Posts Tagged ‘thriller’

BOOK INFO

Length: 284 Pages

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Release Date: May 23, 2017

Review copy provided as part of A Life Removed Blog Tour by Confessions Publicity

I first discovered Jason Parent’s work after he contacted me to review a copy of his then latest novel Seeing Evil. I remember hearing nothing but great things about his writing, so I jumped at the chance to feature him on The Horror Bookshelf. After I finished Seeing Evil, I knew I was going to be a long time fan. The story centered around Michael Turcotte, a teenager who has been in foster care since his parents death when he was just an infant. He has a close bond with Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly who was on the scene and rescued him after his parents murder-suicide. Despite the trauma of his past, Michael is your average kid trying to make it through the trials of high school. He is a target for bullies and tries to keep to himself, but he is viciously attacked one day and the attack changes his life forever. After the attack Michael has a vision. It seems like a random dream brought on by the aftermath of his savage attack, but it feels all to real to Michael. Although Samantha doesn’t believe Michael’s visions are real initially, once they come true, she has no choice but to believe him. Michael’s visions eventually lead him and Sam into a dangerous quest for answers that brings them face to face with a ruthless killer. In Seeing Evil, Parent created a terrifying antagonist that still sticks out in my mind years after reading it and holding nothing back as he takes readers on an action-packed journey.

I also loved reading Unseemly and his recent collection Wrathbone, with the novella of the same name being one of my favorite in recent years. Parent shows a lot of versatility as an author, dabbling in many different genres and often blending them together to create something entertaining and unique. That sort of genre-bending is also found on display with A Life Removed, a thriller that has smatterings of horror woven into its DNA.

A Life Removed focuses on a city being held hostage by a killer who leaves a path of brutal destruction in their wake and sets all of the residents on edge. Sure, the town can be a little rough, but no one expected this level of brutality to take over their small community. Detectives Bruce Marklin and Jocelyn Beaudette feel the pressure to bring this crazed killer to justice, but they are left with little to go on as the killer’s ritualistic killings have claimed victims from all walks of life, which makes the killer increasingly difficult to catch. While they are the lead investigators on the case, Officer Aaron Pimental is thrust into the center of the investigation as well after stumbling across one of the killer’s early victims. His personal life is in turmoil and he never viewed himself as much of a cop, so his sudden elevation to a key figure on the task force places a lot of strain on him and makes him question what type of person he really is. As the clues start to fall into place, Aaron realizes that he has a very important choice to make and he along with Marklin and Beaudette are racing against time to put an end to these horrific murders.

Parent wastes no time hooking the reader as the novel kicks off with a scene of what happened to one of the first victims. Readers are introduced to Eliza, a woman who once had a bright future, but had all of her dreams stripped away by an addiction to cocaine that led her to a life of prostitution. As she is walking the streets she hears a man calling to her from a van that idled up to the curb. Eliza sees him as an easy mark, someone who reminds her of a 1950s-era crooner, good-looking and seemingly harmless. His charming demeanor sets off warning alarms in her mind, but she is fixed on her next hit so she buries her reservations deep inside. She gets in the van and that is when her nightmare starts and we get our first glimpse of the bloodthirsty killer that has decided to set up shop in Fall River. I liked the fact that Parent started the novel off from the victim’s perspective because it places the reader right in the middle of the action and sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Parent utilizes this approach a few times throughout the A Life Removed and each time it ratchets up the tension and makes for some memorable and engaging scenes.

The character work is excellent and Parent does a good job of bringing these characters to life not just through their appearance but also by revealing anecdotes about them and their mannerisms. Aaron isn’t what you would expect, he has a lot of demons in his past that start to come back to haunt him after he stumbles across the first victim. I don’t want to get into his past too much, but the scenes about Aaron’s life that are sprinkled throughout the course of the novel help generate a bit of mystery and make him an interesting character. Parent does some interesting things with Aaron’s story throughout the course of the book which takes him from being just a good character to a great one.

Detective Marklin seems like an arrogant jerk by almost every person he works with, aside from his own partner. However, there are a few scenes that show there is more to him than just being the department jerk, but that he deeply cares about people and protecting the community. While he is a pretty well-rounded character, there was potential to dive a little deeper into his past that I think may have made him stronger. Detective Beaudette is a great detective too who worked her way up rather quickly and while she can handle the rigors of the job, working homicide does take its toll on her. She reflects often that she is called to the scene after the bodies are already dead and just once she would like to save someone when they are still alive. Both her and Marklin both care about the communities they are sworn to protect, but their lives are different. Jocelyn still clings to some of her optimism and has a family to go home to whereas Marklin is more cynical and a bit of a loner. Their differences in personality and the way they use that to interact with each other when going over evidence makes them a highly effective team and also makes their chemistry realistic.

Considering this is a thriller based on a ritualistic serial killer, I think it goes without saying that A Life Removed is pretty dark. The descriptions of the attacks that occur throughout the story are brutal and Parent doesn’t hold anything back in these scenes. Without venturing into spoiler territory, there are a few scenes that are definitely not for the squeamish and will make you cringe. Parent creates a memorable antagonist in A Life Removed, because the thing that makes him the most dangerous has nothing to do with violence, but rather his charisma. That trait plays a large role in the events of the novel and the scariest part about it is something that has played out in the real world time and time again.

A Life Removed is an engaging thriller that will undoubtedly appeal to a wide readership. There is an intriguing mystery, a great cast of characters and some great plot twists. At first, A Life Removed reads like a standard thriller, but there comes a point where Parent shifts gears and takes things in a totally unexpected direction which helps it stand out. For horror fans, there is a bit of the “weird” sprinkled throughout that adds another interesting element to the story. I also enjoyed that this novel loosely ties into the Seeing Evil, as a familiar name makes a cameo appearance at one point in the novel and is set in the same fictional town of Fall River, Massachusetts. Parent has a lot of great books in his catalog, but I think that A Life Removed may be his best yet. Highly Recommended!

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

Jason Parent’s Official Website

Red Adept Publishing’s Official Website

Purchase A Life Removed: Amazon, Barnes & Noble,  Red Adept Publishing or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

A Life Removed Synopsis

Detectives Bruce Marklin and Jocelyn Beaudette have put plenty of criminals behind bars. But a new terror is stalking their city. The killer’s violent crimes are ritualistic but seemingly indiscriminate. As the death toll rises, the detectives must track a murderer without motive. The next kill could be anyone… maybe even one of their own.

Officer Aaron Pimental sees no hope for himself or humanity. His girlfriend is pulling away, and his best friend has found religion. When Aaron is thrust into the heart of the investigation, he must choose who he will become, the hero or the villain.

If Aaron doesn’t decide soon, the choice will be made for him.

About Jason Parent

In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it’s harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he’s back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that’s another story.

When he’s not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody’s head off – he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit the author on Facebook at , on Twitter, or at his website for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him.

 

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BOOK INFO

Length: 356 Pages

Publisher: Midgard Books

Release Date: January 7, 2017

Review copy provided as part of Jackals Blog Tour by Confessions Publicity

Jackals is Stuart R Brogan’s debut novel and focuses on a shadowy group of killers known as Jackals who descend on the small town of Wells, an affluent city known for being a hotbed of Masonic activity. One of their own has been captured and they enter the station driven by bloodlust and a singular mission preached by their bosses: embrace the Primitive. The aftermath of their arrival finds an entire police force brutally murdered and chaos brewing in the city. The group is careful to leave no evidence at the crime scene with the exception of a mysterious sigil painted on the wall in blood.

Detective Inspector Lewis Class is a cop nearing the end of his career and to put it bluntly – his life is a mess. He’s totally alone with no family or any real close friends and things aren’t much better at work. He basically goes through the motions, knowing that he isn’t that great of a cop and looking forward to the day he doesn’t have to worry about the responsibility the only things he really enjoys are drinking and the occasional hit of cocaine. Class is the last person you would expect to tackle the brutal slayings of the officers in the police station, but that is what he is tasked to do. If you had to conjure up an image of him in your mind, he would be a polar opposite of what you would expect an action hero to be like. He realizes quickly that this case is above his head and he had little chance to solve it, his only real leads being the sigil and a suburban couple whose car was found not far from the massacre.

Earlier on readers are introduced to Jesse Reid and her husband Damien. They have been married for 16 years and are an average married couple. They love each other but each have their own faults and occasional rough patches. Damien loves his wife with everything he has, but he has jealousy issues and is easily intimidated. Jesse suffers from severe depression that seems to stem from a strained relationship with her father and other dark events buried in her past. While out celebrating their anniversary and an ordinary evening until they have a fateful meeting with a mysterious woman who will change the course of their lives forever and kickstarts a deadly cat and mouse game that serves as the driving factor of Jackals.

Brogan’s main strength in Jackals is that he does a good job of establishing tension and has a keen sense of pacing. Jackals starts off a little slow at first, but within a few pages it’s off to the races and Brogan injects a sense of urgency that permeates almost every page of Jackals. These days reading time seems harder to come by, so for me to be invested in a story, the author needs to grab me. That doesn’t mean it has to be nonstop action on every page, but whether it is through action-packed scenes, strong character development or just an intriguing premise, I need a reason to keep turning the page. Jackals definitely delivers on all of those areas. When I first started it, I would read in quick bursts whenever I had a spare minute before putting it down for the night. However, it took less than a few chapters before it became harder and harder to tear myself away from Brogan’s world full of ruthless killers and shadowy secret societies.

Brogan also does a good job of building up the mystery behind the Jackals, who work for a mysterious known only as “The Order”. While the name may not strike fear in the hearts of those who encounter it, they are a diabolical group. Jackals is an accurate name for the people they employ –  Bloodthirsty killers who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals of achieving the “Primitive”. These people are clearly deranged, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t smart or sloppy in their work. They are like ghosts in that they aren’t in the system and are able to blend into society fairly well. They also put a lot of planning into their attacks and account for every possible contingency, making them a pretty formidable group of antagonists.

I won’t get too much into the history of the group because that would ruin the suspense, but they are an interesting group that stands out a little bit from your typical cult that you see in most stories. They have a pretty warped view of the world that drives their goals and share some similarities with other groups that pop up frequently in the horror and thriller genres, but what is interesting and helps set them apart is the set of rules they follow. I also loved the way Brogan created a hierarchy within The Order which also adds originality to the novel. I wish we got more scenes showing the inner workings of the different groups, like how the Jackals are selected from the general public or what Internal Security has done to secure their deadly reputation. This isn’t a negative toward the novel because leaving some of these things a mystery makes The Order and their factions even more interesting, but just wishful thinking on my part.

Brogan’s excellent characterization doesn’t just apply to The Order (though that is what will initially grab the reader’s interest), but to the other characters as well.  My personal favorite is Jesse Reid, easily one of the strongest and most interesting characters in the novel. Despite all of the demons in her past and the self-doubt that appears early in the novel, she is incredibly resourceful and brave. When the Jackals deliver their ultimatum to her, it would have been easy for her to run and hide (I know I would have!), but she jumps into full on survival mode. She gathers supplies and starts formulating a plan that if I’m being honest, I would have been too paranoid and scared to think of if faced with a similar situation. I thought it was brilliant how readers get to see her evolve over the course of the novel and she is a badass in every sense of the word!

Jesse and Class make for an odd pairing, but they have a remarkable amount of chemistry. Despite coming from two different backgrounds, they open up to each other and share some of their darkest secrets with one another. There isn’t anything romantic there, they just forge an incredibly close bond while facing chaos and a group that would love nothing more than to see them both dead.

While there is a lot to enjoy about Jackals, there were a few parts of the story that didn’t quite work for me. Early on, when two detectives are interrogating a mysterious stranger described simply as “Gaunt Man”, Brogan reveals the man’s true intentions a little early, which kind of ruins the suspense cultivated at the beginning of that scene. That is a minor complaint though considering later scenes do a much better job of keeping things vague. Also there are a lot of times early on where the book is too heavy with the DC/PC stuff when talking about the different officers. A mention here and there may be important to establish the characters, but it kind of jumbles up some of the early scenes.

Jackals is a pulse-pounding thriller that is bursting with blood-soaked scenes, great characters, and plenty of plot twists that will keep you guessing all the way to the final page of the novel. I have never read Brogan’s work before, but Jackals is a very impressive debut and I will definitely be looking forward to his future work. If you enjoy thrillers or real-life horror, don’t let this gem slip under your radar!

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

Stuart R Brogan’s author Facebook page

Purchase Jackals: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Jackals Synopsis

From the aftermath of a brutal massacre at a rural police station, two survivors leave behind a swathe of bodies and a cryptic sigil painted on the wall, in blood.

A disgraced Detective Inspector begrudgingly starts to investigate the crime scene but as the facts begin to emerge the trail appears to lead into the highest echelons of power, making the policeman himself the next target.

As the conspiracy spirals ever deeper and with no-one to trust, both prime suspect and policeman are forced into an unlikely alliance to prove, not only their innocence, but the existence of a force so ingrained into our society, it could rewrite the very fabric of human nature.

About Stuart R Brogan

 Stuart R Brogan is a former nightclub bouncer and unwaveringly proud Heathen who loves nothing more than expanding people’s minds with Pagan related Non-Fiction or blowing people’s brains out with fast paced, gut wrenching, thrilling horrors.

Harley lover, extreme metal drummer and avid movie nerd, Stuart has never followed the crowd but instead carved his own path and danced to his own tune. Since his early years, Stuart found escapism in both the written word and the silver screen. A huge fan of 80’s Action / Horror movies such as The Thing, Aliens, Predator & Die Hard and literary heroes such as Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, Richard Layman and Brian Lumley, Stuart endeavours to bring an unapologetic cinematic eye to his fiction in the hopes of rekindling his childhood sense of wonder, all whilst blowing through vast amounts of ammunition down his local shooting range.

Stuart currently resides in Glastonbury, UK with his long-suffering wife and man eating Shih-Poo dog “Poppy” where he co-owns a kick ass Viking / Asatru shop, fiercely named “Shield Maiden”.

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Stuart R Brogan, the author of the brutal thriller Jackals which is out now. I have a review scheduled for tomorrow, so I won’t dig too much into the novel, but Jackals is a very impressive debut. This was the first work of Brogan’s that I was able to read, but I left very impressed and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future! Brogan’s post is about his thoughts on self-publishing and his experience with it when it comes to his own writing.

My own personal thoughts are that while I have no issue with major publishers or horror titles that are released through one of the major publishers or affiliates, I have to say some of the best horror fiction I have read since starting this blog (or even before) has come from independent presses and self-published authors. Brogan makes some good points about how some self-published books can be sloppily put together, but I know of a ton of authors who have gone into self-publishing and done an incredible job.

Before I turn over the blog to Stuart, I want to thank him and Nev of Confessions Publicity for having me on the tour!

Going It Alone

By Stuart R Brogan

A seismic shift has occurred within the publishing world over the last few years. Many of the big players within the industry have battened down the hatches and tightened their belts with regards to the number of new books released and the new authors they take on. Even those eagle-eyed literary agents searching for the next big thing have cut back regarding new clients, thus the hopes of many an author securing that dream deal have been pretty much dashed. But should we retreat and sob into our cereal bowls and hurl abuse to anyone that will listen regarding the injustice of it all? Or is there another way to attain that craved recognition regarding our work, regardless of the genre we dabble in?

For many years, the term “Self-Publishing” was looked upon with disgust. The mere mention of those two words was only whispered among the echelons of literary power and deemed a “Vanity” rather than a viable publishing platform. However, it seems that now the whole world and his/her dog is involved in it to some degree, proving that it is a monster that shows no sign of retreating any time soon.

Let’s be brutally honest, self-publishing is a veritable minefield. It is a double-edged sword that can destroy a career before it even begins, or catapult an unknown author into Bestseller-Dom. One only has to trawl the most popular sites to witness the vast array of titles vying for our attention, most of which are subpar for even the most ardent fan. It is a sad fact that the internet is awash with ebook’s and trade backs that suffer from horrendous formatting, editing, cover design and a whole host of other issues. It would appear this new technology has unleashed a tidal wave of authors, all clinging to the dream that their book is bound for Hollywood.

But herein lies the problem. With such a sea of titles, how can we make ourselves stand out from the crowd? In essence, we are just one blade of grass in a field of green, all competing for that one shot and trying to secure our name as a quality brand.

The cold hard truth is that ninety-nine-point nine percent of self-published authors will sell next to no books; even fewer will catch the attention of a “big name” agent/publisher. Even less still, will be able to make a living from it. Even the big boys have noticed a dramatic change in our reading habits. When once it was acceptable to sell “X” amount of books when released, it has now diminished to half that number. So, you see, even THEY are worried regarding sales figures and look what kind of media/promotional machines they have behind them. What chance do we have?

But hold your horses; we have a few things that can work in our favour. For one, we have the tenacity to dance to our own tune and behold to no-one. Secondly, we have total control over content / rights and the marketing plan and thirdly, we have the passion to become better and to push ourselves. Without the corporate machine pushing us, we are reliant on our own resolve and determination to propel our career forward. This, of course, is down to our own individual level of dedication; some may flourish under such pressure while others may fold.

I myself tried to obtain that elusive agent to take me on with the hopes they could find me a home, and while I got excellent feedback, I had no takers. But before you call me a failure, I would like to state that looking back, it was a great thing because it galvanized me into action.

I would do it myself damn it and see what happens. Of course, I have faith in my work, but going at it alone was as scary as it was exciting. I have to say, I have been lucky to have made contact with some truly fantastic people within my genre. To be honest, I thought that it would be a dog eat dog scenario but I am glad I was proved wrong because instead of polarising authors, self-publishing has brought us together. Everyone helping each other and spreading the word. I was amazed by the openness shown to me and I am truly humbled by the advice and help given. It is something I shall never forget.

Don’t get me wrong I am not selling millions of books (not yet anyway) but have slowly got my name out there amongst those who matter. I have to say that I was (contrary to my earlier statement) amazed by how many big-name authors have left or turned down deals with major houses to go it alone. It would seem that being signed to a big boy isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Some of them seem to be doing very well in terms of making a living and all because of going at it alone.

So, there you have it. Self-publishing is either a gift or a curse depending on how you approach it. Will you curl up in a little ball, scared of rejection or will you stand on your own two feet and go for it? I know what I would do.

In fact, I’m doing it!

Until next time…

LINKS

Stuart R Brogan’s author Facebook page

Purchase Jackals: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Jackals Synopsis

From the aftermath of a brutal massacre at a rural police station, two survivors leave behind a swathe of bodies and a cryptic sigil painted on the wall, in blood.

A disgraced Detective Inspector begrudgingly starts to investigate the crime scene but as the facts begin to emerge the trail appears to lead into the highest echelons of power, making the policeman himself the next target.

As the conspiracy spirals ever deeper and with no-one to trust, both prime suspect and policeman are forced into an unlikely alliance to prove, not only their innocence, but the existence of a force so ingrained into our society, it could rewrite the very fabric of human nature.

About Stuart R Brogan

 Stuart R Brogan is a former nightclub bouncer and unwaveringly proud Heathen who loves nothing more than expanding people’s minds with Pagan related Non-Fiction or blowing people’s brains out with fast paced, gut wrenching, thrilling horrors.

Harley lover, extreme metal drummer and avid movie nerd, Stuart has never followed the crowd but instead carved his own path and danced to his own tune. Since his early years, Stuart found escapism in both the written word and the silver screen. A huge fan of 80’s Action / Horror movies such as The Thing, Aliens, Predator & Die Hard and literary heroes such as Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, Richard Layman and Brian Lumley, Stuart endeavours to bring an unapologetic cinematic eye to his fiction in the hopes of rekindling his childhood sense of wonder, all whilst blowing through vast amounts of ammunition down his local shooting range.

Stuart currently resides in Glastonbury, UK with his long-suffering wife and man eating Shih-Poo dog “Poppy” where he co-owns a kick ass Viking / Asatru shop, fiercely named “Shield Maiden”.

Today I am happy to have John Quick on The Horror Bookshelf for an interview in support of his excellent debut novel Consequences (review). Quick’s novel is a really fun summer read that will appeal to any horror fan, but particularly those who enjoy a good slasher story. Consequences is based on a real-life serial killer legend from Quick’s hometown and he uses that inspiration to craft a brutal novel that is full of great characters, plenty of action, and a formidable killer that will definitely give you the creeps! I really enjoyed Consequences and it seems Quick is poised for great things as he has signed to Sinister Grin Press for his follow-up novel.

During my interview with John, we talked about his writing process, his influences, the inspiration and history behind Consequences, bits of publishing stuff, and some of his upcoming work. This was an awesome interview and it was really cool to talk to John about his love of writing and some behind the scenes aspects of his work. A big thank you to John for stopping by to answer my questions and to Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour!

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

Thanks so much for having me!

I’ve always liked to read and write, so that part of it just seemed to come naturally. I was an only child, so there were many times growing up where I found myself with nothing to do other than to read. Thankfully, my parents encouraged that; they didn’t seem to care what I was reading so long as I was reading something.

I think it’s a natural extension of writing to eventually think about doing it for a living. I love to create, and I love even more to think about something I created maybe inspiring someone else to do the same. Ever since seeing pictures of John Skipp, Craig Spector, and David J. Schow in the leather jackets and sunglasses in Fangoria magazine years ago, writers have been like rock stars to me, and since I don’t have the musical talent to go that route, writing seemed like the next best thing [laughs].

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

Since I got serious about it, I’ve been pretty consistent; I write at night, after the family’s gone to bed. I go out on my back patio with the laptop, smokes, and a couple of beers, and go until the night’s chapter is done—doesn’t matter how long it takes, and sometimes it can get a bit brutal [laughs]. I do have a day job, so there are times I’m exhausted when I get there, but the satisfaction I feel doing something I love every night makes it worth it. Mondays and Wednesdays are usually edit days; I’ll print out a manuscript, and jot down things with a red pen throughout the week, then plug them in on those days.

I have learned to take time off now and then, just not usually longer than two days running. If I do, apparently I get grumpy (according to my family [laughs]).

I have read your blog and see you were a big fan of shows like the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. What was it about these shows that appealed to you growing up?

I think it came from living out in the middle of nowhere, and the sense of isolation that came along with that. We had a couple of acres, and there wasn’t a house right next door on either side, so you could definitely walk outside and feel like you were the only person around for miles, even if that wasn’t the case. Beyond that, I’ve just always had a thing for the strange, and thankfully that never went away as I got older.

You mentioned on your blog that in July of 2015 you decided to start Consequences. Within that year, you ended up writing 10 first drafts, which is a pretty impressive accomplishment. What do you think helped spark that creative drive?

Just finally hitting a point where I was in the right mindset for it. I’d tried writing before, even tried going the traditional publishing route about ten years ago or so with no success. At that time, I had dreams of bestseller lists dancing in my head, and quitting my job on the basis of a single advance. As a result, it took me nearly a year to get one manuscript finished, and it was nowhere near ready for anyone else to look at.

Then I turned forty, and I realized that if I really wanted to do this, I’d better get to it before it was too late.

This time around, I just wanted to get something I’d written out there. I had no plans to quit the day job, and was of a mind that if I sold one copy to someone I didn’t know, I’d done what I set out to do. I’d also managed to get my hands on a copy of Richard Laymon’s A Writer’s Tale, and read the line “Write the books you want to read.” As soon as I read that, a switch flipped and the words started flowing. Everything that’s happened since has been beyond my wildest dreams!

You allow readers to track your progress on your blog and you have four works currently going on. I have always wondered with writers that are working on multiple projects simultaneously, is it difficult to keep them all straight? What helps you get in the mindset of each project?

Usually it’s not so bad, because there’s only one new thing going at a time. I did just take on the insane task of working on a dark fantasy novel at the same time I was working on a creature feature, and the headache that caused guarantees I’ll never try that again [laughs]!

I also think that since the other stuff is just edits, and the story’s already down on paper, it makes it easier to compartmentalize. Even if I see a new scene that needs to be added, or a scene that needs a complete rewrite, I tend to do it on the fly, working with my gut instincts.

As for mindset, Consequences had been simmering for a year before I put down the first word on paper. After that, it was habit. I sit down at the laptop at the right time, and my brain just switches on and says “okay, let’s do this!”

Consequences is a horror novel that is rooted in the real world, with its basis coming from a true life legend. Do you prefer to write horror that is more realistic or are you more drawn to horror with supernatural elements? What is it about each one that appeals to you if you enjoy both?

Honestly, it depends on the story. I enjoy both, but I tend to favor realism over supernatural stuff. Maybe it’s a result of reading so much horror and watching so many movies in my life, that the moment it occurs to me that something could actually happen, it becomes immensely more terrifying to me.

That said, there’s something almost primal about a good ghost story. I think most of us grew up hearing those tales around the campfire, and I know growing up in the rural south I heard more than my fair share. I’ve been to Chapel Hill to find the ghost that walks on the railroad track, and visited the Bell Witch cave, and many of the other haunted locations in Tennessee. So when it’s translated into literary form, it still manages to strike that same primal impulse.

What was the hardest part about writing Consequences, whether from a story standpoint or the process of getting the book out there?

As far as the story, there were a few things that were a little tricky, but mostly it came easily. Getting it out there was an adventure, though. I did four drafts of it, then sent it to a publisher who was in the process of undergoing staff changes (to not name names). It got rejected about six months later, then that publisher announced they were closing, so I guess I see why it didn’t make the cut with them [laughs]. I decided to get it out there, got volunteers to edit and do cover art, then things happened and both of them dropped out as well. I finally got it done the best I could, hit “publish”, and suddenly realized that the fun was just starting! I owe a huge debt to Tristan over at Sinister Grin and Erin at Hook of a Book for helping to guide me through the headaches that came after that!

What was your experience like self-publishing Consequences? Is that something you would like to continue with future works in addition to releasing with presses or is your goal to work with presses?

There’s something to be said for the complete creative freedom that comes with self-publishing, and I would definitely do it again. Now that I have a better idea what to expect from it, and what to do to make it work, I think I might could do it without wanting to tear my hair out [laughs].

I’m still in the early stages of working with a press, so it’s hard to answer whether I’d prefer working with them over doing it myself, but so far it’s been great. I do kind of like the idea that my biggest worry is writing the story itself, and not all the things that go on behind the scenes.

I don’t want to give away too much about Consequences for those who haven’t read it yet, but it seems like there is the potential for a sort of “spin-off” series. Do you have any plans to revisit those characters?

Also without giving too much away, things are set into motion in the epilogue of Consequences that have continued on. I’ve actually done four books in a series about a couple of the characters mentioned there, with the first book currently making the rounds in submissions. One way or the other, it’ll see the light of day eventually.

Was that specifically vague enough for you? <Insert evil laugh here>

You recently signed with Sinister Grin Press for the release of your upcoming novel, The Journal of Jeremy Todd. How did you get in touch with them?

Luck, mostly! I happened to stumble across an announcement that they were accepting open submissions back in November, and knew I had to send them something. I first found out about them because of Sixty-Five Stirrup Iron Road, and then looked at some of their other stuff and realized they were doing good stuff. Jeremy Todd was the closest to being ready, so I spent a week destroying my brain to get a final draft ready for them, and sent it on. I got a request for the full manuscript on Christmas Eve (an awesome present, I should say), and now here we are!

Is there anything you can tell us about that release?

It’s the story of a guy who was bullied so badly in high school that he’s become a total loser. The story’s told in the form of his journal entries leading up to his twenty year reunion, and we see how his mind degrades as he remembers more and more about his past, with gruesome and visceral results.

It’s also the darkest thing I’ve done yet, so take the time before it comes out to prepare! I know my wife really struggled reading it, and honestly, I struggled writing it, so hopefully that comes through on the page.

Do you have a preference between the novel format and some of the shorter formats (short story, novella, flash fiction, etc)? What do you enjoy about each style of storytelling?

While the ideas I come up with tend toward longer works, I love shorter ones, too. Maybe it was a part of that mindset thing, but I’ve finally started dipping my toes into the short story pond, and even have one coming out in an anthology this fall (Full Moon Slaughter, edited by Toneye Eyenot for JEA Press).

To me, the story is what dictates the length, not a conscious decision. Sometimes the point can be made fast, other times it takes longer. As long as it’s good, I’ll read it whatever format it’s in!

Reading your blog it seems like you have an interest in learning the ins and outs of publishing, even giving readers a look at how Consequence has been doing in various formats. What do you like about learning the publishing side of the business? I think it’s cool that you share what you have learned to help other authors or to help educate readers who are interested in that information.

I was a manager in a bookstore several years ago, so I got to see first-hand how things went on that end. There were always people coming in and wondering why we wouldn’t carry their PublishAmerica books, or pretty much anything that didn’t come from one of the major publishers. I started looking into it, and once I decided to do it myself, wanted to know exactly what I was getting into.

It also struck me that for the number of people actually trying to be writers, there was precious little valid information on what they needed to do to get their work out there. Internet searches give thousands and thousands of results, many of which contradict one another. Even books by big name authors give useful information, but when it comes to the publishing side aren’t as helpful as they could be, since those authors had some breaks that are more difficult to come by now.

So I figured I’d show what I went through during the process, so people could look at it and see that it’s not as easy as it’s been made out to be, and that there’s a lot more that goes with it than just hitting the publish button on KDP or Smashwords or whatever. I’m also one of those weird people who believe that if you’re going to do something, know everything you can about it so there’s no surprises anywhere down the line.

You give readers who visit your blog a very in-depth look at the inspirations for your stories and the “behind the scenes” look at your writing process. Is that something that is important to you, to let readers see how each book has come to life?

One of my favorite things in Stephen King’s short story collections is when he tells where the idea came from for each tale. Likewise, I love watching the “How it was Made” documentaries on DVDs and Blu-Rays. I actually remember seeing the specials on television about how they made Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark when I was a kid, so maybe that’s where it comes from.

But in any creative endeavor, I think people naturally wonder how it came to be. Writers have always talked about the age-old question of “where do you get your ideas”, so this is just my way of heading them off at the pass. Besides, I’m still so new to this that I get excited talking about my craft. Check back with me in fifteen years or so and maybe I’ll be a little grumpier about it [laughs].

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

There’s actually four that clicked home for me and made me want to do something similar, and they’re kind of an evolutionary thing. First would be Pet Sematary and It by Stephen King, because of the way he was able to evoke emotion seemingly on a whim, and the turns of phrase he used that put you right there in the story. Then it was The Scream by Skipp and Spector, which I consider my introduction to the Splatterpunks. Rock n’ roll and horror have always been natural bedfellows, and this just slammed them together like Alice Cooper in book form. On top of that, this was more blood than King let flow, and had an edge that he also didn’t have. Then came Darkness, Tell Us by Richard Laymon, which was the book that made me realize I didn’t have to hold back, that I could just tell the tale full-bore and not worry if someone else flinched while reading it, so long as I didn’t flinch while writing it.

As to the current writers I just started reading, there’s way too many to list. I’ll limit myself to the last year or so just to make it manageable: Jonathan Janz, David Bernstein, Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea, Somer Canon, and let’s not forget the Sisters of Slaughter, Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason!

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

I’ve been fortunate enough to get the chance to talk to some of my contemporaries whom I respect, thanks to social media and the wonderful online family that is the horror community. If there’s one that I would love to work with, or pick their brain, it would be Richard Laymon. I only regret that I didn’t discover his work while he was still alive, or maybe I’d have had that chance.

I know you have a ton of works in progress and you are fairly open with sharing that information, but is there anything else you are working on that you are excited about sharing?

My haunted house story Hidden Hearts just went out for editing, and I’m really excited for it to hit the release stage! It’s tamer in many ways than Consequences and Jeremy Todd, but it’s also the one that still manages to choke me up near the end, even after three drafts. I can’t wait for people to read it! I also am excited about getting the Cochran Investigations books out there (oops, minor spoiler!), just because since they were so fun to write, I’m hoping people will have just as much fun reading them!

Thanks again for stopping by The Horror Bookshelf John and answering my questions. I really enjoy your work and I am looking forward to reading more of your stuff in the future!

Thanks again for having me, and stay tuned! There’s much more to come!

LINKS

John Quick’s Official Website

Purchase Consequences: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Books-A-Million, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

Consequences tour graphic v2

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Consequences!- #Consequences #summerofterror #crazyfreddy

Consequences Synopsis

It was a summer of blood and terror…

For seven friends, graduation night was supposed to be a time to celebrate the end of their high school careers and the start of their real lives.

But when an accident while partying at the local haunted house results in tragedy, they find themselves being hunted by a maniac for whom the stakes are decidedly personal.

Thirty years ago, Crazy Freddy hung his family up with barbed wire and skinned them alive. Now, the survivors can only hope for such a kindness as they are forced to accept that for everything they do, there will be CONSEQUENCES.

Praise for Consequences

“The character work here is pretty impressive, particularly for a first-time novelist.” – Michael Hicks, Author of Let Go

John Quick takes you inside the mind of a psycho path in this thriller. I read it in only two sittings because the pacing kept me turning the pages. Very well written, I enjoyed the dialogue very much, especially the young people being hunted by the killer. It felt believable and well developed.” – Michelle Garza, co-author of Mayan Blue

John Quick Biography

15210557

John Quick has been reading and writing scary and disturbing stuff for as long as he can remember, and has only recently begun releasing some of his creations upon the world.

 His debut novel, Consequences is available now as a paperback or digital eBook. Watch for his next novel to come from Sinister Grin Press in 2017. He lives in Middle Tennessee with his wife, two kids, and three dogs that think they’re kids.

 When he’s not hard at work on his next novel, you can find him online at: http://johnquickauthor.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook and Twitter.

Would you like to feature?

If you would like to review Consequences or feature John with an interview or guest article for a media publication, blog, or author blurb, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com .

consequences

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Self-Published

Length: 245 Pages

Release Date: April 11, 2016

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

John Quick’s Consequences is based on a real-life serial killer legend from his hometown so that coupled with the synopsis for this one had me intrigued and I jumped at the chance to join this tour! Everyone has some sort of story or urban legend from when they were growing up, so it was a real treat to see an author take that inspiration and bring it to life in a novel.

John Quick’s Consequences opens with a bang, detailing a horrific crime in 1971 at the Grayson family home on the outskirts of town, near the local airbase. Judy Grayson is on the way home late from a party, worrying about how her dad is going to react after he learns she defied his wishes. She arrives home to find all the lights off in the home and the front door open, something that almost never happens. As she begins to explore the eerie darkness that has taken over the home, she gets a sense that something is not right. Everything seems fairly normal until she finds a large pool of blood. She checks all the rooms of the house before noticing the back door was open. Once she goes out there, she sees something so terrifying and brutal that it alters her life and leaves a lasting mark on the town forever.

Over 40 year’s later we are introduced to a group of teenagers, seven friends who are getting ready to graduate and want to plan one last big blowout before they all go their separate ways. The first location for the party is at Jacob’s  lake-house they planned on fell through, so Austin and Jacob come up with the bright idea to sneak out to “Crazy Freddy’s” house and have their blowout there instead. They figure this would be the perfect place to hold the party since the legends surrounding the house  would not only allow them to impress the girls, but ensures that they will have the place all to their selves. However, once they get out there, it is obvious someone or something is out there watching them. An innocent disagreement between two of the friends sparks a chain of tragic events that will forever alter the lives of those teenagers and place them in the crosshairs of a sadistic killer that will stop at nothing to get his revenge.

One of the things that I really loved about Consequences was that it was written in a style that is reminiscent of vintage slasher films. If there is one thing I love as much as horror literature, it is a good horror movie. Between the  brutal opening scene that sets the tone for the novel and the killer begins picking off victims one by one, Quick does a great job capturing the style of vintage slasher films. There is also some great tension because after their initial confrontation, the killer obviously gets away and they are left wondering if he is coming back for them. That brings up a level of psychological torment that has them constantly looking over their shoulder and it also serves as a catalyst for the growth of the characters.

The characterization in this novel is also very well done. Christopher, one of the main characters of the novel, is your average teenager, never really getting into any trouble and he pines after his childhood friend Hannah, who he has been friends with since the 2nd grade. Since she’s moving to California, this summer is Christopher’s last chance to say something to her. Quick nails their complex relationship perfectly, especially early on when they are still trying to figure their relationship out. Anyone who has ever fallen for a close friend, can definitely relate to these scenes of self-doubt and mixed messages. Even as their relationship begins to change and grow throughout the novel, it happens organically and is totally believable, never once feeling forced or overly cheesy.

I also liked Special Agent Jack Cochran who works for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. He struck me as being genuine and a really good investigator. Though I couldn’t help but feel bad for him at times because Chris and his friends put him through hell. I mean the poor guy is just trying to do his job and they really cause him some headaches! All kidding aside, I loved their interactions together and I only wish there was more of him in the middle parts of the book.

While Quick does a great job with all of his characters, I thought Alexis had the best arc and she was by far my favorite character. At the beginning of the novel she’s portrayed as being an outsider with low self-esteem that is looked down on by everyone. It isn’t until an honest moment with Tyler that she begins to think that maybe people are wrong about her and she can do whatever she wants, regardless of people’s impressions about her.  As the novel progresses – aside from a short period where she was consumed with grief – Alexis begins stands up for herself and exhibits more strength than any of the other characters combined. She takes charge of the group when they realize the killer is targeting them and without her masterful internet sleuthing skills, they wouldn’t have stood a chance in their quest for answers. Simply put, Alexis morphs into a complete badass!

Quick’s killer in Consequences is definitely a force to be reckoned with and unleashes tortures so vicious and horrific, it will definitely make you squirm! There is a scene at a lake house part way through the novel and what he does to the poor person he snares in his trap was scary as hell and one of the sickest things I have read in a long time. I don’t want to give away too much about this killer’s methods or his history, but Quick makes him more interesting than your run-of-the-mill horror psycho. He has a code that he follows, or at least tries to follow. Although he is obviously deranged, he possesses intelligence that allows him to blend in as we see him cruise past checkpoints without a problem and even feels comfortable talking to the officers. He also has incredible patience, often waiting in the same spot for hours while tracking the characters. I liked that he was introduced early on and that his identity was left a mystery for a while, but you learn very quickly the sort of violence he is capable of and that he is definitely not someone you want to cross.

The only issue I had was with some of the backstory for this character. Once his identity is revealed and you learn more about him, it is easy to see why he wants to hurt Chris and his friends. However, there are still a lot of questions that make his thought process unclear. He consistently mentions “Luck” being on his side, by where did this fascination come about? Also, without spoiling his identity, there is little mention of what made him first become a killer. There are some clues, but it would have been nice to get just a little more insight into his background to see what turned him into a killer.

The dialogue in this story is fantastic. It really rings true for the most part, especially when you read some of the opening lines of the father figure or “Crazy Freddy” as he is affectionately known. Judy recalls him saying to “close the damn door” and that she wasn’t “raised in a goddamned barn”. Lines like that give you a sense of what this man is like and you can practically hear his voice in your head. There are also a few more graphic ones that indicate he’s abusive and controlling. Quick does a great job of bringing this character to life with little moments and believable conversations, especially when the friends all gather around to talk about their hopes and dreams.

Quick’s debut novel is a really fun summer read that will appeal to any horror fan, but particularly those who enjoy a good slasher story. This book stands out on its own, but as I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think of Kristopher Rufty’s Desolation, so if you enjoyed that I think you will love Consequences. Consequences hints at a very bright future for Quick, who has already signed to Sinister Grin Press for his follow-up novel. One of my favorite things about covering dark fiction is discovering new authors, so I am glad I was invited to join this blog tour. Quick is a talented new author and I think the wait for his follow-up will be unbearable!

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

John Quick’s Official Website

Purchase Consequences: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Books-A-Million, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

Consequences tour graphic v2

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Consequences!- #Consequences #summerofterror #crazyfreddy

Consequences Synopsis

It was a summer of blood and terror…

For seven friends, graduation night was supposed to be a time to celebrate the end of their high school careers and the start of their real lives.

But when an accident while partying at the local haunted house results in tragedy, they find themselves being hunted by a maniac for whom the stakes are decidedly personal.

Thirty years ago, Crazy Freddy hung his family up with barbed wire and skinned them alive. Now, the survivors can only hope for such a kindness as they are forced to accept that for everything they do, there will be CONSEQUENCES.

Praise for Consequences

“The character work here is pretty impressive, particularly for a first-time novelist.” – Michael Hicks, Author of Let Go

John Quick takes you inside the mind of a psycho path in this thriller. I read it in only two sittings because the pacing kept me turning the pages. Very well written, I enjoyed the dialogue very much, especially the young people being hunted by the killer. It felt believable and well developed.” – Michelle Garza, co-author of Mayan Blue

John Quick Biography

15210557

John Quick has been reading and writing scary and disturbing stuff for as long as he can remember, and has only recently begun releasing some of his creations upon the world.

 His debut novel, Consequences is available now as a paperback or digital eBook. Watch for his next novel to come from Sinister Grin Press in 2017. He lives in Middle Tennessee with his wife, two kids, and three dogs that think they’re kids.

 When he’s not hard at work on his next novel, you can find him online at: http://johnquickauthor.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook and Twitter.

Would you like to feature?

If you would like to review Consequences or feature John with an interview or guest article for a media publication, blog, or author blurb, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com .

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.

The-Invasion-300dpi

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Sinister Grin Press

Length: 235 Pages

Release Date: May 15, 2016

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

My wife and I watch a ton of true crime shows – The Investigation Discovery channel is usually always on when we are watching TV – so when I read the synopsis for The Invasion I was hooked. This novel utilizes a real-life scenario and when you throw in the fact that the novel is loosely inspired by true events, I knew I was in for an adrenaline-filled read!

McBean’s The Invasion starts off with a bone chilling introduction that sets the stage for the story. Obviously you know that something terrible is about to unfold, but McBean utilizes an unassuming everyday task and assigns it a creepy quality that sets off warning bells in your imagination even before you step foot into the house located on 6 Hooper Crescent. The house is the home of Debra Hillsboro, a romance novelist who has gathered her family and friends at her home to celebrate Christmas. Debra is going through a bit of a rough patch lately as her books aren’t selling like they used to and she is going through a divorce.

Even with all the turmoil swirling around her life, her home is the one place Debra can feel safe. Debra has lived in the Carmela house for almost 30 years, spending a majority of her life and writing career in the home. However, as Debra and her guests settle in for the night, her illusion of safety is shattered when a group of six strangers break into the home and take everyone hostage. The apparent leader of the group – who calls himself Black Metal Freak –  tells Debra they are there simply to rob her and that if her and her guests cooperate, everything will be okay. However, as the night unfolds, it becomes obvious that the group has sinister ulterior motives and things only get worse when the real leader – Mr. Fear – arrives. Facing the group of intruders, Debra and her family must dig deep within themselves in a struggle to survive the most frightening night of their lives.

The Invasion is a pretty bleak and violent read and there is a lot to enjoy for both horror and thriller fans. There are a lot of things McBean does well in The Invasion, starting with great descriptions of the house, which is the focal point of the novel as both a setting and a character. The house is given a great deal of characterization and Debra even refers to it by name. Also the scene setting where we first get a good look at the house, it is described almost like a flesh and blood person.

Built in nineteen-sixty-nine, the four-bedroom single story split-level had been well-loved, but, like its resident of twenty-seven years, she was starting to look her age.

Making the house a character was a great touch and I like that based on the amount of action that occurs in each room, readers are given an equivalent amount of memories that took place there. For instance, the lounge is a central location in the novel and where a lot of violence occurs and we learn that this was Debra’s safest place. The place where she went to read, entertain guests, and even work through some of the challenging spots in her writing. McBean does a great job of weaving these memories throughout the story to bring the setting into vivid focus and to highlight how all of these years of important memories will now be completely overshadowed by a night of violence and depravity.

The house even has an intriguing history complete with has dark rumors of ritual sacrifices, human burials and cult gatherings. A lot of these rumors trace back to the creepy producer that owned the house before Debra and he seemed to be hiding something. This sort of ambiguity about the house’s past helps build the atmosphere of the novel because it raises the question of if the house is just a house or a beacon of sorts for evil. It is probably nothing more than a coincidence, but when you also take into account the hair-raising dream Debra’s brother Peter had years ago, it really makes you question things.

The events of the novel build slowly at first with quiet, indistinguishable noises that can be attributed to just about any everyday occurrence and the stress weighing on Debra and her family blinds them to the fact that something may be wrong. These simple actions – a click of a door or thinking you hear people talking in another room – aren’t scary by themselves, but McBean uses these small moments to build tension since readers know something sinister is lurking within the pages of The Invasion.

McBean wastes little time in introducing the strangers that invade Debra’s home. At first glance, these strangers seem like an ordinary robbery team. However, throughout the course of The Invasion, this group proves they are anything but ordinary. They are a nihilistic group known as the “Fear Squad” and the members use code names like Black Metal Freak, Mad Vixen, Night Crawler, Child of Osiris, and Raven Queen. The group seems to be very methodical despite their young age and overactive behavior, but their sense of entitlement to do whatever they want occasionally makes them sloppy. While their plans hit snags along the way, they make up for any mistakes with appalling savagery.

I thought the portrayal of the Fear Squad was perfect. It is interesting that the Fear Squad are all tech savvy (almost to their detriment) and that the origins of their group are born from that reliance on technology. It is clear the members of the group have impulse control problems and a sense of detachment from reality, which influences their sadistic nature. It is hard to talk about the main thing that makes the Fear Squad such an interesting group without spoiling parts of the novel, but I will just say that the group has a very interesting origin story and I think there could be a whole novel dedicated to just how the group got started. The only real complaint I had with The Invasion is that at times the members of the Fear Squad seemed kind of flat. They were well-developed as a group, but as individuals they sometimes faded into the background and were kind of overshadowed by Mr. Fear.

Mr. Fear is the mysterious leader of the Fear Squad and while the collective as a whole serves as a very interesting threat, there is something about Mr. Fear that makes him standout. He has a sort of charisma that demands respect from the other members of the group and they idolize him because they think he has special powers. Now, I don’t want to spoil too much about his claim to fame within the group, but I can’t help but wonder if there is a bit of truth to his claims. I personally think he is just a sick man who uses his charismatic qualities to control the group, but there are a few instances where he seems to exhibit the very power he claims to possess. Is he just a normal man or is there something more lurking underneath the surface?

While McBean does a great job cultivating a horrific threat with his characterization of the Fear Squad, I really enjoyed his characterization of Debra and her family. The Invasion is a richly characterized piece and getting to know the intimate details about the characters through flashbacks and their interactions with each other makes you emotionally invested in their fight for survival. They also go through a transformation as the events unfold and it helps make the characters more dynamic. Paul is portrayed as being fairly timid, a stark contrast to his bold and brave boyfriend that isn’t afraid to speak his mind. However, as the night unfolds, Paul exhibits a bravery and strength that he didn’t even know he had in him. Debra’s niece Taryn is probably my favorite character of the novel. Even in the face of paralyzing fear, she shows a lot of bravery and intelligence in her attempt to stop the Fear Squad. She is resourceful and arms herself with household items and fights back against the group with everything she has.

I also liked that the story was contained to just one location – the Carmela house. By keeping the events limited to one location and one night, McBean crafts a claustrophobic atmosphere that transports readers into the story and ratchets up the tension. I also liked the format McBean used to break up the novel. Rather than go with traditional chapters, he breaks the story up by what room the events take place in. Sometimes that makes for short, punchy chapters which are great for the pacing of the novel. It is a small touch, but I liked the inclusion of the map at the beginning of the story. It is nice to be able to flip back to the map and track the events of the story as they unfold and makes for an engaging reading experience.

The Invasion is a terrifying novel that offers a glimpse at real-life horror and some of the darkest behaviors exhibited by people. Home invasions are a terrifying crime and while we may not consciously think about it, it is a fear that is universal. Our homes are supposed to be places where we feel safe and the idea of a stranger shattering that feeling make for an absolutely frightening premise that McBean captures perfectly. While there are plenty of home invasion stories out there, McBean puts a pretty unique spin on the genre that helps this one stand out. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

Brett McBean’s Official Website

Sinister Grin Press’ Official Website

Purchase The Invasion: Amazon (U.S.), Amazon (Australia), Amazon (U.K.), Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

Invasion tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about The Invasion! – #TheInvasion #homeinvasion #cults

The Invasion Synopsis

It was supposed to be a quiet end to a long day: five close-knit family and friends settling in for some much-needed sleep after coming together for an early Christmas party.

Instead, it’s the beginning of a shocking night of brutality when six intruders break into the sprawling residence of Debra Hillsboro, a middle-aged romance novelist with a fierce devotion to her loved ones and a strong kinship with her home of almost thirty years.

Armed with smartphones and a modern brand of madness, the intruders – an internet-age cult disconnected from humanity and addicted to causing fear and mayhem – have come to the secluded property for one purpose: to terrorize, and ultimately kill, everyone inside all while filming their heinous crimes.

Outnumbered and cut off from the outside world, the terrified occupants find themselves trapped in a fight for survival as a once place of safety is turned into a deadly maze of darkened rooms and forbidding hallways. On this sweltering summer night, they must somehow find a way to escape before the cult turns the beloved home into a house for the dead.

Praise for Brett McBean

“McBean’s voice is one that should be heard – a hint of Laymon and Koontz, yet distinctly his own.” —Brian Keene, author of The Rising and Terminal

“Brett McBean is as brash and brutal as a young Jack Ketchum. He visits the dark rooms inside us all.” — Scott Nicholson, author of The Manor and The Farm

The Invasion, by Brett McBean, is a startlingly bleak home invasion story, but one that is wonderfully written. McBean relies on his characters and atmosphere to bring the biggest scares, along with the frightening threat of home invasion that many readers will bring to the reading all by themselves.” — Michael Patrick Hicks, author of Convergence

Brett McBean Biography

Brett_McBean

Brett McBean is an award-winning horror and thriller author. His books, which include The MotherThe Last Motel and Wolf Creek: Desolation Game, have been published in Australia, the U.S., and Germany.

He’s been nominated for the Aurealis, Ditmar, and Ned Kelly awards, and he won the 2011 Australian Shadows Award for his collection, Tales of Sin and Madness.

He lives in Melbourne with his wife, daughter and German shepherd.

Find out more at: brettmcbean.com

 

seeing-evil

BOOK INFO

Length: 232 Pages

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Release Date: July 13, 2015

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

I was excited to read Jason Parent’s Seeing Evil after having heard tons of great things about his writing, so I jumped on the chance to read this book when Jason offered me a review copy. Seeing Evil is the story of Michael Turcotte, a teenager who has been in foster care since his parents death when he was just an infant. He has a close bond with Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly who was on the scene and rescued him after his parents murder-suicide.

Despite the trauma of his past, Michael is your average kid trying to make it through the trials of high school. He is a target for bullies and tries to keep to himself, but he is viciously attacked one day and the attack changes his life forever. After the attack Michael has a vision. It seems like a random dream brought on by the aftermath of his savage attack, but it feels all to real to Michael. He tries to warn the staff at his school and even begs Samantha to do something, but everyone thinks it is just a remnant of the anger and fear he felt from his attack. When he witness his vision unfold in real life, Michael realizes his life will never be the same. Although Samantha doesn’t believe Michael’s visions are real initially, once they come true, she has no choice but to believe him. While the stories of Michael’s visions make most of his classmates afraid of him, fellow outcast Tessa Masterson is drawn to Michael for a chance to glimpse her future. What Michael sees will lead him and Sam into a dangerous quest for answers that brings them face to face with a ruthless killer.

I have to commend Jason Parent for not holding anything back in Seeing Evil. There are plenty of vicious scenes in this story from Tessa’s heartbreaking interactions with her stepfather and the stomach-churning attack Michael endures at the hands of his school’s most ruthless bullies. While reading that particular scene, I was expecting things to go badly for Michael right from the start, but I didn’t expect that level of depravity.

Parent does a great job describing the relationship between Sam and Michael. Ever since Sam rescued Michael, she has kept in touch with him and it is obvious they have a close bond with each other since that fateful day. Michael views her as a mother figure and the one person who has always been there to keep him safe, even as he bounced from foster home to foster home. They are both similar in that they are distant and stick to themselves, but it is obvious they both care for each other, even if they don’t admit it out loud. Tessa Masterson is a character readers will become attached to early. As a result of her stepfather’s cruelty, Tessa’s self-confidence is obliterated and the isolation imposed on her means she has no friends and is avoided by the other students who view her only as the “weird girl”. Tessa’s story is heartbreaking and I found myself rooting for her to escape the horrors of her day-to-day life.

Parent’s antagonist in Seeing Evil is one of the most frightening characters I have read in a while and shows that everyday people are every bit as terrifying as any ghost, monster or supernatural entity. He has a warped sense of morality and rules that he feels everyone should follow and if they don’t, he feels it is his responsibility to punish them. What makes him so terrifying is his ability to blend in to society and his inability to feel remorse when he commits his horrible acts.

I really enjoyed Seeing Evil, but there were a few things that didn’t quite click for me. Michael’s visions are a central part of the story, but it doesn’t feel like there is any real explanation given for them. A lot of times people who claim to be able to see the future either experience this ability at a young age or claim they have always had it. However, Michael’s visions seemingly come out of nowhere. Are they result of the violence he endured? Is there some kind of hereditary connection? Is it supernatural? I realize some people may like not knowing the cause for the visions and the author most likely wanted the cause to remain unexplained, but it was a little too ambiguous for me. I also would have liked to see a little more of the antagonist’s back story through his own eyes. Parent does a good job of giving clues to readers about the character’s past and we do get sections from the killer’s point of view, but it would have been interesting to know what caused this character to develop such a warped view of the world.

There are a lot of books out there that incorporate the ability to see the future or experience the past, but what helps Seeing Evil stand out is Jason Parent’s great action scenes, brutal descriptions of Michael’s visions, and a cast of interesting characters. There were a few minor issues for me while reading Seeing Evil, but overall, it is an enjoyable thriller that will appeal to fans of many different genres and Jason Parent is definitely an author to watch. This is the first book of Jason’s I have read, but I definitely consider myself a fan and can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post to check out an excerpt from Seeing Evil and a chance to win a copy of Jason’s work and a Seeing Evil bookmark!

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

Jason Parent’s Official Website

Red Adept Publishing’s Official Website

Purchase Seeing Evil: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Red Adept Publishing

jason-parent-tour-graphic1

Please join in the fun and keep the momentum going by using the hashtag: #SeeingEvil,  #suspense #thriller #crimefiction #supernatural

Seeing Evil Synopsis

Fate in plain sight.

Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone—she’s seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she’s known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents’ murder-suicide.

In foster care since his parents’ death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies’ radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people’s dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though—not even Sam Reilly. When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn’t the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam—is Tessa victim or perpetrator?

Tessa’s tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.

Praise for Seeing Evil

“… Parent writes in such a fluid, mesmerizing and realistic way that I found I couldn’t stop!” – My So-Called Book Reviews

Seeing Evil is one of those books that takes off at a fast pace and doesn’t slow down.” – Carries Book Reviews

“Jason Parent tortures us right alongside his characters. The world building is excellent and very real.” – I’m a Voracious Reader

“…one of the best suspense thrillers I have read in a very long time. In lesser hands it would have been a decent read but the author’s skill in setting the scene, character development, and story telling makes this a far superior novel.” – Book Nutter’s Book Reviews

Seeing Evil has some very special moments and is a very fast read. There’s no denying Parent has talent.” Glenn Rolfe, author of Blood and Rain, Boom Town, and Abram’s Bridge

“Wow! That was just brilliant! Every single chapter straight from the very beginning had me gripped.” – Andrew Lennon, author of Keith and A Life to Waste, a Novel of Violence and Horror

“Superbly fast paced from beginning to end meaning you will not want to put it down. A plot that will keep you guessing to the very end but not in a confusing way. Brilliant characters that gel together perfectly. A bloody good book.” – Confessions of a Reviewer

“This is one seriously entertaining, thought provoking read.” – Adam Light, author of Taken, Toes Up, and The Corpus Corruptum

“This book was a police procedural/thriller/psychological horror story-it doesn’t neatly fit into any category except for: ‘damn fine read’.” – Char’s Horror Corner

“The entire story was strong, driven, and merciless in all regard from beginning to end. Even when you think you know where it’s going, there’s yet another–logical–twist.” Horror After Dark

Seeing Evil is a perfectly-paced book, with intriguing characters and white-knuckle, edge of your seat tension. The villain is particularly haunting in an all-too-plausible way, and even a few days after having finished reading the events of the book are still vividly etched in my mind. Parent’s writing here is top notch – sleek, efficient and with surprising emotional depth.” – Evans Light, author of Arboreatum, Screamscapes, and Harmlessly Insane

About Jason Parent

jasonparent

In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it’s harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he’s back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that’s another story.

When he’s not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody’s head off – he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit Jason on Facebook, on Twitter, or at his website for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him.

Excerpt

Stepping back so as not to alarm the child, Samantha scanned Michael for wounds, but she couldn’t find the source of the blood. She hoped it wasn’t Michael’s, but she saw no evidence, no tracks or prints, that suggested Michael had been anywhere near the bodies. Then again, shouldn’t he be in a crib or something? What’s he doing in here? There’s no part of this that he should have been forced to witness.

Samantha moved in for a closer look. His hands rested on his thighs, the blood on them dry and cracking on his skin. Something protruded from beneath them, something dark and metallic.

Samantha gasped. “Michael, don’t move, okay?”

Michael seemed oblivious to her presence, swaying to a beat only he could hear. It was as though she wasn’t part of the world he was seeing. Slowly, she reached for the object with the caution of one taking a bone from a snarling dog. Only Michael wasn’t snarling. He seemed uninterested in her, still rocking and staring blankly through her, unblinking and locked on that same focal point.

Maybe he’s in shock. Maybe he does understand what happened here. His unresponsiveness was certainly beyond mere willful ignorance. Samantha didn’t think he would notice if she lit a firecracker in front of him. He seemed out of touch with reality. For the moment, Samantha preferred him that way.

With a hand as steady as a surgeon’s, Samantha reached for the pistol Michael was huddled over like a bear protecting her cub. She avoided contact with him, fearful of what would happen if she disturbed his trance-like state. Her fingers treaded over the barrel, searching for its grip.

She pulled the handgun, a black Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm, from beneath Michael. The barrel brushed against his thigh. With cold, empty eyes bulging open like those of the drowning, Michael gazed into Samantha’s. She felt exposed, as if with only a look, the child could delve into the recesses of her mind, revealing her every secret. The thought terrified her. So did Michael.

With reflexes beyond one of his age, Michael grabbed the gun with both hands. Samantha quickly pulled it away. Unnerved as she was, she still had Michael’s safety at the forefront of her mind. She removed the weapon from the boy’s reach, at all times conscious of its threat. When she found the safety smeared in blood, she clicked it on and breathed a sigh of relief. As she’d expected, there had been a bullet in the chamber. She dropped the gun into an open evidence bag held by Tagliamonte.

Michael’s eyes remained on her. They were blue and cloudy like the sky before a rainbow, a fire as bright as the sun burning behind them. His mouth creaked open as though tiny gears controlled its laborious motion. When his chin dropped so low it nearly rested on his throat, a sound, low and indistinguishable at first, emitted from somewhere deep within the boy. As it amplified, its sharp clamor made Samantha’s blood ice within her veins.

At once, Samantha knew that not only did Michael comprehend what had happened to his parents, but also that he felt it in the worst sort of way. His wail was ghostly and ghastly, the cry of one seized by agony. Samantha was afraid, both for him and of him, and of what such trauma might cause him to become. Backing away, not knowing how to comfort the lost child, Samantha knew it would not be the last she would see of Michael.

 Giveaway

Sign up to enter to win one of five books from Jason Parent! There is one print copy of Seeing Evil, one print copy of Bad Apples 2 collection, 1 e-book of What Hides Within, and one e-book of Dead Roses. All winners get Seeing Evil bookmarks! Random draw chooses winner. First name drawn receives first prize, and so on. Any giveaway questions may be forwarded to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Enter to win at the link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjIz/?

SatansFanClub

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Omnium Gatherum

Length: 241 Pages

Release Date: April 7, 2014

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

Mark Kirkbride’s Satan’s Fan Club is a novel that follows two twins, James and Louise Glavier, as they struggle to carve out their own identities under their religious parent’s roof. The twins go out for a night on the town to a costume party held by one of James’ friends at the nightclub Hell. It is there they meet an enigmatic man known as Nick, who appears to them dressed as the devil. Nick mentions he was brought in by police as a suspect in the series of killings occurring in the twins’ neighborhood. Nick offers them the chance  to be free of the oppression they face on a daily basis and  to be a part of something larger than themselves by joining Satan’s Fan Club. He tells them the only way to join is to commit a crime specifically tailored for them, one that is so sinister, it rattles the twins. The twins find themselves drawn to his charisma and go from being interested in catching him to learning from him.

Once they are presented with this offer, the twins struggle with the decision of what they should do – commit a horrific crime that would forever alter their lives or pretend the whole thing never happened. After meeting Nick and keeping up with the murders that occur with increasing frequency, they uncover a startling pattern –  the bodies of the victims are being found closer and closer to The End House. The twins begin to panic and wonder – is this just an extraordinary coincidence or is Nick sending them an ominous message? The truth is something far stranger and one that both James, Louise, and the readers don’t see coming.

I started reading Satan’s Fan Club expecting a more straightforward horror tale that incorporated elements of the supernatural, but it is more of a psychological thriller. While there is a serial killer that figures prominently in the story, the focus is mainly on the Glavier family’s descent into madness and the changes that plague them and force them to question their beliefs. This is a hard novel to review because while the plot at the heart of Satan’s Fan Club was interesting and made me want to read until the end, I just couldn’t get swept up in the story. The characters are emotionally complex and each struggles with the identities they portray to each other and society, but there was little about them that made me emotionally invested in their fates. The timeline of the novel is also a little confusing as often many months pass and it is hard to notice, making it hard to establish a sense of time and place in the novel.

While Satan’s Fan Club is an entertaining story, the novel occasionally hits lulls with the different subplots. There is the dad’s secrets and struggle to keep his family together, the strange and complex relationship of twins James and Louise, and the mystery behind the youngest daughter Harriet’s unseen friend. These different threads play an essential role in the story and have some exciting moments, but they occasionally drag and sap the tension the author has managed to build up.

Despite a few issues, Satan’s Fan Club is a solid read for those who are fans of psychological thrillers and who won’t be uncomfortable with the taboo subject matter the author tackles. Kirkbride’s writing style possesses a dark poetry that I enjoyed and while Satan’s Fan Club didn’t hook me like I had hoped, I look forward to checking out more of his work in the future.

Rating: 3.5/5

LINKS:

Mark Kirkbride’s Official Website

Omnium Gatherum’s Official Website

Purchase Satan’s Fan Club on Amazon

butterflyskin

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Titan Books

Length: 400 Pages

Review copy provided by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review

The novel focuses on the life of 23-year-old Ksenia, the Senior Editor of the News Department of Evening.ru, an online newspaper who is trying to hold its own against established media heavyweights such as Tickertape and News.ru. Despite being younger and not having the same formal training as her colleagues, Ksenia has established control over the newsroom based on her ability to bring out the best of her employees and her ability to transform even the most mundane stories into something that readers immediately identify with and can apply to their own lives.

Ksenia loves her job, but wants more money from her boss and an opportunity to make a name for herself. He tells her that although she is an outstanding employee, the only way she will get another raise is to bring him a special project, something that will set their news site apart from the competition. This challenge sets about a chain of events that will forever alter the lives of Ksenia and those who are close to her when she realizes the perfect project will come from creating an extensive website dedicated to the Moscow Psycho, a brutal killer who has been committing horrific murders throughout the city. As Ksenia delves further into the project, she begins to develop a fascination with the savage sexual components of the murders as she begins exploring the darker side of her sexuality. The tension is amplified further after she falls in love with a mysterious person on ICQ chat, known only as “alien”, who seems to be the only person who truly understands Ksneia’s desires. Could this be the perfect partner Ksenia has been searching for since the demise of her last relationship or has she established a connection with the killer himself?

While reading Kuznetsov’s novel, I was torn on how I felt about it. The premise is extremely interesting – not only do we follow the characters tasked with tracking down the infamous Moscow Psycho, but we get an in-depth look into the troubled psyche of the killer himself. However, there are a few structural elements that really took me out of the story. Often time Kuznetsov switches between first, second and third person narration, often times within the same chapter. While some people may like it, it gets to be a bit confusing. I don’t mind when an author switches point of view in the narration, but doing so too frequently often rips me right out of the story. There are also a few name changes that are often jarring in the context of the story. One of the chapters focuses on a minor character named Alexi Rokotov and delves into his back story. However, inexplicably, he is referred to as Lyosha in that very same chapter. Is this a nickname? A translating error? There are a few instances of this throughout the novel and they hinder the reading experience at times when you frantically flip back to see if you missed something.

There is no denying that Kuznetsov is a talented writer, but at times the story is slowed to an almost glacial pace by focusing too much on the inner monologues of the various characters. While it makes the characters very complex and life-like, it hinders any momentum the story manages to build throughout the course of the coverage of the killer.

Despite these concerns, Kuznetsov has crafted an intense and brutal novel that explores the depths of darkness that lurks within everyday people. That is what truly makes the Moscow Psycho such a terrifying antagonist – for all of his brutality and warped rationale behind his need to kill, he is still an average person. As Ksenia’s boss states in the novel, he lives in the same city as the characters and probably visits the same places they do. His outward appearance of normalcy allows him to blend in with the rest of society and mask his capacity for violence until it is too late. This portrayal of a serial killer is certainly not a new phenomenon, but is utilized expertly in Butterfly Skin. While the novel does have some flaws, if you enjoyed The Silence of the Lambs or Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, Butterfly Skin is definitely worth a read.

Rating: 3/5

LINKS

Titan Books Official Website

Purchase Butterfly Skin on Amazon