Posts Tagged ‘Simon Dewar’

deathsrealm

BOOK INFO

Length: 316 Pages

Publisher: Grey Matter Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Grey Matter Press’ Official Website

List of authors and stories featured in Death’s Realm

Purchase Death’s Realm from Grey Matter Press

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

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SuspendedInDusk

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Books of the Dead Press

Length: 293 Pages

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

Fall is finally here and it is my favorite season of all. I mean, I run a site called The Horror Bookshelf, so naturally October and Halloween are my favorite times of the year. Lately, I have been reading a lot of dark fiction anthologies, which make for perfect Halloween reading. My most recent review was for The New Black, a stellar anthology edited by Richard Thomas and longtime readers already know about my love of the anthologies published by Grey Matter Press. I am fairly new to the world of anthologies, but it seems like the format is becoming increasingly popular lately. Tons of new anthologies and collections are making their rise in the horror genre and television anthology series’ like American Horror Story and True Detective are generating a lot of discussion among viewers.

I was excited to dive right into Suspended In Dusk, an anthology edited by Simon Dewar, after seeing the creepy cover and seeing that the introduction was written by the legendary Jack Ketchum. Suspended In Dusk features 19 stories from some incredibly talented horror writers and is loosely themed around dusk, a time where daylight fades into night and where the evils lurking in the shadows are finally unleashed. Dewar has collected a pretty diverse selection of stories for Suspended In Dusk, so there is a little bit of everything contained within its pages that will appeal to horror fans. Every reader is sure to have their own list of favorites, as all of the stories are highly entertaining and well-written, but the following stories were the ones that captured my imagination right off the bat.

“Taming The Stars” by Anna Reith is a beautifully written story that follows the paths of Michele, a man who is thrust into a shady job by his friend Antoine and Esther, a woman with a dark secret. Their two seemingly separate paths finally converge in a blood-filled encounter at the gangster Radouane’s house and their lives are never the same.

“At Dusk They Come” by Armand Rosamilia is a dark tale that really stuck with me due to the choice of setting. I have lived in small towns . THe story opens with mysterious, dark figures that seem ripped straight from the stuff nightmares are made of. Glowing eyes and armed with sharp claws, these beings emerge from the woods with dark intentions and strike a deal with the narrator – offer up your neighbors and your family lives.

“Digging Deep”, a story from British horror master Ramsey Campbell, is a frightening tale of a man who realizes has greatest fear has come true – he has been buried alive. Campbell’s story perfectly captures the desperation and claustrophobic nature of a very terrifying scenario that will keep you flipping through the pages until you reach the story’s utterly chilling conclusion.

Rayne Hall’s “Burning” stood out to me because it was one of the few stories that didn’t focus on the unknown or supernatural, but rather the darkness that dwells in the hearts of every day people.

Karen Runge’s “Hope Is Here” follows Gary, a homeless man hears rumors of a sanctuary for those living on the street run by The Sunshine Group. They supposedly offer clean showers and hot meals in exchange for filling out a simple questionnaire that will help them assist homeless people in getting off the streets and rehabilitating their lives. Gary quickly learns that this supposedly “no strings attached” offer of assistance is too good to be true.

I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic stories and Suspended In Dusk has a few excellent entries that cover that theme extremely well. Angela Slatter’s “The Way of All Flesh” is a chilling story that focuses on a small town in the aftermath of. Sweet Bobby Tate is a predator who comes to Wolf’s Briar, West Virginia in search of victims in order to combat his hunger. Sweet Bobby Tate thinks he has hit the jackpot when he stumbles across the home of sixteen-year-old Annabel Adams, but realizes much too late that he may be in over his head. This story seems to take place in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak, but the story focuses instead on how the events have changed everyday people and the lengths they must go to survive.

J.C. Michael’s “Reasons To Kill” follows a band of survivors who have built a small community and have been surviving in relative comfort until a stranger moves into the community. The stranger is a bit of a recluse and makes the townspeople uneasy, but they decide to leave him in peace since he is not bothering anyone. However, when children go missing, the leaders within the community begin to suspect their newest resident is hiding something. The group starts to become unhinged when they argue over how to handle the situation and when they finally decide to investigate the newcomer’s home, they make a series of horrifying discoveries that forever alters their community.

I loved Suspended In Dusk because while some of the authors that appear in the anthology are familiar to me, I was also treated to some new writers who I had never heard before. I think there is no better feeling than discovering new authors that capture everything you love in a story and Dewar’s stellar anthology offers up plenty of those opportunities to horror fans. This is Dewar’s first entry into the anthology world and I think he nailed it. He brought together an impressive cast of authors and crafted one hell of an anthology despite numerous setbacks along the path to publication. I will definitely be looking forward to Dewar’s work in the future, both as an editor and an author. I highly recommend picking up Suspended In Dusk and giving it a read!

Rating: 4.5/5

LINKS

Books of the Dead Press’ Official Website

Purchase Suspended In Dusk on Amazon