Posts Tagged ‘JG Faherty’

deathsrealm

BOOK INFO

Length: 316 Pages

Publisher: Grey Matter Press

As longtime readers of The Horror Bookshelf are probably already aware, I am a huge fan of the anthology collections released by Grey Matter Press. Each anthology they have released has featured a different theme, but the level of talent contained within the pages and the publisher’s commitment to outstanding dark fiction is apparent in every volume. After reading all of their releases, Grey Matter Press has established themselves as one of the few publishers who I would read any of their books without question based on the merit of their past releases.

When I heard about the release of Death’s Realm, it immediately became one of my most anticipated releases of 2015 and I must say, it did not disappoint. Contained within the anthology are 16 original horror tales that explore the unknowns of the afterlife. These are not your typical ghost or haunted house stories though, there is a ton of variety that push the boundaries of the genre to some exciting places!

As with any of Grey Matter Press’ previous anthologies, it is hard to pick favorites as each author conjures up some truly frightening and original stories that are sure to please horror fans. Everyone will have their own favorites, but these were a few that really stood out to me and beg for future re-reads.

“Some Other Day” by John F.D. Taff – My most anticipated story from this collection was John F.D. Taff’s latest, “Some Other Day”. It is the story of a father and his son struggling to deal with the aftermath of the death of the mother. The father slips into a downward spiral of depression, haunted by the constant memories of his wife while his son desperately clings to the few things that remind him of his mother. Despite their attempts at moving on, they never talk about their feelings and it takes a devastating event to bring them closer together and finally confront their grief. I have been a fan of Taff’s work ever since I first discovered him and it seems like he is operating at the peak of his powers lately. This story is downright heartbreaking and packs an emotional punch that makes it obvious why Taff has been dubbed “The King of Pain”. Now I could be totally wrong (and I probably am), but while reading this story, I couldn’t help but think of possible connections to the world depicted in “The Long, Long Breakdown” from Taff’s stellar collection The End in all Beginnings.

JG Faherty “Foxhole” – “Foxhole” follows two soldiers – Gaston and Pierre- who are childhood friends who find themselves in the midst of a war set in an undetermined future. Finding themselves outnumbered, the two friends must lean on each other for any hope of survival. They are lost in the jungle with no weapons, radio or food and all seems lost. Faherty’s writing is vivid and perfectly captures the brutality and carnage of war and the desperation felt by the characters. The twist at the end is a little predictable, but the way it is handled still sent shivers down my spine.

Brian Fatah Steele’s “Harder You Fall” – I remember reading Steele’s story “Delicate Spaces” in Dark Visions – Volume 1 and it was definitely one of the most frightening haunting stories I have read, so I was pretty excited to read what he came up with for Death’s Realm. “Harder You Fall” is a unique story of revenge that details the work of Madeline and Cavallero, necromancers who use their supernatural gifts to prey on the dead for their own personal gain. Madeline is dependent on Cavallero since he discovered her at her darkest point and helped her develop her powers to control and make sense of the frightening visions that led to her running away from home. However, it quickly becomes clear to Madeline that Cavallero has ulterior motives and she struggles with guilt over what Cavallero has helped her become and the things he made her witness. Madeline finally reaches her breaking point and turns to the spirits she has helped exploit to try to make things right. Steele’s descriptions of the spirits are truly horrifying, but the true evil comes from the sickening actions of the living characters.

Paul Michael Anderson’s “To Touch The Dead” takes place in a futuristic setting where people die and are given a serial number. Long after the people are gone, all that remains of their lives are personal belongings that contain traces of psychic energy which are stored in the building for the People’s History Project. These belongings are only accessible to Memory Coordinator’s, people who are able to tap into this energy and record the last moments of their owners before moving on to the next case. However, Gregor is not like most Memory Coordinators. I get the impression the Memory Coordinators and those behind the People’s History Project are emotionless and go about their duties with a sense of detachment, but Gregor is different. Gregor develops empathy for those who have passed on and digs deeper into the artifacts than any other Memory Coordinator in order to truly remember the people who others have long since forgotten. He pushes his abilities to the limit in his efforts and ultimately pays a heavy price.

All of these stories fall within the horror genre and are highly entertaining, but they also achieve something much more meaningful as they uncover some very raw and human emotions. Matthew Pegg’s “March Hays” contains plenty of chills, but at its core is the story of love and has a very touching ending. Jane Brook’s “The Weight” puts a supernatural spin on dealing with traumas of the past and learning to let go.

Death’s Realm is a truly great collection. I may have only highlighted a few of my favorites, but the anthology is full of great stories by some truly amazing authors. There is something for every horror fan here, whether you lean more towards atmospheric horror (Gregory L. Norris’ “Drowning”) or some of the bloodier takes on the genre (Simon Dewar and Karen Runge’s “High Art”). This collection is not to be missed!

2015 is shaping up to be a huge year for Grey Matter Press with at least three more books scheduled for release. First up is the brand new John F.D. Taff novella The Sunken Cathedralwhich will be released in March. There are also two more anthologies on the horizon, the music inspired Savage Beasts and Monsters. I am definitely looking forward to all of these releases as they are all on my “Most Anticipated Reads of 2015” list!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Grey Matter Press’ Official Website

List of authors and stories featured in Death’s Realm

Purchase Death’s Realm from Grey Matter Press

Gregory L. Norris “Behold: Death’s Realm!” –  Gregory L. Norris and the other authors appearing in Death’s Realm share the inspiration behind their respective stories. I highly recommend those who have read Death’s Realm to give this a read!

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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