the story Out of Range. If you are a fan of Glenn’s terrific novella Boom Town or just have a fascination with aliens, this is a collection you definitely want to add to your shelf. Out of Range is a quick, fun summer read that has gotten me excited not just for Chasing Ghosts, but also the sequel to Boom Town that is currently in the works!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Glenn Rolfe’s Official Website

Purchase Out of Range: Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK) 

stone work edit

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Mirror Matter Press

Length: 120 Pages

Release Date: June 15, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour for Stone Work

In Roid Rage, readers are introduced to Stone, a mercenary for hire who works for anyone that pays, regardless of how messy or violent the job may be and consequences be damned. This time he is working for a sleazy drug lord named Greg Warden. Greg is a notorious in his own right for his ability to escape jail time despite his various shady dealings around The City. Greg doesn’t need Stone’s help personally, but hires him to help out his son, Bobby. Bobby seemed to lack the drive and knowledge to take on a big role in the family business despite his father’s best efforts. However, Bobby has recently shown more promise and launched his own little enterprise to take advantage of the gym next store. Problem is, a thief has been stealing Bobby’s supply and despite their best efforts, they can’t seem to catch the culprit. So, Greg decides to step in and he hires Stone to take care of the problem for his son behind his back. Despite his newfound entrepreneurial spirit, Greg simply doesn’t trust his son to get the job done.

Stone enlists the help of Megan, his partner in crime, to help guide him through the logistics of the operation. Megan is in her mid-twenties and is a super intelligent hacker that has a bit more of an idealistic world view than Stone, but is still tough as nails. She helps Stone do all of the recon and handles the tech aspects of the Warden job that Stone has no idea how to do. After a brief recap of the mission, Megan gives Stone the all-clear to enter the store.

Once Stone is inside, he realizes his mission is shot to hell before it has even started. Something has happened to Bobby Warden and as Stone’s mind races to think of a way to salvage this job, he stumbles across an unimaginable horror and learns the real reason why Bobby’s vials of steroids were going missing.

I don’t want to spoil too much about the contents of the story, but Stabile does a great job of mashing up neo-noir elements with some awesome, classic science-fiction aspects. There are some fantastic transformation scenes throughout the entire second half of the story and I had a blast reading about all of the bizarre antagonists Stabile came up with for this story. There is also some truly gruesome moments in here that have an awesome B-movie quality, and I mean that in the best way possible! Stabile creates a tense scenario where it seems like Stone and his companions are completely screwed and keeps the action going until the bitter end. This was a perfect introduction into Stone and Megan’s world!

Plumb, Inc.

Stone is hurting for money and is offered a difficult job from a man named James Kidwell with the ominous warning, “You’re not the first man I’ve sent in there.” Stone isn’t scared of death – a fact that we learn earlier in Stone Work – and the warning sails over his head when he thinks about the two hundred grand pay-day promised to him upon completion. When Stone inquires about what happened to the others, Kidwell is honest with him and explains that the other P.I.s that were sent into do the job vanish without a trace. Despite months of recon work, Kidwell is unable to learn just what it is Plumb, Inc. actually does. Kidwell turns to Stone for help because he fears he is next on the company’s hit list after investigating the company for months following allegations they were responsible for the death of his niece.

He hires Stone to infiltrate the building in an attempt to destroy all of their records and give him time to disappear before they catch him. Stone meets up with Megan later in the evening at a local diner to discuss the job and he learns is also the only place that really gives Megan any problems from a hacking perspective. She tries to hack into their servers remotely and finds it is completely guarded, so Stone has to download the virus directly to their server. The change in plan sets Stone on edge and he gets a bad feeling about the job. After laying out their plan, Stone heads to the building and meets a hysterical man outside the building who offers him one final hair-chilling warning before he enters the building – “Don’t go in there. No one goes in there at night. Don’t you know that?”

Stone enters the building and the job sees way to easy at first for the large payday he was promised, but that quickly changes as he navigates the seemingly desolate building. He begins seeing things that defy earthly explanation and as he ventures further into depths of Plumb, Inc. headquarters, he learns the horrifying truth behind the building and the people who run it.

I loved the creation of Plumb, Inc. and the air of mystery surrounding it is what drives this story for me. There are also various rumors that swirl around the complex with conspiracy theories ranging from you standard shadowy, government weapons lab all the way to the building serving as a gateway to Hell. The truth behind Plumb, Inc. is definitely something I didn’t expect! At first I thought it was going to be a little too similar to ‘Roid Rage, but there is a whole host of weird stuff going on inside the walls of the Plumb, Inc. building that helps it stand out. This story kind of reminds me of an episode of The Twilight Zone crossed with Cabin in the Woods and was probably my favorite of the stories from a content perspective.

I also liked that this story took part largely in the contained setting of the Plumb, Inc. building. When you consider all of the crazy rumors around the building and how they get your brain working overtime on what the truth is, it really ratchets up the suspense and makes the big reveal that much more shocking. I mean seriously, who would expect all of that to be housed in one nondescript office building?

Godless City opens with a conversation between Megan and Stone about why Stone recently turned down a job despite the fact that his money was low. If there is one thing I have learned about Stone and his past exploits, is that this job must have been pretty crazy for Stone to say no! As Megan tries to get Stone to open up, a mysterious small man named Keagan knocks furiously on the door and storms into Stone’s apartment with a book that he claims will change the world. The book is supposedly definitive proof regarding an aspect of civilization in The City and could shatter the society built up after the Final War.

Despite his best judgement and the fact that the book was stolen from Mayor Nelson himself, Stone finds himself listening to Keagan’s pleas for help and is starting to succumb to the allure of another large payday. Stone finally agrees to take on the job of delivering the book to one of Keagan’s contacts in the newspaper business. After agreeing to the job, Stone and Megan quickly find themselves the new target for Mayor Nelson’s sadistic killers known as the Devil Dogs. To make matters worse, they must also navigate the seedy darkness of The Alleys and keep the book out of the hands of a deadly religious cult.

I think Godless City is the strongest story in Stone Work when it comes to the world-building that goes into The City and its belief systems. This is also the story where Stabile sort of pokes at the weird alternate history that is used as a central building block of Stone Work. We also learn a bit more about Stone’s history and his involvement with shady gang leaders and other black market operators as they navigate The Alleys. There is also some really cool scenes that delve into the futuristic aspects of the book.  People have chips that give away their location and then there is the pretty cool weapon known as the “blunder ball”. The blunder ball is essentially the nastiest weapon available in The City and vaporizes a person and all of the energy that makes up their bodies, preventing them from reaching the afterlife.

I loved the relationship between Stone and Megan throughout the course of Stone Work. They seem like two polar opposites and yet they work oddly well together. Megan is a bit of an idealist, bursting with personality and Stone is a bit more pragmatic and nihilistic. Megan hates when Stone tries to relay details about his job that involve violence whereas Stone has a complete detachment about it. They also banter back and forth quite a bit and Megan is able to trade barbs with Stone just as well as he throws them.

I also loved Stone’s back story. Stones face is ruined from his past on the Wall and he frequently lurks in the shadows, especially around Megan. He says he doesn’t care about his appearance, but his tendency is to stay in the shadows and that may have to do with the subtle romantic tension between the two. Stone’s history is so horrific that even in the condensed form of the story Stone recounts in ‘Roid Rage, it is no wonder how he got his nickname. There is also mentions of how he has accepted death seemingly multiple times a week. When Stone is in between jobs, he is sleeping in alleys and eating out of dumpsters, which may explain why he is susceptible to a lot of these jobs that are crazy even by futuristic hit-man standards.

I really loved the format Stabile utilizes throughout Stone Work. Rather than have this serve as a traditional novel or novella, Stone Work is a novel of stories that serve almost like case files to the various cases Stone has taken on throughout the years. This may seem like a fairly simple structural choice, but I feel it helps make the book stand out and adds more enjoyment to the story overall. It also provides a slew of opportunities for future stories featuring Stone and Megan and possibly further looks into the history of The City. While I was reading I couldn’t help but think of a ton of scenarios that would continue Stone and Megan’s adventures. These are just a few of them that I thought about – What caused the catastrophic last war?  What happened to Stone’s family? What kind of man was Stone before he got sentenced to the Wall? How did the religion of The City rise to prominence? What are the abberations that live on the other side of The Wall? 

While I loved this approach of quick, standalone stories and how they allowed me to sort of construct all of these scenarios in my imagination to keep the story going, some of the endings/transitions between stories seemed to fall kind of flat after all of the chaos Stone and Megan go through. I must admit though, Stone and Megan have to be complete badasses to  be able to survive the seemingly impossible situations they find themselves in!

Overall, I absolutely loved Stone Work and had a blast reading it! Once I got started and immersed myself into the world of The City, I was hooked and tore through the book over the course of an afternoon. I am a big fan of Stabile’s writing and look forward to checking out what he has planned for the future. I think it goes without saying that I hope there are more adventures featuring Stone and Megan in the future!

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

Dominic Stabile’s Official Website

Mirror Matter Press’ Official Website

Purchase Stone Work: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

Stone Work tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Stone Work!- #StoneWork #finalwar #wasteland

Stone Work Synopsis

City stands in the irradiated dunes of America, nearly two centuries after the Final War. The wall surrounding it is a buffer for the wasteland inhabitants who covet entrance, and a trap for the citizens smothering in its polluted air and drowning in its blood-filled streets.

Stone is a criminal for hire. Robbed of his loved ones and scarred almost beyond recognition, he navigates City’s darkest corners, doing some of its darkest deeds. In this collection, he’ll pursue an elusive thief, bent on raising an army of juiced up mutants. He’ll break into the office building of a mysterious corporation, only to find the executives are less into sending faxes and more into performing hexes.

In the final chapter, he’ll track a man through the Alleys of South City with the help of his tech savvy partner, Megan, and together they’ll face the sentient darkness of City’s deepest underbelly, and confront the violent potential of City’s most dangerous cults.

Part Blade Runner. Part Sin City. Stone Work is an action-packed ride through the rain-slicked streets of a dark, unforgiving urban landscape, rife with sadistic criminals, inter-dimensional abominations, and a creeping darkness that seeks to erase the last, now almost mythical traces of human goodness left in a world always teetering over the edge of its own extinction.

Praise for Dominic Stabile

“With Whiskey for Breakfast, Dominic Stabile provides a page turning mystery that kept me guessing as to who the real killers might be.” – Brenda Casto, Readersfavorite.com

Dominic Stabile Biography

Dominic_Stabile

Dominic Stabile’s short fiction has appeared in Fossil Lake III: Unicornado!, Sanitarium Magazine, The Horror Zine, Atticus Review, Far Horizons, and has been adapted as a radio play by Manor House Productions. He has held jobs as a warehouse worker, cashier, bookstore associate, textbook manager, and carpenter. He’s a born southerner, transplanted to Penobscot, Maine by a desperate desire to escape retail work. When not writing or reading, he enjoys horror, sci-fi, and noir films, westerns, and bourbon.

Read his blogs on all things horror at dominicstabile.com.

Want to Feature Dominic Stabile?

If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Dominic Stabile, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Marketing and Publicity at Mirror Matter Press and Hook of a Book Media: hookofabook@hotmail.com.