Posts Tagged ‘Precipice Books’

I am a bit late with my 2015 as the first month of 2016 is rapidly coming to a close, but I still wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite reads from this year. 2015 was a great year here at The Horror Bookshelf. The blog celebrated its one year anniversary back in April, I made some great friends, I got to take part in SFSignal’s Mind Meld feature and I had the honor of premiering a brand new story from Glenn Rolfe.

I never really made a post for The Horror Bookshelf’s first anniversary, so I wanted to just take a minute and touch on a few things before getting to my list of favorite reads for the year. I started this blog as my way of giving back to the extremely talented writers who have created the books I enjoy reading and connecting with other horror fans. In that respect, I think the first year of The Horror Bookshelf was a huge success. I am so thankful for all of the writers and publishers who reached out to me and offered me review copies and words of encouragement along the way. Without you and the books you spend so much time crafting, The Horror Bookshelf would not exist. I also want to thank anyone who has ever taken the time to read any of my reviews, interviews or guest posts. There is no greater feeling as a reviewer than introducing someone to a potentially new favorite author or a great book and I hope that by visiting this site, you have found a few.

There are so many people to thank for helping this blog become what it is today, but I wanted to take a moment to thank a few special people who have shown me a humbling amount of support since the very beginning. A huge thank you to my friends and family, Tony and Sharon at Grey Matter Press, John F.D. Taff, David Spell, Mark Matthews, Dale Elster and Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. You have all offered me so much support and tons of encouragement when The Horror Bookshelf was getting off the ground and I will always be grateful for that. I also want to thank my beautiful wife for encouraging me to follow my dreams and for giving me that boost of confidence I need when I feel like I can’t possibly keep everything going.

I am not usually big on New Year’s Resolutions, but what the hell, I came up with some for The Horror Bookshelf anyway.

1. Read more in 2016 – This one is fairly vague and for anyone that runs a review site, it sounds borderline crazy. I read a ton of great novels in 2016, but one of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t read that many novellas, short stories or anthologies this year. I hope to change that in 2016 and also to increase the amount of novels I read in a year.

2. Get more organized – I am notorious for my poor organizational habits, but I have already made some progress by using a planner (that my wife made me buy) to help me keep track of all my upcoming reviews, interviews and features. This may be the most mundane and boring resolution of the list, but it is an underrated part of keeping a review site going in my opinion.

3. Keeping the site updated more frequently – This may be the biggest challenge of them all. I am the only writer on The Horror Bookshelf and the amount of reviews I have going at any given time can be overwhelming, but I want to set a modest goal – starting in February – of posting at least once a week. Sort of on the same topic, if I owe you a review and have not posted it yet, I promise I haven’t forgotten! I appreciate every author that sends me a book for review and sometimes time gets away from me, but I promise I will get to them soon.

Here is a list of my favorite reads from 2015. I decided to go with a Top 10 for novels, a Top 5 for novellas and a Top 3 for Anthologies and Collections. Thanks for sticking with me this far and I hope you find some great new reads on this list!

1 . Brian Kirk We Are Monsters (Samhain Horror)

we are monsters

2. Richard Thomas Disintegration (Random House Alibi)


3. Ronald Malfi Little Girls (Kensington)


4. Ania Ahlborn Behind These Walls (Gallery Books)


5. Hunter Shea Tortures of the Damned (Kensington/Pinnacle)


6. Jonathan Janz Wolf Land (Samhain Horror)


7. D. Alexander Ward Blood Savages (Necro Publications)


8. Russell James Q Island (Samhain Horror)


9. Glenn Rolfe Blood and Rain (Samhain Horror)


10. Kristopher Rufty Jagger (Sinister Grin Press)



1. John F.D. Taff The Sunken Cathedral (Grey Matter Press)


2. Kealan Patrick Burke Sour Candy (Self-published)


3. Glenn Rolfe Abram’s Bridge (Samhain Horror)


4. Adam Howe Gator Bait (Comet Press)


5. Matt Manochio Twelfth Krampus Night (Samhain Horror)


Anthologies and Collections

1. Savage Beasts (Grey Matter Press)


2. Todd Keisling Ugly Little Things – Volume One (Precipice Books)


3. Tony Knighton Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia Cruelties (Crime Wave Press) 

happy hour




Length: 150 Pages

Publisher: Precipice Books

Release Date: February 3, 2015

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

Todd Keisling’s Ugly Little Things – Volume 1 collects the first four short stories that make up Keisling’s Ugly Little Things universe, an ongoing title and umbrella for his short fiction. I have been finding myself drawn more and more to the short story format because it is a great vehicle for horror fiction. I still love plopping down on the couch and starting a novel, but it is always interesting to see how various authors handle the constraints of the short story to craft punchy tales.

“Radio Free Nowhere” kicks off the collection and introduces readers to the young couple Conrad and Ashley. They are driving through the mountains through “Radio Free Nowhere”, one of those little patches of land where it seems like nothing but wilderness and the radio cuts in and out, the GPS doesn’t work and it feels like you are totally cut off from civilization. They find a lone gas station and stop for gas and directions. It is here, while pumping gas, Ashley first hears the music. When she heads inside she meets an attendant who conjures up images of that guy in horror movies who always tries to warn people coming into the secluded town of dangers and immediately becomes the first person you suspect of being involved. He is wearing ear plugs for seemingly no reason, but tells Ashley she will need them too and warns her the music she hears may make her do crazy things. She finds herself enthralled by the hypnotic music and the attendant takes her silence as a refusal his help and issues a final unnerving warning. Ashley follows the music and when she discovers what it is, readers are treated to a truly creepy scene that kind of reminded me a bit of a Twilight Zone episode.

“When Karen Met Her Mountain” follows a woman named Karen who finds herself battling depression when she loses her dad and then suffers a miscarriage. It is hinted that she may have addiction problems. Her and her husband are on their way to the funeral when they are attacked in the desert by religious fanatics. She “hears” her father offer her advice as she tries to survive the hellish encounter. There are session notes interspersed throughout that are a nice touch that shows how depressed and down on herself Karen felt. Stranded in the desert with no way to reach out for help, Karen relies on her animalistic need for survival and begins plotting her revenge. This is a highly thrilling story about overcoming loss and finding inner strength and offers plenty of exciting twists throughout the story.

“Saving Granny From The Devil” has some emotionally powerful scenes early in the story. While reading this story, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite short stories of all-time, John F.D. Taff’s “What Becomes God”. A visceral and emotionally engaging story, this is definitely one of the standouts from the collection. This is the perfect blend of the sort of horrible things we go through in real life and the supernatural. It is a semi-autobiographical tale and the honesty Keisling shows here made this my favorite story of the collection.

“The Harbinger” – I was never really terribly afraid of dolls or other inanimate objects growing up, but I do remember the first fiction character that really scared me was Slappy the Dummy from the Goosebumps series. Those books are marketed towards younger readers so the things he does is rather tame by horror standards, but man, those stories really terrified me as a young reader. Keisling tapped into my childhood fears in this creepy as hell story about a town on its last legs and their creepy obsession with a doll factory that seems to be the town’s only hope of survival.

I must applaud Keisling for the creation of the Ugly Little Things universe. The stories contained within this first volume all have a distinct voice and aren’t connected in a literal way, but Keisling’s decision to group them together as the “ugly little things” that lurk in his imagination is an effective choice. While they are all distinct and hit on different emotions, they piece together perfectly.

What made me fall in love with this collection was the variety of the stories and the emotional impact a few of them had on me. While I enjoy a straightforward horror story, the ones that really leave a lasting impact for me are the ones that explore more complex emotions and situations. These stories can be terrifying in their own right, but they also stir up other emotions. Keisling utilizes that ability to the max with stories like “When Karen Met Her Mountain” and “Saving Granny From The Devil”. These are engaging stories full of horror thrills and yet they still explore the depths of human nature and add a complex element to his works.

The short story format has been gaining popularity with a vengeance and there have been an absolute wealth of great ones released recently. Keisling’s Ugly Little Things is one of those standouts and deserves to be added to any horror fans collection. As of this review, there has been two more entries in the Ugly Little Things universe, “The Other Land Express” and “House of Nettle and Thorn”. After reading Ugly Little Things -Volume One, I am definitely looking forward to reading these! Keisling is an amazing talent and if you are into horror, you absolutely need to purchase this collection. Huge, huge fan and I can’t wait to see what other “Ugly Little Things” this author has in store for readers!

Rating: 4.5/5


Todd Keisling Official Website

Precipice Books Official Website

Purchase Ugly Little Things on Amazon