Posts Tagged ‘Robert E. Dunn’

I am a bit late with my 2016 list as the first month of 2017 is just about over, but I still wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite reads from this year. 2016 was a slow year for The Horror Bookshelf and I didn’t hit any of my goals that I made this time last year, but it was for a happy reason! The last few months of 2016 were some of the happiest in my life as my wife and I had our first child. The blog has slowed down considerably, but I do not plan on closing The Horror Bookshelf. I fell a bit behind, but I plan on starting 2017 off catching up on some reviews I owe and then hopefully getting back into a normal routine. I have met so many great people through this blog and it would take forever to name everyone, but I want to thank all of my friends, authors, and readers for sticking with me and offering me encouragement and support. My main goal for this site has always been to have fun, interact with other horror fans, and give back to the authors whose art has inspired me and helped me through some rough patches. That goal remains the same and I hope I can continue the blog for many more years.

Being that I fell a bit behind, some of the books featured here haven’t had their full reviews run yet, but they are on the way. I still want to recognize the authors and their works for helping make 2016 an incredible year for this horror fan. Here is a list of my favorite reads from 2016. I decided to go with a Top 15 for novels, a Top 10 for novellas and a Top 5 for Anthologies and Collections. Thanks for sticking with me this far and I hope you find some great new reads on this list!

Novels

1. Ronald Malfi The Night Parade 

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2. John C. Foster Mister White 

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3. Kristopher Rufty Desolation 

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4. Jonathan Janz Children of the Dark

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5. Justin Cronin The City of Mirrors

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6. Damien Angelica Walters Paper Tigers

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7. Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason Mayan Blue

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8. D. Alexander Ward Beneath Ash & Bone

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9. Hunter Shea The Jersey Devil

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10. Joe Hill The Fireman

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11. Kristin Dearborn Stolen Away

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12. Robert E. Dunn A Living Grave

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13. Stephen Kozeniewski Hunter of the Dead

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14. Joe Schwartz Stabco

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15. John Quick Consequences

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Novellas

1. Adam Howe Tijuana Donkey Showdown

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2. Glenn Rolfe Chasing Ghosts

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3. Josh Malerman A House At The Bottom of a Lake

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4. Mark Matthews All Smoke Rises

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5. Robert E. Dunn Motorman

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6. John F.D. Taff The Desolated Orchard

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7. Kristin Dearborn Woman in White

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9. David Bernstein Blue Demon

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10. Lucas Mangum Mania

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Anthologies and Collections

1. I Can Taste The Blood

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2. Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories

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3. Richard Thomas Tribulations

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4. Brian Moreland Blood Sacrifices

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5. Glenn Rolfe Out of Range

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BOOK INFO

Publisher: Necro Publications

Length: 105 Pages

Release Date: May 21, 2016 

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

I have reviewed quite a few of Robert Dunn’s books so far since starting The Horror Bookshelf and have enjoyed them immensely. Dunn is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers to read because he is always changing things up and you never know what you are going to get from his brand of dark fiction. So when I was asked to join his blog tour for Motorman, I couldn’t wait to start reading!

Johnny Burris lives a rough, transient lifestyle while always looking for something better, a lesson learned from his absentee father. He loves to work on cars and motorcycles and he has a gift for being able to fix anything mechanical he sets his hands on. Unfortunately his aptitude for cars doesn’t translate over to people, particularly women. Johnny’s gift has helped him achieve a legendary reputation around town for being able to fix anything, it is like the parts speak to him. It is on one of his “get going” nights that we get a glimpse at the sort of life he was fleeing.

While working at U Scrap ’em Auto Salvage, Johnny runs into a man named Luck. As a reader, you just know that Luck’s arrival means Johnny’s life is going to change forever. Johnny spots Lenore, the woman with Luck, in the passenger seat and instantly falls in love. Luck has a proposition for Johnny- fix his beloved Buick Regal and he gets his money up front and two nights with Lenore. The job is tough at first as Johnny stumbles into many problems with the Regal. Johnny falls head over heels for Lenore in the two nights they spend together and promises her the moon in an attempt to win her over. However, Lenore betrays Johnny’s feelings and a horrible crime sends Johnny back on the road in a quest for a new start.

Hiding out in an abandoned barn out in the country, Johnny sees an amorphous, blue blob that causes an eerie silence and it frightens him enough that he stays up the entire night. The next evening, Johnny winds up in a derelict town that was supposed to be nothing more than a pit stop on his quest to lose himself in nothingness. As Johnny waits for the gas station to open, he sees some cars roll up that have the same blue tint he saw in the sky emanating from underneath the hood and realizes there may be something strange going on in this town.

After a tense run-in with Emma, owner of Em’s Garage, Johnny is given his dream job working on cars with access to a junkyard that is home to over a hundred years worth of automotive history. The job and the small room above the garage are provided to Johnny with the blessing of the mysterious “Doc”, a man who is revered by the entire town. Things seem to be going well for Johnny as he handles increasingly more difficult jobs for Doc, who has special plans in store for Johnny and his skills as a mechanic. However, as Johnny realizes the town’s secrets and what Doc’s plans are for him, he has to choose whether to finally stay put or hit the road one more time.

While Behind The Darkness will probably always be the Dunn book that scares me the most (seriously, those aliens are terrifying!), I think Motorman may be my favorite of Dunn’s releases thus far. There is a sort of timeless quality to the story and if it wasn’t for the mention of the ’90s Regal in the beginning, you would swear it could have taken place at any time. Especially when you look at the description of Nowhere, Missouri which is almost the definition of a town stuck in time. The room Johnny lives in above the garage is decorated like it is ripped from the ’50s and the gas station has a classic Americana appearance.

I love that Dunn includes a ton of detail about cars and the mechanics of how they operate. I grew up around cars and going to car shows, but unfortunately I never was able to retain any of that knowledge. Even though I am pretty clueless about cars except basic maintenance, I always had a love for muscle cars, so it was awesome to see the ’69 Camaro make an appearance. It is obvious that a lot of knowledge and a love of cars is woven throughout the story. Although there is a lot of technical car talk in Motorman, it is incorporated into the story in an organic way and it never seems like too much and helps lends a sense of authenticity to the story as a whole.

Dunn’s characterization in Motorman is pitch perfect. I loved the interactions with Johnny and Lenore. The nights that they spent together, there was a frank dialogue between the two and it highlights Johnny’s naive nature. Johnny struck me as a street-smart character, but it is obvious he has a weak spot for pretty women and that weakness causes him more than a few problems throughout Motorman. Johnny’s character is also a pretty interesting one. You can’t help but feel for him because he is a highly talented person who seems to have been dealt a crummy hand in life, but at the same time he has a dark secret of his own and is by no means perfect. I also enjoyed Doc’s character. His presence looms over the events of the novella as soon as Johnny rolls into Nowhere. At first, due to the reverence that surrounds him, you will expect some larger than life person whose appearance strikes fear into others. It turns out that Doc’s appearance is definitely not what you would expect, but it is his intellect and skill at his job that kind of makes him a little bit spooky.

I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot that makes up Motorman, but some of the scenes towards the tail end of the novella with Johnny and Doc were awesome! I sort of had an inkling of what Doc’s role was in the town, but the scenes still came as a shock when I read them and was a pretty interesting take on the body horror.

I also liked the atmosphere and setting descriptions throughout Motorman. Even though they are simple descriptions, they lend a sense of beauty to the rundown surroundings that Johnny is in. This is one of my favorite descriptions that shows his ability:

Twilight faded from bruised purple to urban dark. City lights sprayed upward to paint the low clouds with sodium yellow

Lately I have been really into the novella format and Dunn’s Motorman is a perfect example of why this format works so well with horror. Dunn crafts a sense of mystery that keeps readers glued to the pages and as a result, the novella rips by at a blistering pace and is easily consumed in one sitting. There are still a ton of questions I had after reading this novella. What the hell was the blue goo exactly and where did it come from? Also, how did the town end up the way it did and why there? While normally these sort of unanswered questions would irk me and feel like loose threads, the way they are handled in Motorman helps keep the story going in my mind as I come up with my own wild theories and leaves me clamoring for more. I know that is the purpose of a novella, but I wish that I could have been able to explore more of this wonderfully weird world of Dunn’s. I think Johnny’s story ends perfectly, but perhaps a Motorman prequel would be pretty cool!

Motorman is an original, fun novella that packs all the punch of a great vintage horror/sci-fi hybrid film and it is definitely one of my favorite novellas this year. Dunn has two more novels scheduled for release this year, The Harrowing and A Living Grave which is the first novel in the Katrina Williams series. Both of these novels sound incredible and I can’t wait to dive in to both!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Robert E. Dunn’s Official Website

Necro Publications/Bedlam Press Official Website

Purchase Motorman: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Necro Publications, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

Motorman tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Motorman!- #Motorman #FastCarsandBlueGoo #MadScientist

Motorman Synopsis

Running from a night of humiliation and murder, Johnny Burris leaves his home in an urban junkyard fleeing into the Ozarks countryside. While he flees, mysterious streaks of blue light in the night sky drive him into a bit of nowhere lost in the hills. Johnny thinks he’s found home and good work in an odd little gas station from another time. The station isn’t the only thing strange and Johnny quickly gets pulled into a world where the cars aren’t the only things all chromed out and everything seems touched with a little of the flying blue streaks that led Johnny there.

Enticed and torn between two sisters, one an outcast for her normality, Johnny becomes the pawn of their father. The old doctor is looking for a replacement and Johnny Burris is the man with just the right skills.

But Johnny doesn’t want anything to do with the doctor’s plans so he runs, taking one of the sisters with him. But the people, and the girl, turn out to be even more than he imagined. And his whole world becomes the one choice, live as a monster, making monsters or die like a man. If he chooses to die, who will he take with him?

Praise for Robert Dunn

The Red Highway is not one of the best books that I’ve read so far this year, or that I’ve read in a long time…it’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read!  It was an incredible read, one that has so many layers that I was completely enthralled with the story. 5+++ stars!” – 2 Book Lovers Reviews

“A thoroughly gripping read. Dunn is a writer with guts and the chops to grab his readers by the eyeballs and dare them to look away.” Hunter Shea, Author of Tortures of the Damned and The Dover Demon

Robert E. Dunn Biography

Robert Dunn

Robert Dunn was an Army brat born in Alabama and finally settled in Nixa, Missouri. A graduate of Drury College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications/Film he also earned a second major in Philosophy with a minor in Religion and carried an emphasis in Theatre. This course of study left him qualified only to be a televangelist.

An award-winning film/video producer and writer, he has written scripts for or directed every kind of production from local 30-second television commercial spots to documentary productions and travelogues.

A writer of blognovels and contributor to various fiction websites his work has also included the book length prose poem, Uncle Sam, the collection of short stories, Motorman and Other Stories and novels Behind the Darkness  and The Red Highway.

Mr. Dunn now resides in Kansas City where he continues to write genre fiction and experiment with mixed media art projects using hand drawn and painted elements combined through digital paint and compositing.

the red highway

BOOK INFO

Length: 282 Pages

Publisher: Necro Publications/Bedlam Press

Release Date: October 30, 2015

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review

My first introduction to Robert E. Dunn’s work was Behind The Darkness, a scary as hell novel about a group of aliens terrorizing a family on their rural farm. I have always been both fascinated and terrified by aliens, so I was instantly drawn to Dunn’s novel and his traditional take on the Grey alien. I remember reading it over the summer and feel no shame in admitting that from start to finish, that novel scared the hell out of me. It was like Dunn took all my childhood nightmares about UFOs and aliens and brought them to life. So when he sent me a copy of his latest novel The Red Highway, I was definitely excited to give it a read.

The Red Highway is a supernatural tale that takes place during racial tensions of Los Angeles in 1992. Paul Souther is a homeless man who has lost everything due to his alcohol addiction and the trauma of his former life who frequently spends his nights in the Studio KC XXX theater in attempt to be safe and left alone. He rarely pays attention to the movies, but that all changes when he sees porn star Jennifer Vixx on the big screen and is instantly drawn to her. After seeing her, Jennifer Vixx fills his dreams and Souther can’t seem to shake her from his thoughts. One day while roaming the streets, Paul witnesses an act of violence by a man he refers to only as “Big Man”. Despite being frightened by the carnage unfolding before him, Paul steals the shooters car – a 70’s era Chevy Impala – and $8000. Although he doesn’t know it yet, this discovery and the startling vision of Jennifer Vixx speaking directly to him through the movie screen at Studio KC will change his life forever.

Meanwhile on the other side of the country, Mary Prince aka Jennifer Vixx, is having visions of her own. In the middle of filming a scene for her latest movie, she is shaken by visions of Los Angeles consumed by flames and a mass of people causing chaos, destruction and violence. Not long after these visions and being startled by the same mysterious Big Man Paul encountered in Kansas City, Mary finds out she is pregnant despite being sterile for most of her life. Mary’s pregnancy draws Paul and an eclectic group of strangers together, but they are not the only people aware of Mary’s unique situation. The Big Man has an interest in Mary’s child and gives Mary and her new friends an ultimatum – surrender the child or violence will erupt throughout Los Angeles and the city will burn.

The thing that I loved most about The Red Highway was Dunn’s unique and well-developed characters. I loved Dunn’s previous novel Behind The Darkness, but at times I felt the characterization was a bit uneven. However, with The Red Highway, Dunn does an impressive job of bringing both his main and minor characters to life. He utilizes multiple story lines to help readers get an in-depth look at the lives of his characters and how their flaws and past trauma shaped them into who they are. Although there is a pretty large cast of characters in this novel, each one has a distinct personality that helps them to stand out. Paul’s road trip buddy Ford is a true believer, who believes everything they are doing is part of God’s plan and keeps obsessive notes about everything they encounter on the road. Danny Johnson is a reporter who had big dreams of being a respected journalist, but finds himself writing for a celebrity tabloid instead and wrestling with his own identity. Reverend Curtis Wilkerson is seemingly on top of the world running a successful church and living a life of luxury but has doubts that he is living up to his full potential.

Not only does Dunn create strong characters, there is an impressive amount of diversity present in The Red Highway. Religion, racism and prejudices are just some of the issues that are explored in the novel and Dunn gives honest and realistic portrayals of these issues. I thought it was interesting that despite tensions around these issues bubbling to the surface and plunging Los Angeles into chaos, this group of relative strangers are able to band together despite their different viewpoints and beliefs. There are brief moments where they seem to have preconceived notions about each other and challenge each others beliefs, but for the most part, they overcome their differences to achieve a common goal and end up caring for one another.

I also loved Dunn’s villain, The Big Man. He mainly appears to the characters as a man, but as the story progresses, it becomes obvious that The Big Man is not just an ordinary person. What makes him such a great villain is that despite the powers he hints at through the novel, he doesn’t choose to unleash that power to achieve his goals. Instead, he prefers to use coercion is his main weapon. He is able to twist people’s feelings and get them to do his bidding with little to no effort. I don’t want to spoil too much about The Big Man because Dunn does an excellent job of slowly building to the reveal, but the scene where he appears to the Reverend Curtis Wilkerson is jaw dropping. I remember thinking early on that The Big Man wasn’t all that scary, but Dunn’s descriptions of him in this scene are downright terrifying.

The Red Highway may share some similarities to other novels horror fans may have read, but Dunn’s execution, characters and choice of setting help it stand on its own. Reading The Red Highway, there is no denying that Dunn is a talented writer and he has some highly original ideas that make me excited to read whatever he releases next!

Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this post for a chance to win either a copy of Behind The DarknessThe Red Highway, or a print of The Red Highway’s cover art by Erik Wilson! 

Rating: 4.5/5

LINKS

Robert E. Dunn’s Official Website

Necro Publications/Bedlam Press Official Website

Purchase The Red Highway: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Necro Publications or your favorite bookstore!

The Red Highway tour graphic (1)

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about The Red Highway! – #TheRedHighway #RobertEDunn #HookofaBook

The Red Highway Synopsis

In 1992, as Los Angeles begins to simmer in the heat of racial injustices, one dark man appears everywhere, spreading his message of race war. At the same time, Paul Souther, a homeless drunk, joins a strange group of outsiders. Some black and some white, they all carry the weight of broken lives and lost faith. They are all drawn to LA, for the arrival of a child, impossibly carried by Mary Prince, a sterile porn star.

Through back roads and freeways everyone is pulled into LA and Mary’s side just as the baby is born. None of them have any idea that the city is a ticking bomb of anger. As riots explode, the mysterious man reveals himself to be an ancient, dark spirit using the rage of the people to stoke his own, literal, fires. He demands Mary’s child as sacrifice to keep the city, and perhaps the nation from burning. It falls to Paul, a faithless man, and a drunk with blood on his own hands, to make the impossible choice between the child and the city, and to save the people he has come to care about.

He lives in Kansas City with three daughters, a young grandson, and an old dog. He tweets sometimes as @WritingDead

Praise for The Red Highway

The Red Highway is not one of the best books that I’ve read so far this year, or that I’ve read in a long time…it’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read!  It was an incredible read, one that has so many layers that I was completely enthralled with the story.” –2 Book Lovers Reviews

“A thoroughly gripping read. Dunn is a writer with guts and the chops to grab his readers by the eyeballs and dare them to look away.”Hunter Shea, Author of Tortures of the Damned

About Robert E. Dunn

robertdunn

Robert E. Dunn was born an army brat and grew up in the Missouri Ozarks. He wrote his first book at age eleven, stealing, or novelizing, as he called it at the time, the storyline of a Jack Kirby comic book.

His college course of study, philosophy, religion, theatre, and film/TV communications, left him qualified only to be a televangelist. When that didn’t work out, he turned to them mostly, honest work of video production. Over several years he produced everything from documentaries, to training films and his favorite, travelogues. Still always writing for the joy of it he returned to writing horror and fantasy fiction for publication after the turn of the century. It seemed like a good time for change even if the changes were not always his choice.

He lives in Kansas City with three daughters, a young grandson, and an old dog. He tweets sometimes as @WritingDead but makes no promises how interesting those little posts will be.

Giveaway

Enter for your chance to win either a copy of The Red Highway, Behind the Darkness, or a print of the beautiful cover artwork from The Red Highway done by Erik Wilson! You can do multiple things each day to gain more entries! Just click the rafflecopter link. Forward any questions to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjI3/?

behindthedarkness

BOOK INFO

Length: 212 Pages

Publisher: Severed Press

Release Date: January 25, 2015

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

The first time I head about Robert E. Dunn’s Behind The Darkness was on Hunter Shea’s blog where he talked about the book and featured an interview with the author. Reading that interview and the ideas behind the novel, I was hooked and had to get my hands on this book.

I have always been fascinated with the idea of aliens and UFOs. I can remember as far back as early elementary school shortly after graduating from your standard young reader books checking out every book I could on aliens and UFOs. Books about Roswell, the Hill abduction case you name it. I remember checking out all of these books and reading them, but for the life of me, I can’t remember where that fascination came from. Oddly enough, as intrigued as I was by all of these accounts and experiences and wanting to believe that they were somehow real, the idea also terrified me. For every harmless story about spotting strange lights in the sky or seeing aliens from afar, there are some truly horrifying accounts out there. Abductions where people are ripped from their home or cars and experimented on, cattle mutilations, etc. It doesn’t really matter whether you believe in these or not, any way you slice it – real life occurrence or fiction – there is something downright scary at the thought of being captured by otherworldly beings with no way to defend yourself.

Well, it seems Dunn has found his way into my nightmares with Behind The Darkness. Readers are first introduced to Max Callahan, a man who is on a romantic hike with his wife Sheila. Things start of playful as they race each other to the summit with Max winning handily. However, what he sees at the top of that ridge takes a terrifying turn. At first, he is intrigued and calls for his wife to hurry and join him. As he continues to watch, he realizes something is terribly wrong and begs her to flee. Without a chance to save her, he is taken by the mysterious craft and subjected to horrific experiments and unthinkable violence by his captors.

Then we are introduced to the Duncan’s. Ashley Duncan and her husband Tyler own their own farm and have a baby on the way. Although they are excited about having their own farm and growing their family, they sense something sinister surrounding their home. Tyler has been discovering the mutilated corpses of his cows in the fields and Ashley first experiences the aliens when they hypnotize and terrorize her. Ashley’s brother Vic and her longtime friend Leslie are coming for the weekend to help the Duncan’s on the farm and reconnect with each other. As everyone gathers at the house and Max is introduced to the group, the aliens converge on the Duncan ranch to reclaim their captive and attempt to take Tyler’s baby and wife. What follows is a violent battle for survival that will change everyone forever.

The small town setting for this story may be a bit expected, but it works remarkably well in this case. It is your typical country town with the largest thing being a fast food chain and cell phone reception is spotty at best. This allows the aliens to make their presence known with little fear of discovery. Bill Tatum, who owns the feed store, is the only character who takes Tyler’s plight seriously and suspects the truth behind what is going on. Everyone else in town knows about the cattle mutilations that take place, but fear acknowledging what could really be happening due to how the news would portray them or how it would impact their property values. Even if the townspeople believed aliens were responsible, their seclusion from major city centers make it next to impossible to defend themselves.

The only real weakness to this story would be the characterization at times. In the beginning of the book, the cast of characters seem fairly one dimensional. We are given enough information to be able to differentiate between them, but there is little that makes the reader forge a connection to them. However, Dunn fixes that in the later portion of the book. As the characters are surrounded by pure evil ripped straight from their nightmares, that is when we begin to see who they truly are and they become more well developed. The biggest transformation would have to be Tyler. I don’t want to spoil what happens to him or what he does, but he undergoes a dramatic change from the character we are first introduced to. Even as Tyler begins to develop a darker side, you still root for him to come out on top as he takes a stand to protect his friends and family against impossible odds.

As a fan of alien accounts and non-fiction books, this is the sort of alien/UFO novel I have been waiting for. I have read a ton of books on the topic from both horror and science fiction and most of them just seem to be missing something. While I appreciate the attempt at creating an original alien race and trying to create something fresh, I have always wanted to see a straightforward, terrifying alien horror novel that draws heavily on the Greys. Dunn draws from this traditional portrayal heavily, but sprinkles in enough originality to make them seem frightening and far from just a rip-off.  They utilize some of the same psychological tactics to confuse and disable their victims but they are also physical and capable of extreme violence. They also have the ability to camouflage themselves with their surroundings.

The novel is packed with action and once the group huddled in Duncan ranch begin to face off against the creatures, I could hardly set the novel down. This one is packed with action and is downright scary and should definitely be added to the collection of anyone with an interest in aliens or UFOs. I live in a pretty rural area and after reading this book, I have to admit I was pretty creeped out when I had to step outside during the middle of the night. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4/5

Robert E. Dunn Official Website

Severed Press Official Website

Purchase Behind The Darkness on Amazon