Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

oor-cover

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Alien Agenda Publishing

Length: 44 Pages

Release Date: July 16, 2016

Ever since Glenn Rolfe sent me a copy of his debut novel The Haunted Halls, I have been a huge fan of his work. It has been an awesome following Glenn’s career and seeing him develop into one of the best and most entertaining horror writers out there today. Not only is he a talented author, but he is a super nice guy and a huge promoter of the horror community. Trying to choose a favorite work of Glenn’s is nearly impossible because of the versatility he has displayed thus far in his career, and there is something different I love in each of his works.

Glenn’s last two releases – the full-length Blood and Rain and this year’s novella Things We Fear – were some of my favorite horror reads and I know Things We Fear will be on my “Best of” list at the end of the year. After finishing Things We Fear in March, I thought for sure I was going to have a long and agonizing wait for the release of his upcoming Chasing Ghosts. So it was an unexpected treat when Rolfe announced the release of Out of Range, a collection of three short stories that revolve around aliens. If you are a longtime reader of this blog, then you know I have a love/hate relationship with aliens, so this was a book I couldn’t wait to get my hands on!

Out of Range opens with a pretty cool foreword from fellow horror author Hunter Shea. It talks about all the things that fascinate people about aliens, UFOs and the unknown even though the prevailing thought is that aliens would destroy us in seconds flat. Despite the fact that aliens scare the hell out of me, I am still fascinated about talking about them and the possibilities their existence poses. While some may not enjoy the foreword, I thought that it set the mood for this collection perfectly and really connected with me as a fellow fan of all things alien. As I was reading, it definitely helped build my excitement to see what sort of extraterrestrial horror Rolfe has conjured up for this collection. The passion of that foreword and the fact that it is evident throughout these three stories is what made this such a blast for me to read.

Out of Range kicks off with Not of this World a terrifying story that channels the spirit of John Carpenter’s The Thing and mixes in a dash of Alien. Author Jonathan and his wife are expecting their first child and it should be the most joyous moment of their lives, but something is not right. Despite the fact that her husband told her that her nightmares were just a byproduct of her nervousness over the pregnancy, Gina is convinced that there really is something wrong with the baby. While Jonathan is supportive of her, the tension of her fears is beginning to put a strain on their marriage. The baby’s due date comes and goes and that’s when the movements that were unlike anything she expected began to happen. Jonathan was away at Cincinnati to sell books at a horror convention and Gina is convinced that she is in grave danger.

Jonathan is trying to call his wife from the convention and she doesn’t answer, though she always normally does. He frantically tries every number he can think of with no luck, so he decides to skip out on the convention early and races home to be with his wife. When Jonathan arrives home, he witnesses a horror beyond his imagination and is in a race for not just his survival, but the survival of everyone in his community and possibly the world.

This was the perfect choice to start off the collection as it is full of adrenaline-pumping scenes and the alien in this story is by far the most frightening creature in the collection. I don’t want to give too much away, but the scenes of the aliens arrival were definitely pretty creepy and definitely had me on the edge of my seat. It’s arrival is gruesome and violent and channels the blood-soaked characteristics of The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain. The descriptions are simple, yet devastatingly effective: “Shredding flesh, popping and ripping ligaments…” Out of the three stories, I would say this one is definitely the most frightening just in terms of the alien’s abilities and carnage it unleashes in such a short time span. It is a devastating and heartbreaking piece because the alien ruins the lives of the people it comes across and there are some truly bleak moments that really stuck with me about this story.

The Astronauts is a story I was honored to host on The Horror Bookshelf last year for a few weeks and I am glad to see it get a wider release in this collection. The story revolves around the mystery of what the narrator is hiding following the arrival of a mysterious race of beings known as The Astronauts on Earth.  The Astronauts try to prohibit any mention of the past or memories and employ a series of barbaric tortures to ensure compliance to their demands. The narrator, along with the other survivors. are all huddled up in squalor and filth. It used to depress them, but they have come to reluctantly accept their situation. Despite their shared predicament, he doesn’t trust any of them with his secret. The secret he is hiding is something that he feels would cause The Astronauts to kill him, so secrecy is key. However, The Astronauts possess formidable powers and keeping that secret will prove to be an almost impossible task.

The Astronauts are sort of a half way point between the other stories in terms of the level of danger they pose to the characters. The being in the first story is driven by an animalistic rage and hatred. The Astronauts of this story are cold and brutal, but they have a much more human-like intelligence. They band together in groups and formulate plans. What I loved about this story was that despite the bleak surroundings and his knowledge of what these beings are capable of, the narrator remains defiant.

While I enjoyed all of these stories for different reasons, the titular story of this collection is definitely my favorite. The aliens in this story announced their arrival by cutting the Internet. They only broadcast a single message to announce their presence and it was viewed on devices all across the globe. They only utter three sentences “Your world is not yours. We gave it life as we gave you. We are coming home.” After that single message, everything went silent and people are just sitting around waiting for them to return. The story views the invasion through the eyes of a single family, particularly the narrator Nick. He is staying with his sister Lindsay and attempting to help her raise her kids Jack and Wendi. His 16-year-old niece Wendi makes a discovery that sends chills down Nick’s spine and makes him fear the worst when she tells him what she has found.

This story is more subtle in its set-up. It is little moments – hisses in radio static, the loss of instant communication the Internet offers – that builds a sense of dread. Then there is the fact that the aliens delay their arrival. They make their creepy announcement and then there is nothing. Life carries on as usual for the most part and there is something even more ominous about that then if these beings had descended upon Earth blowing up everything in sight. That sense of an unknown future really gives you the chills and allows your imagination to run wild.

Part of the reason this one gets the nod as my favorite is that it incorporates some of the things that both fascinate and terrify me about aliens and there are some really memorable scenes that I think alien fans will really enjoy. Also, this story it has a powerful emotional core that adds a great layer to the story.

Out of Range is a brisk read at only 44 pages, but not a moment is wasted by Rolfe, who grabs the reader’s attention right from the beginning. I remember after I tore through this book on release day thinking about how each one of these stories would have made for a fantastic full-length novel. These stories work as stand alone stories and probably will stay that way, but I can’t help but wish for a continuation of the story Out of Range. If you are a fan of Glenn’s terrific novella Boom Town or just have a fascination with aliens, this is a collection you definitely want to add to your shelf. Out of Range is a quick, fun summer read that has gotten me excited not just for Chasing Ghosts, but also the sequel to Boom Town that is currently in the works!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Glenn Rolfe’s Official Website

Purchase Out of Range: Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK) 

Advertisements

stone work edit

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Mirror Matter Press

Length: 120 Pages

Release Date: June 15, 2016

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

In Roid Rage, readers are introduced to Stone, a mercenary for hire who works for anyone that pays, regardless of how messy or violent the job may be and consequences be damned. This time he is working for a sleazy drug lord named Greg Warden. Greg is a notorious in his own right for his ability to escape jail time despite his various shady dealings around The City. Greg doesn’t need Stone’s help personally, but hires him to help out his son, Bobby. Bobby seemed to lack the drive and knowledge to take on a big role in the family business despite his father’s best efforts. However, Bobby has recently shown more promise and launched his own little enterprise to take advantage of the gym next store. Problem is, a thief has been stealing Bobby’s supply and despite their best efforts, they can’t seem to catch the culprit. So, Greg decides to step in and he hires Stone to take care of the problem for his son behind his back. Despite his newfound entrepreneurial spirit, Greg simply doesn’t trust his son to get the job done.

Stone enlists the help of Megan, his partner in crime, to help guide him through the logistics of the operation. Megan is in her mid-twenties and is a super intelligent hacker that has a bit more of an idealistic world view than Stone, but is still tough as nails. She helps Stone do all of the recon and handles the tech aspects of the Warden job that Stone has no idea how to do. After a brief recap of the mission, Megan gives Stone the all-clear to enter the store.

Once Stone is inside, he realizes his mission is shot to hell before it has even started. Something has happened to Bobby Warden and as Stone’s mind races to think of a way to salvage this job, he stumbles across an unimaginable horror and learns the real reason why Bobby’s vials of steroids were going missing.

I don’t want to spoil too much about the contents of the story, but Stabile does a great job of mashing up neo-noir elements with some awesome, classic science-fiction aspects. There are some fantastic transformation scenes throughout the entire second half of the story and I had a blast reading about all of the bizarre antagonists Stabile came up with for this story. There is also some truly gruesome moments in here that have an awesome B-movie quality, and I mean that in the best way possible! Stabile creates a tense scenario where it seems like Stone and his companions are completely screwed and keeps the action going until the bitter end. This was a perfect introduction into Stone and Megan’s world!

Plumb, Inc.

Stone is hurting for money and is offered a difficult job from a man named James Kidwell with the ominous warning, “You’re not the first man I’ve sent in there.” Stone isn’t scared of death – a fact that we learn earlier in Stone Work – and the warning sails over his head when he thinks about the two hundred grand pay-day promised to him upon completion. When Stone inquires about what happened to the others, Kidwell is honest with him and explains that the other P.I.s that were sent into do the job vanish without a trace. Despite months of recon work, Kidwell is unable to learn just what it is Plumb, Inc. actually does. Kidwell turns to Stone for help because he fears he is next on the company’s hit list after investigating the company for months following allegations they were responsible for the death of his niece.

He hires Stone to infiltrate the building in an attempt to destroy all of their records and give him time to disappear before they catch him. Stone meets up with Megan later in the evening at a local diner to discuss the job and he learns is also the only place that really gives Megan any problems from a hacking perspective. She tries to hack into their servers remotely and finds it is completely guarded, so Stone has to download the virus directly to their server. The change in plan sets Stone on edge and he gets a bad feeling about the job. After laying out their plan, Stone heads to the building and meets a hysterical man outside the building who offers him one final hair-chilling warning before he enters the building – “Don’t go in there. No one goes in there at night. Don’t you know that?”

Stone enters the building and the job sees way to easy at first for the large payday he was promised, but that quickly changes as he navigates the seemingly desolate building. He begins seeing things that defy earthly explanation and as he ventures further into depths of Plumb, Inc. headquarters, he learns the horrifying truth behind the building and the people who run it.

I loved the creation of Plumb, Inc. and the air of mystery surrounding it is what drives this story for me. There are also various rumors that swirl around the complex with conspiracy theories ranging from you standard shadowy, government weapons lab all the way to the building serving as a gateway to Hell. The truth behind Plumb, Inc. is definitely something I didn’t expect! At first I thought it was going to be a little too similar to ‘Roid Rage, but there is a whole host of weird stuff going on inside the walls of the Plumb, Inc. building that helps it stand out. This story kind of reminds me of an episode of The Twilight Zone crossed with Cabin in the Woods and was probably my favorite of the stories from a content perspective.

I also liked that this story took part largely in the contained setting of the Plumb, Inc. building. When you consider all of the crazy rumors around the building and how they get your brain working overtime on what the truth is, it really ratchets up the suspense and makes the big reveal that much more shocking. I mean seriously, who would expect all of that to be housed in one nondescript office building?

Godless City opens with a conversation between Megan and Stone about why Stone recently turned down a job despite the fact that his money was low. If there is one thing I have learned about Stone and his past exploits, is that this job must have been pretty crazy for Stone to say no! As Megan tries to get Stone to open up, a mysterious small man named Keagan knocks furiously on the door and storms into Stone’s apartment with a book that he claims will change the world. The book is supposedly definitive proof regarding an aspect of civilization in The City and could shatter the society built up after the Final War.

Despite his best judgement and the fact that the book was stolen from Mayor Nelson himself, Stone finds himself listening to Keagan’s pleas for help and is starting to succumb to the allure of another large payday. Stone finally agrees to take on the job of delivering the book to one of Keagan’s contacts in the newspaper business. After agreeing to the job, Stone and Megan quickly find themselves the new target for Mayor Nelson’s sadistic killers known as the Devil Dogs. To make matters worse, they must also navigate the seedy darkness of The Alleys and keep the book out of the hands of a deadly religious cult.

I think Godless City is the strongest story in Stone Work when it comes to the world-building that goes into The City and its belief systems. This is also the story where Stabile sort of pokes at the weird alternate history that is used as a central building block of Stone Work. We also learn a bit more about Stone’s history and his involvement with shady gang leaders and other black market operators as they navigate The Alleys. There is also some really cool scenes that delve into the futuristic aspects of the book.  People have chips that give away their location and then there is the pretty cool weapon known as the “blunder ball”. The blunder ball is essentially the nastiest weapon available in The City and vaporizes a person and all of the energy that makes up their bodies, preventing them from reaching the afterlife.

I loved the relationship between Stone and Megan throughout the course of Stone Work. They seem like two polar opposites and yet they work oddly well together. Megan is a bit of an idealist, bursting with personality and Stone is a bit more pragmatic and nihilistic. Megan hates when Stone tries to relay details about his job that involve violence whereas Stone has a complete detachment about it. They also banter back and forth quite a bit and Megan is able to trade barbs with Stone just as well as he throws them.

I also loved Stone’s back story. Stones face is ruined from his past on the Wall and he frequently lurks in the shadows, especially around Megan. He says he doesn’t care about his appearance, but his tendency is to stay in the shadows and that may have to do with the subtle romantic tension between the two. Stone’s history is so horrific that even in the condensed form of the story Stone recounts in ‘Roid Rage, it is no wonder how he got his nickname. There is also mentions of how he has accepted death seemingly multiple times a week. When Stone is in between jobs, he is sleeping in alleys and eating out of dumpsters, which may explain why he is susceptible to a lot of these jobs that are crazy even by futuristic hit-man standards.

I really loved the format Stabile utilizes throughout Stone Work. Rather than have this serve as a traditional novel or novella, Stone Work is a novel of stories that serve almost like case files to the various cases Stone has taken on throughout the years. This may seem like a fairly simple structural choice, but I feel it helps make the book stand out and adds more enjoyment to the story overall. It also provides a slew of opportunities for future stories featuring Stone and Megan and possibly further looks into the history of The City. While I was reading I couldn’t help but think of a ton of scenarios that would continue Stone and Megan’s adventures. These are just a few of them that I thought about – What caused the catastrophic last war?  What happened to Stone’s family? What kind of man was Stone before he got sentenced to the Wall? How did the religion of The City rise to prominence? What are the abberations that live on the other side of The Wall? 

While I loved this approach of quick, standalone stories and how they allowed me to sort of construct all of these scenarios in my imagination to keep the story going, some of the endings/transitions between stories seemed to fall kind of flat after all of the chaos Stone and Megan go through. I must admit though, Stone and Megan have to be complete badasses to  be able to survive the seemingly impossible situations they find themselves in!

Overall, I absolutely loved Stone Work and had a blast reading it! Once I got started and immersed myself into the world of The City, I was hooked and tore through the book over the course of an afternoon. I am a big fan of Stabile’s writing and look forward to checking out what he has planned for the future. I think it goes without saying that I hope there are more adventures featuring Stone and Megan in the future!

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

Dominic Stabile’s Official Website

Mirror Matter Press’ Official Website

Purchase Stone Work: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

Stone Work tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Stone Work!- #StoneWork #finalwar #wasteland

Stone Work Synopsis

City stands in the irradiated dunes of America, nearly two centuries after the Final War. The wall surrounding it is a buffer for the wasteland inhabitants who covet entrance, and a trap for the citizens smothering in its polluted air and drowning in its blood-filled streets.

Stone is a criminal for hire. Robbed of his loved ones and scarred almost beyond recognition, he navigates City’s darkest corners, doing some of its darkest deeds. In this collection, he’ll pursue an elusive thief, bent on raising an army of juiced up mutants. He’ll break into the office building of a mysterious corporation, only to find the executives are less into sending faxes and more into performing hexes.

In the final chapter, he’ll track a man through the Alleys of South City with the help of his tech savvy partner, Megan, and together they’ll face the sentient darkness of City’s deepest underbelly, and confront the violent potential of City’s most dangerous cults.

Part Blade Runner. Part Sin City. Stone Work is an action-packed ride through the rain-slicked streets of a dark, unforgiving urban landscape, rife with sadistic criminals, inter-dimensional abominations, and a creeping darkness that seeks to erase the last, now almost mythical traces of human goodness left in a world always teetering over the edge of its own extinction.

Praise for Dominic Stabile

“With Whiskey for Breakfast, Dominic Stabile provides a page turning mystery that kept me guessing as to who the real killers might be.” – Brenda Casto, Readersfavorite.com

Dominic Stabile Biography

Dominic_Stabile

Dominic Stabile’s short fiction has appeared in Fossil Lake III: Unicornado!, Sanitarium Magazine, The Horror Zine, Atticus Review, Far Horizons, and has been adapted as a radio play by Manor House Productions. He has held jobs as a warehouse worker, cashier, bookstore associate, textbook manager, and carpenter. He’s a born southerner, transplanted to Penobscot, Maine by a desperate desire to escape retail work. When not writing or reading, he enjoys horror, sci-fi, and noir films, westerns, and bourbon.

Read his blogs on all things horror at dominicstabile.com.

Want to Feature Dominic Stabile?

If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Dominic Stabile, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Marketing and Publicity at Mirror Matter Press and Hook of a Book Media: hookofabook@hotmail.com.

MOTORMAN_cover_CS

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Necro Publications

Length: 105 Pages

Release Date: May 21, 2016 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Robert E. Dunn’s Official Website

Necro Publications/Bedlam Press Official Website

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

Motorman tour graphic

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

Motorman Synopsis

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

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

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

Praise for Robert Dunn

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

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

Robert E. Dunn Biography

Robert Dunn

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

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

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

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

things-we-fear

BOOK INFO

Length: 98 Pages

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Where Nightmares Begin

BOOK INFO

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

LINKS

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-bw-profile

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!

behindthedarkness

BOOK INFO

Length: 212 Pages

Publisher: Severed Press

Release Date: January 25, 2015

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4/5

Robert E. Dunn Official Website

Severed Press Official Website

Purchase Behind The Darkness on Amazon

modernmythmakers

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing

Length: 424 Pages

Release Date: February 23, 2015

Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Michael McCarty has crafted an absolute must-read in Modern Mythmakers. Collecting 35 interviews in the horror and science fiction fields, McCarty has given fans an inside look behind the scenes of the creative process of writers and filmmakers with interesting tidbits about some of the most memorable works in both genres.

The preface of this book, written by McCarty himself, explains why this book is such a vital read for horror fans. McCarty may have been able to sit down and meet some of the biggest names in horror, but the reason he set out to embark on this project was a simple one that I am sure all of us can relate to – he simply loved the works in the genre and wanted to share that passion with others. He recalls interesting tales of meeting with First Blood author David Morrell and Kurt Vonnegut. He lays out his experience and the art of what he tries to achieve with his own interviews. It’s inspiring and shows what is possible with meticulous research, determination and hard work.

Some of the interviews contained in the book are a bit older, pulled from McCarty’s archives, but there is also new material that has been added to this addition, particularly in the sections focusing on Ray Bradbury, Joe McKinney, Christopher Moore, William Nolan, and David Snell to name a few.

I enjoyed this book because it not only offered me insight into some writers and filmmakers I already knew and loved, but introduced me to some new authors as well. Also, I have always been interested in reading interviews with my favorite musicians, authors and other types of artists. Sure, I liked uncovering details behind some of the works I loved, but I always found the most intriguing information comes from the candid moments where the subject of the interview opens up.

 McCarty’s interview questions are fairly straightforward, but he has a talent at getting the interviewees to open up and share interesting tidbits of information. The book opens with an interview of Forrest J. Ackermen, who was the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland for 20 years and racked up numerous prestigious awards for his work. I thought it was interesting to learn that he is the one credited with coining the term “sci-fi”. It is one of those words that was seemingly ingrained in my mind for an early age and I never really questioned the origins of the term. It also loved hearing his thoughts on the evolution of science fiction since he first became a fan in the 1920’s and his humorous personal stories about Ray Bradbury.

Speaking of Bradbury, in his interview, readers are treated to information about the process behind one of his most memorable works and arguably one of the most memorable works of fiction ever written Fahrenheit 451 written in the basement library of UCLA on a rented typewriter and wrote the book in 9 days.

Ramsey Campbell offers personal anecdotes about unexplained events in his home that led him to question his stance on the existence of ghosts. John Carpenter offers up insight into the creation of Halloween from the story itself to one of horror’s most enduring icons Michael Myers aka “The Shape”.

There are also some interesting little known facts presented throughout such as Neil Gaiman’s interview where he offers up a humorous story about Douglas Adams and how Bentley Little is connected to Spongebob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg. Probably one of my favorite things that I read was reading Peter Straub’s thoughts about the writing process behind The Talisman and Black House. It is easy to take for granted how easy it is to collaborate with super fast internet and near instantaneous access to information, so it was interesting to read about the creative efforts that went into writing those books and the practical hurdles they had to overcome.

I highly recommend Modern Mythmakers to fans of science fiction and horror looking for the behind-the-scenes information and possibly a jolt of inspiration. Sometimes as a blogger it can be hard to sit down and write, but reading these interviews and hearing these artists talk passionately about their work and what drives them, I couldn’t help but feel inspired. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4/5

Michael McCarty Official Website

Crystal Lake Publishing Official Website

Purchase Modern Mythmakers on Amazon

BoomTown

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Length: 81 Pages

Release Date: April 7, 2015

Review copy provided for an honest review as part of the Boom Town blog tour

Ever since I read Glenn Rolfe’s debut novel The Haunted Halls, I had a feeling he was destined to be one of the most exciting new authors to break out into the genre. It was a no-holds-barred novel that blended psychological horrors and blood and guts violence for a memorable debut. Rolfe takes that adrenaline-fueled approach and applies it to his latest novella for Samhain Horror, Boom Town.

In 1979, the sleepy small town of Eckert, Wisconsin was shaken by one of the most unusual UFO sightings in history. A young couple was driving through town late at night on Hollers Hill when they witnessed a UFO blast a blue beam into the hill and caused an earthquake-like event that reverberated through the town and was reported to stretch across state lines. The event has become ingrained into the local folklore with residents split as to what actually occurred that night. Some believe every word of the event while others dismiss it as an exaggerated tall-tale. However, thirty years later when the town begins experiencing regular tremors, the events of that night begin becoming the talk of the town. Theories ranged from the alien connection to underground creatures to a secret oil line installed by the government to stash oil.

When local business owner Alan Packard heads down to Kasey’s Cave, two local fanatics Gus Jackson and Nat Gallant claim much more is going on than just the seemingly harmless booms. They mention that resident Lyle Everson hasn’t been seen in over a week, right after a boom occurred in his backyard. Alan thinks it is nothing serious, he’s either sick or the two men simply let paranoia overtake them due to the booze, but Nat mentions that is not like him. In the twenty years he worked with Lyle, he never recalls him missing a day of work and he never answered his door when he went to check on him. There was no doubt he was there, Nat could hear him breathing heavy and noticed a rotten smell emanating from his home. It isn’t long between the booms hit Packard’s back yard and he learns firsthand the frightening consequences that follow their arrival.

The following morning, 12-year-old Brady Carmichael and his best friend and crush Kim Jenner discover a pipe behind Packard’s Flea Market that was unearthed by the booms. This marks the first time the booms occurred so close to Brady’s house and he is eager to investigate despite Kim’s warnings that they should stay away. Contained within the pipe is a bubbling, blue ooze that could either be toxic waste or something far more sinister. Brady’s youthful curiosity gets the best of him and he touches the ooze to frightening consequences. The two young teens continue to explore the mystery of the ooze on Packard’s property and what they uncover has terrifying consequences for both them and the rest of Eckert.

It is no secret to regular readers of The Horror Bookshelf that I am a huge nerd when it comes to aliens. Anything from true accounts to novels and movies, if it has aliens in it, there is a good chance I am going to enjoy it. While what terrifies me the most is your more traditional alien story (grey aliens and abductions), the utterly creepy portrayal Rolfe lays out here made my skin crawl. The blue ooze that marks the presence of these visitors from another world is frightening. At first glance the blue ooze seems relatively mundane, causing characters to lower their defenses so it can take hold of its victims without them ever seeing it coming. Imagine if you were walking around in the woods and stumbled upon this mysterious substance. Chances are you would be curious in the same way Brady was, not paralyzed by fear like you would be if you happened to encounter an actual entity. However, the ooze is capable of truly horrifying things and leads to some gruesome and memorable scenes. I don’t want to spoil the oozes capabilities, but the haunting mantra that surrounds it –“Take them. Bring them. Ascend” – will send chills down your spine!

I love what Rolfe did structurally with this novella by opening with a news report detailing the strange underground “booms” that have been regularly occurring over the past three days. It is a perfect way to explain the history behind the town and what the booms could mean and sets the stage for the horrors that unfold throughout the story.

Much like his previous novella Abram’s Bridge, Rolfe crafts the perfect portrayal of a small town and manages to create a diverse and interesting set of residents. My favorite supporting characters were the fanatics Gus and Nat, regulars at Kasey’s Cave who spout all kinds of conspiracy theories and refuse to believe anything other than the booms being connected to alien activity. Rolfe’s decision to set Boom Town in a small town was a perfect fit for this type of novella. While I have enjoyed numerous alien movies where they move on large cities in a display of power (think of the White House scene in Independence Day), there is something utterly creepy about a sinister force that descends on an unsuspecting population.

The only complaint I have concerning Boom Town was that Brady’s interaction with the ooze raised a lot of questions but had no real explanation or resolution. It didn’t significantly impact my reading or enjoyment of the story, but it was something that nagged at me when I realized there was no definitive explanation. I have my own theories, but it still does not answer why Brady was the only one to experience this reaction to the ooze.

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. Rolfe leaves just enough of the mystery surrounding Eckert unresolved for a possible sequel and I hope that he decides to delve more into the events that began in Boom Town!

I am excited to announce that Glenn will be posting a guest post on the 13th and stopping by for an interview on the 20th as part of his publicity tour for Boom Town, so be sure to stop back on those dates! Also, be sure to check out the other great sites that will be hosting reviews, interviews and guest posts on his tour page (which you can find by clicking on the tour graphic below).

Rating: 4.5/5

LINKS

Glenn Rolfe’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase Boom Town on : Amazon, Samhain Horror and Barnes and Noble

boom-town-tour-logo

Glenn Author Photo

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 ghost/mystery/thriller novella, ABRAM’S BRIDGE (Samhain Publishing, Jan. 2015) and his latest novella, a Horror/Sci-Fi mash-up, BOOM TOWN (Samhain Publishing). A full-length novel, BLOOD AND RAIN, will come out this Fall from Samhain Publishing and THINGS WE FEAR, a novella, is set to publish from Samhain in 2016.

His debut novel, THE HAUNTED HALLS (James Ward Kirk Publishing, 2014), is available now, as well as his short story collection, SLUSH (Alien Agenda Publishing, 2014).

Look for his punk rock band, The Never Nudes, on Amazon and Facebook.
Check out his website: www.glennrolfe.com

thepriors1

thepriors2

BOOK INFO

Length: 324 Pages (Part 1), 369 Pages (Part 2)

Publisher: Smashwords

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Weston Kincade’s newest series The Priors is a serialized story that leans heavily towards the science fiction genre with elements of horror sprinkled throughout. Originally released in an episode format, these two books collects all of the episodes that make up the story so far.

To Kill a Priest is the first book in the series and introduces us to Madelin, a girl who was kidnapped from her family by a shadowy government known as PASTOR (Phantom Assassin Shifting Technology & Organized Reconnaissance). They use young people who exhibit special abilities in a quest to explore other worlds and exploit them for their resources and gain power. Madelin has the ability to open portals to other planes of existence with ease and seems more advanced than her peers, making her a prized recruit of the PASTOR agency. The book introduces other characters first such as Daniel Robertson, an ex-military man who is haunted by horrific choices he has made in the past and Madelin’s godfather Jedd Altran, who is on the run from the agency after witnessing the murder of Madelin’s family.

Jedd has been on the run from PASTOR for quite some time and has been attempting to track down Madelin ever since her kidnapping years ago. He is able to locate her through his research into the group and his astral projection powers and helps her escape from the PASTOR facility. With Jedd’s help, Madlin discovers she has the power to travel through parallel worlds, each one similar to theirs, but different based on decisions people have made throughout history.

After Jedd breaks Madeline out of the PASTOR facility, they meet up with some unlikely allies along the way including Daniel and Roger, a man on the run from his gambling debts. Together they must outrun PASTOR and their merciless shifter known as Father Leodenin, the first successful trainee from PASTOR’s program. Leodenin is tasked with tracking down Madlin because he has powers similar to hers, but his PASTOR training has given him greater control over his powers. Not only is he able to shift between worlds, he is able to detect Madelin’s presence based on the rifts she creates.

Jedd also discovers he has powers of his own. He is able to reach through the rifts Madelin creates, but doing so causes him immense pain and a black taint appears on his arm. He is unsure of exactly what this means, but it deadens the nerves in his hand and gives him power greater than he could have ever imagined. As Madelin discovers the truth behind her past from Jedd, she resolves to take the fight to PASTOR and rescue the other children who were left behind in the facility.

After a deadly rooftop battle with Leodenin, the group shifts to a world where people carry auras similar to Madelin’s and they go in search of these people for help. The town seems ripped from distant past, a time when there are no cars or technology and something seems slightly off about the place. The group runs into a man named Alain Traditor who offers them shelter from Leodenin and his agents, but Jedd has a feeling that Alain is hiding something. While staying with Alain, they discover books that are not present in their own world which seem to give them some insight into the powers they have recently discovered they all have. As they discover more about Alain and the other residents past, the group realizes they have walked into a dangerous situation. Just as Leodenin and the Traditor family close in on the group, they find themselves in a brutal fight for survival that pushes them to their limits.

To Kill an Assassin, the second book in the series, picks up immediately after the events in To Kill a Priest. Following their escape from Leodenin and the Traditorian family, Madelin and her group find themself on a desolate world that seems to have been ravaged by a civil war that destroys most of civilization. They hunker down in an abandoned military bunker to recoup and deal with the events that changed their group.

While To Kill a Priest started off a bit slow before gaining traction, this novel continues the action established towards the end of the book. Madelin is growing increasingly more aware of her powers and through her training with Juno, discovers even more abilities that she didn’t know she had.

Leodenin was left for dead, but manages to recoup and has become something much more sinister than in the first novel. His new abilities lead him to recruit a much more savage and dangerous group than the PASTOR operatives he led in the first novel and he plans on using these newfound abilities to track down Madelin.

Madelin manages to escape the bunker with Roger and Juno following a vicious confrontation with Leodenin to a plane that is covered in snow and ice and runs into a familiar face from her time with PASTOR. Jedd and Daniel were transferred to a jungle world and are separated from the rest of the group. There they meet an advanced race of telepaths known as the Pazzege’tuk. The Pazzege’tuk train Daniel and Jedd for an upcoming apocalyptic event that has been foretold among their people, which they take to mean Leodenin and PASTOR. With their training complete and Madelin’s increasing dreams of the atrocities being committed by PASTOR, the group finally decide it is time to make their move and confront PASTOR once and for all.

I am a fan of Kincade’s other series A Life of Death, but the The Priors did not quite grab my attention in the same way. To Kill a Priest starts off fairly slow and was difficult to get through in spots. However, the second half was where the story came alive and I found myself drawn into the world of the Traditor family and the dangers facing Madelin and her group. That momentum carried through to To Kill an Assassin, which was easily my favorite of the two books.

Elements of the story come across as slightly disjointed at times, which may have a little to do with the serialized nature in which it was originally released. I loved Kincade’s streamlined writing style in the A Life of Death series, but there are stylistic elements of The Priors that did not work for me. Portions of the story are almost overly descriptive, which hinders the pacing of the story and takes the reader out of the action.

Kincade does a good job of building up the back story of Madelin and the other characters in her group and they each have a distinct personality and a complexity that makes them come to life. However, I couldn’t help but feel that Leodenin’s characterization was a bit weaker. While there is no denying he is evil and hellbent on achieving his goals with little regard for everyone else, I feel he would have made a better villain if there was more depth to his character. Early in To Kill a Priest, Jedd manages to hack into the PASTOR servers and finds Leodenin’s profile. He is known as “Shifter 1”, the first fully trained operative to emerge from the PASTOR program. Though the operatives are drugged and have their memories wiped during training and it is mentioned there is no information on his past, I feel that Leodenin’s character would have been stronger if we delved more into his back story. How was he the first one chosen? How was he discovered by PASTOR? Was his evil a result of his training? We get glimpses of other shifters from the PASTOR program and they seem to be more following orders and lack the sinister evil that personifies Leodenin.

Despite a few stylistic choices that didn’t work for me and a slow first half, Kincade weaves together alternate worlds, vampires and paranormal abilities to create a unique mythology and entertaining story at the heart of the first two installments of The Priors. The ending of To Kill an Assassin seems to leave open the possibility for more stories involving Madelin and her group and I would definitely be interested in seeing what other ideas Kincade has in store for them!

Rating: 3/5

LINKS

Weston Kincade’s Official Website

Purchase To Kill a Priest and To Kill an Assassin on Amazon

OutofTime

Length: 91 Pages

Publisher: DeadPixel Publications

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

C.M. Saunders latest novella tells the story of Joe Dawson, a writer who enjoys modest success from his Joshua Wyrdd series that follows a young teen who uses an ancient time travelling device to solve ancient mysteries and helping those in need. He begins to feel pressure as his ideas begin drying up and finds himself in danger of being dropped by his publisher unless his new book is a massive success, so he decides to visit Rhyl, a small beach town in north Wales. He heard his mother talk about it a lot before her death, and he figures the seaside town may just offer him the chance to shake off his writers block.

When he arrives to the town, he sees the town’s glory has long since faded and the hotel he has decided to stay at is horribly old-fashioned. He is plagued by a sense that something is familiar about the woman who works the front desk, despite the fact he has never stayed there before. Dawson’s stay starts out normal enough, but when he awakes the next morning after a late-night marathon session of writing, he discovers there is something horribly wrong. He notices that there are no Wi-Fi networks available when he attempts to check his email. He thinks nothing of it, even though in this day in age there is usually always a Wi-Fi hotspot around, even if it is password protected. He turns on the TV to only find three channels. Slightly confused, Joe decides to venture out into town in search of food and is shocked to find the once desolate town of Rhyl thriving with life. Though he can’t quite place his finger on it, Joe realizes something is wrong but chooses to ignore the odd turn of events.

Joe quickly discovers that he was right about Rhyl, that there is something strange going on. Rather than feel lost and frantic, he finds that the discovery invigorates his writing and counts his discovery as a sort of blessing. Previously content with working out details for his latest Joshua Wyrdd book, Joe is quickly overwhelmed with thoughts of his Special Project – a work that he feels will cement him as a celebrity and make his dreams of fame and fortune a reality. However, his ongoing project is entwined with a dark secret that Joe has been harboring for years. As Joe resumes planning out his Special Project, he finds himself plagued by horrific nightmares that get increasingly worse every night. As Joe’s grip on reality and sanity slowly slip away, he makes a shocking discovery that explains his nightmares and the source of the strange occurrences he experienced in Rhyl.

C.M. Saunders’ Out of Time is an entertaining novella that has a pretty interesting twist that comes at the conclusion of the story. The only thing that hinders the novella is a lot of time is spent detailing the inner monologues Joe has with himself and the nature of his work and by the time all of the various threads of the plot come together, they seem a bit rushed. Saunders does an excellent job of wrapping up the different narrative threads in a tidy package, but I would have loved to see the explosive revelations given a little more detail.

Considering how much I enjoyed this novella and Saunders’ excellent “The Elementals and I” that appeared in Grey Matter Press’ Dark Visions Vol. 2, it is evident that C.M. Saunders is an exceptional writer capable of crafting engaging horror tales that rely on atmosphere over traditional scares. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what else he has planned and I hope that Saunders expands into full-length novels in the future.

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

C.M. Saunders’ Official Website

DeadPixel Publications Official Website

Purchase Out of Time on Amazon

The Specimen

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Createspace

Length: 512 Pages

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

I have been a huge fan of anything having to do with aliens for most of my life. When I was younger, I would head down to the local library and check out every single book about aliens I could get my hands on. I started out with children’s books ranging from the My Teacher Is an Alien series by Bruce Coville to Animorphs by K.A. Applegate before quickly moving on to adult sci-fi novels and true life accounts of alien encounters. I began checking out every book about aliens I could get my hands on about the Roswell incident, the Betty and Barney Hill abduction and numerous other well-known and obscure encounter cases. While the fiction works I read were highly entertaining, they were not really frightening. My fear of extraterrestrials and UFOs grew out of reading these true life accounts. Besides the obvious fear of the unknown, what frightened me the most was the stories about abductions. What could possibly be scarier than the possibility that entities from all across the universe could easily snatch you away from everything you know at will? In a majority of these encounters, the people who are taken are powerless to do anything to stop the aliens from taking them. Even if they did attempt to escape once taken, where would they go? They are on a spaceship without any possibility of returning to their homes, being totally at the whim of these beings. To this day, watching or reading experiences like this still sends shivers down my spine.

Pete Kahle taps into those dark fears with astonishing power in his debut novel, The Specimen. The novel is a sprawling horror/ science fiction hybrid with an enormous cast of characters, a timeline that spans centuries and some seriously terrifying aliens!

One of the most impressive aspects of The Specimen is Kahle’s creation of The Riders. While the aliens main characteristic of latching on to a host – known in the novel as a “Steed” – is a familiar concept (Invasion of the Body Snatchers immediately comes to mind), Kahle manages to make the creatures feel fresh and unique. Kahle brings their personalities and motivations to light through a series of Interlude sections that follow the actions of Riders throughout recorded history. These Interludes range from an ancient coming-of-age ritual in Estonia in the 23rd Century BC where The Riders begin to spread throughout the world through the horrific events of The Holocaust. The Riders are extremely intelligent, able to tap into the memories of its host and exploit them in order to blend into society and carry out its nefarious agenda. Not only are they able to control their hosts, they have the ability to influence other humans and creatures by releasing pheromones that influence that person or animals behavior to aid it in avoiding detection or capture.

They are able to heal themselves and their host as long as their central nervous system is not destroyed which makes them an extremely formidable adversary. As evil as The Riders are portrayed throughout the novel, the ACME group that is supposedly trying to save the human race is just as vicious and deadly as the creatures they are battling. The group, which has been around since the end of the 17th century, has kidnapped, tortured and killed people who had contact with The Riders, even if they were innocent. The most ruthless of these agents is easily Nina Valentine, a woman who joined the group following a horrific incident in her past. She doesn’t just inflict pain on those who may be under the influence of Riders because it’s a necessary evil in the quest against the aliens, she actually enjoys it. Her ruthlessness plays a major role in the events that shape The Specimen.

I loved Kahle’s decision to break up the main plot with Interludes, fictional news reports and dispatches from the shadowy ACME agency. Kahle uses these supplementary passages to flesh out the history of both The Riders and The ACME group and show the connections between the characters in the novel. This is also how we learn about The Cluster, a mysterious entity that is connected to The Riders but whose motivations are murky for most of the novel. It shares many of its powers with The Riders, but it is unique in that it does not need a host and can change its appearance at will.

The only drawback to The Specimen is that the timeline of events is muddled at times due to the large scope of the story. I originally thought that keeping track of the characters would be the most difficult part of reading the novel, but Kahle does an excellent job giving each one of them a distinctive personality that helps them stand out on their own. However, a lot of the characters disappear for long portions of the novel which makes it difficult to keep track of how much time has passed. Are these events taking course over a few days of the novel? Weeks?

Despite the occasional confusion regarding the timeline, The Specimen is an impressive debut novel and one hell of a thrill ride! There is plenty of action, gore and  creepy alien awesomeness that makes this a must read for any horror or sci-fi fan. Kahle has mentioned he has plans for a sequel and I am definitely looking forward to continuing the story of The Riders and the ACME group. I am curious to see how the rag-tag group of survivors handle the upcoming threat introduced in The Specimen I am definitely looking forward to learning more about The Cluster!

Kahle is definitely an author to watch and I can’t wait to see what other dark stories he has swirling around his imagination!

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

Pete Kahle’s Official Website

Pete Kahle on Twitter

Purchase The Specimen on Amazon