Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Hemenway’

equilbrium_overturned

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Grey Matter Press

Length: 256 Pages

Copy provided by publisher for an honest review

Equilibrium Overturned is the newest anthology from the stellar team at Grey Matter Press and focuses on stories that are a blend of horror, science fiction and dark fantasy, much in the same spirit of their previous anthology Ominous Realities. I am a huge fan of all of Grey Matter Press’ anthologies and I always look forward to their projects that push the boundaries of traditional horror. Equilibrium Overturned features excellent stories from a few familiar faces from Grey Matter Press’ other anthologies along with writers appearing for the first time. While choosing a favorite from this anthology is almost impossible, the following stories were the ones that really stuck with me.

The anthology gets off to a gripping start with Jeff Hemenway’s “The Final Testimony of Molly Ryder”, which blends elements of the horror, science fiction and crime genres into a wildly original story. The story focuses on a man named Kurtis Arlington, a Linkguide for the government’s Sandman program. The program is a sort of new punishment for criminals where they are drugged into a state deeper than a coma and imprisoned in nuspace, sort of like a prison for the mind. Arlington has been tasked with interviewing notorious serial killer Bruce Kristoff to try and give closure to the family of one of his victims. What follows is a dangerous game of cat and mouse, with Kristoff and Arlington trading memories over their psylink and hurtling toward an explosive conclusion. I loved this story’s unique subject matter and Hemenway’s superb ability to keep the reader guessing before finally unveiling a twist that I definitely didn’t see coming!

“Martial Law” by JG Faherty – The story has a bleak opening as we learn right away that the end of the world has already come and gone. While telling the reader right away that everything is most certainly NOT okay may seem like it would spoil the story, the suspense comes from trying to figure out just what went wrong and what it means for humanity. The story takes place in a regular small town, the kind where people feel safe and comfortable. That false sense of security is what makes the events that unfold on Main Street that day truly horrifying.  Even when the true nature of what is what is happening is revealed and it seems everything is, Faherty takes a left turn and puts a fresh spin on a popular horror creature.

“Through The Ghostlands” by Rose Blackthorn is an atmospheric post-apocalyptic that details the struggle of three survivors of a global catastrophe as they search a desolate landscape with the hope of finding other survivors. While their search has proved fruitless so far, it slowly becomes apparent that they are not truly alone. Blackthorn does an excellent job portraying the desperation and hopelessness that the characters face and the last few pages of the story definitely gave me the chills! I am a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories and this one is definitely one of my favorites. While it works well as a stand-alone short story, I hope that Blackthorn continues the story of the Ghostlands because I would love to learn more about the characters and the outcome of their journey!

“Wombie” by Martin Slag –  Small-town veternatrian Dr. Ethan Sarvas is baffled when a little girl and her mother bring in an exotic creature known as “Wombie”, who is suffering from an unknown ailment. Wombie was given to the little girl by her uncle, Robert Frugal, who was sent to a mental health facility after crafting an unusual crop circle pattern in a local wheat field. After examining Wombie, it becomes clear to Dr. Sarvas that Robbie may be the only one with the answers he needs. However, the more information that Dr. Sarvas uncovers, he quickly realizes that Wombie’s condition is far from normal. This story has plenty of truly creepy scenes and I am definitely looking forward to reading more of Slag’s work.

Long time readers of the Horror Bookshelf already know that I am a huge history buff and that is one of the reasons I was drawn to Sean Eads’ story, “The Alamo Incident: From The Chronicle of Timaeus Shields”. The story takes place around the time of the Battle of the Alamo, one of the most well-known events in American history. The story focuses on Timaeus Shields, a mercenary for President Andrew Jackson who requests he take on a special assignment. President Jackson gives Timaeus a package containing numerous documents and a shoe that seems to have been melted by some unknown substance. Timaeus begins sorting through the documents which seem to be a random assortment of letters detailing rather mundane events that usually do not coincide with Timaeus’ work.  However, when he reads a letter that details a mysterious force that has been slaughtering the troops at the Alamo, he sets off on a quest to discover the truth.

Aside from the historical aspect, the aspect of the story that I enjoyed the most was the originality of the plot and the force that was responsible for killing the soldiers. I don’t want to spoil it for those who have yet to read Equilibrium Overturned, but rest assured that the big reveal of the story will come as a surprise.

Equilibrium Overturned closes with “Sunrise” by Tony Knighton, a story about a father who must navigate through a dangerous city ravaged by an environmental disaster in order to save his son’s life. Despite its dystopian setting, “Sunrise” is a realistic story that captures the lengths people will go to in order to try to save the people they care about. This story really struck a chord with me, especially when I reached the story’s emotionally powerful ending.

I have been raving about Grey Matter Press’ books for a while now on The Horror Bookshelf and that trend will continue with Equilibrium Overturned. They are  having a huge year so far with all the early praise for John F.D. Taff’s incredible The End In All Beginnings  and I have a feeling that momentum will continue with the release of Equilibrium Overturned. Grey Matter Press is hands down one of the best publishers of dark fiction and the quality of their books makes each one of them an absolute must-own.

Rating: 5/5

Links

Grey Matter Press’ Official Website

List of authors and stories featured in Equilibrium Overturned

Purchase Equilibrium Overturned on Amazon

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darkvisions1

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Grey Matter Press

Length: 256 Pages

Submitted by the publisher for review

Dark Visions – Volume One is one of the first anthologies released by the stellar horror publishing company Grey Matter Press. A few weeks ago I posted a review of their latest, Ominous Realities, and mentioned that they are putting out some of the best anthologies around. After having just read Dark Visions – Volume One, I still stand by that statement. Edited by Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson and nominated for a 2013 Stoker Award, Dark Visions – Volume One contains thirteen horror short stories that immediately grab your attention and refuse to let go.

I am a huge fan of horror short stories because I love seeing an author build a complete world full of vibrant scenes and characters in such limited space. It builds tension and keeps you turning the pages until you reach the final conclusion, often leaving a sense of ambiguity that allows the story to linger long after it is finished. Dark Visions- Volume One delivers all of the best traits of the format and a diverse selection of authors to create a must-read collection.

Just like Ominous Realities, this collection features writers that I already enjoy and writers that I have not heard of before. There were a few stories from the writers I discovered in Dark Visions that really stuck with me in a profound way and I wish were novels instead of short stories (though that’s just me being greedy).

Jeff Hemenway’s story, “The Weight Of Paradise”, is an absolutely stunning story and ranks as one of my more recent favorites. The story focuses on Alfie, a man who was diagnosed with leukemia and near death before his scientist girlfriend Sophie discovers a cure. While the discovery helps cure him of his disease, it has horrible consequences for everyone involved.

I can’t speak for the author’s motivations for writing the story or his inspiration, but this story instantly made me think of a certain type of horror monster as soon as I read it. Alfie and his friends share some remarkable similarities to these monsters, but there is a fresh and horrifying twist that makes their origin unique (if I am right in my assumption). The story itself is well-written and engaging, but it is the ending’s emotional sucker-punch that really makes “The Weight of Paradise” shine.

“Second Opinion” by Ray Garton is probably the scariest story I have ever read involving writers since Joe Hill’s “Best New Horror”. Garton wastes no time in grabbing your attention by starting his story with a simple yet horrifying question – “Do you know what it’s like to cut up your best friend with a hacksaw?”. What follows is a haunting recollection by an author named Greg, where he explains just what drove him to murder his best friend. What really scared the hell out of me with this story was the fact that it was, for the most part, plausible. Garton throws in a dash of the supernatural, but most of the story is something that could realistically happen in real life. I always wanted to be a writer, but after reading Garton’s tale, the prospect scares the shit out of me!

Milo James Fowler’s “What Do You Need?” is the haunting story of a man named John who wakes up in a mysterious room devoid of any windows, doors or other means of escape. There is little in the room except basic necessities, an ominous television broadcasting nothing but static and a telephone. The telephone does not seem to work in any capacity until finally a voice asks, “What do you need?” There is no other communication from the person on the other line, despite John’s multiple requests for answers, just the same phrase every single time he picks up the phone.

I loved “What Do You Need?” for its psychological elements. I couldn’t even begin to imagine being trapped in an inescapable situation, and Fowler does an excellent job putting the reader into John’s shoes and conveying the desperation someone would feel in that situation. Another reason I probably connected so much with this story is it had the atmosphere of a classic “Twilight Zone” episode and that is one of my favorite TV shows of all time.

Brian Fatah Steele’s “Delicate Spaces” focuses on a small group of paranormal researchers who are drawn to the Rayburn Hotel in order to investigate the numerous reports of unexplained phenomena that occur there. Most of the incidents seem to occur in the back hallway of the hotel where two mysterious items are stored. The items in question are a decorative mirror and a tapestry with an abstract design that hangs on the wall directly opposite the mirror. Most of the sightings that originate from the Rayburn Hotel occur when visitors look at the tapestry in the reflection of the mirror, causing them to see things that are not really there. Many of the sightings are seemingly harmless, until a woman says she sees an army in the tapestry and flees the hotel.

After not experiencing any of the alleged activity during their stay, one of the researchers decides to conduct a last-ditch experiment in the hallway with low-frequency generators. This experiment leads to the shocking revelation of what exactly is occurring at the Rayburn Hotel and it is definitely something you will not see coming. I don’t usually get scared that easily, but after reading “Delicate Spaces”, it is only a matter of time before the events of the story wind up in my nightmares!

I also loved “Mister Pockets” by Jonathan Maberry and “Show Me” by John F.D. Taff. These stories were the ones I was looking forward to reading the most when I first received Dark Visions and they were every bit as good as I hoped. This is an absolute “must read” anthology chock full of scary tales and you are guaranteed to find at least one new author you will love!

Rating: 5/5

Grey Matter Press’ Official Website

List of authors and stories featured in Dark Visions – Volume One

Purchase Dark Visions – Volume One on Amazon