Posts Tagged ‘Samhain Horror’



Publisher: Samhain Horror

Length: 68 Pages

Release Date: April 26, 2016

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

Vicki Beautiful is the story of a group of lifelong friends who always go all out for the “big birthdays” in their lives. The titular Vicki is the oddball of the group who was obsessed with appearing perfect at all times whether it was her own personal appearance or her home. Vicki had a rough upbringing, which is why she always needs to be in control and strives to maintain perfection in all aspects of her life so that she may have the life she always dreamed of. While many people would judge Vicki, her friends Sasha and Brynn love her for it and Vicki was always known to throw legendary parties that were a direct result of her obsession with perfection. She invited her friends over for a lavish birthday feast that she prepared herself. Sasha and Brynn notice almost immediately that Vicki and her husband Ken’s behavior seems off and a feeling of unease begins to descend over the party.

It is during this birthday dinner that Vicki reveals the source of all the weirdness and the real reason she called them all together – the cancer she has been battling for years has returned and this time there is no hope for recovery and Vicki only has months to live. The friends are overcome with sadness and spend the rest of the night reminiscing and trying to make the most of the time they have left together. The next morning, the group suffers another heartbreaking blow – Vicki was found dead in a hotel bathtub with slit wrists.

The day after Vicki’s death, her husband gives Sasha and Brynn letters written by Vicki prior to her death and that is when the true nature of Canon’s debut novella Vicki Beautiful is revealed. It is almost impossible to talk about the rest of the events that unfold throughout the course of Vicki Beautiful without spoiling some of the twists that make this novella shine. However, I will say Canon has managed to craft a stomach-churning premise that really pushes the boundaries of what people will be willing to do to honor the wishes and memory of someone they care about. Vicki’s dark last request creates tension between the lifelong friends and her husband Ken as they struggle with how they will proceed with Vicki’s wishes. Once I found out what Vicki intends to have her friends do for her, I immediately thought of all the things they could have done to get out of going through with it. However, Canon creates a list of fairly plausible reasons why they simply can’t walk away, no matter how much the request disturbs them. I personally wouldn’t have been able to go through with something like this, but the explanations Canon gives at least helps readers understand why Sasha and Brynn struggled with their decision.

There was a moment while reading the beginning of the novella where I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my type of story, but once Vicki’s secret is revealed, I was hooked! I loved the sense of mystery that comes with this book. A lot of times whether it is the title, the cover art or the synopsis, as a reader you generally have a feel for what to expect from a story. Vicki Beautiful keeps its secrets successfully under wraps until the last possible moment, which makes the big reveal devastatingly effective. I generally don’t get too squeamish when it comes to horror books as I have read just about every type of horror story imaginable, but this one definitely sent chills down my spine. I think what makes it such a great story and an unsettling slice of horror is that Canon does a great job of blending moments of normalcy into a completely bizarre situation. A great example of this is in one of the scenes where the two friends have a rational discussion about the logistics of Vicki’s plan despite the nauseating nature of her final request. The whole time I was reading Vicki Beautiful, I was wondering if the story was going to go all the way to the most extreme possible outcome. I obviously won’t spoil what happens, but I loved the way Vicki Beautiful ended!

Vicki Beautiful is a disturbing novella that definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, but offers up an imaginative and original premise that I think most horror fans will enjoy. I was impressed with the talent on display in Vicki Beautiful and I am definitely looking forward to reading more of whatever sort of dark stories Canon has up her sleeve!

Rating: 4/5


Somer Canon’s Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Site

Purchase Vicki Beautiful: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

Vicki Beautiful tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Vicki Beautiful! –  #VickiBeautiful #WhatsYourLastWish #OneLastTaste

Vicki Beautiful Synopsis

One last taste of perfection…

Sasha and Brynn descend upon the showplace home of their girlhood friend, Vicki, planning to celebrate her surviving cancer to reach her fortieth birthday. As they gather around Vicki’s perfectly set dinner table, though, her husband shares devastating news. The cancer is back, and she doesn’t have long to live.

Her life is cut even shorter than Sasha and Brynn expect—the next morning, their friend is found dead, her flawless skin slit at the wrists. But a tub full of blood is only the beginning. Before the weekend is through, they are forced to question how far they’re willing to go to fulfill Vicki’s last wish.

A very specific, very detailed recipe that only the truest of friends could stomach…

Praise for Vicki Beautiful

I read this at one gripping session and I shall read more by this author. Excellent, original and worth every one of my five stars.” – Catherine Cavendish, Author of The Devil’s Serenade

“At times it reminded me of the cult classic “Eating Raoul” and others “The Big Chill”. Suffice to say, Canon has created an intriguing tale that will not only have you caring about characters put into an awkward, unsettling situation but also wondering how they’ll react to it every step of the way. I highly recommend this unique and entertaining story.” Matthew Franks, Author The Monster Underneath

“This is not the normal type of book that I would read, but the cover sold it to me, and I like reading new authors and genres. This book is beautifully written, the writing flows and you feel you really understand what the character’s are feeling…” Rebecca, GoodReads Reviewer

“The ending of this story was truly horrific. I am an old school horror fan, and have been indulging in the genre since I was old enough to hold a book. I also adore and enjoy the sub-genre splatterpunk, I read Jack Ketchum as a bedside book all the time. It takes a lot to phase me, but even I was turning my head in repulsion at the end. What a wonderful debut story for Somer Canon.” – Badseedgirl, GoodReads Reviewer

“A simple story, but all the more powerful for its simplicity. Four stars. The author has guts and skill.” – Outlaw Poet

About Somer Canon

Somer Canon

Somer Canon is a minivan revving suburban mother who avoids her neighbors for fear of being found out as a weirdo. When she’s not peering out of her windows, she’s consuming books, movies, and video games that sate her need for blood, gore, and things that disturb her mother.

Vicki Beautiful is her debut novella.

Find out more about Somer and her upcoming works at her website You can also connect with Somer on Twitter:


blood sacrifices


Publisher: Samhain Horror

Length: 282 Pages

Release Date: April 5, 2016

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

I have heard nothing but great things about Brian Moreland’s books from both other readers and horror authors for a while. So when I was approached to join the blog tour for Blood Sacrifices, a collection of four previously digital-only titles, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to start reading his work.

The Girl From The Blood Coven is the first story in the collection and takes place in June 21, 1972 in the pine country of East Texas. After a night of dealing with the usual traffic accidents and drunken domestic disputes, all Sheriff Travis Keagan can think about is drinking an ice-cold beer and watching the rest of the Texas Rangers game. Sheriff Keagan is enjoying a dinner at the Lazy Armadillo, a local bar and it seems like a typical, mundane night in Buck Horn. However, the night takes an ominous turn when a girl soaked in blood arrives claiming that her family was massacred. Her name is Abigail Blackwood and she lives in the towns infamous Blevins House. Abigail claims that all twenty-four of the other residents were massacred by a single entity that definitely wasn’t human. When Sheriff Keagan heads over to investigate, its dark and gloomy with lighting flashing through the sky and creates a perfect backdrop for the horror that is about to unfold. When they arrive at the Blevins House, Keagan and his officers discover a scene of carnage that stuns them. It isn’t long until Keagan finds himself involved in a deadly cat and mouse game.

One thing that immediately stood out with this story is the effortless characterization and a perfect depiction of small town life. Moreland is able to achieve both of these things through the eyes of Sheriff Keagan when he arrives at the Lazy Armadillo. He knows everyone in the restaurant by name and knows just about everything there is to know about their personal lives. These quick one sentence descriptions of the townspeople not only make the characters come alive, but give readers an accurate portrayal of just how small of a community Buck Horn really is.

I was also impressed with the spooky atmosphere that surrounds the Blevins House. The house has a reputation around town and the stories that swirl around the Blevins House are scary enough to make the sheriff feel uneasy. The house was owned by Lenora Ravenmoon Blevins, a witch with a reputation around town as a trouble maker. The house itself is pretty spooky. It is an old, three-story rock house that is set on two hundred acres of forest land, making it an isolated location that adds an air of eeriness to its checkered history.

This was a perfect short story to start the collection with its breakneck pacing that grabbed my attention instantly and left me excited to continue reading Blood Sacrifices.

The Witching House is a continuation of the events that occurred in The Girl From The Blood Coven set in the present day. While the Blevins House always had a reputation, it wasn’t until the massacre back in ’72 that the houses legend reached mythic proportions. The townspeople of Buck Horn avoid the property at all costs and the mere mention of ghosts or witchcraft causes people to cross themselves as a precautionary measure. Otis, the sole survivor of the massacre at the Blevins House returns in The Witching House and takes care of the infamous house as an adult, though he doesn’t live on the property. People call Otis crazy and wonder why he continues to maintain the property, but that’s because they don’t know the sinister truth that drives him to maintain the house.

The storyline of The Witching House alternates between Otis’ story of taking care of the house and the history behind what really happened in 1972 and the story of Sarah Donovan, who goes with her boyfriend and his friends to check out Blevins House. Sarah’s boyfriend Dean and his friends are adrenaline junkies and have dubbed themselves the Ghost Squad, since their favorite activity is to explore abandoned buildings that have a reputation for being haunted. Sarah wants to fit in and prove to her boyfriend she is adventurous, but her decision to go along with this expedition proves to be a mistake as the group finds themselves face to face with an unimaginable evil.

I loved The Girl From The Blood Coven, so I was glad that the sequel was next up in Blood Sacrifices. One thing that I enjoyed about this novella was the switch in perspectives. While The Girl Girl From The Blood Coven is told from the perspective of a local resident, The Witching House is mainly from the perspective of a group of outsiders. It may seem like a minor thing, but I thought it was cool how the Lazy Armadillo is portrayed as being a warm and welcoming place in The Girl From The Blood Coven, but that Sarah sees it as an ominous place when she stops there.

Trying to pick a favorite novella out of Blood Sacrifices is close to impossible, but if I had to choose, I would go with The Witching House. Moreland does an amazing job building tension as the group makes one startling discovery after another upon entering the Blevins House. Just when I think things can’t get any creepier, Moreland continues to up the ante with some of the scariest scenes I have ever read, especially when the group comes face to face with the entity responsible for the massacre in 1972. Moreland puts his own unique spin on the witchcraft genre and I think horror fans will love the entity he creates in The Witching House which is pure, unfiltered nightmare fuel. The novella works well as a standalone story, but I can’t help but wish there was a novel length story centered around the Blevins House!

Darkness Rising opens with a couple who are savagely attacked by a group of killers wearing animal masks, which instantly reminded me of the movie You’re Next. Opening with this brutal scene helps prepare readers for the violence and depravity that is about to unfold, but not before meeting some key characters.

Marty Weaver is a maintenance guy at St. Germaine. He is the same age as most of the students but he doesn’t go there, but he is saving his money to enroll and get his degree to achieve his dream of being a professor. When he isn’t working, he is hard at work on his poems. The poems are his outlet at expressing himself and his true passion. He is also in love with Jennifer, a student at St. Germaine that he has been tutoring. They have a flirtatious relationship, but Marty is unsure of whether to confess his feelings to her as he thinks she is way out of his league. He is picked on relentlessly by students and his co-workers and it takes every bit of self-control to keep Marty from snapping as he battles his inner darkness. The only things that help keep him grounded and offer him happiness is his relationship with Jennifer and his poems. Mentions of his dark side make the reader wonder just what Marty is hiding.

One night, Marty heads down to read poetry to the lake, a ritual he developed back when he was a teenager. It was a special place for his family and reading his poems helps him deal with his struggles. While at the lake, Marty is cornered by a sadistic trio that taunts him and makes it clear that they intend to torture Marty. This chance encounter will change Marty’s life forever.

I absolutely loved the character of Marty. He is a character that I was rooting for the entire length of this story. Marty has dealt with hardship for his entire life from being constantly teased, losing his parents and suffering horrible abuse throughout his stay in foster care as a child. I felt terrible for everything Marty had to endure, but those awful experiences help prepare him for his encounter with the trio of killers he meets in the woods. Marty is a badass despite his seemingly harmless nature, and  he fights back against his attackers with a vengeance even when faced with impending death.

I also loved the originality on display in Darkness Rising. It is a revenge tale at heart, but Moreland puts a brilliant and original spin on the genre that I definitely didn’t anticipate. Darkness Rising is a perfect blend of both real-world and supernatural horror and offers plenty of twists that will keep readers on the edge of their seats! Also, while there are plenty of examples of evil and depravity that permeate Darkness Rising, Moreland balances these with some powerful moments of hope that help make this novella a powerful read.

The Vagrants is the final novella that makes up Blood Sacrifices and was one that has been on my “to read” list for a long time. Daniel Finley is a journalist chronicling the daily lives of the homeless and has been living with them for the last 6 months. His goal for living with them and reporting on their lives is to write a book that would shine a light on homelessness. Throughout his time living on the streets, Daniel begins to form friendships with some of the people living in his camp and finds his preconceived notions of them stripped away as he spends time with them and learns their stories.

During Daniel’s last month of living on the streets, a nomadic group named “The Seekers” arrive and are led by an enigmatic man named Mordecai. Daniel begins to chronicle The Seekers instead of documenting regular homeless life. Within 2 weeks of their arrival, the Seekers take over the settlement and Mordecai converts all of the residents to members of the Seekers group. Daniel finally goes to check out one of Mordecai’s sermons and despite Mordecai’s best efforts to get him to join, Daniel resists and is left behind as Mordecai leads his group to another city.

The story then flashes forward 2 years after Daniels time on the streets and his work chronicling the homeless is being published into a book. He is enjoying success beyond anything he could imagine and has a girlfriend. After leaving a meeting with his agent to celebrate his publication, Daniel runs into a homeless man who mentions the same Judgement Day promised by Mordecai which causes Daniel’s blood to run cold.

Not long after, Daniel has a chance encounter with Dr. Rupert Holloman, a professor at Harvard who wants to use Daniel’s book to teach a class. Dr. Holloman tells Daniel of a hidden world beneath Boston centered on abandoned subway tunnels and shows him a mural in one of the tunnels that is connected to the Seekers and features Mordecai at the center of the painting. It is here that Daniel realizes from Holloman’s stories that Mordecai’s group has reached cities all over the country. Ever since that initial encounter with Holloman, Daniel is being followed by homeless who are trying to get him to join the Seekers and keep referencing Mordecai’s vision of the apocalypse.

While Daniel is back in town, he also attempts to reconcile with his father who he hasn’t seen in years. It is during this visit that Daniel learns his father owes the Irish mob boss Drake O’Malley a ton of money. These events place a lot of pressure on Daniel as he finds himself caught between the mafia and the Seekers in a situation that will push his sanity to the limits.

The Vagrants was definitely a highly entertaining novella and lived up to the hype I had built for it in my mind after reading the synopsis. Mordecai is an interesting character and there is an air of mystery that surrounds him up until the novella’s final moments. Despite his slight frame, he is a formidable fighter and is able to take on men twice his size. He also is a charismatic speaker and is able to hypnotize anyone who crosses his path, even those who initially resist him. This ability to cultivate a large cult following in such a short amount of time makes him a truly frightening character and the mystery behind his motivations kept me hooked.

After I finished reading Blood Sacrifices, I couldn’t stop thinking about how great these stories were. This was my first experience reading Moreland’s work and I was blown away by his storytelling abilities. Every novella featured in this collection displays traits of everything I love about the horror genre and is packed with action. I also loved the fact that even when I thought I knew where the stories were going, there were no shortage of surprises lurking just around the corner. Moreland also conjures up some of the most frightening antagonists/monsters I have read in quite some time, especially the witch from The Witching House. I suspect sometime in the near future some of those scenes will work their way into my nightmares. Blood Sacrifices is an essential addition to any horror fan’s library and one of my favorite collections so far this year!

Rating: 5/5


Brian Moreland’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase Blood Sacrifices: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror, or your favorite bookstore!

Blood Sacrifices tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Blood Sacrifices! – #BloodSacrifices #4TalesofTerror #BrianMoreland

Blood Sacrifices Synopsis

Blood Sacrifices houses four tales of terror by one of the masters of horror, Brian Moreland. Previously only available in digital format, these stories are compiled into one book and can now be ordered in print!

Some evils require sacrifices.

From the author of Dead of Winter and The Devil’s Woods come four tales of blood-tingling horror:

The Girl from the Blood Coven

In this short prequel to The Witching House, when Abigail Blackwood claims her hippy commune family has been massacred, Sheriff Travis Keagan and his deputies investigate. They discover there’s more than weed smoking going on at Blevins House. Much more.

The Witching House

Sarah Donovan is scared of just about everything, but she helps her adventurous boyfriend investigate the old, abandoned Blevins House, scene of a forty-year-old unsolved massacre. Little do they know the house is hungry for fresh prey

Darkness Rising

When Marty Weaver encounters three killers who like to play sadistic games with their victims, his own scarred past is unearthed. And when his pain is triggered, blood will flow…and hell will rise.

The Vagrants

Beneath the city of Boston, evil is gathering. While living under a bridge with the homeless, journalist Daniel Finley witnessed something that nearly cost him his sanity. Now, with a book published about the experience, he’s caught between the Irish mafia and a deranged cult preparing to shed blood on the street.

This is a collection of books previously published in digital format.

Praise for Brian Moreland

“For horror fans wanting a healthy dose of the small-town stuff a la Stephen King, be sure to pick up a copy of this (The Girl from the Blood Coven) memorable and frightening short story, a wonderful teaser that will whet your appetite for the main course, The Witching House, where the twisted story continues.” – DarkEva/Hellnotes

” Very much in the tradition of HELL HOUSE, THE WITCHING HOUSE is a creepy, modern turn on the haunted house story.” – Tim Potter 

“Far and away the best new piece of fiction I’ve read this year. With Darkness Rising, Brian Moreland reminded me why he’s one of my two favorite (not King, Laymon, Ketchum…etc.) authors out there (the other being Ronald Malfi). I’m a huge fan of his novel, Shadows in the Mist, but I think this novella rivals it.” – Glenn Rolfe, author of Blood and Rain, on Darkness Rising

“Brian Moreland writes a blend of survival horror and occult mystery that I find impossible to resist. I know, when I’ve got one of his books in my hands, that I’m going to be lost to the world for hours on end. He’s just that good.” –Joe McKinney, author of Dead City and Flesh Eaters

“A thrilling, wholly-engrossing read that masterfully crosses multiple genres and leaves the reader breathless. Moreland weaves one hell of a history lesson, rich with brilliant characters and incredible plot twists. Highly recommended!” – Brian Keene, bestselling author of The Last Zombie and Ghoul, on Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter is an exceptionally well crafted horror novel that tells a gripping story of dark religious doings, a horrific serial killer, and a sympathetic Inspector, in a dark and fascinating historical setting of 19th century Canada. The atmospherics are outstanding and the story offers plenty of surprises right up to its shocking and violent conclusion. Highly recommended.” Douglas Preston,  New York Times bestselling co-author of The Monster of Florence and Cold Vengeance

Brian Moreland’s fiction is taut and spellbinding, often blending varied themes to form a dark genre very much his own.  From his WWII occult thriller Shadows in the Mist, to the haunting chiller The Devil’s Woods, Brian’s work is at once versatile, original, and deeply engaging.” Greg F. Gifune, author of The Bleeding Season

The Devil’s Woods is an awesome horror novel, filled with nerve-wracking suspense and thrilling action!” Jeff Strand, author of Wolf Hunt

About Brian Moreland

Brian Moreland photo

Brian Moreland is a best-selling and award-winning author of novels and short stories in the horror and supernatural suspense genre. In 2007, his novel Shadows in the Mist, a Nazi occult thriller set during World War II, won a gold medal for Best Horror Novel in an international contest. The novel went on to be published in Austria and Germany under the title Schattenkrieger.

Shadows in the MistDead of Winterand The Devil’s Woods are his currently available novels, as well as his Kindle short-story The Girl from the Blood Coven and the novella it led into called The Witching House.  Now, he has released the full-length The Devil’s Woods. His novella, The Vagrants, was released in 2014, and another, Darkness Rising, in 2015.

He loves hiking, kayaking, watching sports, dancing, and making guacamole. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel.  When not working on his books or books for other writers, Brian edits documentaries and TV commercials around the globe. He produced a World War II documentary in Normandy, France, and worked at two military bases in Iraq with a film crew.

 Brian lives in Dallas, Texas. You can communicate with him online at www.brianmoreland.comhis Dark Lucidity blog, Twitter, or Facebook.



Publisher: Samhain Horror

Length: 219 Pages

Release Date: April 5, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour for The Monster Underneath

I remember reading some early praise for The Monster Underneath from Ronald Malfi, Rena Mason and John Everson and thinking that this was a book that I just had to read. So when Erin from Hook of a Book Publicity offered me a spot on the blog tour, I jumped at the chance!

Max Crawford has offered therapy to inmates for over 6 years at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville through a secretive government program. He has unique abilities to read minds and enter the dreams of the inmates and he utilizes these gifts in order to help rehabilitate violent offenders. His goal is to talk his patients through their crimes in the hopes that they will feel remorse for what they have done and begin to rehabilitate so they may reenter society. His identity is largely kept a secret in order to protect him and his family should some of the more violent inmates ever be released. He hardly ever meets them face to face and solely interacts with them through their dreams. The reason he gets their consent first is it makes his therapy more effective.

Max has been content using his abilities in secret at the tiny jail in Huntsville, but one day his life is changed when FBI agent Charles Linden shows up and asks for Max’s help. Linden is well aware of Max’s gifts and wants him to help get a confession from one of the country’s most notorious serial killers, William Knox. At first glance, he seems relatively harmless. He is a husband and father who is well-respected within his community and is a well-regarded English professor at the University of Texas in Austin. Despite his squeaky clean public image, he is the prime suspect in a series of murders of young women that stretched from Dallas to Arkansas. Other than the fact that his victims were all women, there was no clear motives for his crimes. The FBI has been unable to break Knox no matter what tactic they try, which is what convinced Linden to reach out to Max in a last-ditch attempt to get a confession. Max normally has the consent from inmates to enter their dreams, but Linden wants this to be a more covert operation. While this makes Max uncomfortable, he has no choice but to agree to Linden’s plan if he hopes to help get justice for the victims’ families. Max enters Knox’s mind with the goal of gaining his trust by any means necessary and once he is inside Knox’s mind, he is in a race against time to uncover the truth about the murders.

I liked the concept behind The Monster Underneath and while I have read a few books with a similar premise, this one stood out to me. Most of the stories I have read that were fairly similar involved detectives who used these abilities to either prevent attacks or to catch a killer that is still on the loose. Max’s abilities and his background as a therapist intrigued me because he strictly worked with criminals who are already in jail. Also, while he is able to enter prisoner’s minds at will, he tends to only works with inmates who have granted him permission to enter their dreams. This is interesting because when Max meets with his patients, he already has knowledge of their crimes and how they were committed. A lot of his work when he enters their dreams is figuring out why they made certain choices and trying to help them feel remorse in an attempt to rehabilitate them should they ever be released from prison.

This is interesting because when Max meets Knox, he has the same abilities and knowledge to draw on, but he is plunged into a situation that is vastly different from what he is used to. He is attempting to gain Knox’s trust without prior consent and he is using his abilities to figure out the details of a crime through a person’s dreams for the first time. Max’s previous work and knowledge allows him to identify things easier, but his case with Knox is tricky because he needs to sift through what is fiction conjured up by Knox’s mind and what may be real memories of his crimes.

I loved the way Franks handled the dream world and the sort of rules that govern them. While there aren’t too many similarities I couldn’t help but think of Russell James’ Dreamwalker while reading some of these scenes. I also enjoyed the way Franks describes Max’s abilities. Mind reading comes like second nature to him and he really has to work on keeping other people’s thoughts from merging with his own. However, the ability to enter dreams was something he had to work at. I like that it wasn’t something easy, but rather an ability he had to develop. A great example is the very descriptive scene of how Max first discovers his ability to enter dreams, which he ironically discovered while trying to read the thoughts of one of his patients at a sleep clinic he worked at during college. Franks puts a lot of detail and thought behind the description of Max’s powers and the protocols that Max establishes as a result of his experiences with his abilities. I don’t want to spoil too much of this because it is one of the many things that make The Monster Underneath an entertaining and unique read.

I also loved the interactions between Max and Knox. Their relationship is the major sense of tension throughout the novel and although Max is trying to keep Knox locked up, they develop a toxic and bizarre pseudo-friendship. As Max gets deeper and more involved in Knox’s dream reality, the lines that separate the real world from Knox’s dream world begin to blur a little bit. The case is extremely stressful for Max and for the first time in his career, he starts to doubt himself.

The only issues I had with the novel were a few instances where the transitions between chapters took me out of the story. I also had a few issues with the ending, but it didn’t really impact my enjoyment of the novel too much. Overall, The Monster Underneath is a gripping psychological thriller that I couldn’t put down!  The novel works well as a standalone story, but while I was reading, I couldn’t help but think of more books containing Max and having him possibly team up with Agent Linden again. While Linden can come off as abrasive at times, I do think it would be cool to see them work together more closely on a case from start to finish. So, I was excited to read in Wag The Fox’s great interview with Matthew Franks that there is indeed a follow-up currently in the works!

Rating: 4/5


Matthew Franks Official Webpage 

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase The Monster Underneath: Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), Amazon (Australia), Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror or your favorite bookstore!

The Monster Underneath tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about The Monster Underneath! – #TheMonsterUnderneath #psychologicalhorror #dreamsvsnightmares

The Monster Underneath Synopsis

Reality can be the difference between a dream and a nightmare…

Max Crawford isn’t a typical prison therapist. He uses his unusual psychic ability to walk with convicts through their dreams, reliving their unspeakable crimes alongside them to show them the error of their ways.

Max always has to be on his toes to keep himself grounded, but the FBI agent waiting for him in his private office immediately puts him on edge. The bureau wants Max to go way outside his comfort zone to enter the dreams of suspected serial killer William Knox.

To get a confession and secure the future of his prison program, Max must gain Knox’s trust by any means necessary—and survive the minefield of secrets waiting inside a murderer’s mind. Secrets that could turn Max’s reality into a living nightmare.

Praise for The Monster Underneath

“An assured, gripping, totally engaging debut, Matthew Franks will have you burning through the pages of this taut supernatural thriller at breakneck speed. If Christopher Nolan and Stephen King ever teamed up to write a novel, this would be it. Highly recommended!” Ronald Malfi, author of Little Girls

“What if you could see inside the dreams of anyone you came in contact with? Would you dare to look? Could you handle the things you’d find within? The Monster Underneath is a real nail-biter – one of those ever-spiraling stories that you just can’t put down until you reach the surprising end!”John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Covenant and The Family Tree

The Monster Underneath is an intense and clever debut in which reality is more terrifying than the nightmares and twisted dreamscapes of a madman. Author Matthew Franks is a name to remember, his stories you won’t soon forget.” Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Evolutionist and East End Girls

“Matthew Franks’ debut novel takes you through the darkest, twisted alleys of a killer’s mind and then drags you several steps further, beyond the status of observer and into the disturbing realm of accomplice. A harrowing tale of murder and delusion and moral ambiguity.” Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of DamnableDiabolicaland the dark thriller collection, American Nocturne

About Matthew Franks

Matthew Franks headshot

Matthew Franks lives in Arlington, Texas with his beautiful wife and children. He studied psychology and creative writing at Louisiana State University then obtained a Master’s Degree in counseling from Texas State University. When he’s not working on his next story, he’s counseling adolescents or trying to keep up with his three highly energetic daughters. You can connect with Matthew at:



Publisher: Samhain Horror

Length: 104 Pages

Release Date: April 12, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour for I Kill in Peace

Longtime readers of The Horror Bookshelf know that I am a huge fan of Hunter Shea’s books, so when I was asked to be on the blog tour for I Kill in Peace, I jumped at the chance! I remember reading Hunter’s blog posts about this novella back in February and hearing him describe it as something different and that he was worried certain parts might get the axe. Now, as a horror fan, hearing stuff like that sent my anticipation for  I Kill in Peace into overdrive! As for it being different, I wasn’t worried about that in the slightest. I know that every time I get my hands on a copy of Hunter’s work, no matter what it is about, I am going to going on one hell of an adventure!

Peter Blades is an everyday average family man. He has a beautiful wife and daughter he loves and a steady job. His life seems to be going well until the day he begins getting mysterious messages from a person known only as “AO”. The first interaction with AO happens with an instant message from AO warning Peter that he will lose his job at the end of the work day. Peter initially shrugs off the message thinking the message was meant for someone else. However, when AO uses his name and keeps sending him messages, Peter thinks it is a co-worker playing a sick joke on him. However, he is shaken when he is called to Marcellus Hanson’s office at the end of the day and  laid off. How did this AO know what was going to happen to him well before it actually happened? After being let go, Peter continues receiving messages from AO and they carry a sinister message – ordering him to kill his boss.

Peter tries his best to ignore the messages, but they keep popping up on his phone, his computer and even his iPad. Every time Peter thinks about ignoring AO, he is crippled by intense pain and visions of fire until he surrenders to the will of AO. On his way to his first mission, he is provided a brand new red Mustang and AO is able to speak to him through the car’s Bluetooth capabilities. When he arrives at Hanson’s house, AO tells Peter to check the backseat and it is there Peter finds his weapon – an ancient sword that gives him a swagger to carry out the killings. Although he is shaken to the core by his first murder, when he gets home, he shares a passionate moment with his wife and momentarily forgets his guilt.

Just when it seems like Peter has escaped AO, the messages start rolling in again and Peter is tasked with carrying out AO’s murderous orders. While Peter struggles with the guilt of killing random people at first, Peter quickly finds that he needs to keep killing in order to feel fulfilled. Meanwhile, as Peter keeps getting new missions from AO, there are reports of strange events popping up all over the country. As Peter’s life begins spiraling out of control, he begins to question if AO is real or if this is all part of his mind slowly coming unraveled.

I Kill in Peace is a bit of a departure for Shea, but it is an excellent novella that keeps you hooked from the first page. While Hunter has tackled everything from ghosts and cryptids to an apocalyptic scenario, this novella is a very unique take on the slasher genre. Everything about Peter screams normal, he is the last person you would expect to pick up a sword and go on a crazed killing spree. Not only that, it isn’t like he harbors some sort of inner darkness or that he uses his appearance as a camouflage. He truly is a harmless person who is driven to commit these brutal acts of vengeance due to the whims of the mysterious AO. He is also unable to confess his crimes or attempt to take any responsibility, which makes this stand out from your standard slasher story. I don’t want to give too much away on why he is unable to take responsibility, but it is a pretty clever style choice that helped add another level of mystery to Peter and his relationship to AO.

The other thing that makes this novella interesting is the common thread that links Peter’s victims. Each person that AO orders Peter to kill has done horrible things to other people. I don’t want to give too much away about what these people have done, but the official synopsis does state that one of them was a would-be school shooter. This makes the novella interesting because of how it toys with the emotions of Peter and the readers. It is horrifying that Peter is able to go from mild-mannered “everyman” to homicidal vigilante almost as soon as he picks up the sword. What makes Peter’s predicament interesting is the fact that these people all have a sinister streak in their daily lives that goes unnoticed. Peter feels guilty for committing these murders and he struggles with the decision to confess his crimes and risk losing everything he cares about, but at the same time, he tries to rationalize his actions with the fact that these people have done some truly awful things.

The mystery surrounding AO really drew me into this story and it drove me crazy trying to figure out who it was. AO is seemingly able to predict the future with eerie accuracy when they tell Peter of his firing hours before it happens. That in and of itself could lead to a variety of different possibilities a disgruntled co-worker seeking to cause havoc in Peter’s life or his best friend playing a practical joke on him. However, as the novella progresses and the body count begins to stack up, the possibilities of who AO is are endless. I will admit that for a fleeting second, when AO began speaking to Peter through the Bluetooth in the Mustang, I thought it was going to be some sort of murderous version of Kitt from Knight Rider or an homage to Stephen King’s Christine.

What makes the mystery of AO’s true identity so great is that Shea leaves clues throughout the entire novella. The events of I Kill in Peace are so damn entertaining though, that I blasted right by them. When I got to the end and finally fit all the pieces of the puzzle together, I was kicking myself for not figuring it out sooner, but it made the ending of the novella that much more enjoyable. I also realize that I am probably the only person that will care about this, but I think it is awesome that Peter drives a Chevy Lumina. My very first car was a red ’92 Lumina and man did seeing that name bring back some nostalgia for me!

I Kill in Peace delivers a fast-paced narrative that offers copious amounts of blood, mystery and mayhem that will make this a fun read for any horror fan and gets my highest recommendation. Hunter has already released two top-notch novellas for 2016 with They Rise and now I Kill in Peace, so I can’t wait to check out The Jersey Devil near the end of the summer!

Rating: 5/5


Hunter Shea’s Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Website

Purchase I Kill in Peace: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore!

I Kill In Peace tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about I Kill in Peace! – #IKillInPeace #HunterShea #evilancientswords

I Kill in Peace Synopsis

Killing gets easier…with practice. 

Peter Blades is, in every sense of the word, an ordinary man. Hard worker, father, husband, a man content with small-town life. Except for one small fact—he’s slowly being turned into a ruthless killer.

Compelled by mysterious texts to murder, he’s provided a fiery red Mustang and an ancient sword to carry out an ever-growing hit list. His jerkoff boss is victim number one. You always remember your first.

By the time his sword sings through the air to dispatch a would-be school shooter, taking lives is as easy as breathing. And if the world is going to hell around him, all the better. No one wants to burn alone.

Praise for Hunter Shea

This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

“Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!” –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness/The Mouth of Madness Podcast

About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea 2

Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weaned on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.

Publishers Weekly named The Montauk Monster one of the best reads of the summer in 2014, and his follow up novel, Hell Hole, was named best horror novel of the year on several prestigious horror sites. Cemetery Dance had this to say about his apocalyptic thriller, Tortures of the Damned – “A terrifying read that left me wanting more. I absolutely devoured this book!”

Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.

He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man’s land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, crytid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

You can follow his travails at, sign-up for his newsletter, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



Length: 98 Pages

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Where Nightmares Begin


Length: 219 Pages 

(A collection of the three novellas Boom Town, Abram’s Bridge, Things We Fear)

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Review copy provided of “Things We Fear” in exchange for an honest review as part of the Things We Fear & Where Nightmares Begin Blog Tour 

Anyone who follows my reviews on The Horror Bookshelf knows I am a huge fan of Glenn Rolfe’s work. Since discovering Glenn’s debut The Haunted Halls back in 2014, I have been hooked on Rolfe’s brand of horror that feels both fresh and yet has an old-school feel to it. So when I was asked to join the blog tour for his latest novella Things We Fear from Samhain Horror, I didn’t even hesitate to say yes!

Things We Fear kicks off following Kasey Campbell, a bartender who has encountered almost every pick up line under the sun during her three-year stint at Patrick’s Place. An interaction with a mysterious stranger with good looks alters her evening from the standard slog into something a bit more ominous. He introduced himself as her “Next Best Night” and seemed fairly harmless, but after an interaction with a bar regular, Next Best Night sets Kasey on edge when he snatches her by the arm and hurls insults at her. Kasey is saved by her friend and bouncer Eric and despite the weirdness of the encounter, she forgets about the man shortly after.

It is then we are introduced to the perspective of Matt Holmes, the man who introduced himself as Kasey as “Next Best Night”. He is your stereotypical “tough guy type” and while he comes across as relatively harmless, he harbors a sinister secret. After being thrown out of the bar, he is determined to get his revenge on Kasey for humiliating him.

After a pretty intense opening, Rolfe introduces readers to the other two main characters in Things We Fear. Aaron Jackson is an Ed Tech at Fairington Elementary School and he has been haunted by nightmares about drowning since he was fifteen. Every time he slips into this dream he is gripped with terror and sees something that turns his blood to ice. Dr. Lewis, his therapist, says that the horrifying image is just Aaron’s brain giving a face to his fear, but it seems much more real to Aaron. The nightmares started after the accident at the swimming spot called the Ropes, where Aaron almost drowned. Often times when he is awakened by these terrifying nightmares, the only thing that can help him get back to sleep is by self-medicating with a few beers. In an attempt to at least lessen his fears, every summer after the school year is over, Aaron heads down to Old Orchard Beach and rents a beach house to be by the water. Although it seems crazy for him to want to be near his greatest fear, the comforts of the beach and being surrounded by familiar faces helps him deal with his anxiety.

Emily Young is also looking forward to the end of the school year and a chance to work on her writing and to finally tackle although her summer gets off to a creepy start when she notices a white SUV that seems to be monitoring her apartment until she goes outside and it takes off in a hurry down the street.

Heading into the final day of the school year, Aaron is contemplating leaving his job at Fairington Elementary after years of failing to make faculty. This year was his easiest yet as he worked with Emily Young, a beautiful teacher that he is constantly daydreaming about. After finally reaching the freedom of his car, he bumps into Emily and after an awkward bit of flirtation, Aaron invites her to look him up if she happens to head down to Old Orchard Beach over the summer. Shortly after the start of summer vacation, Emily finds herself needing to get away from town for a little while after she is shaken when her tire was slashed. She thinks it could have been just an act of teenage mischief, but the event still sets her on edge and makes her nervous to be home alone. She decides to book a hotel room near Old Orchard Beach and spend some time with Aaron. The two get over their initial awkwardness and soon kick off a summer romance. However, Matt has his sights set on Emily and when he sees Emily with Aaron, it sets Matt off and and begins a chain of events that will forever alter their lives.

Rolfe does a pretty good job with building up his characters and bringing their fears to life. Aaron Jackson is confronting his fear of the water after a disturbing event from his childhood and is haunted by a vision that is pretty terrifying. I don’t know if the thing Aaron sees is just a manifestation of his fears or if it really exists, but either way it gave me the creeps! Emily Young is trying to allow herself to open up after being hurt in relationships during the past, but is scared of her feelings for Aaron.

Phys Ed teacher Matt Holmes doesn’t seem to have any fears of his own, but he does thrive off of causing fear in others. I hate to say it because this character is just the epitome of evil and sleaziness, but Matt Holmes was one of the more intriguing characters in Things We Fear. Matt is a dangerous predator and although he may not seem it at first, Matt is an intelligent person when it comes to his crimes. He is able to read people and adapt his personality to try to worm his way into their lives. In Emily’s case, he tries to portray himself as a nice guy, apologizing for his forward behavior and coming to her rescue at opportune times. When I am reading a novel, I like to try to visualize characters based off their mannerisms and descriptions. I don’t know why, but for some reason every time Matt popped up,  I couldn’t help but think of a homicidal version of Stifler from the American Pie movies. This is a novella so I understand some of his back story needs to be left to the imagination, but I would have loved to see more of how Matt developed into the type of person he is during Things We Fear. I think there is a pretty cool story hidden in there!

I also loved the interactions between Aaron and the Hersom’s, the couple he rents his cottage from every summer. It is clear that over the many years of renting from them, Aaron has built a strong relationship with them, almost like his own grandparents. He is particularly close to Mrs. Hersom, who teases him about his crush on Emily and is always reading the horror novels he sneaks to her.

Rolfe also does a perfect job of capturing the setting of Old Orchard Beach. I have never been to there before, but Rolfe’s vivid descriptions of the town – from the smell of the Atlantic to the small shops and landmarks that give these beach towns their own unique charm and identity – made me feel like I had been going to Old Orchard Beach all of my life. While I was reading Things We Fear, I couldn’t help but think of Stephen King’s Joyland, which is one of my favorite novels. I think that both of those novels have perfect settings that capture that feeling of nostalgia and the joys of summer while offering just a hint of darkness lurking below the surface.

I loved the way Rolfe utilizes the multiple view points of the characters, particularly how we see certain interactions from different point of views. Also, let me just say for the record that Matt’s chapters are downright creepy! I also think it was great how he takes the chapters of the teachers Emily, Aaron, and Matt and weaves them together with hotel worker Heather, in what seems like a random order until the different storylines slowly converge on one explosive event.

Things We Fear is a straight-ahead thriller that focuses solely on real life horror that could actually happen and shares a lot of the same atmosphere as his previous novella Abram’s Bridge. While there is plenty of evil and violence in Things We Fear, it is one of Glenn’s works that doesn’t feature any supernatural elements. That is unless you count the thing that appears in Aaron’s dreams, which is beyond creepy and I am surprised it hasn’t yet made an appearance in my own nightmares! 

If you are new to Rolfe’s work, I highly suggest picking up a copy of Where Nightmares Begin, which collects three of his novellas – Things We Fear, Boom Town, and Abram’s Bridge – in print for the first time. This is a great introduction to his work and shows off the versatility he is capable of. Boom Town (review) was a downright creepy sci-fi adventure and Abram’s Bridge (review) was atmospheric with a dark beauty. Where Nightmares Begin is a perfect starting point and I promise you won’t be disappointed with any of these novellas!

Glenn is one hell of a writer and continues to get better with each and every release. As much as I absolutely love Glenn’s more straightforward horror works, after reading Things We Fear, I hope Glenn continues to write more thrillers as he has a real talent for it. All I know is that regardless of whatever type of story he decides to tackle next, I will definitely be first in line to check it out!

Rating: 4.5/5


Glenn Rolfe’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase Things We Fear: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore

Purchase Where Nightmares Begin: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore

Things We Fear tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Things We Fear & Where Nightmares Begin! – #ThingsWeFear #WhereNightmaresBegin #horror #scaryreads #novellas

Things We Fear Synopsis

Summer has just begun, and fear is in season.

School’s out, and the faculty at Fairington Elementary School are free for the summer. Emily Young can’t deny her attraction to Aaron Jackson, the Ed Tech from her classroom, but she’s afraid of being hurt again. Meanwhile, Aaron is determined not to let his phobia of drowning prevent him from enjoying the sun and the sand of Maine’s best beach town.

But they’re about to learn real fear. Fairington is home to a monster. Phys Ed teacher Matt Holmes has more to offer the ladies than a perfect smile. He’s a killer and he’s got his sights set on Emily.

Who at Fairington will conquer their fears? And who will fall to a psychopath’s hellbent rage?

Where Nightmares Begin Synopsis

A collection of the three novellas Boom Town, Abram’s Bridge, Things We Fear

Monsters can hide anywhere. Under a bridge, below the earth…or behind a smile.

Abram’s Bridge

 When Lil Ron realizes the beautiful girl he met under Abram’s Bridge is a ghost, he sets out to make things right for Sweet Kate. His quest leads him into a tangle of small-town secrets as he uncovers a story of heartbreak, violence…and fear.

Boom Town

Thirty years after a notorious UFO encounter, the town of Eckert, Wisconsin, is besieged by mysterious rumbles from deep in the earth. As the earthly tremors grow stronger, two pre-teens discover a dislodged pipe spewing a strange, bubbling ooze. Their curiosity unleashes an afternoon of unbridled terror for the entire town.

Things We Fear

Emily Young can’t deny her attraction to Aaron Jackson, the Ed Tech from her Fairington Elementary classroom, but fears she’ll be hurt again. Aaron is determined to overcome his drowning phobia and enjoy the sun and the sand of Maine’s best beach town.

But real fear lurks closer than they think. Fairington harbors a psychopath seething with hell-bent rage—and he’s got his sights set on Emily.

Praise for Glenn Rolfe

Praise for Things We Fear

Things We Fear is a compulsively readable tale of obsession and dark suspense, with one of the creepiest villains I’ve encountered in recent years.” — Tim Waggoner, author of The Way of All Flesh

“Glenn Rolfe’s new thriller is addictive. A quick, compelling read. Rolfe creates tension with a minimal amount of words. His characters are so well-drawn they come alive (before they die).” — Duncan Ralston, author of Salvage

“Fast paced and tense, with one of the most interesting monsters I’ve read about in recent times.” — Patrick Lacey, author of A Debt to Be Paid

“Glenn Rolfe is quickly establishing a name for himself as one of a number of excellent new writers to ensure the horror genre is kept alive and well. His previous books – Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town and Blood and Rain – have also served to show the extensive breadth of his imagination and Things We Fear carries on that trend. Quite simply, each story is fresh, new, exciting, and unpredictable.” — Catherine Cavendish, author of Dark Avenging Angel

“In this frighteningly real look at true horror, Rolfe manages to up the ante of tension while balancing genuinely heartbreaking moments, while showcasing his talent for creating unforgettable characters placed in equally unforgettable moments.” — David, Beneath The Underground

“There is a definite old school feel about this novella. It isn’t an over the top gore fest. Instead, what we have is a tense, psychological thriller that builds steadily towards a fitting climax.” –Adrian Shotbolt, at Ginger Nuts of Horror

Praise for Abram’s Bridge (a novella within Where Nightmares Begin)

“This is a stellar debut from Glenn Rolfe, a tale that will give you chills as much as it will make you question the hardness in men’s hearts and the spirit of redemption.” –Hunter Shea, Author of The Montauk Monster and Island of the Forbidden

“If you’re looking for a page-turning who-done-it with a touch of the supernatural and a solid all around story that satisfies, then look no further.” –David Bernstein, author of Goblins and Unhinged

Praise for Boom Town (a novella within Where Nightmares Begin)

“Short and sharp, Glenn Rolfe’s BOOM TOWN packs in in for a novella. An excellent blend of horror and sci-fi, with way more character development than you usually see in a shorter work like this.” –Russell James, Author of Q Island

“Boom Town is a fun, fast-paced read packed with action, copious amounts of alien slime and an aura of creepiness that is sure to appeal to both horror and science fiction fans.” –Rich, The Horror Bookshelf

About Glenn Rolfe


Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon.

He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author the novellas, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, and his latest, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain (October 2015). His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, will also be released in March 2016. His next book, Chasing Ghosts, will be coming by 2017.

He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!

Today I am happy to have Kristopher Rufty on The Horror Bookshelf for an interview in support of his gut-wrenching novel Desolation (review), which is out now through Samhain Horror. Desolation is a truly visceral story that is full of darkness and heartbreak, but also forgiveness. What makes this story such a great horror read is that is entirely plausible. Rufty shows that ordinary people can snap under pressure and intense grief and that sometimes the aftermath is devastating. This novel had a huge emotional impact on me and although it is still early, I don’t see another book this year hitting me on such a personal level. Rufty puts his readers through an emotional wringer with Desolation, but it is one hell of a story and an essential addition to the bookshelf of any horror fan. During my interview with Kristopher, we talked about his writing process, his influences, the inspiration and history behind Desolation, and some of his upcoming work. A big thank you to Kristopher for stopping by to answer my questions and to Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour!

Be sure to check out the giveaways at the end of this post! The first giveaway is for two audio books, Oak Hollow andPillowface. The other giveaway is for a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfieldand Bigfoot Beach!


Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! For those who may be unfamiliar with your work, how did you first get started in writing and what led you to pursue it professionally?

Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the invite. Hopefully I can answer these great questions without sounding like a fool!

So many things led me to writing. I think I have different answers each time because there were a lot of forces at work. But mostly, it was because my overactive imagination needed a release. I found horror movies at a very early age. My mother sat me down to watch TV while she worked on canning. She saw a gruff, New-Yorker in a superhero outfit and assumed I was about to be subjected to some wholesome, child-appropriate entertainment. What I got while she was distracted in the kitchen was a horror movie host and a double-feature of FRIDAY THE 13th and FRIDAY THE 13th part 2. I think part 2 actually came on later that night, because I have a memory of being at a friend’s house and telling him how excited I was to watch part 2 that night. I was five years old. Part 3 had its network television premier a week later. After watching that one, I was hooked on horror from then on.

I read a lot as kid, Judy Blume and other children’s books, mostly. When I was introduced to comic books, a new world of creativity opened up for me. I went crazy with comics, devouring them all. Then I began to read horror comics and nearly went into a mental relapse from the sensation overload.

My dad loved it that I was a reader, so he pretty much just let me read whatever I wanted. Being a horror movie fan, I knew who Stephen King was because of CUJO and MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE. But when I realized he was an author, I wanted to read him. I saw HELLRAISER when I was in the fourth grade. Same story with Barker—when I learned he wrote books, I wanted to read them. I saw the Corey Haim—starring WATCHERS. Saw ‘Based on the novel by Dean Koontz’ in the credits. Add Koontz to the list. Couldn’t read enough of those guys.

But a friend put Laymon’s THE CELLAR in my hand and my entire outlook and approach on writing changed.

From the time I was fourteen, I fantasized about being an author. I’d write stories and scripts on my old Brother typewriter and hold the pages up to the mirror to see what my words looked from another point of view. I know that sounds strange, but I loved doing that. I used to imagine them in print, on the cream-colored pages of a paperback. That was my goal, to be like Barker and King, writing books and making movies all at once.

What is a typical day of writing like for you? Do you have a set process or is it something that varies depending on the day?

Used to be a process. I was stubborn in my process. Being self-employed, I would usually get the kids up in the morning and ready for school. After I dropped them off, I’d come home, eat some breakfast, and sit down and write until lunchtime. Then it would be time to start work on my regular job.

Now we have a baby at home and that process no longer exists. I write whenever I can, which is okay because that’s how I used to do it before the last two years of being self-employed. My favorite time to write during this “whenever-I-can” schedule is early in the morning. I like being the first one awake, but that doesn’t always happen when I’m working third shift of the “whenever-I-can” schedule.

What was your inspiration for writing Desolation?

It came to me in a dream. Seriously. I dreamed scenes in vivid detail. In the dream, I was watching a movie and I saw the opening, the aftermath of the car accident. Then something scrambled and cut to a man invading a home, attacking a family. I woke up, confused and a little startled by the images I’d witnessed. I had to know what happened with the story. So I sat down to write it as my first novel, but I quickly became intimidated and decided to turn the story into an exploitation movie, in the vein of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. It floated around with producers for a few years before coming back home. Then I shelved it. But the idea remained and I began to come up with new takes on it. It made the story fresh to me again and I had to write it.

One of the things I loved about Desolation was that the two main characters are pretty complex. They each have faults and have done terrible things, but you can’t help but sympathize with each of them at different points of the story. Was it important to you to have readers connect with the Marlowes attacker even though he puts them through brutal situations?

Absolutely. That was crucial to me from the very beginning. When the story began to develop, I was looking at it solely from Dennis’s perspective. But as it went on, I began to understand Grant. I got to know him more and quickly realized that he’s not a bad guy at all. He just made a lot of bad choices that led him into a very dangerous situation. Not only that, he brought his family with him. That’s a huge fear of mine, failing my family, and Grant has done that. He’s in a different kind of desperation than Dennis, yet they are both connected in the middle, like a tug-of-war rope pulling back and forth.

I read on your guest post on Hunter Shea’s blog that Desolation has been around for 10 years and started as a novel and then as a script idea. What made Desolation such a challenging project for you?

Well, at first, I think I was just scared of my ability, or the lack of ability, to write it. I was still attempting to complete a full-length novel when the idea first came to me. I’d written many short stories, short novels, and a lot of screenplays. I decided to turn it into a script and try to get it made into a movie. I was overwhelmed by how many people came on board. Actors and actresses and producers from all over. People I’d grown up watching in movies were calling me at home to talk about it. But the financing never came through. It was shopped around and around, but the money just wasn’t there. It was a bad time for indie filmmaking then. But I’m grateful it never happened. I wouldn’t have been able to write the book.

You include letters throughout Desolation that help bring readers inside the mind of the man who attacks the Marlowe family. I loved these and thought they really captured the raw emotions that drive the course of the novel. What was your inspiration for these and what made you decide to take this approach?

Thank you for your kind words. That aspect of the novel came from personal experience. I lost my father in a motorcycle accident back in 2010 because of a person driving when they shouldn’t have been. It was hard for all of us, and I was struggling to accept he was gone. A friend suggested I write him letters, just tell him about my day, as if I were speaking directly to him. This friend thought that, with time, I would eventually no longer need to write the letters. I have to say the letters made everything worse. I quickly stopped writing them because doing so made the pain even stronger.

I’m not really sure when I decided to incorporate that into DESOLATION. But I thought it would be the right place to witness Dennis succumbing to his hate, reading it in his writings as Sonia, the woman who cares for him, reads them.

You have written works that contain supernatural elements and horror that includes real people and could actually happen in real life. What is it about each one that appeals to you and do you have a preference?

I just seem to go there naturally. They both appeal to me for the same reason, they need to be written. These ideas swirl around my head like the flakes of a snow globe. And I enjoy writing them, even if I try to hold back, or to keep it simple. My imagination doesn’t allow me to play it safe. I write without a safety net, whether it’s about tiny creatures or a man obsessed with revenge.

But after writing something like DESOLATION, I think I might prefer to write about monsters for a little while again. I’m not so sure it’s because something like DESOLATION could actually happen. I think it’s the shape the story left me in afterward. I was devastated emotionally and creatively. The bleak tone of the novel left me in a mess afterward. And writing about monsters, the supernatural kind, is a lot of fun. Writing BIGFOOT BEACH after DESOLATION brought me back, but there are wounds that are still there from DESOLATION.

You are also an experienced director and write movie scripts. Does your experience in film influence your writing or do you try to keep the two separate?

I do try to keep them separate. I haven’t made a movie in a few years, but even back then I didn’t try to blur them together. I used to forget that while writing stories, I didn’t have to adhere to a budget plan. I could write anything. Blow up anything. There was no special effect that couldn’t be afforded. Writing stories lifted a restriction that movies couldn’t. I could do anything I wanted to do. There was no reason not to.

What drew you into the world of horror and what is your favorite thing about the genre?

Again, it was watching Friday the 13th when I was five years old. But what made me want to stay in horror was the fun. I got into horror during a great time period, the 80s heyday of splatter and cheese. I absorbed it all, read it all, and couldn’t get enough of it. Even now, I still prefer those movies I grew up on, and books like those that were released during the Zebra/Tor/Leisure days. There was never a short supply of horror. It was everywhere—bookstores, video stores, movie theaters, grocery stores, gas station magazine and bookracks. Everywhere. Seemed that when I was a kid, every place I went to had a horror section.

What horror novel had the biggest impact on you as a writer and who are some of your favorite current writers that you recently started reading?

If I had to pick just one, I’d have to narrow it down to two first. Jack Ketchum’s OFF SEASON and Richard Laymon’s THE CELLAR. Then to look at those two books, side by side, I’ll have to pick THE CELLAR. That book floored me. I couldn’t believe the stuff I read in it. Same for Ketchum. These were like the movies I’d grown up on, and here I had been writing stories and growing depressed because I didn’t think anybody would want to read stuff like this. Then I was pointed toward guys like Laymon and Ketchum, which led me to Lee, White, and the Splatterpunk genre. There were these types of books combining my favorite things from my childhood—monsters, demons, creatures, blood, gore, and…freedom. The freedom to write whatever I wanted. But these authors didn’t write to make it campy, or solely for shock factor. Their books were addictively intriguing and they helped me grow comfortable in the stories I was writing. After reading as much as I could by these guys and many others, I dropped the shackles that had been holding me back and decided to write as Joe R. Lansdale has said before, but much more bluntly: Write as if those who love you will never read it.

Current writers I really enjoy reading are my co-authors on JACKPOT. Shane McKenzie, David Bernstein, and Adam Cesare. I also love Alan Spencer’s stuff. He’s like me and writes with a childlike obsession for horror. Ronald Malfi is an amazing writer. He’s got a serious talent for combining quiet horror with a bit of splatter tossed in. Hunter Shea and Jonathan Janz haven’t put out a bad book, either. They write so well that while you’re reading it, you think it must be easy to write that well. When you sit down to try, you learn that those two have a special gift and they know how to use it.

Brian Keene, Bryan Smith, Bentley Little, Ray Garton, and Joe R. Lansdale are writers I make sure to read everything they put out. As well as Wrath James White, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and so many more. I could keep naming more and more and more and…. more. And those are just SOME of the horror writers I like to read.

If you could choose any writer to collaborate or talk about writing with, who would you choose and why?

I know I can’t, but it would have been an amazing experience to write with Laymon. The things I could learn working on a single page with such an impeccable writer as he was would stay with me for a lifetime.

I’ve been blessed to collaborate with a few authors and I’ve loved it. It’d be a blessing to work with Wrath James White. I think we could create something that would make some heads spin.

And of course, I’d love to finally work with Ronald Malfi. We’ve talked about it quite a few times, but it hasn’t happened yet. I have a feeling that it will at some point in the future, though.

Horror writers are generally big fans of the genre as well. What sort of horror novel have you always wanted to see that has not really been explored?

One of the many great things about horror is there is so many layers to it. Take a subject like werewolves and give it to a roomful of writers. You won’t get the same story back. It will be completely different, told from different perspectives and styles. There may be similarities in tone or even theme, but the voice telling these stories will be fresh each time and the formula they use to tell it will be unique and their own. I think there are still many layers to horror that haven’t even been tapped into yet. I can’t say if there is anything that I want to read that hasn’t been written because there is so much out there I haven’t read. But there are things I haven’t explored yet, in my own writing. There are heights I’ve yet to climb and I’m excited and a little anxious to give them a try. They’re calling out to me late at night, in a nebulous voice like a siren seductively beckoning toward the rocks.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on a couple different things, finishing some stuff up and starting on something new. Now that we have a baby, and I write on that ‘whenever-I-can’ schedule, I’m trying to get caught back up. I just sent JACKPOT 2 over to a co-writer. I’m thrilled to see where this story goes in the sequel. My horror-western is almost ready to send out to my pre-readers. I have a new book I’m working on for DarkFuse, and another book to finish that needs to be turned into Sinister Grin Press this summer. I’ve been approached by a few publishers to contribute to anthologies later in the year as well. I have a lot to write and I’m excited to see where these stories take me.

Thank you so much for having me on. I enjoyed my time here and hope to do it again sometime in the future.


Kristopher Rufty Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Website

Purchase Desolation: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror or from your favorite bookstore!

Desolation tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Desolation! – #Desolation #RuftyRevenge #winterreads #HookofaBook

Desolation Synopsis

There’s no escaping your past. Especially when it wants revenge.

Grant Marlowe hoped taking his family to their mountain cabin for Christmas would reunite them after his alcoholic past had torn them apart, but it only puts them into a life and death struggle.

On Christmas Eve, a stranger from Grant’s past invades the vacation home and takes his wife and children hostage. His agenda is simple—make Grant suffer the same torment that Grant’s drunken antics have caused him.

Now Grant must confront his demons head on and fight for his family’s lives. Because this man has nothing left to lose. The only thing keeping him alive is misery—Grant’s misery.

Praise for Kristopher Rufty

“Kristopher Rufty is the demented reincarnation of Richard Laymon!” – Jeff Strand

A Dark Autumn is a wild gender role reversal of ‘I Spit On Your Grave,’ with gonzo nods to Norman Bates and ‘Friday The 13th’ thrown in for good measure. Kristopher Rufty delivers the goods yet again.” –Bryan Smith, author of Kayla Undead and The Late Night Horror Show

“A creepy, gripping tale of horror. And it’s got one of the best death scenes I’ve read in a long time!” – Jeff Strand, author of Pressure and Dweller

“A powerhouse debut novel. Rufty’s prose will suck you in and hold you prisoner!” – Ronald Malfi, author of Floating Staircase and Snow

“An occult thriller with a new twist. Rufty juggles captivating characters, breakneck suspense, and insidious horror in a macabre story that will leave you feeling possessed by the end of it. Next time you think about taking that old Ouija board out…forget it!” – Edward Lee, author of Lucifer’s Lottery and City Infernal

About Kristopher Rufty


Kristopher Rufty lives in North Carolina with his wife, three children, and the zoo they call their pets. He’s written various books, including The Vampire of Plainfield, Jagger, The Lurkers, the Lurking Season, The Skin Show, Pillowface, Proud Parents and many more, plus a slew of horror screenplays. He is the writer and director of the movies Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood. If he goes more than two days without writing, he becomes very irritable and hard to be around, which is why he’s sent to his desk without supper often.

Find Krist online at his blog or on Facebook and Twitter.


We have a lot of books to giveaway from Krist! We have two audio books, Oak Hollow and Pillowface in one link. In the second link we have a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfield and Bigfoot Beach. Winners are chosen random via rafflecopter and are given choice of prize of order pulled. Any questions on raffle, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at

Link for audio book giveaway:

Link for print/e-book giveaway:



Length: 264 Pages

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the Desolation Blog Tour

I first discovered Rufty’s work through Jagger, a gripping novel about a lovable dog that is pumped full of experimental drugs and transformed into an unstoppable killing machine that finally breaks loose wreaking all kinds of carnage. What made Jagger such an excellent read is that Rufty wasn’t afraid to show readers the violence and depravity that lurks in the darkest corners of the human mind. That same unflinching portrayal of human darkness is carried out in Desolation and the results are devastating.

Desolation hits readers right in the gut from the start by opening with a prologue about a tragic accident involving the Hinshaw family. They were hit by a drunk driver only a few miles before reaching the safety of their home and the results of the crash shatters their world forever. This prologue is absolutely heart-wrenching and one of the most emotionally raw openings I have ever read. Rufty has a background in film and that experience is evident throughout Desolation, but it really shines through in this scene.

After witnessing the horrifying events that kickstart the plot of the novel, readers are introduced to Grant Marlowe, the driver responsible for the accident. He is in an AA meeting 8 months after the accident and is getting ready to share his story with a group of relative strangers for the first time. He was a hotshot lawyer from Leaf Spring who was known for winning every case that came across his desk for almost a decade. He had just won a case against a teacher accused of sexual abuse and was out celebrating his big victory. He was pounding drinks at the bar and buying everyone’s drinks, completely forgetting his promise to his wife Marion that they would celebrate his big win in a calmer more relaxed environment. It is here in his confession of addiction we learn that he has been hiding his addiction from his family and lying to them about being sober. His wife can hear the raucous party in the background and tells Grant it is over between them. This causes Grant to rush out of the bar despite the fact he shouldn’t be driving in attempt to get home before his wife and he decides to take the back roads to avoid cops and shave a few minutes off his drive. It is this fateful decision that changes the lives of both Grant and Hinshaw’s forever.

Grant was hardly punished due to having friends in the legal system, only getting sentenced to a year in jail. He is released early on probation and his oldest friend is the leader of his AA group. Despite not suffering any legal ramifications following the crash, his personal life is in shambles – he lost his job and he is in danger of losing his family. Grant and his wife still live together in a large house that was once their dream home. However, following the accident, the home is nothing more than a painful reminder of what they used to be. Grant and Marion have become relative strangers, hardly interacting with each other and unable to confront the issues caused by Grant’s horrible mistake.

Although Grant still struggles with the urge to drink and is still haunted by the fallout of the accident, the upcoming Christmas holiday helps him stay on track in his recovery and offers a glimmer of hope. He plans to take his wife and two kids, Kara and Bobby, to their cabin in Bear Creek in an attempt to piece his family back together. As the family heads to the cabin in the mountains, there is a sense of hope that surrounds them for the first time in what feels like forever after the events of the horrific accident. Grant and his wife have seemingly made progress in patching up their marriage and Grant secretly hopes the trip will allow him to build on the progress they have made while they are secluded from the town where memories still haunt them. Grant secretly hopes the storm they are calling for will keep them all stuck in the cabin, forced to work on the issues that have been tearing them apart.

When they arrive at the cabin, they realize not much has changed despite the fact they haven’t been there since Kara and Bobby were just kids. However, the caretaker Edgar warns Grant that there has been a prowler frequenting the cabin in recent weeks. While the family is trying to make the most of a tense situation at the cabin, Grant and Bobby make a startling discovery near the cabin while searching the woods for a Christmas tree. After Edgar’s warning about a prowler, the discovery sets the two on edge. After the discovery and a fight between Grant and Bobby, the tensions that plagued the family come rushing to the surface and Grant is worried that his plan at reconciliation will fail. However, that is the least of Grant’s worries when a stranger from his past shows up and takes his family hostage. His goal is simple – to make sure grant Grant feels the same pain he has suffered and to make sure he never forgets what he has done.

Desolation is one of the first books of 2016 that I have read and it started my year off with a bang. Rufty’s characterization and raw display of emotion are the driving forces behind this novel. The two main characters – Grant Marlowe and the man that terrorizes his family – steal the show in my opinion. Their fates are intertwined and although each man brings their own baggage to the table, you cant help but feel both of their pain. Don’t get me wrong, the stranger from Grant’s past is evil and you want nothing more than to see him pay for what he does to the Marlowes, but at the same time your heart breaks for him when you learn of the struggles he has gone through since his initial meeting with Grant. Rufty does an excellent job of showing both sides of this devastating tragedy and challenging readers to question their stances on his characters. Readers witness the attacker struggle to cope with the fallout of the accident and on the flip side you see Grant trying to get his life back after his role in the crash. Both of these men have lost everything as the result of a few tragic moments and each one is forever haunted by the aftermath.

Rufty’s portrayal of the man from Grant’s past is truly terrifying and he is a well-developed antagonist. Although he is unhinged and driven by loss and his need for revenge, he is very methodical in his plans, which is a scary combination. He isn’t totally overcome by grief to the point where he flies blindly into his attack on the Marlowes. His need for his own brand of justice is too important to him and he plans his attack on the Marlowe’s with precision. He has scouted the cabin for weeks and painstakingly planned all of his actions to account for any possible occurrences. Even when it seems his emotions and desperation will get the better of him, he is able to restrain himself against all odds. There are scenes in the cabin where he shares his past with Grant and his family that are absolutely  gut-wrenching and even though he is committing horrible acts against the Marlowes, you still can’t help sympathize with him for the sadness he is going through. It is in these scenes we learn things about the trial and the aftermath of the accident that were buried and you can’t help but feel angry at the injustice of it all.

Desolation doesn’t feature even the tiniest bit of the supernatural, but it is one of the scariest scenarios you can imagine. The attacker inflicts psychological torture on the Marlowe family and they go through some of the most emotionally draining situations imaginable. I won’t lie, I have read a lot of truly horrific books and there is not much that makes me squeamish, but this one definitely had me pausing at times because of the brutality that takes place. The novel may seem like a standard home invasion piece at first glance, but once you read it, you will realize that there is so much more taking place below the surface.

Rufty also utilizes an interesting style choice that really carries the emotional thread of Desolation. There are letters written by the attacker interspersed throughout the story and I don’t want to give too much away, but they are a strong point of the novel. The letters themselves seem harmless enough at first as you read through Desolation, but they get darker with each entry and it is later in the novel that you realize the depths of this man’s insanity and why the letters are so important. I loved this approach because it allows readers to get inside the head of the character and experience how the crushing sense of loss and despair send him spiraling into darkness. I remember reading these letters and as I started to get to some of the later ones, the hair on the back of my neck stood up.

Desolation is a truly visceral story that is full of darkness and heartbreak, but also forgiveness. What makes this story such a great horror read is that is entirely plausible. Rufty shows that ordinary people can snap under pressure and intense grief and that sometimes the aftermath is devastating. I know that 2016 just started, but I can’t imagine another book hitting me on such an emotional level as Desolation. I wish I could explain why, but I don’t want to ruin the journey Rufty has planned for his readers. Let me just say that Rufty puts readers through an emotional wringer  and this story is guaranteed to leave an impression on anyone that decides to read it. Highly recommended for fans of both horror and thriller novels!

Be sure to check out the giveaways at the end of this post! The first giveaway is for two audio books, Oak Hollow and Pillowface. The other giveaway is for a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfield and Bigfoot Beach!

Rating: 5/5


Kristopher Rufty Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Website

Purchase Desolation: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror or from your favorite bookstore!

Desolation tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Desolation! – #Desolation #RuftyRevenge #winterreads #HookofaBook

Desolation Synopsis

There’s no escaping your past. Especially when it wants revenge.

Grant Marlowe hoped taking his family to their mountain cabin for Christmas would reunite them after his alcoholic past had torn them apart, but it only puts them into a life and death struggle.

On Christmas Eve, a stranger from Grant’s past invades the vacation home and takes his wife and children hostage. His agenda is simple—make Grant suffer the same torment that Grant’s drunken antics have caused him.

Now Grant must confront his demons head on and fight for his family’s lives. Because this man has nothing left to lose. The only thing keeping him alive is misery—Grant’s misery.

Praise for Kristopher Rufty

“Kristopher Rufty is the demented reincarnation of Richard Laymon!” – Jeff Strand

A Dark Autumn is a wild gender role reversal of ‘I Spit On Your Grave,’ with gonzo nods to Norman Bates and ‘Friday The 13th’ thrown in for good measure. Kristopher Rufty delivers the goods yet again.” –Bryan Smith, author of Kayla Undead and The Late Night Horror Show

“A creepy, gripping tale of horror. And it’s got one of the best death scenes I’ve read in a long time!” – Jeff Strand, author of Pressure and Dweller

“A powerhouse debut novel. Rufty’s prose will suck you in and hold you prisoner!” – Ronald Malfi, author of Floating Staircase and Snow

“An occult thriller with a new twist. Rufty juggles captivating characters, breakneck suspense, and insidious horror in a macabre story that will leave you feeling possessed by the end of it. Next time you think about taking that old Ouija board out…forget it!” – Edward Lee, author of Lucifer’s Lottery and City Infernal

About Kristopher Rufty


Kristopher Rufty lives in North Carolina with his wife, three children, and the zoo they call their pets. He’s written various books, including The Vampire of Plainfield, Jagger, The Lurkers, the Lurking Season, The Skin Show, Pillowface, Proud Parents and many more, plus a slew of horror screenplays. He is the writer and director of the movies Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood. If he goes more than two days without writing, he becomes very irritable and hard to be around, which is why he’s sent to his desk without supper often.

Find Krist online at his blog or on Facebook and Twitter.


We have a lot of books to giveaway from Krist! We have two audio books, Oak Hollow and Pillowface in one link. In the second link we have a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfield and Bigfoot Beach. Winners are chosen random via rafflecopter and are given choice of prize of order pulled. Any questions on raffle, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at

Link for audio book giveaway:

Link for print/e-book giveaway:

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: 314 Pages

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: November 3, 2015

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the Wolf Land Blog Tour

Jonathan Janz is one of those authors who I have always heard great things about, both from other readers and horror authors, so I am a little embarrassed to admit that this is the first book of his I have read. After hearing tons of praise for his work and watching his excellent interview on Monster Men, I knew that I had to read one of his books. So when I was invited to join the blog tour for his latest Samhain Horror novel Wolf Land, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with his work. 

The novel focuses on a group of classmates from Lakeview gearing up for their ten-year high school reunion with a bonfire in the woods, a booze-fueled blowout just like when they were teenagers. Savannah is nervous about seeing her old flame Mike Freehafer, who has returned to town haunted by a devastating tragedy and a failed professional baseball career that ended their relationship. A trio of best friends – Weezer, Glenn, and Duane – are simply trying to have a good time by having a few drinks and maybe settling an old feud. As the party kicks into gear, it seems the worst thing the party-goers have to deal with is facing the inevitable awkwardness of their pasts.  However, those turn out to be the least of their worries when an ancient and terrifying evil is unleashed leaving several people dead or injured in the attack. The survivors’ lives are changed forever after witnessing the carnage at the bonfire and although they try to put the horrific events behind them, their nightmare is just beginning. Four of the survivors are beginning to change as the result of their injuries and their transformation will plunge the tranquil town of Lakeview into chaos and bloodshed.

Janz spends the opening moments of the novel introducing readers to his fairly large cast of characters and these opening scenes not only gives readers a good sense of their personalities, but allows them to feel like they are a part of Lakeview too. Just when you begin to settle in and prepare yourself for the horrors to come, Janz ramps up the chill factor with the introduction of the mysterious stranger at the reunion party. As people step forward to confront him and figure out what he is doing there, he begins speaking in ominous warnings, my favorite being this line: “I hear the worms, eager to writhe in your carcass”. I loved this approach to introducing the werewolf. Rather than having it show up and just start ripping everyone to shreds, Janz uses sentences like these to craft a sense of tension and dread that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. 

The transformation process is one of the most important parts of any werewolf story and those scenes are handled expertly in Wolf Land. What makes them so fascinating is they are highlighted by small moments and differ from character to character. Each one of these characters has some sort of baggage in their past – not living up to potential, serious abuse, death and guilt. Janz does a great job of spending time with each one of these characters and looking at how they handle the changes of the werewolf curse – some embrace it while others are more reluctant to accept their new lives. It allows those who felt powerless throughout their lives to feel like they are finally in control, though they use that power and control in vastly different ways throughout the course of the novel. 

I like that Janz takes his time in showing how the survivors of the initial attack slowly begin to change. It isn’t the fast, stomach-churning transformation that immediately springs to mind when one thinks of werewolves, though there are some great scenes like that. It is a slow, gradual build-up starting when the characters notice they begin to heal at an astonishing rate. Then the changes start to manifest in other ways – a heightened sense of smell, hearing conversations from across the street or even something as simple as a look. These small scenes of change hint that something sinister is taking place and when the characters finally take on the form of the werewolf, readers are much like the characters in the book – mesmerized and unable to look away. They are handled with incredibly vivid detail and more often than not lead to blood-soaked scenes of terrifying violence.

Janz does an excellent job with creating a cast of characters that seem like the same sort of people you grew up with and that creates a connection with readers, even in the case of some of the more unsavory characters. However, what impressed me most, was the fearlessness Janz took with his characters. Without spoiling anything for readers, there were a few characters that were given pretty extensive backgrounds only to be torn to shreds by the werewolf relatively early in the story. I love when authors do that because it creates a very real sense of danger when no character is safe. Then there is Duane, who is known as “Short Pump” to virtually everyone in Lakeview. He is one of the main heroes in the novel, despite not fitting the standard definition of a hero. He is often mocked by just about everyone in town, is portrayed as shy and indecisive and despite his size and is relatively non-threatening. However, Duane undergoes his own transformation and challenges the perception that has followed him around his entire life by exhibiting an unexpected level of bravery.

Janz does an excellent job of portraying the small town of Lakeview and as a horror fan, I love these types of stories. There is something ominous about taking a town where seemingly nothing changes and everyone knows each other and plunging it into chaos by introducing the unknown. Janz paints a vivid picture through short sentences to convey the mundane nature of Lakeview like when Mike envisions his former classmates who used to hang out in the Burger King parking lot after school as adults still frequenting the same haunts, unwilling to let go of the past.

Janz also makes some interesting additions to the werewolf mythology. They are able to communicate telepathically, each one is connected to a sort of hive mind that allows them to understand each other without words. I also like the idea of there not being many werewolves and them preferring to keep their numbers small to avoid detection by any means necessary. Janz also crafts an interesting origin story on the werewolf phenomena involving a historical anecdote involving the Antonov sisters. It creates a plausible origin for not only the first werewolves but also how the mythical creatures made it to America. What makes it so interesting is that it sounds like a true legend. 

What makes Wolf Land such an enjoyable novel is Janz’s highly descriptive writing and his brutal depiction of the werewolf legend. These werewolves are incredibly brutal and there is no romanticism involved in their back story. These are not regal creatures of nobility or misunderstood creatures, they are bloodthirsty killing machines that do not hesitate to destroy everything in their path. Janz does give an interesting look at the humanity of the creatures though and some of them cling to that shred of their former selves to the bitter end. However, those driven by other motives relish their new powers and opportunity to kill at will. Despite the larger than life powers and presence of these monsters,  there are scenes where people fight back and it delighted the hell out of this horror fan. Reading about the sheer power of the werewolves in this novel, it would be logical to assume that any one who tries to resist would be torn apart in seconds flat. However, there are a few moments of sheer determination where some of the human characters are able to inflict a little damage of their own. 

The only complaints I had with Wolf Land is I would have liked to have seen more scenes with The Three, the mysterious group of original werewolves. There was a lot of potential for some interesting stuff there and while not including it doesn’t hinder the story, it would have been cool to learn more about their motives and what drives them. They seem to prefer smaller numbers, but there are others who have joined them. How do they pick and chose who joins them? We get a glimpse of their history through one of the survivor’s point of view, but the explanation seemed a little rushed. 

I have to be honest for a minute and admit that werewolves were never really my thing. I know that seems sacrilegious for a horror fan to say, but I was never all that frightened by them. They are scary enough I guess, but I was always more frightened and intrigued by other creatures. However, after reading Glenn Rolfe’s Blood and Rain and now Jonathan Janz’s Wolf Land, I am starting to change my stance on werewolves and am looking forward to reading more werewolf novels in the future. I was totally enthralled with Wolf Land from the beginning and there are a ton of tense, action-packed scenes that kept me on the edge of my seat. Make no mistake, Wolf Land is an incredibly violent story with copious amounts of blood and gore, but there is also a lot of human drama, humor and subtle hints of creepiness that help make this a stand-out werewolf story. Jonathan Janz is an incredible writer and after reading Wolf Land, I can see why so many horror fans love his work. I definitely consider myself a fan now and I look forward to catching up on his previous novels! 

Rating: 4.5/5


Jonathan Janz’s Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Website

Purchase Wolf Land: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror or your favorite bookstore!

Wolf Land tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Wolf Land! – #WolfLand #werewolves #winterofwolves #JonathanJanz #HookofaBook

Wolf Land Synopsis

An unholy predator on the prowl!

The small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They’re about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil. 

The werewolf.

The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy town is about to face an even greater terror. Because the four victims of the werewolf’s fury are changing. They’re experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings. They’ll prey on the innocent. They’ll act on their basest desires. Soon, they’ll plunge the entire town into a nightmare. Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land. 

Praise for Wolf Land and Jonathan Janz

“One of the best writers in modern horror to come along in the last decade. Janz is one of my new favorites.” –Brian Keene, best-selling author

“It’s the best of its kind I’ve read in years, such that I’d call it “The Quintessential Haunted House Novel.” You’ve taken the old school traditions of the form which readers want and then have injected modern style, characters, and macabre, hard-edged mayhem into the guts of the story. THAT’S the way to do it, my friend!”-Author Edward Lee on HOUSE OF SKIN

“Jonathan Janz is one of the rare horror novelists who can touch your heart while chilling your spine. His work offers incisive characters, sharp dialogue, and more scares than a deserted graveyard after midnight. If you haven’t read his fiction, you’re missing out on one the best new voices in the genre.” –Tim Waggoner, author

Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, this should please readers who appreciate a good haunting.” The Library Journal

“A 10-year high school reunion is the catalyst for lots of furry, toothy scares in this gruesome yet entertaining gorefest.” –Publishers Weekly

“Probably the best werewolf novel I’ve read in a decade.”- Pete Kahle, author of The Specimen

“If you like werewolves, you will think you have died and gone to heaven. Highly recommended.” –Confessions of a Reviewer

“This fast-paced read was a frenzy of carnality in epic proportions. Visceral and surreal, Janz has outdone himself with this newest title.” Nikki, Horror After Dark

“For years now, the werewolf has been hijacked by the shifter romance genre. Well, Jonathan Janz has claimed a bloody morsel back for the horror genre!” 2 Book Lovers Reviews

“Janz is the literary love child of Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum (with a little Joe Lansdale DNA in the mix), with all the terror that implies. Try him out. You won’t be disappointed.” –Pod of Horror

“Jonathan Janz has created a realistic world and peopled it with characters that could be people you know then introduces a whole new werewolf legend to rip them to shreds. I highly recommend this relentlessly fast paced story. A hair raising 5 star read.” –Horror Maiden Book Reviews

About Jonathan Janz


Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a way, that explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows “the best horror novel of 2012.” The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, “reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.”

2013 saw the publication of his novel of vampirism and demonic possession The Darkest Lullaby, as well as his serialized horror novel Savage Species. Of Savage Species, Publishers Weekly said, “Fans of old-school splatterpunk horror–Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows–will find much to relish.” Jonathan’s Kindle Worlds novel Bloodshot: Kingdom of Shadows marked his first foray into the superhero/action genre.

Jack Ketchum called his vampire western Dust Devils a “Rousing-good weird western,” and his sequel to The Sorrows (Castle of Sorrows) was selected one of 2014’s top three novels by Pod of Horror. 2015 saw the release of The Nightmare Girl, which prompted Pod of Horror to call Jonathan “Horror’s Next Big Thing.” His newest release is Wolf Land, which Publishers Weekly called “gruesome yet entertaining gorefest” with “an impressive and bloody climax.” He has also written four novellas (Exorcist Road, The Clearing of Travis Coble, Old Order, and Witching Hour Theatre) and several short stories.

His primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author’s wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true. You can learn more about Jonathan at You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.


Enter to win ONE (1) print copy signed by Jonathan Janz of WOLF LAND! Click the link to enter. There are several things you can do to get multiple entries each day. Forward any questions to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Brian Kirk, the author of the psychological horror masterpiece We Are Monsters (review) which is out now through Samhain Horror. I was hooked on We Are Monsters from the very first page and was highly impressed with Kirk’s complex characters, reality-warping plot and stunning prose. This is one of the most impressive debuts I have read and easily my favorite book of 2015. Kirk’s post takes a look at what makes a human monster and the questions that helped him create We Are Monsters. We Are Monsters is a truly remarkable book and I hope this post encourages you to grab a copy and experience the journey for yourself!

Before I turn over the blog to Brian, I want to thank him and Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour dates and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

What Makes a Human Monster

By Brian Kirk, Author of We Are Monsters

we are monsters

Most horror stories feature a monster of some sort. Oftentimes this is a supernatural creature divined from some malevolent origin intent on causing death and destruction. What’s interesting about these stories is how the humans typically defeat these monsters in the end, implying, whether intentionally or not, that we are actually the scarier and more ferocious of the two creatures at war. We are more intelligent, more cunning, more ruthless and relentless. We are the superior killers.  

Perhaps that’s why I’m so fascinated with monsters of the human variety, and spend perhaps more time than I should studying them. Let’s think about this for a second, who are the most dangerous among us? The ones who commit the vilest and most barbaric acts?

Politicians, you say? Oh, you’re killing me!

Seriously, though. If I were to create a list (so saying as I proceed to create a list) of the most heinous of our kind, I’d include the following, in no particular order: pedophiles, serial killers, rapists, and cannibals.

These are the people you definitely don’t want living next door. But who are these people? How did they get this way? What turns an innocent toddler into a monster that feasts on human flesh?

It’s difficult to say. Some of it’s nature, some of it nurture. Some people are born with abnormal brains, while others have their minds altered through prolonged exposure to trauma or violent environments. One thing that may be safe to say is that no one grows up wanting to become one of these perverted, and violent predators. I don’t think anyone with a normal, healthy brain and upbringing consciously decides to begin engaging in these acts rather than, say… go to dental school.

It’s an innate calling, an urge. An irresistible compulsion that defiles our dream that we’re all basically good. That evil does not exist in this world. That we’re more than hairless monkeys born of violence and blood-thirst.

What do we think when we see violent and heinous acts? When deranged killers walk into elementary schools and gun down innocent children? Evil is what comes to mind, isn’t it? Insane.

But not insane like an illness. Insane like a demonic possession.

I wonder about that. Is insanity more like an evil possession, or more like a disease?

Some may say, “Who cares. What’s the difference? The acts are evil and should be punished.”

While I absolutely agree that people with irresistible pedophiliac urges cannot be allowed to roam freely in society, I wonder what should be done with them. What if, instead of being deviant predators, these people were otherwise normal human beings afflicted with a disease or deformity that could be corrected or cured? What if it was your brother who inexplicably had these urges, or your son?

Let’s say we could identify and diagnose the people with this disease before they ever acted upon its urge. Would we send them to prison? Would we kill them? Or would we quarantine them while we worked to develop a cure? The same way we would treat someone who inadvertently contracted small pox and was now a health hazard to the rest of humanity.

Heck if I know. I’m just intrigued by the question. I’ll tell you this, though. If the urge to harm others is, at times, caused by a “disease” or deformity of the brain, much like how the mutation of a cell can lead to cancer, it is by far one of the worst diseases that can afflict an individual. And its contagion is among the most damaging to society as a whole.

These are difficult questions involving an uncomfortable subject. They are questions that inspired the nature of my debut novel, We Are Monsters.

In We Are Monsters, a troubled, yet brilliant psychiatrist is working to develop a cure for schizophrenia. At first, the drug he creates shows great promise in alleviating his patient’s symptoms. It appears to return schizophrenics to their former selves. But (as you may imagine) something goes wrong. Unforeseen side effects begin to emerge, forcing prior traumas to the surface, setting inner demons free. His medicine may help heal the schizophrenic mind, but it also expands it, and the monsters it releases could be more dangerous than the disease.

This novel asks challenging questions. As the venerable review site, Ginger Nuts of Horror said, “Parts of the story are heartbreaking, parts will make you angry, and the whole story will have you examining the human race as never before.”

But I believe they are questions worth asking. I hope you’ll check it out.

Purchase We Are Monsters: AmazonSamhain PublishingBarnes and NobleKoboOmnilit 

Thanks for having me on your site! Here’s my contact info in case anyone is interested in forming a virtual friendship.

Brian Kirk




We Are Monsters tour graphic (1)

This guest post originally appeared on Hunter Shea‘s blog. Hunter is an incredible writer and another one of my favorite authors, be sure to check out his books too!

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about We Are Monsters! – #WeAreMonsters #asylum #mentalhealth #psychologicalhorror

We Are Monsters Synopsis

The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum. 

He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient—a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.

Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.

Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.

Praise for Brian Kirk

“Keep an eye on Brian Kirk. His ambitious debut, We Are Monsters, is a high-voltage thrill, like watching Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor and Joel Schumacher’s Flatliners on split screens. ” — Jonathan Moore, Bram Stoker Award nominated author of Redheads

We Are Monsters is fantastic — a frightening and intense thriller and one hell of a debut novel. I was blown away. Brian Kirk is exactly what readers need — a talented new voice with original, awe-inspiring ideas that can push the genre forward.” 
Brian Keene, best-selling author of Ghoul and The Rising

“Brian Kirk’s debut We Are Monsters is a smart, elaborate novel that weaves together the best and worst of us. Complex, terrifying, and still humane, this book moved me to both horror and compassion, and that’s a difficult thing indeed. Easily the best book I’ve read this year.”  – Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy.

“A tightly woven tale from an author who has a heart, and that makes me excited to see what else Kirk has in store for us. The whole story will have you examining the human race as never before.”  – Ginger Nuts of Horror

“Brian Kirk’s debut novel We Are Monsters is a sure bet. A hippy-trippy jaunt that goes deep into the baser things we keep bottled up… and what happens when they’re freed. Highly recommended!”  – John F.D. Taff, Bram Stoker nominated author of The End In All Beginnings.

“A disturbing, gets-under-your-skin debut novel. I expect to read much more from Kirk in the future.” – Robert Ford, author of The Compound and Samson and Denial.

“Cleverly told. Psychologically complex.” Scarlet’s Web

“A gorgeous display of conceivable terror that resonates long after reading.”  – Ranked as one of the Top Ten Horror Novels of 2015 by

About Brian Kirk

brian kirk

Brian Kirk lives in Atlanta with his beautiful wife and rambunctious identical twin boys. He works as a freelance writer in addition to writing fiction, and is currently working on the second book in a planned trilogy. We Are Monsters is his debut release. Feel free to connect with him online. Don’t worry, he only kills his characters.

See more about Brian at: 

Follow Brian on Facebook and Twitter. He’s found on Twitter at @Brian_Kirk and looks forward to connecting with you.


Click the rafflecopter link below and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card from Brian Kirk! You can perform several tasks for entering each day here or at each stop that posts the giveaway link. Best of luck!